Peter Baklinski

Choosing Hope and Grace: How two babies who shared one heart momentarily brought heaven to earth

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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(Editor’s note: LifeSiteNews dedicates this story to Luci and Chris who celebrate tomorrow the 3rd anniversary of the passing of their children Hope and Grace. Luci told LifeSiteNews that the Klare family is flourishing with baby Joseph being born just in time (2 weeks ago) to give older sister Maria, age 2, a playmate.)

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COVINGTON, Kentucky, June 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Luci and Chris Klare were barely married three months when, in December 2008, a pregnancy test revealed that they were nine months away from becoming a family. The couple was exuberant.

“It was joyful and frightening, but mostly pure elation,” recounted Luci on her family’s blog.

But the parents’ elation was short-lived. Two months into the pregnancy a visit to the doctor revealed that Luci was carrying conjoined twins who amazingly shared a single beating heart.

The doctor gave the twins one percent chance of survival.

Luci and Chris remember experiencing an impossible mix of emotions. They were elated by the thought of having twins but devastated by the thought of losing their babies so quickly.

The couple spent a number of days crying in each other’s arms, trying to find a way to make sense of the situation.

“God, why us?,” they asked time and time again.

Luci found consolation in remembering the loud and clear thumping of her babies’ heartbeat that she had heard during the doctor’s appointment. “When I heard their heart beat for the first time, I was in love.” The echo of that heartbeat in her memory reminded her that she was still a mother and these unusual babies were still her children.

“It didn’t matter what form they came in or what their chances were, they were our children,” the parents realized.

But the parents could not help but look upon the forthcoming birth of their children with fear and uncertainty.

“We struggled countless times, but we took it one day at a time and one prayer at a time. Each day brought new hope as we grew closer to them being born. We still cried often together — when we were scared of what our future held — but those days were less often than the ones where we laughed and felt overjoyed to feel them kick, to see them grow in our weekly ultrasounds, and to hear their heart beating…”

While the parents did not “completely understand” how to make sense of what was happening, they “simply wanted to trust” that what was put before them “was the will of God, and therefore perfect”.

Luci and Chris’s close friends and family members found it hard to understand why the young couple was given such a heavy burden to bear. But the young couple began to see things through the eyes of faith.

“We feel chosen for this task”, the parents learned to say to their friends and family members. “Our sufferings come in so many different ways and in so many different sizes. The suffering is only not knowing when they will be with us or leave us. But we have been chosen and are grateful to be given this chance to love two children of whom many mothers and fathers would have chosen to terminate their chances of life.”

Treasuring the Gift

In June 2009, Luci gave birth to conjoined girls, naming them Hope and Grace. Together they weighed 6.8 pounds. Each had a full head of hair.

“They were born kissing and hugging each other, and they were beautiful,” Chris remembers.

The parents knew that they did not have much time with their precious daughters.

The doctors gently placed the baby girls into the arms of Chris, who immediately baptized them so that they would now belong to God’s family. During the brief ceremony, both girls had their eyes open and were gazing upon their father and their mother.

“One of the girls looked over at her mom and gave her a big wink,” Chris remembers.

For the next 46 minutes, Luci and Chris’s whole universe revolved around treasuring the fragile gift of their tiny children.

Luci held the girls upon her chest, placing their single heart right next to hers. “We cried in joy and love. And we sat there together as a family in love,” she said.

“They watched every breath and savored each second” recounted Luci’s sister Maria who was in the hospital room.

Luci and Chris could not stop gazing upon their girls with love.

Maria recounted how Luci kept saying over and over again, “I’m just bursting with joy, I can’t explain it. I just love them so much.”

“I’m not sure what it feels like for Heaven to pour down on me, but this must be it,” said Luci. “I am just so happy.”

The girls’ time of departure was beginning to draw near. Chris held his babies until they took their last breath and their single heart gave its last beat.

“Then the little girls peacefully, so very peacefully, left for their trip to paradise. Hand in hand, they went eagerly to see the King who created them so specially,” said Maria.

