Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Edinburgh cardinal bows out of conclave after unspecified, anonymous accusations

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, February 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The abrupt resignation of the cardinal archbishop of Edinburgh, and his announcement that he will not be attending the conclave, has come as a surprise to most veteran Vatican observers. Cardinal Keith O’Brien said that he was resigning because of age, but it follows the sudden appearance this weekend of allegations of unspecified “inappropriate behaviour” dating back to the 1980s by unnamed complainants.

O’Brien’s spokesman said the cardinal has disputed but not outright denied the charges made by three priests and a former priest who denounced him directly to the Vatican authorities. One of the four accusers said that the cardinal had entered into an “inappropriate relationship” with him, which required years of counselling. The claims were made to the nuncio’s office the week before Pope Benedict’s resignation announcement, although the Guardian did not release the information until February 23rd.  

O’Brien is known as the UK’s strongest and most outspoken supporter of Pope Benedict’s reforms, and has described homosexual activity as “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved”. He vigorously opposed the British and Scottish government’s attempts to impose “gay marriage” in law and the closure of the Catholic adoption agencies after the law was changed that would have forced them to consider homosexual partners for adoption.

In a statement, O’Brien confirmed that he would not be attending the conclave. “I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me – but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his Successor,” he said. The surprise announcement brings the number of cardinal electors who will attend the conclave to 115, and means that no representative from Britain will be voting for a new pope.

The quick acceptance of O’Brien’s resignation by Pope Benedict is perhaps not surprising given the climate of extreme sensitivity in the Vatican right now over sexual abuse allegations, no matter how insubstantial. What is causing comment is O’Brien’s non-attendance at the conclave. This development comes, it has been noted, immediately following a statement by the Vatican on Friday that attendance at the conclave is a requirement for all the cardinals, no matter what their state of public notoriety.

“It is a duty, a ministry given to cardinals. Under no circumstances can it be waived,” said Father Federico Lombardi at a press briefing. Canon law supports this, but adds a caveat saying that cardinals can be excused due to illness or another “grave” reason. Fr. Lombardi’s comment came in response to calls from victims’ groups and Italian media for the former archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, to stay home. Cardinal Mahony has been disciplined by his successor Archbishop Jose Gomez, who suspended the former’s public duties after it was revealed that he had plotted to conceal sexual molestation by priests.

This weekend, Mahony was deposed by a Los Angeles court for over three hours on Saturday in connection to a molestation case dating to his time as head of the largest Catholic diocese in the US. He described himself as a “scapegoat” and has compared his disgrace to the sufferings of Christ on the cross. After his deposition Mahony was presented with a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures of Catholics asking him not to attend the conclave. Despite this, Mahony left for Rome on the weekend. On his ‘blog, he compared him self to Christ, saying, “Jesus was painted with the same brush as the two thieves crucified with him.”

Along with Mahony, calls have come to prevent attendance by the former Archbishop of Philadelphia Cardinal Rigali, and Belgian Cardinal Danneels formerly the head of the archdiocese of Brussels and Cardinal Sean Brady, all of whom are under a cloud for alleged involvement in sex abuse scandals.

It has also not gone unremarked in Rome that O’Brien has, since his elevation to the College of Cardinals, been the strongest voice – often the only voice – in the British episcopate defending the Church’s teachings on life and family issues, forcefully opposing “gay marriage,” abortion and embryo research. Meanwhile his brothers in the Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales have only recently joined the work of the laity fighting to defend traditional marriage.

A source associated with the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told LSN Sunday night that it is widely believed in pro-life circles in Britain that the sudden appearance of 20 year-old allegations against O’Brien, who is not only Britain’s sole voting cardinal but the strongest voice in the British episcopate supporting Benedict’s reform, is “entirely too convenient”.

 John Smeaton, SPUC director thanked O’Brien “for the many times in which he spoke out forcefully in defence of unborn children and of the family founded on marriage between one man and one woman”.

 “I am particularly grateful for the personal support which he gave to SPUC and to me in my role as SPUC director,” Smeaton said.

 A longtime friend of O’Brien, British writer Peter Jennings, wrote today that the accusations are suspicious. “I believe these priests should have the courage to come out and say exactly who they are.” Jennings, writing in the Daily Record, questioned why the priests “made their claims through a senior figure in the diocese rather than directly to nuncio Antonio Mennini”.

