Cheryl Sullenger

Mississippi abortion clinic deceptively hides abortion abuses in court challenge

Cheryl Sullenger
By Cheryl Sullenger

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, June 29, 2012, (Operation Rescue) – The Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO), the last abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, filed a suit in Federal Court in an effort to block the July 1 implementation of a new law that would require all abortionists to have privileges at a local hospital. Operation Rescue has learned that the clinic’s court pleadings omit key information about their primary abortionist’s botched abortion history in a deceptive gambit to conceal the truth about his atrocious safety record.

Operation Rescue has obtained court documents filed on behalf of JWHO by the radical pro-abortion legal group, the Center for Reproductive Rights, that show dubious arguments and suspicious claims as the basis for the abortion clinic’s court challenge, including an attempt to hide the identity of their primary abortionist to keep the court from discovering his involvement in the hospitalization of three abortion patients and other abuses that led to the state ordered closure of the Birmingham abortion clinic where he worked.

[All court documents filed in this case as of this writing are available at]

JWHO, owned by the infamous “abortion queen” Diane Derzis, is seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the clinic open, but in court documents filed June 28, the Mississippi State Department of Health states that it plans to conduct a compliance inspection on Monday, July 2. JWHO has said that it will be impossible for them to come into compliance by that date. If it cannot comply, the abortion clinic will eventually be forced to close.

Covering Up for “Dr. John Doe”

JWHO states in court records that it employs three abortion providers. One abortionist apparently does have local hospital privileges, but only supplies abortions at JWHO on an infrequent basis.

Documents refer to “Dr. John Doe” as being “the sole physician providing abortion care on a regular basis” at JWHO until abortionist Willie Parker was hired on June 18, 2012. Parker’s declaration states that he flies to Jackson “once a month” to conduct abortions. Parker’s name is featured as a plaintiff on the law suit. “Dr. Doe” is not a named plaintiff – an intentional omission meant to conceal “Doe’s” troubled past.

“Dr. Doe” is none other than Bruce Elliot Norman, who was employed until recently at New Woman All Women (NWAW), a Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic formerly owned by Derzis. Norman was the abortionist on duty on January 21, 2012, when three abortion patients were hospitalized – one in intensive care – for life threatening abortion complications. After pro-life activists filed complaints, the Alabama Department of Health (ADOH) discovered 76 pages of deficiencies and ordered the clinic closed.

An additional complaint against Norman was filed by Operation Rescue with the Medical Board. That complaint is still under investigation.

“There can be no doubt that JWHO is trying to white-wash the dangers of Norman’s abortions by putting Parker front and center in their law suit. Parker has had no complications in Jackson yet because he’s only been employed by them for eleven days,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. “The court is clearly being misled about the safety of abortions by JWHO staff.”

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In fact, the JWHO claims in court documents that “the Clinic has an impeccable safety record.” It further states that since Derzis took over ownership of the clinic in 2010, “the Clinic has had no major incidents, nor has a single patient required admittance to the emergency room after receiving an abortion at the Clinic.”

Yet, in Alabama, Derzis was ordered not to have any affiliation with the NWAW abortion clinic because of the appalling and dangerous way her abortion business was conducted. JWHO uses the same business model and the same primary abortionist.

Three hospitalizations in one day

Pro-life activists photographed two of Norman’s patients being hand-carried out of the Birmingham abortion clinic to gurneys waiting in a trash-strewn alley after being overdosed on Vasopressin by a clinic worker. Vasopressin is used to treat excessive bleeding. They filed complaints with the ADOH.

The ADOH discovered a third victim of Norman’s during a chart review while conducting an investigation into the abortion-related drug overdoses.

That patient reported for an abortion at 16 weeks gestation – the upper limit for abortions at JWCO – with multiple risk factors that increased her chances for serious complications. Norman took an hour to do the Dilation and Extraction (dismemberment) abortion. At one point he stopped and ordered Pitocin, a drug that increases the intensity of uterine contractions, for the patient because he was having difficulty with the procedure. The patient was not monitored while the Pitocin was given, in violation of patient standards of care. The abortion was later completed, but complications handed the patient in the hospital’s Intensive Care ward.

Norman’s “blatantly false” records

The ADOH deficiency report indicated that notations made on the patient charts were illegible, nonsensical, or just blatantly false. For example, one record showed the patient’s procedure time nearly an hour after her documented discharge.

