John-Henry Westen

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Pope Francis cold
This Monday marked the second time in a couple of weeks Pope Francis has raised the specter of Christian persecution in the West. Shutterstock


Is Pope Francis hinting at Christian persecution in America?

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This Monday marked the second time in a couple of weeks Pope Francis has raised the specter of Christian persecution in the West. As you’ll read below, Pope Benedict XVI did the same even more blatantly at the conclusion of his pontificate.  The sense of this reality is in the air, we can all feel it; heck there’s even a new movie about it.  On July 18 the film PERSECUTED will open in theatres across America.

Monday June 30, 2014, Pope Francis spoke in his homily about Christian persecution, noting there are more martyrs today than ever before in Christianity’s 2,000 year history.  While news of those remarks made headlines everywhere, there was a line in the homily missed by most. It referenced a different kind of persecution, an ‘elegant’ forcing out, or ‘white glove’ persecution, which the Pope said, is “persecution” nonetheless.

To discover his meaning, we can turn to Francis’ speech to the International Congress on Religious Liberty from June 20, 2014.  In it he warned that “in the name of a false concept of tolerance,” those “who defend the truth about man and the ethical consequences” end up being persecuted.

He spoke of ‘religious liberty’ as a ‘fundamental right’ beyond mere ‘private worship’.  “It is freedom to live according to ethical principles consequent upon the truth found, be it privately or publicly,” he said.  Maintaining such liberty he said forms “a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought  -- which is like a sickness – also lowers the general ethical level.”

And how do we know that Francis’ concerns are specific to America? Well, that’s easy. The Vatican made sure to specify that in the first meeting between the Pope and President Obama back in March, the Pope raised concerns about “the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life, and conscientious objection.”

Pope Benedict on Persecution

The statements echo those of Pope Benedict, who in an address to the Bishops of America in January of 2012 warned: “it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres.”

“The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life,” said Pope Benedict XVI.

Like Pope Francis, Pope Benedict referenced the need for freedom of religion rather than mere freedom of worship. He also expressed grave concern about the denial of “the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices.”

Pope Benedict’s assessment of the threats to America was ominous indeed. “To the extent that some current cultural trends contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of these truths,” he warned, “they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God.”

Solution for the Crisis

Benedict XVI’s solution for the crisis was to underscore the faith formation of the laity.

He spoke of the “need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.” 

He added, “The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country.”

However, Pope Benedict did not leave it at the laity alone.  In another address he noted the coming persecution, stressing this time that bishops must lead the way in confronting it with courage.

The Bishop as the example

In January 2013, Pope Benedict spoke of what kind of a man a bishop should be.

“The courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today,” he said. “He must be courageous.” Seeking the “approval of the prevailing wisdom,” added Benedict, “is not a criterion to which we submit.”

“Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs,” Pope Benedict warned. “The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves.”

This courage, the pope said, does not consist “in striking out or in acting aggressively” but in “in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking.”

“Inevitably,” the pope said, faithful bishops will be “beaten by those who live lives opposed to the Gospel, and then we can be grateful for having been judged worthy to share in the passion of Christ”.

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Cardinals and bishops pack the front section of St. Peter's Basilica during the opening Mass of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family on October 5, 2014. John-Henry Westen /

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The Synod’s final report is a victory for liberals on homosexuality – here’s why

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By John-Henry Westen

ROME, October 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The truth of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality is so far removed from the mainstream media’s debates over same-sex “marriage” it is nearly impossible to achieve an accurate reading of the Synod’s final document (Relazione Finale) without an in depth understanding of the Church’s teaching in this regard.

The most essential and basic teaching is that homosexual acts are gravely sinful, which means they separate the perpetrator from God and can lead to eternal damnation. (Naturally the inclination to commit homosexual acts – popularly called a homosexual orientation – is not sinful, just as the temptation to any other serious sin is not sinful in itself.)  Every subsequent understanding of homosexuality in the Catholic Church develops from this truth – and this teaching is missing from the Synod’s only paragraph concerning homosexuality.

The Relazione Finale paragraph on homosexuality speaks first and foremost about respecting and welcoming homosexual persons and avoiding unjust discrimination toward them. It couches the issue in terms of families experiencing homosexual persons within them and calls on the Church to have special care to “accompany” such families.

This can fit into Catholic teaching with a proper understanding of what is meant.  There can be no respect or welcome for homosexual acts, there can be no encouragement of the “intrinsically disordered” acts or pride in them.  Accompanying of such families must mean a recognition of the grave danger to which the family member is susceptible.  Those clarifications come in the Catechism by way of language appropriate to the gravity of the offensiveness of homosexual acts.

“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,” says the Catechism, “tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’"  It adds: “They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

However, all of that language is missing from the Synod’s final document.  The war over language in the Synod hall was all about getting rid of clear language condemning homosexuality and other sins, and the liberals have achieved their goal in the final document.  Gone are references to even the sinfulness of homosexual acts let alone that they are “intrinsically disordered” and that the inclination even though not sinful is itself “objectively disordered.”

