Steve Jalsevac

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Benedict’s renunciation and the wolves within the church

Steve Jalsevac
Steve Jalsevac
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February 14, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Since Pope Benedict’s shock announcement Monday, I have held off commenting. Time was needed to step back and consider just what  this astounding action from the world's leading defender of life and family really meant. It was an earthquake announcement that had to have greater significance than the Pope merely being tired and worn out.  The two lightning strikes onto the dome of St. Peter’s that evening added an uncanny emphasis that the Pope’s action demanded the world’s attention.

So, really, why did Pope Benedict suddenly announce that he would abdicate the ministry of Successor of St. Peter in only 17 days? It is nearly impossible for me to believe that the reasons are as simple as Benedict has stated (although I believe that he is indeed very tired and barely able to carry on which we saw on our last 2 visits to Rome).  There are clues.

Robert Moynihan, a reliable, long-time Vatican observer and Founder of Inside the Vatican magazine, also finds himself unsettled about the Pope’s announcement and wrote in his Feb. 12 report:

“Are there facts the Pope has weighed in making this decision that we simply don't know about, or don't know fully? … Does the Pope have information about the possible course of events in the months ahead that led him to conclude that he needed to allow a younger, more energetic man to take over his office from him, so that the Church's highest authority could take action quickly and decisively as events unfold?”

Those are my same questions.

This great and yet exceptionally humble and gentle man’s fatigue has come about from much more than aging.

Reading other commentators and looking to our own LifeSiteNews experiences have revealed a ferocious battle going on within the Catholic Church and a notably rising tide of hatred towards authentic Christianity from outside.  Moreover, a comment from Benedict yesterday, adds to the impression that resignation was decided for strategic reasons. A new pope had to be quickly chosen because of the pace of alarming events both within and outside the Church.

Yesterday, during his Ash Wednesday homily, Benedict stated:

“I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the Church, of the divisions in the body of the Church.”

And then we should remember these words from his first Mass as Pope:

“Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

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Is he fleeing from the wolves, especially those within the Church, who he knew would inevitably, incessantly attack him during his pontificate? Very doubtful. They have been even more ferocious than he anticipated in response to his determined rolling back of some of the chaos that followed Vatican II and his strong rebukes to all the elements of the Culture of Death. Benedict’s resignation should instead, in my opinion, be seen as a deeply humbling self-sacrifice to pave the way for an urgently needed stronger pope and stronger Church.

For nothing more than professionally reporting solid facts about controversial Church developments related to moral issues, LifeSiteNews has experienced unrelenting, ferocious assault from particular Church personalities and organizations over the past few years. We have been enduring a visceral hatred from some quarters as noted by LSN-friendly inside-the-church observers.  It has been nearly beyond belief, shockingly unreasonable and entirely unchristian.

The more layers we have peeled away from hidden and long-standing situations needing exposure and correction, the more we have we been subjected to these unjust and hateful assaults on our integrity and credibility and to damaging whispers and other malicious actions. The secular pro-abortion and homosexual activist forces have been easier to manage in comparison to these enraged forces within the Church.

Now think how much more Benedict has had to endure for his heroic attempts to steer the entire, badly damaged, diminished, wayward Church back on course away from the errors and influence of the “progressives” and other dissidents. They have been howling with rage over his undoing of their five decades of control.  He has spoiled their plans for a morally and theologically liberal church remade in their own image, rather than Christ’s.

Catholic commentator, George Neumayr, in his article The Reluctant Pope, lists some of Benedict’s notable accomplishments “trivialized and discredited” by many:

“his battles with the dictatorship of relativism,’ his promotion of wider use of the traditional Latin Mass, his reinstitution of the ban on the ordination of homosexuals to the priesthood, his historic overture to disaffected Anglicans, his voluminous stream of speeches and writings that aimed at repairing the catechetical collapse within the Church; his insistence on the ‘non-negotiable’ character of the natural moral law in shaping politics and culture.”

