John-Henry Westen

From the desk of the editor.

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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. Shutterstock

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Is Pope Francis hinting at Christian persecution in America?

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

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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Gender-bender fascism: HLN, Inside Edition still haven’t owned up to Zoey Tur’s threats

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

July 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Last week, Inside Edition transgender reporter Zoey Tur committed an act that should have gotten him arrested and fired: He physically grabbed and threatened Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro during an on-air segment of HLN’s Dr. Drew on Call.

What did Shapiro do to be threatened with hospitalization? He called the biologically male Tur “sir”.

“You cut that out now, or you’ll go home in an ambulance,” Tur said in a threatening voice. Shapiro responded by saying, “that seems mildly inappropriate for a political discussion.”

On Sunday, Shapiro filed a police report, noting that Tur threatened him after the appearance, saying, “I’ll see you in the parking lot.” CNN security escorted Shapiro to his car after Tur left CNN, according to Bretibart.

Tur also said “me, too” when someone tweeted that he would like to see Tur “curb stomp” Shapiro. A curb stomp is a horrific act of violence where an individual is placed open-mouthed over a curb and then stomped on the back of his or her head.

And on Tuesday, Tur admitted on a radio show that he was threatening Shapiro -- minutes before he contradicted himself, saying there was no intent to threaten.

It is terrifying that Tur, a much larger male, threatened Shapiro for merely stating what is biologically true - that Tur is a male. What is even worse, however, was the bullying that took place when the other guests, and even the show’s host, chose to criticize and berate the victim rather than object to Tur’s illegal manhandling and threats.

The show's host even took advantage of Shapiro, a victim of Tur's playground bully-style tactics, to promote Dr. Drew on Twitter. According to Dr. Drew, the moment of the threat was "heated" -- not, say, illegal threatening:

This is what's so disturbing: Because Tur claims to be female, it was considered acceptable by the female guests, the black guest, and the Hispanic guest to pounce on the Jewish guest. Literally, Tur's threat to inflict severe harm on a smaller, weaker guest for having a different opinion was endorsed and encouraged.

Whatever one’s view of transgenderism, it is clear that Tur definitely didn’t act like a lady. Instead, he acted like a thug. A thug who has attempted to purchase womanhood on the cheap.

Shapiro is right to go to the police; they should act quickly to protect his safety. It is also important that CNN, HLN, and CBS act to protect future guests from the enabling of physical violence seen on Dr. Drew last week. The first step is to never let Tur, or any of the guests who enabled Tur’s violence against Shapiro back on-air. The second is for Tur to be fired from Inside Edition. And the last is HLN to fire Dr. Drew for tacitly endorsing Tur's role of playground bully on his show...all the while pretending to be against bullying.

Contact CNN/HLN here. Contact Dr. Drew on Facebook here. Contact Dr. Drew on Twitter here.

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Planned Parenthood: the Amazon of the fetal parts industry

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By John-Henry Westen

July 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The economy is nothing like it was in the Clinton years. The dot-com bubble burst, the housing market tanked, and few industries have returned to their level of prosperity – except one.

The price of aborted children's body parts has increased markedly since it was first revealed in the late 1990s.

Sixteen years ago, when abortion clinics were first found to be profiting from the harvesting and trade in aborted baby body parts, the fetal tissue industry was miniscule compared to what it is today. Prices for a baby’s brain under eight weeks gestation was listed at $999.

URGENT: Sign the petition demanding that Congress stop Planned Parenthood's illegal and inhuman practice of harvesting, selling baby body parts. Click here.

Fetal gonads cost $500.

Since then, products have diversified into processed items to make the baby parts harvesting and trade business a multi-billion dollar industry.

For instance, today, companies such as Stem Express are selling aborted baby livers after processing and getting them down to specific types of derived cells.  Whereas in 1998 the price list had aborted baby livers ranging from $125 to $150, today’s prices for a vial of aborted baby liver cells range anywhere from $488 to $24,250.

Planned Parenthood has been deceiving the public about its profit on the marketing of body parts from aborted babies for two decades. When they were first caught involved with a middle-man company selling organs, limbs and other body parts to researchers, they denied involvement.

In 2000, ABC’s 20/20 program did its own investigation to confirm the results of the findings of pro-life group Life Dynamics, which found baby body parts were being sold to researchers. 

Gloria Feldt, who was then-president of Planned Parenthood, told 20/20 that fetal organ trafficking “seems inappropriate – totally inappropriate. Where there is wrongdoing, it should be prosecuted. People who are doing that kind of thing should be brought to justice.”

This time around, current president Cecile Richards was caught on video acknowledging the practice, and Planned Parenthood has not issued a categorical denial.  Instead, its PR firm made the innocuous-sounding claim that it’s nothing more than women choosing to donate the “tissue” from their abortions, which is all very consensual and legal.

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While it is illegal to “sell” aborted baby body parts, Planned Parenthood appears to be raking in profits from the aborted baby parts trade via loopholes in the law that allow payment for things like transportation, processing and storage of fetal tissue.