Norman indicated on two charts that the women were “Ambulatory, d/ced [discharged] with no distress”, meaning they walked out of the clinic in good condition. However, those patients were the same ones who were transported to a local hospital in January after having suffered a drug overdose administrated by an inadequately trained nurse.

Norman made notes on some records that he performed ultrasounds on abortion patients the same day as their abortions, prior to their surgeries as state law mandates. However, the survey team discovered several ultrasound photos dated days after a patient had an abortion.

The survey team also found that records that had been forwarded to them before the investigation had been altered when they arrived on-site.

A botched abortion and other documented violations at JWHO

In 2008, an ambulance was called to JWHO to transport a critically injured abortion patient to the hospital. A pro-life activist photographed the event. A confidential source tells Operation Rescue that the abortion on duty that day was Bruce Elliot Norman, even though other records show that the clinic covered this incident by claiming another abortionist was actually on duty that day.

On August 28, 2009, the Mississippi Department of Health issued a 29-page deficiency report that included 18 violations discovered by state inspectors. The report stated that JWHO failed to ensure that all employees were trained in emergency resuscitation, failed to enforce their own policies regarding access to medications, and failed to keep the abortion suites clean and sanitary. In fact, inspectors discovered that medical waste, including aborted baby remains, were being improperly stored in cardboard boxes next to the recovery room at a temperature of 68 degrees.

Many of the clinic staff employed at the time of these incidents continue to work at JWCO today, including the clinic administrator.

“Deception is a way of life.”

“It is vitally important for the court to know the full truth about the abortionists who are working at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” said Newman who first recommended the hospital privilege requirement to a Mississippi pro-life lobbyist who pressed forward with the bill. “The court should also consider the fact that Derzis and Norman employed deceptive practices to cover up for abortion injuries and to avoid legal consequences. Based on what we have seen, for these people deception is a way of life.”

That deception continues by omitting Norman’s troubles from the Federal Court in Jackson, Mississippi.

“It appears that Parker was an eleventh-hour hire because the abortion clinic needed someone without Norman’s dirty record in order to portray abortions in Mississippi as being safer than they really are,” said Newman.

Dubious health endangerment claims

JWCO’s suit argues that it must be allowed to say open, even if it cannot comply with the hospital privilege safety law, because its closure would “threaten the health of women seeking abortions.”

“JWCO’s argument turns the truth on its head. In reality, with abortionists like Bruce Norman manning the abortion rooms, there is documented evidence that the health of women is in dire peril,” said Newman. “The abortion clinic and its shady abortionists are the true danger to women. Again, theirs is a smoke-and-mirrors deceptive claim with no basis in fact.”

Closure will not be immediate

As JWCO faces a July 1 compliance deadline, the Department of Health’s own procedures could delay closure for weeks or months. According to court documents filed on June 28 by Michael Lucius, the state’s Deputy Health Officer, the Health Department will have 10 working days from the inspection to file a deficiency report. JWCO will then have 10 calendar days to file a “reasonable” corrective plan. After that, the Health Department will again inspect to determine compliance. If the clinic still is in violation, a notice of intent to revoke its license will be mailed. If the clinic requests it, a hearing will be scheduled. Hearing decisions can be appealed. Mississippi law allows for the status quo of the licensee to be preserved until the final disposition of the matter, which could take several months.

“We had hoped the clinic would close on July 2, but unfortunately, that will not happen,” said Newman. “While we regret the delay, we have every confidence that the system will work and that the Jackson Women’s Health Organization will eventually close.

“The provision mandating that abortionists hold privileges at local hospitals is a reasonable and necessary safety measure that has already been upheld in court. If JWCO cannot meet this minimum safety requirement, then it is in the best interest of the public for it to close. When abortion clinics close, lives are saved. That’s not a bad thing for anyone except the abortionists.”

View Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s profile page at (with links to court documents).

This article originally appeared on the website of Operation Rescue and is reprinted with permission.

