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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The first pro-abortion Republican enters the 2016 presidential race

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By Ben Johnson

EXETER, NH, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The large and expanding field of would-be Republican presidential candidates grew by one today, as George Pataki became the first GOP presidential hopeful this election season to openly support abortion-on-demand.

The 69-year-old long-shot candidate also has a history of supporting homosexual legislative causes.

In the weeks leading up to his formal announcement, George Pataki took out TV ads asking Republicans to refrain from talking about abortion and gay “marriage,” branding them “distractions.”

“In 12 years [as governor], I don’t think I talked about that issue twice,” he once said of abortion.

On same-sex “marriage,” he says, “I think, leave it to the states. I don’t think it’s a role in Washington.”

However, Pataki has a long history of enacting the homosexual political agenda as governor of New York from 1994-2006. He signed a “hate crimes” law that added the words “gay” and “lesbian” to New York state law for the first time.

He signed the Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Act (SONDA), which prohibits business owners from “discriminating” against homosexuals in housing or hiring, with an exemption only for religious institutions.

He also added sexual orientation to state civil rights laws, alongside such immutable characteristics as race and sex, in an apparent quid pro quo for a gay activist group's endorsement in his last run for governor. The New York Times reported that, under pressure from Pataki, the then-Senate Majority Leader “shifted his position on the bill as part of what is tacitly acknowledged, even by Senator [Joseph] Bruno's senior aides, to have been a deal to win an endorsement for Governor Pataki from the state's largest gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda.”

After the LGBT activist group endorsed Pataki in 2002, citing a long list of his service to the homosexual political cause, Pataki personally lobbied senators for the bill's passage, then signed it into law that December.

Coupled with his stance on gun control, environmentalism, and other issues, he stands well to the left of the Republican mainstream.

The three-term governor of New York, who belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, took his own advice by largely avoiding social issues today. The closest he came was his vow, “I'd repeal oppressive laws like ObamaCare and end Common Core.”

He added that he would “fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion. That is not America!”

Otherwise, Pataki's announcement speech hewed to stand pat Republican issues like reducing taxes, shrinking the number of federal employees, increasing military spending, and supporting entrepreneurship.

He began by thanking his supporters, in English and Spanish.

Smiling, his head pivoting between twin teleprompters, he said, “Let me tell you some of the things I'd do right away to get oppressive government off the backs of Americans.”

He would institute a lifetime ban on congressmen acting as lobbyists after they leave office. “If you ever served one day in Congress, you will never be a lobbyist,” he said. He favors forcing Congress to live under the laws it passes, so there will be “no special rules for the powerful.”

He cited his history of cutting taxes, reducing welfare rolls, and leaving his state with billions of dollars in surplus. “That's what our policies can do,” he said. “I know we can do the same thing for the United States.”

In recent weeks, he has called for a more interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East. Today, he reminded his audience that he was governor of New York in 9/11. “I will not fear the lesson of September 11,” he said. “To protect us, first we must protect the border,” he said – an unexpected phrase, as Pataki supports amnesty for the at least 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.

“We will stand with our ally, Israel, a democracy on the front lines of terror and barbarism,” he said.

Like former Sen. Rick Santorum, who announced he is running for president yesterday, Pataki agreed that “if necessary, American forces will be used to actually defeat and destroy ISIS on the ground” – although he promised not to become “the world's policeman.”

Some of his campaign promises drew skepticism, such as seeking to develop self-driving cars and to cure Alzheimer's disease and cancer within the next decade.

The speech's venue was chosen deliberately by Pataki, who considered entering the presidential race in 2000, 2008, and 2012. The town of Exeter, New Hampshire, claims to be the founding place of the Republican Party. (Ripon, Wisconsin, makes a similar claim.)

More importantly, the first-in-the-nation primary skews more libertarian on social issues than evangelical-dominated Iowa and South Carolina, so Pataki has essentially staked his candidacy on doing well in New Hampshire. Fellow pro-abortion Republican Rudy Giuliani made a similar bet in 2008, banking on a good showing among transplanted New Yorkers in the Florida primary. He left the race after finishing a distant third.

Short of a stunning upset in the Granite State, Pataki has little chance of breaking through the pack this year. A Fox News poll ranks him dead last among 16 announced and potential candidates. Holly Bailey of Yahoo! News said, “George Pataki would never say this, but you do have to wonder if he's sort of, maybe, gaming for vice president.”

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Pataki is not the first “pro-choice” Republican to run for president.  Giuliani (who supported partial birth abortion) and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (another potential 2016 candidate, who supports abortion during the first trimester) ran in 2008. Twelve years earlier, both California Gov. Pete Wilson and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter supported abortion-on-demand. Arlen Specter later left the party and became a Democrat.

