Dustin Siggins

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GOP candidate for NY governor blasts Cuomo for telling pro-lifers they’re not welcome

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY, April 23, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Rob Astorino is in his fifth year as county executive of Westchester County, New York. And he says he's the right man for the job of governor of New York State, a position currently held by Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Astorino, who was recently in Washington to solicit support and fundraising dollars from the Susan B. Anthony List, defended the right to life in an interview with LifeSiteNews. He also criticized Cuomo, who said in January that conservatives "who are right to life [and] anti-gay" are "extreme" and "have no place in the state of New York."

The GOP candidate says he opposes abortion in all cases except for rape, incest, and life of the mother.

"I respect everyone's religious beliefs, or non-beliefs," said Astorino. "I respect everyone's point of view, even though I may not agree with it. The last thing I would do is, as County Executive of Westchester, or as governor of the state, is to tell them to leave. To tell them they are not welcome."

"If, for some reason, they disagree with me on political philosophy or on life -- it's so outrageous. He's never apologized, and it's beyond what any governor should ever say," continued the GOP candidate.

Astorino, who is the only Republican running for his party's nomination, said that "tolerance" is required. "We need tolerance, we need to understand each other, respect each other.”

He noted that "there are probably no issues I agree with ... on abortion" with abortion giant Planned Parenthood, but that he "understand[s] they have a right to be here under the law."

The Republican said that he is "going to try and change hearts and minds, but for anyone who's pro-choice would I sit there and say 'Get out of New York, you don't belong here?'"

"Come on, that's ridiculous."

Describing himself as "Catholic, pro-life," and "attend[ing] weekly church services with my family," Astorino said that he doesn't "impose those views on others." He said that he believes "what is happening today is religion is being chased away, and I also believe that with abortion apparently, this has become the new politics for the Democratic Party." Astorino said that "and unless you go all the way, to the moment of birth, you're not going to get the endorsements of NOW, or NARAL, or Planned Parenthood."

"I respect views, viewpoints, and all different religions," he stated.

One of Cuomo's most controversial legislative efforts is the "Women's Equality Act," which includes a platform position to "Protect a Woman’s Freedom of Choice." Astorino said that while "I think most of us can support most points in the Women's Equality Act," the abortion component "is so radical, and so out of touch that even New Yorkers who consider themselves pro-choice" oppose it.

"Governor Cuomo refused to negotiate" on this part of the bill, according to Astorino, and "refused to separate [it] from the rest of the bill." Calling it "abortion on demand up to birth," Astorino said that "the last thing we should be doing, and what I vehemently would oppose, and would veto in a second, is any expansion of our abortion laws here in New York. We should all be working together with what President Clinton said, right? We should be making it rare, and safe. I don't see how this makes it safer for women who can go in somewhat unregulated clinics, and have non-physicians perform abortions in the third trimester."

While Astorino says he opposes abortion except for rape, incest, and life of the mother, he also "recognize[s] the political atmosphere in New York, and what it is, and Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, this state made their abortion laws before Roe v. Wade. So, abortion is the law in New York State, and it's probably not going backwards too much in the near future."

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The abortions Astorino does support being legal are "a tough issue, too, because all life should be sacred. And that's an area where there can be a legitimate public policy debate on, certainly always in the life of the mother, which generally never happens, but certainly that should always be there. For me, that's even in Catholic doctrine, too, so I think we're pretty consistent with that."

"But nobody can argue that -- in New York, especially -- that it's not easy to get an abortion. We are the abortion capital of the world. Nobody can claim it's difficult, that there's an abortion battle here to abolish abortion -- that's just not happening in New York," said Astorino.

"To continuously try to expand [abortion], I don't know how that helps teenagers," says Astorino. "I don't know how that helps women in any way. And we need to have a frank discussion about this, and there does need to be alternatives."

"We should be promoting adoption. I don't know why promoting adoption would be controversial."

Democrats have a voter registration advantage in New York, but Astorino -- who said at a recent campaign event that enrollment in Westchester County gives Democrats a two-to-one advantage -- believes "of course we can win." At the campaign event, he said that building coalitions is important, and "you've ... got to offer something" to non-traditional Republican voters.

Astorino faces a tough battle in his effort to reach voters who don't already stand behind him. Cuomo and his allies -- including pro-abortion groups and environmental organizations -- are planning a series of attack ads that could cost as much as $10 million. The goal is to make Astorino look like a "right wing nut."

However, a major backer of Astorino, New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long told LifeSiteNews in March that "Cuomo is the extremist. He's already said there is no room for people in New York State who are pro-life and are in favor of traditional marriage.”

In early March, Long told Newsday.com that he didn't think social issues would be a major factor in the gubernatorial race. Astorino also told LifeSiteNews that "the most important thing" in the race is "what's on everyone's mind -- jobs, taxes."

