Ben Johnson

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Nun to Religious Freedom Rally: ‘It is our responsibility to stand brave and to shout to the world’

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, March 23, 2012, ( – In a college town known for its liberal politics, more than 400 people gathered at noon Friday to support religious liberty and oppose the Obama administration’s HHS mandate.

Just blocks from the University of Michigan, more than 400 people formed the local meeting of the National Rally for Religious Freedom held simultaneously at 146 locations nationwide.

Joined by schoolchildren from local Catholic schools, including Spiritus Sanctus Academies, the speakers focused on the constitutional crisis unleashed by forcing a religious institution to violate its conscience.

Nick Thomm, the executive producer of the nationally syndicated radio show “Kresta in the Afternoon,” said, “At Notre Dame in 2009, President Obama promised conscience protection. It’s pretty clear he lied.” He stated current coverage is a step toward full, federally funded abortions.

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

“As the bishops said, this fight is not about or contraception abortion, or a compromised Catholic Church,” Thomm said. “This is about the power of the federal government to define what is or what is not the mission of Christians” in a “voluntary institution.”

“To sixty million American Catholics the president has said that to be good Americans, we must be bad Catholics,” Thomm said.

Although churches and houses of worship are exempt, the guidelines for religiously affiliated institutions to gain a religious exemption are “impractical, impossible, and illogical.” Requiring religious institutions to “serve their own kind and hire their own kind” means “in hiring, you’re forced to ask a question that’s normally a violation of EEOC practices.”

“Must Catholics hire and feed only Catholics in their food pantries?” Thomm asked. “Until today, you did not need a baptismal certificate for soup.”

Meeting near the local Occupy Wall Street campsite, the throng of mostly young people received virtually no opposition and no organized counter-demonstration.

Instead, speakers encouraged the crowd to fight to preserve the Constitutional rights of their forebears. Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, a nun from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, said God “has given us these rights, and we must proclaim them in the streets…It is our responsibility to stand brave and to shout to the world.”

“Today is a day in which we need heroes,” the sister said. “We value our freedoms and since they do not come freely, we beg God that we will all be prepared to pay the price, if that should be in the Divine will – to stand with the countless soldiers, heroes, saints, and martyrs through the ages in union with the One Who hung on Calvary.”

Her fellow sister, Sister Martin Therese, said she is proud she became an American citizen two weeks earlier because she cherishes this nation’s founding ideals, however imperfectly they are practiced now.

Fr. Dennis Brown, O.M.V., warned those ideas are in danger. “If this HHS mandate – diktat – passes, the America we knew will be no more,” he said. “That’s not a dramatic statement. It’s not exaggerated. This essentially changes what America is.”

He called this administration’s war on religion “the worst crisis we’ve faced in our history in terms of our basic American identity.”

That assessment cut across religious lines. The president of the university’s Students for Life, Carmen Maria Allen, told the mostly Catholic crowd gathered at the federal building, “I am here to say that as a Protestant leader of Students for Life, the HHS mandate is not about the Catholic Church. And it’s not even about Christianity, and it’s not even about religion. It’s about protecting and preserving the freedoms granted in our Constitution.”

Organizers encouraged attendees to take action after the rally ended.

Everyone asked the faithful to flood Capitol Hill with calls and e-mails asking them to block or repeal the HHS mandate. Nick Thomm also directed visitors to the sign the petition at The resource director of Michigan Right to Life, asked everyone to support the state’s Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act. “to protect all those doctors and nurses who object to abortion or abortion-causing drugs.”

Several speakers noted turnout far exceeded expectations. Nick Thomm said at one point, “I don’t think anyone anticipated we would be having these numbers.”

Barb Harburg, who organized the local rally, runs Citizens for Pro-Life Society, said she wanted to inspire others who share her beliefs in the area. “Ann Arbor is a hotbed of liberalism,” Harburg said, “and I felt that we have to make a statement” that “there are a lot of faithful people who believe in religious freedom.”

“Government, by doing what it’s doing now, is already violating our First Amendment rights,” Harburg told “It’s absolutely untenable. I’m not going to take that, and I’m not going to stand for that. I’m willing to go to jail, personally.

Dianne Malesko, a local resident who had never attended a pro-life or religious freedom rally before, said she was pleased by the turnout and uplifted by the atmosphere but “saddened by the fact that people don’t understand life is so important.”

“Government wanting to be involved in religion when they never want religion involved in government is unacceptable,” she said.


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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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