Hilary White, Rome Correspondent


Westminster Archbishop reaffirms ‘intention and purpose’ of gay Masses

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

LONDON, March 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a statement released late last month the Catholic archbishop of Westminster “reaffirmed” the “intention and purpose” of the 2007 Pastoral Provision for ministry to homosexuals while suggesting that the way it is being carried out may be under review. The Provision established the notorious “gay” Masses, held at a parish in the Soho district of London that have drawn heavy criticism for the past five years.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols wrote in the statement that the foundations of the Pastoral Provision are “the moral principles concerning chastity and the Church’s teaching on sexual activity, and the pastoral care of Catholics who are of same-sex orientation.”

However, while expressing support for the idea behind the masses, he said that currently “consideration is being given to the circumstances in which these Masses are celebrated to ensure that their purpose is respected and that they are not occasions for confusion or opposition concerning the positive teaching of the Church on the meaning of human sexuality or the moral imperatives that flow from that teaching, which we uphold and towards which we all strive.”

The statement has received a mixed reception among Catholics who have campaigned against the Masses. Critics have complained repeatedly to the archdiocese and have sent written and photographic evidence to Vatican officials that Catholic teaching on sexuality is ignored or openly contradicted at the Masses. Participants at the Masses, they say, make no secret of their lack of interest in giving up homosexual activity.

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Daphne McLeod of the campaign group Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice told LifeSiteNews.com that the scandal of the Soho Masses is the worst-kept secret in the British Church, and participants at the Masses, “don’t even pretend to be chaste.” She said members of her group regularly attend the Masses and have spoken with participants who say that they have never heard from the pulpit that they should not indulge in homosexual activity.

The criticism has stung Catholic leadership in England, and publicly both Nichols and his predecessor Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor have insisted that the Masses are aimed to welcome those who struggle with same-sex attraction and intend to live chaste lives according to the teaching of the Church. In a BBC interview in 2010, Bernard Longley, a former auxiliary of Westminster and now archbishop of Birmingham called the objectors “judgmental” and Archbishop Nichols said that they should “hold their tongues”.

But McLeod defended her group’s position, saying, “We are just reacting to the facts we’ve been given” by regular participants at the Masses. “They walk up to communion hand in hand. They never hear from the pulpit they shouldn’t do it. They have talked to us and said, ‘We don’t know it’s wrong, the priest never tells us’.”

“We’re not being judgmental,” she added. “They tell us quite openly what they’re doing.”

Some prominent British Catholic bloggers and commentators have praised the statement, calling it “good news.” Joanna Bogle, an author and well-known Catholic personality wrote on her popular blog that the statement indicates that Archbishop Nichols may be coming around.

“A new approach seems to have been signaled about something in London which has been all wrong for too long,” she said. “Things look set to change… This is good news and what happens next needs our prayers.”

Deacon Nick Donnelly, who runs the “Protect the Pope” blog, also welcomed the statement, calling it “good news” and saying that it “signifies an important shift in [Nichols’] position on the Soho Masses.”

“Before the Holy Father’s visit the archbishop expressed, in intemperate language that those Catholics concerned about public dissent at the Soho Masses should ‘hold their tongues’. Now 18 months later Archbishop Nichols has admitted the concern that the Soho Masses could be occasions for confusion and opposition to the Church’s teaching and needs investigating. This is exactly the claim made by Daphne McLeod and Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice,” Donnelly wrote.

But McLeod said that so far there is no concrete indication in the statement of any plans to change the current situation.

The organizers of the Soho Masses, who are open about their goals to change Catholic teaching and accept homosexual behaviour as normal, have also warmly welcomed Nichols’ statement.

Quoting New Testament passages on “speaking the truth in love,” Terrence Weldon, a member of the Soho Mass Pastoral Council, wrote in a piece for the liberal Catholic magazine The Tablet, “These verses epitomise the importance of the Soho Masses. For this reason I am glad that the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has this week reaffirmed his support for the Masses and also comfortable with his reminding that they must not oppose or confuse church teaching.”

“Gay men and lesbians know the benefits to mental health of living the truth, by coming out honestly in the truth of their lives. The closet is a lie. We need to be honest, and that includes honesty in Church,” Weldon wrote.

