John Jalsevac

"Angels fly because they take themselves lightly." - G.K. Chesterton


That Victoria’s Secret baby is just the tip of a disturbing trend

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

Update Oct. 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm EST: Police have now revealed that, contrary to the girl's claims, her baby was full term and was born alive, and then likely asphyxiated. 

Today the body of a baby was discovered in the bag of a 17-year-old teen suspected of shoplifting at a Victoria's Secret store in Manhattan. People are rightly shocked by this event.

However, what if I told you that this sort of thing is happening routinely, all across the country, as well as in other parts of the world? And that the only reason that it's making national headlines this time is because the discovery of the baby's body was at a Victoria Secret store, which gives the story that extra bizarre twist, with just a hint of weird sexuality, that will grab attention? 

Take a look at the following list...which is far from complete. I've simply compiled some of the most shocking, and most recent incidents.

Here are the incidents in just the past eight months or so:

  • October 17 - A 17-year-old girl is stopped at a Victoria's Secret store in Manhattan for suspected shoplifting, and admits that in her bag she has the body of a baby that she gave birth to the day previous. 
  • October 11 - A newborn baby is found, bleeding but alive, with part of his umbilical cord still attached, abandoned on the concrete in the back yard of a house in Queen's, New York. The baby survived. 
  • September 19 - The body of a baby is found at a garbage dump in West Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom.
  • August 28 - A woman gives birth in a bar bathroom in Pennsylvania, stuffs the baby in the water tank of a toilet, and then returns to the bar to watch a fight on TV. The body was subsequently discovered by the bar owner. 
  • August 7 - The body of a baby is discovered at hospital rest room in Texas. 
  • July 9 - Police discover the body of a baby abandoned in a diaper box in the bushes at a public park in Roseville, California.
  • June 21 - The body of a small baby is found in a solid waste tank in a waste disposal plant just north of Montreal. Police say the baby was likely flushed down the toilet. 
  • June 21  - The body of a newborn baby is discovered in a trash can in Oildale, California. 
  • June 20 - An Iraqi-born UK woman is found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm after stuffing her baby in a garbage bag and throwing her down a 44 ft. garbage chute.
  • June 14 - A garbage truck driver in Thailand sees a small hand emerge from a garbage bag during a pickup. The baby had a balloon tied around her throat.
  • June 12 - Brittany Cole is arrested in Altheimer, Arkansas, after dumping her infant son in the trash can. She reportedly told police that she was tired of caring for the baby and could no longer do so. 
  • June 5 - Twenty-seven-year-old Virginia resident Shavaughn Robinson is charged after allegedly giving birth in a toilet, then placing her daughter in a trash can, and then taking the garbage bag with the baby in it out of the can and tossing it in a dumpster. 
  • June 4 - A dog discovers a living baby in Thailand that had been placed in a white plastic bag in a dump. The baby, which was premature, survived.
  • May 30 - Police announce that charges will not be filed against a Kansas teen who gave birth and dumped the body of her baby in a trash can. The teen claimed the baby was stillborn. 
  • May 27 - Video footage of firefighters in Jinhua, China, rescuing a baby who had become stuck in a sewage pipe, rockets around the globe. The baby's mother apparently gave birth on the toilet, and by her own account "accidentally" flushed the baby down the toilet. The mom reportedly hid the pregnancy because the baby was not considered legal under China's brutal One-Child Policy.
  • May 2 - Cherlie Lafleur, 19, is arrested in Pennsylvania after allegedly attempting to flush her newborn baby down the toilet at her school. When that didn’t work, she reportedly deposited the body in the trash can.
  • Dec. 10, 2012 - The body of a newborn baby is discovered on the conveyor belt of a garbage sorting facility in La Puente, California. 

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

I've been working in the news business for nearly 10 years, and I can't ever recall a similar string of incidents. Recently, to help keep all these disturbing stories organized on our website we even had to come up with a tag, the macabre, but sadly necessary "toilet births."

So why is this happening all over the place? Good question.

Last month, a prominent Catholic deacon speculated that the rash of such incidents signals the return of the ancient pagan practice of “exposure,” in which parents would simply leave their unwanted newborn babies on a rock or in the wild to die.   

