Patrick Craine

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Senior U.S. Bishops’ official helped elect abortion lobby’s new ‘national hero’ to Texas Senate

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Texas state senator has emerged as a “national hero” and “rising Democratic star,” in the words of mainstream media outlets, after she carried out an eleven-hour filibuster this week that paved the way for the failure of a sweeping pro-life bill. Pundits are musing about Sen. Wendy Davis’ chances at taking on Gov. Rick Perry in the state’s 2014 gubernatorial contest, and some zealous media supporters are even charting her path to the presidency.

But amidst the abortion lobby’s love fest with Davis, some Catholic bloggers and pro-life activists are pointing out that a senior official at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) played an official role in getting her elected to the Texas State Senate in the first place.

Ralph McCloud, director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an arm of the USCCB dedicated to combatting domestic poverty, served as the treasurer on Davis’ campaign team in her bid for the State Senate in 2008, in which she unseated a pro-life incumbent, Republican Kim Brimer.

McCloud’s role on the campaign was first revealed two years ago by the blog Creative Minority Report amidst revelations, still ongoing, that the Catholic agency was involved in funding dozens of groups that advocate for abortion, same-sex “marriage”, contraception, prostitution, and other evils condemned by the Church.

McCloud responded at the time that he was not aware of Davis’ position on abortion and that his role on the campaign was minimal.

But critics pointed out that Davis’ stance on abortion was clear even then. Her campaign was strongly backed by Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion PAC Annie’s List raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on her behalf while McCloud was serving as treasurer.

McCloud had served with Davis on the Fort Worth City Council from 1999 to 2005. In his response, he said Davis was a “friend and colleague” who had asked him to serve as treasurer in an “honorary role” and that he was “unaware that she subsequently took a position on abortion that conflicted with my own strong pro-life convictions.”

“We had never discussed or worked on issues related to protecting the unborn or abortion. At the time I gave my permission to serve the honorary role as treasurer, Ms. Davis had taken no position on abortion nor accepted any campaign funds,” he said.

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“I am deeply and consistently pro-life, beginning with protecting the lives of unborn children, the most vulnerable in our midst,” he said. “More importantly, CCHD is fully and completely committed to upholding the teaching of the Catholic Church on the life and dignity of all. I am proud of my role as Director in insuring that CCHD abides by these principles and am working to strengthen them in carrying out the review and renewal of CCHD.”

During his tenure as head of CCHD since 2007, McCloud has been charged with overseeing a review and renewal of the organization launched by the bishops. He has been involved in defunding several grantees after investigations by independent pro-life researchers, earning the organization much scorn among left-wing activists and media.

But the organization has also strongly lashed out at faithful Catholic critics, and has continued to fund numerous problematic groups without addressing concerns raised by investigators.

“Regardless of whether or not Ralph McCloud knew just how pro-abortion Wendy Davis is, she was able to filibuster a legislative restriction on abortion because McCloud helped her win a senate seat,” said Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project.  “In part, he must own responsibility for that filibuster."

"The real problem here is that McCloud had an obligation to know where Wendy Davis stood on moral issues before he gave her a ringing endorsement and agreed to be her campaign treasurer, but he didn't even ask,” said Hichborn. “If he is unable to discern where a colleague he's worked with for six years stood on abortion, then how on Earth is he going to be able to determine which organizations are worthy of Catholic funds? It would seem that our findings over the past four years speak for themselves."

"Last summer, we proved to McCloud that the Gamaliel Foundation was lying directly to him over their membership in a pro-homosexual organization, and that was when he cancelled our meeting and stopped communicating with us,” Hichborn added. “Perhaps with Wendy Davis' recent activities, he will realize that hiding from the facts will only get him into trouble."

LifeSiteNews.com contacted McCloud by phone and e-mail but did not hear back by press time.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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