Shortly after the girls’ passing, Luci and Chris invited family members into the hospital room to bid farewell to the tiny babies.

“Everyone rotated into the hospital room a little at a time,” said Maria. “Most of us held the little treasures and marveled at their tiny hands and long feet … Everyone just kept saying, ‘They are so beautiful.’”

It was finally time for Luci and Chris to say a final farewell to their baby girls. The parents wept bitterly.

“From the depths of their souls came a sorrow that only a parent who has lost a child could know,” said Maria.

Love Letters

Two weeks passed by.

Luci found the courage to share on her family’s blog the miracle of love that took place in the hospital room. She wrote her thoughts in the form of a love letter to Hope and Grace.

“My Dearest Daughters,

“I miss you. I love you. It’s hard to believe that it was more than two weeks ago that I received the news that you were to be born to me that Tuesday evening. I was so scared. I was so unprepared to finally meet you. I truly was not ready to part from the joy you brought while I carried you.

“I shook with such anguish knowing that once you left the comfort of my belly, that you would shortly leave me forever here on earth.

“You came to us at 6:01 pm, and you both took your first breaths of life. When I saw them carry you both over to the warming table and your Pappa by your side to baptize you, it was the proudest moment of my life. I couldn’t believe that you were mine and that God had given me such a beautiful family.

“It is an image I will never forget - Your Pappa in his blue scrubs baptizing your foreheads with holy water, and though I could not see your face Hope, I know your eyes were open looking at your father. And Grace your eyes open looking at me for the first time. To see your eyes so big and beautiful staring back at me let me know that the ultimate gift had been given to your Pappa and I - the gift of life.

“When your Pappa brought you over to my arms I was so impatient to get every glimpse of you I could. We sat together for the first time as a family. How big all our hearts grew in that moment.

“In your Pappa’s arms and my hand caressing your faces, I was in love.

“I fell in love with your curly hair, your smooshed noses, your long fingers and long feet and so in love with your beautiful bodies that were connected together in a hug so tight, that even God did not choose to separate.

“I was so proud to show you to our families that gathered in prayer and love to welcome you into this world. We were all there, expecting you to come to us and to fill our hearts, and you did.

“How I miss your sweet lives in my arms. It is a feeling I will never forget for the rest of my life.

“When I go to bed, I can still feel you on my chest, pressing our hearts against each other, as we did in the hospital bed. And I hold my heart so tightly as though I am holding you again.

“And though your sweet heart finished beating, the hearts of your Pappa and I are still here.

“We were not overwhelmed with grief or pain: we saw such beauty and comfort in knowing that you were here and with us. I couldn’t stop the awe that overwhelmed me in that you were right there in my arms snuggling with me. It was truly what I had asked the Lord for, and he did give it to me.

“And as I watched your Pappa bathe you and dress you, and look at you in such pride and love, I think I fell in love with you three all over again.

“And today, my sweet Hope and Grace, I have to continue without seeing your faces or watching your Pappa hold you, until we are called to be with you in Heaven. And this hurts my heart the most.

“I know you must hate it when I cry everyday and have this longing pain to be with you, but it is because I love you. It is good this pain and suffering I feel for you daily, for I hope that it only makes me stronger to be a saint like you have taught me; that way, I may go to Heaven right away and sweep you back into my arms again where I desperately need you to be.

“Please pray for me, girls that I will be strong, that I will be patient and most of all that I will be completely surrendered to God’s Will.

“We have had such a tremendous journey together. Haven’t we? You have been with me at each second, of each moment of each day for the past 8 months and now you are with Jesus.

“Thank you my darlings for bringing me the greatest joy my heart has ever known. Thank you my sweet dumplings for making me so proud of who you have become to so many people who have heard your story of life.

“Thank you Hope and Grace for filling my heart with your love. I will always cherish and appreciate that God gave you to us. He gave your Pappa and I life with you in our arms; something that was supposed to have never even have happened.

“I am so unworthy of such a gift.

“You brought to me Heaven in a little room, in this big world.

