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Savita’s husband won’t cooperate with investigation; other EU life and family updates

Hilary White
Hilary White
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Savita update: three Galway docs dropped from probe; family demands independent inquiry

DUBLIN – The inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar is running into difficulties out of the gate. Savita’s widower, Praveen Halappanavar, has said that he and the family will not cooperate with the government’s probe because it is being run by the same government agency that he alleges caused his wife’s death. The Health Services Executive has been refused access to the young woman’s medical records, a decision that will cripple the investigation.

In addition, three senior medical consultants from Galway have been dropped from the group of seven physicians conducing the inquest. Mrs. Halappanavar’s family had objected to them on the grounds that no doctor from the Galway University Hospital where Savita died should be included. Despite the removal of the doctors, Mr. Halappanavar said, “I will not be co-operating with the inquiry in any way.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny told Parliament that Health Minister Dr. James Reilly had removed the doctors from the panel to ensure the investigation would be completely independent.

Ireland’s Minister of Public Spending, Brendan Howlin, told the state broadcaster RTE that the government wanted the investigation to provide answers “speedily, thoroughly and comprehensively” and opposed the family’s demands for an investigation independent of the HSE. “We don’t want a tribunal that goes on for ever more,” he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland.


Don’t use marriage as ‘political football’ : Westminster Archbishop

LONDON – The Catholic archbishop of Westminster has warned politicians not to use the institution of marriage as a “political football”. Vincent Nichols warned Chancellor George Osborne that “same-sex marriage” might not be the vote winner the Conservative Party is looking for. Nichols says he detects “deep unease” over the issue.

“This is not simply a redefining of marriage to accommodate a few, it is a redefining of marriage for everyone and therefore all marriages, if this bill is introduced, will be different.

“It is a different reality for everybody and that is a very serious matter and one to which we are very strongly opposed and will remain strongly opposed,” Nichols told reporters this week.

Nichols called marriage “a very important building block in society” and said it is “very foolish” to propose to alter its definition when, “as far as we can see there is not a specific identified problem that that change is supposed to be addressing”.

“My own sense is that many people feel deeply uneasy about this move, it was not in any election manifesto, it has not in that sense been put to the country.”

Referring to the majority of negative submissions to the government’s consultation on the matter, Nichols added, “That is why the strength of opinion expressed in the consultation ought not to be hidden and that’s why we want the full disclosure of the results of that consultation.”


Church of England votes both for and against female bishops

LONDON – At yesterday’s meeting of the General Synod, the decision-making body of the Church of England made up of separate houses for bishops, clergy and laity, voted down a proposal to start ordaining women as bishops. The proposal was accepted by a wide majority of votes in both the houses of the bishops and clergy, but was rejected by the laity.

The bishops voted 44 for, three against with two abstentions. The clergy voted 148 for, 45 against, with no abstentions. The laity voted 132 for, 74 against and no abstentions. The proposal could only pass by gaining a two-thirds majority in each house.

The issue will now rest for the time being. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said, “The motion having been lost ... we do not proceed any further.” Others feel that it is only a matter of time before the change passes. Christina Rees, a Synod member and former chairman of the advocacy group Women and the Church, told Reuters, “Women bishops will come, but this is an unnecessary and an unholy delay.”

Women are already ordained as bishops in the Anglican churches of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.


List grows of EU member states rebelling over EU’s iron budget grip

BRUSSELS – With the virtual buy-out of Greece, Ireland and Spain by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Euro-scepticism is growing among Europe ministers from member states. The European Union has imposed a series of harsh “austerity measures” on Greece that have created widespread unemployment and reduction of public services that has resulted in riots. Several EU states are starting to balk at EU attempts to impose centralized control over national budgets.

Thus far, Latvia, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Denmark, France, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and Poland have all objected in various ways to attempts by Brussels to impose limitations on national budgets. Some countries, including economic powerhouses Italy and the UK, have said they are prepared to veto the European Union’s seven-year budget plan if better deals are not hammered out. Leaders of the 27 EU states are due to meet in Brussels later this week to debate the budget for 2014-2020.

Today Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said that his government is prepared to veto the budget unless it gets a better deal on agricultural subsidies. “If our interests are completely ignored, we don’t exclude that possibility (of a veto),” Dombrovskis told the Latvian television.

Italian Europe Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi has said Italy is “ready to use its veto” if it considers that the next long-term EU budget is “harmful for the country and burdensome for the Italian taxpayer.” Italy’s previous government was removed by pressure from EU chiefs and replaced by a hand-picked, unelected government, made up of EU loyalists, in November last year.

Fatwa issued against Welsh opt-out organ donation plan

CARDIFF – The Association of Muslim Scholars UK) has issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, on the proposal by the government of Wales to start a presumed-consent organ donation plan that would assume everyone in the province is an organ donor unless specifically stated otherwise. The plan is being called “deemed consent” and would automatically declare as organ donors everyone living in Wales more than six months old, including prisoners tourists and students.

The ruling calls on Muslims to oppose strongly “this unjust, unislamic, inhumane bill by all legal and peaceful means”.

The ruling said, “Our organs and our bodies belong to our Creator: ALLAH. We are ordered in Islam to protect all our organs from any harm like alcohol and smoking, and to allow them to be satisfied physiologically with all their needs and as ALLAH wanted. We do not own any of our organs and no one has the right (Muslim or non Muslim) to take any of our organs especially at time of death.”

The fatwa says that Muslims who wish to donate are free to do so, but this should be voluntary and include written consent. This consent must be obtained only after the person is made aware of details of the surgical procedure, including the possibility of organs being taken while the patient is still alive and the heart is still beating or pain is still felt, and any possible harm to the donor when he/she is still alive.

There must be no “interference with the natural moment of death as fixed by ALLAH Almighty and not by doctors,” the ruling continued. “There should not be any interference with the natural moment of death.” This is defined in the ruling as the moment when both the “heart and respiration (and all brain activity) stop naturally and normally the soul leaves the body after natural death”.


Slovakia removes haloes from saints’ images on Euro coins

BRATISLAVA – In a move that is being criticized as kow-towing to secularists, the government of Slovakia has removed the haloes from the images of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, pivotal figures in the country’s history.

The images are on the design for the €2 coin issued to commemorate the 1,150th anniversary of the arrival of the missionary saints in Moravia. The Euroskeptic website Euractiv notes that EU member states are allowed to mint commemorative coins once a year but the design on the back must be “accepted by the remaining eurozone members and the European Commission”.

The Greek Cyril and Methodius were brothers of the 9th century, who became missionaries to the pagan Slavic countries to the north and are regarded as the founding fathers of Slavonic Christianity. They created the Cyrillic alphabet, based on Greek letters, in order to have the Bible and other texts translated into Slavic languages.

One Byzantine Catholic priest commented, calling the decision to remove the haloes an example of “anti-historical and ideological manipulation.”


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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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