 Jennings added, “I would challenge these four men also to be more specific in their allegations. The talk of inappropriate behaviour is all very vague. It is not even clear if the allegations are sexual.” Jennings said that he never heard a word breathed against O’Brien alleging sexual misconduct in the entire 40 years of acquaintance.

 Before his elevation to the College of Cardinals, O’Brien was known for his “liberal” approach to Catholic doctrine, having said he had no objections to active homosexuals teaching in Catholic schools, and rebuking a fellow Scottish bishop for condemning homosexual activity. After he received his red hat from Pope John Paul II, however, the cardinal appeared to undergo an abrupt change of heart, and has since received widespread condemnation from the left and the media for his strong stance against “gay marriage”. The UK’s leading homosexualist lobby group, the powerful Stonewall, “awarded” O’Brien the title of “Bigot of the year” in 2012.

 In an interview with a German language Catholic news service, Katholisches, Archbishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said that anyone known to have interfered with a conclave is subject to the canonical penalty of automatic excommunication.

 Arrieta, a canonist, said that “precise rules” are needed to “avoid the uncertainty and dangers that had occurred in the 2000 year history” of the papacy. The cardinals, Archbishop Arrieta said, are obliged in obedience to accept the invitation to the General Congregation and then the conclave. Anyone trying to keep a cardinal from attending, or to “intervene” in their participation in the election of a new pope or “attempting to influence” the outcome faces a penalty of automatic excommunication (latae sententiae).

 “This severe exclusion from the ecclesial community, therefore, also applies to anyone who tries to stop one of the 117 voting cardinals in participating in the conclave,” Arrieta said.

 Damian Thompson, religion ‘blogs editor for the Daily Telegraph, wrote today that the allegations have been orchestrated by homosexualist activists to ruin the reputation of one of their strongest opponents, but that the unexpected announcement of retirement by Pope Benedict came as a windfall. 

 “If the scandal had come to light next month, that would have been nicely timed to ruin the Cardinal’s reputation just when the media would be running retrospective pieces about him,” Thompson wrote. “What no one could have guessed is that Pope Benedict would resign, meaning that Cardinal O'Brien would be the only Briton with a vote in the next conclave.”

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Newsbusters Staff

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Disney ABC embraces X-rated anti-Christian bigot Dan Savage in new prime time show

Newsbusters Staff
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March 30, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Media Research Center (MRC) and Family Research Council (FRC) are launching a joint national campaign to educate the public about a Disney ABC sitcom pilot based on the life of bigoted activist Dan Savage. MRC and FRC contacted Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, more than two weeks ago urging him to put a stop to this atrocity but received no response. [Read the full letter]

A perusal of Dan Savage’s work reveals a career built on advocating violence — even murder — and spewing hatred against people of faith. Savage has spared no one with whom he disagrees from his vitriolic hate speech. Despite his extremism, vulgarity, and unabashed encouragement of dangerous sexual practices, Disney ABC is moving forward with this show, disgustingly titled “Family of the Year.”

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacts:

“Disney ABC’s decision to effectively advance Dan Savage’s calls for violence against conservatives and his extremist attacks against people of faith, particularly evangelicals and Catholics, is appalling and outrageous. If hate speech were a crime, this man would be charged with a felony. Disney ABC giving Dan Savage a platform for his anti-religious bigotry is mind-boggling and their silence is deafening.

“By creating a pilot based on the life of this hatemonger and bringing him on as a producer, Disney ABC is sending a signal that they endorse Dan Savage’s wish that a man be murdered. He has stated, ‘Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.’ ABC knows this. We told them explicitly.

“If the production of ‘Family of the Year’ is allowed to continue, not just Christians but all people of goodwill can only surmise that the company Walt Disney created is endorsing violence.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacts:

“Does ABC really want to produce a pilot show based on a vile bully like Dan Savage?  Do Dan Savage’s over-the top-obscenity, intimidation of teenagers and even violent rhetoric reflect the values of Disney?  Partnering with Dan Savage and endorsing his x-rated message will be abandoning the wholesome values that have attracted millions of families to Walt Disney.”

