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Message of the Pope’s Baptism of Prominent Muslim: Be Not Afraid to Acknowledge Christianity as The

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Editorial by John-Henry Westen

March 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Saturday night at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI baptized Magdi Allam, one of Italy’s most prominent Muslims who upon his conversion took the name Cristiano - which means Christian.  Allam, the Deputy Director of one of Italy’s largest newspapers - Corriere della Sera - wrote of his baptism the following day, saying, "Yesterday evening I converted to the Christian Catholic religion, renouncing my previous Islamic faith . . . For me it is the most beautiful day of [my] life."

As a prominent Muslim critic of Islamic extremism and terrorism, Allam had already received many death threats and had official Islamic death warrants - fatwas - signed against him.  He was thus forced to live under constant security.  He underwent his very public reception into the Catholic Church with the full knowledge that it would lead to much more dire death threats.  "I know what I am headed for but I face my destiny with my head held high, standing upright and with the interior solidity of one who has the certainty of his faith," he wrote.

The most important part of Allam’s Easter Sunday message, however, was the portion where he pointed out that the Pope made a "historical gesture" in personally baptizing him in a public event that would be televised worldwide.  "His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries," he said. 

Allam surmised that the Church was acting thus, "out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries." 

While true in many cases, that fear is used as an impetus for a relativistic attitude which has been creeping into Christianity for decades.  The approach sees Christianity not as the one and only truth, but one truth among many.  The phenomenon also expresses itself in dealing with the various denominations within Christianity.  Thus invitations to convert to Christianity - or from one denomination to another - are quietly tolerated at best, and at times openly criticized, even by those who call themselves Christian.

For instance, take the recent debacle in the Church of England over homosexuality.  The result has been a fracturing of the Church of England between those who wish to remain true to the Scriptures and those who have embraced sexual immorality.  A group of the faithful were looking to enter the Catholic Church en masse. The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), which may represent as many as 400,000 Anglicans, was speaking with Vatican officials about such a move.

One would think the reaction of those within the Catholic Church would be a heartfelt reception with open arms to brothers who are struggling to hold to the truth about human sexuality amidst turmoil within their denomination.  Insiders reported that Pope Benedict would be pleased to receive the group; however, the reaction of one high ranking Church official spoke volumes about the relativistic attitude of many Christians.  

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, commented on the proposed entrance of the TAC into full communion with the Catholic Church, suggesting that the Church was resistant to the move.  "We are on good terms with the Archbishop of Canterbury and as much as we can we are helping him to keep the Anglican community together," Cardinal Kasper told The Catholic Herald in a story published December 6, 2007. 

When asked whether he felt encouraged by the TAC’s request, the cardinal replied: "It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome."  He added, "Of course, as a Catholic I am happy if one person joins our Catholic Church but I doubt such a big group is coming - I think there are still many questions to solve first."

The question of conversion of the Jews to Christianity raises the same point.  A worldwide controversy was stirred up after Pope Benedict gave general permission for the Tridentine form of the Latin Mass to be celebrated.  Nominally Jewish groups - such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) - complained bitterly that praying for the conversion of the Jews was unacceptable. 

The Good Friday prayers in the ‘extraordinary form’ - as the Latin liturgy is now called - contains prayers for the conversion of the Jews to Christianity.  A slightly revised version issued by Pope Benedict reads: "Let us also pray for the Jews: that God our Lord might enlighten their hearts, so that they might acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior of all mankind. Let us pray. Let us bend our knees. Almighty and eternal God, whose desire it is that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, grant in your mercy that as the fullness of mankind enters into your Church, all Israel may be saved, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

A similar uproar to the Good Friday prayers occurred in the secular media when conservative pundit Ann Coulter spoke on air with CNBC’s Donny Deutsch about her desire for all people, Jews included, to become Christian.  Deutsch became hysterical when Coulter tried to explain that Christianity considers itself the continuation of Judaism, and thus Christians wish followers of Judaism to complete the journey - "we want Jews to be perfected" she phrased it.

