Patrick Craine

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Retired bishops join pro-Planned Parenthood group in call for Catholic funding of pro-abort orgs

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ten Catholic bishops teamed up with a pro-Planned Parenthood group to a release a report this week that urges Catholic organizations to fund groups linked to the promotion of abortion and other acts opposed by the Church.

The 28-page report, released Tuesday by the advocacy group Faith in Public Life, targets Catholic critics of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, accusing them of adopting “McCarthy-era tactics” in their quest to rid the USCCB-run organization of problematic partnerships.

The CEO of the group Faith in Public Life is Jennifer Butler a Presbyterian minister who sat on a panel of “pro-choice clergy” at Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s annual interfaith breakfast in 2008.  Moreover, the website of Faith in Public Life has published numerous blog posts defending Planned Parenthood.

The report was authored by John Gehring, Faith in Public Life’s Catholic Program Director, who once served as the USCCB’s Assistant Director for Media Relations.

The opening pages of the report include a list of endorsing groups and individuals, including nine retired U.S. bishops and one sitting bishop (Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenberg, South Africa). The retired bishops listed are Archbishop Fiorenza, Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Bishop John S. Cummins of Oakland, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, Bishop Peter Rosazza, Bishop Sylvester Ryan of Monterey, Bishop Joseph Sullivan, and Bishop John Leibrecht of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Archbishop Fiorenza and Bishop Skylstad are both former presidents of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Many of the bishops backing the report are known for taking public positions against Catholic teaching.

  • Bishop Dowling is famous for his opposition to Church teaching on contraception and in 2010 he was rebuked by the Southern African Bishops' Conference after giving a talk that criticized the Vatican and Catholic teaching against the ordination of women.
  • Bishop Gumbleton, a well-known dissident in the U.S. Church, made headlines in April when he opposed his own bishop, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, after Vigneron defended the Church's opposition to same-sex "marriage" and urged Catholics who support the illicit unions to not approach for Communion.
  • Bishop Sullivan has been a speaker for the pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry, and has called for active homosexuals to be brought in to "full participation in the life of the church."

In the report, Faith in Public Life charges that CCHD’s critics are working to "undermine the U.S. Catholic bishops’ most successful anti-poverty initiative."

"Using guilt by association and other tactics from the McCarthy-era playbook, these activists are part of an increasingly aggressive movement of Catholic culture warriors who view themselves as fighting for a smaller, 'purer' church,” it reads.

The report mentions the Reform CCHD Now coalition by name, and focuses particularly on American Life League, which has been one of the leading critics. LifeSiteNews is also mentioned because of its recent reports highlighting Catholic Relief Services' links to pro-abortion groups.

It criticizes recent decisions by CCHD to defund grantees like the Land Stewardship Project and Compañeros, which were found to be taking active leadership roles in coalitions that endorse same-sex “marriage.”

These defunding decisions have come after detailed reports from the Reform CCHD Now coalition, but in these cases the coalition has merely called on CCHD to live up to its own guidelines. According to those guidelines, CCHD funds “cannot go to groups that knowingly participate in coalitions that have as part of their organizational purpose or coalition agenda, positions or actions that contradict fundamental Catholic moral and social teaching.”

The report also includes interviews with bishops and other faith leaders who oppose CCHD’s ongoing reform and believe the anti-poverty arm should work with groups that oppose fundamental Catholic moral teachings in the interest of securing relief for the poor.

“At a time when poverty is growing and people are hurting we should not withdraw from our commitment to helping the poor,” urges Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, former head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “Catholic identity is far broader than opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Catholic identity is a commitment to living the Gospel as Jesus proclaimed it, and this must include a commitment to those in poverty.”

The report won accolades on Thursday from the Human Rights Campaign, one of America’s leading homosexual advocacy groups, which used the occasion to urge Catholic leaders to fund “marriage equality” groups.

“It is utterly wrong that a network of conservative Catholic organizations would choose to withhold funds from local groups working with the poor because they support marriage equality and the LGBT community,” said Sharon Groves, HRC’s Religion and Faith Director. “Before all else Jesus’ ministry was with the poor and for the poor.  No matter what these Catholic leaders feel about marriage equality it is nothing short of wrong to turn poor people into pawns for their political ends.” 

