The Editors

An open letter to the students of St. Peter’s Catholic High school

The Editors
The Editors

“The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience.”
        - Mother Teresa

Dear students,

Many of you have come to our website in the last few days to write comments defending your civics teacher, Mr. Searle, and to vent your frustration about the cancellation of this week’s trip to Ohio.

Firstly, it’s worth observing that at no point did LifeSiteNews.com call for the trip to be cancelled. It is unfortunate that one misguided decision to include a strong partisan element has scuttled what otherwise may have been a memorable educational experience. And secondly, we have never questioned Mr. Searle’s teaching abilities or character. Your comments have made it abundantly clear that Mr. Searle is a charismatic and well-liked teacher.

Quite simply, the controversy over this trip is about whether students at a Catholic high school should be travelling to support Barack Obama, the most extreme pro-abortion President in American history: the same President who has been strongly condemned by the country’s Catholic bishops for attacking freedoms of conscience and religion, especially those of Catholics.

When we first reported on the trip, we spoke to one mother who expressed concerns that Obama is pro-abortion. However, many of you have dismissed this mother’s concerns, arguing that the president’s views on this issue are irrelevant and that the purpose of the trip was not to “support abortion.” Some of you have even made the claim that one can be both Catholic and “pro-choice.” We can understand how you might have come to those views. But we regret that your Catholic schools have failed in their duty to equip you with the truth about abortion – the greatest civil rights issue facing our generation.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is murder. It does so not based upon some abstract theological argument, but rather on the basis of modern science, which demonstrates conclusively that human life begins at the moment of conception, and that from conception forward life is simply an ongoing process of development.

The greatest threat to “abortion rights” today is not the pro-life movement, but the widespread availability of the ultrasound, which has opened a window into the womb, exposing the undeniable truth that the preborn child is as human as any of us – and therefore possesses the basic human right not to be killed. Is it any wonder, then, that abortionists have gone to great lengths to make sure mothers do not see an ultrasound image of their child before undergoing an abortion?

Every year in Canada some 100,000 unborn children are killed through abortion. In the United States, the number is much higher. If indeed abortion is murder, then there is no more pressing issue facing us today, because no other issue involves such a massive loss of innocent human life.

As well, we must consider the welfare of the mothers of these babies, who are often pressured into abortions by unsympathetic boyfriends and husbands, and who are often traumatized as a result. Many fathers, too, have been negatively affected by abortion, especially in the heart-breaking circumstance when they have wished to keep and care for their child.

While Mr. Searle is a popular civics teacher, we humbly submit that he has failed in one important duty as a civics teacher at a Catholic school if he has not informed you about Mr. Obama’s positions on critical moral issues such as abortion.

Here are a few key facts that you should know about the sitting U.S. president:

→ Mr. Obama voted three times while a senator in the Illinois senate against a bill that would have protected babies born alive after failed abortions from being abandoned and left to die. The bill was introduced after a nurse at an Illinois hospital witnessed living babies being taken to a utility room in the hospital, and then left on a table to die. Obama expressed concerns that supporting the bill would somehow restrict legal abortion. However, even after an amendment was introduced to the bill, explicitly stating that the bill would in no way affect abortion rights, he still voted against it, effectively voting to protect infanticide. It may sound too horrific to be true, but unfortunately, it is. You can find out more here. A later federal version of the bill was passed with the overwhelming bi-partisan support of Republicans and Democrats – putting President Obama on the extreme fringe even of his officially pro-abortion party.

→ Mr. Obama opposed a federal ban on the so-called “partial-birth abortion” procedure. In a partial-birth abortion, a fully-formed baby is mostly born, with only his head still remaining in his mother’s birth canal. Scissors are then used to puncture a hole in the back of the skull, into which a suction device is inserted, which vacuums out the baby’s brains, killing the baby. The skull is then crushed and the body of the baby is removed and discarded. Even though numerous medical organizations testified that there is no conceivable medical reason for a partial-birth abortion, Obama opposed the legislation, saying it should include “exceptions” for the health of the mother.

→ Mr. Obama has also expressed support for so-called “late-term” abortions, in which fully-formed, living babies into the third trimester of pregnancy are literally ripped apart, limb-by-limb. You can read one former abortionist’s description of this process here. Be warned, the descriptions are gruesome, graphic, and heart-rending.

→ Recently top Obama aides were asked to name any abortion restrictions that the president supports. They could not think of a single one.