Deutsch called Coulter’s comment uneducated, "hateful and anti-Semitic" and went so far as to compare her to Iran in wishing to "wipe Israel off the earth."  Again the ADL complained bitterly, calling Coulter anti-Semitic.

But why the hue and cry about Christians hoping the Jews will convert?  Wouldn’t it be obvious that Christians, true Christians, who believe in and follow Christ as ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ would want all people to know the truth?

It would be obvious to true believers of any religion, but not to relativists. 

Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the spokesman on moral issues for some 1000 Rabbis, explained this to me once in an interview on the Coulter kerfuffle.  Rabbi Levin noted that Coulter’s remarks could not be construed as anti-Semitic and that Jews who practice their faith were not scandalized by the remarks.  "The Orthodox are very comfortable in their beliefs of their religion and their practices," he said.  "The Jews who would be more offended by this are those that are not involved in day to day practice of Judaism."

Michael Medved, the well known practicing Jew and movie reviewer, commented on Coulter’s remarks saying, "(A)ny American Jew who doesn’t already understand that sincere Christians want the whole world ultimately to come to Christ - including us - is an ignorant fool. Yes, Christianity believes in converting people: and most of us received that memo about 2000 years ago. The proper response to the declaration that Christians want all of humanity to become Christian shouldn’t be outrage or indignation; it ought to be, ‘Duh!’ If your friends or neighbors seek to share with you the greatest gift they’ve ever received, it’s not usually a sign that they hate you; in fact, it’s very likely an indication that they love you."

Levin pointed out moreover that true followers of Judaism, like true Christians and sincere believers in several other religions, feel they have the fullness of truth, and thus in charity hope for a day when all people will embrace the fullness of truth.  He explained that especially on Jewish holidays special prayers are said, even several times a day, especially for non-Jews, that they will come to accept the truth. 

All this is not to dismiss the very valid concerns over the safety and well-being of converts to Christianity from Islam.  The newly baptized Cristiano Allam points out that even in Italy there are "thousands of Muslim converts to Christianity who are forced to hide their faith out of fear of being assassinated by Islamic extremists who lurk among us."  He hopes that the Pope’s action and his testimony will allow Christian converts from Islam to live their faith openly.  "If in Italy, in our home, the cradle of Catholicism, we are not prepared to guarantee complete religious freedom to everyone, how can we ever be credible when we denounce the violation of this freedom elsewhere in the world?" he asks.

Allam suggests, "Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims." 

We must also reject the fear of public criticism and belittlement that comes from many quarters when we give public affirmation to faith in Christ.  Giving in to such fear leads to a false ecumenism, which is nothing more than relativistic denial of absolute truth.

In his own Easter message delivered Sunday, Pope Benedict called on not only Christians, but all "men and women whose spirit is sincerely open to the truth," to realize that "Jesus Christ died and rose for all; he is our hope - true hope for every human being."

Welcome home Cristiano, and also to the battlefield.

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‘It’s another boy!’: 4th video goes into heart of Planned Parenthood fetal body parts lab

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By Pete Baklinski

Urgent: Sign the petition demanding that Congress investigate and defund Planned Parenthood here

July 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Workers in a lab are seen sorting through body parts on a dish: a heart, stomach, kidney, and legs.

And then a medical assistant suddenly announces: "It's another boy!"

This is just a little of the macabre and heart-wrenching footage in the newest undercover video showing alleged harvesting and sale of body parts from aborted babies by Planned Parenthood, released Thursday morning.

The newest video also shows a Planned Parenthood medical director negotiating a fetal body parts deal while agreeing to prices for harvested parts, and suggesting ways to avoid legal consequences.

"For anyone with a conscience, the video's entire fetal organ scene is wrenching -- to the gut as well as the heart. It hearkens us back to the days of Joseph Mengele or Kermit Gosnell, who both coldly killed and dissected children without remorse," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, in a press release.

The video takes the viewer into Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, where Vice President and Medical Director Dr. Savita Ginde discusses with actors posing as representatives from a human biologics company a potential partnership to harvest fetal organs.

