John Westen

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New U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican slams pro-life CRS critics in first week

John Westen
John Westen

ROME, October 29, 2013 ( - Only four days after formally beginning his post as the new US ambassador to the Vatican, Ken Hackett, the former head of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) took a swipe at pro-life Americans who criticized CRS for funding groups promoting abortion and contraception.  Hackett was interviewed days after presenting his credentials to Pope Francis.

In interviews he called for diplomacy in dealings between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church, yet his comments about Catholic pro-lifers were less than diplomatic.

When questioned about the rocky relations between the U.S. Bishops and the Obama Administration and how that might play out in his role at the Vatican, Hackett told the National Catholic Reporter that he felt no negative effects at all. “I believe there are far more issues where our government agrees with the Holy See as opposed to the relatively few areas of disagreement, and that's where I'll put my emphasis,” he said.

When reporter John Allen followed up asking if he was concerned about giving cover to an Administration considered by some as hostile, Hackett added, “I also believe that when there are disagreements, we have to dialogue rather than throwing bricks at one another.”

Allen also questioned Hackett about sharp criticisms CRS has received from American Life League and other organizations for their funding of pro-abortion groups.  After praising CRS and claiming to have heard only praise and gratitude for CRS from Rome, Hackett threw a barb at critics of CRS.

“In general, I wouldn't put much stock in detractors who don't have mud under their toes because they haven't been working in the tough places,” he said.

American Life League’s Michael Hichborn responded to Hackett’s remark in an interview with LifeSiteNews.  “Given that Ken Hackett raked in over $300,000 per year in the last two years he worked for an organization that ostensibly fights poverty, I have to wonder just how much mud he got under his toes," said Hichborn.

Tax filings from Catholic Relief Services indicate that Hackett received $322,394 in reportable compensation in 2011 and $325,000 in 2010.

Hichborn also noted that campaign records indicate that Hackett was a donor to the Obama campaign in 2012, well after “Obama made clear that he is waging a war against babies and the Catholic Church.”

Dr. Monica Miller, founder and Director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society — an activist pro-life group that she founded in 1986, offered a pointed critique of the remarks by the new US Ambassador to the Vatican. Dr. Miller, a pioneer of the pro-life rescue movement and a veteran sidewalk counsellor told LifeSiteNews, Hackett’s ‘detractors’ remark was “ignorant and irresponsible.” 

“Hackett should spend 10 minutes outside of an abortion clinic trying to talk women out of an abortion, or 10 minutes helping out in a crisis pregnancy center where human lives are on the line-- where life and death decisions are made every day, and where pro-lifers come face to face with the culture of death in it's most desperate, hideous instance,” she said. “He should go with pro-lifers who help the most needy and broken women in the most dangerous and depressed neighborhoods such as pro-lifers do every week in Detroit. And he should have the experience of retrieving the dead and dismembered bodies of the innocent aborted unborn from trash containers.”

“Such pro-lifers may not have ‘mud under their toes’--instead they have the blood of the innocent under their finger nails-- rescuing them from their trash dumpster cradles-- a tragedy I personally know, having come face to face with the victims of abortion,” added Miller.

Stephen Phelan, Communications Director for Human Life International, another of the main pro-life groups raising concerns about Catholic Relief Services, took issue with Hackett’s dismissal of real concerns with the Obama Administration.

“Mr. Hackett wants to focus on ‘areas of agreement’ between the Obama administration and the Vatican, and overlook the slaughter of millions of innocents countenanced every year by this administration as part of its ‘human development’ strategy. How is any substantive dialogue on human rights and development supposed to occur when the administration categorically rejects the Catholic Church’s understanding of human rights, which she holds are rooted in the nature every human person from conception until death?”

However, Hackett’s views on issues related to family planning may be a lot closer to the Obama Administration’s than to those of the Vatican.  American Life League’s Michael Hichborn points out that Hackett’s review of Jeffrey Sach’s book The End of Poverty praises the controversial work as “a positive force for the cause of development and a must-read for anyone interested in the subject.” It is, he added, “a call to action for all of us who feel called to make a preferential option to the poorest of the poor."  

“The Central theme of the book is that Babies Equal Poverty, and an essential way to bring populations out of poverty is to reduce their fertility rates,” explained Hichborn. “The only explanation I can conceive is that Hackett actually agreed with the central philosophy of the book, and given his donations to Obama and the disastrous CRS funding that took place under his leadership, I believe this to be the case.”

Read John Allen’s full interview with Ken Hackett.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Clinton: US needs to help refugee rape victims… by funding their abortions

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

CLINTON, Iowa, November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that U.S. taxpayers should be on the hook for abortions for refugees impregnated through rape.