"People are leaving New York, they are throwing in the towel, in droves," he said. "400,000 people have left New York in the last four years. We are dead last, 50th, in all the wrong categories. We have the highest taxes in America, the most corrupt government, the worst business climate, one of the highest electricity rates in America, the greatest population loss. [And] things have not gotten any better under Andrew Cuomo."

"We need to reverse course. We were able to do that in Westchester County, where I've been County Executive now for my fifth year. Where we prioritized, we reduced spending, we reduced taxes, yet we're committed to those most in need."

Astorino has previously said that since he became county executive, Westchester County has reduced the property tax levy or kept it the same, and spending has gone down from $1.8 million to $1.7 million.

Some of those "most in need" are black Americans. "I read somewhere that the most dangerous place to be for an African-American child is in the womb," said Astorino. "And that's really sad, because the abortion rate is through the roof for African-American women, and 60% of pregnancies end in termination."

"There are a lot of reasons for that, and we've got to start addressing those," says Astorino, who sees a connection between economic and social issues. "The breakdown of families in society, economic conditions -- clearly, we want everyone to have a good-paying job, and an education. We don't want people to feel hopeless, that pregnancy should be a burden. And those are the kinds of things that we have to address in a real way."

With seven months until the general election, Astorino is largely an unknown to state voters less than two months after declaring his candidacy. He has seven months to close a thirty-point margin between himself and Cuomo.

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Federal court says NY allowed to ban ‘Choose Life’ plates as ‘patently offensive’

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By Ben Johnson

ALBANY, NY, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life message can be classified as “patently offensive,” a federal appeals court ruled last week. The new opinion came as a three-judge panel ruled that New York state was right to reject a “Choose Life” license plate on the grounds that it may grate on New Yorkers' political sensibilities.

The judges split on whether New York could deny a pro-adoption group the right to have its own license plate, although the state has in the past allowed plates endorsing political causes associated with the liberal viewpoint, such as environmentalism.

Judge Rosemary Pooler, who was appointed by President Clinton, wrote that the state's denial did not harm anyone's right to freedom of expression, because drivers “may display a ‘Choose Life’ bumper sticker — or even cover every available square inch of their vehicle with such stickers. That message will resonate just as loudly as if vehicle displayed a ‘Choose Life’ license plate.”

Judge Debra Ann Livingston, a President George W. Bush appointee, wrote in her dissent that “a proposed custom plate depicting a sun and two smiling children, and bearing the words, ‘Choose Life’ [thought] to be ‘patently offensive’” was “surprising.”

“Pro-adoption organizations should have the same speech rights as any other organization. While the district court affirmed this basic freedom, the circuit court denied free speech in favor of government censorship,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel at ADF. “The state doesn’t have the authority to target The Children First Foundation specialty plates for censorship based on its life-affirming viewpoint.”

The ruling is the lastest round in a legal battle that has raged for more than a decade and, pro-lifers say, seen state officials repeatedly suppress their First Amendment rights.

The Children First Foundation applied for the specialty license plate in 2002, but state officials say the message and design was “too controversial.” In 2004, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on CFF's behalf.

New York's Department of Motor Vehicles repeatedly denied the “Choose Life” license plates on the grounds that the message was “patently offensive.”

The same appeals court rejected an effort to suppress the plates made by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and agreed that Albany officials denied the plates based on viewpoint discrimination.

In 2006, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals noted that CFF “specifically alleges that defendants denied the picture-plate application ‘based on their disagreement with [the] life-affirming viewpoint expressed on the plate.’”

“On a motion to dismiss, we must accept this allegation, and all reasonable inferences drawn from it, as true,” the judges ruled.

Spitzer, a Democrat who strongly supported abortion-on-demand and gay “marriage,” served as governor beginning in 2007 but resigned his office in the midst of a prostitution scandal only 15 months later.

In November 2011, a federal court ruled that “New York has run afoul of the First Amendment by giving the Commissioner unbridled discretion to engage in viewpoint discrimination.”

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Yet the case has dragged on through the appeals process.

“The state has wrongly gotten away with speech discrimination against our client for more than 10 years,” Tedesco said after last week's ruling.

He said ADF is considering its next legal move.

As of this writing, “Choose Life” license plates are available in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

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Michael Coren stands outside St. James Anglican Cathedral as he prepares to be received into the Anglican Communion on April 19, 2015. Anglican Diocese of Toronto / Facebook
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‘Official’ Catholic newspaper defends running pro-abortion piece by Michael Coren

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By Pete Baklinski
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MUENSTER, Saskatchewan, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The Prairie Messenger, described as the "official Catholic newspaper for western Canada," is defending the publication of a piece last week in which ex-Catholic author Michael Coren openly advocates for abortion in the case of rape while saying the notion of “criminalizing abortion” is “repugnant.”

