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American, global media assail Pope Benedict XVI for standing for life, family

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The nation's three major television networks, its most influential newspapers, and its most trafficked websites attacked Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Catholic Church following the surprise announcement that the pope was resigning the papacy at the end of the month – many targeting the church's teachings on abortion and homosexuality.

On CBS, Scott Pelly said, “The pope was very conservative in a doctrinal sort of way when a lot of American Catholics are looking for a pope to lead into a new era – of maybe for women in the church, for example.” NBC’s Brian Williams called Pope Benedict XVI an “old-fashioned man in modern times.”

According to an analysis by the Media Research Center, the worst offender was ABC News, where anchor Diane Sawyer, who is a member of the Catholic Church, said, “There has to be fundamental change” to the Church's moral teachings. Jeffrey Kofman added that Pope Benedict had “tried to hold back the forces of modernity” during his pontificate.

“The liberal media’s snarling, bigoted anti-Catholicism is on full display, and ABC World News has won the race to the bottom,” said MRC President Brent Bozell. “Disney-owned ABC News used the opportunity to bludgeon the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict with every left-wing grievance imaginable. It was a disgusting and deeply offensive assault on the Church.”

Bozell said the media “owe 1.2 billion Catholics an apology” and that Diane Sawyer “should go to Confession.”

However, the Big Three were far from the only media outlets assailing the pope for not bending to the times and instead upholding and defending Catholic teaching, particularly on sexual ethics.

An unsigned editorial in The Washington Post rapped the pope, because he had “rejected calls by Catholic progressives for reconsideration of doctrines such as celibacy and the ban on women in the priesthood; at a time when acceptance of the rights of gays and lesbians is rapidly spreading across the world, he was outspoken in condemning homosexuality as 'unnatural' and unacceptable.”

The editorial stated his “most important achievements” including a statement that in some cases, such as that of a male prostitute, using a condom may be a "first step" toward moralization, and “exonerating the Jewish people for the death of Jesus.”

“Catholics who seek a different answer will have to hope that a college of cardinals dominated by the pope’s appointees will choose a more progressive successor,” the paper concluded.

Bill Keller, New York Times' executive editor from 2003 to 2011, said he believes history would judge the pope “unkindly.”

“He will be described as a diehard traditionalist, a reactionary in a time of revolutionary yearnings,” he wrote. “He gave no encouragement to the nuns who sought to break through the stained-glass ceiling, to gays who wanted the church to come to terms with their humanity, to Catholics who questioned the Vatican orthodoxy on contraception, divorce, priestly celibacy, the ordination of women and, of course, abortion.”

While he was glad some parishes “soft-pedal the chauvinism of Rome,” he hoped the Papacy would be given to someone “less austere, more politically adept, maybe even one not drawn from the great pool of European white men.”

Yet he warned the College of Cardinals “is not a bastion of enlightenment. Don’t expect a Vatican Spring.”

The Times op-ed page gave playwright John Patrick Shanley the chance to publish a piece in which he declared, “I have watched the wealth of the Catholic Church turned into a subsidy for wrongdoing and a prop for the continuing campaign against women’s rights and homosexuality." He, too, warned that if the church does not elect a more liberal pope, “the Catholic Church will suffer the fate it deserves.”

They were joined by New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, who wrote on his Facebook page, “I'm hoping that this bold move by Pope Benedict will lead to more bold change by the church in coming years – on contraception, on female and non-celibate priests, and on gays...The church has such influence worldwide that it would be great to see a Vatican III!”

The most well-trafficked websites – in the United States and around the world – also piled on.

“Why Is Everyone So Saddened By the Pope's Resignation?” asked Edward Falzon on The Huffington Post. “Good bye; I'll not say 'good luck,'” he wrote. “Perhaps after you relinquish the protection of the Vatican, you can be brought in for questioning like so many have wanted for so long.”

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The pro-abortion website Jezebel claimed the pontiff's main duty is “denying women birth control.”

A number of writers virulently condemned the pope under the guise of applying for the open position.

“As a queer woman of Jewish descent I might not be the obvious choice to spread the Lord’s message to millions of Catholics worldwide,” wrote Laurie Penny, a contributing editor to the widely read British publication the New Statesman. “The fact that I don’t believe in God might be considered an impediment.”

Penny, a left-wing feminist columnist, added that she had “no previous experience in promoting life-threatening medical misinformation to millions” and had “never been in the Hitler Youth.” However, she “once drew stigmata on my hands and face in felt-tip to freak-out my Catholic classmates.”

“Some might consider the basic principles of compassion and charity for all men and women an obstacle to the vital duties of discouraging condom use, opposing women’s right to choose and providing cod-spiritual justification for the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Not being a Christian, all I have to stop me spreading dogmatic misogyny and homophobia in the name of morality is my own personal sense of what’s right and wrong,” she added.

The accompanying photograph depicted Penny wearing the papal crown while smoking a cigarette.

Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist and writer for the UK Guardian, wrote that while he is an atheist he is “dedicated to declining institutions and have a robust if unrealistic belief in resurrection.”

He stated he has “experience speaking in an unfamiliar language to rooms full of people who are struggling to stay awake, so it would be no trouble for me to offer Mass whenever required.”

“At the last count, I also have the required number of testicles to be pope (at least two). I also have experience with covering up crimes,” he wrote. “I believe these qualities and more make me an ideal candidate for the position.”

He added that while he is “not a homosexual,” he “did once” have a homosexual encounter.

Since his elevation to the papacy in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has unequivocally affirmed the importance of family life, saying the drive to redefine human sexuality threatens “the future of humanity.”

His faithful stance led LGBT activist John Becker to assail the pope as “notoriously homophobic” in The Huffington Post.

“The expressions of joy I'm seeing from many in the LGBT community about Benedict XVI's impending departure from the Chair of Peter strike me, sadly, as rather misplaced,” he wrote. “Institutional homophobia in the Roman Catholic Church isn't likely to go away anytime soon.”

Sex figured in the critique of Richard Dawkins, the philosophical leader of the New Atheists, who tweeted :“I feel sorry for the Pope and all old Catholic priests. Imagine having a wasted life to look back on and no sex.”

The papal resignation – the first in 600 years – has set some dissident Catholics dreaming of a social liberal taking the See of Peter.

“Hoping for a more progressive successor,” actress Mia Farrow wrote on her Twitter page. “Imagine a pope more like Arch[bishop] Desmond Tutu.”

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones had more meager goals, hoping for “a new, less terrible pope.”

Some regretted that the papal vacancy will result from a choice, rather than the pope's death.

Frankie Boyle, a BBC star and Scottish comedian, sent a message to His Holiness via Twitter. “Don't worry, in a few months you'll be laughing about this. With Hitler in Hell,” he said.

The website Twitchy, owned by Catholic conservative Michelle Malkin, aggregated several more slurs and death threats from Twitter users. 

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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