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

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Pope Francis eases forgiveness of abortion for Jubilee Year of Mercy

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

ROME, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- In an announcement today, Pope Francis said that he is enacting an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy from December 8, 2015 through November 2016. As part of the Jubilee, the pope has allowed priests to forgive the sin of abortion, which St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) is “murder.”

The statement marks the most extensive remarks on abortion that Pope Francis has made during his pontificate. Rather than downplaying the seriousness of abortion, as some media contend, in the statement the pope encourages the millions of women who have aborted their children to go to confession and seek God’s forgiveness.

In the Catechism, the Church calls abortion a “criminal” practice, and imposes the penalty of excommunication on those who do it -- essentially, removing those who commit abortions from the Church. In the past, typically re-entry into the Church for those who have separated themselves from it by excommunication can only be undertaken by a bishop. However in much of North America priests have already been given standing permission by their bishops to forgive abortion.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained in an email sent to LifeSiteNews today, “For many years now, parish priests have been given permission to absolve the sin of abortion here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia archbishop, who will play host to Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit later this month added, “But the practice has not been common in various other regions of the world.”

“This action in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion,” concluded Chaput. “What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart.”

The pope declared that all priests may forgive the sin of abortion for “those who have procured it and who with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.'"

The pope says in his letter that abortion is a “tragedy” wherein “extreme harm” takes place, and calls it “profoundly unjust.”  He admits however, as does the pro-life movement, that it is an “agonizing and painful decision” and many women “believe that they have no other option.”

In order to be forgiven by God of such a serious offence, the pope says the one who has procured the abortion must be made aware of the “gravity of the sin committed” and be truly repentant. They must come, says Francis, with a “contrite heart, seek forgiveness for” the abortion and hoping for “reconciliation with the Father.”

The full statement from the Pope on the matter of abortion follows:

One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured itand who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

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TLC stars Kody Brown and his four "wives"
Fr. Mark Hodges

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Surprise, surprise: New suit says gay ‘marriage’ ruling laid ground for legal polygamy

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – When "The Pill" was made available to the public in 1964, Christians warned it could lead to promiscuity and disassociation of sex with marriage and children.  They were ridiculed as religious fanatics.

When abortion was made legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy in 1973, Christians warned that it would not save women's lives, but would instead lead to devaluing all human life, especially children's lives. They were dismissed as moral-legislating hate-mongers.

When euthanasia was legalized in Oregon and other states, Christians warned that the non-terminally ill and eventually the mentally handicapped, or simply the unwanted, would be killed in the name of mercy. They were mocked as right-wing crazies.

When sodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere were stricken from the books in 2003, Christians warned that societal approval of that harmful practice would lead to an increase in disease and further perversion. They were ignored and vilified.

When DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) rules for the military were reversed, Christians warned that the epidemic of rapes in the armed services would increase, not decrease, and that combat readiness would continue to diminish. They were called bigots, their words "hate speech."

And so on. Recent history is rife with examples of conservatives warning against societal degradation being vilified as "slippery slope" straw man creators, who want only to legislate morality.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

That's how those who warned that the Supreme Court's same-sex "marriage" decision would lead to legalization of any and all kinds of "marriage," such as a man and several wives or vice versa.

And, as in every case cited above, what Christian conservatives warned is exactly what has now happened.

In a U.S. 10th Circuit court filing, reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives point to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage to buttress their pro-polygamy case.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, summarized to LifeSiteNews, "The left's chaotic cultural agenda knows no boundaries. Once 'marriage' could be redefined to accommodate sexual perversion, it would be impossible to stop other perversions from being recognized." 

The American Family Association's Ed Vitagliano told LifeSiteNews, "It has been clear for decades that sexual radicals in America have been targeting the God-ordained institution of marriage for destruction. Toss in a handful of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, beginning in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), and ending with this summer's debacle (Obergefell v. Hodges), and we are on the verge of seeing the secularists succeed." 

The AFA executive vice president concluded to LifeSiteNews, "We have no doubt that the polygamists will be next to step into the federal courts."

Indeed. Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, have asked the court to uphold a judge's ruling striking down part of Utah's law against polygamy. To prove their case, they cite precedents involving same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges), and a case that struck down a ban on sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas).

"From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence, to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to ... punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions," Brown's filing states. "This case is about the criminalization of consensual relations."

LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews that the move to legalize polygamy is no surprise. "Once the argument for homosexual so-called 'marriage' became 'Love Is Love,' it was only a matter of time before multiple-partner activists would start defending the 'right' to have THEIR [perversion of] 'love' legitimized by state-recognized 'marriage.'"

The Browns, who appear on the television show "Sister Wives," sued the state of Utah over its ban on polygamy, which Brown calls "plural relationships." They argue that the law violates their right to freely practice their religion and their right to equal protection under the law.

Specifically, Brown is challenging the state's assertion that polygamy is harmful to societies that condone it.

Brown argues that the state should not have "the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens."

LaBarbera concluded, "Social conservatives and Christians must work to overturn Obergefell, just like homosexual activists worked to overturn the Supreme Court's Bowers v. Hardwick decision in 1986 that allowed anti-sodomy laws. Otherwise, we are guaranteed to lose more and more freedoms as 'gay' power grows, using legalized 'marriage' as leverage."

Arguments in the Brown polygamy case could take place before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver before the end of the year.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, on March 6, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Sen. McConnell: GOP won’t push Obama on Planned Parenthood defunding

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Planned Parenthood won't lose its funding for at least 18 months, says America's top senator.

Speaking on WYMT TV, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said, "The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood."

“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he said. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But, yeah, we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again, but I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”

McConnell's comments came despite pressure from Senators and Representatives alike, as well as pro-life groups, who want Republicans to make defunding a priority.

"If the president of the United States and Harry Reid think it's more important that Planned Parenthood get your tax dollars than to pay our troops, then they are shutting down the government,” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, R-OH, told CNN last week.

Jordan and others have pushed GOP leaders to attach defunding efforts to must-pass pieces of legislation, such as a highway bill earlier this summer and the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running. GOP leaders have generally opposed this strategy, which has created a schism within the party.

Conversely, Democrats have been largely united. Leaders and rank-and-file members in both parties have generally supported taxpayer funding of the abortion giant, despite the possibility of illegal abortions being done to illegally harvest fetal organs and other body parts.

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