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People in front of the Bar Hotel Le Carillon street Alliber in tribute to victims of the Nov. 13, 2015 terrorist attack in Paris at the Bataclan. Frederic Legrand - COMEO /
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent


Islamic terror is the perfect pretext for a crackdown on Christians: it’s happening in France

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, November 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Paris terrorist attacks are one week old tonight. A form of psychosis has seized the French capital: the big department stores have seen their sales plummet as tourists avoid popular venues. Restaurants and cafés are struggling to get by with 50 or 60 percent less customers, and even my local supermarket was almost empty on Thursday evening at its usual rush hour of 7 p.m. It’s not that people are mourning because of what happened. They are worried about what is still to come. There are millions of Muslims in France, with many more coming in due to the “migrants’ crisis” goaded on by Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. It was she who insisted that the hundreds of thousands of Africans, Syrians, Iraqis… who are dreaming of peace and a better life in Europe, should be welcomed in. Several terrorists had come along with the stream.

Consciously or not, everyone is waiting for the next shooting spree or the next suicide bomb. Last time around, when the attack hit Charlie-Hebdo, people weren’t so scared. Those who died, after all, had been targeted as “blasphemers” against the “Prophet.” On Friday night, the victims were ordinary, carefree Parisians enjoying drinks or supper on a mellow autumn evening in one of the more trendy quarters of Paris; there were students and young professionals; fans of “Eagles of Death Metal” who were enjoying a rock concert at the well-known venue, Le Bataclan – but more about that later.

A meeting of the Association of French Mayors this week, days after the horrific events in Paris, came up with an idea: let’s ban Nativity scenes from all public places. 

These were people many can identify with. From now on, anyone can be a target.

The faces of the eight known terrorists and suicide bombers who killed 130 people in six coordinated attacks are both familiar and frightening: frightening because they are familiar. There are so many of those faces in the suburbs of Pais and of all the large French towns. So many veiled women, so many young men wearing traditional Arab garb and Mohammad-like beards.

The French authorities are falling over themselves saying there is no link between Islam and last week’s dramatic events. The killers – so the story goes – are in no way representative of the religion they invoke and Allah would not agree. Islam is a religion of “tolerance” and “love,” the saying goes. Government members avoid even mentioning Islam when speaking about the attacks.

This is where schizophrenia sets in. While pleading for “Fraternity,” especially with France’s immigrant Muslim population, the powers that be also insist that “secularism” – laïcité – is the only possible answer to Friday’s attacks. But if absence of religion, in the public square at least, is France’s only hope today, that means the war being fought by Jihadists is a religious one: a “Holy war.” And so it is, in their eyes: a war against the decadent West in which they also see Islam’s ancestral enemy, the “crusaders.”

Modern-day France, it does not need to be said, has no “crusaders” and precious little believing and practicing Catholics. If Islam, and radical, Koran-following Muslims have gained ground here it is not primarily because of social problems and poverty in the suburbs, as the authorities would have it: it is because of the gaping void left by the steady abandonment of Christianity and respect for life and traditional values.

The killers in Paris’ trendy 11th arrondissement and the Bataclan were mostly brought up in French or Belgian State schools where secularism is obligatory, even if Muslim communities are strong enough to obtain de facto privileges in a number of schools, like halal meals at the school canteens and a flexible response to absenteeism during Islamic holidays.

With the new attack, the French government’s main response is to give them more of the same: more “secularism,” Prime Minister Valls insisted, more “Republican values.” “We know that the battle to confront the ruptures in our society and this rise of radical Islamism, to defend our values and secularism, comes through schools and through culture,” he told the press last Tuesday.

Secularism has been part and parcel of the French State education system since teaching religious congregations were violently cast out at the end of the 19th century and the Republic took over the education of France’s children. Since then, the religious have come back and there is now a thriving, but not always outspoken network of Catholic schools that remain under pressure of the State – which pays the teachers – and are required to follow stringent rules and official curricula. Schools with full freedom also exist, marginally, but receive no financial help at all.

Putting all religions on the same plane and placing secularism above them as a requirement for the French to be able to live alongside each other in peace has long been a main feature of the public, free education system. With the arrival of François Hollande and his socialist government, things became – if possible – even worse. Former Education Minister Vincent Peillon, to whom “secularism is a religion,” said in 2012: “The objective of secular morals is to allow each pupil to emancipate himself, because the beginning point of secularism is in absolute respect of the freedom of conscience. In order to give liberty of choice, one has to be capable of tearing pupils away from every deterministic constraint pertaining to the family or ethnicity, social and intellectual, so as to make choices after that.”

