John Jalsevac

A former Planned Parenthood manager in her own words: Ramona Trevino speaks out

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac

Note: Ramona Trevino’s speech in the video above starts at 8:30 into the video.

August 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When Ramona Trevino was 11 years old, she felt God was calling her to serve Him in a special way – so much so that she told her mother she wanted to become a nun one day.

But less than 20 years later, Ramona found herself managing perhaps one of the least convent-like places you could think of – a Planned Parenthood clinic.

During a lengthy interview with LifeSiteNews.com last week, the 33-year-old mother of four (including the unborn child expected early next year) confessed that her childhood desire to be a nun is only one of many ways that she made for an unusual Planned Parenthood manager.

She says that when she began working for the abortion giant over three years ago, she didn’t believe in abortion, and, even more surprisingly, didn’t even believe in contraception – for herself, that is.

“I had always been personally pro-life,” she says, pointing out that when she became pregnant at the age of 16, the thought of getting an abortion didn’t even cross her mind. Instead she dropped out of school to take care of her child full time.

When it comes to contraception, Ramona says her views were shaped by a CD she picked up during the marriage prep course required by her Catholic diocese – “Contraception: Why Not?” by theologian Janet Smith. 

That CD “opened my eyes a lot about contraception,” she says, “because previously before that I didn’t really know or understand or really know a whole lot about the Catholic teaching on contraception.” 

Catholic, anti-abortion, and a Planned Parenthood manager?

So how does a Catholic mother who is personally against both abortion and contraception start working as a manger at a Planned Parenthood clinic?

In some ways, says Ramona, it was as simple as any job search. Planned Parenthood offered a great job at face value: not only did it have a great salary, but the job was only three days a week, which would allow her to ease back into the workplace after an extended stint as stay-at-home mom.

And even though she didn’t believe in abortion or contraception for herself, she says her attitude at the time was “each to their own.” “I’ve always been kind of confused in the way that I thought,” she admits, “because I felt like if I was ‘pro-life,’ then I was passing judgment.” 

She also says that she feels like she was “jaded” by some of her past experiences and that she justified what she did, because “it was almost like I would rather [Planned Parenthood clients] be on birth control then go abort their baby,” or have a child they wouldn’t take care of.

As well, the friend who recommended the job (who would later undergo her own pro-life conversion and leave her Planned Parenthood post) repeatedly emphasized that the Sherman clinic did not do abortions. 

But Ramona soon found out that just because her clinic didn’t do abortions, she couldn’t avoid her employer’s dirty secret altogether: she was still required to counsel and refer abortion-seeking women to an abortion clinic. 

“The very first time I did my first abortion counseling I went to my office and I cried. It was very hard, very, very hard,” she says. “And I felt so guilty.”

In her approach to counseling, however, Ramona proved once again that she did not fit the Planned Parenthood mold: she insists she never steered any woman towards abortion, and in fact, would regularly refer women to the pro-life pregnancy resource center in town – at least until Planned Parenthood caught on, and told her to stop. 

At the same time, however, she admits with regret that she never tried to stop a woman from getting an abortion, and would give abortion-bound women the referral they sought.

The turning point, and Lila Rose

In looking back over her years at Planned Parenthood, Ramona at times seemed perplexed that it took her so long to pick up and leave (she quit in May of this year). 

One of the things that kept her going, she says, is that she often did feel as if she was doing something worthwhile: on several occasions she and her staff literally saved women’s lives, she says, after they detected nascent and potentially life threatening cancers. 

She also confesses, however, that she was simply “comfortable” with her lifestyle. “And that’s sometimes how the Evil One fools us. He tries to paint a picture of, well, this is good for you, this is a pretty picture, this is all perfect right now. Why do you want to mess with a good thing?”

But eventually, Ramona could no longer ignore the guilt that plagued her. She also says began to question Planned Parenthood’s dedication to its purported mission of helping women after she was continually urged to increase the number of patients her clinic saw, and to increase revenue. 

“That was one of those things where I began to see that they don’t care about these women, they care about money,” she says. “The more women they can pack in the schedule, the more money they can bring in, the more people they can put on birth control and sell birth control to, whatever services we can sell, that’s what they care about.”