In 1988, General Alexander Haig opposed a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So did Texas Gov. John Connally in 1980.

George H.W. Bush supported abortion and voted for Planned Parenthood funding early in his career but changed his position by the time he ran for president the second time, in 1988.

President Gerald Ford was the last Republican nominee to proclaim himself “pro-choice.” 

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Ireland ‘defied God’ by voting for gay ‘marriage’: Cardinal Burke

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By Pete Baklinski

OXFORD, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Cardinal Raymond Burke lamented how formerly Catholic Ireland has gone further than the pagans in the pre-Christian days of old and “defied God” by calling homosexual behavior “marriage” in the referendum last week.

“I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage,” he told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic organization, in an address Wednesday about the intellectual heritage of Pope Benedict XVI. The Tablet, Britain’s liberal Catholic newspaper, reported his remarks.

On Friday, 1.2 million Irish people voted to amend the country’s constitution to say: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” A little over 734,000 people voted against the proposal. 

Burke said that he could not understand “any nation redefining marriage.”

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The cardinal also emphasized the important role that parents play in protecting their children in a culture increasingly hostile to God’s laws. “The culture is thoroughly corrupted, if I may say so, and the children are being exposed to this, especially through the internet,” he said. One practical piece of advice that he offered families was to put computers in public areas to prevent children from “imbib[ing] this poison that’s out there.”

During the same Oxford visit, but during a homily at a Mass the day before, Burke called marriage between a man and woman a “fundamental truth” that has been “ignored, defied, and violated.”

Burke warned during the homily of the dangers of “various ideological currents” and of “human deception and trickery which strives to lead us into error.”

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Why young Christians can’t grasp our arguments against gay ‘marriage’

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By John Stonestreet

May 28, 2015 (BreakPoint.org) -- For five years, Dr. Abigail Rine has been teaching a course on gender theory at George Fox University, an evangelical school in the Quaker tradition.

At the beginning of the semester, she tells her students that “they are guaranteed to read something they will find disagreeable, probably even offensive.”

Writing at FirstThings.com recently, she related how five years ago it was easy to find readings that challenged and even offended the evangelical college students “considering the secular bent of contemporary gender studies.”

But today, things are different. “Students now,” she says, “arrive in my class thoroughly versed in the language and categories of identity politics; they are reticent to disagree with anything for fear of seeming intolerant—except, of course, what they perceive to be intolerant.”

And what do they find “intolerant”? Well, in her class, an essay entitled “What is Marriage?” by Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan Anderson, which was the beginning of the book “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense.”

In their article, Girgis, George, and Anderson defend what they call the conjugal view of marriage. “Marriage,” they write, “is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other … that is naturally fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together.” They defend this view against what they call the “revisionist view” of marriage, which redefines marriage to include, among other things, same-sex couples.

“My students hate it,” Dr. Rine wrote. They “lambast the article.” “They also,” she adds, “seem unable to fully understand the argument.” And again, these are evangelical students at an evangelical school.

The only argument for conjugal marriage they’ve ever encountered has been the wooden proof-texting from the Bible. And besides, wrote Rine, “What the article names as a ‘revisionist’ idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem ‘new’ to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.”

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

As Rine points out “the redefinition of marriage began decades ago” when “the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination.”

And if marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction,” then it seems mean-spirited to Rine’s students to argue that marriage by its very nature excludes same-sex couples.

And where do students get the idea that marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction”? Well, everywhere—television, church, school, their homes, in youth groups.

Rine writes, “As I consider my own upbringing and the various ‘sex talks’ I encountered in evangelical church settings over the past twenty years, I realize that the view of marital sex presented there was primarily revisionist.”

In other words, once you say, “I do,” you get “the gift” of sex which is presented as “a ‘gift’ largely due to its [erotic], unitive properties, rather than its intrinsic capacity to create life.” Even in the Church, children have become an optional add-on to married life rather than its primary purpose.

What can we do to win back our children, our churches, and the culture? In our recent book “Same Sex Marriage,” Sean McDowell and I lay out a game plan. We offer strategies for the short-term and the long-term, with the ultimate goal: re-shaping the cultural imagination towards what God intended marriage to be, starting with the church. Come to BreakPoint.org to pick up your copy.

As Chuck Colson once said in a BreakPoint commentary about marriage, “We Christians are very good at saying ‘No.’ But we’ve got to get better at saying ‘Yes’: showing how God’s plan for humanity is a blessing. That His ways, including faithful, life-giving marriage between one man and one woman, lead to human flourishing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Reprinted with permission from Break Point.

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