He denied that the Mass is used as an occasion for “sexual hook-ups,” but admitted that “the question of celibacy is not directly discussed or even raised.” There is only, “a tacit understanding of the Church’s teaching, including its teaching on conscience.”

On the comments section of the article, Martin Pendergast, a former priest currently living in a civil partnership with another man also commented, “Those of us who have been long-committed members of the Church, and are involved in other parishes, find our participation in the Soho Masses community a source of nourishment for our other commitments.”

Pendergast is another member of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council and is a well-known figure in the homosexualist activist community whose “partner” is the former head of the Catholic bishops’ charitable organisation CAFOD. Pendergast is a founding member of the “Cutting Edge Consortium,” a political lobby group that opposes opt-outs from Equality legislation that would allow churches to refuse to ordain or hire active homosexuals. 

Despite her group’s misgivings, McLeod told LSN that some of the wording in the statement is clearly intended to be conciliatory. She said that although it has seemed their efforts have been fruitless, the statement’s language possibly indicates that Nichols is under some pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to clean up the scandal.

“We all wondered about it,” she said, “and we can only think that he’s under pressure from Rome. This makes us very hopeful.”

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BREAKING: Planned Parenthood shooting suspect surrenders, is in custody: police

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By John Jalsevac

Nov. 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Five hours after a single male shooter reportedly opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, chatter on police radio is indicating that the suspect has now been "detained."

"We have our suspect and he says he is alone," said police on the police radio channel. 

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also confirmed via Twitter shortly after 7:00 pm EST that the suspect was in custody.

The news comes almost exactly an hour after the start of a 6:00 pm. press conference in which Lt. Catherine Buckley had confirmed that a single shooter was still at large, and had exchanged gunfire with police moments before.

According to Lt. Buckley, four, and possibly five police officers have been shot since the first 911 call was received at 11:38 am local time today. An unknown number of civilians have also been shot.

Although initial reports had suggested that the shooting began outside the Planned Parenthood, possibly outside a nearby bank, Lt. Buckley said that in fact the incident began at the Planned Parenthood itself.

She said that the suspect had also brought unknown "items" with him to the Planned Parenthood. 

Pro-life groups have started responding to the news, urging caution in jumping to conclusions about the motivations of the shooter, while also condemning the use of violence in promoting the pro-life cause. 

"Information is very sketchy about the currently active shooting situation in Colorado Springs," said Pavone. "The Planned Parenthood was the address given in the initial call to the police, but we still do not know what connection, if any, the shooting has to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion.

"As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also issued statements.

"Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics and has a long history of working through peaceful channels to advocate on behalf of women and their babies," said Newman. "We express deep concern for everyone involved and are praying for the safety of those at the Planned Parenthood office and for law enforcement personnel. We pray this tragic situation can be quickly resolved without further injury to anyone."

"Although we don't know the reasons for the shooting near the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs today, the pro-life movement is praying for the safety of all involved and as a movement we have always unequivocally condemned all forms of violence at abortion clinics. We must continually as a nation stand against violence on all levels," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, based in Washington, D.C.


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Rubio says SCOTUS didn’t ‘settle’ marriage issue: ‘God’s rules always win’

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Surging GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, says that "God's law" trumps the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision imposing same-sex “marriage” nationwide.

The senator also told Christian Broadcast Network's David Brody that the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage is not "settled," but instead "current law."

“No law is settled,” said Rubio. “Roe v. Wade is current law, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to aspire to fix it, because we think it’s wrong.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called to participate in that process to try to change it,” he explained, and "the proper place for that to be defined is at the state level, where marriage has always been regulated — not by the Supreme Court and not by the federal government.”

However, when laws conflict with religious beliefs, "God's rules always win," said Rubio.

“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin — violate God’s law and sin — if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that,” Rubio expounded. “We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.”

“I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman," said the senator, who earlier in the fall was backed by billionaire GOP donor and same-sex "marriage" supporter Paul Singer.

Singer, who also backs looser immigration laws and a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, has long pushed for the GOP to change its position on marriage in part due to the sexual orientation of his son.

Despite Singer's support, Rubio's marriage stance has largely been consistent. He told Brody earlier in the year that "there isn't such a right" to same-sex "marriage."

