Patrick Craine

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Gallup: 82% of Catholics say contraception is ‘morally acceptable’

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

May 28, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Mere days after 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations launched an unprecedented mega-lawsuit against the Obama administration over its contraception mandate, a new Gallup poll found that 82% of Catholics in America believe contraception is “morally acceptable.”

While critics say the poll is more evidence that the Church hierarchy is out of touch with its people in its fight against the Obama administration, Catholic commentators have responded that the data doesn’t affect the debate over the mandate, which is about religious freedom.

The poll, released May 22nd, found that 89% of all Americans believe contraception is morally acceptable. Overall, 8% of all Americans and 15% of Catholics said they believe contraception is morally wrong.

“Catholic leaders are no doubt aware that many of their parishioners use birth control, but these data underscore the divide between official church teaching and Catholics’ day-by-day behaviors,” write the pollsters.

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At the same time, they noted the backlash against the Obama mandate has centered on “the broad separation of church state” rather than the morality of contraception, and point out that their polling in February showed 56% of Catholics sympathized with the bishops and only 39% sympathized with the Obama administration.

In April, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, admitted that Church leaders failed in recent decades to teach Catholic doctrine on contraception, which he said means they “forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.”

“I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie,” said Dolan. “We have gotten gun-shy ... in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.”

Numerous Catholic commentators have observed that priests and bishops across the country have been stepping up in homilies, statements, letters, and even Youtube videos in recent months not only to defend the Church from government intrusion, but also its teachings on contraception.

“It is a lamentable fact that most Catholics have never heard contraception mentioned from the pulpit. And now, thanks to President Obama, they have!” wrote famed moral theologian Dr. Janet Smith at CatholicVote.org in February. “How very, very devious of the Holy Spirit to use the insidious HHS mandate as a means of getting the Church’s teaching on contraception not only before the public, but before Catholics,” she added.

“Now would be a great time for priests, bishops and cardinals to preach about why contraception is morally unacceptable,” wrote Matthew Archbold of Creative Minority Report. “Let’s use this government overreach as an opportunity to spread the message of the Catholic Church. We must remember that winning politically is great but winning souls is what we’re all about.”

Gallup surveyed 1,024 American adults by telephone from May 3-6.

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Bishop Robert Finn
Lisa Bourne

Vatican removes Bishop Finn after years of attacks for upholding Catholic identity

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

KANSAS CITY, MO, April 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- After years as the American media’s object of blame in the Church’s sexual abuse scandal, and criticism from the left for his efforts to promote Church doctrine and traditions, the head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been removed by the Vatican from his position.

Bishop Robert Finn “has become less able to fulfill his office,” according to the Vatican, which announced April 21 that Pope Francis has accepted the bishop’s resignation.

Bishop Finn’s exit is “in conformity with canon 401, paragraph 2 of the Code of Canon Law,” the Vatican said, which indicates that he would have been “earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”

“It has been an honor and joy for me to serve here among so many good people of faith,” Bishop Finn said in a statement on his diocese’s website. “Please begin already to pray for whomever God may call to be the next Bishop of Kansas City - St. Joseph.”

Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Joseph Naumann, head of the archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, as apostolic administrator temporarily until Bishop Finn’s successor is named.

Archbishop Naumann said he “prays that the coming weeks and months will be a time of grace and healing for the Diocese.”

Finn will remain a bishop, but not have a diocese. The diocesan statement did not indicate what he will do now.