Peillon introduced the teaching of “lay morals” – which have nothing to do with natural law but with relativist respect for all opinions and “non-discrimination” – and his successors have created a “charte de la laïcité”, a “Charter for secularism” which all parents are expected to sign when entering their children in State schools. But laws exist – even though they are not fully implemented – that allow the State to control what is taught to any child in France, be they home-schooled, in an independent, Catholic or State school.

“Secularism” and “the right to blaspheme” were France’s answer to the January attack against Charlie Hebdo. Secularism is being brandished again as a correct and non-discriminatory response to Fridays’ killings.

Already, several French media have drawn parallels between the madmen of Allah and Catholic traditionalists or just Christians – those who participated in the “Manif pour tous” against same-sex “marriage.” A popular child psychiatrist, Aldo Nouri, told parents to talk with their children about the attacks, and to explain that radicalism and extremism can be found anywhere. Tell them, he said, that many religions have killed in the name of their faith; also Catholics and even atheists, in Russia.

He did not evoke the “Terreur” in France through which the Revolution subdued revolts in the 1790, killing thousands of Catholics, priests, religious and laypeople…

Acting against the Muslims while pretending not to: this is one way the call on secularism as a solution can be seen. But in practice, this relativist stance has disarmed France and is opening the way to persecution against the faithful of its historic religion, Catholicism.

This already exists insofar as pro-life and pro-marriage campaigners are brushed aside as backwards fundamentalists who are trying to force their religious views on the “secular Republic.” Because Muslims pray in a number of streets in Paris and elsewhere, a communitarian display of force, Front National leader Marine Le Pen – whose star is on the ascendant – has said she also opposes Catholic pro-life public prayers in the streets.

France is not exactly choosing the path that will allow it to stand up to terrorism with its true values.

The main terrorist attack last Friday happened at a rock concert when the American group Eagles of Death Metal, which had attracted 1,500 spectators at the Bataclan, were just beginning to sing their hit, Kiss the Devil. The lyrics might have been written as a joke but the words are clear: “Who’ll love the devil? Who’ll sing his song?… I’ll love the devil and his song.”

A diocesan priest, Fr. Hervé Benoît, commented on the news site Riposte catholique : “Look at the photos of the spectators, moments before the tragedy… They are living dead. Their assassins, the ‘haschishin zombies’, are their Siamese twins. How can one not see this? It is so obvious! The same uprooting, the same amnesia, the same infantilism, the same lack of culture… A drama of atheist humanism, that loves the devil, death, violence, and says so – and died because of it. The sign of death and chaos does not only hover over Paris on a cursed Friday evening. 130 deaths are horrible. What about 600 deaths? That’s the amount of abortions in France on that same day.”

At the Bataclan, another song was to have been played: “Save a prayer.” “Don't say a prayer for me now /Save it 'til the morning after.” Many foreign heads of state sent their condolences to France with a prayer. The French leftwing press has rejected those prayers saying France needs everything but.

A meeting of the Association of French Mayors this week, days after the horrific events in Paris, came up with an idea: let’s ban Nativity scenes from all public places. Having a proper law to make sure that no town hall can have a “crèche” at Christmas was one of the major proposals made in a report that the Association had been working on in the wake of the Charlie-Hebdo attack in January. Their “Guide for good secularist conduct” was presented on Wednesday and their president, Republican François Baroin, explained: “It is up to us, who are elected and close to the population, to hold up secularism, which is at the same time a condition for community life and a means to emancipate human beings.”

That is how secularism gives in to Islam.

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A shot from the play "Fear," by homosexual Falk Richter.
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Pro-family leaders attacked by arson after German play depicts them being mutilated on stage

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski
The van and business of pro-family 'Demo for All’ was destroyed by arsonists Nov. 2, 2015.

BERLIN, November 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Five defenders of marriage and family in Germany were portrayed in a Berlin theater last month as zombies that can only die by receiving a bullet to the head. Within hours of the premiere, one of the women portrayed had her vehicle torched and destroyed by arsonists. A week after that, another woman portrayed also had her vehicle torched, with the fire spreading to her pro-family business, gutting it completely.

“The battle for life and the family is moving to a new stage, as attacks start to shift from verbal to physical,” said Gabriele Kuby, one of the women portrayed in the play, to LifeSiteNews.

On October 24, Berlin theater Schaubühne premiered “Fear,” a play by homosexual Falk Richter that literally demonizes what he calls “proponents of simplistic world views” who advocate for defining what it “means to be a man, a woman or a family…in the most one- dimensional terms.”

