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.

~ * ~

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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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