Ramona’s complaints about her former employer’s financial priorities have been echoed by Abby Johnson, the director of a Bryan, Texas Planned Parenthood who left to become a pro-life activist in 2009.  “Planned Parenthood’s bottom line is numbers,” said Johnson, who called abortion the group’s “primary money-maker.”

This discomfort reached a higher pitch earlier this year, when Lila Rose and Live Action released undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood managers helping purported child sex traffickers get abortions and other services for their underage prostitutes.

After those videos were released, a meeting for all the regional Planned Parenthood managers was called. Ramona says she expected the meeting to be about how to spot situations of abuse or sex trafficking – but instead it was all about how to detect if you are being recorded, or are the victim of a sting operation. 

After that meeting, she says, “I kind of remember coming back and telling my co-worker, ‘I’m done. This is it. I’ve got to find something else.’”

But the straw that broke the camel’s back didn’t come until later in the year, during the Christian season of Lent, as well as the first ever 40 Days for Life campaign outside Ramona’s clinic.

Divine Mercy

As Lent approached, Ramona decided to make a renewed effort to go weekly to church, where her attendance had grown spotty, and to read scripture and pray the rosary every day. 

“Just three days into praying the rosary - that was it,” she says. “The blinders came off.”

For months already, Ramona had been listening to Catholic radio, even hearing the first interview with Abby Johnson after she left Planned Parenthood. At around this time Ramona heard that the 40 Days for Life vigil was coming to Sherman.

“I thought, this will be a perfect opportunity to go out … talk with one of the protesters and ask them to pray for me,” she says. “Tell them what’s going on with me. Because at that point I was reaching out for someone - prayers, some kind of guidance, some kind of support.”

And that’s exactly what she did. She spoke with the man who lead the local 40 Days for Life campaign, Gerry, who gave her a copy of Abby Johnson’s book “Unplanned.” He also put her in touch with the national 40 Days for Life campaign team, who offered to pray for her and to give her the support she needed to leave.

And yet, Ramona continued to hesitate, pushing the date for her departure further and further off, scared to give up half her family’s income, and scared to launch out into unknown waters.

But finally, on May 1 of this year, when Catholics celebrated both the feast of Divine Mercy and the beatification of Pope John Paul II, Ramona was sitting in church, and remembers singing the hymn “Lord, when You Came to the Seashore.” 

“And for me the lyrics of that song gave me the answer that I needed - basically, you know, leave everything on the seashore and just come follow Me, and I will take care of you. And that’s what I needed - to just remember that I need to trust God.”

The next day, Ramona called Lauren at the national 40 Days for Life office and told her she was leaving that week.

“That Friday, May 6, I left my letter of resignation on the desk, I made sure everything was in order. Left my keys on the table, and that was it. 

“I never looked back.”

The desire to serve God returns

When asked what her plans are now, Ramona says simply that she has no idea – at least when it comes to the details. She does know, however, that she wants to serve God. 

She says she now looks back on her childhood desire to become a nun as “a whisper” of things to come.

“God was calling me and maybe telling me that there were things ahead of me that were going to be wonderful, and I just didn’t know how to discern that, or didn’t have anybody to really nurture that,” says the Catholic mom. “So, now I feel like God is calling me again, and this time I don’t want to ignore it.”

She doesn’t know exactly what she’s being called to, but believes it’s somewhere in ministry - probably in pro-life ministry, perhaps promoting abstinence and chastity or natural family planning. 

The first step, however, is simply to come forward and to tell her story courageously – not to talk about herself, she says, but to tell the mercy of God, and the valuable work of pro-life activists.

Her story, she says, is about all the people “that are out there fighting for life, the people that are out there that are spending their time and all of their efforts and energy for pro-life, and the people that are at the vigils. I want them to know that their prayers are heard.”

“That’s why I feel that my story is so important,” she concludes, “not because it’s my story, but because it’s their story.

“If anything it’s their story, it’s what they’ve done. And that’s what I really want to share, so that I can glorify God.”