When one of the actors posing as a buyer asks the doctor if “compensation could be specific to the specimen?” Ginde agrees. As the camera travels to the abortion clinic’s pathological laboratory to reveal the aftermath of a real abortion of a baby boy, Ginde tells the buyer that the abortion clinic would rather receive payment per body part harvested, rather than a standard flat fee for the entire case.

“I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it,” she is heard saying on the video.

Planned Parenthood hit national headlines last month after undercover videos released by the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) showed top officials from the nation’s largest abortion provider discussing the sale of body parts harvested from babies aborted at their facilities. Those behind the undercover videos say that selling the body parts for profit is a violation of federal law.

Yesterday, the California Superior Court issued a narrow temporary restraining order preventing CMP from releasing further undercover video footage involving top-level staff of StemExpress, the company that purchases the body parts from Planned Parenthood. 

Project Lead David Daleiden is using the fourth video to call for an immediate ending to Planned Parenthood’s funding.

“Elected officials need to listen to the public outcry for an immediate moratorium on Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding while the 10 state investigations and 3 Congressional committees determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts.”

“Planned Parenthood’s recent call for the NIH to convene an expert panel to ‘study’ fetal experimentation is absurd after suggestions from Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Ginde that ‘research’ can be used as a catch-all to cover-up baby parts sales. The biggest problem is bad actors like Planned Parenthood who hold themselves above the law in order to harvest and make money off of aborted fetal brains, hearts, and livers,” he said. 

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"It really stretches credibility to say that Bush or his people wouldn’t have known that the foundation pushes abortion and other population control efforts," said Stephen Phelan of HLI Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com
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Jeb Bush was director of philanthropy that gave tens of millions to Planned Parenthood

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By Ben Johnson

Analysis

NEW YORK, July 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Until the eve of his presidential campaign, Jeb Bush was director of a philanthropy that gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood and financed its advocacy of "unrestricted access to abortion" around the world. The charity also approved money to global abortion providers while he sat on its board.

In 2010, Jeb was named one of the founding directors of the Bloomberg Family Foundation, established as a tax-exempt foundation to advance the vision of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He resigned from the board at the end of 2014 to prepare his presidential campaign.

While a Bush spokesman has responded to concerns by saying that Bush would not have voted on every initiative of the foundation, a pro-life leader told LifeSiteNews it "stretches credibility" that Bush was unaware of the foundation's pro-abortion work, given the centrality of such work to the foundation's mission, and its scope.

LifeSiteNews reached out to Bush for comment, but did not hear back by press time. 

$50 million to 'reproductive health' and Planned Parenthood

In March of 2014, the Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $50 million undertaking to expand "reproductive health," including lobbying foreign nations to loosen restrictions on abortion.

Bloomberg announced a major partnership with Planned Parenthood-Global to train and equip abortion activists in pro-life countries.

"In 2014, we started supporting local nonprofit organizations in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda, and Nicaragua to advocate for better policies in their countries that will expand access to comprehensive reproductive health services," the foundation stated. "These organizations will receive technical assistance from Planned Parenthood Federation of America – Global Division to help augment their capacity for effective advocacy." 

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards greeted the news by saying that "governments need to play a stronger role to ensure that all women have access to the health care they need" - including abortion - "no matter who they are, no matter where they live.”

Bloomberg clarified how the partnership would work while receiving Planned Parenthood's Global Citizen Award at its annual gala last March 27.

"We'll Push for Less Restrictive Abortion Laws"

"I am happy to say our major partner in this project will be Planned Parenthood - Global," Bloomberg said. "In some countries, our funding will help advocates work towards better sexual health policies for teens and better access to contraceptives. In others, we'll help push for less restrictive abortion laws and more government funding for high-quality, accessible services."

Such advocacy was "necessary," he continued, because "there are plenty of outside interest groups funding the other side of these issues, and we cannot let them go unanswered."

"This is a fight to women control their own destinies," Bloomberg said. "And let me tell you: We are in it to help them win it, and we're gonna stay in it until they do."

"Together we can succeed," he concluded. "Thank you for this award. God bless."

As head of a foundation with $5.4 billion in assets, which awards more than $200 million a year, the three-term mayor of New York has put his money where his mouth is.

