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Full Text of Cherie Blair Speech at Angelicum: Sticks to Support for Contraception, Dodges Abortion

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By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent, and John Jalsevac

ROME, December 17, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the lead-up to Cherie Blair’s lecture at the Angelicum last week, pro-life Catholics from around the world contacted the university asking that Mrs. Blair’s appearance be cancelled, due to her public admissions of dissent from key areas of Catholic teaching. In what some pro-life leaders have called a “carefully stage-managed” piece of damage control, however, Mrs. Blair in her lecture made a series of statements presented as assurance of her adherence to Catholic teaching on abortion. (To read the complete lecture, see: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121705.html To read the complete text of the question and answer session see: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121706.html.

Some of these statements were welcomed by pro-life advocates, albeit with reservations, such as her condemnation of sex-selective abortions in India, a problem that she said the Church should be more vocal in opposing, as well as her positive statements about a reportedly decreasing abortion rate for children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome. 

Despite some assertions to the contrary, however, Blair failed to assuage the concerns of her pro-life critics, as she did not at any point renounce or in any way explain her well-documented support for some of the world’s largest and most extreme abortion organisations, nor did she at any point denounce abortion as such as a moral evil. 

Moreover, claims by a professor of moral theology at the university that Mrs. Blair is “in line” with the teaching of the Church were refuted by Mrs. Blair’s own speech, in which she openly admitted that she does not agree with Catholic teaching on artificial contraception. Indeed, in the question and answer session, Blair took to task pro-life groups and individuals who objected to her appearance at the university for stifling the "debate" over artificial contraception, despite the fact that contraception has been definitely condemned by the Church as a grave moral evil. 

In the question period following her speech, Mrs. Blair was enthusiastically praised by a priest and professor of moral theology at the Angelicum, Fr. Bruce Williams, who asserted that in light of her “admirably fearless” comments, it is “crystal clear” that she is “in line” with Catholic teaching.

Fr. Williams said that the contentions by pro-life leaders that Mrs. Blair is pro-abortion and a dissenter from Catholic teaching were “rash, if not outright calumnious.” Fr. Williams said, “The way you came across was decisively contrary to the way you have been depicted recently by a number of websites.”

During her lecture, however, and despite Fr. Williams’ assertion, Mrs. Blair made no clear statement that abortion was “morally repugnant” (as Fr. Williams claimed) and carefully omitted any mention of her ongoing support for International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the U.K.‘s Family Planning Association (FPA), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other organizations whose agenda includes global abortion-on-demand.

Rather than condemning abortion outright, Blair instead condemned the “wide and indiscriminate” use of abortion due to the fact that it poses the problem of sex-selective abortions, resulting in lopsided boy-girl ratios.

“We almost all accept that human life in all its forms is sacred.  For some of us, this is a matter of religious faith,” she said. “While I am on record as having had difficulties with the current teaching on responsible parenthood, I do recognize that much of what Paul VI predicted could happen in Humane Vitae as a result of what could happen as a result of wide and indiscriminate use of abortion, has been born out in particular in relation to baby girls as the birth ratios of boys to girls in some countries.”

In her speech Mrs. Blair heavily criticised the Catholic Church, accusing it of having come only lately into line with the secular world’s dedication to human rights, including women’s rights.

Blair criticised what she characterised as the Church’s “hostility” to the modern secular human rights movement and accused it of having hesitated to follow the movement out of “fear of the unknown.”“It would be nice to say that the Church was at the fore-front of this long journey [of the development of human rights law] but it hasn’t always been the case.”

The Church “still did not uncritically embrace the secularization of human rights,” until the 1960s, she said.

Blair also claimed that the Church has been subject to the prejudices of society in failing to install women into positions of authority. The argument is a common one of the feminist movement that presses for the ordination of women to the priesthood, although Blair’s views on female ordination are unclear.

“Just as diversity between and within the sexes enriches human life and strengthens our civil society so to would it strengthen the Church if we could see more women in leadership roles within it," she said.

She then made the proposal: “There is no reason why these appointments should be exceptional and actually no reason why half all curia posts should not be filled by women.” 

The little praise Mrs. Blair did have for the Catholic Church’s record on human rights was for its activities in educating women in the developing world, which she said has had the effect of reducing birth rates. Quoting the Independent newspaper, Mrs. Blair said, “By being one of the leading providers of education across the developing world, the Church is making a powerful contribution to improving the lives of women, lifting them out of poverty and enabling them to reduce levels of child-birth, which can be, and is actually often dangerous to their health.” 