A grand jury found Bishop Finn guilty of a misdemeanor in 2012 for failing to report a priest, Fr. Shawn Ratigan, to the police after the diocese discovered that he had sexual images of minors on his computer.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, has defended Finn throughout the ordeal. In a press release today, Donohue offered the following point-by-point of the facts surrounding the case:

  • In 2010, a computer technician found disturbing crotch-shot photos of girls fully clothed on Ratigan's computer; there was one naked photo of a non-sexual nature.
  • Even though there was no complainant, a police officer and an attorney were contacted by diocesan officials. They both agreed that the single naked photo did not constitute pornography.
  • After Ratigan attempted suicide, he was evaluated by a psychiatrist—at the request of Finn. Ratigan was diagnosed as depressed, but was not a pedophile.
  • Finn put restrictions on Ratigan, which he broke. The diocese then contacted the authorities, though it had no legal mandate to do so.
  • Finn ordered an independent investigation, even though there was no complainant.
  • When it was found that Ratigan was again using a computer, an examination revealed hundreds of offensive photos.
  • The Vicar General, Msgr. Robert Murphy, then called the cops (Finn was out of town).
  • A week later Ratigan was arrested.

“Though no child was ever touched or abused by Ratigan, it is clear that he never belonged in the priesthood,” said Donohue. “But Bishop Finn did not take a cavalier attitude toward his misconduct. If he had, Ratigan's problem would have been ignored altogether, counting on the fact that no one ever called his office saying Ratigan had abused his child.”

“Our prayers are with Bishop Finn, and we thank him for cleaning up the mess he inherited. It will make his successor's job that much easier,” Donohue added.

Since assuming leadership of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese in 2005 the bishop has been the subject of vitriol for undertaking efforts to refocus the diocese’s direction in union with the Church. Changes in staff and programs, along with steps to ensure the diocesan newspaper functions faithfully, drew liberal ire and public attack from the beginning.

Shortly after his arrival, a local newspaper circulated a derisive eight-page issue focused entirely on biasing the faithful against the bishop, placing it in numerous churches throughout the diocese.

Bishop Finn, an ardent defender of life throughout his episcopate, has been completely misrepresented in the media campaign against him, say the nuns in a contemplative women’s religious community in the diocese.

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“Our Bishop is a man who inspires faith, holiness, and a great zeal for the things of God,” Mother Cecilia, prioress for the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, told LifeSiteNews in November. “It breaks my heart that so many people only know about him what they hear from the blaring voices of the media and news outlets which have carried a prejudice against him from the beginning.”

She also defended the bishop’s work to faithfully shepherd the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, pointing out that it resulted in making him a target.

“Ten years ago, Bishop Finn was thrown into the midst of a diocese known far and wide for being a hotbed of heterodoxy and dissent,” Mother Cecilia said. “He made necessary and important changes right from the start, and those who were displeased have never forgotten nor forgiven.”

During Finn’s tenure, the diocese has experienced explosive growth in vocations to the priesthood and diaconate, he has opened the cause for canonization of a religious sister, and has overseen the building of two new churches.

The Vatican’s decision to investigate Finn surprised many given that several high-ranking Church officials have faced strong allegations of shielding sexual predators, yet have been left in place.

Mother Cecilia told LifeSiteNews last fall that despite the campaign against him, Bishop Finn has persisted in humility and fidelity to the Church throughout. 

“Our bishop has edured and suffered so much throughout these years,” Mother Cecilia said. “I continue to be amazed and inspired by his humility, charity, and patient resignation amidst so many relentless attacks.”

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Evangelical leader:  Vote for Hillary Clinton, she’ll cut abortion rate in half

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A national evangelical Christian leader has written that his fellow believers should vote for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, because she will radically reduce the abortion rate.

Hillary, in whose campaign abortion industry lobbyists play a conspicuous role, favors abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy. Yet Tony Campolo believes a second Clinton presidency will halve the number of abortions nationwide.

“Hillary Clinton is one of the few candidates on the political stage who has a plan for cutting the abortion rate in America by at least 50 percent,” Campolo, a sociology professor emeritus at Eastern University, wrote in a debate on Religion News Service on April 13.

His piece, entitled “Why Christians Should Vote for Hillary,” admitted that “some of my Evangelical friends raise questions about her views on abortion,” but that is misplaced.

