Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Record turnout for Paris March for Life: unprecedented support from Catholic Church

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
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January 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The 8th annual March for Life attracted a record number of French pro-lifers on Sunday.

This year’s march was considered especially crucial by local pro-lifers, since 2012 will see presidential and legislative elections in France. While the abortion issue has been more or less ignored in political debate in recent years, the organizers of the March for Life hope that the increasingly popular event will help draw attention to the issue.

One of the more hopeful signs this year was the increasing support of the French hierarchy of the Catholic Church for the event, including a surprising about-face from the Paris cardinal.

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Just before the 2009 edition of the March for Life, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois had clearly dissociated himself from the initiative during an interview on the official Parisian Catholic radio station, Radio Notre Dame. The cardinal suggested that from a “tactical” standpoint, “I don’t think the objective should be to yell things from the rooftops: what’s needed is work, to help with the work. And if you’re serious about that, results will follow and you’ll be heard.”

However, since then Pope Benedict XVI has sent messages of support to the Paris March for Life in 2011 and again this year.

Increasing pressure from pro-life Catholics, a growing number of bishops throwing their weight behind the March – 32 in total – and the enthusiasm of the young generation of Parisian priests have tipped the balance. In November Cardinal Vingt-Trois, in his final speech to the Assembly of the French episcopate, named the March for Life as “one of the means of action Christians choose” to promote respect for human life.

As a result, the March for Life was announced in many parishes and dioceses this year. The total number of marchers was up at least 20%, with an unprecedented number of diocesan priests from the Paris region taking part.

Cardinal Barbarin, primate of Gaul and archbishop of Lyons, sent his personal blessing: “May God bless you all, who will be taking part in the March tomorrow. My prayer will join yours, so that your March may bear fruit, and bring light and peace to our country.”

Three bishops attended the March in person. Mgr. Marc Aillet, bishop of Bayonne, told LifeSiteNews that he came to accompany the members of his flock who came to Paris for the occasion.

“I encourage the Catholic faithful to commit themselves to promote the culture of life and the Gospel of Life,” he said.

“I believe one of the ways to proclaim the Gospel of Life is to proclaim it in the streets, peacefully, joyfully and positively, as I believe it is being done today. That is why I think I am in my role as a pastor in accompanying and encouraging the faithful who are really committing themselves, and who sometimes give their life for this great cause.”

Noting that the “fears” which marked previous years are slowly being dispersed, Mgr. Aillet spoke of the new hope which is growing for life thanks to the presence of many young people and families.

More and more young people are present each year at the March for Life. Jean-Marie Le Mené, president of the Fondation Jerôme-Lejeune – which perpetuates the work of the famed French pro-life geneticist for children with Down’s syndrome – has been taking part in the March since its first year. He commented that a large part of the battle has already been won as young people who weren’t even born when the French abortion law came into effect in 1975 have heard the pro-life message and are ready to take up the battle without being hampered by preconceived ideas. “We all know that demography is what makes geopolitics. I think that is also true in the area of law-making.”

The Paris March for Life explicitly demands “laws for life,” support for the traditional family and an end to public measures that increasingly undermine respect for human life. The media kit for the March included a list of the many unfortunate measures taken by the government since Nicolas Sarkozy was elected into office. They include free distribution of condoms in high schools, social security refunds for morning-after pills, increased screening for Down’s syndrome and other genetic illnesses, propaganda for contraception and gender ideology in all publicly funded schools, increasing alignment of civil unions on marriage, and the financial reevaluation of abortions to make the activity more attractive to hospital doctors. More and more politicians of Sarkozy’s governing UMP party are making their support for homosexual “marriage” and adoption known.

To date, only one party has explicitly promised to abolish French laws that make abortion legal: the “Parti de la France” was largely represented at the March. The Christian Democrat Party was represented by its president, Christine Boutin. She intends to create better conditions to “welcome life” but is stopping short of advocating for abolishing legal abortion.

Boutin told the glossy women’s magazine Elle: “I do not want to question the principle of the abortion laws, even though my own position is public knowledge. I am not favorable to abortion. It is, I think, a tragedy. I think the trivialization of abortion is not a good thing. That being said, it seems to me to be necessary that one should be able to accompany women who are facing difficulties.”

Over 220,000 legal abortions are performed every year in France and numbers are rising, while France is one of the world’s most contracepting nations.



