Hilary White

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Ireland’s abortion bill the result of 40 years of bad moral theology: priest/professor

Hilary White
Hilary White
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DUBLIN, July 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The success of the Fine Gael/Labour Party abortion bill is due to the failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland to coherently and robustly present its teachings, a leading Irish moral theologian has said. According to Fr. Vincent Twomey, abortion has been all but legalised in Ireland because in the last 50 years, the Church has failed to articulate a moral and philosophical alternative to the left/liberal political and social agenda.

Fr. Twomey told LifeSiteNews that the result of the abortion debate in Parliament was due to a new kind of moral theology, taught in Irish seminaries since the close of the Second Vatican Council, which is “radically at variance with church teaching.” It is a moral theology that “denies there are any moral actions, even abortion, that are intrinsically wrong.” 

In a recent op-ed in the Irish Times, Fr. Twomey had written that this new kind of moral theology has placed individual conscience above the moral law, “allowing Catholic politicians to put political expedience above their ‘private’ moral convictions.” 

In his 2002 book, “The End of Irish Catholicism?” the theologian posed the question of why the Catholic Church in Ireland has been “unable to meet the challenges of the modern age… the onslaught of secularisation, the onslaught of relativism, etc.” 

“I said it was because we have no tradition of serious, reflective theological study. The faith had become something you picked up as a child; you took it for granted. That encouraged conformism. And what we’ve done now is simply to exchange one form of conformism for another,” he told LSN.  

He closely followed the passage of both the government’s gay “marriage” and abortion bills, and pointed to the same cause ultimate for both. It has been a decades-long work by the liberal faction in the Church, in conjunction with outside elements in the media and the political sphere, “to undermine the moral life of the people.” 

“They’ve been working on this for the last 40 years at least,” he said. 

“People would never be outright pro-abortion,” he said, but without clear moral teaching, “they’re left not quite sure what they’re against or how to make effective arguments against it.” This has been encouraged by trends among “priests, bishops and moral theologians, to say ‘these are just private issues; they shouldn’t impinge on the public domain.’” 

This has come at the same time as a deliberate rejection of the Church as a leading force in society. “What I think has happened in Ireland over the last thirty years, has been an adolescence, a rejecting of the domination of the Church and an attempt to ‘do it our own way’ and to catch up with what all the so-called progressive nations of the world are doing.” 

People were worn down by a strategy that started by portraying their moral convictions as “antiquated, outdated, not modern, not progressive.” But most significantly, the push started at the same time as the failure of the Church to vigorously respond to the claims of secular “liberalism,” leaving the people, including politicians, without intellectual defences. 

“If you are being constantly barraged with this pro-liberal agenda, it has to affect you eventually,” he said. 

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This project has been greatly aided by the media that “adopted that agenda at least 35 years ago, and have been pushing through all these issues, divorce, contraception, euthanasia and ultimately same-sex ‘marriage’.” 

The easy passage of abortion legislation, he said, was achieved politically by a combination of factors, including the power of “obfuscation, ambiguity and deception”. “The bill’s wording was very ambiguous and cleverly designed. The word ‘child’ was never mentioned, nor was the word ‘abortion,’ but only ‘termination of pregnancy,’ which could mean direct abortion or indirect. The title of the bill was ‘Protection of Life During Pregnancy’… it was all very Orwellian.” 

The confusion all this created allowed the government to convince skeptical TDs that direct abortion was not being legalised. “Representatives of the lower house, whose anti-abortion views were well known, were targeted by the abortion campaigners to convince them that there was no change in the law.” 

To this confusion and obfuscation was added the all-important factor of the dominant media consciously campaigning for legalisation. In particular, he said, they used the “tragic case of a beautiful Indian woman,” Savita Halappanavar, who died in a Galway hospital of sepsis while miscarrying. An inquest had found that an abortion would not have saved her life – and indeed that the law already provided for all the medical intervention she could have needed it. 

