Steve Jalsevac

We must embrace conflict

Steve Jalsevac
Steve Jalsevac

My dear friends,

Only five more days until Christmas, the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. And yet, we should not forget that circumstances around His birth and during His life and at the end of His earthy life were anything but peaceful. There are lessons in this related to LifeSiteNews and its mission.

Christ lived and taught and was Love, but that love and teaching were never politically correct. They often involved the saying of hard truths that many did not want to hear.

Christ’s birth was the ultimate sign of God’s love for the human race. And yet He was hated and there were those who wanted to kill Him, even as an infant and later as He healed thousands of diseases and even raised some from the dead. In the end, He was cruelly murdered.

One of the lessons of His life was that true love does not avoid conflict, and true love is often obliged to say things that are not welcomed or that disturb people, although the intent is never to disturb or to hurt. True love involves sticking one’s neck out where others refuse to do so for fear of personal discomfort, loss of worldly respect, or other less-than-admirable reasons.

At the recent International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, which was co-sponsored by LifeSiteNews, 14-year-old Lia Mills gave a message well beyond her young years related to all of this. Many of us were astonished how, at such a very young age, she has come to understand what even most adults do not about the battle for life and family.

Lia described the anger she faced after her pro-life speech went viral on YouTube, noting that she even received death threats. But while we’re tempted to avoid conflict, she said, “the truth is that as pro-life people … we cannot avoid conflict, but [we must] embrace it in the right way. … My family and I have learned to embrace conflict.”

What amazing wisdom from such a young girl! Christ embraced conflict, as did all the prophets and saints and most great leaders from the past. When one is acting against great evils, as LifeSiteNews is, attacks or conflict are an inevitable companion. And yet, we are obliged to persevere. And we do.

We have learned to accept that, when our news reports are effective against evils, the conflict that results, and is not sought, is often an affirmation that we are, as an air force military priest chaplain advised, “over the target.”

Austin Ruse, the president of C-FAM, wrote last week, “Where would we all be without LifeSiteNews.com? They cover the life and family issues like a glove. They are often first to report and when needed they cause a lot of trouble in all the right places. I read LifeSiteNews. I salute LifeSiteNews.com”

We “cause a lot of trouble” or “embrace conflict,” not because we like or seek conflict, but simply because we report truth. LifeSiteNews could play it safe and avoid controversy, but then we would have to deny the TRUTH. The birth of Christ reminds us that we cannot do that, no matter how much others protest, or how heavy is the cross that results.

That birth also reminds us that, no matter how charitable and objectively we state certain truths, there will always be those who will rage against that truth, as they did against Christ, the saints and many other great religious or secular leaders.

At this point, we have achieved half of our fundraising goal for the 2010 Christmas Campaign. At $75,000, we are more than grateful for the generosity that’s been demonstrated by our supporters.

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It’s not easy working for LifeSiteNews. We’re often accused of insensitivities and atrocities, not only by gay rights activists, but also by the pro-abortion movement, proponents of stem cell research and euthanasia, anti-family organizations, and yes, even some liberal Church leaders.

It can be pretty daunting to see our critics point fingers at us and label us bigots, extremists, and other names I’d dare not share.

Yet, why would we endure such abuse if it were not for love?

Here at LifeSiteNews, we anticipate these struggles. Although we expect our critics to challenge us at every corner, we must shoulder the burden of this work in order to educate and activate society to bring out cultural change.

We are willing to endure hardships for the purpose of defending life family, truth, and love.

The world needs LifeSiteNews. All across the globe, people such as yourselves are struggling as they face the culture of death on a daily basis:

  • Our friends in Ireland are concerned about the European Court claiming the nation’s pro-life laws violate the “right to privacy.”

  • The U.N. Secretary-General demanded greater respect for homosexual and transgender rights, attempting to mainstream the gay agenda while sacrificing freedom of religion.

  • The ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project is targeting Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, who threatened to renounce a Catholic hospital for performing an abortion.

  • Pro-Life Action League President Joe Scheidler’s house was vandalized by an embittered pro-abortion activist.

  • A Quebec high school distributed graphic pamphlets instructing youth on how to perform “safe” oral sex.

The stories we report can sometimes seem discouraging, but our job is not merely to bring you such updates on the trials and tribulations that we and our friends and allies face. Our job is to report these stories so they may, in turn, encourage our readers and arm them with good information to challenge the anti-life and anti-family agenda.

