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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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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