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Jeb Bush has already ‘evolved’ on marriage, and his advisers are at war with social conservatives: analysts

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The fact that Jeb Bush has surrounded himself with campaign advisers who have been hostile to social conservatives is just one sign that the former Florida governor has secretly “evolved” in his views of gay “marriage,” according to several figures who have spoken with him privately.

Bush, a leading candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, has been hiring national staffers who have actively campaigned for the GOP to capitulate and embrace the redefinition of marriage or at least capitulate to judicial rulings that overturn the will of voters.

“When Bush officially launches his presidential bid later this year, he will likely do so with a campaign manager who has urged the Republican Party to adopt a pro-gay agenda; a chief strategist who signed a Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for marriage equality in California; a longtime adviser who once encouraged her minister to stick to his guns in preaching [marriage redefinition] for same-sex couples; and a communications director who is openly gay,” writes McKay Coppins in BuzzFeed.

The Bush 2016 campaign staffers include:

“In a word, if personnel is policy, Jeb is telling the pro-family community to drop dead,” said Bryan Fischer, host of Focal Point on AFR Talk.

Campbell told Buzzfeed that the staffing decisions reflected Jeb Bush's ideas of who would be best for the position, and “Gov. Bush’s position on gay marriage is clear. If he pursues a run, it will be premised on his agenda and views, not anyone else’s.”

But insiders say it is not merely his closest advisers and operatives who embrace a redefinition of marriage; several people who have spoken with Jeb say he secretly supports gay “marriage” or, at least, will offer no opposition to it.

One such donor, namely David Aufhauser, who signed the amicus and has co-hosted a fundraiser for Bush in Virginia, said, “His thinking [on marriage equality] appears to have evolved.” Other donors, who preferred to remain anonymous, agreed.

Bush's public stance has certainly shifted. As a conservative candidate running for governor of Florida in 1994, Jeb Bush wrote that he opposed conferring special rights on homosexuals: “[S]hould sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion? My answer is No.”

But according to the New York Times, Sally Bradshaw “helped recalibrate Mr. Bush as a more moderate candidate” in 1998. Today, donors who have spoken with Bush tell Buzzfeed they have walked away convinced that he quietly supports same-sex “marriage” or is ambivalent on the subject. They hope he will announce his support for redefining marriage after the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the subject this summer.

A senior Republican fundraiser said fleeing any opposition to homosexual “marriage” is a necessity to get any funding from the party's donor class. Although support for redefining marriage “hasn’t become a litmus test yet,” a senior Republican fundraiser said prospective candidates “have to be approaching the LGBT issue with a new mindset in order to be taken seriously” by the party's megadonors.

Sen. Rob Portman, as vice chairman of finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, announced his newfound support for gay “marriage” shortly after holding a dozen meetings with major campaign donors in New York who were unhappy with the party's pro-family platform.

Bush, who hopes to raise as much as $100 million before he formally enters the presidential contest, is the elite contributors' favorite now that Mitt Romney has declined a third presidential bid and Chris Christie stumbled during a meeting with billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

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Billionaire Paul Singer, who has devoted more than $13 million of his own money to promote homosexual "marriage" in the GOP, is said to view Bush in a positive light.

Bush has also attracted the support of former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a pro-abortion Republican who ripped pro-life and pro-family conservatives as “narcissists and ideologues” imbued with an “unacceptable rigidity and self-righteousness on social issues” and who secretly promote “tyranny.”

The split between the Republican Establishment and its grassroots conservative base foreshadows a harder than expected fight for Jeb Bush in the primaries. “Endorsing gay marriage would make it difficult to win Iowa, even with Kochel on board,” conservative political analyst Jim Antle writes at The Week, “and would probably prevent Bush from emulating his brother's 2000 nomination strategy: combining establishment and evangelical support to prevent the emergence of a viable conservative alternative.”

But others warn it forebodes something more serious – yet another Republican presidential loss in 2016. Mike Huckabee and Gary Bauer, among others, have threatened to leave the Republican Party if it abandons its support of traditional marriage – one of two reasons the GOP was founded in the 1850s.

