Kathleen Gilbert

U.S. Congressmen: Time running out for Obama admin to fix ‘scandalous’ handling of Chen situation

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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Click “like” to join a Facebook page in support of Chen!

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a Congressional hearing on Thursday afternoon, U.S. lawmakers and top human rights activists joined together to emphasize to the Obama administration that time was running out for U.S. officials to rectify the “scandal” of their handling of embattled Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng by facilitating his plea for freedom.

Rep. Frank Wolf expressed alarm at the handling of Chen’s case by the Obama administration, which stonewalled on the issue before giving human rights leaders and media a whitewashed account of a “very happy” Chen voluntarily leaving his place of refuge.

“You wonder if there were other forces at work. Had word come down from on high to take care of the Chen situation no matter what?” said Wolf, who said he would formally request to review all U.S. cable traffic “classified or otherwise” regarding Chen.

“This much is certain: the Obama administration has a high moral obligation to protect Chen and his family. To do anything less would be scandalous,” said Wolf. “The world is watching, both dictators and dissidents. The administration must be bold.”

Congressman Chris Smith, Capitol Hill’s top advocate for human rights in China, said that he had been prevented from speaking with Chen, who had requested a telephone call with Smith, and had been denied a visa to visit Chen by the Chinese Embassy since October. “The time has come for us to clearly and unambiguously raise the stakes. It’s time for change,” said Smith of U.S. relationships with China.

Bob Fu of ChinaAid told Congress that troubling news of U.S. officials transmitting the Chinese government’s threat to Chen’s family was verified when he asked Chen Thursday exactly what took place before he left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

“Chen was talked by a US government official before he stepped out of the embassy, and he was told it was a Chinese government message that the Chinese government wanted to convey that message through the US official, that if he chose not to walk out of the embassy on May the second, he would not be able to see his wife and his children again,” said Fu.

Fu reiterated what had been reported earlier, that Chen made the decision to leave the embassy on a lack of information, having been unable to see his wife or speak to friends before being escorted to a Beijing hospital. Fu said Chen also did not know before leaving the embassy that his wife had already been beaten and threatened with death, and that she had been told that if her husband didn’t leave the embassy, she would be killed.

Click “like” to join a Facebook page in support of Chen!

Fu expressed disgust at the lack of follow-up by U.S. officials, pointing to Chen’s inability to reach them despite repeatedly telephoning, and how Chen’s family was not even given food until U.S. officials, contacted by friends of Chen, pressured hospital staff. “They were suffering starvation their first night of freedom!” said Fu.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post cited sources who confirmed U.S. officials rushed Chen out of the embassy to keep from ruffling Sino-American diplomatic relations, an effort covered up by promises from the U.S. that soon fell apart.

“The notion that we can offer protection to him when we can’t make calls to him at our discretion tells you something about the ‘deal’ we struck with the Chinese authorities,” she wrote.

Several human rights advocates on Thursday demanded further action from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has not commented on the crisis since a Wednesday statement saying she was “pleased” to facilitate Chen’s “stay and departure” from the embassy.

Chinese author Bei Ling in a CNN column said it would be impossible for Chen to live a peaceful life in China anymore - “surveillance, wiretapping and random threats will follow him everywhere like a shadow” - and strongly urged the secretary to meet Chen in person.

“Regardless of how busy Clinton is with high-level meetings during her time in Beijing, the well-being of Chen and his family must be a priority. A mere telephone conversation isn’t enough,” wrote Ling.

Michael Horowitz, Senior Fellow of Hudson Institute, expressed shock at “the sheer, utter incompetence” of administration officials in their haste to brush the Chen affair under the rug.

“[The Chen crisis] puts China on the defensive. It’s not our weakness, it’s their weakness,” said Horowitz.

Even though it would require a “diplomatic push” to obtain passports, Fu said he believed China would let Chen and his family get to safety - but only if the Obama administration stood firm.

Several commentators are beginning to describe the affair as an embarrassment to the United States, as its reputation as a safe haven from brutality abroad has been shaken.

Paul Roderick Gregory on Forbes excoriated U.S. officials for their “cowardice” in sacrificing a “fundamental moral issue” for diplomatic gain.

“Chinese dissidents now understand that the U.S. is a paper tiger worried more about the Chinese exchange rate and United Nations vetoes than about fundamental issues of human rights,” wrote Gregory.

Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a leading advocate against China’s one-child policy, also said at a press conference in Washington that Chinese dissidents are “feeling extremely betrayed right now” because the U.S. “basically handed over a hero from our own embassy.”

“This has done untold damage to the US as a human rights defender,” she said - damage that could only be rectified by getting Chen’s family safely into the U.S.

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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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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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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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