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:

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Lisa Bourne

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Archbishop Chaput: Obama’s White House ‘may be the least friendly to religious concerns in our history’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Philadelphia’s archbishop told a group of young men preparing for the Catholic priesthood that under the Obama administration hostility toward religion has reached an unprecedented level.

“The current White House may be the least friendly to religious concerns in our history,” Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, stated in an address at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

With religious liberty at the top of news headlines, the archbishop spoke to the seminarians March 17 in observance of the 50th anniversary of the close of Vatican II and its Declaration on Religious Liberty – Dignitatis Humanae. He talked about the decline of religious practice in the U.S. and the various ways religious liberties are being eroded in the country, forewarning of what’s to come with the nation on its current path.

“We’ll see more of the same in the future,” Archbishop Chaput said. “Pressure in favor of things like gay rights, contraception and abortion services, and against public religious witness.”

“We’ll see it in the courts and in so-called ‘anti-discrimination’ laws,” he continued. “We’ll see it in ‘anti-bullying’ policies that turn public schools into indoctrination centers on matters of human sexuality; centers that teach that there’s no permanent truth involved in words like ‘male’ and ‘female.’”

Archbishop Chaput detailed religious persecution across the globe currently and in the past, before delving into the present climate in America.

“We’ll see it in restrictions on public funding, revocation of tax exemptions and expanding government regulations,” the archbishop stated. “We too easily forget that every good service the government provides comes with a growth in its regulatory power. And that power can be used in ways nobody imagined in the past.”

Archbishop Chaput expressed how certain terms so prevalent in American culture today - justice, rights, freedom, and dignity - are used with conflicting meanings, rendering public discourse futile in addressing truth.

“Our most important debates come down to who can use the best words in the best way to get power,” he said. “Words like ‘justice’ have emotional throw-weight, so people use them as weapons.”

Reports of Archbishop Chaput’s remarks come as the state of Indiana and its governor face tremendous hostility for its recently adopted religious freedom law.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence has spent the last few days retreating after a national barrage of attacks on the law, which mirrors that of 19 other states and was shaped from 1993 federal legislation passed by a Democrat Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.

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Opponents claim the law amounts to state-sponsored discrimination, despite the fact its purpose is to protect religious liberty against government overreach.

In speaking to the seminarians from his archdiocese, Archbishop Chaput said we are lying to ourselves if we think we can keep our freedoms without revering the biblical vision--the uniquely Jewish and Christian vision--of who and what man is.

“Human dignity has only one source. And only one guarantee,” he said. “We’re made in the image and likeness of God. And if there is no God, then human dignity is just elegant words.”

The archbishop stressed for the young men that the faithful must live out religious liberty by practicing faith in their lives and by defending it.

“We need to remember two simple facts,” Archbishop Chaput said. “In practice, no law and no constitution can protect religious freedom unless people actually believe and live their faith – not just at home or in church, but in their public lives.” 

“But it’s also true that no one can finally take our freedom unless we give it away,” he said.

The archbishop closed by cautioning against becoming a cynic, saying there’s too much beauty in the world to lose hope.

“In the end,” he said, “there’s too much evidence that God loves us, with a passion that is totally unreasonable and completely redemptive, to ever stop trusting in God’s purpose for the world, and for our lives.”

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Rachel Lu

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Dissent trumps Faith in new ‘Catholic’ LGBT film

Rachel Lu
By Rachel Lu

April 1, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- “Human beings procreate male-female, but human sexuality isn’t just about that. It’s about so much more, which is self-evident.”

So says Fr. Patrick Conroy, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, at the outset of a recently released short film promoting the normalization of LGBT lifestyles within the Catholic Church.

The film is entitled “Owning Our Faith,” which is richly ironic in ways that the director, Michael Tomae, surely did not intend. Except for Catholic writer Eve Tushnet (a complicated case, whose work has been discussed on Crisis in the past), all the featured participants clearly and openly dissent from Catholic teachings on sexuality. They are indeed interested in “owning” their faith. But the ownership they seek is of a distinctly proprietary nature.

There’s little point in trying to refute the film’s arguments as such, because there really are none. If the word “Catholic” were omitted from the audio track, almost nothing would suggest to a listener that the content of the film had anything to do with the Catholic tradition. There is no serious discussion of theology or doctrine. The quote from Fr. Conroy above is the closest it ever comes to “engaging” the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics. It’s clear throughout that the individuals featured are not interested in learning what their faith might have to teach them. As they see it, they are the teachers, appointed to remake the Church in their own image.