→ Earlier this year the Obama administration issued a new rule that requires nearly all employers to provide contraception, sterilizations and drugs that can cause early abortions to their employees free of charge. All of these things violate Catholic moral teaching. Since then, dozens of Catholic employers have sued the Obama administration. The U.S. bishops have strongly spoken out against the rule, calling it an unprecedented attack on freedom of religion in the United States. Despite the massive backlash from Catholics, Obama has continued to defend the rule, and refused to consider allowing those who object on moral grounds to opt out.

→ On his very first day in office, President Obama rescinded a rule called the Mexico City Policy, which forbade U.S. foreign aid money from going to groups that promote or perform abortions.

This is really only the tip of the iceberg of Mr. Obama’s abortion activism. During the current presidential campaign, the president has made abortion rights a central element of his platform, mentioning his support for abortion and the country’s #1 abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, wherever he goes.

In short, it is not possible to argue that Mr. Obama’s abortion support is simply one among many issues the president supports. It is an issue of life and death for millions of unborn babies, whose only crime was being conceived. One can try to argue that it’s ok to support a pro-abortion candidate despite his support for abortion (the Catholic Church would disagree), but certainly it is impossible for any voter or political activists with a moral conscience to simply ignore the issue as inconsequential.

As Pope Benedict said in 2006, abortion is “today’s gravest injustice.”

There are other issues as well that should be of grave concern to Catholics or any voter of good will, including Mr. Obama’s support for embryonic stem cell research, which exploits human life at its earliest stages, as well as his support for same-sex ‘marriage.’ Any discussion about political candidates in a Catholic school should include an analysis of the candidates’ stance on these issues.

We sincerely hope that Mr. Searle and other teachers at your school will renew their dedication to the school’s mission to impart an authentically Christian worldview to their students, equipping you to make a positive difference in a world that is all too hostile to the fundamental values of life, family, faith and freedom. And certainly we encourage you, students at a Catholic school, to spend some time researching the truth about abortion and other key moral issues.

Sincerely,
The LifeSiteNews.com team

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Vatican’s doctrine chief: ‘Absolutely anti-Catholic’ to let bishops conferences decide doctrine or discipline

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By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has rejected outright the idea floated by Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx that various bishops’ conferences around the world would decide for themselves on points of discipline or doctrine. 

“This is an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the catholicity of the Church,” Cardinal Müller told France’s Famille Chrétienne in an interview published today

The question was raised because Cardinal Marx, the head of the German Catholic bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Nine, told reporters that the German bishops would chart their own course on the question of allowing Communion for those in “irregular” sexual unions.

“We are not a subsidiary of Rome,” he said in February. “The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.”

Vatican Cardinal Müller remarked that while episcopal conferences may have authority over certain issues they are not a parallel magisterium apart from the pope or outside communion with the bishops united to him.

Asked specifically about Cardinal Marx saying that the Church in Germany is “not a subsidiary of Rome,” the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said pointedly “the president of an Episcopal Conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and as such has no special teaching authority.”  He added moreover, that the dioceses in a particular country “are not subsidiaries of the secretariat of an Episcopal conference or diocese whose Bishop presides over the Episcopal Conference.”

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The CDF head warned that “this attitude makes the risk of waking some polarization between the local churches and the universal Church.” He did not however believe that there was the will for Episcopal conferences to separate from Rome.

The important interview also saw Cardinal Müller contest the notion that the pastoral practice or discipline could change while retaining the same doctrine. “We can not affirm the doctrine and initiate a practice that is contrary to the doctrine,” he said.

He added that not even the papal Magisterium is free to change doctrine. “Every word of God is entrusted to the Church, but it is not superior to the Word,” he said. “The Magisterium is not superior to the word of God. The reverse is true.”

Cardinal Müller rejected the notion that we would have to modify Christ’s unflinching words totally forbidding divorce and remarriage.  We cannot “say that our ministry should be more cautious than Jesus Christ Himself!”  Nor could we, he added, say that Christ’s teaching is out of date or that “we need to correct or refine Jesus Christ because He lived in an idealistic world.” 

Rather, the cardinal said, bishops must be ready for martyrdom.  Quoting Jesus he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and if we speak all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

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‘Groundbreaking’: Kansas may become first state to ban dismemberment abortions

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By Ben Johnson

TOPEKA, KS, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kansas will become the first state in the country to ban a procedure in which unborn children are dismembered in the womb, if Gov. Sam Brownback signs a bill that recently passed the state legislature.

