Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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

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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Pro-life group asks: Pray for abortionists who sell baby body parts

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February 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - This Lent, a pro-life group would like you to pray for an abortionist - specifically, an abortionist who facilitates the sale of unborn babies' body parts.

The Pro-Life Action League is asking for people to pray for three people in particular throughout the 40 days of Lent. All three were caught on video by the Center for Medical Progress.

Dr. Deborah Nucatola appeared in the first video released last July, sipping red wine and stabbing her salad as she discussed the dismemberment of aborted children, including where to “crush” their bodies for a "less crunchy" technique.

The second is Dr. Mary Gatter, who appeared in the second undercover video, haggling over the prices Planned Parenthood expected to receive for the aborted children's organs and tissue. At one point, she joked that she wants the revenue to pay for “a Lamborghini.”

And the third is Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, who was also caught in the first video praising Dr. Nucatola.

Despite the shocking evidence uncovered by CMP, Richards has insisted her organization did not receive any profit for what she dubs its "fetal tissue donation program." She apologized only for Dr. Nucatola's "tone." She has since said that Planned Parenthood will not receive any remuneration for babies' body parts.

"These three architects of Planned Parenthood’s baby parts scheme have devoted their lives to the destruction and exploitation of human life in the name of ‘choice,’" said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. "If we won’t pray for them, who will?”

He asked Christians to pray for these three abortion industry profiteers - and for Richards, who is a post-abortive woman - in order to fulfill Jesus Christ's commandment in the Bible, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (St. Matthew 5:44).

“In God’s eyes, what abortion has done to these three women may be worse than what they’ve done to unborn children, who now rest in our Lord’s loving arms," Scheidler said.

For most Catholics, Lent began yesterday on Ash Wednesday, and lasts 40 days.



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Texas AG faces ethics probe for defending conscience rights of natural marriage supporters

Lisa Bourne

AUSTIN, Texas, February 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The attorney general of the state of Texas is facing an ethics investigation for having affirmed the constitutional religious freedom of state workers to decline to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it goes against their religious beliefs.

Attorney General Ken Paxton took steps to address the issue of conscience protection in his state before and after last June's Supreme Court's Obergefell decision imposing same-sex "marriage" on all 50 states, first issuing a statement the day prior clarifying that Texas law recognizes the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and recommending that state officials wait for direction from his office should the High Court move to redefine marriage.

Paxton then issued a statement two days after the ruling, his office allowing county clerks and their employees to retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and said as well that justices of the peace and judges would similarly retain religious freedoms.

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

A month later, a group of some 200 attorneys filed a complaint asserting that Paxton's position encouraged officials to violate the U.S. Constitution and break their oaths of office, according to ABC News.

The complaint was dismissed at first by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas, but it was reinstated February 2 by a state Supreme Court-appointed appeals board, which contended that the complaint alleges a "possible violation" of professional conduct rules.

The appeals board decision to reinstate the case does not mean Paxton violated professional ethics, according to the ABC report, but does require him to respond to the complaint in conjunction with the investigation.

"The complaint has always lacked merit," said Paxton spokeswoman Cynthia Meyer, "and we are confident the legal process for resolving these complaints will bear that out."

Paxton was among several state officials across the U.S. who moved to ensure conscience protection in the immediate aftermath the Obergefell ruling, at times garnering the ire of homosexual activists.

Last July, South Dakota's attorney general granted permission to county clerks with conscientious objections to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as long as another clerk in the office would issue the license. 

Rowan County, KY clerk Kim Davis was jailed last fall for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it violated her religious values.

In a highly contentious case, Davis had asked for a religious accommodation allowing her office to issue altered licenses to homosexuals without her name on them, which was eventually granted by Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin. However, the ACLU sued, seeking to force Davis to issue the old forms with her full name on them. A federal judge rejected the suit earlier this week.

Last year, homosexual activists sent harassing messages, including threats of violence, to Oklahoma State Senator Joseph Silk and his family after the Republican legislator sponsored a bill that would have given the state's business owners the freedom to follow their religious convictions in regard to homosexual "marriage."

Paxton faces penalties varying between a reprimand and disbarment resulting from the ethics complaint. The Texas attorney general is also facing securities fraud charges.



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This pro-abortion billionaire may run for president

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NEW YORK, February 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - He's an upwardly mobile, socially liberal billionaire whose political affiliation has changed numerous times over the years. He's teased numerous presidential campaigns in the past, but this time he's talking like he's serious. And no, he's not who you think he is.

