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Al Smith dinner musings: who was funnier and have pro-life leaders been way too negative?

Steve Jalsevac
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Well, the Al Smith dinner has come and gone. The event received predictably massive media coverage. It was broadcast live on the C-Span Cable network and varying portions were broadcast on most other television networks, stations and major news websites and it was written up in many newspapers. The videos seemed to have sometimes been strategically edited to make one candidate (mostly Obama) look better than the other.

The totally predictable photos of an uproariously laughing Cardinal Dolan in the center of the two laughing presidential candidates were printed and broadcast far and wide. The Associated Press news service syndicated photo was perhaps the most notable example of the photo-op that many social and otherwise conservative or just plain patriotic Americans feared the most.

After watching the full speeches of both President Obama and Mitt Romney, it’s my opinion Romney trounced Obama in getting the bigger laughs and using humor to considerable political advantage. I didn’t expect that. Both candidates had admittedly really funny lines. Still, it seemed to me that the speeches were in some ways a replay of the first Romney/Obama debate. Obama was not nearly as funny nor as lively as Romney. Maybe I’m biased.

It appeared Romney had a better understanding than some of the great danger to America from a second Obama term. He may have understood that it was appropriate to exploit the opportunity, regardless of the otherwise acceptable polite traditions of the Al Smith dinner, to ridicule Obama to the maximum advantage of the American people. Humor can at times have a greater impact than straight debate.

Click ‘like’ if you want to END ABORTION!

There is still the question of the appropriateness (a matter of prudential judgment) of inviting Obama, especially at a time so close to the election. 

Cardinal Dolan’s reference to both Obama and Romney as men of honor and faith was very disconcerting. He stated at the dinner: “I’m privileged to be in the company of two honorable men, both called to the noble vocation of public service, whose love for God and country is surpassed only by their love for their own wives and children…” “two honorable men who love God and country?” Was there someone else in the room he was referring to? Those descriptions clearly do not in any way accurately apply to the “abortion president.”

That inappropriate praise reminds us of the New York cardinal’s similar praise for the Catholicism of the two vice-presidential candidates. Dolan stated, “We’ve got two men who - and you can disagree with one of them or both of them - say they take their faith seriously, who don’t try to hide it”. Joe Biden cannot possible be taking his faith seriously. Why this embarrassing, if not dangerous deference to anti-Catholic despots?

The ecstatic comments from our dear friend, Michael Sean Winters, of the usually dissident, “social justice” religion National Catholic Reporter are revealing. The enthusiasm of Winters and NCR colleague Tom Gallagher over the dinner outcome seems to confirm concerns of many Catholics and other Christians about the invitation to the “abortion president”. If many years dissident Winters thought the evening was “a great moment for the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York and for the Catholic Church and for the country”, then we should be asking more questions about the evening.

Judy Brown’s column presents an interesting, previously unknown tidbit of information about Cardinal Dolan’s judgments regarding appropriate dinner guests. Her experience is not uncommon.

Many outspoken, but usually still respectful Catholic pro-life, pro-family leaders have at one time or another been thrown out of bishops’ offices or harshly admonished in public or private for simply revealing disturbing information and encouraging needed action. The whistle-blower is all too often quickly labelled the real problem - an “all or nothing” “troublemaker” for putting the Church leader in such an uncomfortable situation. Prominent individuals, such as Obama, who distribute financial largess, are seen as much preferable opportunities for “charity” and “dialogue” that well informed pro-life, pro-family leaders themselves are frequently denied.

Mind you, I am not saying that Cardinal Dolan is not pro-life. He most certainly is and some notably positive changes are happening under his watch at the head of the USCCB. And a lot of the statements in this blog post are just my opinions.

Still, I wonder sometimes if we pro-lifers are insane for believing what the Popes and many bishops and leaders of various Christian denominations and other religions and cultures repeatedly emphasize - that every abortion is an unjust killing of an utterly innocent, totally human life. There are growing numbers of damaged post abortive women who are giving moving witness to that same belief from the real experiences in their lives.

Perhaps we are too negative and overdoing it and unnecessarily enduring ridicule from most of the elites as the man/God endured 2,000 years ago. I mean, He ended up getting nailed to a cross for his foolishness of continuing to make too many people in high places very uncomfortable. Not smart tactics many would think today. He was especially way too critical of religious leaders. Think of all the good He could have done for mankind had he not been such a troublemaker.

