Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Vatican vows to continue fighting for traditional marriage despite setbacks

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, November 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an unusually strongly worded statement on Vatican Radio’s website, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the head of the Vatican’s press office, has vowed that the Church “will not give up its defence of marriage” despite recent setbacks.

Lombardi’s comments followed a front-page editorial in the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which appeared the same day and decried the growth of “politically correct ideologies invading every culture of the world,” backed by organizations like the UN. The paper called for “courage” from Catholics in fighting those ideologies.

The Church, said the editorial, “is the only institution to point out that while it is certainly unfair to persecute homosexuals, to oppose the marriage between persons of the same sex is not an offensive act, but a point of view that must be respected.”

“And so is opposition to abortion,” it added. “This is not an attack on human rights, but the defense of a social structure - the heterosexual family - which formed the basis, so far, of all human societies.”

In a statement published in 30 different languages, Lombardi agreed, writing that the Church’s opposition to same-sex “marriage” is not a matter of unjust discrimination, which the Church does not allow. Rather it is “a question of admitting that a husband and a wife are publicly recognised as such; and that children who come into the world can know, and say they have, a father and a mother.”

Lombardi was responding to the fact that voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington State on Tuesday voted to legalize same-sex “marriage.” Lombardi called the votes “myopic” and said that “the logic of it cannot have a far-sighted outlook for the common good.”

He also noted the hardening of the legal situation in Spain, where the Constitutional Court recently refused an appeal challenging the country’s same-sex “marriage” law, and the fact that a bill has been introduced in France to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

The erosion of natural marriage in the laws of Western countries, Lombardi said, “does not cease to amaze.”

There is “public acknowledgement” that “monogamous marriage between a man and woman is an achievement of civilization,” he said.

Catholics who oppose the re-writing of marriage laws maintain that disconnecting marriage from procreation is a way of draining all genuine meaning from the institution. Unhooked from its procreative purpose, they say, marriage could come to mean any pairing or even grouping of consenting people.

Lombardi took up this theme, saying, “If not, why not contemplate also freely chosen polygamy and, of course, not to discriminate, polyandry?”

Defending natural marriage, Lombardi said, is a matter of “preserving a vision of the human person and of human relationships where there is a public acknowledgement of monogamous marriage between a man and woman is an achievement of civilization.”

The Catholic Church, he said, will not “give up proposing that society recognise a specific place for marriage between a man and a woman”.

In the editorial in L’Osservatore Romano, journalist Lucetta Scaraffia wrote, “The church is called to present itself as the lone critic of modernity, the only check ... to the breakup of the anthropological structures on which human society was founded.”

“It seems in fact that the Church, at least on this floor, is doomed to failure,” Scaraffia wrote, but this appearance is deceptive. “Contrary opinions, even by journalists and intellectuals close to the Church,” are finding their way into the public debate, she said, a result of Catholics raising their objections after reflection on the topic and honing their reasons in public forums.

“Catholics are playing a key role in today’s guardians of freedom of religion and belief,” Scaraffia wrote.

She cited the case of the Catholic adoption agencies in the UK, some of which fought lengthy legal battles for the right to refuse to consider gay partners as adoptive parents. Their struggle, Scaraffia wrote, “has made it clear to everyone that this is not progress, but rather a conflict that sees the defeat in these cases of one of the freedoms constitutive of the modern state, the religious freedom.”

Scaraffia noted the irony of the US forcing Catholic institutions to violate their religious principles and provide contraceptives for employees: “To restrict religious freedom in a country founded by colonists who had fled there in order to freely practice their faith is really a dangerous contradiction.”

Catholics, she said, are the only group to “have the courage and the strength to oppose an ideology based on political correctness, that is invading every culture in the world, thanks to the support it gets from the United Nations.”

The pair of editorials are a departure for the Vatican’s media machinery that that has heretofore been largely supportive of Obama and dismissive of his many Catholic critics. L’Osservatore Roman’s editor-in-chief, Gian Maria Vian, has penned several editorials defending and praising Obama and his administration, including one in 2009 in which he said that far from being a pro-abortion president, Obama – who is on record as voting against a bill the would have protected infants born alive after failed abortions – can only really be called “pro-choice”.

The definition of natural marriage has already been abolished in eleven countries since 2000: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden. Same-sex “marriage” has also now been installed in parts of Mexico and at the state level in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

The states of Maryland, Maine and Washington approved the creation of “same-sex marriage” at last week’s election. The topic is open to legislative debate in a dozen other Western countries.

In addition, civil unions, also called civil partnerships, domestic partnerships or registered partnerships, have been created in law in many jurisdictions and grant all or most of the privileges of legal marriage, including in some cases the right to adopt children. They are recognised in Andorra, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Same-sex civil partnerships are recognised in Mexico in Coahuila and Mexico City and the United States in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.



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Texas AG to Target: Show me how you’ll protect women and kids from criminals

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The latest backlash Target received as a result of its transgender bathroom policy was a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the company to provide its safety policies to protect women and children from “those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.” 

“Target, of course, is free to choose such a policy for its Texas stores,” Paxton wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell. He noted the possibility of the Texas Legislature addressing the issue in the future, but said, “regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity.”

“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton continued.

More than 1.1 million people have pledged to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.  Opponents of the policy worry that it puts women and children at risk by emboldening predators, who may now freely enter women’s restrooms. 

Target’s new policy is “inclusive,” the company claims, and they say “everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.” 