Dan Savage has made numerous comments about conservatives, evangelicals, and Catholics that offend basic standards of decency. They include:

  • Proclaiming that he sometimes thinks about “f****ing the shit out of” Senator Rick Santorum

  • Calling for Christians at a high school conference to “ignore the bull**** in the Bible”

  • Saying that “the only thing that stands between my d*** and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper” when expressing his feelings on Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage

  • Promoting marital infidelity

  • Saying “Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.”

  • Telling Bill Maher that he wished Republicans “were all f***ing dead”

  • Telling Dr. Ben Carson to “suck my d***. Name the time and place and I’ll bring my d*** and a camera crew and you can s*** me off and win the argument.”

Reprinted with permission from Newsbusters

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Jacqueline Harvey

Ending the end-of-life impasse: Texas is poised to ban doctor-imposed death by starvation

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas, March 30, 2015 (TexasInsider.org)  After five consecutive sessions of bitter battles over end-of-life bills, the Texas Legislature is finally poised to pass the first reform to the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) in 12 years. An issue that created uncanny adversaries out of natural allies, and equally odd bedfellows, has finally found common ground in H.B. 3074 by State Rep. Drew Springer.  

H.B. 3074 simply prohibits doctor-imposed euthanasia by starvation and dehydration.

Since H.B. 3074 includes only those provisions and language that all major organizations are on record as having deemed acceptable in previous legislative sessions, there is finally hope of ending the end-of-life impasse in the Texas Capitol.

Many would be surprised to learn that Texas law allows physicians to forcibly remove a feeding tube against the will of the patient and their family. In fact, there is a greater legal penalty for failing to feed or water an animal than for a hospital to deny a human being food and water through a tube.

This is because there is no penalty whatsoever for a healthcare provider who wishes to deny artificially-administered nutrition and hydration (AANH). According to Texas Health and Safety Code, “every living dumb creature” is legally entitled access to suitable food and water.

Denying an animal food and water, like in this January case in San Antonio, is punishable by civil fines up to $10,000 and criminal penalties up to two years in jail per offense. Yet Texas law allows health care providers to forcibly deny food and water from human beings – what they would not be able to legally do to their housecat. And healthcare providers are immune from civil and criminal penalties for denial of food and water to human beings as long as they follow the current statutory process which is sorely lacking in safeguards.

Therefore, while it is surprising that Texas has the only state law that explicitly mentions food and water delivered artificially for the purpose of completely permitting its forced denial (the other six states mention AANH explicitly for the opposite purpose, to limit or prohibit its refusal), it is not at all surprising that the issue of protecting a patient’s right to food and water is perhaps the one point of consensus across all major stakeholders.

H.B. 3074 is the first TADA reform bill to include only this provision that is agreed upon across all major players in previous legislative sessions.

There are irreconcilable ideological differences between two major right-to-life organizations that should supposedly be like-minded: Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life. Each faction (along with their respective allies) have previously sponsored broad and ambitious bills to either preserve but reform the current law (Texas Alliance for Life’s position) or overturn it altogether as Texas Right to Life aims to do.

Prior to H.B. 3074, bills filed by major advocacy organizations have often included AANH, but also a host of other provisions that were so contentious and unacceptable to other organizations that each bill ultimately died, and this mutually-agreed-upon and vital reform always died along with it.

2011 & 2013 Legislative Sessions present prime example

This 2011 media report shows the clear consensus on need for legislation to simply address the need to protect patients’ rights to food and water:

“Hughes [bill sponsor for Texas Right to Life] has widespread support for one of his bill’s goals: making food and water a necessary part of treatment and not something that can be discontinued, unless providing it would harm the patient.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, both organizations and their allies filed complicated, contentious opposing bills, both of which would have protected a patient’s right to food and water but each bill also included provisions the rival group saw as contrary to their goals. Both bills were ultimately defeated and neither group was able to achieve protections for patients at risk of forced starvation and dehydration – a mutual goal that could have been met through a third, narrow bill like H.B. 3074.

H.B. 3074 finally focuses on what unites the organizations involved rather than what divides them, since these differences have resulted in a 12 year standoff with no progress whatsoever.

H.B. 3074 is progress that is pre-negotiated and pre-approved.

It is not a fertile springboard for negotiations on an area of mutual agreement. Rather it is the culmination of years of previous negotiations on bills that all came too late, either due to the complexnature of rival bills, the controversy involved, or even both.

