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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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