Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Pope decrees: Catholic charities must always act in accordance with Catholic teaching

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, December 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a surprise move, Pope Benedict XVI this morning issued a formal legislative document instructing Catholic charitable organisations that they must act in complete compliance with Catholic teaching. The Vatican rumour mill failed to predict the appearance today of the pope’s Motu Proprio, a special letter written and promulgated on Pope Benedict’s personal initiative, that lays out specific legislation on how Catholic charities must be governed.

Benedict issued the Motu Proprio, “De Caritate Ministranda,” on the Church’s charitable activities after strongly hinting in recent years at his deep concern at the secularising and outright anti-Catholic trends growing within officially recognised, and lay-funded, Catholic charitable agencies.

The document, using the formal legal language reserved for the Sovereign Pontiff when creating binding legislation for the whole Church, specifies that Catholic charitable organizations “should not limit themselves merely to collecting and distributing funds,” but exist to further Catholic religious objectives by exercising “a valuable educational function within the Christian community”.

“The Church’s charitable activity at all levels must avoid the risk of becoming just another form of organized social assistance,” Pope Benedict wrote.

“To the extent that such activities are promoted by the hierarchy…there is a need to ensure that they are managed in conformity with the demands of the Church’s teaching and the intentions of the faithful.”

“The collective charitable initiatives to which this Motu Proprio refers,” the pope wrote, “are required to follow Catholic principles in their activity…”

It is ultimately up to the bishops, he said, to ensure that the staff of such agencies believe or “at least respect” Catholic teaching on all matters, and that the works undertaken are not to the “detriment of their activity and effectiveness with regard to their stated goals”.

In those groups where this has ceased to be the case, the pope decreed that the local bishop “is obliged,” to inform his flock that “the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching,” and to “prohibit that agency from using the name ‘Catholic’.”

Bishops overseeing Catholic charitable initiatives, the pope added, must also provide for the “theological and pastoral formation,” of the staff, “through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life”.

“It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding,”  Benedict decreed.

“They are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.”

The bishops must also ensure that Catholic agencies do not distribute funds to receive funding from groups “that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching”.

“Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.”

The pope explicitly named the organisation Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella group that represents hundreds of Catholic charitable groups around the world. Rumblings from Rome have hinted that a major push for reform of the Church’s charities has been high on the pope’s agenda. It is an open secret that many official Catholic charitable groups working in the developing world have adopted the secularist, and anti-Catholic agenda, such as pushing condoms as a means to stop the transmission of HIV.

The current document, Benedict wrote, is to “give adequate expression in canonical legislation” that will outline “the legal aspects of this ecclesial service, especially when carried out in an organized way and with the explicit support of the Bishops”.

The pope wrote, “I establish and decree…” that the bishops ensure that Catholic charities “avoid the proliferation of charitable initiatives to the detriment of their activity and effectiveness with regard to their stated goals”. They must also see to it that “the norms of the Church’s universal and particular law are respected, as well as the intentions of the faithful who made donations or bequests for these specific purposes.”

“In particular, [the bishop] is to take care that their activities keep alive the spirit of the Gospel.” He must “take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity.”

Moreover, the pope wrote, the Bishop must also ensure that the salaries paid to staff, including those in leadership positions, offer “a testimony of Christian simplicity of life” and are “in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia”.

LifeSiteNews.com has been informed that in recent years Vatican officials have become increasingly concerned over reports that many charitable agencies overseen by national Catholic bishops’ conferences are funneling money to groups working in opposition to Catholic teaching on life and family issues.

Scandals erupted in 2009 when LSN first uncovered evidence that groups promoting legalised abortion and artificial contraceptives were being funded through grants from the Canadian Catholic Organisation for Development and Peace. LSN has been made aware that large numbers of reports from concerned members of the Church, including bishops, have reached the ears of the Vatican machinery.

D&P officials continue to try to resist efforts to reform the organisation to bring it into line with Catholic beliefs. After first denying and attempting to cover up the evidence, D&P leadership has most recently accused Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins and other pro-life bishops of ‘shameful blackmail’ for their attempts to reform D&P to bring it into unity with Catholic teaching.