“God has called you girls each by name. We love you and will be with you again.”

A year later, on the anniversary of their birthday, Chris wrote his own letter of love to his departed daughters.

“One year ago today at 6:01 pm you made me the proudest and happiest Papa ever! It was on June 23, 2009 when I finally received the answers to my prayers.

“I got to see you face-to-face … I got to meet my beautiful daughters.

“It was both of you who showed me the beauty of life, the heavenly sacrifices and the gratitude of all that God has blessed me with. I thank you both for giving me the honor of loving you, reading to you, holding you until you left for a higher journey, and for allowing me to be your Papa.

“You girls, mean more to me than words can ever describe. So much that I have reserved a place in my heart especially for you. A place that can never be filled and a constant reminder of what I must fulfill to someday be given an eternal opportunity to meet you face-to-face and hold you again.”

The Beauty of Life

Photographer Melanie Pace, whose profound pictures capture the birth, life, and death of the two girls summarized in her own words the power of love that she witnessed that day in the hospital room: “God gave us these girls to teach us the beauty of life. To remind us how blessed we are even in times when it feels quite the opposite.”

Today, Luci and Chris find consolation in the words of the Psalmist: “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14).”

“To this very day I read this verse and look at pictures of Hope and Grace and see God’s perfection,” said Luci to LifeSiteNews. “I see how much effort God put into ‘knitting’ two such beautiful souls together through one heart and how blessed I am to be their mother. Their lives have touched so many people in so many incredible ways.”

“Hope and Grace, you showed me that all this time your Pappa and I were right about you, in that you are fighters for life and for faith! We were right in that, even though God has asked so much of our little family, that much was also given to us. It is something only that our four souls will truly ever know … how beautiful it all really was ... and is.”

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Matt Fradd Matt Fradd

5 reasons it isn’t your wife’s fault that you use porn

Matt Fradd Matt Fradd
By Matt Fradd

As someone who used to watch a lot of porn, I have the utmost compassion for men who are really struggling to quit and can’t seem to find the willpower to do so. I love talking with and helping blokes like this.

That said, when I’m writing and speaking about the subject of pornography, I occasionally run into men who really believe their wives are the source of the problem.

These men, I have less respect for.

Please don’t misunderstand me. The struggle against objectification and lust is a fight most men face. If you are striving with all your heart to be a better man to your bride, I’m in the same boat as you.

But if you are more interested in justifying your porn use by shifting the blame, this article has been written to set you straight. I don’t write it as someone who thinks he’s in anyway above you. As Saint John Paul the Great wrote: “every man’s heart is a battlefield between love and lust.” The reason I’m going to be extremely frank in this article is because sometimes nothing less than unvarnished truth will wake us up to reality.

Are you ready? Good.

Now, in one sense, I get why some men think their wives are to blame. Pornography has the nagging habit of making a man feel like a man without requiring him to be one. Given enough time with porn, men can delude themselves into thinking if their wives were a little more _________, they wouldn’t touch porn.

I have five reasons for why this is a ridiculous argument.

1. Your wife’s so-called “frigidity” is not the catalyst for your habit. In fact, it might be the other way around.

Perhaps there are men today who don’t touch porn until after they are married, but I have never met one.

Most men start their porn habits long before they get married; so to blame a woman for the habit is clearly mistaken.

Furthermore, in nearly every case I’ve seen, what men interpret as a woman’s “frigidity” is actually a lack of initiative on the his part. A man might say, “But I ask my wife for sex all the time.” To which I reply, “When was the last time you really fostered an environment of romance in the home that would make your wife feel treasured and not just like a warm body?”

Unfortunately, porn trains this belief into us: sex should be on-demand—as quick to boot up as my web browser. Healthy intimacy, however, takes time, attention, and devotion to maintain.

2. Porn is cleverly edited, high-octane sex, and no woman can (or should) compete with this.

Everywhere women are told they need to be younger, prettier, and bustier. The last place they need to have that message reinforced is in their marriages. In the arms of their husbands they should feel beautiful—because they are.