In “Fear,” actors appear on stage wearing facial blowups of pro-family activists taped to their heads. They read portions of speeches given by the people they represent, which are then mocked and derided. At various points in the play, the pro-family activists are portrayed as Nazis as well as zombies risen from the grave. At another point, actors viciously poke out the eyes from the images of the protagonists, leaving gaping black sockets.

"The battle for life and the family is moving to a new stage, as attacks start to shift from verbal to physical."

An actor tells the audience at one point: "The zombie dies only when you shoot directly into his brain and his brain dies. That's the only way. The zombie seeks world domination. The zombie is directed against the survival of humanity. He is the undead."

Germany’s homosexual magazine Männer said the title of the play is meant to ridicule those who fear to embrace the changing moral and cultural landscape where homosexuality, transgenderism, and multiculturalism is all the rage. “[Their views] are nothing else but homophobia,” a writer in the magazine stated.

The play targeted five pro-family activists:

  • Beatrix von Storch, Member of the European Parliament for Germany’s “right-wing” party Alternative for Germany [Alternative für Deutschland] (ADF). The party opposed the legalization of homosexual “marriage” and has taken a strong stance against the threat arising from immigration.
  • Frauke Petry, ADF’s leader.
  • Hedwig von Beverfoerde, head of Demo for All [Demo für alle], the pro-family organization behind the regular demonstrations in Stuttgart protesting the implementation of an aggressive LGBT school curriculum.
  • Birgit Kelle, a high profile journalist, who advocates for a “new feminism” where women can decide to stay at home and raise their own children without discrimination. She has described movements pushing for “gender equality” and gender mainstreaming” as “brainwashing.”
  • Gabriele Kuby, sociologist, author, and social commentator, well-known for her criticism of “gender ideology.”

Hours after the premiere, on October 25 near midnight, pro-family politician Beatrix von Storch became the first victim of an arson attack on her car.


Heute Nacht wurde mein Auto abgefackelt. Wer die Hetze gegen die AfD mitgemacht hat und sich jetzt nicht davon scharf...

Posted by Beatrix von Storch on Monday, October 26, 2015

Then, one week later, arsonists torched the van of traditional-family advocate Hedwig von Beverfoerde. The fire spread to the nearby headquarters of her family’s business, completely destroying it.

Von Beverfoerde connected the attack to the Berlin Theater.

“It’s striking that this insidious attack from the extreme left-wing milieu happened only a few days after the premiere of the play ‘Fear’ at the Schaubühne in Berlin,” she posted on Facebook November 2.

Von Beverfoerde said she would not be so easily dissuaded from continuing her demonstrations on behalf of protecting children’s innocence.

“Demo For All cannot be burned down. Our commitment to marriage and family is unchanged,” she said.


Ihr könnt Autos abfackeln, Ihr könnt Häuser anzünden, aber eines steht fest: DEMO FÜR ALLE könnt Ihr nicht niederbrennen!Wir lassen nicht nach!

Posted by Demo für Alle on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When German Catholic blogger and philosopher Dr. Josef Bordat reported and commented on the arson attacks, he received several death threats, forcing him to suspend his blog out of fear of assault.

"Their ready use of force seems virtually limitless. The complete, even physical, destruction of their enemy is the goal they want to achieve," Bordat wrote on Facebook.

But the play’s director called it “absurd” for people to make a connection between the play and the subsequent acts of violence against the individuals it depicts, stating in an opinion piece posted on the theater’s website earlier this month that the production merely “explores in a satirical way what are the right-wing nationalist and religious fundamentalist currents in today's Germany.”

But “gender ideology” critic Gabriele Kuby thinks otherwise. “The entire play is simply a mad incitement to hatred and violence,” she told LifeSiteNews. “We are portrayed as zombies and as dangerous, hateful Nazis. People are told how to shoot zombies in the head. And now there is physical violence — putting cars on fire — against people working to protect the family,” she said.

Kuby said that lawyers are investigating the theater for possible charges involving slander. In the meantime, “Fear” is scheduled to run again in January.