"I do think we have to take a look at this for conflict zones," Clinton said at an Iowa town hall, according to CNN. "And if the United States government, because of very strong feelings against it, maintains our prohibition, then we are going to have to work through non-profit groups and work with other counties to ... provide the support and medical care that a lot of these women need."

Clinton also said that "systematic use of rape as a tool of war and subjection is one that has been around from the beginning of history" but that it has become "even more used by a lot of the most vicious militias and insurgent groups and terrorist groups."

The prohibition referenced by Clinton – and named by the woman who asked Clinton about pregnant refugees – is known as the Helms Amendment. Made into law in 1973, it prevents U.S. foreign aid funds from being used for abortion.

Abortion supporters have urged the Obama administration to unilaterally change its interpretation of the amendment to allow exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, and if the mother's life is in danger. They argue that because the law specifically states that "[n]o foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning," women who are raped should be excepted.

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In August, 81 Democrats signed a letter to President Obama that urged this course of action. CNN reported that while Clinton didn't call for the Helms Amendment to be changed or re-interpreted, she did support other actions to increase women's access to abortion facilities.

If the United States "can't help them [to get an abortion], then we have to help them in every other way and to get other people to at least provide the options" to women raped in conflict, she said.

"They will be total outcasts if they have the child of a terrorist or the child of a militia member," according to Clinton. "Their families won't take them, their communities won't take them."

A study of women who bore their rape-conceived children during the Rwanda genocide found that "motherhood played a positive role for many women, often providing a reason to live again after the genocide."

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Cardinal George Pell Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews
Andrew Guernsey

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Cardinal Pell bets against the odds: insists Pope Francis will strongly reaffirm Catholic tradition

Andrew Guernsey
By Andrew Guernsey


ROME, November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Contradicting the statements of some of the pope’s closest advisors, the Vatican’s financial chief Cardinal George Pell has declared that Pope Francis will re-assert and “clarify” longstanding Church teaching and discipline that prohibits Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried in public adultery without sacramental confession and amendment of life.

In a homily on Monday, Pell stressed the importance of fidelity to the pope, especially today as “we continue to look also to the successor of St. Peter as that guarantee of unity in doctrine and practice.”

Pell was offering Mass at the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome on the feast of Pope St. Clement I, notable in history for being one of the first popes to exert Roman papal primacy to correct the errors in the doctrine and abuses in discipline which other bishops were allowing.

Turning to address the issues at the Synod on the Family, Pell rebuked those who “wanted to say of the recent Synod, that the Church is confused and confusing in her teaching on the question of marriage,” and he insisted that the Church will always remain faithful to “Jesus’ own teaching about adultery and divorce” and “St. Paul’s teaching on the proper dispositions to receive communion.” Pell argues that the possibility of Communion for those in adultery is “not even mentioned in the Synod document.”

Pell asserted that Pope Francis is preparing “to clarify for the faithful what it means to follow the Lord…in His Church in our World.” He said, “We now await the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation, which will express again the Church’s essential tradition and emphasize that the appeal to discernment and the internal forum can only be used to understand better God’s will as taught in the scriptures and by the magisterium and can never be used to disregard, distort or refute established Church teaching.”

STORY: Vatican Chief of Sacraments: No pope can change divine law on Communion

The final document of the synod talks about the “internal forum” in paragraphs 84-86, refers to private discussions between a parish priest and a member of the faithful, to educate and form their consciences and to determine the “possibility of fuller participation in the life of the Church,” based on their individual circumstances and Church teaching. The selective quoting of John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio that omitted his statement ruling out the possibility of Communion for those in public adultery has given liberals hope that this “fuller participation” could include reception of Communion.

Pell’s prediction that the pope will side with the orthodox side of this controversy lends two explanations. On one reading, Pell is uncertain what the pope will do in his post-synodal exhortation, but he is using such firm language as a way of warning the pope that he must clearly uphold Church teaching and practice, or else he would risk falling into heresy at worst or grave negligence at best in upholding the unity of the Church.

On another reading, Pell may have inside information, even perhaps from the pope himself, that he will uphold Church teaching and practice on Communion for those in public adultery, that the pope’s regular confidants apparently do not have.

This hypothesis, however, is problematic in that just last week, Pope Francis suggested that Lutherans may “go forward” to receive Holy Communion, contrary to canon law, if they come to a decision on their own, which suggests agreement with the reformers’ line of argument about “conscience.” And earlier last month, the pope granted an interview to his friend Eugenio Scalfari, who quoted the pope as promising to allow those in adultery back to Communion without amendment of life, even though the Vatican refused to confirm the authenticity of the quote since Scalfari does not use notes.