In his piece titled "Seamless garment," Coren — who recently left the Catholic Church to join the Anglican Church of Canada over Catholic teaching on homosexuality — writes that the 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who seized international headlines after becoming pregnant by rape should be legally allowed to abort her baby.

“A terrified little girl victimized by those around her and forced by a government to give birth to the child of her rapist? That is not justice, that is not life, that is not right. God must be weeping,” he writes.

Criminalizing abortion, Coren writes, would “give state legitimization and authority to a minority view and what is to a very large extent a particular religious teaching.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes a different position, however. In paragraph 2273, it states that “as a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights." Catholic teaching holds that every human life is sacred since it comes from God. There is no exception for rape. 

For many years, Coren was one of the most prominently pro-life broadcasters in Canada. Calling himself a “journalist for life,” he wrote a column for The Interim, Canada’s life and family newspaper, and was a frequent paid speaker at pro-life events. The Prairie Messenger column appears to be the first time that he has publicly renounced his pro-life position.

Prairie Messenger: “We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white."

Rebecca Kiessling, founder of Save The 1, told LifeSiteNews that she was disgusted to see an article in a Catholic newspaper that supports abortion. Kiessling, who was conceived by rape, is a public advocate for those targeted for abortion because they were conceived in rape.

“We are also told in Deuteronomy not to punish a child for the sins of the father and we are not to shed innocent blood. Doing so goes against every concept of justice. I did not deserve the death penalty for the crimes of my biological father. There is a misplaced compassion when anyone wants to kill the innocent child. Punish rapists, not babies,” she said.

Monica Kelsey, who was also conceived in rape, told LifeSiteNews that she was “deeply saddened to hear about Christians standing for the killing of an innocent child.”

“We all agree that this is a situation that deeply saddens us all, but killing this young woman’s child is not going to unrape her. It will further victimize her and, in the process, kill an innocent child.”

“As a child conceived through a brutal attack and rape where my birth mother almost died, I am deeply saddened that Mr. Coren is making an exception for this precious child's life, simply because his father is a rapist. God can get this 10-year-old child through this tough time, but why compound the issue with an abortion? This girl needs us to walk beside her, loving her and helping her make an adoption or parenting plan,” she said.

"This is a life, this is justice for this child. Saving this pre-born child's life is the right thing to do,” she added.

Dolores Castellanos, the doctor who is monitoring the 10-year-old girl in Paraguay, has confirmed that the pregnancy is developing without affecting the health of the infant or the little girl. Nevertheless, the international abortion lobby has latched onto the case as an opportunity to force the small South American country to change its pro-life constitution which currently protects life from the moment of conception.

Prairie Messenger is a weekly Catholic newspaper published by the Benedictine monastic community at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan. The Diocese of Saskatoon, the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface, and the Archdiocese of Regina are among those that promote the newspaper.

When LifeSiteNews asked Prairie Messenger News Editor Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB, why it ran a piece from an ex-Catholic who advocates for positions at extreme odds with clear Catholic teaching, spokesperson Maureen Weber responded: “Because we have much to gain by listening to the voices of others.”

“To carry only Catholic columnists who repeat the catechism would mean never hearing and acknowledging the voices of those who are living the hard realities of life on the peripheries, as Pope Francis puts it. Other columnists present other viewpoints that reflect these difficult life issues. Our readers can address these issues when they are presented and, as thinking adults, they need to do more than repeat rote answers.”

Weber said that the editors of Prairie Messenger “refuse to see abortion as a single issue, but rather, as a seamless garment of protection for all of life, both the unborn and the born, support for women, for work toward alleviating the poverty that leads so many women to make desperate decisions, restorative justice rather than harsh sentences with no possibility of rehabilitation, defence policies, health care, policies on the disabled, the aged, euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

“We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white,” she said.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized in 2013 those who champion the Church’s moral vision as a “seamless garment” while ignoring actual occasions of real injustice.

“The ‘seamless garment’ image was used to great effect to root the Church’s response to various moral issues — from nuclear proliferation to poverty — within the overarching teaching on the sanctity of human life, from natural conception to natural death,” he said.

“Unfortunately, however, it is also true that the image of the ‘seamless garment’ has been used by some theologians and Catholic politicians, in an intellectually dishonest manner, to allow or at least to justify turning a blind eye to instances of abortion, contraception, or public funding for embryonic stem cell research, as long as these were simultaneously accompanied by opposition to the death penalty or promotion of economic development for the poor - issues which are also part of the fabric of Catholic moral teaching,” he said.

The Prairie Messenger, which acts as the newspaper for a number of dioceses in Western Canada, has faced criticism in the past for opposing Catholic teaching.