Benedict’s greatest and nearly-unbearable crosses have likely come from opposition to, hatred for, and outright rejection of his reforms - the opposition coming from many in influential positions within the Church – at all levels. 

 In his blog, Benedict XVI: Reason’s revolutionary, The Acton Institute’s Samuel Gregg explains some of the reasons for the animosity Benedict has experienced:

“Intellectually, Ratzinger far surpassed the usual suspects who want to turn Catholicism into something between the disaster otherwise known as the Church of England, and the rather sad leftist-activism of aging nuns stuck in 1968. But against the increasingly-absurd rants of a Hans Kung or Leonardo Boff, Ratzinger simply continued defending and explaining orthodox Christianity’s essential rationality with a modesty lacking in his opponents.”

Gregg also mentions the pope’s “efforts to root out what Ratzinger once called the 'filth' of sexual deviancy” which I have repeatedly noted on this website is a job still far from completed. He has been able to complete this and his other priority tasks only to the extent that the difficult Church bureaucracies and the world’s bishops have followed his urging and well reasoned pleadings.

There has been much resistance, some of it astonishingly vicious and rebellious, especially from clergy and laity in the wealthy, developed nations. Benedict has been betrayed even by those closest to him within the Vatican itself.

Benedict’s exceptional appeals to reason, if accepted, writes, Gregg, translate “into changes in lifestyles that many people simply don’t want to make. But a pope’s job isn’t to tell people what they want to hear.”

But as we have noticed in recent years, reason is increasingly rejected, and changeable feelings and desires are given more emphasis in decision-making by persons and organizations. Anyone who dares to instruct them in what is best regarding their bodies, their sexuality, their theology or their ego, is increasingly seen as a hateful personal aggressor rather than a loving father or other teacher.

I wish that Benedict could have held on for at least several more months to complete more of his necessary reforms and to appoint more faithful bishops.

I wish he could have waited for some of his recent outstanding archbishop appointments to receive their red hats so that they could also vote in this conclave. I am thinking of persons such as Philadelphia’s Charles Chaput, Montreal’s Christian Lépine, Quebec City’s Gérald Cyprien Lacroix and the archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez – all some of the very best of Benedict’s recent placements or moves to major dioceses.

The Cardinal Mahony scandal that broke last week has shown how very entrenched the “filth” still is, and that those responsible have still not yet been fully accountable.  The neglect was sickening. If the now revealed offences of actively protecting criminal sexual abusers of minors did not exceed the statute of limitations, we might today be seeing the archbishop of the largest diocese in the US up on criminal charges.

Even secular media are appalled that Cardinal Mahony has made it a point to announce to the media that he is looking forward to going to Rome to vote for Benedict’s replacement.

Mahony is an aggressive personality, some say, a bully. Considering all that has been revealed in recent weeks, it is a great scandal for the Church and to the world that this severely negligent prelate, considered by some to be the ring leader of “progressive” US bishops, should be allowed to have any influence whatever in the conclave. I hope at the very least that he will be shunned by the other cardinals.

It is perhaps more than coincidental that Benedict announced his resignation after the Los Angeles abuse files were made public last week. Archbishop Gomez publicly rebuked his predecessor (highly likely with papal approval) and then Cardinal Mahony arrogantly publicly challenged his rebuker’s admonition. This is a first since the sex abuse scandals broke.

Maybe the Mahony incident and other recent inappropriate outbursts by leading Church officials were the last straws for Benedict. That is, he knew that these and other worrisome developments needed quick and firm action from a strong pope, but that he could no longer muster the energy.

I suspect that Benedict knows the restoration and cleaning up of the filth and rebellion within the Church has to continue with haste because of an ominous, rapidly growing cloud of persecution on the horizon at a time when the wisdom and inspiration of the Church will be greatly needed. Perhaps he sees clearer than most what is coming and that there is no time to have an incapacitated pope leading the Church. His resignation was a proactive action.

