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Just what, exactly, is happening at the Vatican?

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Everyone is asking, “Just what, exactly, is happening in the Catholic Church these days, and especially at the Vatican?”

It’s not just our Catholic readers who are wondering this. It’s also our many non-Catholic readers and pro-life and pro-family activists who understand the pivotal role the Catholic Church has played in stemming the tide of the Culture of Death.

In a few moments, I’m going to share a deeply personal story about why I (a cradle Catholic who loves the Church!), and so many others, are so concerned about the confusion within the Vatican. And, more importantly, I will also share some thoughts on how we can productively respond. 

But first I need to remind you that today is day 7 of our crucial spring fundraising campaign, and we still have $183,352 left to raise. (Click here to donate)

If you support LifeSite’s in-depth, professional, investigative reporting, and our commitment to defending age-old Christian teachings on marriage, the family, life, and related topics in the media, please, consider making a donation today!

As a reminder: We truly do rely completely on the generosity of thousands of ordinary readers like you during these quarterly campaigns to keep this unique pro-life news agency going.

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Now, that personal story.

Back in the late 1960s, when I was in university, Paul Ehrlich and other overpopulation alarmists were at the height of their popularity. Fear was in the air. The world was on the brink of doom, said Ehrlich and other doomsayers. We were going to run out of food. We were going to run out of oil. There would be widespread societal collapse, famines, wars and extinctions.

The media breathlessly repeated these neo-Malthusian talking points. They gave prominent platforms to alarmists like Ehrlich. My professors spouted their nonsense. My classmates fell for it… Many of my fellow Catholics and Catholic clergy fell for it...

...and I fell for it... hook, line and sinker. I was way too trusting - and foolish.

I joined and financially supported Zero Population Growth, and even got their wallet-sized membership card to prove it. And I lived it too. During the first five years of our marriage, my wife and I were totally closed to having children. In fact, we did not even once discuss children during those years.

In addition, because of our very secular, self-centered lifestyle, we were on the certain road to eventual marriage breakdown.

And then we both had a profound and sudden reversion to our cradle Catholic faith. All of a sudden my closed mind and eyes were opened. I was now enabled to clearly see the lies of Ehrlich and others like him, and I saw the destruction and suffering they had caused.

My wife nudged me into a pro-life booth at a local exhibition and I was changed for the rest of my life by the photos of pre-born aborted and non-aborted babies.

I was appalled, and I was angry about all the lies that I had been fed.

Soon thereafter I gave up a lucrative career as the owner of a large interior decorating franchise. My wife and I threw away the contraceptives and started having children (eventually we were blessed with eight!). And I dedicated myself completely to full-time pro-life activism.

Can you imagine, then, my shock and distress when I heard last month that world-class liar Ehrlich - the most extreme of the prophets of doom, the shameless supporter of forced abortion, and forced sterilization, whose brutal ideas have been adopted by oppressive regimes around the world - was being invited to give a presentation at a Vatican conference!

I don’t have time in this letter to get into everything that happened at that conference. LifeSite published numerous in-depth reports about that conference, and you can read them on our site.

But suffice it to say, the conference was even worse than I even imagined. To me it a was diabolical event - at the Vatican!

Not only was Ehrlich allowed to promote his alarmist and pro-contraception views without any opposition, but the bishop who heads up the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (who we have since learned has a rather colorful history) even responded by agreeing that we need to convince women to start having only one or two children, and belittled large families!

No wonder Ehrlich afterwards expressed complete satisfaction with his experience at the Vatican.

I write all this to say: No, it’s not just your imagination. Yes, there is a lot of troubling stuff going on at the Vatican right now. I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. And, no, we cannot simply ignore it, or wish it away (as much as we might want to)!

HOWEVER (and this is a very, very important however), though I am often distraught at the news coming from the Vatican these days, I am never depressed about it!

That’s because, firstly, I have absolute confidence that the authentic Catholic Church of true believers cannot abandon its teachings on marriage, abortion, contraception, or anything else. Christ Himself has promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail.

And, secondly, despite the confusion coming from some parts of the Vatican, we must never forget that the Church, even now, still has many faithful and courageous laymen, priests, bishops and cardinals. They will continue to valiantly fight to defend life, marriage, and family!

They must have our full support.

At LifeSite, we have always reported on events at the Vatican as they relate to life and family issues. During the past two pontificates, that was an easy job, and a pleasant one! The news was almost always encouraging. We simply amplified the voice of the popes when they spoke (as they frequently did) on life and family issues, or drew attention to the amazing work of the various Vatican departments responsible for defending life and family.

Now, our job is far more difficult. It’s more controversial than it has ever been since we began. It’s not that we have changed. News developments have changed - dramatically!

At times, the volume of troubling news can wear us (and our readers!) down. And sometimes, simply by calmly, professionally reporting the facts, we make enemies both within and without the Church.

Despite all this, we have hope! Every day our entire staff begins the day with prayer. We ask for the courage and conviction to know and respond to God’s will by serving only the truth. As long as we have done our duty, we should not fear.

Remain faithful, love God, love truth, pray, and work - and all will be well!

If you support LifeSite’s mission to shine a light, and to fearlessly promote Christ’s teachings on life and family, “in season and out of season” (2 Tim.), no matter the opposition, please, do consider donating today to our crucial spring campaign today.

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And when I am at times tempted to despair, I always think of Pope St. John Paul II - that great apostle and defender of life! “Do not be afraid!” he constantly reminded us, as do the Scriptures over and over again. And somehow, when St. John Paul II said it, his words penetrated our hearts - and we felt at peace.

Let us never give up hope. Let us never lose heart. Let us never allow our peace to be shattered by the goings on of those who would use the Church for questionable ideological purposes that have nothing to do with the salvation of souls.

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