Funding Global Abortion Providers

One aspect of his philanthropy's overall health initiative is to underwrite  "reproductive health services in the most remote areas of" Tanzania. Although all grants say they are intended "to reduce maternal deaths," alongside the CDC and the World Lung Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies has funded two abortion providers.

In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies approved a  a grant of $1,818,000 for EngenderHealth, and another $250,000 for Marie Stopes International - Tanzania.

"EngenderHealth works to ensure reproductive rights of Tanzanian women and their families by integrating family planning with HIV and comprehensive abortion care services," the group states on its website. 

The group also touts the fact that its expansion to all 26 regions of the country "has also contributed to an increase in uptake of long-acting and reversible methods," especially Implanon. Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) work both by preventing conception and by "alterations in the endometrium," which can cause an early abortion by preventing implantation.

Marie Stopes is known as a global abortion provider. MSI states that it only provides "post-abortion care" in Tanzania, where abortion is legal only to save the life of the mother.

But Marie Stopes officials have admitted that the group performs illegal abortions. 

"We do illegal abortions all over the world," Paul Cornellison, the director of Marie Stopes International in South Africa, said during a Marie Stopes International conference in 2007 in London - remarks that were caught on film. "There's various options, you know, once we open a center there...if we can just get our foot in the door." 

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In other nations, Bloomberg has supported advocates of unlimited, universal abortion-on-demand.

"Abortion services should be made free...for all women and girls"

Bloomberg Philanthropies underwrites political advocacy in African and Central American nations whose laws reflect the pro-life outlook of its citizens. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) offers a glimpse into what international abortion lobbyists demand.

Between 2012 and 2014, IPPF wrote a 32-page case study on the Senegalese legal landscape, entitled Over-Protected and Under-Served. While numerous participants told researchers that abortion is "easy" to obtain and “lots of young people are having clandestine abortions,” IPPF focused on promoting "safe" abortion -- while making clear that such laws were only one components of its overall mission. 

"Advocacy efforts should focus on realizing the ultimate goal of unrestricted access to abortion services, and protection of this right under the law. Abortion services should be made free, safe, accessible and confidential for all women and girls," the report states.

The abortion industry signaled it rejects incremental aims to achieve the eventual recognition of abortion as a human right. "Anything other than full decriminalization will often lead to abortion remaining inaccessible to all but a very small number of women," the report says.

The task of pressuring government officials will fall to local activists in the nations targeted by Bloomberg because, in the words of Kelly Henning, the head of the public health program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, "We want this effort to be sustainable." 

If the effort fails, it will not be for lack of resources. In a separate component of its reproductive health plan, Bloomberg partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to enact Family Planning 2020's global reproductive and population goals.

Is Jeb "Ultimately Accountable"?

The association with Bloomberg conflicts with Jeb's record as a two-term pro-life governor of Florida who enacted parental consent laws, allowed the regulation of abortion facilities, did not allow state funds to be used for abortion counseling, and created the state's "Choose Life" license plate.

As one of more than a dozen directors - which include such distinguished names as former Sens. Sam Nunn and David Boren, currently Sen. Cory Booker, and former Bush-43 officials Elaine Chao and Hank Paulson - what responsibility does the former Florida governor bear?

The issue bubbled up in April, giving his yet-unannounced campaign an opportunity to respond.

“Governor Bush was honored to serve on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which does a lot of good work across the world,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told the Tampa Bay Times. "As a board member, Governor Bush did not vote on or approve individual projects or programs."

Although Bush and Bloomberg "disagree on several policy issues, both share a passion for improving education in America," she added - a reference to their mutual embrace of the Common Core curriculum and other policies.  

A spokeswoman for Bloomberg Philanthropies, Meghan Womack, confirmed to the newspaper that directors do not sign off on every project.

But to what extent was Bush active in the issue?

According to nonprofit norms, directors carry deep responsibility for the organizations they help lead. "Regardless of what board members are called, they are in essence the trustees in the literal and legal sense of the term," the National Center for Nonprofit Boards wrote on the responsibilities of board members. "No matter how the organization is structured or the degree of authority delegated to staff, committees, or affiliates, the board and therefore the individual trustees are ultimately accountable."

