John Westen

Pope Francis thanks two conservative Catholics for their criticisms: report

John Westen
John Westen

VATICAN CITY, November 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This week has brought new hope to traditional and conservative Catholics concerning Pope Francis.  After months of a near-constant liberal media onslaught claiming Pope Francis as the pope of the left, and the exuberance of Nancy Pelosi and similar liberals, Pope Francis has signaled a very different trajectory.

Two personal communications from Pope Francis thanking Catholics on the right who have been critical of some of his recent moves, along with other indications have marked this week, in the words of one traditional Catholic, as “one that will be looked back on as a turning point in this pontificate.” 

Mario Palmaro, an Italian traditional Catholic writer who, along with Alessandro Gnocchi, was fired from Radio Maria Italy for being openly critical of the Pope’s controversial off-the-cuff interviews, received a phone call from Pope Francis on November 1. The article which led to their firing criticized the pope for, in the opinion of the authors, attempting to capture the praise of the world rather than remaining faithful to the truth. It was provocatively headlined “We do not like this Pope.” 

After expressing his distress that news about the phone call from the pope had been made public, Palmaro spoke with Italian media noting that the pope said he had read his criticisms and understood that they were done for the love of the Church and the papacy. The pope, he said, also told him it was important for him to receive the criticisms. 

According to Palmaro, the phone call began with the pope expressing his closeness and concern for Palmaro who is dying of cancer. 

"Pope Francis told me that he was very close to me, having learned of my health condition, of my grave illness, and I clearly noticed his deep empathy, the attention for a person as such, beyond ideas and opinions, while I live through a time of trial and suffering," related Palmaro. (translation by Rorate Caeli)

"I was astonished, amazed, above all moved: for me, as a Catholic, that which I was experiencing was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. But I felt the duty to remind the Pope that I, together with Gnocchi, had expressed specific criticisms regarding his work, while I renewed my total fidelity [to him] as a son of the Church,” he added. “The Pope almost did not let me finish the sentence, saying that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them." 

"[These words] comforted me greatly," he said.

Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant newspaper, one of the most prominent traditional Catholic institutions in the United States, told LifeSiteNews that he was also comforted by news of the pope’s phone call, and other recent papal actions which came to light this week. 

The Palmaro incident he said, “speaks to the need for us to make our voices heard,” adding that it shows that “attempts by some Catholics trying to silence trads was really wrong headed.”

In addition to the Palmaro phone call, several other incidents weighed in to Matt’s assessment. 

One was the pope’s reported assurance that the Latin Mass, which has become a rallying point for many Catholics who also adhere to the Church's traditional teachings on life and family, is under no threat. A November 11 Catholic World News report related that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos told members of Una Voce International (FIUV) “I met Pope Francis very recently and he told me that he has no problem with the old rite, and neither does he have any problem with lay groups and associations like yours that promote it.” 

A second was the Vatican’s pulling of the controversial papal interview with atheist Eugenio Scalfari from the Vatican website. That interview had been criticized by some for appearing to distort the teaching of the Church on what it means to follow one’s conscience in determining good and evil.

The third was the Pope’s promotion of the daily prayer of the Divine Mercy prayer with the distribution of 20,000 rosaries on Sunday.

And the fourth was an incident very similar to the Palmaro phone call. This time, it was an October 7 letter from Pope Francis to a conservative archbishop which was made public November 12.

In the letter, Pope Francis thanked Archbishop Agostino Marchetto for correcting him on some undisclosed matter. The context of the letter is Archbishop Marchetto’s critique of the “Bologna School” of theology - an approach that sees the Second Vatican Council as a point of departure from the former ways of the Church, including on key moral issues. Marchetto argues for the approach of Pope Benedict XVI, seeing the Council as a continuation of the Church’s teaching.

Many of the followers of the Bologna school initially took Pope Francis as one of their own, and as they were, opposed to Pope Benedict XVI.

However, Pope Francis’ letter dashed those hopes by clearly stating that that the Pope considers Marchetto to be “the best interpreter of Vatican Council II.”  (see full translation of the letter by Zenit here)

One of Italy’s most prominent traditional Catholics, Professor Roberto de Mattei, who is intimately involved in the debate between the different approaches to the interpretation of the second Vatican Council, was encouraged by the Pope’s letter to Archbishop Marchetto.  “In the letter the Pope has noted his opposition to the Bologna school, to the hermeneutic of rupture,” Professor de Mattei told LifeSiteNews.com. “Thus, the Holy Father has indicated his disagreement with the approach that favours a break with the Church’s teachings and practices of the past.  The Bologna school, to which the Pope has noted his disagreement, proposes alteration of the Church’s structure and organization, but also to her teachings around sexuality, contraception, women priests.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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