“It was the Christians who saved [these babies] and transformed those cultures from cultures of death into cultures of life,” wrote Deacon Keith Fournier. 

However, he said, the rise of the abortion culture seems to be bringing the custom back in an unofficial form, with numerous gruesome stories emerging in recent months of parents unceremoniously discarding their newborn children. 

“These contemporary examples substitute a trash can or a dumpster for the rock,” Fournier wrote.

But, he said, this trend isn't surprising, since "babies are treated as trash” in abortion clinics across the country.

It's hard to argue with that logic. Take a look at these other recent incidents:

  • May 28, 2013 - Report surfaces from China about how Chinese officials forcibly aborted a mother who was 8-months pregnant, literally "yanking" her baby out of her, and then dumping it in the trash can. 
  • May 14, 2013 - Three former workers at a Texas abortion clinic run by abortionist Douglas Karpen step forward alleging that babies are routinely murdered after being born alive during failed late-term abortions at Karpen's clinic.  One of Karpen's former assistants said the abortionist would even "twist" the babies heads off.
  • May 13 - Kermit Gosnell is found guilty of murdering three babies born alive during failed abortions by "snipping" their spinal cords. His former employees alleged that "hundreds" of babies were killed in this way. In some cases their dismembered feet were kept in jars, or their bodies stuffed into plastic containers and stored in the clinic freezer.
  • May 8, 2013 - Live Action release undercover footage of renowned late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart telling a woman seeking an abortion that after he kills the baby in her womb, it will soften up like "meat in a crock pot," before the body of the baby is removed three days later. 
  • April 29, 2013 - Live Action releases undercover footage of a worker at a late-term abortion facility telling a woman seeking an abortion to just "flush it" if the baby is accidentally born alive during the abortion. “If it comes out, then it comes out. Flush it…if anything, you know, put it in a bag or something or somewhere and bring it to us,” the counselor says.
  • April 19, 2013 - A former employee of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell testfies in court how on one occasion a fully formed baby was born alive into a toilet. Kareema Cross said the baby was making "swimming motions" as if it was trying to get out. Another of Gosnell's employees, Adrienne Moton, then took the baby out of the toilet, and slit its spinal cord. 

And this only touches the surface of similarly macabre stories that have come out of the abortion industry. The Gosnell case alone provided hundreds of pages of nausea-inducing stories of living newborn babies crying, squirming and swimming before being brutally murdered and then dumped in the trash can, or ground up in the clinic's garbage disposal. 

While Gosnell was found guilty because he murdered the babies after they were born, it's clear that his crimes stemmed directly from the abortionist's mentality. In many cases if he had killed the babies minutes earlier, it would have been perfectly legal, or, at worst, a violation of the state's 24-week cut off. To him there was little difference between killing them before or after birth. And is that really all that surprising? 

Recently, former Seattle City Council member Judy Nicastro wrote an article in the New York Times touting her abortion of her son at 23 weeks, saying that she was "grateful" that the late-term abortion let her son die "in a warm and loving place." In the article she describes, as if it were a beautifully emotional moment, how, "I felt my son’s budding life end as a doctor inserted a needle through my belly into his tiny heart."

Pro-life activists tend to believe that if they convince someone that the unborn child is human and alive, then they will be against abortion. But Nicastro had no doubt that that what happened during her abortion was that the abortionist killed her living son. Not a fetus, but her son. And she is "grateful" for that, and thinks it was a beautiful thing, the right thing to do. 

So why are there so many stories emerging of moms or others dumping their babies into toilets or trash cans? Could it possibly be the fact that our politicians, our doctors, and our laws, all agree that killing babies and treating them like trash is acceptable, and a critical part of a "free" society? And if so, should we really be surprised when people behave as if that's actually true? 

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Vatican website misquotes Pope Francis on Communion for the divorced and remarried

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

No one seems to agree about whether Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, changes Church discipline and opens the door to Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The now-infamous footnote 351 certainly appears to do just that, and this is the interpretation that Cardinal Walter Kasper - the cardinal behind the push to allow the divorced and remarried to receive Communion - himself clearly takes. But some have disputed this, pointing to clear canon law and established Church practice, as well as some of the ambiguities surrounding the footnote itself.