But using porn not only communicates the opposite to a woman, it trains men to believe the opposite.

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Here’s an odd story to illustrate my point:

Back in the 1860s, Americans made the mistake of bringing the gypsy moth from Europe to Boston. Within 10 years, swarms of gypsy moths were devastating the forests and continued doing so for over a century. Attempts to eradicate this moth failed. But then in the 1960s scientists devised a new strategy. Biologists knew that the male gypsy moth found the female by following her scent—her pheromones. Scientists developed massive quantities of a synthetic version of this pheromone and then scattered small pellets of it from the air. The effect was overpowering for the males. Overwhelmed by the highly concentrated pheromone, they became confused and didn’t know which direction to turn to find the female, or they became desensitized to the lower levels of pheromones naturally given out by the female.

This is what porn is to men: a highly synthetic, industrial, commercial form of sexuality, pumped into our atmosphere and found in ultra-concentrated doses online. If overexposed to this high-octane sex, suddenly the subtleties of a woman’s natural mystique and beauty are lost.

This is why there are so many young, healthy men today who are experiencing what one Harvard professor calls, “porn-induced erectile dysfunction.” This is a real thing: young men, raised on porn from their teen years, have so hardwired their brains they can’t even get it up for a real woman when they want to.

Why porn causes this problem is dealt with in the next reason…

3. Porn is about sexual novelty and variety; marriage is about loving commitment.

The pornographic experience is one of constant novelty: multiple tabs open, endless clicking, browsing, and always searching for the next girl who will really send you over the edge.

It isn’t your wife’s fault she isn’t hundreds of two-dimensional Internet women. It isn’t your wife’s fault she isn’t as clickable and customizable as the endless parade of digital women. It isn’t your wife’s fault she doesn’t become sexually euphoric at the drop of a hat like the porn stars you frequent. She is a woman—a human being with sexual desires and feelings of her own.

A mind trained for constant sexual novelty and variety simply won’t take the time and effort to really connect with one woman in a truly intimate way.

4. Porn is objectifying and selfish; marriage celebrates your wife’s humanity.

Russell Brand is making waves right now with his recent video about pornography. After honesty admitting about his own struggles with porn, Brand says, “If I had total dominion over myself, I would never look at pornography again.” Why? Because he hates how porn is intricately linked to a culture of objectification. When we reduce sex to an extracted physical act, we allow ourselves to turn women into objects to be used rather than women to be loved and cherished.

Porn is consumer, Burger-King sex: your way, right away. You can handpick the exact women you want to see, down the smallest specification. The women in porn are dolled up to play to any stereotype or fetish you desire. All traces of humanity are stripped away until there is nothing left but misogynistic fantasy.

Porn is entirely selfish. By that I don’t mean that masturbation is a solo act—though that is true as well—I mean the whole point of porn is to play to a man’s desire for validation: the women are portrayed as sex goddesses that cater to the man’s every whim. They are objects to use for his pleasure.

A married man with a mind trained for objectification can only go one of three ways:

1. He will drag his wife into that objectification, not seeing sex as a giving act but as an opportunity to act out pornographic fantasies in real life.

2. He will ignore his wife to pursue more online objectification—or worse.

3. He will turn away from a culture of objectification and relearn what it means to make his wife his standard of beauty.

As my friend Luke Gilkerson wrote in his book Your Brain on Porn, “‘Free porn’ is a misnomer. Pornography always costs somebody something. And it’s the women and girls in our culture, surrounded by boys and men with porn expectations, who often end up paying the highest price.”

5. Porn is an insult to your marriage vows, so your wife has every right to feel betrayed.

When you stood before God and others, slipped that ring on your wife’s finger, and told her you would “forsake all others,” did you really think that sneaking off to masturbate to digital prostitutes would fit with the spirit of that vow?

Some men actually have the nerve to say, “I get my needs met with porn. At least I’m not going out sleeping with other women.”

Really? Is this what we’ve come to: the measure of your virtue as a husband is not sleeping around?

