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Breathing with both lungs: Eastern Orthodox make strong showing at March for Life

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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – March for Life President Jeanne Monahan addressed concerns that the annual pro-life walk was too heavily Catholic, reaching out to evangelical Protestants. But based on the participation of Eastern Orthodox Christians in this year's events, marchers may have been forgiven for believing the whole march breathed with the other lung.

Every major event, and several minor ones, featured distinguished clergy from the world's second largest Christian denomination.

Archpriest John Jillions, the chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), represented his church at the “National Memorial for the Preborn and their Mothers and Fathers,” an annual interdenominational prayer service held at Constitution Hall.

The most visible participation came as Orthodox clergy filled the stage at the March for Life, which began with an invocation given by Bishop Demetrios (Kantzavelos), the Greek Orthodox bishop of Chicago.

He prayed that the public witness would reach “civil authorities who have legislated against the rights of the unborn, jurists who have adjudicated against life, physicians who have not healed but have brought harm and death, parents who have made choices to end life in the womb – some callous and self-interested, others tragic and conflicted,” and “young persons raised in a culture that espouses a right for some to kill.”

Bishop Demetrios, who also participated in the 2014 Chicago March for Life, said that supporting the right to abortion is based in “profound ignorance.”

“Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do,” he said.

He was joined on stage by the ruling hierarchy of the OCA (Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop Melchisedek, Bishop Mark, Bishop Michael), as well as representatives of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Antiochian Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, and a representative of the U.S. Catholic bishops.

Metropolitan Tikhon (Mollard), the leader of the OCA, offered the invocation at the annual Rose Dinner at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill the evening of the March. His words focused on the Epistles of St. Paul to St. Timothy, most poignantly the charge, “Let no man despise thy youth.”

Like the rest of the March, the Orthodox delegation heavily featured young people. The nation's major Orthodox seminaries – St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York, Holy Cross in Boston, St. Tikhon's in Pennsylvania, Holy Trinity in New York, and others – sent delegations.

Gabriel Monforte, a young seminarian at St. Tikhon's, was proud that Orthodox bishops “are standing by the official position of the Church that all life is sacred, and as future stewards of the church it's our duty to be here for them and for all those gathered here, as well.”

He said the Eastern embrace of human life grows out of its key doctrinal belief: that God is love.

“Everything has to be done in love, especially trying to convert the hearts of those who don't view life as being sacred, as we do.” He said they learn they must “show love to those who have unfortunately chosen, or been forced to choose, abortion.”

“It's not just about shouting and getting hyped up – although it is about making our voice heard – but it's also about demonstrating God's love to a cold world,” he said.

Bishop Demetrios said the presence of so many young people of all backgrounds gave him hope.

“It is inspiring to see that, after four decades and counting of legalized infanticide, the March for Life was joined by so many young women and men from all across our nation, and there are those who feel deeply that we must protect all human life, from the preborn to those on death row and everywhere in between as we prayed in our memorial vigil,” he said. “Though this battle will not be complete until we repeal certain laws and reverse court rulings, abolishing abortion on demand as well as capital punishment, we are advancing in our fight for hearts and minds. Virtuous hearts will always win the day.”

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Of course, not all participants were young, or new to the event.

Dr. David C. Ford, Associate Professor of Church History at St. Tikhon's, said he has been coming with his students since 1988. “It's a highlight of the year to be here as a group and standing up for the sanctity, the dignity of all of human life,” he said.

Marching for him is “a public witness for our church's historic support for all of life, born and unborn, ever since Jesus Christ established His Church,” he said. “It's an honor; it's humbling to carry on that tradition, that legacy.”

He said the highlight for him was the Orthodox prayer service for the unborn. “It's beyond words how important that is,” he said.

Prominent Orthodox clergy and laity joined the annual event, as well. The chancellor of St. Vladimir's Seminary, Fr. Chad Hatfield, was present. He marched near Fr. John Kowalczyk, a leading voice on the issue and the author of two books on abortion: An Orthodox View of Abortion and Church Fathers and Abortion.

Shortly before the pro-life event, the Republican National Committee announced it would postpone its annual winter meeting so delegates could attend the March. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is Greek Orthodox.

Dr. Ford said he would encourage any Orthodox Christian – or anyone else – who has doubts about taking part to come to the March for Life. “It's a life-changing event,” he said. “It's so powerful.”

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The first pro-abortion Republican enters the 2016 presidential race

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By Ben Johnson

EXETER, NH, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The large and expanding field of would-be Republican presidential candidates grew by one today, as George Pataki became the first GOP presidential hopeful this election season to openly support abortion-on-demand.