"You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. Constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex."

Rubio also said religious liberty should be defended against LGBT activists he says "want to stigmatize, they want to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them as haters."

"I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman," he said.

Rubio also hired social conservative leader Eric Teetsel as his director of faith outreach this month.

However, things have not been entirely smooth for Rubio on marriage. Social conservatives were concerned when the executive director of the LGBT-focused Log Cabin Republicans told Reuters in the spring that the Catholic senator is "not as adamantly opposed to all things LGBT as some of his statements suggest."

The LGBT activist group had meetings with Rubio's office "going back some time," though the senator himself never attended those meetings. Rubio has publicly said that he would attend the homosexual "wedding" of a gay loved one, and also that he believed "that sexual preference is something that people are born with," as opposed to being a choice.

Additionally, days after the Supreme Court redefined marriage, Rubio said that he disagreed with the decision but that "we live in a republic and must abide by the law."

"I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman," he said. "People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

Rubio also said at the time that "it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood…"

“I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.”

The Florida senator said in July that he opposed a constitutional marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution to leave marriage up to the states because that would involve the federal government in state marriage policies.

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Former The View star Sherri Shepherd and then-husband Lamar Sally in 2010 s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
Steve Weatherbe

Court orders Sherri Shepherd to pay child support for surrogate son she abandoned

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By Steve Weatherbe

November 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Sherri Shepherd, a Hollywood celebrity who co-hosted the popular talk show The View for seven years, has lost a maternity suit launched by her ex-husband Lamar Sally, forcing her to pay him alimony and child support for their one-year surrogate son LJ. The decision follows an unseemly fight which pro-life blogger Cassy Fiano says has exposed how surrogacy results in “commodifying” the unborn.

Shepherd, a co-host of the View from 2007 to 2014, met Sally, a screenwriter, in 2010 and they married a year later. Because her eggs were not viable, they arranged a surrogate mother in Pennsylvania to bear them a baby conceived in vitro using Sally’s sperm and a donated egg.

But the marriage soured in mid-term about the time Shepherd lost her job with The View. According to one tabloid explanation, she was worried he would contribute little to parenting responsibilities.  Sally filed for separation in 2014, Shepherd filed for divorce a few days, then Sally sued for sole custody, then alimony and child support.

Earlier this year she told PEOPLE she had gone along with the surrogacy to prevent the breakup of the marriage and had not really wanted the child.

Shepherd, an avowed Christian who once denied evolution on The View and a successful comic actor on Broadway, TV, and in film since the mid-90s, didn’t want anything to do with LJ, as Lamar named the boy, who after all carried none of her genes. She refused to be at bedside for the birth, and refused to let her name be put on the birth certificate and to shoulder any responsibility for LJ’s support.

But in April the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, and now the state’s Superior Court, ruled that Shepherd’s name must go on the birth certificate and she must pay Sally alimony and child support.

“The ultimate outcome is that this baby has two parents and the parents are Lamar Sally and Sherri Shepherd,” Shepherd’s lawyer Tiffany Palmer said.

As for the father, Sally told PEOPLE, “I'm glad it's finally over. I'm glad the judges saw through all the lies that she put out there, and the negative media attention. If she won't be there for L.J. emotionally, I'll be parent enough for the both of us.”

But Shepherd said, “I am appealing the ruling that happened,” though in the meantime, Sally will “get his settlement every month. There’s nothing I can do.”

Commented Fiano in Live Action News, “What’s so sickening about this case is that this little boy, whose life was created in a test tube, was treated as nothing more than a commodity…Saying that you don’t want a baby but will engineer one to get something you want is horrific.” As for trying to get out from child support payments now that the marriage had failed, that was “despicable.”

Fiano went on to characterize the Shepherd-Sally affair as a “notable example” of commodification of children, and “by no means an anomaly.” She cited a British report than over the past five years 123 babies conceived in vitro were callously aborted when they turned out to have Down Syndrome.

“When we’re not ready for babies, we have an abortion,” she added. “But then when we decide we are ready we manufacture them in a laboratory and destroy any extras. Children exist when we want them to exist, to fill the holes in us that we want them to fill, instead of being independent lives with their own inherent value and dignity.”

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