At the same time, Vatican officials have been recently sharply critical of the secularised direction taken by some of the largest Catholic charities. The matter came to a head last year when the Vatican was forced to intervene directly twice in Caritas activities.

In May 2011, Pope Benedict told the assembled leadership of Caritas that their ministry must be “completely in accord” with the Catholic Magisterium, or teaching authority of which he is the head. At the same meeting, Peter Cardinal Turkson, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace warned Caritas that their first priority must be evangelisation of the Church’s religious purposes. In doing charitable work, he said, “No one is allowed …to appropriate the Church’s authority for his opinion.”

In February that year, the Vatican had refused to allow Caritas General Secretary Lesley-Anne Knight to submit her name for reelection to her position, citing concerns over Knight’s adherence to Catholic teaching and the need to strengthen the organization’s “Catholic identity”.

Later, Vatican officials cancelled the appearance of Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, the former head of the Dominican order at the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis. Radcliffe is well known for his adherence to radical theological liberalism and his opposition to Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

At that time, Robert Cardinal Sarah, the head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum that oversees the Church’s charities, warned of a “silent apostasy” within the world of Catholic charities. Cardinal Sarah anticipated today’s papal letter when he told Caritas, “Today, dear friends, the tragedy of modern mankind is not lacking clothing and housing. The most tragic hunger and the most terrible anguish is not lack of food. It’s much more about the absence of God and the lack of true love, the love that was revealed to us on the Cross.”

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Pope Francis eases forgiveness of abortion for Jubilee Year of Mercy

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By John-Henry Westen

ROME, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- In an announcement today, Pope Francis said that he is enacting an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy from December 8, 2015 through November 2016. As part of the Jubilee, the pope has allowed priests to forgive the sin of abortion, which St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) is “murder.”

The statement marks the most extensive remarks on abortion that Pope Francis has made during his pontificate. Rather than downplaying the seriousness of abortion, as some media contend, in the statement the pope encourages the millions of women who have aborted their children to go to confession and seek God’s forgiveness.

In the Catechism, the Church calls abortion a “criminal” practice, and imposes the penalty of excommunication on those who do it -- essentially, removing those who commit abortions from the Church. In the past, typically re-entry into the Church for those who have separated themselves from it by excommunication can only be undertaken by a bishop. However in much of North America priests have already been given standing permission by their bishops to forgive abortion.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained in an email sent to LifeSiteNews today, “For many years now, parish priests have been given permission to absolve the sin of abortion here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia archbishop, who will play host to Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit later this month added, “But the practice has not been common in various other regions of the world.”

“This action in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion,” concluded Chaput. “What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart.”

The pope declared that all priests may forgive the sin of abortion for “those who have procured it and who with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.'"

The pope says in his letter that abortion is a “tragedy” wherein “extreme harm” takes place, and calls it “profoundly unjust.”  He admits however, as does the pro-life movement, that it is an “agonizing and painful decision” and many women “believe that they have no other option.”

In order to be forgiven by God of such a serious offence, the pope says the one who has procured the abortion must be made aware of the “gravity of the sin committed” and be truly repentant. They must come, says Francis, with a “contrite heart, seek forgiveness for” the abortion and hoping for “reconciliation with the Father.”

The full statement from the Pope on the matter of abortion follows:

One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured itand who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

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TLC stars Kody Brown and his four "wives"
Fr. Mark Hodges

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Surprise, surprise: New suit says gay ‘marriage’ ruling laid ground for legal polygamy

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – When "The Pill" was made available to the public in 1964, Christians warned it could lead to promiscuity and disassociation of sex with marriage and children.  They were ridiculed as religious fanatics.

When abortion was made legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy in 1973, Christians warned that it would not save women's lives, but would instead lead to devaluing all human life, especially children's lives. They were dismissed as moral-legislating hate-mongers.