Consent means disclosure of information. How many Planned Parenthoods are telling mothers coming in for abortions that they’re basing part of their decision making on how to kill the fetus and remove it from the mother, based on the body parts they want to procure for researchers willing to pay top dollar for them?

A Congressional hearing 15 years ago found that despite their denials, at least one Planned Parenthood clinic was indeed involved in the baby parts trafficking business.

Fifteen years later, another undercover investigation has shown Planned Parenthood is the center of the baby parts business.  A new Congressional investigation is underway. 

Over at IJ Review yesterday, I noted that this is only the latest manifestation of abortion’s devaluation of human life. In 2006 we saw abortion mills in the Netherlands and Ukraine harvesting babies for beauty treatments. Remember too that only after getting caught last year did officials in Oregon end a program where aborted babies from Canada were being used as a source of energy via incinerator.

As presidential candidate Carly Fiorina told me Tuesday, “This latest news is tragic and outrageous. This isn't about ‘choice’. It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it's about empowerment."

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Controversial documentary will benefit pro-life groups

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

Creators of the highly controversial, award-winning documentary "The Principle" are stepping up to offer private showings of the new film that documents Earth’s significance in the cosmos as a way for grassroots pro-life groups to build their communities and raise funds for their programming through an innovative screening process that has raised hundreds of thousands for similar groups in the past.

“After opening the film in 10 cities across the U.S., we’re eager to build upon the audiences and bring this film to as many viewers as possible ahead of any VOD/DVD release,” noted writer/producer Rick Delano. “If we can help small pro-life groups raise thousands in each market in the process, that’s just a bonus.”

The screening program will be run through Little Flower Strategies (LFS), which has run similar event-based fundraisers for pro-life and other groups in the past using films such as "Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine" and "The Triumph", which screened in hundreds of cities worldwide, raising nearly $200,000 for small, grassroots groups.

“We’ve worked with many pro-life groups before and seen amazing success with these screenings,” said LFS’ Victor Pap, who will guide local leaders and organizers through the screening process. “In fact, one group reported bringing in over $11,000 with just two events—we consider that a major success for a small pro-life prayer group looking to broaden their base and all it takes a little work.”

Since its limited theatrical release across 10 U.S. markets, "The Principle" has developed a tremendous online following and drawn critical praise from pastors, reviewers, and even an international film festival. With narration by Kate Mulgrew ("Star Trek Voyager"), visual animations by BUF Compagnie Paris ("The Matrix: Revolutions", "Harry Potter"), and commentary from prominent scientists including George Ellis, Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss, and MIT’s Max Tegmark, this important film traces the development of cosmology from its inception (Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid at Giza) through the revolution of Copernicus and shows modern science pointing toward evidence of a Creator.

“The beauty of the pro-life movement is its defense of the idea that every human life is significant, no matter how ‘small’. Imagine, if that truth were empirically reflected in our cosmos,” asks Delano. “Imagine if this tiny, humdrum planet, were actually shown to be of true significance—what might that mean for us all?”

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Bishop who helped in first draft of Laudato Si’: Pope didn’t intend to pronounce on the science

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

June 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – One of the first drafters of the pope’s new encyclical on the environment has stressed that Francis did not intend to pronounce on the scientific questions related to climate change.

In an interview with Inside the Vatican’s Giuseppe Rusconi, to be released in English tomorrow, Bishop Mario Toso said, “I must insist; It is not the intention of Pope Francis” to pronounce on scientific debates, “but to reflect on the anthropological and ethical issues that arise from them.”

Whatever the pope’s intentions, however, his emphatic tone in raising these moral issues does convey that he holds a rather clear stance on the matter.

He says, for example, that:

  • there’s “an urgent need” to “drastically reduce” emission of “carbon dioxide” (26);
  • a very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system” resulting from “greenhouse gasses” released “mainly as a result of human activity (23);
  • In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events (23)
  • Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. (23);
  • Warming has effects on the carbon cycle. It creates a vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer regions, and leading to the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity.(24);
  • We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. (165);
  • climate change is “a global problem with grave implications” (25).
  • See more in #24-26, #52, #169-170, #172, #175, #181 #188.

Despite Bishop Toso’s assertions and even similar reflections in the encyclical itself where the pope says he does not mean to “settle scientific questions” but to open debate (188), world leaders have nonetheless taken Laudato Si’ as the pope’s push for action on global warming as a moral imperative.

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U.S. President Obama, for instance, said, “I welcome His Holiness Pope Francis's encyclical, and deeply admire the Pope's decision to make the case -- clearly, powerfully, and with the full moral authority of his position –- for action on global climate change.

His sentiments were echoed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who said:  “Pope Francis and I agree that climate change is a moral issue that requires collective urgent action. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics.”

Bishop Toso was until January the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and in that capacity was involved with the first draft of Laudato Si’, written in 2014. Currently he is bishop of the Diocese of Faenza-Modigliana in Italy.

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John-Henry Westen

John-Henry is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews.com. 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 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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