“We thank Faith in Public Life for bringing this scandal to the attention of the wider public.”

Michael Hichborn, a researcher at American Life League and the lead spokesman for the Reform CCHD Now coalition, emphasized that they fully support authentic poverty relief efforts, but said Faith in Public Life is clearly not aiming to help the poor.

"Given that Faith in Public Life is headed by someone strongly aligned with Planned Parenthood, and that the ‘report’ they wrote is getting support from the Human Rights Campaign, it's clear that the reason for this report has nothing to do with the poor and everything to do with helping the gay and pro-abortion lobby,” he said.

"The whole report is nothing more than an apologetics piece attempting to make the case that in order to help the poor, Catholic money has to go to organizations working hand-in-glove with coalitions promoting abortion and homosexuality,” he added.

"Even though a number of bishops have endorsed this report, I am reminded of the warning of Our Lady of Akita that we will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops, and the Church will be full of those who accept compromises,” Hichborn continued. “Ultimately what these bishops are saying is that those bishops who supported the review and renewal guideline on coalitions, and those others who’ve decided not to do the CCHD collection are hurting the poor because they oppose giving money to organizations who become members of coalitions that are the ideological enemies of Christ."

Hichborn also questioned why Faith in Public Life and its backers were targeting American Life League when the pro-life group has merely upheld CCHD’s own standards. He highlighted a quote last year by CCHD’s own executive director, Ralph McCloud: "To work with organizations who are working against some of the things that we're teaching, the tradition that we have -- we just have no tolerance for that," said McCloud.

“This is the executive director of the CCHD speaking, not American Life League,” said Hichborn. “If FIPL and all of its endorsers have a problem with the CCHD's standards, then I don't know why they are pointing a finger at American life League.  All we're doing is applying the Church's own standards in our investigations." 

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Pope Francis eases forgiveness of abortion for Jubilee Year of Mercy

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

ROME, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- In an announcement today, Pope Francis said that he is enacting an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy from December 8, 2015 through November 2016. As part of the Jubilee, the pope has allowed priests to forgive the sin of abortion, which St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) is “murder.”

The statement marks the most extensive remarks on abortion that Pope Francis has made during his pontificate. Rather than downplaying the seriousness of abortion, as some media contend, in the statement the pope encourages the millions of women who have aborted their children to go to confession and seek God’s forgiveness.

In the Catechism, the Church calls abortion a “criminal” practice, and imposes the penalty of excommunication on those who do it -- essentially, removing those who commit abortions from the Church. In the past, typically re-entry into the Church for those who have separated themselves from it by excommunication can only be undertaken by a bishop. However in much of North America priests have already been given standing permission by their bishops to forgive abortion.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained in an email sent to LifeSiteNews today, “For many years now, parish priests have been given permission to absolve the sin of abortion here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia archbishop, who will play host to Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit later this month added, “But the practice has not been common in various other regions of the world.”

“This action in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion,” concluded Chaput. “What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart.”

The pope declared that all priests may forgive the sin of abortion for “those who have procured it and who with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.'"

The pope says in his letter that abortion is a “tragedy” wherein “extreme harm” takes place, and calls it “profoundly unjust.”  He admits however, as does the pro-life movement, that it is an “agonizing and painful decision” and many women “believe that they have no other option.”

In order to be forgiven by God of such a serious offence, the pope says the one who has procured the abortion must be made aware of the “gravity of the sin committed” and be truly repentant. They must come, says Francis, with a “contrite heart, seek forgiveness for” the abortion and hoping for “reconciliation with the Father.”

The full statement from the Pope on the matter of abortion follows:

One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured itand who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

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TLC stars Kody Brown and his four "wives"
Fr. Mark Hodges

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Surprise, surprise: New suit says gay ‘marriage’ ruling laid ground for legal polygamy

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – When "The Pill" was made available to the public in 1964, Christians warned it could lead to promiscuity and disassociation of sex with marriage and children.  They were ridiculed as religious fanatics.