The state House passed a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions, called dismemberment abortions in common parlance, by 98-26 on Wednesday.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, which had already passed the state Senate in February 31-9, now heads to Gov. Brownback's desk.

Brownback, a staunch defender of life, is expected to sign the act into law.

"Because of the Kansas legislature's strong pro-life convictions, unborn children in the state will be protected from brutal dismemberment abortions," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, which has made banning dismemberment abortions a national legislative focus.

The procedure, in which an abortionist separates the unborn child's limbs from his body one at a time, accounts for 600 abortions statewide every year.

Nationally, it is “the most prevalent method of second-trimester pregnancy termination in the USA, accounting for 96 percent of all second trimester abortions,” according to the National Abortion Federation Abortion Training Textbook.

“It’s just unconscionable that something happens to children that we wouldn’t tolerate being done to pets,” Katie Ostrowski, the legislative director of Kansans for Life, told The Wichita Eagle.

Leading pro-life advocacy groups have made shifting the debate to dismemberment a national priority, with similar legislation being considered in Missouri and Oklahoma. Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., who is NRLC's director of state legislation, called the bill's passage in Topeka “groundbreaking.”

"When the national debate focuses only on the mother, it is forgetting someone," she said.

The abortion lobby has made clear that it is uncomfortable engaging in a public relations tussle on this ground.

Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues associate of the Guttmacher Institute, said that dismemberment is “not medical language, so it’s a little bit difficult to figure out what the language would do.”

On the state Senate floor, Democrats tried to alter the bill's language on the floor by replacing the term “unborn child” with fetus. “I know some of you don’t believe in science. But it’s not an unborn child, it’s called a fetus,” said state Senator David Haley, D-Kansas City.

If the bill becomes law, the abortion industry has vowed to fight on.

Julie Burkhart, a former associate of late-term abortionist George Tiller, said the motion's only intention is “to intimidate, threaten and criminalize doctors.”

“Policymakers should be ashamed,” she said, adding, “if passed, we will challenge it in court.”

Gov. Brownback has previously signed conscience rights protections and sweeping pro-life protections into law.

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How NOT to move beyond the abortion wars

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By Anne Hendershott

March 26, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- A few years ago, when an undergraduate student research assistant of mine—a recent convert to Catholicism—told me that he was planning to meet with a well-known dissenting Catholic theology professor who was then ensconced in an endowed chair at a major metropolitan Catholic university, I told him: “Be careful, you might end up liking him too much.” I jokingly told my student not to make eye contact with the theologian because he might begin to find himself agreeing with him that Catholic teachings “really allow” for women’s ordination and full reproductive rights—including access to abortion.

I was reminded of that conversation this week when I began reading a new book by yet another engaging Catholic theology professor at a major metropolitan university who also claims (pg 6) that the argument he puts forward in his book, Beyond the Abortion Wars, is “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine.” Written by Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University, the new book purports to be in line with Catholic teachings and promises “a way forward for a new generation.” But, Camosy delivers yet another argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion when confronted with an unborn child that he has described—in the past—as an “innocent aggressor.”

Indeed, Camosy has spent much of his career trying to convince us that he knows Catholic teachings better than the bishops. Criticizing Bishop Olmsted for his intervention and excommunication of a hospital administrator for her role in the direct abortion at a Phoenix Catholic hospital, Camosy suggested in 2013 that “the infamous Phoenix abortion case set us back in this regard.” Implying that Bishop Olmsted was not smart enough to understand the moral theology involved in the case, Camosy claimed that “The moral theology in the case was complex—which makes the decision to declare publicly that Sr. McBride had excommunicated herself even more inexplicable. The Church can do better.” For Camosy, “Catholics must be ready to help shape our new discussion on abortion. And we must do so in a way that draws people into the conversation—not only with respectful listening, but speaking in a way that is both coherent and sensitive.”

This new book is likely Camosy’s attempt to “draw people into the conversation.” But, there is little in his book that is either coherent or sensitive. Claiming to want to move “beyond” the abortion wars, Camosy creates an argument that seems designed to offend the pro-life side, while giving great respect to those who want to make sure abortion remains legal.