The entire process, Fr. Twomey said, was a “superbly orchestrated ploy to get the bill through,” a “manipulation of politics to achieve a certain end, and totally undemocratic, in my opinion.” 

He also laid part of the blame on the failings of the national character, saying that the Irish are “essentially a very pragmatic people.” With their long history of tragedy, famine, foreign domination and extreme poverty, he said, that “when the crunch comes, it is the economic element,” not moral issues, that will take hold of the public’s attention. 

“The Irish, because of their history of being browbeaten for centuries by the English… are tolerant even of intolerance. We’re a beaten people, quite frankly. If you bully us sufficiently we give in.” 

“People won’t like me saying this but I’m afraid it’s true.” 

But he also pointed to strong signs of hope, particularly in the action of the small group of Fine Gael TDs who defied enormous pressure from the party to oppose the abortion bill, “and suffered for it.” At least one of these, he added, has contacted him asking for a public discussion on the role of conscience in political life. 

He noted that one of the problems faced by the Irish hoping to turn the tide has been the failure of their Church to establish a “more vibrant” conservative moral alternative to the “dominant” liberal moral theology. This conservative subculture has grown in the US, bolstered by the papacy of Pope John Paul II and his successor, throughout the period following the 1960s social revolutions, but it failed to cross the Atlantic. It is only growing now in an Irish society just beginning to wake up to the consequences of unrestrained “progressivism.” 

“We haven’t got that far in Ireland yet, but that will come.” 

Overall, the debate on the bill has had some good effects in serving as “a wake-up call” on issues of conscience, he said. “The whole question of a free vote, which is very rare in Ireland, is related to the conscience issue – though they don’t use the term ‘conscience’. Quite a number of highly respected secular commentators have questioned the validity of a party whip on life and death issues, such as abortion,” he said. 

Among the hopeful signs in the Church, he said, is the appointment of “half a dozen new bishops in recent months” with a more orthodox approach, as well as strong signs of a genuine renewal in the religious life at the local parish level. These include “new youth movements beginning to spring up, who are enthusiastic about the faith,” “young orthodox theologians,” both clerical and lay, and the admittedly “very few” but “good vocations,” of young men for the priesthood who are aware that they are “swimming against the tide” and who will be “much more effective in the future.” 

“So, I’m full of hope for the future. I do believe that despite everything we have a very deep substratum of the faith in Ireland.” 

One of his greatest interests, he said, is to try to establish “a dialogue between those who believe and those who are searching for faith.” He described a renewal of interest and openness among those who have never been exposed to religious ideas or whose parents may have rejected their faith. 

“There’s a generation coming up now of people who have had no experience of the negative side of the Church. Who have been raised by parents who have lost the faith, who are much more open to truth and faith issues than their parents,” he said. 

“In time, once we recover our spiritual heritage, the spiritual richness of the Irish tradition, then we’ll have the future. But there’s a huge amount of work to be done.” 

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Dr. Miriam Grossman speaks to large audience in Mississauga, Ontario Steve Jalsevac/LifeSite
Lianne Laurence

VIDEO: How DO you to talk to kids about sex? US sex-ed critic gives practical tips

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Talking to their children about sex is “anxiety provoking to say the least,” for parents, says American sex-ed expert, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

“Some people just can’t even do it, and that’s okay,” the New York-based psychiatrist told the crowd of 1,000 who packed a Mississauga conference hall August 18 to hear her critique of the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

After Grossman explained how the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is dangerously flawed and ideologically driven, she used the question-and-answer session to give parents much appreciated and sometimes humorous practical advice on how to teach their children about “the birds and the bees.”

“If you feel you can’t do it, maybe there’s someone else in the family or in the constellation of people that you know you can trust that could do it,” said Grossman, author of “You’re teaching my child WHAT?” and an internationally sought-after speaker on sex education.

A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 12 years’ clinical experience treating students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clinic, Grossman said explaining sexuality and procreation to children is “a process,” that “shouldn’t ideally happen all at once. A child is not a miniature adult, and absorbs…new information differently than adults do.”