Contact information:

Berlin theater Schaubühne
Maren Dey, Public Relations
Ph: + 49.30.89002-147
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @schaubuehne

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Lisa Bourne and Patrick B. Craine

U.S. Bishops clash as Pope Francis appointees push to downplay battle for life and family

Lisa Bourne and Patrick B. Craine
By Lisa Bourne
Galveston Houston's Cardinal Daniel DiNardo speaks at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A group of Pope Francis’ episcopal appointees and other like-minded prelates provoked an open clash at the American Catholic bishops’ fall meeting in Baltimore this week as they pressed the conference to rewrite its election guide for 2016 to downplay the importance of the battle for life and family.

Ahead of a vote on a revision to the bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Bishop Robert McElroy made a pointed argument that the document was out of step with Pope Francis’ priorities -- specifically, by putting too much emphasis on abortion and euthanasia, and not enough on poverty and the environment.

The revised document, and the new introductory note, were the fruit of roughly 16 months of “painstaking work” by some 12 USCCB committees.

The bishops have released the document every four years since 2007, as a resource for Catholics ahead of every election cycle. The release is specifically timed for the year prior to each cycle to avoid giving the appearance of attempting to sway a particular election.

The purpose of the update was to refocus the policy areas of focus in light of cultural developments since the document’s 2007 inception and clarify some areas of Catholic social teaching, incorporating the later teaching documents of Pope Benedict and all of those from Pope Francis. The revision included adding 25 new quotes from Pope Francis, on issues such as the environment, immigration, religious liberty, and poverty.

The updates address recent developments in the U.S. in both domestic and foreign policy on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, the legal definition of homosexual "marriage" and its increasing prevalence across the country, materialism and the environment, deadly religious persecution throughout the world, religious freedom issues as they pertain to personal conscience and the Church's ability to perform ministry, economic policy concerning the poor, the immigration issue and refugee crisis, and wars, terror and violence in general.

Interpreting Pope Francis

Despite the bevy of new quotes from Pope Francis, a few bishops proposed scrapping the entire document on the claim that it doesn’t reflect the current pope’s “radical transformation of priorities.”

In his address, Bishop McElroy, appointed as head of the Diocese of San Diego by Pope Francis in March, acknowledged that the working group had carried out the mandate given it by the Conference, but said that mandate was in “serious error” and had created a “profoundly difficult choice” for the bishops.

“The problem is we are not living in 2007,” he told the assembly, and said the working group had no choice but to keep the structure of the document and prioritization of issues in place.

“And that does not take into account the fact that Pope Francis has in certain aspects of the social doctrine of the Church, radically transformed the prioritization of Catholic social teaching and its elements,” Bishop McElroy said. “Not the truth of them, not the substance of them, but the prioritization of them, has radically transformed that, in articulating the claims that fall upon the citizen as believer and disciple of Jesus Christ. This document does not do that.”

He said the document failed because it denies the pope’s emphasis on poverty and the environment. “On the key and central point of its failure I think it is this, if I understand Pope Francis correctly, it is, that the issues of poverty, particularly global poverty with all its victimization of men and women and families across the world, and children, that global poverty and the degradation of the earth, which threaten the whole of our humanity, that these two issues lie at the very center and core of Catholic social teaching as priorities for us in every public policy position. And this is not reflected in this document.”

Bishop McElroy advocated the idea that poverty and the environment are on the par with defense of life, inferring that holding life as the preeminent issue was an outdated mindset. “Specifically, I believe that the pope is telling us that alongside the issues of abortion and euthanasia which are central aspects of our commitment to transform this world, poverty and the degradation of the earth are also central,” he stated. “But this document keeps to the structure of world view of 2007. It does not put those there.”

“In the specific areas where it weighs out how does the voter make a decision, it tilts in favor of abortion and euthanasia and excludes poverty and the environment,” the bishop said, also supposing that pro-life supporters had twisted the document’s message in the past for their own ends. “It provides a warrant for those who will misuse the document outside this room, to exclude poverty and exclude the environment as key issues, and say they are secondary and cite this document as they have done for the past two electoral cycles.”

The working group’s representative, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, responded with a frank criticism of McElroy’s use of Pope Francis to push his argument. In a comment that earned him applause from many of the bishops, DiNardo said:

Well my initial comments, and I think the group will be with me on this, is that ours is a hermeneutic of continuity, here, Bishop. As you say yourself, "IF I read him correctly." We think we've also read him correctly, and we also believe that the way we have organized this, admittedly in a structure that pre-existed, but with real attentiveness to the pastoral ministry and the magisterium of Pope Francis, that we have brought in those considerations, perhaps not to your satisfaction and to the rhetorical floor issues with which you bring them, but I think that we have brought to light an important dimension of what Pope Francis and the later ministry of Pope Benedict is. And I do believe the document is still very useful for teaching.