So it was with eagerness that many Catholics listened to a question on the matter posed to Pope Francis this past weekend on the flight back from the Greek island of Lesbos.

A reporter asked the pope, point blank, whether there are any “new concrete possibilities that did not exist before the publication of the exhortation” for the divorced and remarried, making specific reference to “the discipline that governs the access to the Sacraments.” The reporter’s complete question is provided at the bottom of this post.

The pope began his response saying simply, in Italian: “Io posso dire, si. Punto.” Translated into English, this means: “I can say yes. Period.”

In recordings of the pope's answer, the audio is completely unambiguous, as is the Italian itself. There can be no doubt about what the pope said, nor of how to translate those five straightforward words into English.

However, while those first five words - taken alone - seem at first glance like a stunningly clear response from the pope on a matter of enormous importance, the latter part of his answer reintroduces ambiguity.

"But that would be too small an answer," he continued, after which he encouraged journalists to refer back to Cardinal Schonborn’s presentation about the exhortation. "In that presentation your question will have the answer," he said.

On the question of the sacraments for those in "irregular" unions, Schonborn's presentation largely just refers back to the text of the exhortation itself - including the controversial footnote 351. That footnote says that the Church's help for those in irregular unions can "in some cases" include the sacraments. (Schonborn himself allows the divorced and remarried in his diocese to receive Communion following a period of discernment.)

And so journalists are now scrambling not just to interpret the exhortation itself, but the pope's answer on the plane. However, that process of interpretation has not been aided by the fact that the Vatican website clearly misquotes the pope – in a way that adds additional ambiguity.

The Vatican transcribes the pope’s remarks thusly: “Io potrei dire ‘si’, e punto.”

The important change here is the obvious alteration of the verb “posso” (I can) to the verb “potrei” (I could). Nobody who listened to the audio could have possibly heard the word “potrei.” It’s simply not what the pope said.

And the change, while small, is not of small importance. In grammar-speak, whoever transcribed the interview for the Vatican changed the first person form of the verb “potere” (to be able) from the indicative mood to the conditional mood. And, as any grammarian or student of language knows, the conditional mood is designed to convey the hypothetical or the uncertain.

But if you watch the video of the pope’s answer (below - start at 21 minutes and 40 seconds), he doesn't appear to be speaking with uncertainty. His cadence, his gestures, his wording – everything conveys certainty and clarity. Thus, for instance, his use of the emphatic word “punto” (period) at the end of the first sentence. “I can say yes, period.”

Now, it could very well be that this transcription error was an innocent mistake. Having listened to a bunch of the rest of the interview, in Italian, and compared it to the Vatican transcription, it’s clear there isn’t always a one-to-one correspondence. Occasionally the pope’s words are moved around to clarify sentence structure, some adjustments are made to improve his grammar (He's not a native Italian speaker, and sometimes uses unusual grammatical constructions), or words that the pope mumbled or seemed to imply are simply provided.

The “Italian method” of journalism, as we have often been told during this current pontificate, sometimes takes the form less of a science than of an art (just think of the Pope’s unrecorded “interviews” with the atheist Scalfari, which Scalfari openly confesses he reconstructs from memory). It could be that the (likely Italian) transcriber of the pope’s remarks either misheard him (hard to imagine given the clarity of the audio), or simply thought the pope sounded like he intended to use the conditional (a not totally unreasonable possibility), and therefore “fixed” his grammar.

But even if so, the issue deserves to be corrected for the sake of the public record, since this a case where even an innocent attempt to "fix" the pope's grammar clearly amounts to editorializing. Given that these words are one of the only keys we have to intrepret the exhortation, it's important that the debate at least starts with an accurate transcription - after which we can get into the murky waters of what the pope "intended" to say, or what it means. 

There are already online disputes about the translation. (Bizarrely, one leading Catholic news agency mistranslated the pope as saying, “I can say yes, many” – which he clearly didn’t say - while Vatican Radio for some reason leaves out the emphatic word “punto.”) In response, some are simply referring back to the Vatican transcription as the official account of what the pope said. However, the Vatican transcription is clearly wrong. It seems the only way to truly confirm what the pope said in some cases may be to obtain the video of what he said and listen with your own ears.