Surprising to many will be the fact that the Catechism never even mentions gay “marriage.”  That is simply because the opposition to it flows from those essential teachings about the gravely sinful nature of homosexual acts. Without the basic understanding that such acts are so harmful that they can lead to eternal separation from God, there is no absolute basis for opposing homosexual relationships.  And that is exactly what is missing in the Relazione Finale even though it does rule out gay "marriage." 

After the language about respecting, welcoming and avoiding unjust discrimination, the Relazione Finale quotes another Church document saying that with regard to treating homosexual unions as equivalent to marriage, "there is no foundation whatsoever to assimilate or establish even remotely analogous between homosexual unions and God's plan for marriage and the family."

The Church document quoted (Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons) contains all sorts of clarifying language to denote the gravity of homosexual acts:

Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law… Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.

None of that is quoted in the Relazione Finale.

Of note, another Church document dealing with homosexuality underlines the problem with this omission in the Synod’s final text. The 1986 Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons recognizes that true mercy consists in lovingly presenting the truth. It stresses the need for “clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral,” and adds, “we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral.”

Explaining how silence on the immorality of homosexual acts such as that in the Relazione Finale can be seen as “neither caring nor pastoral,” the author, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, wrote, “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”

The final document’s paragraph ends with a sentence which comes as a nod to the grievances of African bishops who have been pressured by the West to accept gay “marriage”: “The Synod believes that it is completely unacceptable that local churches suffer pressure in this matter and that international bodies make financial aid to poor countries conditioned on the introduction of laws that establish ‘marriage’ between people of the same sex.”

While in the outside world, the battle is about same-sex “marriage,” that has not yet emerged as a battle inside the Catholic Church. Although liberals within the Church may have that as their long-term goal, the first step to achieve it requires stepping away from clarity and toward ambiguity on the sin of homosexuality.  That goal is achieved in the Relazione Finale.

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Pope’s private homilies give a glimpse into his view of the Synod proceedings

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By John-Henry Westen

Oct. 7, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - During the Extraordinary Synod of 2014 it became apparent that while Pope Francis remained silent for most of the proceedings in the Synod Hall, he was offering a running commentary on the proceedings via his daily homilies at Casa Santa Marta. It appears that the 2015 Synod may follow the same pattern.

Tuesday morning’s homily centered on the theme of hard hearts not allowing God’s mercy. It came the morning after the Synod’s first working day – a day which was dominated by Cardinal Erdo’s talk defending traditional Catholic teaching on the hot button issues of divorce and remarriage and of homosexuality.

People with hardened hearts think “my preaching is more important, my thoughts are more important, that whole list of commandments that I must observe are more important,” the Pope said, in a reference sure to be taken by some as being aimed against those Synod Fathers that are working to maintain the traditional teaching of the Church.

“Jesus as well lived this drama with the Doctors of the Law, who did not understand why He did not let them stone the adulterous woman, why He went to dine with publicans and sinners: they did not understand,” said Pope Francis. “They did not understand mercy.”

Referring to the day’s Scripture reading about Jonah the Prophet, the pope said it was a miracle that “he abandons his stubbornness, his rigidity, to obey the will of God, and he did what the Lord commanded him," referring to Jonah’s eventual adherence to God’s demand that he warn Nineveh of God’s coming judgment.

Ironically, it is the presumed targets of the Pope’s remarks - prelates like Cardinal Raymond Burke - that, rather than being rigid, are the ones most willing to lovingly warn those given to sin of the need to repent. Unlike Jonah, however, such prelates rejoice in the conversion of sinners.

They recognize that true mercy in the eyes of the Church consists in lovingly presenting the truth, as the Church’s document outlining how to deal pastorally with “homosexual persons” states.  Stressing the need for clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral,” the document says, “we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral.”

The Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual personsadds: “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”

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Terry and Laurie Vanderheyden and their 7 children

Mother of 7 young children has brain tumor and urgently needs your help

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By John-Henry Westen

September 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Terry Vanderheyden may be a familiar name to some long-time LifeSiteNews readers. He was one of our Canadian journalists for several years prior to his finding work in his field of naturopathy.  Terry and his wife Laurie are among those heroic Catholic parents that have decided to forgo a dual income and home school their children to preserve their faith.  They left big city life to give their children the healthy choice of rural life. 

As their GoFundMe page says: Laurie and Terry Vanderheyden and their 7 great kids, really need some help. Specifically, $92,270 CAD ($70,000 USD) to fund her therapy treatment in the US. They’ve only raised about a quarter of what is needed at this point, so they need the help urgently.

Laurie has a type of brain tumor that is called an acoustic neuroma. It initially caused partial facial paralysis, including the inability to close her right eye.

Hearing loss (which seems to have begun) on the same side is another effect of the tumor as it grows.

The paralysis began Aug. 15, 1992 but the tumor was not discovered until 2005. The tumor has been slow-growing but now measures 4x3 cm (1.75x1.25"). There is now also an extension over the carotid artery which is very concerning.