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Pro-life group asks: Pray for abortionists who sell baby body parts

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February 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - This Lent, a pro-life group would like you to pray for an abortionist - specifically, an abortionist who facilitates the sale of unborn babies' body parts.

The Pro-Life Action League is asking for people to pray for three people in particular throughout the 40 days of Lent. All three were caught on video by the Center for Medical Progress.

Dr. Deborah Nucatola appeared in the first video released last July, sipping red wine and stabbing her salad as she discussed the dismemberment of aborted children, including where to “crush” their bodies for a "less crunchy" technique.

The second is Dr. Mary Gatter, who appeared in the second undercover video, haggling over the prices Planned Parenthood expected to receive for the aborted children's organs and tissue. At one point, she joked that she wants the revenue to pay for “a Lamborghini.”

And the third is Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, who was also caught in the first video praising Dr. Nucatola.

Despite the shocking evidence uncovered by CMP, Richards has insisted her organization did not receive any profit for what she dubs its "fetal tissue donation program." She apologized only for Dr. Nucatola's "tone." She has since said that Planned Parenthood will not receive any remuneration for babies' body parts.

"These three architects of Planned Parenthood’s baby parts scheme have devoted their lives to the destruction and exploitation of human life in the name of ‘choice,’" said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. "If we won’t pray for them, who will?”

He asked Christians to pray for these three abortion industry profiteers - and for Richards, who is a post-abortive woman - in order to fulfill Jesus Christ's commandment in the Bible, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (St. Matthew 5:44).

“In God’s eyes, what abortion has done to these three women may be worse than what they’ve done to unborn children, who now rest in our Lord’s loving arms," Scheidler said.

For most Catholics, Lent began yesterday on Ash Wednesday, and lasts 40 days.



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Texas AG faces ethics probe for defending conscience rights of natural marriage supporters

Lisa Bourne

AUSTIN, Texas, February 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The attorney general of the state of Texas is facing an ethics investigation for having affirmed the constitutional religious freedom of state workers to decline to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it goes against their religious beliefs.

Attorney General Ken Paxton took steps to address the issue of conscience protection in his state before and after last June's Supreme Court's Obergefell decision imposing same-sex "marriage" on all 50 states, first issuing a statement the day prior clarifying that Texas law recognizes the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and recommending that state officials wait for direction from his office should the High Court move to redefine marriage.

Paxton then issued a statement two days after the ruling, his office allowing county clerks and their employees to retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and said as well that justices of the peace and judges would similarly retain religious freedoms.

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A month later, a group of some 200 attorneys filed a complaint asserting that Paxton's position encouraged officials to violate the U.S. Constitution and break their oaths of office, according to ABC News.

The complaint was dismissed at first by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas, but it was reinstated February 2 by a state Supreme Court-appointed appeals board, which contended that the complaint alleges a "possible violation" of professional conduct rules.

The appeals board decision to reinstate the case does not mean Paxton violated professional ethics, according to the ABC report, but does require him to respond to the complaint in conjunction with the investigation.

"The complaint has always lacked merit," said Paxton spokeswoman Cynthia Meyer, "and we are confident the legal process for resolving these complaints will bear that out."

Paxton was among several state officials across the U.S. who moved to ensure conscience protection in the immediate aftermath the Obergefell ruling, at times garnering the ire of homosexual activists.

Last July, South Dakota's attorney general granted permission to county clerks with conscientious objections to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as long as another clerk in the office would issue the license. 

Rowan County, KY clerk Kim Davis was jailed last fall for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it violated her religious values.

In a highly contentious case, Davis had asked for a religious accommodation allowing her office to issue altered licenses to homosexuals without her name on them, which was eventually granted by Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin. However, the ACLU sued, seeking to force Davis to issue the old forms with her full name on them. A federal judge rejected the suit earlier this week.

Last year, homosexual activists sent harassing messages, including threats of violence, to Oklahoma State Senator Joseph Silk and his family after the Republican legislator sponsored a bill that would have given the state's business owners the freedom to follow their religious convictions in regard to homosexual "marriage."

Paxton faces penalties varying between a reprimand and disbarment resulting from the ethics complaint. The Texas attorney general is also facing securities fraud charges.



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This pro-abortion billionaire may run for president

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NEW YORK, February 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - He's an upwardly mobile, socially liberal billionaire whose political affiliation has changed numerous times over the years. He's teased numerous presidential campaigns in the past, but this time he's talking like he's serious. And no, he's not who you think he is.

