Michael Hichborn, American Life League

Where there’s smoke?

Michael Hichborn, American Life League
By Michael Hichborn

Aug. 14, 2013 (ALL) - For the past couple of years, Catholic Relief Services has been at the center of a scandalous controversy regarding the funding of organizations promoting abortion and birth control. In some instances, there have even been claims that CRS was itself involved directly in the distribution of abortifacients and contraception. Through it all, CRS has denied any direct involvement in either the funding or distribution of such things. Though it has, on occasion, conceded that some of its own documentation wrongly promoted the use of condoms, CRS consistently and vehemently denies that it has ever done anything wrong. There’s an old saying: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” The problem is that smoke has a way of concealing the flames. But if we look carefully, we should be able to cut through it all, get right to the source, and see just what kind of fire this is.

Plenty has been written about CRS’ funding of organizations like CARE and Population Services International, and the question about the fungibility of the money from CRS to these organizations is still lingering. But what I would like to focus on is the question of CRS’ direct funding and participation in the promotion of birth control.

After LifeSiteNews reported CRS’ $5.3 million grant to CARE International, one of the defenses offered by CRS was that “none of the funding from CRS was fungible.” 

However, this defense could not be offered when it came to CRS’ dues-paying relationships with other abortion and birth control spreading organizations. When reports came out that CRS is a dues-paying member and on the board of directors of MEDiCAM and CORE Group, CRS issued (in part) these two respective responses:

(Regarding MEDiCAM) MEDiCAM, similar to some networks and professional associations to which CRS belongs, includes organization members and program areas which do not align with all tenets of Catholic teaching. CRS staff who participate in these associations acknowledge our differences, air our disagreements on these issues, and contribute our Catholic voice to the conversation. As a member of such associations, we are able to represent the Catholic positions on health care as well as highlight our work and demonstrate the efficacy of such approaches. 

(Regarding CORE Group) Some networks to which CRS belongs include members which do not uphold all tenets of Catholic teaching. We acknowledge our differences, air our disagreements on these issues, and contribute our Catholic voice to the conversation. As an active and influential member of the CORE Group, we are able to represent the Catholic positions on health for mothers and their infants. 

It is important to note that MEDiCAM has made the spread of abortion (including the individual training of abortion providers) a primary focus of its strategy sessions since at least 2007, and CORE Group spent nearly 50 percent of its total budget toward “family planning” in 2011. The point is, the dues that CRS pays to MEDiCAM and CORE Group are indeed fungible, meaning that any money CRS is giving to these organizations is applied also to the spread of abortion and birth control. CRS does not deny this, but instead attempts to justify the dues-money and the relationship. So, as it stands here, CRS’ defense on the grounds of fungibility does not work.

Last year, while CRS was defending the grant it gave to CARE, it made it very clear that it would never give money to an organization like Planned Parenthood because “there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.” However, in July of this year, CRS was caught giving $2.7 million to a population control organization that uses its work in distributing anti-malaria drugs and mosquito nets (the area for which CRS says it gave funds to PSI) as a means of spreading its population control programs. In fact, PSI even stated in its own material that “reproductive, maternal and child health, and malaria are all deeply intertwined, affecting poor and vulnerable populations in rural areas together. Success (or failure) in one area, such as malaria, can free up resources to focus on other areas, or drag down progress.” 

In every region where PSI is working, it is also spreading abortion, birth control, or both. There is simply no area where its staff is working where they are NOT doing this. As such, it can and must be said that the focus of PSI as an agency, and the preponderance of its work, is population control through the spread of birth control and abortion. And yet, even as CRS made abundantly clear in defense of its grant to CARE that it would never fund an organization like Planned Parenthood, it was in the process of facilitating millions of dollars to an organization an awful lot like Planned Parenthood.

Most recently, Population Research Institute published a couple of reports accusing CRS of being directly involved in the distribution of abortifacient contraception. According to CRS, “CRS programming does not include the promotion or distribution of artificial family planning or distribution of abortifacients in any country in which we work.” Simply put, both claims cannot be true. Either PRI is incorrect, or CRS is incorrect. So, for the answer, we’ll turn to CRS’ programs and documentation.

