Kirsten Andersen

2,000+ youth learn the nuts and bolts of pro-life activism at Students for Life conference

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen
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BETHESDA, MD, January 29, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 2,000 high school and college students packed the Montgomery County Conference Center in Bethesda on Saturday to attend the Students for Life of America annual conference.  The conference, held just one day after the March for Life, featured dozens of speakers and educational sessions aimed at helping students become leaders in the pro-life movement.

Ten high schools and 86 colleges from around the nation were represented at the daylong event, including Stanley Catholic High School from Fargo, ND, whose students traveled 31 hours by bus to attend both the conference and the March for Life. 

Matthew Fulkes, 17, is a senior at Stanley.  He told LifeSiteNews that it was his first time attending the march.  “It was amazing,” said Fulkes.  “Cold, but amazing.” 

Another Stanley student said he was learning a lot at the conference workshops. 

“I learned how to talk to women in crisis pregnancies, and how to talk to women who have had abortions,” said Gunnar Bossart, also 17, “and I just got done with an apologetics workshop.”

Craig Needham, 18, said he attended a workshop on Theology of the Body.  “It’s interesting to get a different perspective on the things we’ve learned in school,” he said. 

Fulkes agreed.  “In high school,” he said, “we actually learn about a lot of the same stuff, so it’s cool to correlate our ideas with what the professors here are talking about.”

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All three boys said they were looking forward to trying to use the lessons they learned at the conference in their everyday lives back home.

“Growing up in a Catholic school,” Needham said, “a lot of kids, I feel, take it for granted.  But when you come on, like, the march, and take the opportunity to go to these workshops, it makes these things that you’re learning tangible, and it helps you apply it to your life.”

Workshops were available for a wide-ranging array of topics.  Students could take lessons in how to sidewalk counsel women entering abortion clinics.  They could participate in a social media strategy session.  There were workshops targeted specifically to high school students, and specifically toward undergrads.  One workshop aimed at pre-med students featured a doctor, Bryan Calhoun, who gave the young would-be physicians an overview of life issues in the medical field and taught them how to help patients facing poor prenatal diagnoses or other worrisome prognoses work through their fears and choose life instead of abortion.

“You never have to kill a baby to save the life of the mother,” said Dr. Calhoun.  He repeated the statement often during his presentation, as he progressed through a list of test results and diagnoses that often end in abortion.

At the end of his talk, he took questions and comments from the students.  One young woman stood up and tearfully addressed the crowd – her mother had been told by a doctor that she would have severe birth defects and either die at birth or “not have a life worth living,” she said.  The doctor pressured her mother to abort, but her mother refused.  She was born perfectly healthy.  “Miracles do happen,” she said.

While the day’s offerings focused on serious topics, the evening brought a bit of levity.  At the evening general session, Students for Life awarded Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life with their “Defender of Life” award.  He gave the keynote speech, then delighted the crowd by joining the staff of Students for Life on stage to sing and dance to a pro-life rendition of Korean pop artist PSY’s viral hit “Gangnam Style.”  After that, the group held a pep rally featuring Christian rock band Revely and Tyler and Catelynn from MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.”

Kandace Landreneau, president of Louisiana State University’s Students for Life chapter, said it was her third year at the conference.  “It’s been amazing every year,” she said.  “We brought all of our new members from our LSU pro-life club because I think they need to see this.”  Landreneau said the LSU group brought a total of 55 students to the conference.

Landrenaeu praised the high quality of the workshops.  “Earlier I was in a session about Planned Parenthood and how to defund them.  That was phenomenal and really equipped me,” she said.  “They came well-prepared, you know.  I feel like the conference isn’t something to just have fun or mess around with.  This is too important.”

Asked what she hopes her fellow LSU students would take away from the experience, Landreneau said she hoped “that they see the unity in the pro-life movement, and that the majority – the largest pro-life conference on the planet – is college age, you know?  I want them to see that and I want them to realize that [ending abortion] is our job, and that we’re the ones capable of doing it, so we’re responsible to do it.”

“Over fifty percent of abortions are done on women between the ages of 18 and 24,” Landreneau added.  “The people in this room are between 18 and 24.  That’s us.  So, it’s our job.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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