Especially offensive for pro-life readers will be Camosy’s description of the abortifacient, RU-486 as a form of “indirect abortion.” The reality is that RU-486, commonly known as the “abortion pill,” effectively ends an early pregnancy (up to 8 weeks) by turning off the pregnancy hormone (progesterone). Progesterone is necessary to maintain the pregnancy and when it is made inoperative, the fetus is aborted. For Camosy, who claims that his book is “consistent with settled Catholic doctrine,” this is not a “direct” abortion. To illustrate this, Camosy enlists philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson’s 1971 “Defense of Abortion”—the hypothetical story of the young woman who is kidnapped and wakes up in a hospital bed to find that her healthy circulatory system has been hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist who has a fatal kidney ailment. The woman’s body is being used to keep the violinist alive until a “cure” for the violinist can be found. Camosy makes the case—as hundreds of thousands of pro-choice proponents have made in the past four decades—that one cannot be guilty of directly killing the violinist if one simply disconnects oneself from him. Likewise, for Camosy, simply taking the drug RU 486 is not “directly” killing the fetus. He writes:

The drugs present in RU 486 do not by their very nature appear to attack the fetus. Instead, the drug cuts off the pregnancy hormone and the fetus is detached from the woman’s body…. Using RU 486 is like removing yourself from [Judith Jarvis Thompson’s] violinist once you are attached. You don’t aim at his death, but instead remove yourself because you don’t think you have the duty to support his life with your body…. Some abortions are indirect and better understood as refusals to aid (pp 82-83).

Perhaps there are some readers who will find Camosy’s argument convincing, but I am not sure that many faithful Catholic readers will agree that it is consistent with settled Catholic doctrine.

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As one who is hardly a bystander in the abortion wars, I wanted to like this book. As an incrementalist who celebrates every small step in creating policy to protect the unborn, I had high hopes that this book would at last begin to bridge the divide. A decade ago, in my own book, The Politics of Abortion, I joined the argument begun by writers like Marvin Olasky in his Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, that it is more effective to attempt to change the hearts and minds of people than to create divisive public policy at the federal level. I share Charles Camosy’s desire to end the abortion wars—but this war cannot end until the real war on the unborn ends. This does not mean that the two sides cannot work together—battling it out at the state level—where there is the opportunity for the greatest success. But, complex philosophical arguments on whether RU 486 is a direct or indirect form of abortion are not helpful to these conversations.

Camosy must know that we can never really “end” the abortion wars as long as unborn children are still viewed as “aggressors” or “invaders” and can still be legally aborted. Faithful Catholics know that there is no middle ground on this—the pro-life side has to prevail in any war on the unborn. It can be done incrementally but ground has to be gained—not ceded—for the pro-life side. Besides, Camosy seems a bit late to the battlefield to begin with. In many ways, he seems to have missed the fact that the pro-life side is already winning many of the battles through waiting periods, ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and restrictions on late term abortion at the state level. More than 300 policies to protect the unborn have been passed at the state level just in the past few years. The number of abortions each year has fallen to pre-Roe era levels—the lowest in more than four decade.   Much of these gains are due to the selfless efforts of the pro-life community and their religious leaders. Yet, just as victory appears possible in many more states, Camosy seems to want to surrender by resurrecting the tired rhetoric—and the unconscious violinists—of forty years ago.

While it is disappointing, it is not unexpected considering Camosy’s last book lauded the contributions of Princeton’s most notorious professor, Peter Singer—the proponent of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. Claiming that Singer is “motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals,” Camosy’s 2012 book, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization, argues that, “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”  In a post at New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a progressive organization led by Rev. Richard Cizik (a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals who was removed from his position because of his public support for same sex unions, and his softening stance on abortion) Camosy wrote that he found Singer to be “friendly and compassionate.”  Camosy currently serves on the Advisory Board of Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership—where he has posted Peter Singer-like articles including: “Why Christians Should Support Rationing Health Care.”

One cannot know the motivations of another—we can never know what is in another’s heart so it is difficult to know why Charles Camosy wrote this book. It must be difficult to be a pro-life professor at Fordham University—a school known for dissenting theologians like Elizabeth Johnson. But, if one truly wants to advance a culture of life in which all children are welcomed into the world, it would seem that inviting Peter Singer to be an honored speaker to students at Fordham in 2012 is not the way to do it, nor would claiming that RU-486 “may not aim at death by intention.” Perhaps it is unwise to continue to critically review Camosy’s work from a Catholic perspective because it gives such statements credibility—and notoriety. But, as long as Camosy continues to claim that his writings and policy suggestions—including his newly proposed “Mother and Prenatal Child Protection Act”—are “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine,” faithful Catholics will have to continue to denounce them.

Reprinted with permission from Crisis Magazine. 

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