Kathleen Gilbert

Pro-life dead at Notre Dame since Obama visit? Not by a long shot

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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NOTRE DAME, Indiana, November 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Wandering among crowds of professors, scholars, and students at the University of Notre Dame for the 12th annual conference of the Center for Ethics and Culture (CEC) for the first time, one can get a little overwhelmed.

Sit down with a Baptist scholar with a thick Southern accent, and he may just start talking to you about the richness of Catholic social teaching, and Marian tradition.

Or you might just run into the “Orthodox posse,” a group of Eastern scholars often hovering near ethicist Tristram Engelhardt, who may buy you a scotch and ask just why exactly you haven’t converted to the true faith.

In any event, the first thing that’s clear is that the CEC annual Fall conference is no ordinary scholarly conference. The second, is that this conference forms an intellectual catalyst for advancing the culture of life virtually unparalleled at any other university in America. 

This year’s conference, “Radical Emancipation: Confronting the Challenge of Secularism,” drew upon words of Cardinal Ratzinger in 2005 warning against the encroachment of militant secularism. 

Near the shadow of the Golden Dome, several presentations probed questions about the sanctity of life, sexuality, and moral ethics. One particularly eclectic panel consisted of a paper on the ethics of Live Action’s undercover sting operations against Planned Parenthood. Another discussed the temptation of abortion when a child has been diagnosed with a fatal anomaly. 

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But perhaps even more important were discussions on renewing the Christian intellectual atmosphere: a panel of university presidents on Friday discussed “the language of comeback” for Christianity at American campuses. 

Ralph Wood of Baylor University told LifeSiteNews.com that the effect of the conference on other Christian colleges universities has been “unbelievable.”

“We go back [to our institutions] and say, look what can happen,” said Wood, whose says his own school was turned around by the example set at Notre Dame. “Rather than surrender our Christian convictions ... we can go back now and see that our distinctiveness lies in the way in which we can make Christianity the core.”

Founding director David Solomon, a Protestant who joined the Notre Dame community in 1968, explained simply that he began CEC in response to key John Paul II encyclicals that “had the goods on the modern world,” and which touched him deeply.

“I couldn’t see why the University didn’t immediately reorganize itself around these encyclicals writings,” he said, to chuckles from the audience (Notre Dame had infamously joined the Land O’ Lakes statement, which emancipated major Catholic universities from the authority of the Catholic Church, in 1967.)

“And since it truly wasn’t going to do that,” he said, “I thought we should try to do it on our own.”

A crisis of identity

Since its inception, the CEC community has grown into its role as a silent haven for what some call the true spirit of Notre Dame, whose reputation for authentic Catholic intellectual life has become shaky at best.

The biggest blow to that reputation in recent memory was the honor bestowed on Barack Obama in 2009, an event that dramatically split the Notre Dame community, with a large crowd of students leaving their friends and classmates behind to attend a protest ceremony in the Grotto, instead of the official commencement ceremony. Among many others who recalled the event at last weekend’s conference was Bishop emeritus John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who described the gravity of the scandal. 

“Irish politics a generation after [the Easter Rising] consisted of, ‘where were you in 1916’? Well, it’s like that: where were you the day Obama came?” he said.

Holy Cross Father Wilson Miscamble, whom Solomon pegged as Notre Dame’s moral backbone, told Kathryn Jean Lopez in August that the school “certainly has not” recovered from the Obama honor. “Notre Dame’s honoring of a president who is deeply committed to the terrible abortion regime which prevails in the United States today damaged its reputation and credibility as a Catholic university,” he said. “Notre Dame is still struggling to overcome the harm done.”

That struggle included noticeable damage-control measures by the administration to rebuild a pro-life image, including attending the 2010 National March for Life in Washington and setting up a Task Force on Supporting the Choice on Life. Miscamble expressed gratitude for those measures, but said that they didn’t represent the real renewal at Notre Dame.

“The main pro-life efforts on campus continue to be those pushed by the students and by those faculty associated with the Center for Ethics and Culture, some terrific folk in our law school and the Faculty for Life group,” he said.