We provide you, our readers, with the tools necessary to battle the anti-life and anti-family movement.

Now we humbly ask you to give us the tools needed to continue reaching the world with this crucial service.
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Our friends and allies strongly affirm their praises of LifeSiteNews:

  • “No one is more on target, no one is more open with the facts than LifeSiteNews.  I’m humbled by the coverage I’ve received from them and I urge all people of good will, pro-life and pro-family, to continue and double and redouble their financial support of this institution so that we should be able to get out the message and fight the moral fight for the glory of God.” Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada

  • “Over the years American Life League has become so dependent on LifeSiteNews.com that we cannot imagine doing our educational work without them. We need them; the babies need them; the world needs them … their brand of no nonsense, unabashedly principled reporting is an asset beyond measure.” Judie Brown, President of American Life League

  • “A lot of us wouldn’t be able to work so effectively if not for the extraordinarily good work of LifeSiteNews, which is the most widely read pro-life news service in the world.” John Smeaton, Director of Britain’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

  • “LifeSiteNews has been extremely valuable to us in our efforts to protect life and family in Latin America. LifeSite’s interest in reporting on key happenings throughout Latin America has been crucial in creating awareness, and very importantly, causing others to act!” Julia Regina Sol de Cardenal, President of Si a la Vida, El Salvador

The battle that lies before us will be long and arduous. That we can guarantee. With you as our allies, we can approach the frontlines with greater hope and fortitude.

Please help LifeSiteNews celebrate life and truth this Christmas through a gift of $5, $50, $100, $1,000, $5,000, or even more.
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Thank you for your support of LifeSiteNews.

For Life and Family,

Steve Jalsevac
Managing Director and Co-founder
LifeSiteNews

PS: U.S. donors can donate to LifeSiteNews to reduce taxable income for 2010 when you itemize your tax deductions. So don’t forget to donate before the year’s end!

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Vatican’s doctrine chief: ‘Absolutely anti-Catholic’ to let bishops conferences decide doctrine or discipline

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By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has rejected outright the idea floated by Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx that various bishops’ conferences around the world would decide for themselves on points of discipline or doctrine. 

“This is an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the catholicity of the Church,” Cardinal Müller told France’s Famille Chrétienne in an interview published today

The question was raised because Cardinal Marx, the head of the German Catholic bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Nine, told reporters that the German bishops would chart their own course on the question of allowing Communion for those in “irregular” sexual unions.

“We are not a subsidiary of Rome,” he said in February. “The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.”

Vatican Cardinal Müller remarked that while episcopal conferences may have authority over certain issues they are not a parallel magisterium apart from the pope or outside communion with the bishops united to him.

Asked specifically about Cardinal Marx saying that the Church in Germany is “not a subsidiary of Rome,” the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said pointedly “the president of an Episcopal Conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and as such has no special teaching authority.”  He added moreover, that the dioceses in a particular country “are not subsidiaries of the secretariat of an Episcopal conference or diocese whose Bishop presides over the Episcopal Conference.”

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The CDF head warned that “this attitude makes the risk of waking some polarization between the local churches and the universal Church.” He did not however believe that there was the will for Episcopal conferences to separate from Rome.

The important interview also saw Cardinal Müller contest the notion that the pastoral practice or discipline could change while retaining the same doctrine. “We can not affirm the doctrine and initiate a practice that is contrary to the doctrine,” he said.

He added that not even the papal Magisterium is free to change doctrine. “Every word of God is entrusted to the Church, but it is not superior to the Word,” he said. “The Magisterium is not superior to the word of God. The reverse is true.”

Cardinal Müller rejected the notion that we would have to modify Christ’s unflinching words totally forbidding divorce and remarriage.  We cannot “say that our ministry should be more cautious than Jesus Christ Himself!”  Nor could we, he added, say that Christ’s teaching is out of date or that “we need to correct or refine Jesus Christ because He lived in an idealistic world.” 

Rather, the cardinal said, bishops must be ready for martyrdom.  Quoting Jesus he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and if we speak all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

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‘Groundbreaking’: Kansas may become first state to ban dismemberment abortions

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By Ben Johnson

TOPEKA, KS, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kansas will become the first state in the country to ban a procedure in which unborn children are dismembered in the womb, if Gov. Sam Brownback signs a bill that recently passed the state legislature.

The state House passed a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions, called dismemberment abortions in common parlance, by 98-26 on Wednesday.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, which had already passed the state Senate in February 31-9, now heads to Gov. Brownback's desk.