“Not all social [conservatives] will feel that way but a few hundred thousand spread across swing states are potentially the difference between winning and losing,” the blogger Allahpundit wrote at HotAir.com. “The right’s perennial fear of 'moderate' Republicans is that they campaign as conservatives and govern as independents. Jeb’s not even campaigning as a conservative.”

Fischer foresees another Bush candidacy depressing voter turnout and handing the election to a Democrat like Hillary Clinton.

“If conservatives want to save their party, and more importantly save America, step one is stopping Jeb Bush dead in his tracks,” he said. 

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When he began shooting a film on a pastor saving disabled babies, he had no idea God was planning to save him

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By Pete Baklinski
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Babies Pastor Lee has brought into his home through the drop box. Arbella Studios

March 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Brian Ivie, 25, grew up in California dreaming about making movies. He loved making homemade movies with his friends and eventually went to school to learn how to make them professionally. He was always on the lookout for that one story that he would turn into a movie that would be his ticket to the Sundance Film Festival and rocket him to fame and fortune.

While flipping through the L.A. Times one morning in June 2011, Brian came across the story of a man in Korea who saved unwanted babies by having a baby box installed on the side of his home where parents could drop them off anonymously.

“That alone was compelling to me, the fact that this existed at all,” he told LifeSiteNews in a telephone interview.

Brian immediately saw the story’s potential. Here was the golden opportunity he had been looking for. He contacted the reporter who put him in touch with Pastor Lee Jong-Rak of Seoul, South Korea, the man behind the drop box.

Six months later he was flying to Korea with a team of friends to film a documentary.

“I went to Korea, planning to use this family to be my golden ticket to Sundance,” he said.

Before leaving, Brian picked up a cheap cross necklace so he could wear it to create “some sort of trust between me and this Pastor.”

“I didn’t really know what the cross meant. I just knew that it was this rallying cry for Christendom,” he said.

Brian had grown up thinking he was basically Christian, but having a real relationship with God was something that he had never factored into his life.

“I honestly thought I was a Christian, because I wasn’t a Muslim. I thought I was a Christian because, you know, it’s like you’re American, you’re a Christian, like apple pie and the Bible.”

“I just figured I was a Christian because I didn’t smoke cigarettes, and I watched Fox News with my mom. It was a very cultural label for me. It was a very decorative thing, like a decorative cross you put in the house, but you have no understanding of what it is.”

“My understanding of God, because of the media, was very warped,” he said.

When Brian arrived at Pastor Lee’s home in Seoul, what he experienced made him rethink his entire life. In Pastor Lee, Brian encountered a man who had been rescued out of the gutters of alcoholism and rage to do a work that most people would recognize as utterly selfless and heroic.

“He was not a natural born hero. This is an ordinary man who made a lot of mistakes and needed forgiveness, and once he received that and was saved from his own sin and from hell, then he went out and saved and rescued other kids,” Brian said.

Pastor Lee created the baby box because of the number of babies being abandoned on the streets, many of them dying from exposure before help arrived. The baby box would be a safe harbor to welcome and care for these babies. More than 600 babies have now come through the baby box.

“They’re not the unnecessary ones in the world. God sent them here for a purpose,” Pastor Lee says in the film.

Brian returned to California with his footage, but he was constantly haunted by what he had witnessed in Pastor Lee. He felt like something was missing from his own life, but he could not put his finger on it. Then one day while listening to a podcast about why Jesus died, he suddenly realized what that was.

“This podcast was all about how Jesus Christ took our place. When I heard that, it was like a movie through my own head.”

Brian started imagining Jesus suffering in his place for the six years he had been addicted to pornography, for his abusive relationships with girls, and for his loud and violent outbursts of anger toward his friends, girlfriends, and co-workers. He saw Jesus take it all upon himself and suffer for it all on the cross.

“So, I broke down. I started crying. All I could say was: ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ Even for a guy who didn’t lead some extreme life — I wasn’t the leader of some Mexican cartel, I didn’t almost overdose on heroine, I didn’t murder anybody in cold blood — but I needed to be forgiven, because I had done some shameful things, especially towards God. I realized all that, and knew that I needed to be saved too.”

