Patrick Craine


Don’t let anyone tell you Pope Francis opposes the pro-life movement

Patrick Craine

Is Pope Francis asking Catholics to bow out of the culture war?

The liberal elite and Catholic Left want us to think the Pope opposes the pro-life and pro-family movement. But, while he’s certainly made some confusing remarks, his own words and actions make it clear that he firmly supports our cause.

On Saturday, Pope Francis received the Dignitatis Humanae Institute and praised their efforts. DHI is a think tank that advances respect for human dignity in the public square.

The Pope’s support for DHI is significant because of the organization’s staunch stand on the life issue. In particular, they take a position that is oddly controversial in the Church today: namely, that Her ministers ought to deny Communion to openly pro-abortion Catholic politicians in accordance with canon law. To do any less would be “false charity,” the organization stated in October.

Pope Francis made his stance on abortion abundantly clear in his recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, in which he condemns abortion as a violation that “cries out in vengeance to God” and insists Church teaching can never change. The unborn today, he says, are “the most defenceless and innocent among us” and are deserving of “particular love and concern.”

Pope Francis here singles out abortion, I would suggest, in a manner comparable to Bl. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae. In that 1995 encyclical, the late Pope said that while attacks on life such as war, violence, and poverty are grave, abortion is “more sinister” and represents “another category of attack.”

We oughtn’t forget too that Pope Francis was the first Pope to join a March for Life.

Of course, as I mentioned, some of the Pope’s comments have caused a lot of confusion, particularly his suggestion that we shouldn’t be “obsessed” with issues like abortion, contraception, or same-sex “marriage”. These comments – which seem divorced, at least, from the experience in much of North America and Europe, where these issues are raised shockingly little – have given fodder to liberals outside the Church who oppose Her voice in the public square, and to those within the Church who want to wield that voice for their own pet causes.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories by now: A Catholic organization ends its annual fundraiser for the local pro-life group. A priest defends his praise for a pro-abortion politician. A bishop proclaims it’s necessary for a Catholic agency to fund pro-abortion groups, so long as the money goes to other projects. All justified by appealing to the Pope.

Across the Western world, Pope Francis has become the Great Vindication for Catholics who want to cave in to the demands of the world.

Michael Sean Winters, a blogger at the National Catholic Reporter, for one, has been wielding Pope Francis like a weapon against strong cultural voices like Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Charles Chaput, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash., cited the Pope as an indictment of “culture warriors” in an interview with the New York Times at the USCCB meeting last month. “Pope Francis doesn’t want cultural warriors, he doesn’t want ideologues,” the bishop claimed. “That’s the new paradigm for us, and it’s making many of us think.”

Bishop Cupich has taken the Pope’s words as a call for retreat from the most crucial moral, cultural, and political battles of the day. But there’s just no evidence indicating that that’s what the Pope is asking us to do.

To suggest otherwise just makes no sense. If he truly believes that abortion “cries out in vengeance to God,” then how could he possibly ask us to stand by idly while such an act is committed tens of millions of times across the globe every year?

He simply isn’t. In fact, in 2005, while he was a Cardinal in Buenos Aires, the future Pope urged his congregants to promote the Gospel of life even if they “set traps to deliver you to the courts and to have you killed.”

So, while he tells us not to become “obsessed” in our cultural battles, keep in mind that the Pope himself has said we should fight the culture war vigorously, even to the point of death.

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Please, enough with the cult of pop stars. Our kids need real heroes.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two things happen each time a significant pop culture figure dies: Christians attempt to dredge up some moderately conservative or traditional thing that figure said at some point during his long career, and mainstream media attempts to convince a society thoroughly bored with such things that the person in question was a ground-breaking radical. The two most recent examples are the androgynous David Bowie—a cringe-worthy and possibly blasphemous video of him dropping to his knees during a rock performance and uttering the Lord’s Prayer circulated just following his death--and the pop star Prince.

I’ve had to suppress my gag reflexes many times as I saw my Facebook newsfeed fill up with memes sporting quotes from Prince about his faith and articles announcing that the musician who “embraced gender fluidity before his time,” according to Slate and “will always be a gay icon” according to The Atlantic, was against gay marriage. Sure, maybe he was. But only a Christian community so shell-shocked by the rapid spread of the rainbow blitzkrieg and the catastrophic erosion of religious liberty would find this remarkable. After all, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said the same thing barely one election cycle ago. As one obituary celebrating Prince’s paradigm-smashing sexual performances written by Dodai Stewart put it:

Dig, if you will, a picture: The year is 1980. Many states still have sodomy laws. The radio is playing feel-good ear candy like Captain and Tennille and KC and the Sunshine Band. TV hits include the sunny, toothy blond shows Three’s Company and Happy Days. There’s no real word for “gender non-conforming.” But here’s what you see: A man. Clearly a man. Hairy, mostly naked body…a satiny bikini bottom. But those eyes. Rimmed in black, like a fantasy belly dancer. The full, pouty lips of a pin-up girl. Long hair. A tiny, svelte thing. Ethnically ambiguous, radiating lust. What is this? A man. Clearly a man. No. Not just a man. A Prince.

