NewsBytes, Jan. 1 - China: Oppression of Church and Others
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Compiled by Steve Jalsevac
China Declares Christian ‘House Churches’ a ‘Cult,’ Advocacy Group Reports
China reportedly has launched a new crackdown on “house churches,” Protestant congregations that do not belong to the country’s state-sanctioned, “patriotic” church organization. In an ominous development reported by the China Aid Association (CAA), a U.S.-based group that advocates for Chinese Christians, authorities allegedly have labeled the house church movement a “cult.”
China trying to prove it is ‘master of the Church,’ missionary priest warns
Father Bernardo Cervellera, a longtime observer of Sino-Vatican affairs, is deeply troubled by recent moves made by China’s communist authorities. “We are back in the 1950s,” said Fr. Cervellera. “Honestly, I would say that with these elections we are taken back to the time of Mao Zedong and the foundation of the Patriotic Association,”
Chinese government defends control of Catholic church - American Thinker
A spokesperson for the People’s Republic of China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs said on Wednesday that the Vatican’s criticism of the recent National Congress of Chinese Catholics was “imprudent and ungrounded.” Members of the CCPA are forbidden to acknowledge the Pope as the universal pastor of the Catholic Church, as Beijing will not tolerate any loyalty to any entity for any reason outside China. Thus, there are millions of “underground Catholics” in China who worship outside the CCPA at great risk.
Rift widens as China lashes out at Pope - Times of India
The Chinese government has challenged the role played by the Pope and suggested that the Vatican was misguiding Catholics in the country. The statement, which follows Vatican’s criticism of the official church in China, indicated an intensification of the old conflict between the two sides.
“Who is actually using coercive measures and demanding Catholics betray their conscience? Isn’t it crystal clear?” a spokesman of the State Administration for Religious Affairs said Wednesday. He was responding to Vatican’s criticism of the decision of the official church to anoint a Bishop after a recent meeting.
China says Vatican must repair rift over bishop - Google News
The Vatican bears responsibility for restoring dialogue with China’s government-backed church after its criticism of leadership changes here frayed ties, a Chinese church official said Friday. China’s official Catholic church named new leaders at a conference not recognized by the Vatican, which last week condemned the election as a violation of religious freedom and human rights.
China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951 shortly after the communist seizure of power. Dialogue has been used to ease tensions, but a main sticking point has been the Chinese church’s insistence that it — not Rome — has the right to appoint bishops.
Popes, Atheists and Freedom - Wall Street Journal
Secularists should recognize that the pope’s fight is their fight. In these times, the pope’s agenda is the civilized world’s agenda. The pope’s agenda is individual freedom. The reality of the modern Church’s interests aligned with the world’s best interests emerges forcefully in the recently published second volume of George Weigel’s magisterial biography of John Paul II, “The End and the Beginning.”
Days after Benedict XVI chastised China before thousands in St. Peter’s Square last week, a Chinese newspaper run by the People’s Daily replied to his defense of Christians there: “The Vatican has to face the fact that all religious beliefs are free in China, as long as they do not run counter to the country’s laws.”
“Face the facts” sums up nicely the worldview and foreign policies of China, Iran and Russia. Get over it. John Paul said no. Benedict again says no. Benedict’s fight for freedom and that of recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo are the same.
Inflation in China will cause the collapse of the regime by Wei Jingsheng - Asia News
To make a few people wealthy, the communist government keeps most of the population in poverty. If they really have the welfare of their people at heart, Beijing must allow the revaluation of the Yuan and should open the market to the West.
Chinese Internet users hit 450 million mark, raising fears in government - Asia News
Increasingly, news are spread online, including those about abuses by the authorities, which have responded by boosting censorship and controls to nip in the bud all forms of dissent organised via the net. China’s booming online population has turned the Internet into a forum for citizens to express their opinions in real time in a way rarely seen in a country where the traditional media is under strict government control.
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.