Because the tumor continues to grow, Laurie and Terry have been looking at various treatment options for some time.


The surgeon she has dealt with would like to remove it, though is concerned with the possible risks to the surrounding area and has said it would result in hearing loss and complete facial paralysis of the right side.

Their radiation oncologist confirmed that surgery is not a good option for Laurie, nor is conventional (termed "gamma knife") radiation therapy. The head of radiation oncology for Princess Margaret Hospital (Toronto) has recommended "fractionated proton beam" radiation therapy, a less harmful and more appropriate and effective type of treatment for her type of tumor. Proton Beam is only available in a handful of centers worldwide.

Furthermore, Loma Linda University (where the treatment was invented) published a series of 30 cases of acoustic neuroma treated with proton beam, all of which completely resolved with the treatment.

Sadly, Laurie has been denied coverage from the Ontario Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health reasoned that she should take an optional treatment in Ontario, but as mentioned earlier, the safest and most effective treatment for her situation is the Proton Radiation.

She needs to get this treatment in the US.


The treatment encompasses 7-8 weeks, starting with a pre-consultation 1-2 weeks before commencing 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments (Monday-Friday).


Laurie and Terry plan to travel as a family as it would be too long a time for the family to be separated and also because Laurie home-schools the children. Terry will be working part time on-line, helping with the homeschooling and making sure Laurie gets any needed rest.

Laurie and Terry are hoping that some of you generous and loving people will be able to help them out. If you cannot help personally, please pass this information on however you may, and please pray for Laurie's healing.

God bless your generosity!

Click here to make a donation to Laurie’s treatment.

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Porn devastates another family: Josh Duggar and America’s epidemic

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By John-Henry Westen

September 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Porn has devastated yet another family -- this time in front of the entire world.

Last week, former "19 Kids and Counting" star and family values advocate Josh Duggar was found to be among the 36 million people who used the cheating website Ashley Madison. This revelation came one month after Duggar's fourth child was born, and three months after he admitted to teenage molestation.

For fans, Duggar’s infidelity was heart-breaking. Duggar did not downplay his actions, saying that he was "the biggest hypocrite ever" for "espousing faith and family values" despite a self-described "secret addiction" to "viewing pornography on the internet" that led to him being "unfaithful" to his wife.

Click "like" if you say NO to porn!

As Josh and his family try to find healing, it is again time for America to consider the real harm of pornography to individuals, families, children, society in general, and even those in the porn industry.

According to numerous studies, Josh's infidelity after viewing pornography is disturbingly common. In 2004, therapist Dr. Jill Manning found that 56 percent of divorces involve a spouse with a porn obsession.

In 2011 marriage therapist Dr. Kevin B. Skinner wrote in Psychology Today that "there is a tremendous cost to society, whether we acknowledge it or not," when it comes to the relationship between porn and divorce.

Non-marital relationships also suffer from pornography. Last month, researcher Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D. told more than 100 people at a Capitol Hill panel that for many young men, pornography is "sexual obesity." Layden said that pornography "is causing catastrophic outcomes" for how men and women view sex.

"What information is it feeding [young people]?" Layden asked. "It is telling them this: there is no such thing as too much sex, and there is no sexual behavior that is harmful, toxic, or traumatizing, and that sex is not about intimacy, caring, love, or respect."

Porn tells young people that "sex is not about marriage or having children. Sex is casual, recreational, adversarial, and it is non-intimate," Layden said. "In fact, you don't even need to know your partner, because sex with strangers is the best and most intense time for sex, and you can see the consequences of that in hookup culture on our college campuses."

Sex trafficking and other abuses of women have also been linked to pornography. Self-described "radical feminist" Dr. Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College, told me that "we know that trafficking is increasing -- which means demand is increasing. As an academic, a sociologist, and mother, I believe it is the way men are shaped by society," said Dines. "The biggest sex educator of young men today is pornography, which is increasingly violent and dehumanizing, and it changes the way men view women."

Sharon Slater's documentary, "The Porn Pandemic," describes how this perverse sex education can lead to young men acting out their unreasonable sexual fantasies, sometimes in ways that land them in jail. And still other men bring pornography with them when having sex with trafficked women or prostitutes -- who are often one and the same, contrary to the public image of women freely entering and leaving the porn industry.

In John 8:11, Christ forgave the adulterer even as he admonished her to "go and sin no more." This same warning can apply to America, which permits the porn industry to thrive on the backs of broken men and their families. As Josh and his family grapple with his addiction and infidelity, it is time for America to take a hard look at its green light for an industry that peddles addiction, abuse, slavery, and deadly illnesses.

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John-Henry Westen

John-Henry is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne and their eight children live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout North America, Europe and Asia. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum an annual strategy meeting for pro-life leaders worldwide. He co-founded Voice of the Family and serves on the executive of the Canadian National March for Life Committee, and the annual National Pro-Life Youth Conference.  

He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization.  He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.  

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.

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