Deep down, despite all the excuses, this is not who a man really wants to be. Do you want to be the man who loves one woman well for the rest of your life, gladly sacrificing yourself for the good of another—experiencing an intimate sexual bond? Or do you want to be the guy who sneaks off to get a fix from your computer screen and your hand? Which one of these sounds closer to the wedding vows you spoke and the man you wish to become?

A Word to Wives

If your husband struggles with porn—and I mean that in the truest sense of the word…that he contends with porn like an adversary—then you can count yourself blessed. I wish that more men counted porn as an enemy.

However, if your husband is brazenly using porn despite your wishes, know this: you are not the problem. No matter what you have done or not done, no matter how you have contributed to marital strife, no matter how you look, your husband’s porn problem is his to own. No offense—real or imaginary—is license to sin again you.

Wives, We Need Your Help!

My friends at Covenant Eyes are getting ready to re-release their amazing book, Porn and Your Husband. They want to hear from you before they release it. Please fill out their one-question survey and let them know: What's the one big thing you hope they cover in the book, Porn and Your Husband?

Click "like" if you say NO to porn!

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Lisa Bourne

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Alabama Supreme Court rebuffs federal court in ‘historic’ ruling: forbids marriage licenses for gay couples

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

MONTGOMERY, AL, March 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Alabama’s high court has upheld the state’s definition of marriage and ordered a halt to marriage licenses for homosexual couples in the state, while also criticizing its federal counterpart for striking down DOMA.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that “nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides” state judges’ duty to administer state law.

The all-Republican court also said the federal district court had employed a “judicial sleight of hand” in “conferring fundamental-right status upon a concept of marriage divorced from its traditional understanding.”

“Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage,” the ruling said. “That fact does not change simply because the new definition of marriage has gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country, even if one of those quarters is the federal judiciary.”

The ruling is significant in making Alabama the first state to directly resist federal imposition of marriage redefinition, with a great majority of the states having had their legal definition of marriage overturned by judicial order.

“The ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court is historic, and is one of the most researched and well-reasoned opinions on marriage to be issued by any court in the country,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

Staver praised the order for upholding state’s rights and for resisting judicial tyranny.

“The legitimacy of the judiciary is undermined when a judge legislates from the bench or usurps the power reserved to the states regarding natural marriage,” he said. “This decision of the Alabama Supreme Court is very well reasoned, which is quite rare from today’s courts. The decision not only affirms natural marriage but also restores the rule of law.”

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade had struck down a constitutional amendment and an Alabama state law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman in a January 23 decision, saying the laws violate homosexuals’ due process and equal protection rights according to the U.S. Constitution. The ruling was on hold until the state’s appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore contested the judicial action to redefine marriage. He told the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples as it would violate state law. He also urged Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in a January 27 letter to fight the federal decision. 

Moore wrote to all 50 of the nation’s governors in 2014 urging them to preserve marriage in the U.S. Constitution with an amendment. He was not part of the March 3 Alabama State Supreme Court ruling, and his absence was not explained, according to the SCOTUS blog.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined an application February 9 by the State of Alabama to stay the decision striking down the state's constitutional amendment and state law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, pending its ruling on whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex “marriage,” expected by the end of June.

The seven-to-one majority decision by the Alabama high court rebutted every argument made for same-sex “marriage” as a constitutional matter, the SCOTUS blog said, and “lambasted the Supreme Court for making a ‘moral judgment, not a legal judgment’ when it struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor in June 2013.”

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The order to stop issuance of marriage licenses to homosexual couples extends to all sixty-eight Alabama probate judges, some of whom have been issuing such licenses after the district federal judge’s ruling. Most of the state judges, those not not named directly in the case, were given five days from Tuesday to answer the challenge and argue why they should not have to observe the statewide order against licenses for homosexual “marriages.” 

The SCOTUS blog said that because the state court’s ruling is an interpretation of the federal Constitution, it is likely subject to direct appeal to the Supreme Court, if any state judge wanted to take it there. What’s not clear, it said, is whether same-sex couples could appeal it because they were not parties in the case, but the couples could probably bring a new lawsuit against any state probate judge who refused them a license in accord with the order.