The reporter’s complete question: Some maintain that nothing has changed with respect to the discipline that governs the access to the Sacraments for the divorced and remarried, and that the law and the pastoral practice and obviously the doctrine remains the same. Others maintain instead that much has changed and that there are many new openings and possibilities. The question is, for one person, a Catholic, that wants to know: Are there new concrete possibilities that did not exist before the publication of the Exhortation, or not?

h/t 1Peter5

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Number of Catholic writers expressing concern about Pope’s exhortation rapidly growing

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

April 12, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The number of thoughtful critiques of the pope’s apostolic exhortation by respected Catholic writers and journalists is piling up. A list of many of the best of them is included below. 

What strikes the reader about many of these articles is the circumspectness and charity with which many of the writers issue their criticisms. They are not the knee-jerk reactions of hard-line fundamentalist anti-papal agitators. In many cases, the writers are obviously angst-ridden at having to say anything in criticism of their beloved Holy Father.

Many go out of their way to highlight the many positive elements of the document. But in the end, they cannot ignore what they view as the fatal flaws of the exhortation, especially the explosive chapter 8. 

What is also interesting is that many of these articles appear on the websites of publications that have - or are penned by writers who have - in the past gone way out of their way to interpret the pope’s frequent ambiguities in the most favorable light. 

Indeed, there is the sense that the pope’s exhortation may mark something of a sea change in the world of Catholic journalism. For the past three years most Catholic writers have been at great pains to explain and interpret Pope Francis in the clear light of traditional Church teaching – even as one detected a growing anxiety in the subtext of the glut of “what the pope really said” articles that flooded our Facebook news feeds or e-mail inboxes after every puzzling papal proclamation.

But by this time the question many Catholic journalists are naturally asking is: why do we have to keep doing this? Why does it require such hard work simply to understand what the pope is saying and how it might be construed as being in conformity with established teaching? In reference to the exhortation itself: why do we even have to engage in such tortured exegesis simply to understand individual footnotes, let alone the full text - and even then, why are so many intelligent thinkers arriving at such divergent interpretations of key passages? Would it have been so hard to be a bit clearer, as previous popes were?

Pope Francis himself answers that question – in a way – towards the end of that controversial chapter 8. "I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion," he writes. "But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, 'always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street'.”

In other words: the confusion you’re experiencing is a feature, not a bug. What many Catholic writers are asking is: to what end? And what, precisely, does it mean for the Church to "get her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street"? Count me among those who are stumped. 

Here are some of the best articles floating around out there:


Beautiful, Moving, and Divisive - Robert Royal – The Catholic Thing

“For all his claims to the contrary in these many pages, Francis seems more interested in bringing people comfort than full conversion to what Christ clearly taught on marriage. Newman had seen that too: “Those who make comfort the great subject of their preaching seem to mistake the end of their ministry. Holiness is the great end. There must be a struggle and a trial here. Comfort is a cordial, but no one drinks cordials from morning to night.”

The Pope's confused message undermines his own pastoral program – Phil Lawler – Catholic Culture

"Amoris Laetitia is not a revolutionary document. It is a subversive one...

"Unfortunately, Cardinal Schönborn’s caveat, like much of the Pope’s own message, will be lost in the discussion of Amoris Laetitia. Inevitably, as it is received by ordinary Catholics in the pews, the Pope’s message will be understood only in a simplified form: as a green light for the divorced/remarried to receive Communion. Priests who are already all too willing to accommodate the wishes of divorced/remarried Catholics will be confirmed in their attitudes. Those who want to demand more—the conscientious pastors who would be most likely to help Christians grow in holiness-- will be isolated and undermined."