The 69-year-old long-shot candidate also has a history of supporting homosexual legislative causes.

In the weeks leading up to his formal announcement, George Pataki took out TV ads asking Republicans to refrain from talking about abortion and gay “marriage,” branding them “distractions.”

“In 12 years [as governor], I don’t think I talked about that issue twice,” he once said of abortion.

On same-sex “marriage,” he says, “I think, leave it to the states. I don’t think it’s a role in Washington.”

However, Pataki has a long history of enacting the homosexual political agenda as governor of New York from 1994-2006. He signed a “hate crimes” law that added the words “gay” and “lesbian” to New York state law for the first time.

He signed the Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Act (SONDA), which prohibits business owners from “discriminating” against homosexuals in housing or hiring, with an exemption only for religious institutions.

He also added sexual orientation to state civil rights laws, alongside such immutable characteristics as race and sex, in an apparent quid pro quo for a gay activist group's endorsement in his last run for governor. The New York Times reported that, under pressure from Pataki, then then-Senate Majority Leader “shifted his position on the bill as part of what is tacitly acknowledged, even by Senator [Joseph] Bruno's senior aides, to have been a deal to win an endorsement for Governor Pataki from the state's largest gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda.”

After the LGBT activist group endorsed Pataki in 2002, citing a long list of his service to the homosexual political cause, Pataki personally lobbied senators for the bill's passage, then signed it into law that December.

Coupled with his stance on gun control, environmentalism, and other issues, he stands well to the left of the Republican mainstream.

The three-term governor of New York, who belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, took his own advice by largely avoiding social issues today. The closest he came was his vow, “I'd repeal oppressive laws like ObamaCare and end Common Core.”

He added that he would “fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion. That is not America!”

Otherwise, Pataki's announcement speech hewed to stand pat Republican issues like reducing taxes, shrinking the number of federal employees, increasing military spending, and supporting entrepreneurship.

He began by thanking his supporters, in English and Spanish.

Smiling, his head pivoting between twin teleprompters, he said, “Let me tell you some of the things I'd do right away to get oppressive government off the backs of Americans.”

He would institute a lifetime ban on congressmen acting as lobbyists after they leave office. “If you ever served one day in Congress, you will never be a lobbyist,” he said. He favors forcing Congress to live under the laws it passes, so there will be “no special rules for the powerful.”

He cited his history of cutting taxes, reducing welfare rolls, and leaving his state with billions of dollars in surplus. “That's what our policies can do,” he said. “I know we can do the same thing for the United States.”

In recent weeks, he has called for a more interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East. Today, he reminded his audience that he was governor of New York in 9/11. “I will not fear the lesson of September 11,” he said. “To protect us, first we must protect the border,” he said – an unexpected phrase, as Pataki supports amnesty for the at least 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.

“We will stand with our ally, Israel, a democracy on the front lines of terror and barbarism,” he said.

Like former Sen. Rick Santorum, who announced he is running for president yesterday, Pataki agreed that “if necessary, American forces will be used to actually defeat and destroy ISIS on the ground – although he promised not to become “the world's policeman.”

Some of his campaign promises drew skepticism, such as seeking to develop self-driving cars and to cure Alzheimer's disease and cancer within the next decade.

The speech's venue was chosen deliberately by Pataki, who considered entering the presidential race in 2000, 2008, and 2012. The town of Exeter, New Hampshire, claims to be the founding place of the Republican Party. (Ripon, Wisconsin, makes a similar claim.)

More importantly, the first-in-the-nation primary skews more libertarian on social issues than evangelical-dominated Iowa and South Carolina, so Pataki has essentially staked his candidacy on doing well in New Hampshire. Fellow pro-abortion Republican Rudy Giuliani made a similar bet in 2008, banking on a good showing among transplanted New Yorkers in the Florida primary. He left the race after finishing a distant third.

Short of a stunning upset in the Granite State, Pataki has little chance of breaking through the pack this year. A Fox News poll ranks him dead last among 16 announced and potential candidates. Holly Bailey of Yahoo! News said, “George Pataki would never say this, but you do have to wonder if he's sort of, maybe, gaming for vice president.”

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Pataki is not the first “pro-choice” Republican to run for president.  Giuliani (who supported partial birth abortion) and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (another potential 2016 candidate, who supports abortion during the first trimester) ran in 2008. Twelve years earlier, both California Gov. Pete Wilson and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter supported abortion-on-demand. Arlen Specter later left the party and became a Democrat.

