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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Dr. Miriam Grossman speaks to large audience in Mississauga, Ontario Steve Jalsevac/LifeSite
Lianne Laurence

VIDEO: How DO you to talk to kids about sex? US sex-ed critic gives practical tips

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Talking to their children about sex is “anxiety provoking to say the least,” for parents, says American sex-ed expert, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

“Some people just can’t even do it, and that’s okay,” the New York-based psychiatrist told the crowd of 1,000 who packed a Mississauga conference hall August 18 to hear her critique of the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

After Grossman explained how the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is dangerously flawed and ideologically driven, she used the question-and-answer session to give parents much appreciated and sometimes humorous practical advice on how to teach their children about “the birds and the bees.”

“If you feel you can’t do it, maybe there’s someone else in the family or in the constellation of people that you know you can trust that could do it,” said Grossman, author of “You’re teaching my child WHAT?” and an internationally sought-after speaker on sex education.

A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 12 years’ clinical experience treating students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clinic, Grossman said explaining sexuality and procreation to children is “a process,” that “shouldn’t ideally happen all at once. A child is not a miniature adult, and absorbs…new information differently than adults do.”

And parents need to be sure just what their child wants to know.

To illustrate this, Grossman referred to her earlier story about a father who gave his son every detail on human procreation after the boy asked him, “Dad, where do I come from?”

After the father finished, his son replied, “Well, that’s funny, because Johnny told me that he came from Montreal.”

“Try to find out what your child is really getting at, and, don’t give it all at once,” Grossman said. “You start with a little bit at a time…and you know, there’s so many variables here, and people have their own traditions and their own ways of explaining things, and something that might be right for my family might not be right for your family.”

She also advised that, when confronted with a four, five, six or seven-year-old asking about a pregnant woman, or where babies come, a parent can ask, “What a good question that is. What do you think?”

And parents can also legitimately put off the discussion when appropriate, telling the child, “That’s really not something you need to know about right now.”

“Wow, what a novel idea: Telling a child that they could wait until they’re older to discuss that subject,” Grossman said, adding that parents wouldn’t brook a six- or even fifteen-year-old child asking how much money they made or had in the bank. “Excuse me? Not every subject has to be an open book.”

However, the time will come when a child needs to know “about how her body’s going to change, about reproduction, about how a new life is created.”

That time, Grossman advised, is puberty, or “as puberty is beginning,” and this is especially so for girls, who, if unprepared for the surprise onset of menstruation “might think [they’re] dying.”

“The actual nitty-gritty about the birds and the bees and intercourse” can “be told in bits and pieces, or it can be told all at once, if you feel it’s necessary,” she said, adding that it’s beneficial if the parent acknowledges his or her awkwardness, because the child will think: “This must be such an important subject that my mother or my father is sitting there squirming, but he’s doing it anyway. I’m really loved.”

“And the children need to understand that as you grow up, you change a lot, not only physically but emotionally,” Grossman said, “and what may seem odd or disgusting when you’re ten years old, or whatever age, it becomes something very special and beautiful when you’re older and you’ll understand it later. You don’t have to understand it now.”


Know your child and guard your home

But as an essential foundation for this discussion, parents must both know their children and guard their home from the encroachments of a culture that Grossman described as “very, very sexualized” and “really horrible.”

“Children need parents who are loving but are also firm and authoritative,” she asserted.  “They don’t need best friends. They need us to guide them, to know what they’re doing, to be on top of what they’re doing.

So parents need to be aware of whom their child is “hanging around with, and what kind of movies are they watching…what’s going on with your child.”

“You need to know that anyway, even if it’s not about sex education,” she pointed out. “Try and know your child. Every child is different.”

And Grossman emphasized that it is “extremely important to be careful about what your child is exposed to in the home, in terms of television and Internet, obviously.”

Children need to understand that “just like you have garbage you take out of the house, you put it in the garbage bin, it’s dirty, it smells…there are other things that also don’t belong in the house.”

And children learn quickly what is, and is not, permissible inside the home, Grossman said. “Me, I keep kosher…If I go into a store, my kids know from a very young age, we don’t eat that.”

So they are used to the idea of “the world outside and the inside world, of inside your home, and inside your heart as well.”

Parents can also convey this by telling their children that “the world is an upside-down place, and sometimes the most special, holy subjects are…just thrown in the gutter. And that’s a bad thing. In our family, in our tradition, we don’t do that.”

“Sexuality is one of the subjects that in this upside-down world, it is sometimes just in the gutter,” she said. “And so I want you to tell your child to come to me when you have questions, I will give you the straight story about it.”