There will be a conclave in only a few weeks. Who could have predicted such a thing would happen so quickly?

In that conclave the forces of good and evil will be in an unseen battle that we cannot imagine - pride, power and glory-seeking vs holiness, humility and willingness to embrace Christ’s cross.

The outcome of the conclave will to a very large extent depend on the intensity of the prayers and sacrifices of Christians around the world from now until the final decision and acceptance is reached.

May the Holy Spirit guide the cardinals and keep the powers of darkness that have infiltrated the church at bay during this historic time.

I have to agree with many commentators that Pope Benedict has likely performed a great act of humility and charity for the good of not just the Catholic Church, but for the whole world. Where I disagree with many is that there are graver reasons for his decision than are being surmised.

There is a growing sense that something evil is on its way and the greatest bulwark against the evil can only be a strong, unified and faithful Catholic Church working together with all other authentic believers of the loving triune God.

Benedict knows this. That is why he has suddenly stepped aside for the new pope, who will be called to do the necessary battle that Benedict is no longer capable of.

And he has done it at the very beginning of Lent, the Catholic season of special prayer and fasting that culminates in the full rememberance of the suffering and  resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. By then, the new pope should be in place. The timing could not be better.

The power of authentic faith, when unleashed, will always defeat any evil. It usually happens, however, by way of the cross. That was the example the Master gave.

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Matt Fradd Matt Fradd

5 reasons it isn’t your wife’s fault that you use porn

Matt Fradd Matt Fradd
By Matt Fradd

As someone who used to watch a lot of porn, I have the utmost compassion for men who are really struggling to quit and can’t seem to find the willpower to do so. I love talking with and helping blokes like this.

That said, when I’m writing and speaking about the subject of pornography, I occasionally run into men who really believe their wives are the source of the problem.

These men, I have less respect for.

Please don’t misunderstand me. The struggle against objectification and lust is a fight most men face. If you are striving with all your heart to be a better man to your bride, I’m in the same boat as you.

But if you are more interested in justifying your porn use by shifting the blame, this article has been written to set you straight. I don’t write it as someone who thinks he’s in anyway above you. As Saint John Paul the Great wrote: “every man’s heart is a battlefield between love and lust.” The reason I’m going to be extremely frank in this article is because sometimes nothing less than unvarnished truth will wake us up to reality.

Are you ready? Good.

Now, in one sense, I get why some men think their wives are to blame. Pornography has the nagging habit of making a man feel like a man without requiring him to be one. Given enough time with porn, men can delude themselves into thinking if their wives were a little more _________, they wouldn’t touch porn.

I have five reasons for why this is a ridiculous argument.

1. Your wife’s so-called “frigidity” is not the catalyst for your habit. In fact, it might be the other way around.

Perhaps there are men today who don’t touch porn until after they are married, but I have never met one.

Most men start their porn habits long before they get married; so to blame a woman for the habit is clearly mistaken.

Furthermore, in nearly every case I’ve seen, what men interpret as a woman’s “frigidity” is actually a lack of initiative on the his part. A man might say, “But I ask my wife for sex all the time.” To which I reply, “When was the last time you really fostered an environment of romance in the home that would make your wife feel treasured and not just like a warm body?”

Unfortunately, porn trains this belief into us: sex should be on-demand—as quick to boot up as my web browser. Healthy intimacy, however, takes time, attention, and devotion to maintain.

2. Porn is cleverly edited, high-octane sex, and no woman can (or should) compete with this.

Everywhere women are told they need to be younger, prettier, and bustier. The last place they need to have that message reinforced is in their marriages. In the arms of their husbands they should feel beautiful—because they are.

But using porn not only communicates the opposite to a woman, it trains men to believe the opposite.