Thus we see Fr. Conroy lamenting that gay and lesbian Catholics cannot be “fully participating in the sacramental life of our Church.” In case anyone is unclear as to what he means (because of course, experiences of same-sex attraction do not exclude anyone from full participation in the Church’s sacramental life), this is juxtaposed against “married couple” Matt and Rick Vidal discussing why they choose to remain “faithful Catholics,” despite criticism from their LGBT friends. “We are the Church,” declares Rick, “and if we leave it, if we abandon the Church, then it’s never going to change, so we have to continue living here, being an example, and encouraging other people to be that example, because that’s what’s going to change the Church.”

Is there anything these men like about Catholicism as it is? Any reason not to seek out one of the (numerous) other communities and churches that would be happy to affirm them in whatever sexual lifestyle they might choose? They don’t say, and neither do any of the other featured speakers. Here and elsewhere, we are left with the distinct impression that most of them remain in Catholic communities primarily as a favor to the rest of us, so that we can benefit from their gifts and unique insight. A review of the film at National Catholic Reporter stated that, “Not every viewer will agree with every opinion expressed in ‘Owning Our Faith,’ but only the most rigid of believers would question the love these Catholics have for their church.” At the risk of joining the ranks of the rigid, I do indeed feel moved to ask: what do these Catholics love about their church? They don’t tell us. We only hear about what needs to change.

It’s difficult to argue with a film that isn’t working on the level of rational argument. Nevertheless, it’s worth responding to the general thrust and ethos of the film with three important points.

The first relates to the claim, made on the film’s website and in other promotional materials, that productions of this sort are created as part of an effort to “promote open dialogue” about same-sex attraction and related issues. This is exactly the opposite of their intent, and it’s important to be clear on this point. Propagandistic videos of this sort are intended to bypass, or even to shut down, any real or serious discussion of the moral dimensions of same-sex attraction.

In a dialogue, morally relevant issues are stated clearly so that they can be analyzed and considered. What we have here is a long string of emotional appeals. “My gender transition was immensely spiritual to me,” says Mateo Williamson, who self-identifies as a transgendered man. “Sexuality is how we express our inner soul, our inner energy,” enthuses Mike Roper who self-identifies as gay. In a particularly shameful piece of emotional blackmail, grandmother Nana Fotsch urges parents of same-sex attracted Catholics to accept their children’s declared sexual identity and related lifestyle choices or “you’re going to lose them.” (Don’t all of Christianity’s hard teachings have the potential to alienate us from loved ones? Shall we just jettison the whole Catechism right now? Our Lord has some rather stern words about those who prioritize family relationships above the truths of the Gospel.)

Though there’s nothing Catholic about its message, Owning Our Faith pursues a strategy that is entirely consonant with a larger (and thus far, remarkably successful) progressive project. Don’t try to win the argument about sexuality and marriage. Play for sympathy. Appeal to emotion. People today are so thoroughly confused about sex and marriage that they have few defenses against an onslaught of politically loaded sentimentalism. And you can’t lose an argument that you never have.

This leads us to the second important point. Uncomfortable as it may sometimes be, loving people just doesn’t entail approving everything they do. Neither should we accept anyone “exactly as he is,” because of course all of us are sinful, fallen and in need of transformation by grace.

This is not a message that these “owners of faith” want to hear. Katie Chiarantona, one of the film’s representative “straight” contributors, sums up the film’s prevailing view even more neatly by declaring that she cares enormously about the place of homosexuals in the Church because she has many LGBT friends and, “it is unconscionable and unthinkable for me to support an institution that doesn’t celebrate them and encourage them to live fully as who they are.”

Who among us can really say with any confidence that we know who our friends (or we ourselves) really are? This is a dangerous conceit. None of us here below have yet realized our perfected state. Most of us, I expect, still have a significant way to go. But progression towards supernatural fulfillment is not possible if we begin by issuing ultimatums to God about the conditions under which we will accept divine grace.

Such an effort brings to mind the parable of the wedding banquet, in which a king invites all and sundry (including the poor and commoners) to his son’s wedding, but ends up evicting one guest owing to a lack of appropriate wedding attire. Quite obviously, the king in the story is not a philistine when it comes to standing on ceremony; he’s just ushered the local riff-raff into the most formal of state affairs. Nevertheless, the guest who refuses to dress properly is forcibly removed. Clearly there is a lesson about the importance of accepting grace on God’s terms, and not our own. All of us are welcome at the Lord’s table, but we may not simply come as we are. Being Christian means looking for faith to change us, not the other way around.