In Amoris Laetitia, who is admonishing whom? – Fr. James Schall – Catholic World Report

"It would be difficult to know what else to call this section but an exercise in sophisticated casuistry. Every effort is made to excuse or understand how one who is in such a situation is not really responsible for it. There was ignorance, or passion, or confusion. We are admonished not to judge anyone. And we are to welcome anyone and make every effort to make him feel at home in Church and as a neighbor. Attention is paid to victims of divorce who are treated unfairly, and especially children. But the prime interest is in mercy and compassion. God already forgives everything and so should we. The intellectual precision that the Holy Father uses to excuse or lessen guilt is cause for some reflection. The law cannot change but the “gradual” leading up to understanding this failure to observe the law takes time and patience.

"But when we add it all up, it often seems that the effect of this approach is to lead us to conclude that no “sin” has ever occurred. Everything has an excusing cause. If this conclusion is correct, we really have no need for mercy, which has no meaning apart from actual sin and its free recognition. One goes away from this approach not being sorry for his sins but relieved in realizing that he has never really sinned at all. Therefore, there is no pressing need to concern oneself too much with these situations."

A Stubborn Givenness – R.R. Reno – First Things

“When it comes to a pastoral response to those of us wounded, damaged, and deformed by the sexual revolution, I fear Francis represents a spiritualized technological mentality. In this Apostolic Exhortation, when faced with the theological limitations to his vision of mercy-inspired evangelization, he employs the hyper-subjective logic of modernity. This will not end well, for it tempts us to imagine that we must master our Christian inheritance and re-engineer it into more useful, more missionary forms.”

The Curate’s Egg: A Reflection on Amoris Laetitia - Fr. George Rutler - Crisis Magazine

"Much, perhaps too much, has already been said about this apostolic exhortation, often revealing as much about the commentators as their commentaries. It is true that there are parts of it that are eloquent, but most of them are quotations of God and Saint Paul. The Word does have a way with words, and the charity of the Apostle gave him the tongue of an angel. In contrast, there are a lot of gongs clanging and cymbals clashing in the contradictions and redundancies of much of the exhortation’s diction. Parts like the affirmation of Humanae Vitae settle the text in the sacred tradition, but there is also the muddled treatment of moral culpability that almost nods to the neuralgic interpretation of the “fundamental option” theory rejected by St. John Paul II (Veritatis Splendor, nn.65, 67). This had been addressed earlier by a formal declaration of the Holy See:  A person’s moral disposition “can be completely changed by particular acts, especially when, as often happens, these have been prepared for by previous more superficial acts. Whatever the case, it is wrong to say that particular acts are not enough to constitute a mortal sin” (Persona Humana, December 29, 1975, No. 10)."

Francis' sprawling Exhortation a marriage of profound and muddled – Carl Olson – Catholic World Report

"Exactly right. For whatever reason, Francis seems to think that the past few decades have been marked by a dogmatic rigidity that is as merciless as it is obsessed with the fine details of law, causing countless innocent or near innocent Catholics to flee a Church that they perceive to be cold and heartless. That perspective is, to put it nicely, dubious and problematic. The impression often given, unfortunately, is that any emphasis on objective moral standards regarding actions and relationships is bound to quickly degenerate into a harsh and uncharitable condemnation. 

"It doesn't help matters that Francis apparently plays a bit fast and loose with some of his arguments and sources." 

Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia and St. John Paul II – Eduardo Echeverria – Catholic World Report

“There are three significant problems with the chapter titled "Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness", especially in light of "Veritatis Splendor.”

Always fear, always love – Matthew Schmitz – First Things

"Something strange is going on here. Aquinas does say that, 'every human being is bound to live agreeably with those around him.' But Francis has left off the second half of the sentence: ' . . . unless it should be necessary for him for some reason to cause them profitable sadness at some time.' Francis’s politeness does not seem to have room for the profitable sadness known to Aquinas, that edifying state brought on by necessary rebukes and hard truths.

"The half-quotation of Aquinas typifies Francis's procedure in Amoris Laetitia. Half of the Christian tradition is simply left out, and so the basic shape and essential tensions of the whole are lost. The love of God is present, but the fear of God—the terrible knowledge that we are responsible for our souls—is not. This omission is deliberate."