“I hated myself for a while. But what changed all that was the Father’s love which said ‘I still want you, and in fact, I want you so much that I sent my Son because I’m willing to give everything for you, even though you don’t deserve it.”

Brian began connecting the dots between his filming in Korea about the drop box for babies and his own need to be saved.

“The drop box is the place we all belong. It’s the place we find ourselves when we go: ‘You know, gosh, I need to be saved. I need to be rescued from sin and from this place I’m running to which is called hell, which is the place where I am separated from God. I’m running there and Jesus can save me.”

“The drop box symbolized that to me because it’s the place where you are bound up in the dark, totally helpless and incapable of doing anything about it, and you need a father to come pull you out through the laundry room and into the light,” he said.

With his new spiritual insight, Brian traveled back to Korea in August 2012 to retell the story, this time from the perspective of love.

“The goal was to tell the story that I had experienced of the Father’s love as shown through this man, Pastor Lee.”

Brian’s film The Drop Box, released through Focus on the Family and Pine Creek Entertainment, has already won numerous awards at film festivals. It is opening this week in 800 theaters across North America.

Brian now realizes that his biggest mistake in life is thinking he was too good to need God’s forgiveness.

“My hope is that people realize that they need to be saved and that they would see themselves in these kids and God as Pastor Lee. Because to me, he's living proof of a loving God, and God is putting himself on display through this man.”

“What I see in this film is a man who has given up everything in his life for these children who have been lost on the street. I hope what people see is a picture of something much higher than that, which is really God giving everything on the cross for all of us lost people,” he said.

The Drop Box opens in U.S. cinemas today and in Canada tomorrow. Find a list of U.S. theaters here. Find a list of Canadian theaters here

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Lisa Bourne

San Francisco archbishop under attack: critics of Catholic school reforms hire high-profile PR guru

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By Lisa Bourne
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Public relations specialist Sam Singer

SAN FRANCISCO, March 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Critics of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone have raised the stakes in their opposition to improving the Catholic identity of the city’s Catholic high schools by hiring a high-profile PR strategist.

“Concerned parents are footing the bill” to hire “media relations heavyweight” Sam Singer, reports SF Weekly.

Singer specializes in crisis communication for high-profile figures and describes himself as The Fixer and Top Gun for Hire on his website. He’s also been called The Master of Disaster for his public relations work, which includes representing the San Francisco Zoo in the 2007 killing of a young man by the zoo’s Siberian tiger, and where, according to the news outlet, Singer “shaped hearts and minds to sympathize with the tiger.”

While media reports are not clear about who specifically is behind hiring Singer, the move shows the broad nature and depth of the battle against the archbishop’s efforts to uphold Church teaching.

At the same time Singer told SF Weekly, “he hopes the archbishop sees that the ‘loyalty oath’ he's asking of teachers does 'not keep with Catholic values'," he also said he didn’t accept the job of countering the archbishop’s efforts to maintain Catholic identity because “he himself is religious, necessarily.”

"I'm half Catholic, half Jewish," Singer said. "I like to say I'm the most guilty, most worried man alive." 

The archdiocese announced February 3 that they would add statements on morality to faculty handbooks, as well as three new clauses to teacher contracts, all derived from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Cordileone explained at the outset that the intent was not to target anyone, but rather to clarify Church teaching and the long-established expectation of Catholic school employees to not publicly contradict the faith.

It is something he has continued to emphasize, along with the need for Catholic schools to be clear in imparting Catholic principles.

“We’re not on a witch hunt; we’re not looking to terminate teachers,” Archbishop Cordileone told the New York Times this week.

He said he was introducing the new language because “young people are under intense pressure today to conform to certain standards that are contrary to what we believe,” and he had focused on “hot-button issues” to clear up “the confusion.”

The archbishop also told the newspaper that he knew that not all teachers at the schools were Catholic, and he affirmed again that a teacher’s private life would remain private. He said his concern was that in their public lives faculty “don’t do anything to compromise the mission of our schools.”

