John Westen

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At UN Vatican reaffirms stance against condoms for HIV/AIDS prevention - Analysis

John Westen
John Westen
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NEW YORK, November 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - At United Nations headquarters Tuesday, Vatican representative Fr. Philip Bené reiterated the long-held position of the Holy See against the use of condoms, even for AIDS prevention.  While the position has had some accuse the Pope of ‘crimes against humanity’ and been ridiculed by the mainstream press and political leaders, the Catholic Church has nevertheless refused to be cowed by the criticism.

Speaking to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Tuesday Nov. 22nd about a resolution on the Rights of the Child, Fr. Bené stated: “the Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.” 

The tenacity of the Catholic Church on the issue is remarkable given the massive pressure directed at the institution on the matter. 

Fr. Bene’s comments follow on the heels of the Pope’s own recent talking points in Africa where he reiterated the same teaching. 

On Sunday November 20 Pope Benedict XVI presented his document - Africae Munus - to chart evangelization of the continent in the coming years.  The 55-page document spoke of AIDS noting that while the Church has encouraged a medical and pharmaceutical response, the problem goes deeper. “Above all, it is an ethical problem,” he said. “The change of behaviour that it requires - for example, sexual abstinence, rejection of sexual promiscuity, fidelity within marriage - ultimately involves the question of integral development, which demands a global approach and a global response from the Church.” 

The significance of this stance may be easily missed.  Recall that in his first trip to Africa as Pope, Benedict XVI inadvertently enraged the left when he noted that AIDS “cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.” 

He said the “traditional teaching of the Church” on chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it had proved to be “the only sure way of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.” He added that while “we must suffer with those who suffer” and give greater support to those who are sick with the disease, combating AIDS in Africa depends on promoting “correct and moral behavior.”

The day after the Pope made his comments, the then heavily anti-Catholic government of Spain announced it would be sending over a million condoms to African countries. The French foreign ministry called the Pope’s comments a “threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life,” while the Dutch development minister said it was “extremely harmful” and that “the pope is making matters worse.”

The Belgian Parliament went so far as to pass a resolution 95-18 deeming the Pope’s remarks “unacceptable” and forcing the Belgian envoy to the Vatican to “condemn the unacceptable affirmations of the Pope during his trip to Africa and to protest officially to the Holy See.” 

Meanwhile, one of the world foremost AIDS experts confirmed that science supported the Pope’s assertion that condoms exacerbate AIDS.  Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, said that evidence confirmed the validity of the Pope’s remarks.

The mainstream media attempted to distort the Pope’s stance (and claim victory in the fight) by misinterpreting comments in his 2010 book-length interview with reporter Peter Seewald. The New York Times headline read: ‘In Rare Cases, Pope Justifies Use of Condoms’ and the London Telegraph screamed ‘Pope approves use of condoms in fight against Aids’. Even some Catholic media added to the confusion about what the Pope meant by his comments.

The Seewald interview recorded in the book ‘Light of the World’, actually had the Pope rejecting condom use.  “(W)e cannot solve the problem [of AIDS] by distributing condoms…” he said, adding that “the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality.” 

Rather, media focussed attention on a hypothetical scenario raised by the Pope in which he again did not okay the use of condoms for AIDS prevention. 

In addition to media correction by the publisher of the book, some 40 bishops around the world spoke out publicly to affirm the Vatican’s unchanging stance against condoms as AIDS prevention measures. 

What the above demonstrates is a new strategy by the leadership of the Catholic Church to confront the culture head on even on the most difficult issues.  It seems the often-used and failed tactics of avoidance of difficult situations, of attempts to obfuscate or of entering into compromises are being put aside.

Benedict realizes that when truth is pushed aside for political correctness, to fulfil ideals of civility or to achieve false unity and false peace, the world is harmed by the lack of truth the Church is called to bring to it.

When truth is boldly proclaimed and held to, despite persecution, even the enemies of truth are forced to see that the opponents of their secular or liberal ideologies truly believe their teachings and are willing to suffer for them. This eventually generates a degree of respect from some of the critics and an openness to re-consider their own flawed positions.

Pope Benedict understands that this has always been the only way to evangelize, for the benefit of all people.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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