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Here’s an odd story to illustrate my point:

Back in the 1860s, Americans made the mistake of bringing the gypsy moth from Europe to Boston. Within 10 years, swarms of gypsy moths were devastating the forests and continued doing so for over a century. Attempts to eradicate this moth failed. But then in the 1960s scientists devised a new strategy. Biologists knew that the male gypsy moth found the female by following her scent—her pheromones. Scientists developed massive quantities of a synthetic version of this pheromone and then scattered small pellets of it from the air. The effect was overpowering for the males. Overwhelmed by the highly concentrated pheromone, they became confused and didn’t know which direction to turn to find the female, or they became desensitized to the lower levels of pheromones naturally given out by the female.

This is what porn is to men: a highly synthetic, industrial, commercial form of sexuality, pumped into our atmosphere and found in ultra-concentrated doses online. If overexposed to this high-octane sex, suddenly the subtleties of a woman’s natural mystique and beauty are lost.

This is why there are so many young, healthy men today who are experiencing what one Harvard professor calls, “porn-induced erectile dysfunction.” This is a real thing: young men, raised on porn from their teen years, have so hardwired their brains they can’t even get it up for a real woman when they want to.

Why porn causes this problem is dealt with in the next reason…

3. Porn is about sexual novelty and variety; marriage is about loving commitment.

The pornographic experience is one of constant novelty: multiple tabs open, endless clicking, browsing, and always searching for the next girl who will really send you over the edge.

It isn’t your wife’s fault she isn’t hundreds of two-dimensional Internet women. It isn’t your wife’s fault she isn’t as clickable and customizable as the endless parade of digital women. It isn’t your wife’s fault she doesn’t become sexually euphoric at the drop of a hat like the porn stars you frequent. She is a woman—a human being with sexual desires and feelings of her own.

A mind trained for constant sexual novelty and variety simply won’t take the time and effort to really connect with one woman in a truly intimate way.

4. Porn is objectifying and selfish; marriage celebrates your wife’s humanity.

Russell Brand is making waves right now with his recent video about pornography. After honesty admitting about his own struggles with porn, Brand says, “If I had total dominion over myself, I would never look at pornography again.” Why? Because he hates how porn is intricately linked to a culture of objectification. When we reduce sex to an extracted physical act, we allow ourselves to turn women into objects to be used rather than women to be loved and cherished.

Porn is consumer, Burger-King sex: your way, right away. You can handpick the exact women you want to see, down the smallest specification. The women in porn are dolled up to play to any stereotype or fetish you desire. All traces of humanity are stripped away until there is nothing left but misogynistic fantasy.

Porn is entirely selfish. By that I don’t mean that masturbation is a solo act—though that is true as well—I mean the whole point of porn is to play to a man’s desire for validation: the women are portrayed as sex goddesses that cater to the man’s every whim. They are objects to use for his pleasure.

A married man with a mind trained for objectification can only go one of three ways:

1. He will drag his wife into that objectification, not seeing sex as a giving act but as an opportunity to act out pornographic fantasies in real life.

2. He will ignore his wife to pursue more online objectification—or worse.

3. He will turn away from a culture of objectification and relearn what it means to make his wife his standard of beauty.

As my friend Luke Gilkerson wrote in his book Your Brain on Porn, “‘Free porn’ is a misnomer. Pornography always costs somebody something. And it’s the women and girls in our culture, surrounded by boys and men with porn expectations, who often end up paying the highest price.”

5. Porn is an insult to your marriage vows, so your wife has every right to feel betrayed.

When you stood before God and others, slipped that ring on your wife’s finger, and told her you would “forsake all others,” did you really think that sneaking off to masturbate to digital prostitutes would fit with the spirit of that vow?

Some men actually have the nerve to say, “I get my needs met with porn. At least I’m not going out sleeping with other women.”

Really? Is this what we’ve come to: the measure of your virtue as a husband is not sleeping around?