Brownback, a staunch defender of life, is expected to sign the act into law.

"Because of the Kansas legislature's strong pro-life convictions, unborn children in the state will be protected from brutal dismemberment abortions," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, which has made banning dismemberment abortions a national legislative focus.

The procedure, in which an abortionist separates the unborn child's limbs from his body one at a time, accounts for 600 abortions statewide every year.

Nationally, it is “the most prevalent method of second-trimester pregnancy termination in the USA, accounting for 96 percent of all second trimester abortions,” according to the National Abortion Federation Abortion Training Textbook.

“It’s just unconscionable that something happens to children that we wouldn’t tolerate being done to pets,” Katie Ostrowski, the legislative director of Kansans for Life, told The Wichita Eagle.

Leading pro-life advocacy groups have made shifting the debate to dismemberment a national priority, with similar legislation being considered in Missouri and Oklahoma. Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., who is NRLC's director of state legislation, called the bill's passage in Topeka “groundbreaking.”

"When the national debate focuses only on the mother, it is forgetting someone," she said.

The abortion lobby has made clear that it is uncomfortable engaging in a public relations tussle on this ground.

Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues associate of the Guttmacher Institute, said that dismemberment is “not medical language, so it’s a little bit difficult to figure out what the language would do.”

On the state Senate floor, Democrats tried to alter the bill's language on the floor by replacing the term “unborn child” with fetus. “I know some of you don’t believe in science. But it’s not an unborn child, it’s called a fetus,” said state Senator David Haley, D-Kansas City.

If the bill becomes law, the abortion industry has vowed to fight on.

Julie Burkhart, a former associate of late-term abortionist George Tiller, said the motion's only intention is “to intimidate, threaten and criminalize doctors.”

“Policymakers should be ashamed,” she said, adding, “if passed, we will challenge it in court.”

Gov. Brownback has previously signed conscience rights protections and sweeping pro-life protections into law.

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How NOT to move beyond the abortion wars

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By Anne Hendershott

March 26, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- A few years ago, when an undergraduate student research assistant of mine—a recent convert to Catholicism—told me that he was planning to meet with a well-known dissenting Catholic theology professor who was then ensconced in an endowed chair at a major metropolitan Catholic university, I told him: “Be careful, you might end up liking him too much.” I jokingly told my student not to make eye contact with the theologian because he might begin to find himself agreeing with him that Catholic teachings “really allow” for women’s ordination and full reproductive rights—including access to abortion.

I was reminded of that conversation this week when I began reading a new book by yet another engaging Catholic theology professor at a major metropolitan university who also claims (pg 6) that the argument he puts forward in his book, Beyond the Abortion Wars, is “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine.” Written by Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University, the new book purports to be in line with Catholic teachings and promises “a way forward for a new generation.” But, Camosy delivers yet another argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion when confronted with an unborn child that he has described—in the past—as an “innocent aggressor.”

Indeed, Camosy has spent much of his career trying to convince us that he knows Catholic teachings better than the bishops. Criticizing Bishop Olmsted for his intervention and excommunication of a hospital administrator for her role in the direct abortion at a Phoenix Catholic hospital, Camosy suggested in 2013 that “the infamous Phoenix abortion case set us back in this regard.” Implying that Bishop Olmsted was not smart enough to understand the moral theology involved in the case, Camosy claimed that “The moral theology in the case was complex—which makes the decision to declare publicly that Sr. McBride had excommunicated herself even more inexplicable. The Church can do better.” For Camosy, “Catholics must be ready to help shape our new discussion on abortion. And we must do so in a way that draws people into the conversation—not only with respectful listening, but speaking in a way that is both coherent and sensitive.”

This new book is likely Camosy’s attempt to “draw people into the conversation.” But, there is little in his book that is either coherent or sensitive. Claiming to want to move “beyond” the abortion wars, Camosy creates an argument that seems designed to offend the pro-life side, while giving great respect to those who want to make sure abortion remains legal.