“History teaches us that improving the general economic situation and particularly improving women’s educational levels, gives women more power in society and helps them exercise more responsible fertility.” 

Neither did Mrs. Blair mention her support, in her capacity as a lawyer, of Britain’s homosexualist political movement. The years of her husband’s tenure as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party are known by life and family advocates and Catholics as the bleakest of Great Britain’s history, seeing more anti-life, anti-Christian and anti-family legislation installed than at any other time.

Mrs. Blair’s support for the openly anti-Catholic homosexualist political movement, so strongly supported by her husband’s administration, is long and well-documented.

This August, she told the Belfast Telegraph in an interview that she was “immensely proud” of her husband’s government for having installed homosexual “civil partnerships.”“It’s fantastic the way the country has accepted that,” she added.

In an interview with a Mumbai news service, she condemned opposition to the homosexualist political agenda saying, “It’s a personal tragedy to be condemned because of one’s lifestyle choices. It is high time everyone started judging people by their contributions and not their sexual inclinations.” Mrs. Blair also made headlines last year when she attended, and “gave away” her Parisian celebrity homosexual hairdresser, Andre Suard at his “gay wedding.”

In the same interview with MiDDay news service in Mumbai, when asked to identify her “biggest scandal” she replied, “Nothing beats the fact that I’m a Catholic who uses contraception. The Church does not allow it but women do it today and I wouldn’t want another baby.”

As of this writing, on the “Women of the World” page of her personal website, Mrs. Blair praises the work of the UN’s CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) organisation as “the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women.” It is widely acknowledged that the phrase “reproductive rights” includes abortion on demand, and a major function of the CEDAW committee is to pressure national governments to legalise abortion or expand abortion “rights.”

To read a transcription of the complete Cherie Blair speech see:
 http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121705.html

Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Pro-Abortion Cherie Blair to Speak at Prominent Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08120205.html

Angelicum University Refuses to Believe Cherie Blair’s Pro-abortion and Anti-Family Reputation
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08120501.html

Cherie Blair Denies Pro-Abortion Label at Angelicum Lecture
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121207.html

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Vatican’s doctrine chief: ‘Absolutely anti-Catholic’ to let bishops conferences decide doctrine or discipline

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By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has rejected outright the idea floated by Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx that various bishops’ conferences around the world would decide for themselves on points of discipline or doctrine. 

“This is an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the catholicity of the Church,” Cardinal Müller told France’s Famille Chrétienne in an interview published today

The question was raised because Cardinal Marx, the head of the German Catholic bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Nine, told reporters that the German bishops would chart their own course on the question of allowing Communion for those in “irregular” sexual unions.

“We are not a subsidiary of Rome,” he said in February. “The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.”

Vatican Cardinal Müller remarked that while episcopal conferences may have authority over certain issues they are not a parallel magisterium apart from the pope or outside communion with the bishops united to him.

Asked specifically about Cardinal Marx saying that the Church in Germany is “not a subsidiary of Rome,” the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said pointedly “the president of an Episcopal Conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and as such has no special teaching authority.”  He added moreover, that the dioceses in a particular country “are not subsidiaries of the secretariat of an Episcopal conference or diocese whose Bishop presides over the Episcopal Conference.”

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The CDF head warned that “this attitude makes the risk of waking some polarization between the local churches and the universal Church.” He did not however believe that there was the will for Episcopal conferences to separate from Rome.

The important interview also saw Cardinal Müller contest the notion that the pastoral practice or discipline could change while retaining the same doctrine. “We can not affirm the doctrine and initiate a practice that is contrary to the doctrine,” he said.

He added that not even the papal Magisterium is free to change doctrine. “Every word of God is entrusted to the Church, but it is not superior to the Word,” he said. “The Magisterium is not superior to the word of God. The reverse is true.”

Cardinal Müller rejected the notion that we would have to modify Christ’s unflinching words totally forbidding divorce and remarriage.  We cannot “say that our ministry should be more cautious than Jesus Christ Himself!”  Nor could we, he added, say that Christ’s teaching is out of date or that “we need to correct or refine Jesus Christ because He lived in an idealistic world.” 

Rather, the cardinal said, bishops must be ready for martyrdom.  Quoting Jesus he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and if we speak all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

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‘Groundbreaking’: Kansas may become first state to ban dismemberment abortions

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By Ben Johnson

TOPEKA, KS, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kansas will become the first state in the country to ban a procedure in which unborn children are dismembered in the womb, if Gov. Sam Brownback signs a bill that recently passed the state legislature.