First thoughts on the English version of Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia. - Ed Peters

“In AL 297, Francis writes: “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” To the contrary, it is precisely the logic of the Gospel that one can be condemned forever. CCC 1034-1035. If one meant, say, that no one can be ‘condemned for ever’ by earthly authority, one should have said so. But, of course, withholding holy Communion from those in “public and permanent adultery” is not a “condemnation” at all, so the point being made is not clear.”

Yes, the Eucharist is ‘powerful medicine’, which means… - Ed Peters

“The bounteous effects of the Eucharist, specifically in regard to forgiveness of and preservation from sin, are laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1393-1395, 1436, and 1846. These passages amply support the pope’s phrasing in fn 351. But missing from the pope’s commentary here is an acknowledgement that, as is true of a “powerful medicine”, taking the Eucharist improperly can be harmful, even spiritually deadly, to the recipient.

“…In sum, what one may question is not the pope’s comparing the Eucharist to “powerful medicine”, but rather, the failure to mention the warnings against improper consumption listed on the label.”

The law before ‘Amoris’ is the law after – Edward Peters

"Amoris Laetitia': The Good, the Disturbing, and the Torturous – Dorothy Cummings Mclean – Catholic World Report

“The Apostolic Exhortation suggests that although its principal author has a talent for pastoral theology, he is out of his depth when he strays into another theological specialty.”

The New Catholic Truce – Ross Douthat – New York Times

“A slippage that follows from this lack of confidence is one of the most striking aspects of the pope’s letter. What the church considers serious sin becomes mere “irregularity.” What the church considers a commandment becomes a mere 'ideal.' What the church once stated authoritatively it now proffers tentatively, in tones laced with self-effacement, self-critique.”

Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating—in the Way of the Master – David Paul Deavel – Catholic World Report

"Pope Francis is often esteemed as an optimistic pope in contrast with his dogmatic German and Polish predecessors. But is there not a deep pessimism about the power of grace in #298 where the Pope proposes pastorally recognizing second unions where “Christian commitment” is accompanied by “consciousness of its [the second union’s] irregularity” because of “the great difficulty in conscience that one would fall into new sins”? But the call to “discern” with such couples is a call to figure out whether the union is not just “irregular” but actually sinful. If the regula or rule which is being violated is simply a positive or prudential law of the Church, then the Supreme Legislator can change it, but if the rule is about an intrinsic evil, then the obligation of pastors is to say that: first, this rule must stay, and second, that the Church’s accompaniment is going to involve working with the couple to end the sinful situation in which they are tangled and help them to not “fall into new sins.” 

Amoris Laetitia – David Warren

“It can indeed simply be said, and has always been said by Holy Church, with innocent simplicity, that mortal sin is mortally sinful, so once again I think the pope must be corrected. Men, including my heroes Thomas More and John Fisher, went to the block for such simple assertions as the indissolubility of marriage. Does the Holy Father now propose to decanonize half our saints and all our martyrs?”

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Cardinal Raymond Burke speaks with LifeSiteNews Paris correspondent Jeanne Smits in Rome. Olivier Figueras / LifeSiteNews


Cardinal Burke’s puzzling response to the pope’s exhortation…makes perfect sense

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

April 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Burke has issued his much-anticipated first response to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia - and I think it’s fair to say that it isn’t what anybody expected.

Certainly, it’s not the fire and brimstone teardown of the text that some of his devotees might have anticipated, or hoped for. In fact, the first two paragraphs are even being interpreted by some as a stinging rebuke to the many conservative Catholic writers who have criticized the exhortation.

They’re wrong (see below). But I can see how they might think that without carefully reading the whole of Cardinal Burke’s response. Indeed, if we have been told that we must “read the full text” before responding to something written by Pope Francis, the advice applies equally to the cardinal’s thoughtful column.

Boiled down, Cardinal Burke’s point is essentially this: stop saying the apostolic exhortation is a revolution in Church teaching, because it can’t be a revolution in Church teaching, because the exhortation is non-magisterial and by definition does not have the authority to change church teaching or practice, and to say it has done so causes scandal.

To boil it down even further: the exhortation can’t change church teaching, and therefore it didn’t. Full stop.