Michael Bloomberg, who served three terms as mayor of New York City, has confirmed to media sources that he is considering running for president as an independent in 2016.

Bloomberg told told the Financial Times this week that he finds American political "discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," and that he's “looking at all the options."

The 73-year-old tycoon was a registered Democrat before switching parties to run in the less contested Republican primary in 2001. He became a registered independent in 2007.

As mayor, Bloomberg governed as a social liberal who strongly supported abortion and the LGBT political agenda.

In 2011, Bloomberg signed a controversial gag order directed at crisis pregnancy centers. A year later, he endorsed Barack Obama's re-election, saying that abortion-on-demand is part of "the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there."

After leaving office, he received Planned Parenthood's Global Citizen Award at its annual gala on March 27, 2014.

That's the same year Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $50 million undertaking to expand "reproductive health," including a major partnership with Planned Parenthood-Global to overturn pro-life laws in four nations: Nicaragua, Sengal, Uganda, and Burkina Faso.

Jeb Bush sat on the board of the philanthropy, which also strongly supports Common Core educational standards, at the time.

Mayor Bloomberg played a pivotal role redefining marriage in New York state, giving the four Republican state senators who voted for New York’s same-sex “marriage” bill the maximum campaign contribution allowed by law. One retired and a second lost his primary fight.

His strong emphasis on health regulations, such as attempting to ban soft drinks larger than 16 ounces, did little to enhance his popularity and were deftly parodied by Sarah Palin. (A state court struck down the proposed regulation.)

His $50 million gun control crusade dissipated after his cause failed in state after state.

The financial heft he could bring into the race, as well as his quirky politics, has tempted Bloomberg to enter presidential politics in the past. He considered a presidential run in 2008 and thought more strongly about a third party bid in 2012, after hosting the inaugural convention of the “No Labels” movement in New York City in 2010, but he backed off each time after not seeing a viable path to victory.

With an estimated fortune of $39 billion, he has said he would be willing to spend more than $1 billion on his campaign in 2016 - but he would only enter the race if the Republican Party nominates Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, and the Democratic Party nominates Bernie Sanders.

He called Jeb and Hillary Clinton "two quality” candidates and "the only two who know how to make the trains run." Jeb reciprocated last month, telling CNN that Bloomberg is "a good person, and he’s a patriot and wants the best for the country.”

At least one of his competitors is eager to see Mike run. "I hope he gets into the race," Donald Trump told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Wednesday night. "I'd love to compete against him...I would love to see Michael in the race."

That is likely because polling shows Bloomberg would draw most of his support from the Democratic candidate. "Although he is characterized as the New York counterpunch to Trump, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is more the nemesis of Bernie than he is of Donald," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Bernie Sanders would defeat both Trump and Cruz in a head-to-head match, according to Quinnipiac. But if Bloomberg entered the race, he would win 15 percent of the vote largely from Sanders, giving Trump a one-point victory in the popular vote (and narrowing Cruz's loss to one point).

However, he could throw a major wrench in the Democrats' electoral college total, according to columnist Pat Buchanan.

"Not only would Bloomberg lose the Big Apple, his statewide vote would come mostly from the Democratic nominee, giving Republicans the best opportunity to carry the Empire State since Ronald Reagan coasted to re-election in 1984," wrote Buchanan, who served as White House communications director during Reagan's second term.

“It’s not beyond imagining that he could get in and have an effect on the race,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, told The Hill.

Perhaps sensing this, numerous Democrats - including Senators Claire McCaskill and Jeanne Shaheen - have thrown cold water on a Bloomberg presidential run.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, said this week that an independent Bloomberg candidacy "won't be necessary" - because the Democrats already represent social liberals.

"I really think when he takes a good hard look, he will conclude that the issues that are important to him...[have] a natural home among our Democratic candidates," she said. "And so, I think Michael Bloomberg's agenda is well cared-for and advanced among our Democratic candidates, and his candidacy, I think he will find, won't be necessary.""

His entrance into the race would be a true injection of "New York values" - making him the third or fourth New Yorker in the race - alongside fellow billionaire Trump from Queens, the Brooklyn-born Sanders, and onetime New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Annie Linskey, a reporter for the Boston Globe who once worked for Bloomberg, told Fox News on Monday that there is "about a four" percent chance that Bloomberg will run.



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