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This leads to the final point. While there is some space for discussing the appropriate pastoral response to deep-seated same-sex attraction, the Church’s broader position on same-sex attraction is perfectly clear. It is intrinsically disordered, and homoerotic relationships are immoral. There is no reason to think that this teaching can, should, or ever will change. Quite the contrary, once one understands the Catholic position on sexuality, it becomes clear that it cannot possibly be tweaked in such a way as to allow disgruntled LGBT activists the affirmation they seek.

Fr. Conroy’s position, as stated in the opening quote, is a straw man. Of course no reasonable person supposes that sexuality is “only about” procreation, if by that we mean that sex should be viewed in a coldly clinical light as a utilitarian means to achieving pregnancy. Clearly, erotic love involves far more than that, and how could it not, given the magnitude of what procreation really is? To even begin to do justice to that tremendous good (the begetting of immortal souls and perpetuation of the human race) erotic love must be a noteworthy thing indeed.

However, the Church has consistently maintained that erotic love, at least among mere humans, must be ordered towards procreation. Every effort to slice and dice the relevant pieces of the conjugal package into more-palatable portions (by sanctioning sex without marriage or marriage without permanence or erotic relationships of multiple sorts that are intrinsically closed to life) has been rejected by the Church, and for good reason. Embracing the life-giving nature of sex is the key that enables Catholics to articulate a noble, elevated and meaningful portrait of erotic love, which makes sex into something more than a tangled mash-up of bodies and emotions.

The conversation that dissenting LGBT Catholics (and their “straight allies”) want to have is already over. On some level they know this, which is why they seek sympathy instead of engagement. But there is some good news. For those who really do love their Church, full participation in its sacramental life is always available. They need do only what all Catholics are expected to do: stop trying to fix our faith, and pray instead for it to fix us.

Reprinted with permission from CrisisMagazine.

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During his political days, Andy and his wife Angela with George and Laura Bush
Andy Parrish

On the fast track to political stardom, recent LSN hire gets more than he bargained for…

Andy Parrish
By Andy Parrish
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Andy Parrish

I’ve been a Chief of Staff to Rep. Michele Bachmann, I’ve managed multiple Congressional, Senatorial and Ballot Initiatives, some would say I’ve even ‘made’ members of Congress.

I’ve been a Senior Political Advisor to a Presidential candidate and I’ve sat across from President George W. Bush and advised him on political matters.  

I did most of that by the time I was thirty-three. I was on the fast track and no one was going to stop me.

Well, Jesus had other plans for me.

Even though I was on the fast track to the top it came at a significant price. I was putting me first and my family second.  

That’s not what Angela had signed up for when we got married and it’s certainly not right for my children. Nor is it the way God designed marriage.

After suffering a few defeats, I made the decision I didn’t want to be in politics anymore. But it was all I knew how to do so I started my own business and Angela kept encouraging me to seek out contracts in areas that I was most passionate about.

I was looking for contracts and stumbled upon an opportunity at LifeSiteNews.com that I never would have expected. I’ve been passionate about the life issue since I was three years old. My first memory in life was outside of a Planned Parenthood abortuary.

Providentially, a few weeks later I was on board. I thought it would be a simple job, you know one of those that you didn’t have to invest much into.  

I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  

It only took a few days for me to realize that this isn’t a job at all: this is a mission.

What amazed me most is these people just don’t talk the talk. Every one of them walks the walk, and they all put their faith and families above anything else.

Since starting work at LifeSite, I have followed the example of my co-workers and I’ve learned to show my family how much I love them by putting them first again.  

At LSN we start everyday and most every meeting with either a devotion or prayer (of course it’s voluntary).  We pray for you the readers of LSN, we pray for our supporters, we pray for each other and we pray for the success of LSN.

I’ve also found that LSN isn’t about any one person, it’s about a mission and it is larger then anyone who works here. We all trust that Jesus will continue to make LSN successful and will continue to be a blessing to our families and to you.  

LSN has given me so much.  They’ve given me my priorities back, they’ve given me more than I can ever give them and I am just one story.

I ask that you continue to pray and support the mission of LSN. We are changing hearts and minds with the truth and we are changing lives. As we end our Spring campaign, I hope you will consider clicking one of the donate buttons on our site to help us reach our goal.

 

Andy Parrish, Public Relations and Media Specialist for LifeSiteNews

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