Pro-life leaders say Pope Francis will inspire the world to 'promote the culture of life'
Updated at 6:15 a.m. EST on March 14 to add comments from Charmaine Yoest.
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Members of the pro-life and pro-family community say they are overjoyed at the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Chuch.
As LifeSiteNews reported in 2007, the new pope, Francis, has called abortion the “death penalty” for the unborn. He has also taken a strong stance in favor of the natural family in Argentina. He called gay marriage “a destructive pretension against the plan of God" and “a machination of the Father of Lies." At the same time, in a story that is being much-repeated today, Pope Francis demonstrated his compassion when he visited a hospice on Holy Thursday where he kissed and washed the feet of 12 patients suffering from AIDS, a disease that is often associated with homosexuality.
That legacy heartened pro-life and pro-family activists across the country.
“During him time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a stalwart defender of the sanctity of all innocent human life,” Michael New of National Review told LifeSiteNews.com. “On September 1, 2009 – the feast day of St. Raimondo Nonnato, the patron of expectant mothers and the unborn – Cardinal Bergoglio celebrated Mass in Buenos Aires. He encouraged attendees to defend life from conception to its natural end. He also added that to really promote the culture of life means also supporting the existence of these unborn children, in all phases of their childhood.”
“I pray that Pope Francis I inspires, not only Catholics, but people of all faiths to promote and defend the culture of life,” New said.
EWTN radio's Al Kresta told LifeSiteNews.com that Pope Francis' “extraordinary theological training” will allow him to serve as “a theologian in the best sense of the word.”
Pope Francis “has had to live through a series of conflicts within the Jesuit order over the last generation,” Kresta noted. “He will model for us a way of peace and a way of reconciliation, not through compromise, but he'll pursue Catholic reconciliation along the lines of sacrifice as Francis did.”
His choice of the name Francis – after St. Francis of Assissi – rang a hopeful chord in many of the faithful.
“We now welcome Pope Francis I, who we pray to God follows in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi,” Judie Brown, president of American Life League and three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life, said. “Recall that Christ said to St. Francis, 'Rebuild my Church!' This is the very challenge that our new Pope will have to confront.”
“No more talk of compromise on questions of abortion, contraception, homosexuality or euthanasia. No more tolerance for those who claim to be Catholic while supporting vile acts such as abortion,” she said. “Please join me in thanking God for our new Pope. Let us pray without ceasing for him.”
Many hope that reform will begin with educational institutions run by his own Society of Jesus.
“The fact that God has provided a Jesuit as our new Holy Father has great significance for many Catholics, who have been hoping and praying that the New Evangelization will bring about the renewal of the Society of Jesus and its many schools and colleges,” Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, said. “For decades, Jesuit universities in the United States have been hotbeds of dissent, with many professors displaying great disrespect for the Vatican and the bishop.”
“We trust that he will continue the renewal of fidelity and Catholic identity in Catholic education, which Pope Benedict said was 'the most urgent internal challenge' facing the Church in the United States,” Reilly added. “In your charity, please pray for the renewal of Catholic education and for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis!”
As an Argentine Cardinal, the new pope sometimes clashed with political authorities – and sometimes his fellow priests, as one who distanced himself from those who taught liberation theology, a baptized Marxism dressed up in Christian terminology. Pope John Paul II strongly condemned its spread.
“Pope Francis is a man of great spirituality who is known for his commitment to doctrinal orthodoxy as well as for his simplicity of life,” Fr. Robert Sirico, president of The Acton Institute, said. “Like Benedict XVI, he combines concern for the poor with an insistence that it’s not the Church’s responsibility to be a political actor or to prescribe precise solutions to economic problems. In that regard, he’s a model for all Catholic bishops and clergy throughout the world.”
The years he spent clashing with Argentine authorities will help combat the Obama administration and, perhaps, reform the sometimes inattentive U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, according to Richard Viguerie, a practicing Catholic and the proprietor of ConservativeHQ.com.
As a bishop and cardinal in his home country, the new pope “provided the great moral compass that society must have when temporary political expediency points a nation or a people in the wrong direction,” Viguerie said. “Such moral leadership and courage will inject much-needed backbone into the bishops, priests, and lay-leaders here in the United States, where the Church has too often adopted the trends and habits of a secular amoral society.”
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League believes, far from diminishing his influence, “his strong embrace of core moral principles, especially as they touch on sexual matters, adds to his appeal.”
Those principles include an unqualified support of life from conception to natural death, causes for which the Vatican has become the world's leading advocate.
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"The pro-life movement owes a debt of gratitude to the Catholic Church for its leadership and on-going commitment to building a world in which everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law," said Dr. Charmaine Yoest. "Americans United for Life extends our sincere congratulations to our Catholic friends as they prepare to welcome Pope Francis I as their new leader.”
“Priests for Life is delighted at the selection of Pope Francis I and we are assured that the sanctity of all human life will be a top priority for this Pope, as it has been for his predecessors,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “We look forward to working under the leadership of the new pope to advance the culture of life."
Bryan Kemper, Youth Outreach Director for Priests for Life, said he and the young Catholics he meets everyday are “excited for his leadership and committed to continuing to share the message of life that is so central to our Church."
The media have made much that the pope hails from Latin America. Bergoglio, who is of Italian descent, has become a potent figure for the Global South and a reminder that papal leadership extends to every corner of the world.
“The inspired selection of Pope Francis is most welcome and exciting news as we face increasing pressure in Latin America from radical forces intent on destroying the culture of life,” Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, said. “Responses from contacts in Argentina comment on the new Pope’s simplicity of style, attention to his role as pastor, and focus on the social issues that challenge the region and the world today. We look forward to his leadership of the Church.”
Others were simply impressed with the character of the man who has been chosen to lead the world's one billion Roman Catholics.
“We were struck by his humility in such an august moment, especially when he asked all of us to ask the Lord to bless him before he imparted his first papal blessing upon the Church and the world,” Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, said. “We will certainly continue praying for him, asking that the Lord grant him peace and wisdom, strength and courage, and give him every grace necessary to guide the Church during this time."
Even non-Catholics extended their thanks. Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, said, “Congratulations to my Catholic friends on the election of Pope Francis. I like the descriptions that I am hearing: especially, that he is an 'authentic' Christian who holds to the foundations of the faith and favors 'simplicity' in the mode of Mother Teresa.”
Obviously, the pope's primary duty is acting as chief shepherd of the Roman Catholic Church. The Remnant newspaper noted that, while it is not certain of his disposition toward the Traditional Latin Mass, “the Institute of the Good Shepherd has a house in his diocese.”
Kresta told LifeSiteNews that he believes the new pope will “make a supreme effort to present the Catholic Faith in its totality, in its fullness, to the world.”
“It won't be liberal; it won't be conservative. It won't be left-wing; it won't be right-wing. It won't be just Social Justice; it won't be just doctrine. It won't be just East or West,” he said.
While Pope Francis “believes everything the Catechism teaches," Kresta said he will “adorn the doctrine and make sure that people understand that the faith is not just believing in a set of propositions, but it's also the reception of a new light.”
“This man lives what he believes,” he said.
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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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