Michael Bloomberg, who served three terms as mayor of New York City, has confirmed to media sources that he is considering running for president as an independent in 2016.

Bloomberg told told the Financial Times this week that he finds American political "discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," and that he's “looking at all the options."

The 73-year-old tycoon was a registered Democrat before switching parties to run in the less contested Republican primary in 2001. He became a registered independent in 2007.

As mayor, Bloomberg governed as a social liberal who strongly supported abortion and the LGBT political agenda.

In 2011, Bloomberg signed a controversial gag order directed at crisis pregnancy centers. A year later, he endorsed Barack Obama's re-election, saying that abortion-on-demand is part of "the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there."

After leaving office, he received Planned Parenthood's Global Citizen Award at its annual gala on March 27, 2014.

That's the same year Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $50 million undertaking to expand "reproductive health," including a major partnership with Planned Parenthood-Global to overturn pro-life laws in four nations: Nicaragua, Sengal, Uganda, and Burkina Faso.

Jeb Bush sat on the board of the philanthropy, which also strongly supports Common Core educational standards, at the time.

Mayor Bloomberg played a pivotal role redefining marriage in New York state, giving the four Republican state senators who voted for New York’s same-sex “marriage” bill the maximum campaign contribution allowed by law. One retired and a second lost his primary fight.

His strong emphasis on health regulations, such as attempting to ban soft drinks larger than 16 ounces, did little to enhance his popularity and were deftly parodied by Sarah Palin. (A state court struck down the proposed regulation.)

His $50 million gun control crusade dissipated after his cause failed in state after state.

The financial heft he could bring into the race, as well as his quirky politics, has tempted Bloomberg to enter presidential politics in the past. He considered a presidential run in 2008 and thought more strongly about a third party bid in 2012, after hosting the inaugural convention of the “No Labels” movement in New York City in 2010, but he backed off each time after not seeing a viable path to victory.

With an estimated fortune of $39 billion, he has said he would be willing to spend more than $1 billion on his campaign in 2016 - but he would only enter the race if the Republican Party nominates Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, and the Democratic Party nominates Bernie Sanders.

He called Jeb and Hillary Clinton "two quality” candidates and "the only two who know how to make the trains run." Jeb reciprocated last month, telling CNN that Bloomberg is "a good person, and he’s a patriot and wants the best for the country.”

At least one of his competitors is eager to see Mike run. "I hope he gets into the race," Donald Trump told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Wednesday night. "I'd love to compete against him...I would love to see Michael in the race."

That is likely because polling shows Bloomberg would draw most of his support from the Democratic candidate. "Although he is characterized as the New York counterpunch to Trump, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is more the nemesis of Bernie than he is of Donald," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Bernie Sanders would defeat both Trump and Cruz in a head-to-head match, according to Quinnipiac. But if Bloomberg entered the race, he would win 15 percent of the vote largely from Sanders, giving Trump a one-point victory in the popular vote (and narrowing Cruz's loss to one point).

However, he could throw a major wrench in the Democrats' electoral college total, according to columnist Pat Buchanan.

"Not only would Bloomberg lose the Big Apple, his statewide vote would come mostly from the Democratic nominee, giving Republicans the best opportunity to carry the Empire State since Ronald Reagan coasted to re-election in 1984," wrote Buchanan, who served as White House communications director during Reagan's second term.

“It’s not beyond imagining that he could get in and have an effect on the race,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, told The Hill.

Perhaps sensing this, numerous Democrats - including Senators Claire McCaskill and Jeanne Shaheen - have thrown cold water on a Bloomberg presidential run.

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, said this week that an independent Bloomberg candidacy "won't be necessary" - because the Democrats already represent social liberals.

"I really think when he takes a good hard look, he will conclude that the issues that are important to him...[have] a natural home among our Democratic candidates," she said. "And so, I think Michael Bloomberg's agenda is well cared-for and advanced among our Democratic candidates, and his candidacy, I think he will find, won't be necessary.""

His entrance into the race would be a true injection of "New York values" - making him the third or fourth New Yorker in the race - alongside fellow billionaire Trump from Queens, the Brooklyn-born Sanders, and onetime New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Annie Linskey, a reporter for the Boston Globe who once worked for Bloomberg, told Fox News on Monday that there is "about a four" percent chance that Bloomberg will run.



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