In a July 2004 Catholic Insight article titled “A flawed stewardship,” Joe Campbell of Saskatoon, SK, called the Prairie Messenger’s editorial stance “disappointing” for taking what he called a “cafeteria approach to teachings on faith and morals, accepting some while rejecting others.”

Campbell criticized then-editor Rev. Andrew Britz, OSB, for failing to support Church teachings on issues such as the male priesthood, contraception, fornication, and homosexuality.

“Not only has Fr. Britz failed to support certain teachings, but he has repeatedly challenged them. He has managed this in three ways: through his editorials; through regular columnists he has retained; and through unbalanced coverage of certain events and issues,” he wrote at that time.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that a Catholic publication should publish what the Catholic Church teaches.

“Why they would allow this to be published is certainly beyond me. I think it behooves a Catholic publication to stand-up for what the Church actually teaches. Without some counter argument in defense of Church teaching right along side this piece, I think it's wrong to run something like that,” he said.

Contact info for respectful communcations:

Diocese of Saskatoon (home of Prairie Messenger) 
Bishop Donald Bolen
Ph: 306-659-5824 ext. 824
Email: [email protected]

Prairie Messenger 
Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB
Ph: 306-682-1772
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Saint Boniface
Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, DTh
Ph: 204-237-9858
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Regina
Archbishop Daniel Bohan
Ph: (306) 352-1651
Director of Communications
Bobbi Yanko - ext 230
Email: [email protected]

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Lisa Bourne

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Dutch bishops’ aid group funding Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cordaid, the Dutch arm of the Vatican’s charitable umbrella Caritas Internationalis, is openly promoting contraception and says access to birth control is vital for the good of women in developing countries. The group has also given money to leading international abortion providers Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.

Cordaid defended itself when questioned by LifeSiteNews. Calling itself a “proud member” of Caritas Internationalis, a representative said that “access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

A new report by the Lepanto Institute details evidence of numerous violations of Church teaching from Cordaid's own website.

In 2012 Cordaid started a program called “Making sexual and reproductive health services work for the next generation” in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cordaid: “Access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

“There is a clear need for sex education and contraception in the African Great Lakes region,” Cordaid wrote of the program. “Its aim is to provide a better future for young generations, reduce childbirth mortality among women through more effective family planning and alleviate poverty among families.”

It began another contraception program the following year in Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda. A Cordaid program distributed condoms in the Congo in 2012, and another worked to provide condoms and other contraceptives in Malawi in 2013, while a third provided condoms in Sierra Leone in 2011 and 2012.

The Cordaid website also shows that it gave the Philippines Planned Parenthood affiliate €220,491 in 2013 for a teen sex-ed program, and partnered with another affiliate in Sierra Leone in 2013 and 2014. Cordaid gave a Marie Stopes affiliate over half a million Euros in 2013 to provide birth control, including sterilization.

Cordaid is not only a member but also a co-founder of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s coalition of Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations. There are 165 members in some 200 countries and territories across the world, and Cordaid is Caritas Internationalis’ local affiliate for the Netherlands.

The head of Caritas Internationalis was released from her position in 2011 amidst internal changes requested by the Vatican, prompted by concerns over the development agency’s Catholic identity. The following year Pope Benedict XVI ordered a reform of Caritas Internationalis.

The Lepanto Institute’s Michael Hichborn criticized Cordaid’s open flaunting of its membership in Caritas Internationalis while obviously disobeying Church teaching.

"With Cordaid boasting its proud membership in Caritas Internationalis while simultaneously fully admitting to dispensing contraception and funding Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International, Caritas has an obligation to expel Cordaid from its rosters," he told LifeSiteNews.

Responding to LifeSiteNews’ inquiry into the report’s specifics, in addition to stating that women benefit from “family planning” services and expressing importance in reducing “unwanted pregnancies,” Cordaid insisted it is not involved in providing abortion.

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“Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion,” the relief group said.

Cordaid also said it had the esteem of those with whom it collaborates. “Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south.”

“The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work,” the group added. “The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum com unum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in the world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.”  

LifeSiteNews sent inquiries to Caritas Internationalis regarding Cordaid’s activities in conflict with Church teaching, and did not receive a response before press time.

Hichborn decried the thought of Catholics in the Netherlands funding anti-Catholic initiatives. "Are the bishops of the Netherlands aware of what Cordaid is doing?” he asked. “Do Catholic parishes in the Netherlands take up collections for Cordaid? The Catholic faithful need to be made aware of what is happening in our Church."

Cordaid’s full statement to LifeSiteNews:

As a Catholic organization, Cordaid has long experience in healthcare in developing countries, especially sexual and reproductive healthcare.

In our programs one of our aims is to build bridges between citizens and governments, partners in the North and partners in the South, and bring together both religious and non-religious organizations.

Our long experience has taught us that good, complete and timely information and access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies. Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion.

Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south. The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work. The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum comunum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.   

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