Fr. Peter West


A Benedictine response to the Culture of Death

Fr. Peter West
By Fr. Peter West

July 10, 2012 ( - On July 11, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Benedict of Nursia – the founder and patron of Western Monasticism.  St. Benedict (ca. 480 to 547 AD) was born in the small village in the high mountains northeast of Rome. His parents sent him to study in Rome, but he fled the city to live in the remote area of Subiaco because he was disgusted by the decadence of his fellow students. 

Soon after, St. Benedict was discovered by a group of monks who asked him to be their leader. He reluctantly accepted, but his leadership was too rigorous for the lukewarm monks. They even tried to kill him by offering him a pitcher of poisoned wine; but as the story goes, when he prayed over it, the pitcher miraculously shattered in his hands. St. Benedict left the “unruly” monks and went on to establish twelve other monasteries in the area before moving to Monte Cassino on a hilltop between Rome and Naples in 529 A.D.  There he destroyed a pagan temple dedicated to Apollo and built the monastery where he wrote his Rule and lived until his death. The Rule of St. Benedict is still used in many monasteries and convents today.

Pope Gregory the Great in his Dialogues presented St. Benedict as a “luminous star” who led humanity out of the “black night of history.”  St. Benedict lived in a time when the Roman Empire had collapsed.  Civilization was in ruins. It is said that the Benedictine monks brought civilization to Europe through “the cross, the book and the plow.”  Benedictine monks built monasteries where learning and ancient manuscripts were preserved for the ages. What we think of as the Christian culture of Europe is very much indebted to these monks whose monasteries were centers of piety and learning in medieval times.

In our times we might be able to identify with a civilization in ruins, or at least a civilization that appears to be hurtling toward ruin. Many, including and perhaps especially such Catholics as Melinda Gates, have abandoned the Christian faith and culture that St. Benedict was so essential to spreading, and human life is under attack in unprecedented ways. In these times, we need to call on St. Benedict’s intercession and ask for his intercession to point us out of the darkness of the culture of death and help us reform society.

Pope John Paul II said that St. Benedict’s vision for the reform of society included three main ideas: the value of the individual, as a person; the dignity of work, understood as service of God and brothers; and the necessity of contemplation, that is of prayer: having understood that God is the Absolute, and we live in the Absolute, the soul of everything must be prayer: “Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.” [That in all things God may be glorified.] 

The challenges are great. Europe is dying in large part because it has abandoned the Christian culture on which it was founded and has embraced a neo-pagan ideology.  Fewer and fewer Europeans are having children. Even worse, Europeans are trying to spread their anti-natalist ideology around the world. 

Case in point: a summit will be held in London today sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who are announcing a massive project to spread contraception in the developing world.  It is clear that while Melinda Gates has called her campaign “No Controversy,” many other countries, especially Catholic and Islamic countries, think her campaign is very controversial. 

Many Muslims, like many Christians in the developing world, justly see population control as a new form of imperialism. Indeed, early in the population control movement, before the destructive ideology was wrapped in the language of “reproductive health” and “sustainability,” population control advocates were much more open about their aims. In 1929, British atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote in his book Marriage and Morals: “It cannot be expected that the most powerful military nations will sit still while other nations reverse the balance of power by the mere process of breeding.”

There are too many examples of such blatant eugenic imperialism to list here, although now the same practice is ironically cloaked in the more deceptive language of “justice” and “women’s health.”

In the face of such challenges, we need to embrace the Benedictine motto Ora et Labora [Pray and Work] as we seek to restore that a Christian civilization of life and love.

St. Benedict wrote in his Rule “Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to bring it to perfection.”  He said that nothing should be preferred to Opus Dei [The Work of God], which is what he called the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office. 
Both prayer and work are essential in rebuilding Christian culture and overcoming the culture of death. 

The Founder of Human Life International was Father Paul Marx, O.S.B. – a Benedictine monk who also was called to evangelize. As both a scientist and a man of faith he pointed out, even at a time when many clergy were in open rebellion against Humanae Vitae, that a contraceptive mentality inevitably leads to abortion and other assaults on life.