On the contrary, H.B. 3074 is not just simply an area of agreement; moreover, it is has already been negotiated. It should not be stymied by disagreements on language, since Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life (along with their allies) were able to agree on language in 2007 with C.S.S.B. 439. C.S.S.B. 439 reads that, unlike the status quo that places no legal conditions on when food and water may be withdrawn, it would be permitted for those in a terminal condition if,

“reasonable medical evidence indicates the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration may hasten the patient’s death or seriously exacerbate other major medical problems and the risk of serious medical pain or discomfort that cannot be alleviated based on reasonable medical judgment outweighs the benefit of continued artificial nutrition and hydration.”

This language is strikingly similar to H.B. 3074 which states, “except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providingartificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

  1. Hasten the patient’s death;
  2. Seriously exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  3. Result in substantial irremediable physical pain, suffering, or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  4. Be medically ineffective; or
  5. Be contrary to the patient’s clearly stated desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.”

With minimal exceptions (the explicit mention of the word terminal, the issue of medical effectiveness and the patient’s right to refuse), the language is virtually identical, and in 2007 Texas Right to Life affirmed this language as clarifying that “ANH can only be withdrawn if the risk of providing ANH is greater than the benefit of continuing it.”

Texas Right to Life would support the language in H.B. 3074 that already has Texas Alliance for Life’s endorsement. Any reconciliation on the minor differences in language would therefore be minimal and could be made by either side, but ultimately, both sides and their allies would gain a huge victory – the first victory in 12 years on this vital issue.

It seems that the Texas Advance Directive Act, even among its sympathizers, has something for everyone to oppose.

The passage of H.B. 3074 and the legal restoration of rights to feeding tubes for Texas patients will not begin to satisfy critics of the Texas Advance Directives Act who desire much greater changes to the law and will assuredly continue to pursue them. H.B. 3074 in no way marks the end for healthcare reform, but perhaps a shift from the belief that anything short of sweeping changes is an endorsement of the status quo.

Rather, we can look at H.B. 3074 as breaking a barrier and indicating larger changes are possible.

And if nothing else, by passing H.B. 3074 introduced by State Rep. Drew Springer, we afford human beings in Texas the same legal access to food and water that we give to our horses. What is cruel to do to an animal remains legal to do to humans in Texas if organizations continue to insist on the whole of their agenda rather than agreeing to smaller bills like H.B. 3074.

The question is, can twelve years of bad blood and bickering be set aside for even this most noble of causes?

Reprinted from TexasInsider.org with the author's permission. 

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Only 3 Days Left!
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Only 3 Days Left!

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

I can’t believe how quickly our annual Spring campaign has flown by. Now,with only 3 days remaining, we still have $96,000 left to raise to meet our absolute minimum goal.

That’s why I must challenge you to stop everything, right now, and make a donation of whatever amount you can afford to support the pro-life and pro-family investigative reporting of LifeSite!

I simply cannot overemphasize how important your donation, no matter how large or small, is to the continued existence of LifeSite. 

For 17 years, we have relied almost exclusively on the donations of our growing army of everyday readers like you: readers who are tired of the anti-life and anti-family bias of the mainstream media, and who are looking for a different kind of news agency.

We at LifeSite have always striven to be that news agency, and your ever-faithful support has encouraged us to forge ahead fearlessly in this mission to promote the Culture of Life through investigative news reporting.

You will find our donation page is incredibly simple and easy to use. Making your donation will take less than two minutes, and then you can get back to the pressing duties scheduled for your day. But those two minutes means the world to us!

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The Benham Brothers are only one of many, many pro-life and family leaders, media personalities, politicians, and activists around the world who rely on LifeSite on a daily basis!

Since our humble beginnings in the late 90s, LifeSite has gone from a small non-profit to an international force in the battle for life and family, read by over 5 million people every month

This is thanks only to the leaders, activists, and ordinary readers just like you who have recognized the importance truth plays in turning the tides of the Culture.

I want to thank the many readers who helped bring us within striking distance of our minimum goal with their donations over the weekend. 

But though we have made great strides in the past few days, we still need many more donations if we are going to have any hope of making it all the way by April 1st.

In these final, anxious days of our quarterly campaigns, I am always tempted to give in to fear, imagining what will happen if we don’t reach our goal.

In these moments, however, I instead turn to prayer, remembering that God in his providence has never yet let us down. With His help we have always been given precisely what we need to carry on!

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

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