Most leaders have not been acting as though there really is an ongoing and expanding slaughter of innocents. And this attitude (with some notable exceptions) has been sustained for 40 years. We obviously haven’t been getting it right all these years. Why are we always so serious about abortion, euthanasia, the spread of the gay culture and all that, if most of our wise and learned leaders clearly aren’t terribly concerned about these issues? They have repeatedly shown that there are other, more important priorities.

Maybe we really should publicly joke and hysterically laugh and dine with those who promote, fund and use every power available to them to violently kill even more than the 50 million innocent lives ended in America alone since 1972. And then there is the massive collateral damage of the slaughter - a collapsing respect for human life, advancing euthanasia and assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, other aspects of moral collapse and much, much more.

Perhaps we should finally admit that, you know, there are other issues that we should be giving just as much of our time to - poverty, unemployment, unjust social structures, global warming, bottled water, mining in developing countries and so on. These aren’t nearly as disturbing and “complex” issues. With that change, maybe there will finally be more “dialogue” and the elites will welcome the opportunity to sit next to us at the head table of any dinner. We can finally start having a grand time.

Just saying.



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Press conference for the public release of the Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation Vatican Radio video frame

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Voices crying in the wilderness over Pope Francis document

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
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Top of the Drudge Report, one of the world's most accessed websites, on the day Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) was released.

April 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Here we go again, having to publish unpopular views about yet another action by Pope Francis, a pope more heavily praised by the secular world than any other in history, it seems, and a pope  who is especially lauded by all Catholic Church progressives and other progressives such as Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders. This has happened so often now that we at times feel like voices crying in the wilderness whom relatively few understand.

John the Baptist, was the person whom that description of a “voice in the wilderness” was applied to in scripture. He was compelled, for love of God and the truth, to publicly castigate King Herod for divorcing his wife and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother. God’s Ten Commandments simply did not permit it.

Herod did not want to hear what he knew was the truth, but worse, his new, illicit wife and her daughter, perhaps comparable to today’s radical feminists, wanted the Baptist’s head for his boldness in discomforting them – and they got it.

So, we are treading on sensitivities that cause ferocious reactions from those who have much invested in a loosening of the Catholic Church’s over 2,000 years’ old moral teachings.

Those moral absolutes have been nothing less than Jesus Christ’s – God’s - teachings – for all time.

The Catholic Church is understood to be the most influential and last bastion in the world still in the way of the New World Order in which all those supposedly out-of-date teachings can no longer be permitted to be so absolute, if even taught at all.

As we are now seeing in so many stories on LifeSite, there are many things that the world insists we no longer have any right to even say anymore. That is because they upset certain people. And that is now considered to be a crime punishable by hateful harassment, firing from jobs, large fines and even criminal charges. Truth is no longer considered a defense

It is said that the world has dramatically changed and history and Natural Law no longer apply. Everyone has to quickly move along and get with the modern world - population control, the climate change agenda, the sexual revolution and a complete revamp of the world's economic systems to facilitate forced transfers of wealth. People are supposedly no longer capable of adhering to the demanding, old-fashioned, traditional Catholic religion.

When we received a copy of the “The Joy of Love”, a quick read revealed of course many praiseworthy, strong and inspiring affirmations of Catholic teachings, but it also revealed more than a few clearly problematic statements – time bombs, that will certainly be exploded by those who have been anticipating such opportunities.

Having now observed the reactions and outcomes of many similar Francis items, it has become almost Second nature to understand how certain ambiguous, imprecise, incomplete or oddly worded statements will play out in the real world.

The main analysis emphasis for truly honest and faithful reporters has become, what will those who read or hear these statements and documents actually do with them? What will be the main focus of reactions and the actual impact on the world?

That is the most important effort that should be undertaken, in our opinion, related to any of these documents and statements by Pope Francis. That is, the overall content is less important than the actual impact on the faith, on culture, on the world, which might result from only small parts of the content or from one or two sentences in a dialogue. 

In the third year of the Francis pontificate, it has become fairly easy to predict these outcomes, because the same patterns have repeatedly occurred.