Other reactionary measures were less helpful, and even shook Notre Dame’s pro-life leadership to its core: friends of the Center were devastated when Bill Kirk, the only administration member to stand with pro-life students against Obama’s visit, was abruptly sacked by school leadership despite a long and dedicated service to the University. 

And despite being the largest and most successful in its history, with over 500 registrants, this year’s conference was unmistakably bittersweet thanks to another blow: David Solomon, whose larger-than-life personality formed the gravitational center of the CEC community, was informed by Notre Dame officials last year that his time with the Center was to come to an end.

“David Solomon had the courage to speak in opposition to Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama. This stance certainly seems to have led to recriminations against him,” said Miscamble. 

“The administration seems to want to neuter the person who has been the leader of our pro-life efforts at Notre Dame. It is little short of a disgrace.”

A rebirth to pro-life

Yet CEC leaders uniformly expressed relief and excitement that officials had wound up selecting as a replacement someone whom Solomon called the “best possible result that we could have”: law professor O. Carter Snead, the former general counsel for the President’s Council on Bioethics and a faculty member at Notre Dame since 2005. 

Thanks to the survival of CEC, Notre Dame will continue to witness the development of another boon to the pro-life movement on its home soil: the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life. Also chaired by Solomon, this fund was established in September 2008 under CEC’s administrative purview “to educate Notre Dame students in the rich intellectual tradition supporting the dignity of human life.” The fund lies at the center of Notre Dame’s self-renewal as a leading advocate for the life of the unborn. 

“Many alumni and friends of Notre Dame who have become disaffected with the administration … have found, in the fund, a vehicle whereby they can continue to financially support their beloved university,” alumnus William Dotterweich told Kathryn Jean Lopez.

Among the Fund’s initiatives is Project Guadalupe, a pro-life and service-based educational program aimed at developing pro-life curriculum, an interdisciplinary master’s program for pro-life leadership, as well as the Notre Dame Vita Institute, which was held for the first time this summer. The Institute is a two-week summer program fostering pro-life leaders in areas including medicine, education, politics, and family apostolates. 

The Fund is also responsible for the Evangelium Vitae Medal, whose inaugural recipient last year was Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the US Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro Life Activities.

For all the negative coverage surrounding Notre Dame in the pro-life world, friends of the University say that the success enjoyed by CEC and its conference would not have been possible anywhere else.

“It’s because Notre Dame is such an intellectual powerhouse that it’s able to draw the biggest names in the academic world,” said alumnus Rocco Galizio. Ralph Wood of Baylor said Solomon simply recognized all the true spirit of Notre Dame could offer the culture of life. 

“He saw that we’re doing something good at Notre Dame, but it’s got to be larger than Notre Dame,” said Wood. “It’s got to reach out to everybody.”

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Kermit Gosnell considers himself a ‘martyr’: Gosnell filmmakers

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By Ben Johnson

HUNGTINGDON, PA, May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Spending life in prison without parole for murdering several newborn babies, Kermit Gosnell spends his days listening to music and thinking of himself as a “martyr,” according to the makers of the forthcoming Kermit Gosnell film.

Producers Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, and Magdalena Segeida interviewed Gosnell for hours at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania – and they came away saying the doctor is remorseless, self-pitying, and enjoying far more liberty than they thought would be granted to a mass murderer.

The producers visited the central Pennsylvania penitentiary and spoke to the the late-term abortionist up-close – a little too close, they say. McElhinney said Gosnell sat uncomfortably close to her throughout the multihour session.

“We have just come back from Pennsylvania where we were the first journalists to sit down in prison to interview Gosnell,” the producers said in a mass e-mail to their supporters. “The two hours we spent interviewing the former abortion doctor were two of the most disturbing hours of our journalistic careers.”

“The interview was one of the creepiest we have ever conducted,” the mass e-mail continued.

Gosnell, they recounted, “is thought to have murdered hundreds if not thousands of babies in a 30 year killing spree.” Yet he has access to music, a subject he discussed at length. At one point, McElhinney said, Gosnell burst out into song.

