Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

‘Dark horse’ cardinals: their positions on life and family and faith issues - Part I

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, March 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On the evening of October 16, 1978, thousands of people filled the Piazza San Pietro waiting to hear the name of their new pope. But when it came, there was reportedly a muted response from puzzled Catholics who had never heard the name Karol Józef Wojtyła. At the death of Pope Paul VI, there was much speculation as to possible “front-runners” for the papacy, but at that time, there was no strong candidate as an obvious choice. 

After the close of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, five days ago, a similar situation exists again and although the world’s news media are running lists of about a dozen so-called “papabile,” the consensus is that, unlike 2005, there is no obvious successor. Despite this, little attention is being paid by media to the names and characters of the less-known cardinals, their positions and statements on various issues of interest to Catholics. The old saying, “He who goes into a Conclave a pope comes out a cardinal,” may be even more applicable than usual to this Conclave where the absence of a strong lead candidate could leave open the possibility of a “dark horse,” a repeat of the surprise announcement of 1978 that brought the world Pope John Paul II. 

With a total of 207 members in the College of Cardinals, only a small fraction are considered papabile to the outside world. According to rules set down by the late Pope John Paul II, only those cardinals under 80 years old are eligible to vote. The meetings currently under way in Rome, however, called General Congregations, are open to all cardinals and the older members of the College are valued for their experience and insights into the needs of the Church. And, at least in theory, any of them could be elected.

While the world’s media focuses on the scandals on the one side and the leading names on the other, LifeSiteNews.com will present a series of brief profiles on the “unknowns,” those who may be of interest to the cardinals themselves, but who may have received little attention in the English language press. We hope that this overview of the Cardinal Electors and some of the influential non-voting cardinals will help readers gain a clearer understanding of what is happening behind closed doors of the Conclave and its preliminary meetings.

Today, three Cardinals from Germany.

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Reinhard Cardinal Marx
Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany,
59 years old, Cardinal Elector
Created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI

Considered a follower of Pope Benedict on matters of ecclesiastical discipline, in 2003, Marx suspended a theologian for extending to non-Catholic Christians an invitation to receive the Eucharist. Generally more to the left on political and economic issues and a supporter of a Christianised social welfare state and European Union, Cardinal Marx is the author of a book titled “Das Kapital: A Plea for Man,” a re-visioning of his namesake’s manifesto Das Kapital. 

In 2011, Marx, who is also president of the broadly liberal European Commission COMECE Bishops, said that the Catholic Church should not always be at odds with the modern world of culture and science but should engage in a “dialogue” of “teaching and learning”. The dialogue process should not stop at sensitive issues such as celibacy and sexual morality. “If condoms and celibacy constitute the main points of discussion, something can not be run properly in the spiritual communication,” the cardinal said.

Asked at the start of 2013, an election year in Germany, what expectations a man of the church would have for politics, Cardinal Marx said that the election campaigns have become overly personalised and prone to exaggerations. “I think that’s unfortunate. We as a Church will not cease to address issues of protection of life, of family, of sustainability. We advocate for a just society, the need to give everyone a chance.”

~ * ~

Karl Cardinal Lehmann
Bishop of Mainz, Germany
76 years old, Cardinal Elector
Created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II 

A former chairman of the Conference of the German Bishops, Lehmann is known for his liberal attitude towards the Church’s liturgy, encouraging experimentation and “progressive” liturgical celebrations. He made headlines recently for his outspoken criticism of the decision to lift the excommunication of the traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X. He later dismissed as “nonsense” the suggestion that people might want to have access to the Sacraments in the traditional forms.

Lehmann has been described as “one of the most famous faces of Catholicism in Germany,” and is a favourite with the German media by whom he is known for his leftist leanings on politics and economics. He retired from his chairmanship of the German bishops’ confernce due to ill health in 2008, but had held the position since 1987 and had the longest term as chairman of the conference since its founding.

Under Lehmann’s leadership, the German bishops conference became known as one of the most “liberal” in the Catholic world. They have come under heavy criticism for their ownership of a publishing company that sells pornography, which they have defended, claiming it was not porn but only “erotica”. Also on Lehmann’s watch, the conference was engaged in a decades-long fight with the Vatican over its involvement in a government programme that helped women obtain abortions.

In 2004, Lehmann was strongly criticised by Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, for “fostering dissent” in the Church among theologians on an array of doctrinal matters. In 2010, Lehmann called for a “gradual transformation of the traditional gender roles of men and women”.

Most recently, Lehmann was specifically named by German bishops defending their approval of prescribing the abortifacient Morning After Pill for rape victims in Catholic hospitals. In a paper, Cardinal Lehmann had called for the use of the drug to be “reevaluated” in the light of new formulations of the pill which may only prevent conception, not implantation. These “new formulations” of the drug however, have been demonstrated to be non-existent.

~ * ~

Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki
Archbishop of Berlin, Germany,
55 years old, Cardinal Elector,
Created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI 

In an interview last July with the German weekly Die Zeit, Woelki said he “challenged” the Church to “rethink the doctrine of remarried divorcees and homosexuals.” Very much in line with the thinking of much of the German and Austrian epsicopate, Woelki argued that people who have been divorced and remarried should be allowed to receive Communion. 

On homosexuality, he said, “If I take seriously the Catechism, I cannot see homosexual relations only as a denial of natural law. I also understand that there are people who take long-term mutual responsibility, who promise fidelity and want to take care of each other. So I urge finally that we find a way to allow people to live without going against the teachings of the Church.”

He told homosexualist activists in Germany that he was ready to “dialogue” with them. “When two gay people assume mutual responsibility,” he said, “if they have a true and long term relationship, we must consider this relationship in the same way as straight a link.” 

In October 2012 Cardinal Woelki was nominated for a Respect Award by the Alliance Against Homophobia. He was praised by the group for speaking out in favor of a 'new cooperation with homosexuals in society' and officially meeting the Association for Gays and Lesbians for talks.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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