The ambiguous statements, the statements that do not contradict Catholic teaching, but which are also missing necessary related hard teachings and essential clarifications to questions that are certain to be asked – those are the ones that always get the most attention. "Who am I to judge?"

They are interpreted to have finally opened previously always closed doors. They generate the most reaction and are cited all over the world by the media, by progressive Catholics, and by an astonishing number of non-Catholics, to justify behaviors and changes that totally contradict fully explained, related Catholic teaching.

See the fascinating collage of many news headlines on One-Peter-5 that provides evidence of the predicted inevitable response to "The Joy of Love." 

At the same time, many faithful Catholics are determined to see only the predominant orthodox statements. They make it harshly known that they consider any criticism to be disrespectful and malevalently belittling the supposed greater positive impact of those boldly stated orthodox teachings by Francis.

To them, Pope Francis' strong orthodox statements should cause any critics or doubters to accept that everything else in the statement or document must be positively interpreted, with the assumption that Francis could only have intended this or that orthodox point. All else is sensational, slanderous  speculation unbecoming a Catholic.

So, it seems to be a lose-lose for us at times, as it seemed for John the Baptist.

Still, we will continue to report what our faithful readers expect us to report – the truth, especially the truth that most others would prefer to ignore or perhaps just don’t see.

We will continue to be trustworthy, always respectful reporters on these controversial developments – for love of truth and for love of God.

See related articles:

Wildly divergent reactions to Pope’s exhortation: a study on the results of ambiguity

Pope Francis opens door to Communion for ‘remarried’ Catholics in landmark exhortation

Catholics cannot accept elements of Pope’s exhortation that threaten faith and family

The Pope’s confused message undermines his own pastoral program

Pope Francis condemns abortion, euthanasia, same-sex ‘marriage’ in exhortation



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Mother Angelica has been an inspiration to LifeSite for years – pray for her

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
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March 31, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – EWTN founder Mother Angelica has been a major inspiration to John-Henry Westen and I since we founded LifeSite in 1997. Her example of always telling it like it is as an act of charity to her viewers and her method of just going ahead and doing what she felt God wanted her to do, regardless of criticisms or lack of funds, both made eminent sense to us.

She showed us what we wanted to do, and just had to do, for the pro-life, pro-family world. So very few media were telling the public uncomfortable or politically incorrect truths and among the religious media and many pro-life and pro-family organizations there was too much caution and concern about not rocking the boat or being too "rigid".

Mother was real, she had street smarts, and we have always tried to be real instead of serving our own or other unworthy agendas. We have also just gone ahead and done what we have felt inspired to do, no matter how outrageous it seemed to others, trusting in providence for our needs. 

The video that we posted a few days ago of Mother bluntly calling out the blasphemy of the portrayal of Christ on the Cross by a woman during World Youth day in Denver, Colorado, is something that every Catholic and any other Christian today needs to watch. Mother made it very plain that the liberal laity, religious, bishops and cardinals were trying to destroy the Church and that it should not be tolerated. We must not be afraid to speak up. In fact, she made it plain that we have a serious duty to God to do so.

As far as I am concerned that video shows the type of religious and clergy urgently needed today to save the Church from its ongoing self-destruction by negligence, faithlessness, cowardice, worldiness, corruption and pride.

Mother Angelica is gone, but her legacy lives on, thanks especially to all the television footage we have been viewing these past few days showing the totally up front, street-smart, funny and holy evangelist without any airs that Mother Angelica was.

Steve Skojec of the praiseworthy blog One Peter 5, and another follower and admirer of Mother Angelica, wrote an article yesterday about the need to continue to pray for Mother, which anyone who knew her is what she surely would have wanted. They could see her in their minds wagging her finger at anyone who dared to presume she was already in Heaven, as tends to be the norm in today's progressive Catholicism.

The best thing we can do for her right now, as Skojec emphasizes, it to pray for Mother’s soul, even while knowing that she was among the holier persons we have ever known in this life.

Here is Steve Skojec’s article, reprinted with permission:

We Must Pray for the Dead, Even the Holy

By Steve Skojec On March 30, 2016

Yesterday, I wrote a tribute to Mother Angelica, a woman whose life and work was defined by her willingness to say what God wants us to hear, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. In fact, as she herself once said, “Those who tell the Truth love you. Those who tell you what you want to hear love themselves.”