Bloomberg Philanthropies noted in a press release, "The directors will serve in an advisory and oversight capacity." Bush earned $37,100 in compensation for his nearly five years of service.

"Bush’s people are probably right that as a board member he did not vote on every project," Stephen Phelan, the director of mission communications at Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews. "But Bloomberg has been so open about his foundation’s goals for so long that it really stretches credibility to say that Bush or his people wouldn’t have known that the foundation pushes abortion and other population control efforts."

Bloomberg clarified his goals while accepting his Planned Parenthood award last year. "You can't fight every battle," he said. "The things that are high on my priority list are sensible gun laws...I obviously care about a woman's right to choose...Nobody's a bigger supporter of gay rights." He added that "we need a good immigration bill" that provides amnesty for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, "so we can continue our economy."

Bloomberg has described abortion as a "fundamental human right, elevating it to a make-or-break position. "On this issue, you’re either with us or against us.” He once cited abortion among his reasons for endorsing Barack Obama in 2012. 

Despite their differences on abortion policy, the billionaire has had no reservations supporting Jeb Bush's candidacy - even before there was one.

Last spring, he called Jeb and Hillary Clinton "two quality” candidates and "the only two who know how to make the trains run."

He also showered compliments upon Bush while introducing him to the New York State Republican Party convention in 2010. 

“I couldn’t agree more with this guy,” he said of Jeb. “If there’s anyone I would want on my side waging all those important battles and helping provide the government Americans deserve, it is our next speaker."

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Planned Parenthood says ‘extremists’ brought down website: critics say possible ‘PR stunt’

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By John Jalsevac

Updated 07/30/15 at 1:57 EST

July 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - At the same time as a fourth video exposing Planned Parenthood's practice of harvesting and selling aborted baby body parts was released Thursday morning, visitors who attempted to access Planned Parenthood's website were greeted with a message saying, "Our site is not available due to an attack by extremists."

The page announcing the attack stated that "200,000 people a day are now being blocked from information and care by this attack," and directed visitors who wanted to find out more to Planned Parenthood Action Fund's Facebook page. 

At that Facebook page, the abortion giant states that the attack is a "new low" by anti-abortion extremists, and asks for donations to help them "fight back." 

However, some are raising questions about the purported attack, pointing out that a look under the hood shows that content from the site appears to be loading without a problem from Planned Parenthood's web server, while they have categorized the "site down" message as a "campaign."

At The Federalist, Sean Davis points out that the splash page also directs users to another page at ppaction.org where they can write their "story" about where they "stand" on Planned Parenthood, in the process of which Planned Parenthood collects their personal information.

"That’s right," says Davis. "Even though ppaction.org redirects to a page saying the site was hacked, the domain still house (sic) a perfectly functional URL and page that are being actively used to help build Planned Parenthood’s fundraising list."

Some hours after the original message was put up, Planned Parenthood changed the message to say simply that the website was "undergoing maintenance."

However, in comments to CNN Wednesday, Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president, said that the website was originally brought down briefly on Wednesday by a distributed denial of service attack. “Although our websites were back online shortly after the attack, in order to ensure that we are fully protected, we’ve made the decision to take our website offline for a day,” she said, according to Jezebel.

The alleged attack comes days after Planned Parenthood had issued a statement claiming that "extremists" opposed to their agenda, "have called on the world’s most sophisticated hackers to assist them in breaching our systems and threatening the privacy and safety of our staff members."

At that time LifeSiteNews spoke with cybersecurity experts who said the attack appeared to be legitimate, but that it was not as sophisticated as Planned Parenthood claimed, given the outdated version of the abortion behemoth’s webserver.

The abortion giant has been reeling in recent weeks from a series of undercover videos, which appear to show high level Planned Parenthood staff negotiating to profit from the sale of body parts harvested from aborted babies. The videos have also shown the staff describing how they alter the abortion procedure to procure the best specimens possible.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

"Planned Parenthood says it’s been hacked by 'extremists,' but a review of the publicly available evidence suggests that the only things being hacked at Planned Parenthood right now are perfectly healthy and viable unborn babies," said Davis.

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