Ann McElhinney told The Daily Signal, “I’m amazed at how pleasant his life is, the freedoms he has.”

Far from having repented of his crimes, Gosnell continues to justify his actions, they said.

“In his own version of the story, he’s a martyr – he’s part of a hounded class,” McElhinney said.

That assessment corroborates the views of others who interviewed the onetime proprietor of the “house of horrors,” where newborn babies had their spines severed, untrained staff administered fatal doses of drugs to poor women, and aborted fetal remains were found stuffed into every available crevice.

In September 2013, Steve Volk interviewed Gosnell for Philadelphia Magazine. Gosnell, he wrote, “sees himself as having performed a noble function in society.”

"It's not as if he feels guilty about what he did,” Volk said. "He believes he was a soldier at war with poverty.”

By plying his trade in poverty-stricken West Philadelphia, in a majority minority neighborhood, Gosnell believed he helped reduce the city's low income population.

“In this larger spiritual sense, he believes he was performing a service for people,” Volk said.

After his conviction, Gosnell sought to work with Hillary Clinton's embattled charity, the Clinton Global Initiative or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on issues of "prison and justice reform.”

"He believes that he gained insight into what it's like to be pushed into the system, without the capacity to explain himself," Volk said.

Gosnell's self-confidence has seldom been questioned, from the dismissive way he treated police who searched his home – playing Chopin on the piano as they searched his flea-ridden basement – to the way he carried himself in court. Defense attorney Jack McMahon had also told reporters after the guilty verdict that the mass murderer “truly believes in himself.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

The filmmakers, who have produced several right-of-center documentaries, plan to make a big budget, big screen film about Gosnell's life. They continue to raise funds for their efforts at GosnellMovie.com.

But they may need a breather after encountering Gosnell himself.

“I’m still recovering, actually,” McElhinney told the Signal.

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Josh Duggar apologizes, admits ‘wrongdoing’ as young teen amid molestation accusations; resigns from FRC

By John-Henry Westen

Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In response to allegations in the media that he molested minor girls when he was in his early teens, Josh Duggar has admitted in a public statement that he acted "inexcusably" at the time, and has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

A 2006 police report leaked to the media states that Josh was investigated for sex offenses, including "forcible fondling" against five minors.

According to the report, the first allegations surfaced in March 2002, the same month he turned 14. At the time the family dealt with the allegations internally. A year later, however, when further allegations were made, the family sent Josh to work with a family friend for three months, after which his father took Josh to see a state trooper.

According to the report, the trooper gave Josh a "stern talk" about what would happen if he "continued such behavior," but no formal action was taken at the time.

The issue emerged again in 2006, after a family friend had written details about the allegations in letter and placed it in a book, which was subsequently loaned out. This resulted in a call being placed to a child abuse hotline, which in turn led to a formal investigation being opened. By this point, however, the statute of limitations had expired, and as there had been no new allegations or evidence that the abuse was ongoing, the case was dropped.

Although Josh was never charged, his now-wife, Anna, says that he confessed his actions to her and her parents two years before he asked her to marry him.

"I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions," he said in a statement today. "In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption."

Anna said she was "surprised" when Josh had voluntarily admitted what he had done to her and her parents two years before proposing to her. "I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it," she wrote today. "For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes."

"I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis," she added. "If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right."

LifeSiteNews is continuing to investigate this developing story. Following are the Duggar family’s statements responding to media reports about the incidents.

From Jim Bob and Michelle:

Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.

Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday.

It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.

From Josh:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. 

We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life.

I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

From Anna:

I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married - it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him.

When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes.

At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him... I was able to say, "Yes" knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.

I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Dutch court acquits man who euthanized his mother after doctor refused

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A Dutch appeals court acquitted a 74 year-old man earlier this month of the murder of his mother in 2008, because he acted in an “emergency situation”: the woman wanted euthanasia and had not obtained it from her family doctor.