And parents need to be sure just what their child wants to know.

To illustrate this, Grossman referred to her earlier story about a father who gave his son every detail on human procreation after the boy asked him, “Dad, where do I come from?”

After the father finished, his son replied, “Well, that’s funny, because Johnny told me that he came from Montreal.”

“Try to find out what your child is really getting at, and, don’t give it all at once,” Grossman said. “You start with a little bit at a time…and you know, there’s so many variables here, and people have their own traditions and their own ways of explaining things, and something that might be right for my family might not be right for your family.”

She also advised that, when confronted with a four, five, six or seven-year-old asking about a pregnant woman, or where babies come, a parent can ask, “What a good question that is. What do you think?”

And parents can also legitimately put off the discussion when appropriate, telling the child, “That’s really not something you need to know about right now.”

“Wow, what a novel idea: Telling a child that they could wait until they’re older to discuss that subject,” Grossman said, adding that parents wouldn’t brook a six- or even fifteen-year-old child asking how much money they made or had in the bank. “Excuse me? Not every subject has to be an open book.”

However, the time will come when a child needs to know “about how her body’s going to change, about reproduction, about how a new life is created.”

That time, Grossman advised, is puberty, or “as puberty is beginning,” and this is especially so for girls, who, if unprepared for the surprise onset of menstruation “might think [they’re] dying.”

“The actual nitty-gritty about the birds and the bees and intercourse” can “be told in bits and pieces, or it can be told all at once, if you feel it’s necessary,” she said, adding that it’s beneficial if the parent acknowledges his or her awkwardness, because the child will think: “This must be such an important subject that my mother or my father is sitting there squirming, but he’s doing it anyway. I’m really loved.”

“And the children need to understand that as you grow up, you change a lot, not only physically but emotionally,” Grossman said, “and what may seem odd or disgusting when you’re ten years old, or whatever age, it becomes something very special and beautiful when you’re older and you’ll understand it later. You don’t have to understand it now.”


Know your child and guard your home

But as an essential foundation for this discussion, parents must both know their children and guard their home from the encroachments of a culture that Grossman described as “very, very sexualized” and “really horrible.”

“Children need parents who are loving but are also firm and authoritative,” she asserted.  “They don’t need best friends. They need us to guide them, to know what they’re doing, to be on top of what they’re doing.

So parents need to be aware of whom their child is “hanging around with, and what kind of movies are they watching…what’s going on with your child.”

“You need to know that anyway, even if it’s not about sex education,” she pointed out. “Try and know your child. Every child is different.”

And Grossman emphasized that it is “extremely important to be careful about what your child is exposed to in the home, in terms of television and Internet, obviously.”

Children need to understand that “just like you have garbage you take out of the house, you put it in the garbage bin, it’s dirty, it smells…there are other things that also don’t belong in the house.”

And children learn quickly what is, and is not, permissible inside the home, Grossman said. “Me, I keep kosher…If I go into a store, my kids know from a very young age, we don’t eat that.”

So they are used to the idea of “the world outside and the inside world, of inside your home, and inside your heart as well.”

Parents can also convey this by telling their children that “the world is an upside-down place, and sometimes the most special, holy subjects are…just thrown in the gutter. And that’s a bad thing. In our family, in our tradition, we don’t do that.”

“Sexuality is one of the subjects that in this upside-down world, it is sometimes just in the gutter,” she said. “And so I want you to tell your child to come to me when you have questions, I will give you the straight story about it.”

Grossman herself is “not even sure,” as she stated in her seminar, that sex education should be in the schools: “I believe sex education should be at home for those parents that want to do it.”

She also noted that parents “can make mistakes. We all make lots of mistakes but it’s okay, you can always come back and do it differently,” adding that this is “another wonderful message for your child. You know what, it’s okay to make mistakes, you can always go back and try and fix it.”