Marriage supporters praised the Alabama Supreme Court decision.

"I applaud the Alabama Justices in their wise decision respecting the freedom of Alabama's voters to uphold natural marriage,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “In a refreshing change, Alabama's Supreme Court is using the law to determine their actions -- not a politically motivated opinion of a lower court federal judge.”

He pointed to recent polling that found sixty-one percent of Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court forcing marriage redefinition on all 50 states.

“If Americans were truly on board with this effort to redefine marriage, governors, state attorneys general, and other elected officials wouldn't bother fighting it.” Perkins said. “Instead, the Alabama Supreme Court reflects where the American people really are on the issue --and it is respecting the freedom of the voters to uphold natural marriage.”

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Cardinal George Pell John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews.com
Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

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The attack on Cardinal Pell: is someone trying to silence his voice for orthodoxy?

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By Hilary White

ROME, March 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Last week an Italian tabloid launched an attack on one of the most outspoken opponents of the so-called “Kasper Proposal” to abolish the Church’s discipline on refusing communion to Catholics in “irregular” unions. Based on leaked information from within the Vatican, the gossip magazine L’Espresso accused Cardinal George Pell of padding his expenses.

The Australian member of Pope Francis’ inner circle of nine cardinals serves as the head of the Secretariat of the Economy, charged with reorganizing the Vatican’s finances.

Some observers are saying the attack on Pell comes from opposition to his financial reforms. However, Pell was also a leading voice for doctrinal orthodoxy at last autumn’s Synod of Bishops, and some see that as a motivating factor as well.

L’Espresso published leaked documents that they said showed Pell spending money on refurbishing his apartment, on airline tickets, and on liturgical vestments from a high-end Roman ecclesiastical tailor. The story was picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald, a longtime opponent of Pell from his days as archbishop of Sydney, who accused him of “living it up at the Holy See’s expense.”

Father Federico Lombardi, the head of the Holy See Press Office, condemned the leak, saying, “Passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal.” The statement said that the Secretariat’s expenses, around 500,000 USD according to the leaked information, remain below its budget allotment.

Pell is said to be “ruffling the feathers” of a deeply entrenched, and largely Italian, bureaucratic culture that has hitherto operated largely without scrutiny or rules. Recently the cardinal announced that his office had “found” hundreds of millions of Euros “tucked away” that had never been recorded in the official books. 

America’s leading Vaticanist, John Allen, suggested that the motive for attacking Pell was his financial work. Allen says Pell’s “pugnacious” personality has rubbed Vatican officials the wrong way, but also cites his hard-hitting reforms of official financial practices.

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The UK’s Damian Thompson also took this tack, saying, “Cardinal Pell is embattled because, from now on, Curial officials will have to account for their spending. He’s brought an end to a culture of fiddling your exes which makes 20th-century Fleet Street look like a Presbyterian knitting circle.”

However, Thompson also suspects Pell’s stand for orthodoxy played a part. “I knew a hit job was coming; and I was doubly certain when he spoke up for orthodox cardinals when their views were being trashed by the liberal organisers of the chaotic ‘Carry On Synod’ on the Family,” he wrote.

Mainstream newspapers have downplayed the cardinal’s high-profile support at the Synod for the Catholic Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage in the face of the ongoing crisis over Cardinal Walter Kasper’s notorious “proposal.” Cardinal Kasper and his supporters see the year between Synods as a time of campaigning for their program, and they are giving interviews and lectures around the world.

Pell was among those Synod fathers who joined the now-famous rebellion of bishops against the “manipulation” of the Synod in October. It was widely reported in Rome during the Synod in October that Pell directly and forcefully confronted the Synod’s organizer, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, over the apparent push for a change in the Church’s “pastoral practice” of withholding Communion from divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

In a video interview, Pell said the bishops would not capitulate to the machinations of “radical elements” in the Church.

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