In 1988, General Alexander Haig opposed a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So did Texas Gov. John Connally in 1980.

George H.W. Bush supported abortion and voted for Planned Parenthood funding early in his career but changed his position by the time he ran for president the second time, in 1988.

President Gerald Ford was the last Republican nominee to proclaim himself “pro-choice.” 

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Ireland ‘defied God’ by voting for gay ‘marriage’: Cardinal Burke

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By Pete Baklinski

OXFORD, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Cardinal Raymond Burke lamented how formerly Catholic Ireland has gone further than the pagans in the pre-Christian days of old and “defied God” by calling homosexual behavior “marriage” in the referendum last week.

“I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage,” he told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic organization, in an address Wednesday about the intellectual heritage of Pope Benedict XVI. The Tablet, Britain’s liberal Catholic newspaper, reported his remarks.

On Friday, 1.2 million Irish people voted to amend the country’s constitution to say: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” A little over 734,000 people voted against the proposal. 

Burke said that he could not understand “any nation redefining marriage.”

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The cardinal also emphasized the important role that parents play in protecting their children in a culture increasingly hostile to God’s laws. “The culture is thoroughly corrupted, if I may say so, and the children are being exposed to this, especially through the internet,” he said. One practical piece of advice that he offered families was to put computers in public areas to prevent children from “imbib[ing] this poison that’s out there.”

During the same Oxford visit, but during a homily at a Mass the day before, Burke called marriage between a man and woman a “fundamental truth” that has been “ignored, defied, and violated.”

Burke warned during the homily of the dangers of “various ideological currents” and of “human deception and trickery which strives to lead us into error.”

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Why young Christians can’t grasp our arguments against gay ‘marriage’

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By John Stonestreet

May 28, 2015 (BreakPoint.org) -- For five years, Dr. Abigail Rine has been teaching a course on gender theory at George Fox University, an evangelical school in the Quaker tradition.

At the beginning of the semester, she tells her students that “they are guaranteed to read something they will find disagreeable, probably even offensive.”

Writing at FirstThings.com recently, she related how five years ago it was easy to find readings that challenged and even offended the evangelical college students “considering the secular bent of contemporary gender studies.”

But today, things are different. “Students now,” she says, “arrive in my class thoroughly versed in the language and categories of identity politics; they are reticent to disagree with anything for fear of seeming intolerant—except, of course, what they perceive to be intolerant.”

And what do they find “intolerant”? Well, in her class, an essay entitled “What is Marriage?” by Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan Anderson, which was the beginning of the book “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense.”

In their article, Girgis, George, and Anderson defend what they call the conjugal view of marriage. “Marriage,” they write, “is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other … that is naturally fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together.” They defend this view against what they call the “revisionist view” of marriage, which redefines marriage to include, among other things, same-sex couples.

“My students hate it,” Dr. Rine wrote. They “lambast the article.” “They also,” she adds, “seem unable to fully understand the argument.” And again, these are evangelical students at an evangelical school.

The only argument for conjugal marriage they’ve ever encountered has been the wooden proof-texting from the Bible. And besides, wrote Rine, “What the article names as a ‘revisionist’ idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem ‘new’ to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.”

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As Rine points out “the redefinition of marriage began decades ago” when “the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination.”

And if marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction,” then it seems mean-spirited to Rine’s students to argue that marriage by its very nature excludes same-sex couples.

And where do students get the idea that marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction”? Well, everywhere—television, church, school, their homes, in youth groups.

Rine writes, “As I consider my own upbringing and the various ‘sex talks’ I encountered in evangelical church settings over the past twenty years, I realize that the view of marital sex presented there was primarily revisionist.”

In other words, once you say, “I do,” you get “the gift” of sex which is presented as “a ‘gift’ largely due to its [erotic], unitive properties, rather than its intrinsic capacity to create life.” Even in the Church, children have become an optional add-on to married life rather than its primary purpose.

What can we do to win back our children, our churches, and the culture? In our recent book “Same Sex Marriage,” Sean McDowell and I lay out a game plan. We offer strategies for the short-term and the long-term, with the ultimate goal: re-shaping the cultural imagination towards what God intended marriage to be, starting with the church. Come to BreakPoint.org to pick up your copy.

As Chuck Colson once said in a BreakPoint commentary about marriage, “We Christians are very good at saying ‘No.’ But we’ve got to get better at saying ‘Yes’: showing how God’s plan for humanity is a blessing. That His ways, including faithful, life-giving marriage between one man and one woman, lead to human flourishing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Reprinted with permission from Break Point.

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