The state House passed a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions, called dismemberment abortions in common parlance, by 98-26 on Wednesday.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, which had already passed the state Senate in February 31-9, now heads to Gov. Brownback's desk.

Brownback, a staunch defender of life, is expected to sign the act into law.

"Because of the Kansas legislature's strong pro-life convictions, unborn children in the state will be protected from brutal dismemberment abortions," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, which has made banning dismemberment abortions a national legislative focus.

The procedure, in which an abortionist separates the unborn child's limbs from his body one at a time, accounts for 600 abortions statewide every year.

Nationally, it is “the most prevalent method of second-trimester pregnancy termination in the USA, accounting for 96 percent of all second trimester abortions,” according to the National Abortion Federation Abortion Training Textbook.

“It’s just unconscionable that something happens to children that we wouldn’t tolerate being done to pets,” Katie Ostrowski, the legislative director of Kansans for Life, told The Wichita Eagle.

Leading pro-life advocacy groups have made shifting the debate to dismemberment a national priority, with similar legislation being considered in Missouri and Oklahoma. Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., who is NRLC's director of state legislation, called the bill's passage in Topeka “groundbreaking.”

"When the national debate focuses only on the mother, it is forgetting someone," she said.

The abortion lobby has made clear that it is uncomfortable engaging in a public relations tussle on this ground.

Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues associate of the Guttmacher Institute, said that dismemberment is “not medical language, so it’s a little bit difficult to figure out what the language would do.”

On the state Senate floor, Democrats tried to alter the bill's language on the floor by replacing the term “unborn child” with fetus. “I know some of you don’t believe in science. But it’s not an unborn child, it’s called a fetus,” said state Senator David Haley, D-Kansas City.

If the bill becomes law, the abortion industry has vowed to fight on.

Julie Burkhart, a former associate of late-term abortionist George Tiller, said the motion's only intention is “to intimidate, threaten and criminalize doctors.”

“Policymakers should be ashamed,” she said, adding, “if passed, we will challenge it in court.”

Gov. Brownback has previously signed conscience rights protections and sweeping pro-life protections into law.

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How NOT to move beyond the abortion wars

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By Anne Hendershott

March 26, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- A few years ago, when an undergraduate student research assistant of mine—a recent convert to Catholicism—told me that he was planning to meet with a well-known dissenting Catholic theology professor who was then ensconced in an endowed chair at a major metropolitan Catholic university, I told him: “Be careful, you might end up liking him too much.” I jokingly told my student not to make eye contact with the theologian because he might begin to find himself agreeing with him that Catholic teachings “really allow” for women’s ordination and full reproductive rights—including access to abortion.

I was reminded of that conversation this week when I began reading a new book by yet another engaging Catholic theology professor at a major metropolitan university who also claims (pg 6) that the argument he puts forward in his book, Beyond the Abortion Wars, is “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine.” Written by Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University, the new book purports to be in line with Catholic teachings and promises “a way forward for a new generation.” But, Camosy delivers yet another argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion when confronted with an unborn child that he has described—in the past—as an “innocent aggressor.”

Indeed, Camosy has spent much of his career trying to convince us that he knows Catholic teachings better than the bishops. Criticizing Bishop Olmsted for his intervention and excommunication of a hospital administrator for her role in the direct abortion at a Phoenix Catholic hospital, Camosy suggested in 2013 that “the infamous Phoenix abortion case set us back in this regard.” Implying that Bishop Olmsted was not smart enough to understand the moral theology involved in the case, Camosy claimed that “The moral theology in the case was complex—which makes the decision to declare publicly that Sr. McBride had excommunicated herself even more inexplicable. The Church can do better.” For Camosy, “Catholics must be ready to help shape our new discussion on abortion. And we must do so in a way that draws people into the conversation—not only with respectful listening, but speaking in a way that is both coherent and sensitive.”

This new book is likely Camosy’s attempt to “draw people into the conversation.” But, there is little in his book that is either coherent or sensitive. Claiming to want to move “beyond” the abortion wars, Camosy creates an argument that seems designed to offend the pro-life side, while giving great respect to those who want to make sure abortion remains legal.