Fr. Marx in his 1993 book The Warehouse Priest laid out the case for supporting the Holy Father’s prophetic encyclical, saying that the Church must:

consistently proclaim that abortion is the fruit of contraception, that foresight contraception often leads to hindsight abortion, and that massive contraception has caused increasing abortion worldwide. Having visited and studied eighty-five countries, I challenge any bishop, priest, professor, or scientist to show me the contrary. Abortion is the end point of the abuse of sex, which begins with the unleashing of the sexual urge by contraception. (Page 262)

In 2004, Father Marx said that euthanasia is now following abortion just as surely as the latter followed contraception: “If you can be killed before birth, why not after?”  Noting that pro-lifers have been dismissed as foolish for making those claims, he continued: “It becomes more evident every day that you’re right… Europe is dying out. The United States is growing only because of immigration.”

Ora et Labora. We have to continue to pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on us. Melinda Gates’ new eugenics campaign is a challenge to all of us, we must spend time in prayer and allow Him to form our hearts and minds, so that we may think and respond in accordance with His will.

St. Benedict, pray for the conversion of those who have rejected their faith and are working to promote a culture of death.  You destroyed the Temple of Apollo and built the magnificent monastery of Monte Cassino. Help us to follow your example of work and prayer. Pray that the defenders of life and family will be successful in our mission to defeat the culture of death and build a culture of life!

Father Peter West is vice president for missions of Human Life International, the world’s largest international pro-life organization.


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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent


Paris climate summit kicks off with Prince Charles bemoaning our ‘crowded planet’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The COP21 – or 21st edition of the Conference of Parties on “climate change” – got off to a spectacular start on Monday with 150 heads of state joining to speak of the “urgency” of the fight against “anthropogenic” global warming. Even though many scientists disagree with the theory that man’s carbon emissions are causing the planet to heat up, and a good number believe that there has been at least a “pause” in global warming for over 18 years, an overwhelming majority of politicians at the helm of their respective countries are touting emergency measures to keep carbon emissions down. Underlying all this is the Malthusian idea that the Earth’s population is no longer “sustainable.” If man is to blame, that means there are too many human beings on the planet.

That was in fact one of the first points made on Monday, when the 150 heads of state took turns to make 6-minute speeches fraught with urgency and alarm. So many had accepted French President François Hollande’s invitation they had to be separated into two groups in parallel events. As a special guest, the Prince of Wales was one of the first to speak.

jeann“On an increasingly crowded planet,” he said, “humanity faces many threats – but none is greater than climate change.” Prince Charles named several challenges linked to global warming: “our ability to feed ourselves; to remain healthy and safe from extreme weather; to manage the natural resources that support our economies, and to avert the humanitarian disaster of mass migration and increasing conflict.”

What with the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, the rise of the Islamic State and the spectacle of thousands of migrants crossing the southern borders of Europe all summer, this was an obvious play on people’s feelings of fear and desire for security. The operative words are of course “an increasingly crowded planet.”

Now the participants at the COP21 are, in the main, not using the words “overpopulation,” “population control,” or “family planning,” if we can go by press releases at least. But the idea is very much under the surface. The choice of Prince Charles as one of the first keynote speakers at the very opening of the Paris conference makes the point: he has long been making it clear that there are too many human beings around and that it is high time traditional respect for human life adjusts itself to reality.

In 1992, he was already discreetly accusing the Vatican of being part of “certain delegations” who are “determined to prevent discussion of population growth.” In June 2010, during a lecture marking the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies of which he is a patron, Prince Charles said the population of Lagos in Nigeria has risen from 300,000 to 20 million in his lifetime: “I could have chosen Mumbai, Cairo or Mexico City; wherever you look, the world’s population is increasing fast. It goes up by the equivalent of the entire population of the United Kingdom every year. Which means that this poor planet of ours, which already struggles to sustain 6.8 billion people, will somehow have to support over 9 billion people within 50 years.”