When abortion was made legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy in 1973, Christians warned that it would not save women's lives, but would instead lead to devaluing all human life, especially children's lives. They were dismissed as moral-legislating hate-mongers.

When euthanasia was legalized in Oregon and other states, Christians warned that the non-terminally ill and eventually the mentally handicapped, or simply the unwanted, would be killed in the name of mercy. They were mocked as right-wing crazies.

When sodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere were stricken from the books in 2003, Christians warned that societal approval of that harmful practice would lead to an increase in disease and further perversion. They were ignored and vilified.

When DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) rules for the military were reversed, Christians warned that the epidemic of rapes in the armed services would increase, not decrease, and that combat readiness would continue to diminish. They were called bigots, their words "hate speech."

And so on. Recent history is rife with examples of conservatives warning against societal degradation being vilified as "slippery slope" straw man creators, who want only to legislate morality.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

That's how those who warned that the Supreme Court's same-sex "marriage" decision would lead to legalization of any and all kinds of "marriage," such as a man and several wives or vice versa.

And, as in every case cited above, what Christian conservatives warned is exactly what has now happened.

In a U.S. 10th Circuit court filing, reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives point to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage to buttress their pro-polygamy case.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, summarized to LifeSiteNews, "The left's chaotic cultural agenda knows no boundaries. Once 'marriage' could be redefined to accommodate sexual perversion, it would be impossible to stop other perversions from being recognized." 

The American Family Association's Ed Vitagliano told LifeSiteNews, "It has been clear for decades that sexual radicals in America have been targeting the God-ordained institution of marriage for destruction. Toss in a handful of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, beginning in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), and ending with this summer's debacle (Obergefell v. Hodges), and we are on the verge of seeing the secularists succeed." 

The AFA executive vice president concluded to LifeSiteNews, "We have no doubt that the polygamists will be next to step into the federal courts."

Indeed. Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, have asked the court to uphold a judge's ruling striking down part of Utah's law against polygamy. To prove their case, they cite precedents involving same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges), and a case that struck down a ban on sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas).

"From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence, to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to ... punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions," Brown's filing states. "This case is about the criminalization of consensual relations."

LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews that the move to legalize polygamy is no surprise. "Once the argument for homosexual so-called 'marriage' became 'Love Is Love,' it was only a matter of time before multiple-partner activists would start defending the 'right' to have THEIR [perversion of] 'love' legitimized by state-recognized 'marriage.'"

The Browns, who appear on the television show "Sister Wives," sued the state of Utah over its ban on polygamy, which Brown calls "plural relationships." They argue that the law violates their right to freely practice their religion and their right to equal protection under the law.

Specifically, Brown is challenging the state's assertion that polygamy is harmful to societies that condone it.

Brown argues that the state should not have "the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens."

LaBarbera concluded, "Social conservatives and Christians must work to overturn Obergefell, just like homosexual activists worked to overturn the Supreme Court's Bowers v. Hardwick decision in 1986 that allowed anti-sodomy laws. Otherwise, we are guaranteed to lose more and more freedoms as 'gay' power grows, using legalized 'marriage' as leverage."

Arguments in the Brown polygamy case could take place before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver before the end of the year.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, on March 6, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Sen. McConnell: GOP won’t push Obama on Planned Parenthood defunding

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Planned Parenthood won't lose its funding for at least 18 months, says America's top senator.

Speaking on WYMT TV, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said, "The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood."

“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he said. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But, yeah, we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again, but I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”

McConnell's comments came despite pressure from Senators and Representatives alike, as well as pro-life groups, who want Republicans to make defunding a priority.

"If the president of the United States and Harry Reid think it's more important that Planned Parenthood get your tax dollars than to pay our troops, then they are shutting down the government,” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, R-OH, told CNN last week.

Jordan and others have pushed GOP leaders to attach defunding efforts to must-pass pieces of legislation, such as a highway bill earlier this summer and the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running. GOP leaders have generally opposed this strategy, which has created a schism within the party.

Conversely, Democrats have been largely united. Leaders and rank-and-file members in both parties have generally supported taxpayer funding of the abortion giant, despite the possibility of illegal abortions being done to illegally harvest fetal organs and other body parts.

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