When euthanasia was legalized in Oregon and other states, Christians warned that the non-terminally ill and eventually the mentally handicapped, or simply the unwanted, would be killed in the name of mercy. They were mocked as right-wing crazies.

When sodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere were stricken from the books in 2003, Christians warned that societal approval of that harmful practice would lead to an increase in disease and further perversion. They were ignored and vilified.

When DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) rules for the military were reversed, Christians warned that the epidemic of rapes in the armed services would increase, not decrease, and that combat readiness would continue to diminish. They were called bigots, their words "hate speech."

And so on. Recent history is rife with examples of conservatives warning against societal degradation being vilified as "slippery slope" straw man creators, who want only to legislate morality.

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

That's how those who warned that the Supreme Court's same-sex "marriage" decision would lead to legalization of any and all kinds of "marriage," such as a man and several wives or vice versa.

And, as in every case cited above, what Christian conservatives warned is exactly what has now happened.

In a U.S. 10th Circuit court filing, reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives point to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage to buttress their pro-polygamy case.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, summarized to LifeSiteNews, "The left's chaotic cultural agenda knows no boundaries. Once 'marriage' could be redefined to accommodate sexual perversion, it would be impossible to stop other perversions from being recognized." 

The American Family Association's Ed Vitagliano told LifeSiteNews, "It has been clear for decades that sexual radicals in America have been targeting the God-ordained institution of marriage for destruction. Toss in a handful of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, beginning in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), and ending with this summer's debacle (Obergefell v. Hodges), and we are on the verge of seeing the secularists succeed." 

The AFA executive vice president concluded to LifeSiteNews, "We have no doubt that the polygamists will be next to step into the federal courts."

Indeed. Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, have asked the court to uphold a judge's ruling striking down part of Utah's law against polygamy. To prove their case, they cite precedents involving same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges), and a case that struck down a ban on sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas).

"From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence, to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to ... punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions," Brown's filing states. "This case is about the criminalization of consensual relations."

LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews that the move to legalize polygamy is no surprise. "Once the argument for homosexual so-called 'marriage' became 'Love Is Love,' it was only a matter of time before multiple-partner activists would start defending the 'right' to have THEIR [perversion of] 'love' legitimized by state-recognized 'marriage.'"

The Browns, who appear on the television show "Sister Wives," sued the state of Utah over its ban on polygamy, which Brown calls "plural relationships." They argue that the law violates their right to freely practice their religion and their right to equal protection under the law.

Specifically, Brown is challenging the state's assertion that polygamy is harmful to societies that condone it.

Brown argues that the state should not have "the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens."

LaBarbera concluded, "Social conservatives and Christians must work to overturn Obergefell, just like homosexual activists worked to overturn the Supreme Court's Bowers v. Hardwick decision in 1986 that allowed anti-sodomy laws. Otherwise, we are guaranteed to lose more and more freedoms as 'gay' power grows, using legalized 'marriage' as leverage."

Arguments in the Brown polygamy case could take place before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver before the end of the year.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, on March 6, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Sen. McConnell: GOP won’t push Obama on Planned Parenthood defunding

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Planned Parenthood won't lose its funding for at least 18 months, says America's top senator.

Speaking on WYMT TV, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said, "The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood."

“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he said. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But, yeah, we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again, but I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”

McConnell's comments came despite pressure from Senators and Representatives alike, as well as pro-life groups, who want Republicans to make defunding a priority.

"If the president of the United States and Harry Reid think it's more important that Planned Parenthood get your tax dollars than to pay our troops, then they are shutting down the government,” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, R-OH, told CNN last week.

Jordan and others have pushed GOP leaders to attach defunding efforts to must-pass pieces of legislation, such as a highway bill earlier this summer and the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running. GOP leaders have generally opposed this strategy, which has created a schism within the party.

Conversely, Democrats have been largely united. Leaders and rank-and-file members in both parties have generally supported taxpayer funding of the abortion giant, despite the possibility of illegal abortions being done to illegally harvest fetal organs and other body parts.

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