Speaking of the “very difficult moral questions” raised in this context, he added that we should come to a view that balances “the traditional attitude to the sacred nature of life” with religious teachings that urge humans to “keep within the limits of Nature’s benevolence and bounty.”

This is in obvious defiance towards traditional condemnation of contraception and might even be construed as justifying abortion.

Three years later, in 2013, the Prince of Wales published an official endorsement of Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s (authors of The Population Bomb) latest report on overpopulation, which pleads for universal access to (chosen) contraception and “legal and safe” abortion, on his official website.

All this was left unsaid at the COP21 but it does enter the logic of the talks, as confirmed by international bodies such as the United Nations and its agencies that promote population control in exchange for development aid.

In another noteworthy event, this time on the side of COP21’s first day official meetings, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, met with Barack Obama and François Hollande on Monday afternoon to discuss his “Breakthrough Energy Coalition,” an initiative he is taking together with Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and his wife, Dr Priscilla Chan, as well as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and Xavier Nell, the French founder of Free, an internet provider, who made his first fortune with a pioneering French information network Minitel, where he “sold” erotic services in the 1980s.

Bill Gates and his billionaire counterparts are aiming to invest millions in “clean” energy, together with widespread public investment, in order to make the field attractive to investors.

But “philanthropist” Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are also well known for their action in favor of population control and the distribution of contraceptives in poor countries. All the major companies involved in the initiatives are proponents of LGBT rights as are many sponsors of the COP21 in France.

At least one advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is officially taking part in the COP21 on the chapter of “green agriculture.”

Pope Francis himself has reiterated his support for the COP21, hoping together with François Hollande that the talks will lead to a “binding” agreement where rich countries will help poor ones, both technically and financially, to go ahead with the “ecological revolution.” On Monday, the pope called on the international community to realize that global warming is driving the world “to the brink of suicide.”

Saying he was “unsure” of the COP21’s outcome, he added: “All I can say is that it’s now or never.” He was speaking to the press in the airplane that was bringing him back to Rome from his African journey.

As the major anti-global warming demonstration that was to have taken place on Sunday in Paris was canceled because of the November terrorist attacks, the French authorities suggested would-be demonstrators send a pair of shoes to the “Place de la République” to represent them there. Pope Francis agreed to “sign” one of the pairs with the inscription Laudato si’. They were placed there together with two pairs of shoes bearing the cards of Cardinal Peter Turkson and Cardinal Claudio Hummes who personally presented a petition by 800,000 Catholics from 130 countries in support of the COP21 at an interreligious event in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, last Saturday.

Cardinal Turkson, who will be representing the Holy See during the second phase of the climate conference, has taken advantage of his position as president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice to encourage 5,100 bishops and 413,000 priests to commit themselves in favor of the Paris summit, asking them to check out demonstrations and other events in their dioceses in favor of fighting climate change.

A new “Advent”?


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Saying abortion is ‘killing babies’ is not hateful, it’s the truth: Ben Carson (video)

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By Ben Johnson

December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Dr. Ben Carson is walking back statements he made over the weekend that seemed to accuse the pro-life movement of spewing "hateful rhetoric."

Dr. Carson told "Face the Nation" on Sunday that there was "no question" that overheated words on "both sides" of the abortion debate may have frayed our social discourse and contributed to Robert Lewis Dear's decision to open fire inside a Planned Parenthood last Friday.

Police have not yet determined Dear's motive, though his mental state has been questioned.

Members of the pro-life community recoiled at the notion that they had engaged in hate speech. "Dr. Carson is sorely misinformed," Lauren Muzyka, the executive director of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, told LifeSiteNews. He "must reacquaint himself with the pro-life movement he loves and claims" as his own.

“Doctor Carson just ended his presidential candidacy," Operation Rescue President Troy Newman told Breitbart News.

On Monday night, Carson appeared on "The Kelly File" on Fox News to address the controversy touched off just 36 hours earlier.

All pro-life leaders "need to do is look at my record," he said.

"I've spent my whole life as a pro-life advocate, trying to save lives" as a surgeon, including operating on premature babies. Carson, a frequent speaker at women's pregnancy centers, added, "I don't think any candidate has been as involved in raising as much money for pro-life issues as I have."