Deep down, despite all the excuses, this is not who a man really wants to be. Do you want to be the man who loves one woman well for the rest of your life, gladly sacrificing yourself for the good of another—experiencing an intimate sexual bond? Or do you want to be the guy who sneaks off to get a fix from your computer screen and your hand? Which one of these sounds closer to the wedding vows you spoke and the man you wish to become?

A Word to Wives

If your husband struggles with porn—and I mean that in the truest sense of the word…that he contends with porn like an adversary—then you can count yourself blessed. I wish that more men counted porn as an enemy.

However, if your husband is brazenly using porn despite your wishes, know this: you are not the problem. No matter what you have done or not done, no matter how you have contributed to marital strife, no matter how you look, your husband’s porn problem is his to own. No offense—real or imaginary—is license to sin again you.

Wives, We Need Your Help!

My friends at Covenant Eyes are getting ready to re-release their amazing book, Porn and Your Husband. They want to hear from you before they release it. Please fill out their one-question survey and let them know: What's the one big thing you hope they cover in the book, Porn and Your Husband?

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Lisa Bourne

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Alabama Supreme Court rebuffs federal court in ‘historic’ ruling: forbids marriage licenses for gay couples

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

MONTGOMERY, AL, March 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Alabama’s high court has upheld the state’s definition of marriage and ordered a halt to marriage licenses for homosexual couples in the state, while also criticizing its federal counterpart for striking down DOMA.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that “nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides” state judges’ duty to administer state law.

The all-Republican court also said the federal district court had employed a “judicial sleight of hand” in “conferring fundamental-right status upon a concept of marriage divorced from its traditional understanding.”

“Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage,” the ruling said. “That fact does not change simply because the new definition of marriage has gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country, even if one of those quarters is the federal judiciary.”

The ruling is significant in making Alabama the first state to directly resist federal imposition of marriage redefinition, with a great majority of the states having had their legal definition of marriage overturned by judicial order.

“The ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court is historic, and is one of the most researched and well-reasoned opinions on marriage to be issued by any court in the country,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

Staver praised the order for upholding state’s rights and for resisting judicial tyranny.

“The legitimacy of the judiciary is undermined when a judge legislates from the bench or usurps the power reserved to the states regarding natural marriage,” he said. “This decision of the Alabama Supreme Court is very well reasoned, which is quite rare from today’s courts. The decision not only affirms natural marriage but also restores the rule of law.”

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade had struck down a constitutional amendment and an Alabama state law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman in a January 23 decision, saying the laws violate homosexuals’ due process and equal protection rights according to the U.S. Constitution. The ruling was on hold until the state’s appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore contested the judicial action to redefine marriage. He told the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples as it would violate state law. He also urged Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in a January 27 letter to fight the federal decision. 

Moore wrote to all 50 of the nation’s governors in 2014 urging them to preserve marriage in the U.S. Constitution with an amendment. He was not part of the March 3 Alabama State Supreme Court ruling, and his absence was not explained, according to the SCOTUS blog.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined an application February 9 by the State of Alabama to stay the decision striking down the state's constitutional amendment and state law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, pending its ruling on whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex “marriage,” expected by the end of June.

The seven-to-one majority decision by the Alabama high court rebutted every argument made for same-sex “marriage” as a constitutional matter, the SCOTUS blog said, and “lambasted the Supreme Court for making a ‘moral judgment, not a legal judgment’ when it struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor in June 2013.”

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The order to stop issuance of marriage licenses to homosexual couples extends to all sixty-eight Alabama probate judges, some of whom have been issuing such licenses after the district federal judge’s ruling. Most of the state judges, those not not named directly in the case, were given five days from Tuesday to answer the challenge and argue why they should not have to observe the statewide order against licenses for homosexual “marriages.” 

The SCOTUS blog said that because the state court’s ruling is an interpretation of the federal Constitution, it is likely subject to direct appeal to the Supreme Court, if any state judge wanted to take it there. What’s not clear, it said, is whether same-sex couples could appeal it because they were not parties in the case, but the couples could probably bring a new lawsuit against any state probate judge who refused them a license in accord with the order.