“Abortions will not be ended through legislation,” he wrote. Instead, America needs a president committed to implementing interventionist economic programs and “diminishing the urgency that drives so many oppressed women into having abortions.”

Campolo, who acted as an adviser to President Bill Clinton following his affair with Monica Lewinsky, praised Hillary's faith and role as a committed wife.

“I know Hillary Clinton to be a committed Christian,” because she “was one of the most faithful attendees of the Senate’s weekly prayer meetings,” he vouched.

Her decision not to divorce Bill Clinton after his serial philandering went public, he said, “showed that the promises she made to her husband on their wedding day were binding through better and worse.”

On the subject of marriage itself, Campolo favors government-recognized civil unions for homosexuals. Hillary recently endorsed same-sex “marriage” as a constitutional right.

In the opinion piece for the liberal religious news outlet, Campolo extolled Hillary's public record from her days as first lady of Arkansas through her service as Secretary of State, calling her a “brilliant negotiator.” Although she was “by no means perfect in making policy decisions,” particularly her decision to vote for the authorization of the use of force to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2002, she is committed to “progressive” policies, and “her future carefulness will keep her from making that kind of mistake again.”

“As a pro-life Democrat, I am encouraged by the possibility that Hillary could be our next president,” he concluded.

Hillary Clinton has attempted to present herself as an evangelical, saying last year that the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking.” However, enthusiasm is notably absent from most Christian brethren, among whom Clinton polls poorly. Her record on abortion and other social issues contradicts their most deeply held views.

When Bill Clinton vetoed the partial birth ban, which passed the Republican-controlled Congress, he said that he and Hillary had prayed about it before killing the life-saving legislation. As a U.S. senator, she earned a 100 percent voting record from NARAL Pro-Choice America, including votes against the partial birth abortion ban, parental notification, and in favor of expanding embryonic stem cell research.

During her 2008 presidential campaign, the pro-life group Democrats for Life of America deemed her “pro-choice in all circumstances,” adding that Clinton was “not directly opposed to physician assisted suicide.”

In his rebuttal to Campolo, National Review writer David French also questioned her competence, dismissing her eight years in the U.S. Senate as “undistinguished at best, with no notable legislative accomplishments” and casting doubt on her tenure as the Obama administration's top diplomat.

“After the United States launched an undeclared air war to drive Muammar Gaddafi from power” in Libya, Obama and Clinton “so mismanaged the transition of power that the American ambassador and three other brave Americans were not only killed, but jihadists drove Americans from our embassy and later filmed themselves swimming in the ambassador’s pool,” he wrote.

“In Egypt, the United States actually backed the Muslim Brotherhood – the same organization that helped launch al-Qaeda and Hamas,” he added.

Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State was so light that she once boasted the U.S. Embassy played an instrumental role in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy” for a gay pride concert in Rome.

Although she seems unlikely to have the same appeal among evangelicals that her husband did, Hillary is considered the likely 2016 Democratic nominee. Potential challengers including Martin O'Malley and Elizabeth Warren likewise favor abortion-on-demand, often at taxpayers' expense.

None of the declared or likely Republican presidential candidates support abortion. 

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Leaving out Church teaching against homosexual acts allows for a 'much richer dialogue' about people attracted to the same sex, says York Catholic teacher Michael Way Skinner.
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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VIDEO: Teacher reveals how he convinced his Catholic school board to go pro-LGBTQ

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

TORONTO, April 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A Catholic educator in Ontario laid out his strategy for convincing the York Catholic District School Board to become pro-homosexual at an activist conference for teachers April 10. When he realized he had been filmed, he demanded the footage not be posted online.

“I spent much of my life steeped in power analysis theory and taking a look at serving groups who were marginalized within any hegemonic group,” Michael Way Skinner, the York Catholic District School Board’s coordinator of Religious Education, Family Life and Equity, told about 30 teachers attending his workshop, half of them identifying as Catholic. “So, I was quite comfortable taking on how we could serve our LGBTQ students in our schools.”