Right. So let’s not get too carried away, shall we? I know Christians are desperate to justify their addictions to the pop culture trash that did so much to sweep away Christian values in the first place and I know that latching on to the occasional stray conservative belief that may manifest itself in pop culture figures makes many feel as if perhaps we are not so weird and countercultural, but this bad habit we have of claiming these figures upon their passing is downright damaging.

After all, parents should be teaching their children about real heroes, titans of the faith who changed the world. Heroes of the early church who stood down tyrants, halted gladiatorial combat, and crusaded against injustice in a world where death was all the rage. These men and women were real rebels who stood for real values. If we want to point our children to people they should emulate, we should be handing them books like Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by the brilliant writer Eric Metaxas rather than the pop albums Purple Rain or Lovesexy by Prince. If parents spend their time glorifying the predecessors of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus instead of highlighting heroes like William Wilberforce, they can hardly be surprised when their children choose to emulate the former rather than the latter.

The mainstream media’s adulation of these pop stars is equally irritating. The unspoken truth of these obituaries is that the flamboyant antics of Prince and the rest of the so-called rebellious drag queens populating the rock n’ roll scene have been mainstream for a long time already. Want to see dozens of bizarre body piercings? Weird hairdos? Purple mohawks? Dudes with nail polish? Strange tattoos? Easy. Just go onto any university campus, or any public high school without a dress code. With headphones wedged firmly in their ear canals, they can pump the cleverly commercialized “counterculture” straight into their skulls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

More than that, some of these courageous rebels have actually sued their employers to ensure that they can let their establishment-smashing freak flag fly at work, too. An Edmonton woman with 22 visible body piercings complained that her employer was unfair because apparently she was being discriminated against “based on body modifications.” Yeah! The Man must be told, after all. And if he doesn’t agree, we will lawyer up. I wonder what the shrieking rebels of the early days would think about the snivelling children of the current grievance culture.

So these days, the media’s eulogizing about aging culture warriors who went mainstream a long time ago rings a bit hollow. After all, most rock n’ roll stars these days look tame compared to what shows up in the children’s section at Pride Week. Freaky is normal now. Normal is radical. Welcome to 2016.

When Christians are posting nostalgic tributes to the rebels who helped inoculate their children against the radical views of Christianity in the first place, you know that the victories of the counterculture are complete and Stockholm syndrome has set in.

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Pope Francis seems out of touch with the reality of modern Catholicism

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

April 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, his final word on the two Synods on the Family, shows a remarkable depth of knowledge about the struggles of families, their joys, and sorrows, their struggles and their triumphs. Much of the 250+ page document can be read with interest by couples discerning marriage to see what they are in for and garner a good amount of sage advice, especially psychological advice on how to have a happy and lasting union.

That same keen insight however seems lacking when Pope Francis assesses the modern Church. The exhortation gives evidence that the Pope is misinformed about the interior life of parishes.  While getting very detailed information on the realities of family life, the Pope proffered what seems like pure fantasy as he suggested that when presenting marriage, pastors often do so with “an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation,” overshadowing love, mutual assistance and unity.  

As the countless Catholic couples in Catholic marriage prep classes over the last 40 years will attest, the opposite is true. The duty of procreation is given a nod if mentioned at all. You’d never guess that procreation is the primary end of marriage as the Church actually teaches.

It is almost as if the Pope seems to be envisioning the Church today as if it were the liberal perception of 1950s Catholicism.  As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat mentioned in a conference speech the other day: “The idea that there is this glorious future church waiting to be born as long as we get rid of the dead hand of 1950s Catholicism that the pope seems to perceive everywhere he looks, is nuts! It’s just nuts. That’s not where Catholicism in the West is right now.”

In another example from the exhortation, Pope Francis claims the Church has failed to encourage an openness to grace and is simply “stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues,” as if that would be “providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life.”  Once again, the couples in marriage prep and those in most parishes would wonder how they totally missed this supposed stress on doctrinal, bioethical, or moral issues.

It is reminiscent of the first year of his papacy when Pope Francis suggested that Catholic clergy were over-focused on “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” causing many to wonder, as did Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa, where exactly those preachers obsessed on those issues might be hiding.  Vasa suggested rather that the “vast majority” never talk about those matters.  Francis’ suggestion was a marked contrast to Pope St. John Paul II’s admonition to propose those same truths “constantly and courageously” (Evangelium Vitae 82).

“We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful,” says the Pope in Amoris Laetitiae, “who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations.” In the exhortation the Pope also repeats his stern warning from his 2013 Gospel of Joy, that priests are not to treat the confessional as “a torture chamber” or reserve Holy Communion as “a prize for the perfect.”

If such a form of Catholicism ever existed among the majority of priests, it is long dead.  I’m sure there are some such priests alive today, but they are the tiniest minority. The pendulum has swung so far to the opposite extreme, that in the vast majority priests say hardly anything about the duty of procreation in marriage, and we’ve had virtual silence from most pulpits on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.  

When is the last time you saw any priest anywhere denying someone Holy Communion for not being perfect? If you have heard something of it, it was so rare as to make the national news.  For crying out loud, what part of 1950s Catholicism can remain alive if Catholic abortion-pushers like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are not denied Communion but rather invited to give talks at the Vatican!?