Marriage supporters praised the Alabama Supreme Court decision.

"I applaud the Alabama Justices in their wise decision respecting the freedom of Alabama's voters to uphold natural marriage,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “In a refreshing change, Alabama's Supreme Court is using the law to determine their actions -- not a politically motivated opinion of a lower court federal judge.”

He pointed to recent polling that found sixty-one percent of Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court forcing marriage redefinition on all 50 states.

“If Americans were truly on board with this effort to redefine marriage, governors, state attorneys general, and other elected officials wouldn't bother fighting it.” Perkins said. “Instead, the Alabama Supreme Court reflects where the American people really are on the issue --and it is respecting the freedom of the voters to uphold natural marriage.”

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Cardinal George Pell John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews.com
Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

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The attack on Cardinal Pell: is someone trying to silence his voice for orthodoxy?

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By Hilary White

ROME, March 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Last week an Italian tabloid launched an attack on one of the most outspoken opponents of the so-called “Kasper Proposal” to abolish the Church’s discipline on refusing communion to Catholics in “irregular” unions. Based on leaked information from within the Vatican, the gossip magazine L’Espresso accused Cardinal George Pell of padding his expenses.

The Australian member of Pope Francis’ inner circle of nine cardinals serves as the head of the Secretariat of the Economy, charged with reorganizing the Vatican’s finances.

Some observers are saying the attack on Pell comes from opposition to his financial reforms. However, Pell was also a leading voice for doctrinal orthodoxy at last autumn’s Synod of Bishops, and some see that as a motivating factor as well.

L’Espresso published leaked documents that they said showed Pell spending money on refurbishing his apartment, on airline tickets, and on liturgical vestments from a high-end Roman ecclesiastical tailor. The story was picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald, a longtime opponent of Pell from his days as archbishop of Sydney, who accused him of “living it up at the Holy See’s expense.”

Father Federico Lombardi, the head of the Holy See Press Office, condemned the leak, saying, “Passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal.” The statement said that the Secretariat’s expenses, around 500,000 USD according to the leaked information, remain below its budget allotment.

Pell is said to be “ruffling the feathers” of a deeply entrenched, and largely Italian, bureaucratic culture that has hitherto operated largely without scrutiny or rules. Recently the cardinal announced that his office had “found” hundreds of millions of Euros “tucked away” that had never been recorded in the official books. 

America’s leading Vaticanist, John Allen, suggested that the motive for attacking Pell was his financial work. Allen says Pell’s “pugnacious” personality has rubbed Vatican officials the wrong way, but also cites his hard-hitting reforms of official financial practices.

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The UK’s Damian Thompson also took this tack, saying, “Cardinal Pell is embattled because, from now on, Curial officials will have to account for their spending. He’s brought an end to a culture of fiddling your exes which makes 20th-century Fleet Street look like a Presbyterian knitting circle.”

However, Thompson also suspects Pell’s stand for orthodoxy played a part. “I knew a hit job was coming; and I was doubly certain when he spoke up for orthodox cardinals when their views were being trashed by the liberal organisers of the chaotic ‘Carry On Synod’ on the Family,” he wrote.

Mainstream newspapers have downplayed the cardinal’s high-profile support at the Synod for the Catholic Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage in the face of the ongoing crisis over Cardinal Walter Kasper’s notorious “proposal.” Cardinal Kasper and his supporters see the year between Synods as a time of campaigning for their program, and they are giving interviews and lectures around the world.

Pell was among those Synod fathers who joined the now-famous rebellion of bishops against the “manipulation” of the Synod in October. It was widely reported in Rome during the Synod in October that Pell directly and forcefully confronted the Synod’s organizer, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, over the apparent push for a change in the Church’s “pastoral practice” of withholding Communion from divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

In a video interview, Pell said the bishops would not capitulate to the machinations of “radical elements” in the Church.

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