Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

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14 months long protests continue asking ‘Catholic’ Barcelona hospitals to stop abortions

Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent
Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent
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Updated: 10/3/2012 at 3:38 pm EST

June 28, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After fourteen monthly protests in front of Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona, little has changed. The institution, which includes multiple priests on its board of directors, is accused of continuing to perform abortions. Cardinal Archbishop Lluis Martínez Sistach remains silent while mainstream media headlines shout: “Hospitals linked to the Catalan Church still offer abortion services.”

Other hospitals in the Archdiocese of Barcelona and neighboring dioceses also continue to perform abortions and sterilizations, and dispense contraceptives, all in opposition to Catholic teaching, according to protest organizer Fr. Custodio Ballester.

Spanish pro-lifers, however, remain undaunted and are resolved to continue the demonstrations, which occur on the 25th of each month at 8:30 pm, beginning in front of the Sant Pau hospital, and ending in front of the Holy Family Basilica, several blocks away.

Monday’s march included a testimony by Mercedes Cruz Quesada, a Catholic nurse who works at a local hospital and claims that her organizing efforts have prevented the performance of abortions at the facility.

Fr. Ballester, a Barcelona-area priest who has helped to lead the demonstrations and repeatedly asked for action on the part of his prelate, Cardinal Sistach, compared Cruz Queseda’s victory in protecting life to the ongoing failure of his archbishop to do the same in Catholic hospitals.

“If she was able to do it, from her humble position, why can’t the bishops do the same with the board of directors [of Catholic hospitals]?” he asked in an email interview with LifeSiteNews.

The abortions continue, evidence indicates

“The Santa Creu y Sant Pau Hospital, in whose administration the leadership of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Barcelona participates, continues to carry out abortions according to various witnesses and the health care workers themselves,” Ballester told LifeSiteNews.com, adding that the most the archdiocese has done is to state that “abortions should be done in other health centers.”

However, notes Ballester, that hasn’t happened. There is “an agreement with the administration of the hospital to deny the problem and not a coercive order to not do abortions.”

He cites the case of Alicia Rojano Miguel, whose testimony was publicized by the Spanish newspaper ABC and other publications, “to whom they offered an abortion in the Sant Pau Hospital this past April 18th.”

“The sterilizations and abortion pills that are dispensed in the hospital is a topic that the archdiocese has not wanted to broach, nor has been interested in,” stated Ballester. “Regarding the experimentation with human embryos, the Archdiocese of Barcelona excuses itself saying that a ‘foundation independent of the hospital,’ is doing it. But it has its headquarters and acts in the very facilities of the Sant Pau Hospital.”

In addition to Fr. Ballester, Spanish medical expert Dr. José María Simón has opined that the presence of abortionist physician Joaquim Calaf Alsina, as head of the hospital’s gynecology department, is evidence that abortions are continuing at the facility.

ABC’s Esther Amora reported in late 2011 that the Sant Pau hospital was again being listed as an abortion facility on a Catalonia government website. The page with the listings was eliminated soon after the publication of the report, according to ACI Prensa.

Despite the evidence offered by official government records and reported statements by hospital officials and patients indicating that abortions are carried out at the Sant Pau hospital, Cardinal Sistach has repeatedly denied the claims, the last time in late 2011 in an interview with the Catholic news agency ACI Prensa.

Other area hospitals also problematic

Ballester says that other area hospitals, which were revealed in 2010 and 2011 to be carrying out abortions and sterilizations and distributing abortifacient contraceptives, are still doing so.

“The General Hospital of Granollers—in whose board of directors the Diocese of Tarrsa participates—carries out abortions continuously, above all eugenic ones, and dispenses RU-486 and Levonorgestrel,” Ballester told LifeSiteNews.com. “Various medical professionals and various witnesses say so, and on the website of the hospital it is indicated with a great deal of clarity…Despite this, the diocese of Tarrasa still participates in the leadership of the hospital.”

“The situation of the Comarcal Sant Celoni Hospital — sterilizations and abortifacient pills — came out in March of 2011 with the singular resignation of the pastor of St. Martín of St. Celoni [church] as vice-president of the hospital, for reasons of conscience. The three parochial representatives of the board abandoned the pastor in his decision and continue in their positions. The diocese of Tarrasa has kept silent.”

“In the Maternal hospital of San Juan de Dios in Espluges (diocese of San Feliu), today, they are carrying out abortions in the first weeks of pregnancy. They dispense the abortion pill, they carry out sterilizations, and in the Medical Center for Reproduction, located in the hospital’s facilities, they experiment with frozen embryos. The Diocese of San Feliu excuses itself saying that the topic is not part of their jurisdiction, since the hospital belongs to the Order of the Hospitalers.”

“In short, the situation continues to be mired in confusion, passivity, and silence. The only clear directives of the chanceries hasn’t been directed at eliminating the practices that are abortionist and contrary to Christian morality, which those four hospitals are carrying out, but rather to deactivate and silence the pro-life movements that publicly denounce this grave scandal on the 25th of each month.”

Requests for interviews with the Archdiocese of Barcelona and the Sant Pau Hospital were not answered by publication time.

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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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