At first glance, the argument strikes the reader as a bit…well…beside the point. “What about all those controversial bits!” we want say. “What did you think of those?” And on that matter, the cardinal simply has nothing to say – at least, not yet. In fact, the most striking thing about His Eminence’s response is that he barely references the text of the exhortation, at all. For the purposes of the cardinal’s argument, the document could have claimed that the moon is made of blue cheese, or that it would be pastorally beneficial for Catholics to jump on one foot three times per day.

And this makes perfect sense when you realize that the cardinal is approaching the issue from the viewpoint of a Catholic canon law jurist. He’s not interested (yet) in joining the host of those writers struggling to interpret the sometimes-tortured text. For now he’s interested in stemming the confusion by answering one, very specific question: exactly what authority the exhortation might have to propose novel doctrinal or pastoral practices.

His conclusion is: none.  

He is essentially making the same argument (with some shades of difference) as that made this weekend by the highly respected canonist Edward Peters: that is, the apostolic exhortation does not invoke the necessary authority to change the Church's teaching or practice on communion, and therefore it didn't, no matter what it might seem to say. If the words of the document appear to say something different: refer back to canon law and established church teaching and interpret in light of that.

Those who are seizing upon the first two paragraphs of Burke's response as a clear rebuke of those conservative Catholics who have openly decried some sections of the exhortation, are, I think, clearly missing the point. After reading the whole of Burke’s column, it becomes strikingly clear that the primary target of Burke’s rebuke is, in fact, liberal mainstream media outlets and Catholic writers and publications, such as America Magazine and the National Catholic Reporter, who have hailed the exhortation as a welcome revolution.

I strongly suspect that Cardinal Burke had in mind the likes of the “progressive” Archbishop Cupich, who hailed the exhortation as a “game changer,” or the Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin, who this weekend consoled a man in a gay “marriage” who had lamented that the Church says he is “living in sin.” “That language is out,” Fr. Martin gleefully told the man in a Facebook post.

This is the kind of scandal that I believe Cardinal Burke intended above all to reprove. 

Not only does this interpretation make the most sense given everything we know about Cardinal Burke's views, but there is abundant support for this interpretation in the text of His Eminence’s column itself. In fact, in the opening sentence, he specifically rebukes the "mainstream media," who, together with "some Catholic media," are calling the exhortation "a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church." The "mainstream media" are not lamenting a putative "radical departure" from the Church's teaching - they're celebrating it.

Papal defenders will point out that the cardinal encourages Catholics to receive the exhortation with “profound respect.” Tellingly, however, he then immediately clarifies that such respect doesn’t require total acquiescence. In fact, quite the contrary:

Certain commentators confuse such respect with a supposed obligation to “believe with divine and Catholic faith” (Canon 750, § 1) everything contained in the document. But the Catholic Church, while insisting on the respect owed to the Petrine Office as instituted by Our Lord Himself, has never held that every utterance of the Successor of St. Peter should be received as part of her infallible magisterium.

Certainly, it is telling that Cardinal Burke then devotes some 2,000 or so more words to painstakingly arguing that the apostolic exhortation is simply the "personal reflection" of a pope, urging pastors to interpret the document only in light of established Magisterial teaching, emphasizing church teaching that some have said the exhortation undermines, emphasizing pastoral practices that many have argued the document changes, and saying not a single positive word about the actual content of the exhortation itself. Indeed, the only time he explicitly addresses the text is to criticize its frequent use of the word "ideal" to refer to the Church's teaching on marriage. 

This doesn't strike me as the response of a man who believes everything is just fine, and who wants everybody else to think so either. The taut restraint of his juridical prose clearly hides deeper concerns than what he has written here. His primary interest, for now, is to stem the tide of scandal by urging greater restraint in the interpretation of the document.

Of course, that the cardinal likely aimed his barb primarily at certain liberal Catholic writers and publications, doesn’t mean that he didn't also intend to warn "faithful" writers of the possibility of causing scandal of their own by overstating the authority or impact of the exhortation. Indeed, we should approach our reporting and writing on the exhortation with fear and trembling – lest we write something that, in our excessive zeal for the truth, unintentionally adds to the confusion by suggesting the document changes more than it really does.