If Pell actually knew for certain what the pope would do, it would also seem to put Pell’s knowledge above that of Cardinal Robert Sarah, who in what could be a warning to Pope Francis, declared last week in no uncertain terms that “Not even a pope can dispense from such a divine law” as the prohibition of public adulterers from Holy Communion.

STORY: Papal confidant signals Pope Francis will allow Communion for the ‘remarried’

Several members of the pope’s inner circle have said publicly that the controversial paragraphs 84-86 of the Synod final document have opened the door for the Holy Father to allow Communion in these cases if he so decides. Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, a close friend of Pope Francis and the editor of La Civita Catholica, a prominent Jesuit journal in Rome reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, wrote this week that the internal forum solution for the divorced in adultery is a viable one:

The Ordinary Synod has thus laid the bases for access to the sacraments [for the divorced and civilly remarried], opening a door that had remained closed in the preceding Synod. It was not even possible, one year ago, to find a clear majority with reference to the debate on this topic, but that is what happened in 2015. We are therefore entitled to speak of a new step.

Spadaro’s predictions and interpretation of the Synod are consistent with the public statements of liberal prelates, some of whom are close confidantes to Pope Francis, including Cardinal Schönborn, Cardinal Wuerl, Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Nichols, and the head of the Jesuit order, Fr. Nicolás. Fr. Nicolás, in particular, first confirmed that there would be an apostolic exhortation of the pope, and said of Communion for those in public adultery:

The Pope’s recommendation is not to make theories, such as not lumping the divorced and remarried together, because priests have to make a judgment on a case by case and see the situation, the circumstances, what happens, and depending on this decision one thing or the other. There are no general theories which translate into an iron discipline required at all. The fruit of discernment means that you study each case and try to find merciful ways out.

Although in the best analysis, Pell’s prediction about what Pope Francis may do in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation remains just that-- a prediction—he is drawing a line in the sand that if the pope chooses to cross, would bring the barque of Peter into uncharted waters, where the danger of shipwreck is a very real threat.


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Lianne Laurence


Jennifer Lawrence just smeared traditional Christians in the worst way

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – It’s no surprise that yet another Hollywood star is mouthing the usual liberal platitudes, but the fact that this time around it’s Jennifer Lawrence, a mega-star and lead in blockbuster series Hunger Games, brings a particular sting of disappointment.

That’s because the 25-year-old, effervescent and immensely talented star often comes across not only as very likable, but also as someone capable of independent thought.

But apparently not.

Or at least not when it comes to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk famously thrown in jail for refusing to obey a judge’s order that she sign marriage licenses for homosexual couples.

Davis, Lawrence tells Vogue in its November issue, is that “lady who makes me embarrassed to be from Kentucky.”

“Don’t even say her name in this house,” the actress told Vogue writer Jonathan van Meter in an interview that happened to take place the day after Davis was released from her five-day stint in jail.

Lawrence then went on a “rant” about “all those people holding their crucifixes, which may as well be pitchforks, thinking they’re fighting the good fight.”

RELATED STORY: Wrong, Jennifer Lawrence! Real men don’t need porn, and women don’t need to give it to them

She was brought up Republican, she told van Meter, “but I just can’t imagine supporting a party that doesn’t support women’s basic rights. It’s 2015 and gay people can get married and we think that we’ve come so far, so, yay! But have we? I don’t want to stay quiet about that stuff.”

After conjuring up images of Christians as bug-eyed hillbillies on a witchhunt with her reference to “crucifixes as pitchforks,” Lawrence added darkly: “I grew up in Kentucky. I know how they are.”

Perhaps one should infer that it’s lucky for Lawrence she escaped to Los Angeles and its enlightened culture. That hallowed place where, according to van Meter, Kris Jenner (former spouse of Bruce Jenner, who infamously declared himself a woman) brought Lawrence a cake for her birthday that was shaped like excrement and inscribed: “Happy birthday, you piece of sh*t!”

Lawrence is reportedly now Hollywood’s most highly paid actress. Not only is she the star of the hugely popular and lucrative Hunger Games franchise -- the last installment of which, Mockingjay, Part 2 opened November 20 -- but she won an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook and starred in several others since her breakout role in the 2010 moving and moody indie film, Winter’s Bone.

Lawrence has every right to express her opinion, although no doubt it will be given more weight than it deserves. It is unfortunate, however, that she’s chosen to wield her fame, shall we say, as a pitchfork against Christian moral truths.



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