Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

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Catholic Relief Services funding at least two pro-abortion groups in Mexico

Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent
Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

MEXICO CITY, February 20, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the U.S. bishops' international development agency, has funded at least two organizations in Mexico that LifeSiteNews has verified as opposing pro-life constitutional amendments and supporting the provision of abortion by the government.

The funding of the groups has been confirmed in an e-mail received by LifeSiteNews.com from CRS Director of Communications John Rivera.

The two pro-abortion groups that have received CRS backing in Mexico are the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (FRAYBA), and the Center for Reflection and Action on Labor Issues (CEREAL), both of which are currently advertised as "partners" on CRS's own website.

However, when asked by LifeSiteNews.com, Rivera refused to answer whether CRS was funding other pro-abortion organizations in Mexico, such as the "All Rights for Everyone" National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations (TDT).

He also refused a request asking for a complete list of organizations funded or supported by CRS in Latin America and worldwide.

Rivera admitted to LifeSiteNews.com that CRS has known about the two groups' signatures on a declaration advocating the legalization of abortion since 2009, but continued to fund them at the time, because they claimed that "they neither advocate for nor condone abortion in any way." Rivera did not say, however, if the groups admitted promoting the legalization of abortion and its provision by the government, as well as opposing pro-life state constitutional amendments, all of which LifeSiteNews.com has documented.

FRAYBA's pro-abortion activities

As LifeSiteNews.com has documented in previous reports, FRAYBA has for several years engaged in pro-abortion activism individually and also as a member of the pro-abortion TDT network. In addition, the group has admitted to LifeSiteNews.com in a 2011 interview that it favors the legalization of abortion and even its provision by the government.

In 2008, for example, the group signed a declaration opposing a proposed right-to-life amendment for the state of Jalisco, one that was finally passed two years later.

The group's name appears on numerous other pro-abortion declarations and reports discovered by LifeSiteNews.com, including ones issued in 2006 (p. 9 of pdf, FRAYBA named on p. 3 of pdf), 2009 (p. 1, FRAYBA's signature p. 3), 2010 (pp. 7-10, FRAYBA on p. 1), and 2011 (pp. 22, 23, 47, FRAYBA on p. 2). The documents repeatedly denounce Mexico's state right-to-life amendments and demand the legalization and provision of abortion by the government.

For example, the 2010 declaration complains that the amendments, which protect the life of all from the moment of conception, "ignore the right of women to a dignified life, to personal integrity, to the protection of their health, to respect for their dignity, to the equal protection of the law without any discrimination, to effective recourse, to their private lives, to liberty of conscience, to liberty of thought, to the free choice regarding the course of her life."

In 2012 (pp. 8, footnotes 23, FRAYBA on p. 25) FRAYBA received special thanks for its personal contribution to a pro-abortion report issued by the All Rights for Everyone Network. The organization refused to answer questions about its participation when LifeSiteNews contacted it several months ago.

However, FRAYBA representative Jorge Armando Gomez admitted in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.com in late 2011 that the organization regards abortion as a "right" that should be protected and even provided by the government.

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"We are in favor of the depenalization of abortion because we are against criminalizing women who opt for that,” spokesman Jorge Armando Gomez told LifeSiteNews, who also said that doctors should not be penalized for performing abortions.

"In this sense we say that the government should guarantee the right to health, because quite often abortion is done in Mexico in unhealthy conditions or in hospitals where women aren’t guaranteed a good service.”

"So, the government should provide the service in that case?” LifeSiteNews asked.

"Yes, in the framework of the right to health, like with many other services such as births, care for when we get sick, in the same way this action of opting to abort should be done in good conditions and life should not be endangered."

CEREAL's pro-abortion activities

CEREAL, a worker's rights advocacy group based in Mexico City run by members of the Jesuit order, has also attached its name to several pro-abortion declarations. The group is also a member of the pro-abortion "human rights" coalition TDT (mentioned above in connection to FRAYBA).

CEREAL joined FRAYBA in signing the 2008 protest against a proposed right-to-life amendment to the state constitution of Jalisco. It also joined FRYBA to sign the pro-abortion declarations in 2006, and 2012.

CRS has admitted to LifeSiteNews.com that it continues to "work with" CEREAL but has not elaborated on the statement.

CRS spokesman John Rivera admits knowledge of document, refuses to answer further questions

When asked by e-mail to explain CRS's funding of these two pro-abortion organizations, spokesman John Rivera responded: "In 2009 CRS became aware that these two partners had signed onto a broad United Nation’s report covering a number of human rights issues that included statements supporting the new Mexican abortion law."

"At that time CRS staff investigated the situation received written assurances from both organizations that they neither advocate for nor condone abortion in any way," wrote Rivera.

However, added Rivera, "LifeSite News has raised further allegations that had not previously come to the attention of CRS."

Although Rivera added that "CRS ‘ partner relationship with FRAYBA ended in 2011," he admitted that "CRS does still work with CEREAL and will consult with the Jesuit Province of Mexico regarding any statements or activities at odds with Church teaching."

Over a month-and-a-half following CRS' communication with LifeSiteNews.com in December, this news agency has no further information about CRS' promised "consultation" with the Jesuit Province of Mexico regarding CEREAL. The group also continues to be listed as a "partner" on the CRS website.

Although Rivera claimed in his e-mail to LifeSiteNews.com that CRS no longer has a "partnership" with FRAYBA, he has refused to explain why FRAYBA is still listed on the CRS website as a "partner," and will not say how much the organization has received from CRS. He has also refused to say if CRS is continuing to maintain a relationship with FRAYBA, and to give a complete list of groups in Latin America funded by CRS.

Following two unanswered requests for clarification by e-mail from LifeSiteNews.com, this reporter contacted Rivera directly by telephone to ask for the same information. Rivera, however, refused to answer.

After this reporter pointed out that Rivera had not responded to the e-mail requests, Rivera replied, "Yeah, well we sent the response, and that's our response."

LSN: “But you won't say whether you're funding other groups, specifically..."

Rivera: "We're sticking to the response we sent you."

LSN: "But why don't you want people to know who you're funding? It's a..."

Rivera: "Thank you very much." (Hangs up.)

Contact:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street NE
Washington DC 20017
202-541-3000
Online contact form.

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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.

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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
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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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