Skinner’s workshop, titled “Implementing LGBTTQQ Supports Under the Catholic School Board,” revealed exactly how the process worked to make his board explicitly pro-LGBTQ.

He gave it at the first annual educators conference hosted by the homosexual activist organization Jer’s Vision, now called the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, in Toronto’s City Hall April 10.

The 49-year-old, who was educated at Catholic University and later Harvard and who calls himself a “devout Roman Catholic,” said he began his task by gathering every Church document he could find mentioning homosexuality.

What emerged were a lot of what he called “challenging pieces” regarding Church teaching against homosexuality. But along with these texts were also what he called “some of the most beautiful statements I had ever read” on homosexuals.

“And we decided that that’s part of the conversation that was missing in our Catholic community,” he said.

Using his method of cherry-picking through ecclesial documents, Skinner was able to produce a list of 17 texts wherein, he says, the Church offers a “much richer dialogue” regarding people attracted to the same sex.

Positive messaging

Skinner gave as an example Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s famous 1986 document on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, given while he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming Pope Benedict XVI.

Ratzinger wrote at that time: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society.”

“New things opened up for me,” Skinner said, calling such passages a way forward to provide “some positive and loving messaging to our [LGBTQ] students.”

But what Skinner calls an “honest look at what’s actually being said” regarding homosexuality in Church documents, such as the one mentioned above, entirely ignores passages expressing the Church’s full position on homosexuality. For instance, one of Skinner’s 17 quotes is the following from the above CDF document: “…the particular inclination of the homosexual is not a sin…” But he leaves out the remaining part of the sentence stating that the inclination is “…a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

Skinner also ignores that the same CDF document describes homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered, and able in no case to be approved of.” He furthermore neglects to mention that the same document urges that persons attracted to the same sex receive special help “lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.”

In fact, Skinner's work of supporting Catholic students afflicted with same-sex attraction appears to ignore the Church's anthropology and clear teaching within that anthropology of sexuality, male-female complementarity, marriage, and homosexuality as a deviation of God’s plan for human sexuality. The Church's strong condemnation of homosexual acts is ignored along with the teaching that the homosexual inclination itself is "objectively disordered."

Shoring up Ecclesial support

A conference hosted by the Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries (CALGM) in the U.S. in 2011 — where Skinner encountered Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the ‘Family Acceptance Project’ — gave him the tools he needed to use his compilation of 17 LGBTQ-positive-messaging texts gleaned from Church documents to bring about pro-LGBTQ change in his Catholic school board. Skinner said the main thing he learned at the conference was how to talk within a religious context to suppress objections to homosexuality based on religious reasons.

After returning from the conference, Skinner put together a presentation on behalf of the York Catholic District School Board about the “good things our faith is saying to people [who identify as LGBTQ]” and, he says, presented it to Toronto’s Cardinal Collins. He strongly advised attendees at his workshop to work from the top down.

“Don’t hide what you’re doing from anyone. Don’t do anything in a clandestine way. Include the powers that be in all your discernment,” he said.

Skinner presented Cardinal Collins with his choice selection of Church quotes on homosexual persons along with his plan to uphold the dignity of LGBTQ students via these texts, telling the Cardinal that he only wanted what the Church wanted.

“What we did is we sat with the Cardinal and I said this is what we’re doing. And near the end he said: ‘Well, I have,…’  It was never really about right or wrong. It was about sensibility. And I was like, ‘OK, that’s a good idea.’ And I put those things in [the proposal]. And then he was like: ‘OK,’” Skinner said.

LifeSiteNews reached out to Cardinal Collins asking about the accuracy of Skinner’s account, but was told by Archdiocese of Toronto spokesperson Neil MacCarthy: “I will pass on your report and certainly let you know if there is any public comment related to this issue.” No comment was provided by press time.

Claiming the cardinal’s blessing, Skinner says he moved forward by presenting his document to the Ontario bishops, and then to his board’s trustees. The document has since morphed into an LGBTQ “implementation resource” for the York Catholic school board titled All of God’s Children.