"So, when something is said that someone might try to interpret as anti-pro-life, that's just silly," he said.

When asked what pro-life statements rose to the level of "hateful rhetoric," Carson said he had in mind anyone who would say he "can understand why somebody would come abortion clinic and shoot it up."

Saying that abortionists are "killing babies" does not count, though. "I say that myself," he said. "I don't think that's hateful rhetoric; that's just the truth."

On the other side of the debate, those who favor abortion "engage in such hateful rhetoric by saying that anybody who doesn't want a woman to have an abortion is anti-woman," he said.

Dr. Carson, speaking in his usually low and measured cadences, called for a calm discussion of the rights proper to unborn children to replace shouting.

"Somebody has to be the mature one," he said. "I think the appropriate people to do that are gonna be the pro-life people, because they have much better arguments."

"It's very difficult for somebody who is pro-abortion to sit down and explain why it's OK to take this little baby who has features that we can all recognize – eyes and ears and hearts – and pull them apart," he said. "They have to be able to explain that."

Before switching to another topic, Megyn Kelly wondered if the Planned Parenthood feeding frenzy provided "evidence of the bias in some of these reporters...who are on the pro-choice side" and "think any expression of...the pro-life stance is angry rhetoric.”

Dr. Carson had just completed a tour of Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. He said the displaced persons he spoke to did not want to come to the United States but wanted to return to their homes.

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Fr. Mark Hodges

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Man threatened surrogate with financial ruin if she refused to abort his triplets

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

WOODLAND HILLS, California, December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – While pro-abortion "Catholic" New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to legalize commercial surrogacy, a case in point demonstrates the ludicrousness of the loveless practice.

A Georgia man hired a California woman to carry his child in her womb, via in vitro fertilization, for $33,000. Practitioners fertilized a 20-year-old donor's three eggs with the rich man's sperm and implanted the conceived humans in Melissa Cook's womb earlier this year, in the hopes that one might survive.

Melissa Cook has never met the father of the children she carries.

It is normal practice, with in vitro fertilization, to implant more than one conceptus, because in most cases, most or all of the babies die.  "Extras" are discarded to die as well.

But all three of the babies implanted in Cook defied the odds. Instead of carrying the Georgia man's baby, Cook was found to be carrying three of his and the 20-year-old stranger's babies – triplets.

Overwhelmed by the thought of fathering triplets, the Georgia man sent Cook a letter demanding that she abort one extra baby. He called it a "selection reduction" and commanded her to kill the child per their surrogate contract.

Cook balked. "They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right," she told The Post.

The Georgia man's lawyer threatened Cook with financial ruin. "His remedies where you refuse to abide by the terms of the agreement, are immense" the lawyer's letter reads, enumerating "loss of all benefits under the agreement, damages in relation to future care of the children [and] medical costs associated with any extraordinary care the children may need."

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He further demanded that Cook get an abortion in less than 24 hours of receipt of his letter. Cook, who is a mother of four and a surrogate to a fifth child previously, is now 17 weeks pregnant.

"I have to reduce. I'm scared. I don't want to suffer," Cook, who is separated from her husband, fretted.

"This sad story highlights the fact that surrogacy is based in the sick idea that a human being is a commodity that can be bought and sold, threatened and killed, all at the whim of the powerful," Stephen Phelan, director of mission communications for Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews.

"Here, a mother is threatened by being held to a contract that she mistakenly signed, understanding too late that she signed away her own freedom and risked the life of her unborn child," Phelan said.

Director Phelan noted, "These cases are not anomalies. They perfectly follow the logic of slavery and abuse that underlie the life-as-commodity view, even when these practices are sold as affirming life."

"We pray that those who currently see in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood as 'pro-life, pro-woman and pro-child' will reconsider and fight any law that allows or encourages the practices," Phelan concluded.

Jennifer Lahl, head of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, commented, "Why on Earth would Cuomo want to set up a system like this in New York? It's parent breeding."


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