This has always been the catch-22 for a Catholic journalist writing during a confusing papacy. For me personally, it has often meant that in the midst of writing a column expressing my opinion about one or another confusing statement by Pope Francis, I have simply abandoned the column half-written, afraid of adding to the damage. Instead I have taken my confusion to prayer, and asked for the wisdom to speak only when doing so would help lead people to Christ and His Church, and to keep my opinions to myself when they won’t.

Certainly, there will be (and already are) some who will decry the Cardinal’s response as excessively weak, given the crisis in the life of the Church that they believe the apostolic exhortation represents.

I would share those concerns. After all, while the cardinal is certainly technically correct that the exhortation doesn't have the juridical authority to overturn Church teaching or formally introduce novel pastoral practices - there is no question that it has the authority to create the impression in public opinion of having changed church teaching or practice: and that may be the only kind of authority that ultimately matters.

But something also tells me this won’t be the last we hear from Cardinal Burke on the matter. 

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The best response yet to the pro-abort freak-out over that Doritos Superbowl ad

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

Pro-aborts lost their minds yesterday after Doritos aired a commercial that...*gasp*...showed an ultrasound of an unborn baby.


The humorous commercial showed a dad eating a bag of Doritos while his wife gets an ultrasound, and the baby tries to grab at the Doritos in his hands.

Watch it for yourself:

Funny, right? And kind of cute, in a silly way. But not for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

They tweeted their disgust:

Get that? "Humanizing" a fetus.

Since last night there hasn't been any shortage of responses to NARAL's bizarre anti-scientific, anti-baby, and anti-human extremism.

But one of the best responses I've read comes from Dr. Robert George, a pro-life professor at Princeton University, who posted this on Facebook:

I gather that the really big news, as always, had to do with a commercial advertisement that was broadcast in the course of the game. Evidently, a potato chip manufacurer, or some such profit-driven purveyor of packaged foodstuffs, showed a video image of an unborn baby. This shocked and appalled the folks at NARAL, the big abortion lobby, who promptly accused the company responsible for the ad of "humanizing the fetus." Since, however, the fetus in the video was, by all accounts, a human fetus, the offspring of human parents, and not a bovine, canine, or feline fetus, it's less than clear how it is that the potato chip company (or whatever it was) is to blame for the humanization. Surely NARAL's complaint would be more fairly lodged against God, or nature, or plain old biological reality.

Memo to NARAL: that's what an unborn baby actually looks like.

Every couple who has ever had an ultrasound has watched their baby being "humanized" right in front of their eyes, which is why having an ultrasound is such a beautiful and moving experience.

Nowadays, with crystal-clear "4D" ultrasounds, couples can watch their babies kick about, suck their thumbs, respond to noises in the room, move away from the doctor's or nurse's touch, etc.

RELATED: ‘I saw little arms, little legs, and a head!’: Mom leaves abortion clinic after seeing ultrasound

And that's why pro-life activists are working furiously to pass laws ensuring that women are given the opportunity to see an ultrasound of their babies before they go through with an abortion. It's called "informed consent." That means, telling a patient everything they need to know to make an informed decision before going through with an irrevocable medical procedure.

But pro-abortion groups like NARAL are fighting these commonsense laws tooth and nail. Why? Because they know what pro-lifers who work in crisis pregnancy centers have learned through long experience: when women see their baby in front of their eyes on an ultrasound, they are far, far less likely to go through with the abortion. And that means lost income for abortion clinics.

RELATED: UK parents reject abortion after seeing son smile on ultrasound

That's why story after story has come out of women saying that even when they asked to see the ultrasound of their baby before their abortion at an abortion clinic, the staff at the clinic refusedBecause feminism. 

So, a question for abortion supporters out there: If your whole ideology has to be propped up on a stubborn denial of one of the most clearly proven scientific facts - i.e. the humanity of the human unborn child - what does that say about the value of your ideology? And if the only way you can get women to buy your product - abortion - is by lying to them, what does that say about your view of women? 

John Jalsevac

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John Jalsevac is the managing editor of He has a bachelor's degree in philosophy with a minor in theology from Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. He has published hundreds of articles in publications including Crisis Magazine, Catholic Insight, The Wanderer, and of course, LifeSiteNews. 

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