“Texans statewide can no longer be silent on the issue of protecting the safety of women and children,” Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said in a statement Wednesday urging Texans to boycott Target.  This is the first time in its history the pro-family group has called for a boycott. 

“We need all Texans to understand that Target is using this radical change in their store policy to try convince people that our laws should be changed in this dangerous direction as well,” said Saena.  “Our goal with this boycott is for Target to change its dangerous new policy, to raise awareness of the real threats to safety that these policies bring and to help businesses and lawmakers understand the significant opposition to such measures that is growing daily… Texans all across our state must join this Boycott Target effort before someone gets hurt.”

On Tuesday a male allegedly filmed an underage girl at a Frisco, Texas, Target fitting room.  Police are searching for the man. 

There have been numerous incidents of male predators across North America accessing women’s facilities and citing transgender policies as allowing them to do so.  



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Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against a katz / Shutterstock.com
Albert Mohler

Opinion,

Christians, America has reached a crisis point. Are you ready to take up this challenge?

Albert Mohler

May 5, 2016 (Albert Mohler) -- For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose? 

To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.

Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.

Much of this was essentially affirmed until the early decades of the 20th century when progressivists began promoting an agenda that fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government in public life. By the middle of the 20th century, the Democratic Party had essentially embraced this progressivist agenda, becoming committed to an increasingly powerful government—a government whose powers exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. At the same time, the Democratic Party also began advocating for a basic redefinition of the morality that shaped the common culture. By and large, however, the Republican Party continued to maintain a commitment to the vision of America’s founders, advocating for a traditional understanding of morality while also upholding the principle of limited government.

By the 1980s, the two parties represented two very different worldviews and two very different visions of American government. For decades, each party has acted rather predictably and in ways that accord with their fundamental principles. All of that, however, has now changed.

The 2016 presidential campaign has developed in an entirely unpredictable manner and, in many respects, represents a crisis in American democracy. This crisis is not limited to either party. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has won several stunning victories in the primary season over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While it is still extremely likely that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, Sanders support among voters represents a populist flirtation with Democratic Socialism. This pattern is something few Democrats could have imagined just one year ago. What this foray into Democratic Socialism represents, then, is a radical adjustment of the Democratic Party’s basic economic principles. Thus, even if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, the process will likely drag her even further to the left, eventually redefining the Democratic Party before our very eyes.

But if it is remarkable to see what is happening in the Democratic Party, it is absolutely shocking to see what is happening among Republicans. Traditionally, the Republican Party has established its reputation by standing for the principles advocated by the American Founders—limited government upheld by the health of society’s primary institutions such as marriage, family, and community. Yet Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against. Clearly, both political parties are now redefining themselves. What is not clear is where each party will ultimately end up. What is also not clear is whether the American experiment can survive such radical political change.

As already noted, the American experiment in limited government requires that the citizenry and those who hold public office honor certain moral virtues and respect the institutions that are crucial for a society to rightly function. Yet, we now find ourselves in a situation where the three leading candidates for president show little to no respect for such institutions in their articulations of public policy.

This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.

To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.

Headlines from around the world tell us that other representative democracies are at a similar moment of redefinition. Political turmoil now marks the United Kingdom and also nations like France and other key American allies. Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home. Yet if this is a moment of testing for democracy, it is also a crucial moment for Christian witness. This election cycle is going to be a particular test for American Christians—and we are about to find out if Christians are up to this challenge.

Reprinted with permission from Albert Mohler.



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‘Sick and twisted’: Scientists keep embryos alive outside womb up to 13 days for experimentation

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two teams of scientists have announced that they have been able to keep human embryos alive outside the womb for 13 days for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments. Some call the announcement the onset of a “Brave New World,” while others are petitioning lawmakers to lift sanctions that would keep scientists from experimenting on newly conceived babies even longer.

Researchers from Cambridge University, King's College, and Rockefeller University said in two separate reports that they stopped at 13 days only to avoid violating an internationally accepted law. At least 12 nations restrict the amount of time a newly conceived child may be kept alive in a laboratory to 14 days, the point at which scientists believe “individuality” begins.

The newest development allows scientists to observe newly conceived human beings after the point at which implantation in the womb would have occurred.

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, one of the studies' lead researchers, said her team's breakthrough could advance embryonic stem cell research and “can improve IVF success.”

Some scientists have called on the international community to extend the amount of time such experimentation can take place.

“If restrictions such as the 14-day rule are viewed as moral truths, such cynicism would be warranted,” three experts – Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston – wrote in a commentary published yesterday in Nature magazine. “But when they are understood to be tools designed to strike a balance between enabling research and maintaining public trust, it becomes clear that, as circumstances and attitudes evolve, limits can be legitimately recalibrated.”

Pro-life experts said the experimentation destroys human life and could lead to grave ethical dilemmas by extending the research.

“No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the experimentation “sick and twisted.”

“Science has undeniably proven that a new human life, with unrepeatable DNA, begins at conception,” she said. “There is no reason for experimentation on that human life and science itself should not be heralding thae fact that a tiny human being can survive now for two weeks outside of the womb, all for the sole purpose of experimentation.”

Dr. Prentice noted that embryonic stem cell research “has yielded no benefit thus far,” leading even its most vocal advocates, such as Michael J. Fox, to admit it has not lived up to its promise.

“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” asked Prentice. “This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions.”

Dr. Prentice encouraged Congress “to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”



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