Grossman urged parents to visit her Facebook page, website and blog. “I have so much information you can get there that you’ll find useful,” and added that she will be publishing books for children, and has posted her critique of New York City’s sex-ed curriculum, which is similar to Ontario’s.

The parental backlash to that sex-ed curriculum, set to roll out in the province’s publicly funded schools this September, has been “amazing” Grossman noted.

Grossman’s seminar was sponsored by Mississauga-based HOWA Voice of Change along with the Canadian Families Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than 25 associations and 200,000 Ontarians opposed to the curriculum. The report on her devastating critique of the sex-ed curriculum can be found here, and the video here.

Ontario readers may find information and sign up for a September 2 province-wide protests at MPPs offices here. So far, there are protests planned for 92 of Ontario’s 107 constituencies. The parents’ movement seeking removal of the curriculum is urging all concerned citizens to join this special effort to influence individual Ontario legislators.

See related reports:

Ontario’s dangerous sex-ed is indoctrination not science says U.S. psychiatrist to large audience

Videos: US psychiatrist tells parents “stand firm” against dangerous sex-ed

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Ontario sex-ed curriculum containing nearly 100 LifeSite articles related to the issue

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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Did the pope just endorse a gay children’s book? Of course not, says Vatican

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

ROME, August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- While mainstream media is gushing with news today that Pope Francis allegedly praised a children’s book that promotes gender theory, the Vatican is decrying what they called the "manipulation" of a cordial letter from an official in the Secretariat of State to suggest that the Vatican is promoting teachings contrary to the Gospel.

Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.

In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.  

While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.

“Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book,” the paper’s headline states. “Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter,” reads the subtitle.

In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.

The Vatican's statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely "acknowledged receipt" of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication. 

"In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel," says the statement, decrying the "manipulation" of the letter.

Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church's teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned the notion of “gender theory” on numerous occasions, saying that it is an “error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Poll suggests most US Catholics wrongly believe Pope Francis backs gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A considerable majority of U.S. Catholics are in conflict with Church teaching on abortion and marriage, a new study says, and a startling number of those also believe Pope Francis backs homosexual “marriage.”

Despite Church teachings, Catholics in America also closely parallel the general populace in their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage,” falling short in the Biblical call to be “in the world but not of the world.”

The findings suggest what many Catholics have said is a climate of confusion in the midst of the Francis pontificate. Concerns over that confusion prompted a coalition of pro-family groups to respond with an international petition effort asking the pope to reaffirm Church teaching, drawing more than a half-million signatures.

The survey, conducted by Public Religions Research Institute, found that 60 percent of all U.S. Catholics favor legalized homosexual “marriage,” compared to 55 percent of all Americans. Likewise, 51 percent of Catholics think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 53 percent of the general population holding this view.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman, mirroring Christ and the Church respectively as bridegroom and bride.

The Church also teaches that life begins at conception, that each human life possesses dignity as a child of God and is to be afforded protection, making abortion an intrinsic evil.

Catholics, accounting for 22 percent of adults in the U.S. population, have a favorable view of Pope Francis, the study said, but they are very confused about his take on homosexual “marriage.”

Of the Catholics who back homosexual “marriage,” 49-percent also think the leader of the Catholic Church backs it along with them. Fifteen percent of those Catholics who oppose homosexual “marriage” also mistakenly believe Pope Francis supports it.

Pope Francis has made numerous statements in support of life, marriage and family, but the confusion remains.

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"After Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie stated.  "Young Catholics -- even non-Catholics -- look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."

TFP Student Action is a part of the lay Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and is part of the alliance behind the Filial Appeal, the petition asking the Holy Father to reinforce Catholic teaching at the Vatican’s upcoming Synod on the Family in October.

Ritchie explained how the confusion was aiding the Church’s enemies, and warned of the potential consequences.

"This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that's been spreading against Natural and Divine Law," he said. "If the enemies of the family continue to chip away at holy matrimony, the future of the family and civilization itself will be in even more serious peril."

At press time more than 500,000 signature had been gathered for the appeal, including five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of well-known civic leaders.

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