Grossman herself is “not even sure,” as she stated in her seminar, that sex education should be in the schools: “I believe sex education should be at home for those parents that want to do it.”

She also noted that parents “can make mistakes. We all make lots of mistakes but it’s okay, you can always come back and do it differently,” adding that this is “another wonderful message for your child. You know what, it’s okay to make mistakes, you can always go back and try and fix it.”

Grossman urged parents to visit her Facebook page, website and blog. “I have so much information you can get there that you’ll find useful,” and added that she will be publishing books for children, and has posted her critique of New York City’s sex-ed curriculum, which is similar to Ontario’s.

The parental backlash to that sex-ed curriculum, set to roll out in the province’s publicly funded schools this September, has been “amazing” Grossman noted.

Grossman’s seminar was sponsored by Mississauga-based HOWA Voice of Change along with the Canadian Families Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than 25 associations and 200,000 Ontarians opposed to the curriculum. The report on her devastating critique of the sex-ed curriculum can be found here, and the video here.

Ontario readers may find information and sign up for a September 2 province-wide protests at MPPs offices here. So far, there are protests planned for 92 of Ontario’s 107 constituencies. The parents’ movement seeking removal of the curriculum is urging all concerned citizens to join this special effort to influence individual Ontario legislators.

See related reports:

Ontario’s dangerous sex-ed is indoctrination not science says U.S. psychiatrist to large audience

Videos: US psychiatrist tells parents “stand firm” against dangerous sex-ed

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Ontario sex-ed curriculum containing nearly 100 LifeSite articles related to the issue

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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Did the pope just endorse a gay children’s book? Of course not, says Vatican

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

ROME, August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- While mainstream media is gushing with news today that Pope Francis allegedly praised a children’s book that promotes gender theory, the Vatican is decrying what they called the "manipulation" of a cordial letter from an official in the Secretariat of State to suggest that the Vatican is promoting teachings contrary to the Gospel.

Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.

In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.  

While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.

“Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book,” the paper’s headline states. “Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter,” reads the subtitle.

In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.

The Vatican's statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely "acknowledged receipt" of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication. 

"In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel," says the statement, decrying the "manipulation" of the letter.

Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church's teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned the notion of “gender theory” on numerous occasions, saying that it is an “error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Poll suggests most US Catholics wrongly believe Pope Francis backs gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A considerable majority of U.S. Catholics are in conflict with Church teaching on abortion and marriage, a new study says, and a startling number of those also believe Pope Francis backs homosexual “marriage.”

Despite Church teachings, Catholics in America also closely parallel the general populace in their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage,” falling short in the Biblical call to be “in the world but not of the world.”

The findings suggest what many Catholics have said is a climate of confusion in the midst of the Francis pontificate. Concerns over that confusion prompted a coalition of pro-family groups to respond with an international petition effort asking the pope to reaffirm Church teaching, drawing more than a half-million signatures.

The survey, conducted by Public Religions Research Institute, found that 60 percent of all U.S. Catholics favor legalized homosexual “marriage,” compared to 55 percent of all Americans. Likewise, 51 percent of Catholics think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 53 percent of the general population holding this view.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman, mirroring Christ and the Church respectively as bridegroom and bride.

The Church also teaches that life begins at conception, that each human life possesses dignity as a child of God and is to be afforded protection, making abortion an intrinsic evil.

Catholics, accounting for 22 percent of adults in the U.S. population, have a favorable view of Pope Francis, the study said, but they are very confused about his take on homosexual “marriage.”

Of the Catholics who back homosexual “marriage,” 49-percent also think the leader of the Catholic Church backs it along with them. Fifteen percent of those Catholics who oppose homosexual “marriage” also mistakenly believe Pope Francis supports it.

Pope Francis has made numerous statements in support of life, marriage and family, but the confusion remains.

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"After Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie stated.  "Young Catholics -- even non-Catholics -- look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."

TFP Student Action is a part of the lay Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and is part of the alliance behind the Filial Appeal, the petition asking the Holy Father to reinforce Catholic teaching at the Vatican’s upcoming Synod on the Family in October.

Ritchie explained how the confusion was aiding the Church’s enemies, and warned of the potential consequences.

"This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that's been spreading against Natural and Divine Law," he said. "If the enemies of the family continue to chip away at holy matrimony, the future of the family and civilization itself will be in even more serious peril."

At press time more than 500,000 signature had been gathered for the appeal, including five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of well-known civic leaders.

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