“The more we could shore up what we were doing in the faith community, by the time we got to presenting to our trustees, I could say, ‘Well the Cardinal addressed this, and this is why we put this in, [or] the bishops didn’t ask that question so I wonder if they had a different sense of the document [than you do]’ – Because, I could demonstrate how we included the ecclesial community in everything we were doing.”

Skinner pointed out that obtaining ecclesial support was a crucial step for moving forward and eventually quashing future objections from concerned parents.

“And to this day, it’s been years since, if anybody has concerns, I merely would say: ‘Really, I’m not doing anything other than my job, then what I’m supposed to do.’”

Summing up his approach, Skinner said: “So, in our work I talk about suicide attempts, and what rejection does. I put into that that our Church requires— and demands in our Catechism — that we accept with compassion and love. I talk about what acceptance means, and how the data shows the suicide rates dramatically decrease if we do what the Church tells us to do.”

“And I say, this then is a ‘pro-life’ issue. I use the language that invites people to come into a broader thinking about terms they already understand.”

Skinner called it “essential” to make sure people appointed to positions of power in Catholic school boards have an understanding of “power dynamics and issues of equity” coupled with a “deep theological knowledge” so they can deal properly with the ecclesial community.

Method at work

Showing how his method of co-opting Church teaching works, Skinner told a story about how a male student in the school where he was chaplain wanted to bring his “male date” to the prom a few years ago. Skinner told the principal at that time that not allowing the student to attend would be “judgment,” saying: “Don’t ask me to discriminate against this young man, because the Church forbids it, and the Catechism.”

He also gave the example of defending the pro-gay “Day of Pink” by comparing it to the two Church feasts where pink vestments are worn by the priest. “What I’ve done at the board level is provided the language what colors mean in our faith. So, don’t be afraid to translate in faith language the color pink, [which] is a color of great joy.”

Skinner says his method is one of opening a “closed mind” by “speak[ing] a language the person understands,” whether that be to a cardinal, a bishops’ conference, or a parent. He related how he addresses concerns raised by what he called “orthodox” parents who oppose the LGTBQ agenda in Catholic schools. He convenes a meeting where he invites people “all from different belief systems and spectrums within the Catholic community” to “talk” with the concerned parents. Surrounded by voices from all sides, the “orthodox” parents usually crumble and give ground. “And we work it out. Because that’s how you do it. That’s wisdom,” he said. 

When Skinner was asked by a conference attendee what he does with Church teaching that explicitly condemns homosexual acts, he said such teaching can be understood in a “theological and philosophical context, not a psychological and moral context.”

“Often times the Church’s teaching is misrepresented by people who think ‘it is Church teaching that…’ when they really don’t understand Church teaching itself anyway,” he said.

When asked by the same attendee what Skinner would tell a LGBTQ student complaining about not being able to be married within the Catholic faith, he said: “We have an ever growing tradition. We know in our tradition that the best way to betray a tradition is to pass it on unchanged. […] I always say to the students, ‘For now, this is what the Church teaches.’” He mentions to them about living “in complexity with the Church.” 

The pro-gay group Harmony Movement, which describes Skinner as a “pioneer in Ontario on diversity, equity and inclusion,” awarded him last year for his “exemplary achievements in promoting diversity in their school/board and community.”

“Michael was the lead writer for ‘All God’s Children,’ a resource providing pastoral support to LGBTQ students. Michael’s work with the LGBTQ community is widely recognized and in 2013, the Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries invited him to speak at their annual conference,” Harmony Movement states on its website.

Skinner’s board is now known for running annual events such as “Inclusivity Week” with “rainbow inspired” events that “celebrat[e] our different genders, races, sexual orientation [sic] and abilities.” All 15 of the board’s secondary schools host GSA-type-clubs where Catholic teaching on homosexuality is whitewashed.

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