The decision is a surprising one, even in the Netherlands, and will probably be followed by an appeal from the public prosecutor, who has already published a communiqué reminding the public that euthanasia and assisted suicide “are and remain, in the eyes of the prosecutor, exclusively to be performed by a doctor.” But as it stands, it marks a new step down the slippery slope of euthanasia in that it justifies an act of euthanasia contrary to the letter of the law on the grounds that the accused, Albert Heringa, was careful to act in compliance with the law’s provisions, the court ruled.

Albert Heringa acted in accordance with his conscience of his own duty and he was right to do so, ruled the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court, because his sense of duty “justly” carried more weight than the legal prohibition of the act, which in theory can only be decriminalized when performed by a medical doctor under strict conditions.

The accused said he was “very happy” about the decision. The Netherlands Right to Die Society (NVVE) hailed it as “a step in the direction we want to follow.” “Many people who consider their life complete wish to be helped by loved ones,” said its spokeswoman, Fiona Zonneveld.

The judges did not take into account the fact that Albert Heringa’s mother, “Moek,” was deemed ineligible for euthanasia by her doctor.

In 2008, Moek was 99. She had no grave illness; she was just old and blind and did not feel like living any longer, calling her suffering “unbearable” and “without hope of improvement.” When her doctor refused euthanasia on those grounds, she turned to her son who decided to help his mother die. He was later to explain that his mother started hoarding her medication in order to kill herself through an overdose. The pills she was taking would not have been able to bring about her death, he argued, but would have made her health much worse. This was confirmed during the subsequent judicial enquiry.

Heringa decided to go to work “transparently,” filming his every gesture in view of the killing of his mother. He used an overdose of his own malaria pills together with sleeping pills and anti-emetics to poison her. The films were later used to illustrate a documentary on “Moek’s last wish,” which was aired in 2010 on Dutch TV. The appeals court judges took this “transparency” into account in their decision to acquit him.

The public prosecution was not so lax. Despite the “rectitude” of Heringa’s intention, it accused the man of not having acted in compliance with the law. In 2013, he was judged guilty but exempted from punishment. The prosecution appealed that decision, demanding a three months suspended prison sentence in order to underscore the illegality of his actions. But the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court went even further than the first judges in exonerating him completely.

They invoked the euthanasia law, which decriminalizes euthanasia when no other “reasonable solution” is available to alleviate a patient’s suffering and thus avoid euthanasia, but in this case they equated the potential “reasonable solution” with the ability to find a doctor who would be willing to perform the act, as if euthanasia were a patient right. Heringa could not find one, therefore he was justified in taking the law in his own hands, the judgment says in substance.

This marks a double revolution. Firstly, the court overlooked the legal requirement that a doctor should perform euthanasia, and no one else. Secondly, it justified euthanasia on a woman who was simply “tired of living,” a situation for which the euthanasia law definitely does not provide.

But this is just another element of the Pandora’s box that was opened when the Netherlands legalized euthanasia in 2002. Increasingly, regional control commissions, which verify all declared acts of euthanasia retrospectively, have cleared “mercy-killings” of elderly people who had multiple complaints but no single life-threatening disease. “Intolerable suffering” is being interpreted more and more widely. In Heringa’s case, it is simply his mother’s plea for euthanasia that justified the act in the eyes of the court.

The court even went so far as to say that Heringa would have had to live with a “sense of guilt until the end of his life” had he not taken measures to end his mother’s life.

In 2011, the Dutch medical association KNMG changed its position on “intolerable suffering,” declaring that “unbearable and hopeless” suffering can result from other causes than physical illness. Also, the End of Life Clinic founded in 2012 caters to euthanasia requests that have been refused by patients’ family doctors on conscientious or medical grounds. Would Heringa have found a doctor willing to perform euthanasia on his mother in this new situation?

Whatever the answer to that question – and no one will ever know – the fact of his acquittal is a definite sign that euthanasia is being treated more and more as a right and an acceptable option in the Netherlands. It is also good news for unscrupulous family members who might find it expedient to push their relatives towards the grave.

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