Especially offensive for pro-life readers will be Camosy’s description of the abortifacient, RU-486 as a form of “indirect abortion.” The reality is that RU-486, commonly known as the “abortion pill,” effectively ends an early pregnancy (up to 8 weeks) by turning off the pregnancy hormone (progesterone). Progesterone is necessary to maintain the pregnancy and when it is made inoperative, the fetus is aborted. For Camosy, who claims that his book is “consistent with settled Catholic doctrine,” this is not a “direct” abortion. To illustrate this, Camosy enlists philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson’s 1971 “Defense of Abortion”—the hypothetical story of the young woman who is kidnapped and wakes up in a hospital bed to find that her healthy circulatory system has been hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist who has a fatal kidney ailment. The woman’s body is being used to keep the violinist alive until a “cure” for the violinist can be found. Camosy makes the case—as hundreds of thousands of pro-choice proponents have made in the past four decades—that one cannot be guilty of directly killing the violinist if one simply disconnects oneself from him. Likewise, for Camosy, simply taking the drug RU 486 is not “directly” killing the fetus. He writes:

The drugs present in RU 486 do not by their very nature appear to attack the fetus. Instead, the drug cuts off the pregnancy hormone and the fetus is detached from the woman’s body…. Using RU 486 is like removing yourself from [Judith Jarvis Thompson’s] violinist once you are attached. You don’t aim at his death, but instead remove yourself because you don’t think you have the duty to support his life with your body…. Some abortions are indirect and better understood as refusals to aid (pp 82-83).

Perhaps there are some readers who will find Camosy’s argument convincing, but I am not sure that many faithful Catholic readers will agree that it is consistent with settled Catholic doctrine.

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As one who is hardly a bystander in the abortion wars, I wanted to like this book. As an incrementalist who celebrates every small step in creating policy to protect the unborn, I had high hopes that this book would at last begin to bridge the divide. A decade ago, in my own book, The Politics of Abortion, I joined the argument begun by writers like Marvin Olasky in his Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, that it is more effective to attempt to change the hearts and minds of people than to create divisive public policy at the federal level. I share Charles Camosy’s desire to end the abortion wars—but this war cannot end until the real war on the unborn ends. This does not mean that the two sides cannot work together—battling it out at the state level—where there is the opportunity for the greatest success. But, complex philosophical arguments on whether RU 486 is a direct or indirect form of abortion are not helpful to these conversations.

Camosy must know that we can never really “end” the abortion wars as long as unborn children are still viewed as “aggressors” or “invaders” and can still be legally aborted. Faithful Catholics know that there is no middle ground on this—the pro-life side has to prevail in any war on the unborn. It can be done incrementally but ground has to be gained—not ceded—for the pro-life side. Besides, Camosy seems a bit late to the battlefield to begin with. In many ways, he seems to have missed the fact that the pro-life side is already winning many of the battles through waiting periods, ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and restrictions on late term abortion at the state level. More than 300 policies to protect the unborn have been passed at the state level just in the past few years. The number of abortions each year has fallen to pre-Roe era levels—the lowest in more than four decade.   Much of these gains are due to the selfless efforts of the pro-life community and their religious leaders. Yet, just as victory appears possible in many more states, Camosy seems to want to surrender by resurrecting the tired rhetoric—and the unconscious violinists—of forty years ago.

While it is disappointing, it is not unexpected considering Camosy’s last book lauded the contributions of Princeton’s most notorious professor, Peter Singer—the proponent of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. Claiming that Singer is “motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals,” Camosy’s 2012 book, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization, argues that, “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”  In a post at New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a progressive organization led by Rev. Richard Cizik (a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals who was removed from his position because of his public support for same sex unions, and his softening stance on abortion) Camosy wrote that he found Singer to be “friendly and compassionate.”  Camosy currently serves on the Advisory Board of Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership—where he has posted Peter Singer-like articles including: “Why Christians Should Support Rationing Health Care.”

One cannot know the motivations of another—we can never know what is in another’s heart so it is difficult to know why Charles Camosy wrote this book. It must be difficult to be a pro-life professor at Fordham University—a school known for dissenting theologians like Elizabeth Johnson. But, if one truly wants to advance a culture of life in which all children are welcomed into the world, it would seem that inviting Peter Singer to be an honored speaker to students at Fordham in 2012 is not the way to do it, nor would claiming that RU-486 “may not aim at death by intention.” Perhaps it is unwise to continue to critically review Camosy’s work from a Catholic perspective because it gives such statements credibility—and notoriety. But, as long as Camosy continues to claim that his writings and policy suggestions—including his newly proposed “Mother and Prenatal Child Protection Act”—are “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine,” faithful Catholics will have to continue to denounce them.

Reprinted with permission from Crisis Magazine. 

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