Ben Johnson

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Pro-life leaders say Pope Francis will inspire the world to 'promote the culture of life'

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

Updated at 6:15 a.m. EST on March 14 to add comments from Charmaine Yoest.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2013 ( – 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 “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 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

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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BREAKING: Planned Parenthood shooting suspect surrenders, is in custody: police

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By John Jalsevac

Nov. 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Five hours after a single male shooter reportedly opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, chatter on police radio is indicating that the suspect has now been "detained."

"We have our suspect and he says he is alone," said police on the police radio channel. 

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also confirmed via Twitter shortly after 7:00 pm EST that the suspect was in custody.

The news comes almost exactly an hour after the start of a 6:00 pm. press conference in which Lt. Catherine Buckley had confirmed that a single shooter was still at large, and had exchanged gunfire with police moments before.

According to Lt. Buckley, four, and possibly five police officers have been shot since the first 911 call was received at 11:38 am local time today. An unknown number of civilians have also been shot.

Although initial reports had suggested that the shooting began outside the Planned Parenthood, possibly outside a nearby bank, Lt. Buckley said that in fact the incident began at the Planned Parenthood itself.

She said that the suspect had also brought unknown "items" with him to the Planned Parenthood. 

Pro-life groups have started responding to the news, urging caution in jumping to conclusions about the motivations of the shooter, while also condemning the use of violence in promoting the pro-life cause. 

"Information is very sketchy about the currently active shooting situation in Colorado Springs," said Pavone. "The Planned Parenthood was the address given in the initial call to the police, but we still do not know what connection, if any, the shooting has to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion.

"As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also issued statements.

"Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics and has a long history of working through peaceful channels to advocate on behalf of women and their babies," said Newman. "We express deep concern for everyone involved and are praying for the safety of those at the Planned Parenthood office and for law enforcement personnel. We pray this tragic situation can be quickly resolved without further injury to anyone."

"Although we don't know the reasons for the shooting near the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs today, the pro-life movement is praying for the safety of all involved and as a movement we have always unequivocally condemned all forms of violence at abortion clinics. We must continually as a nation stand against violence on all levels," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, based in Washington, D.C.


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Rubio says SCOTUS didn’t ‘settle’ marriage issue: ‘God’s rules always win’

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Surging GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, says that "God's law" trumps the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision imposing same-sex “marriage” nationwide.

The senator also told Christian Broadcast Network's David Brody that the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage is not "settled," but instead "current law."

“No law is settled,” said Rubio. “Roe v. Wade is current law, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to aspire to fix it, because we think it’s wrong.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called to participate in that process to try to change it,” he explained, and "the proper place for that to be defined is at the state level, where marriage has always been regulated — not by the Supreme Court and not by the federal government.”

However, when laws conflict with religious beliefs, "God's rules always win," said Rubio.

“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin — violate God’s law and sin — if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that,” Rubio expounded. “We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.”

“I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman," said the senator, who earlier in the fall was backed by billionaire GOP donor and same-sex "marriage" supporter Paul Singer.

Singer, who also backs looser immigration laws and a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, has long pushed for the GOP to change its position on marriage in part due to the sexual orientation of his son.

Despite Singer's support, Rubio's marriage stance has largely been consistent. He told Brody earlier in the year that "there isn't such a right" to same-sex "marriage."

"You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. Constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex."

Rubio also said religious liberty should be defended against LGBT activists he says "want to stigmatize, they want to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them as haters."

"I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman," he said.

Rubio also hired social conservative leader Eric Teetsel as his director of faith outreach this month.

However, things have not been entirely smooth for Rubio on marriage. Social conservatives were concerned when the executive director of the LGBT-focused Log Cabin Republicans told Reuters in the spring that the Catholic senator is "not as adamantly opposed to all things LGBT as some of his statements suggest."

The LGBT activist group had meetings with Rubio's office "going back some time," though the senator himself never attended those meetings. Rubio has publicly said that he would attend the homosexual "wedding" of a gay loved one, and also that he believed "that sexual preference is something that people are born with," as opposed to being a choice.

Additionally, days after the Supreme Court redefined marriage, Rubio said that he disagreed with the decision but that "we live in a republic and must abide by the law."

"I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman," he said. "People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

Rubio also said at the time that "it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood…"

“I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.”

The Florida senator said in July that he opposed a constitutional marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution to leave marriage up to the states because that would involve the federal government in state marriage policies.

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Former The View star Sherri Shepherd and then-husband Lamar Sally in 2010 s_bukley /
Steve Weatherbe

Court orders Sherri Shepherd to pay child support for surrogate son she abandoned

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Sherri Shepherd, a Hollywood celebrity who co-hosted the popular talk show The View for seven years, has lost a maternity suit launched by her ex-husband Lamar Sally, forcing her to pay him alimony and child support for their one-year surrogate son LJ. The decision follows an unseemly fight which pro-life blogger Cassy Fiano says has exposed how surrogacy results in “commodifying” the unborn.

Shepherd, a co-host of the View from 2007 to 2014, met Sally, a screenwriter, in 2010 and they married a year later. Because her eggs were not viable, they arranged a surrogate mother in Pennsylvania to bear them a baby conceived in vitro using Sally’s sperm and a donated egg.

But the marriage soured in mid-term about the time Shepherd lost her job with The View. According to one tabloid explanation, she was worried he would contribute little to parenting responsibilities.  Sally filed for separation in 2014, Shepherd filed for divorce a few days, then Sally sued for sole custody, then alimony and child support.

Earlier this year she told PEOPLE she had gone along with the surrogacy to prevent the breakup of the marriage and had not really wanted the child.

Shepherd, an avowed Christian who once denied evolution on The View and a successful comic actor on Broadway, TV, and in film since the mid-90s, didn’t want anything to do with LJ, as Lamar named the boy, who after all carried none of her genes. She refused to be at bedside for the birth, and refused to let her name be put on the birth certificate and to shoulder any responsibility for LJ’s support.

But in April the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, and now the state’s Superior Court, ruled that Shepherd’s name must go on the birth certificate and she must pay Sally alimony and child support.

“The ultimate outcome is that this baby has two parents and the parents are Lamar Sally and Sherri Shepherd,” Shepherd’s lawyer Tiffany Palmer said.

As for the father, Sally told PEOPLE, “I'm glad it's finally over. I'm glad the judges saw through all the lies that she put out there, and the negative media attention. If she won't be there for L.J. emotionally, I'll be parent enough for the both of us.”

But Shepherd said, “I am appealing the ruling that happened,” though in the meantime, Sally will “get his settlement every month. There’s nothing I can do.”

Commented Fiano in Live Action News, “What’s so sickening about this case is that this little boy, whose life was created in a test tube, was treated as nothing more than a commodity…Saying that you don’t want a baby but will engineer one to get something you want is horrific.” As for trying to get out from child support payments now that the marriage had failed, that was “despicable.”

Fiano went on to characterize the Shepherd-Sally affair as a “notable example” of commodification of children, and “by no means an anomaly.” She cited a British report than over the past five years 123 babies conceived in vitro were callously aborted when they turned out to have Down Syndrome.

“When we’re not ready for babies, we have an abortion,” she added. “But then when we decide we are ready we manufacture them in a laboratory and destroy any extras. Children exist when we want them to exist, to fill the holes in us that we want them to fill, instead of being independent lives with their own inherent value and dignity.”

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