Especially offensive for pro-life readers will be Camosy’s description of the abortifacient, RU-486 as a form of “indirect abortion.” The reality is that RU-486, commonly known as the “abortion pill,” effectively ends an early pregnancy (up to 8 weeks) by turning off the pregnancy hormone (progesterone). Progesterone is necessary to maintain the pregnancy and when it is made inoperative, the fetus is aborted. For Camosy, who claims that his book is “consistent with settled Catholic doctrine,” this is not a “direct” abortion. To illustrate this, Camosy enlists philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson’s 1971 “Defense of Abortion”—the hypothetical story of the young woman who is kidnapped and wakes up in a hospital bed to find that her healthy circulatory system has been hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist who has a fatal kidney ailment. The woman’s body is being used to keep the violinist alive until a “cure” for the violinist can be found. Camosy makes the case—as hundreds of thousands of pro-choice proponents have made in the past four decades—that one cannot be guilty of directly killing the violinist if one simply disconnects oneself from him. Likewise, for Camosy, simply taking the drug RU 486 is not “directly” killing the fetus. He writes:

The drugs present in RU 486 do not by their very nature appear to attack the fetus. Instead, the drug cuts off the pregnancy hormone and the fetus is detached from the woman’s body…. Using RU 486 is like removing yourself from [Judith Jarvis Thompson’s] violinist once you are attached. You don’t aim at his death, but instead remove yourself because you don’t think you have the duty to support his life with your body…. Some abortions are indirect and better understood as refusals to aid (pp 82-83).

Perhaps there are some readers who will find Camosy’s argument convincing, but I am not sure that many faithful Catholic readers will agree that it is consistent with settled Catholic doctrine.

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As one who is hardly a bystander in the abortion wars, I wanted to like this book. As an incrementalist who celebrates every small step in creating policy to protect the unborn, I had high hopes that this book would at last begin to bridge the divide. A decade ago, in my own book, The Politics of Abortion, I joined the argument begun by writers like Marvin Olasky in his Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, that it is more effective to attempt to change the hearts and minds of people than to create divisive public policy at the federal level. I share Charles Camosy’s desire to end the abortion wars—but this war cannot end until the real war on the unborn ends. This does not mean that the two sides cannot work together—battling it out at the state level—where there is the opportunity for the greatest success. But, complex philosophical arguments on whether RU 486 is a direct or indirect form of abortion are not helpful to these conversations.

Camosy must know that we can never really “end” the abortion wars as long as unborn children are still viewed as “aggressors” or “invaders” and can still be legally aborted. Faithful Catholics know that there is no middle ground on this—the pro-life side has to prevail in any war on the unborn. It can be done incrementally but ground has to be gained—not ceded—for the pro-life side. Besides, Camosy seems a bit late to the battlefield to begin with. In many ways, he seems to have missed the fact that the pro-life side is already winning many of the battles through waiting periods, ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and restrictions on late term abortion at the state level. More than 300 policies to protect the unborn have been passed at the state level just in the past few years. The number of abortions each year has fallen to pre-Roe era levels—the lowest in more than four decade.   Much of these gains are due to the selfless efforts of the pro-life community and their religious leaders. Yet, just as victory appears possible in many more states, Camosy seems to want to surrender by resurrecting the tired rhetoric—and the unconscious violinists—of forty years ago.

While it is disappointing, it is not unexpected considering Camosy’s last book lauded the contributions of Princeton’s most notorious professor, Peter Singer—the proponent of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. Claiming that Singer is “motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals,” Camosy’s 2012 book, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization, argues that, “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”  In a post at New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a progressive organization led by Rev. Richard Cizik (a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals who was removed from his position because of his public support for same sex unions, and his softening stance on abortion) Camosy wrote that he found Singer to be “friendly and compassionate.”  Camosy currently serves on the Advisory Board of Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership—where he has posted Peter Singer-like articles including: “Why Christians Should Support Rationing Health Care.”

One cannot know the motivations of another—we can never know what is in another’s heart so it is difficult to know why Charles Camosy wrote this book. It must be difficult to be a pro-life professor at Fordham University—a school known for dissenting theologians like Elizabeth Johnson. But, if one truly wants to advance a culture of life in which all children are welcomed into the world, it would seem that inviting Peter Singer to be an honored speaker to students at Fordham in 2012 is not the way to do it, nor would claiming that RU-486 “may not aim at death by intention.” Perhaps it is unwise to continue to critically review Camosy’s work from a Catholic perspective because it gives such statements credibility—and notoriety. But, as long as Camosy continues to claim that his writings and policy suggestions—including his newly proposed “Mother and Prenatal Child Protection Act”—are “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine,” faithful Catholics will have to continue to denounce them.

Reprinted with permission from Crisis Magazine. 

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