Document lacks mercy in ‘current climate’?

McElroy’s intervention against the document was joined by others from the U.S. Bishops’ progressive camp.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas, head of the Diocese of Tucson since Pope John Paul II appointed him in 2003, was the first to suggest rejecting the revised document, and the introductory note, and starting over. “I think we need a new document,” he said. “I think it was a mistake really to try to revise a document from 2007, when so much has happened since then. I think the tone and the content needs to be looked at much more carefully if it’s to be a teaching document.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo took issue with that criticism as well, responding that updating the document was what the committees were tasked with. “We pretty vigorously disagree with you that it’s not a helpful teaching document,” he said. “We think it is a good teaching document.”

The cardinal went on to explain that Faithful Citizenship was a resource that could be considered supplemental to what a bishop might do to provide teaching in his own diocese.

Bishop John Stowe, appointed by Pope Francis to oversee the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, in March 2015, concurred with Bishop Kicanas that a lot has changed since 2007, and advocated starting over. He suggested “in retrospect” that the bishops think about the document in light of Pope Francis’ recent U.S. visit and the Year of Mercy, opining that it could be seen as lacking in mercy.

“I’m glad to see the corrections of the ‘intrinsically evil’ language that was in there, the modification of that language,” Bishop Stowe said. “But I’m struck by Pope Francis’ line in his Bull of Indiction for the Year of Mercy, that, ‘Nothing in the Church’s preaching and witness can be lacking in mercy.’ And I’m not certain that’s how this document will be received in the current climate. So I think it does, even if it’s too late, it does merit some consideration for beginning anew.”

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, Pope Francis’ most significant U.S. appointment to date, added his voice to Bishop McElroy’s in a video interview with America magazine after the debate.

“I think it was a real high moment ... for the conference because he spoke in a way that was really very educated, very erudite and informative. I think it gave us all an opportunity to think about the issues that he raised,” Cupich said.

“As Bishop McElroy noted, the issues of global poverty and the degradation of the environment now need to be put in that first tier of issues,” he continued. “It doesn’t diminish the effectiveness, or the impact or importance of those other issues. But others now have to be joined in that.”

Faithful Citizenship adopted

The session ended with Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl speaking in favor of Faithful Citizenship as revised and with the new introduction, so as to have something to release this year.

“I think we have a good working document,” Cardinal Wuerl said, even if it didn’t satisfy everyone. “I would not want the perfect to become the enemy of the good,” he continued. “I think we have a good working document. It’s not perfect, but short of heaven, we’re never going to get anything all together perfect.”

Toward the end of that session’s discussion, just after Bishop McElroy spoke, someone had handed Cardinal DiNardo a note at the front podium.

“By the way,” Cardinal DiNardo stated, acknowledging the note. “Pope Francis cited Faithful Citizenship in his document Evangelii Gaudium. So, in fact, at least to some extent, Faithful Citizenship is certainly not opposed, and perhaps even likable to Pope Francis.”

After additional discussion at a subsequent session, and some more support both for abandoning the document and moving forward with it, the bishops adopted the introductory note in a vote of 217-16, with two abtaining, and adopted the revised document in a vote of 210-21, with five abstaining.

Giving cover for Catholics to vote pro-abortion

Faithful Citizenship has drawn strong criticism in the past for wording that opens the door for Catholics to support pro-abortion politicians -- in particular in the last two election cycles, Barack Obama, commonly acknowledged as the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history.

Cardinal Raymond Burke told LifeSiteNews in 2009 that the document, in fact, bore part of the blame for Obama’s election in 2008 because of the confusion it caused among the faithful. “While [Faithful Citizenship] stated that the issue of life was the first and most important issue, it went on in some specific areas to say ‘but there are other issues’ that are of comparable importance without making necessary distinctions,” said Burke, then an archbishop and prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura.

“The economic situation, or opposition to the war in Iraq, or whatever it may be, those things don’t rise to the same level as something that is always and everywhere evil, namely the killing of innocent and defenceless human life.” 


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