She also said, “It’s your obligation to speak the truth, and everyone can either take it or leave it. But truth must be in us. We live in such a poverty of truth today.”

When it came to the way we live our faith, she admonished, “If you’re not a thorn in somebody’s side, you aren’t doing Christianity right.”

As for what drove her? “I’m not afraid to fail…I’m scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me, ‘Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted more.”

You see, Mother Angelica was, by every conceivable measure, a deeply pious and holy woman. A woman who knew the value of suffering offered up to God. But as my old professor, Dr. Regis Martin (who appears frequently on Mother’s own network) used to say, “The real saints are the last people in the neighborhood to know that.”

This is because true holiness places us face to face with the frailty of our humanity. Our sinful, fallen nature. When compared the the ultimate perfection of God, our sins are scarlet, our faults stand out in grand contrast.

St. Catherine of Genoa, a 15th-century mystic who was given the experience of Purgatory during her life and is considered the “theologian of Purgatory,” explains what happens when we come into contact with God’s perfections after death:

“The greatest suffering of the souls in purgatory, it seems to me, is the awareness that something in them displeases God, that they have deliberately gone against His great goodness … I can also see … that the divine essence is so pure and light-filled — much more than we can imagine — that the soul that has but the slightest imperfection would rather throw itself into a thousand hells than appear thus before the divine presence.” Hence “the soul … aware that the impediment it faces cannot be removed in any other way, hurls itself into Purgatory …. That is why the soul seeks to cast off any and all impediments so it can be lifted up to God.”

(As cited in the book, Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory, p. 41)

Mother Angelica died with the last rites of the Church and an apostolic pardon. She lived a holy life doing God’s work. She voluntarily embraced suffering that could be offered up as a sacrifice to God. If anyone has a chance at a straight shot to heaven, it’s her.

But we must not presume. We do not know what God knows about her. We are not privy to the hidden recesses of her soul. This is why praying for the living and the dead are spiritual works of mercy. We are duty-bound to pray for souls that pass from this life, that their sufferings in Purgatory (if any) will be lessened. Most of us will go there. Some for quite a long time. We all need to pray for each other, and I’ve often joked that I will come down and haunt my family members and friends if they forget to do so!

I know for a fact that Mother would want our prayers, and would tell us that even if she made it, those graces might be applied to the Holy Souls in purgatory who are not yet done being purified.

If someone tells you Mother is in heaven before the Church’s process of canonization (which I fully expect will begin on her behalf) is done, do not listen to them. If you loved Mother in this life, pray for her in the next. Know that your prayers will never go to waste.

Particularly when it comes to the death of someone who is well-loved, we are told before the body is cold that they are “in a better place.” It may be true, but we just don’t know. This is what we want to hear, not what’s best for them. Remember, “Those who tell the Truth love you. Those who tell you what you want to hear love themselves.”

Pray for Mother Angelica, and all the souls of the faithful departed. May they rest in peace.

This article by Steve Skojec was re-published with permission from One Peter 5.



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The danger of appeasement was illustrated by England's Neville Chamberlain who thought he had secured peace by giving in to some of Hitler's outrageous demands.

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Appeasement to social radicals only feeds their hate

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

March 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - The devilish, extreme pressure that has been put on Georgia’s governor, the targetting of North Carolina and the firing of a British magistrate are further examples of a rapidly growing tyranny that good people must strongly oppose. The more we appease those who are imposing these evils, the more they will be emboldened to take away even more of our freedoms and rights.

Appeasement is certain to grow the evil. No matter what the current cost may be, no amount of appeasement will be acceptable to these enemies of life, family and faith. We feed their hate by giving into any of their demands. They will never be satisfied with anything but total elimination from society of the moral standards of Christian civilization.

Mother Angelica showed how we must oppose these evils. To some she seemed extreme. No, she was right on. We must all do the same – call things what they are.

It’s long, but if you can spend the time to either watch my speech to the Bringing America Back to Life conference, or read the full text published today, I am sure you will find it beneficial to understanding our role and yours in this great culture war and how to endure what for many would otherwise be unendurable.



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