Eight Democrat California lawmakers wrote a letter February 17 pressuring the archbishop to back down on the efforts. But the archbishop responded, “Would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general?” 

“My point is: I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission,” he said. “I simply ask the same respect from you.”

Two of the lawmakers then called for an investigation of working conditions at high schools administered by the archdiocese by the state’s Assembly Labor and Employment Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee.

“California cannot become a laboratory for discrimination under the guise of religion,” the two Democrats told CBS San Francisco.

They said the archbishop’s measures to uphold Church teaching “set a dangerous precedent for workers’ rights through manipulations of law that deprive employees of civil rights guaranteed to all Californians.”

After a meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board on February 24, the paper reported that Cordileone was backtracking, but the archdiocese denied it in a follow-up statement.

The archbishop did agree, however, that they would not classify teachers as “ministers,” which teachers feared would remove them from federally-recognized civil rights protection.

“The Archbishop has not repealed anything,” Father John Piderit SJ, Vicar for Administration for the archdiocese and Moderator of the Curia said in the statement. “He is adding explanations, clarifications, and material on Catholic social teaching, via a committee of religion teachers he is establishing.” 

“The committee is to expand some areas of the material to be included in the faculty handbook, and clarify other areas by adding material,” said Father Piderit, who was also present at the meeting. “Nothing already planned to go in is being removed or retracted or withdrawn.”

The archdiocese stated the word “ministers” is no longer being considered to classify faculty, however the word “ministry” remained part of the language, and the archbishop was working to identify language that satisfies two needs, one to protect teachers’ rights and the other the right of the archdiocese to run Catholic schools that are faithful to its mission.

“Even if a substitute for ‘ministry’ is found,” Father Piderit said, “the substitute must guarantee that the teachers in the Catholic archdiocesan high schools promote the Catholic mission of the institutions."

Singer persisted in the apparent push for the archbishop to back down after the meeting.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Singer told the online magazine Crux. “So we’ll have to take a look at what the archbishop comes back with. But this is certainly a step in the right direction, and is welcomed by many of the parents, teachers and alumni. But there is still much work to be done.”

The Chronicle subsequently made a video of the meeting available, which was published by the archdiocese.

“The point I want to emphasize most of all though, is that everything that we do is for our students,” Archbishop Cordileone said in the meeting with the newspaper. “My primary concern and the most important thing, and that of everyone involved in the educational ministry of our archdiocese, is for the good of our students.”

Media reports also continue to highlight resistance to the archbishop’s efforts, and misunderstanding of Church doctrine in the moral issues the Church statements concern, such as homosexuality.

The Church teaches that while all people are deserving of respect as children of God, homosexual acts are immoral and can never be accepted.

“We pray for the archbishop that his heart is changed,” Gus O’Sullivan told the New York Times. The openly gay senior at one of the schools spoke at a candlelight protest, reportedly part of the Singer campaign.

Michael Vezzali, a teacher at one of the schools and a union official, said the archbishop was “a very wise man,” but “we feel our schools are places where we’re supposed to share the gospel of Jesus and love, no matter what.”

“Our community is in pain; our teachers are scared,” said Jessica Hyman, another senior at one of the archdiocesan high schools.

“We sent our kids to these schools because they uphold the fundamental principles of our faith of love, acceptance and respect,” said Kathy Curran, a mother of freshman. “This language says some people are not O.K. — and that’s not O.K.”

Archbishop Cordileone’s language “is very, very hurtful,” but “he is representing exactly the Roman Catholic sexual doctrine,” Santa Clara University Associate Professor of Moral Theology Lisa Fullam told the New York Times. “Bishops do have a lot of authority in their own diocese.”

Michele Dillon, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire, and co-author of the book American Catholics in Transition, which chronicled changes in Catholics’ attitudes and behavior from 1987-2011, said what’s happening in San Francisco reflects the attitudinal wavering among Catholics.

“The church wants people to be aware of official church teachings because they think there is confusion in the culture,” Dillon told the New York Times. “A lot of Catholics aren’t confused. They simply ignore the church’s teachings.”

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