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A man shouldn’t hit a woman…unless she’s asking for it?

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

March 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – When former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted last week of sexual assault and choking, the Internet exploded. Many accused the judge, who excoriated the accusers in Ghomeshi’s case as unreliable, evasive, and even deceitful, of victim-blaming. Others, including Christie Blatchford of the National Post, announced that justice had been done. She had been writing incredulously about the unravelling of the witness testimony since the trial began.

It shouldn’t be surprising to us that in a culture that regularly glorifies sexual violence, it becomes harder to convict someone of sexual violence. 

Besides the typical outrage from the #feminism crowd, the reason so many people are genuinely stunned at Ghomeshi’s acquittal is because the evidence seemed so overwhelming. Not the evidence presented in court, mind you—that was clearly lacking. I mean the evidence presented in the media when the scandal first broke. While Ghomeshi has been legally acquitted of four counts of sexual assault and one count of “overcoming resistance by choking,” he was accused by 22 different women of 23 different incidents.

For weeks, blogs and news outlets featured stories of different women who had gone on dates with Ghomeshi, only to have the smooth-talking radio host suddenly turn into an ugly, violent misogynist. Those who didn’t experience Ghomeshi’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impression did report that he was a wildly insecure, hyper-sexual playboy who often crossed the line, usually with women a couple decades younger than him. In short, we all found out that Jian Ghomeshi was a creep. But it’s not illegal to be a creep. In fact, it’s very likely that Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of sexual assault, but that he can never be convicted of it. As I wrote two years ago when the scandal broke:

Every so often, media outlets accidentally say more than they intend to. The sub-headline to the Toronto Star’s breaking news story “CBC fires Jian Ghomeshi over sex allegations” is one such time: “Ousted host of Q denies claims by three women of unwanted sexual violence and threatens to sue…”

Got that? There doesn’t seem to be a debate here over whether or not the practices the upstanding Mr. Ghomeshi was engaging in were, in fact, sexual violence. This debate hinges on whether or not that sexual violence was “unwanted.”

The Ghomeshi case was not about whether or not Jian was a connoiseur of sexual violence. He admitted that up front, in the nauseating open letter he posted on Facebook prior to being charged with sexual assault. He admitted that his “sexual tastes” would be “unpalatable” to many people. He admitted that he enjoyed “all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom.” He admitted to relationships that resembled “50 Shades of Grey,” a porn novel featuring an aggressive, violent stalker and his naïve female subordinate. Basically, he admitted that he got off on all of the violent things he was accused of. He just said that they weren’t illegal.

It shouldn’t be surprising to us that in a culture that regularly glorifies sexual violence, it becomes harder to convict someone of sexual violence. 50 Shades of Grey, after all, sold over 100 million copies and became a blockbuster film. Over 80% of the male population is viewing pornography regularly, and most mainstream pornography now features violence against women and repulsive name-calling, precisely the type of the thing that was purportedly Jian Ghomeshi’s mo. The raw sewage of violent porn that has been pumping into our cultural consciousness for the last decade or two has been having an effect. From Fight the New Drug:

A brand new national survey was just published that asked participants what type of images they considered to be “wrong” in porn. Among the 1188 adults surveyed, 46% of those who use porn replied that images of “sexual acts that may be forced or painful” are not “wrong.” Yes, you read that correctly. Almost half of porn users think pain and abuse in pornography is fine. Even further, only 50% of teens and young adults surveyed (ages 13 to 25) think it is wrong to view these images of violent porn.

This is the problem. Our society is schizophrenic about sexual violence. On one hand, hundreds can turn out to protest Jian Ghomeshi’s acquittal. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands can buy tickets to go watch 50 Shades of Grey, and millions can log in to watch women and girls get degraded, humiliated, and violated for entertainment. In a society like this one, defence lawyers can actually ask victims if they wanted to get slapped, choked, or beaten up by the creepy dude who got his jollies from doing such things, because the culture has collectively accepted such things as legitimate avenues of sexual expression.

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I’m not too optimistic, but I hold out hope that the Jian Ghomeshi scandal can still provoke a broader discussion about sexual violence. Sexual violence isn’t just wrong when a creepy radio host does it. It’s also wrong when we head to the theatre to be entertained by it in films like 50 Shades of Grey. It’s wrong when we surf the Internet for pornography. It’s wrong when we as a culture respond to the statement “Men shouldn’t hit women” with the reply, “Unless she’s asking for it, of course.”

Jian Ghomeshi hasn’t managed to escape all of the charges just yet. He’s heading back to court in June to face another accuser, and perhaps this time he will be convicted. But in the meantime, perhaps the breathless outrage of those incensed by Ghomeshi’s acquittal could be rerouted in another direction. Jian Ghomeshi is just a symptom of a broader cultural problem, a sad, sex-obsessed bachelor who got carried away enjoying the new sexual freedoms infecting our pornified culture. So let’s not just swat at mosquitos like Ghomeshi. Let’s drain the swamp. Let’s address the real problems. 

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