In 2008, CRS conducted an evaluation of its project called “Preventing AIDS in Northeast India” (PANI). This evaluation of CRS’ own project was conducted and written by two CRS employees from the headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland—Shannon Senefeld, CRS’ Global Director of Health and HIV, and Jennifer Overton, CRS’ technical advisor for HIV programs. In the evaluation, Senefeld and Overton indicate that one of the “correct ways to protect . . . from HIV” is to use condoms. They also lament that “only” 59 percent and 61.1 percent of surveyed individuals “reported using a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse,” and even complained on pages 62 and 63 that

there was almost no reference to full and accurate information about condoms; any references to condoms were made only to explain how the community used to condemn condom use. According to project participants who were interviewed for the evaluation, there is no discussion about condoms at all, even as a prevention method for HIV. This was particularly true in Nagaland where the society appears to be more conservative. It should be noted as well that local CRS staff are not fully aware of CRS’ policy on providing full and accurate information about condoms for prevention of sexually transmitted HIV. (emphasis original)

Page 71 of the PANI evaluation recommends: “There is need for additional training for these initial trainers to ensure correct information trickles down to all the program participants. This includes educating CRS staff and partners on CRS’ position on condoms.”

According to a February 2008 article by the Catholic News Service—the official news agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—CRS “is requiring its foreign partners to give ‘complete and accurate’ information on condoms in all HIV/AIDS programs.” So, it would seem that the PANI evaluation, in complaining that the project does not discuss condom use, is simply following the directives outlined by CRS itself. 

The PANI evaluation isn’t the only place CRS was found to be promoting condom use in its own documentation. In CRS’ sex education program for kids aged 8-12, called Window of Hope, CRS tells kids: “Sex with a condom is not always safe, but correct and consistent use of a condom helps to reduce the risk of getting HIV with an infected person.” In the same document is a script for a puppet show about HIV, conducted by a puppet that represents HIV. On page 174, the puppet says, “Some people use a condom. A condom is a rubber tube that is put on a man’s penis before having sex. If a condom is used correctly, it keeps the fluids from the penis and vagina from mixing and this way keeps ME out of THEIR bodies. Remember that condoms are not always safe, as they may break during sexual intercourse.”

Another of CRS’ programs called “We Stop AIDS,” says: “A condom is a rubberized thin sheath that goes over the penis of a man, forming a barrier between him and his sexual partner. The virus, which is in the semen and female sexual fluids, cannot pass through this sheath. Condoms are 80-90 percent effective when used consistently and correctly.”

In response to an SOP manual for a Vietnamese community center written by CRS, CRS said

CRS does not purchase, promote, or distribute condoms, nor do we provide funding to other organizations for the purchase, promotion, or distribution of condoms. LifeSiteNews recently made us aware of a document that did not conform to this position.

We continue to review all our publications and programs to ensure there is full compliance with this position. We thank LifeSiteNews for pointing out this inconsistency, which will be corrected.

The offending aspects of the document included a scheduled agenda session that answered questions on how to properly use a condom (page 85), and tells seminar instructors (page 164), “Do not forget to provide information on local condom provision.” 

Despite the fact that CRS claims that it does not promote condoms, it is clear from at least these three documents that this claim simply is not true. CRS’ own documents not only provide positive information on condom use, but CRS’ evaluation of the PANI project complains that not enough information is being given on the correct use of condoms and their effectiveness. Unless you are trying to encourage people to use condoms, there is no reason to tell them about how to use them, or about how effective they are. Because of this, CRS cannot claim that it does not promote condoms.

Whether CRS is defending its funding practices on the basis that it isn’t providing fungible money to abortion and birth control promoting organizations, or that in funding such organizations “there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work,” or that it is never directly involved in the promotion of birth control, we can see in this one article that CRS fails on all counts. 1) CRS is providing fungible money to MEDiCAM and CORE Group, which directly promote abortion and birth control; 2) CRS is providing millions of dollars to an organization whose sole focus and purpose for existing is the spread of abortion and birth control for the purpose of population control; and 3) CRS’ own documents identify its participation in the promotion of condom use.

As I said in the beginning, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Considering the undeniable facts contained in this article, when an organization like PRI provides evidence that CRS is directly involved in the promotion of birth control and abortifacients, it is not unreasonable to consider that there just might be a fire behind that smoke, too.

Michael Hichborn is director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Pope Francis eases forgiveness of abortion for Jubilee Year of Mercy

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By John-Henry Westen

ROME, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- In an announcement today, Pope Francis said that he is enacting an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy from December 8, 2015 through November 2016. As part of the Jubilee, the pope has allowed priests to forgive the sin of abortion, which St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) is “murder.”

The statement marks the most extensive remarks on abortion that Pope Francis has made during his pontificate. Rather than downplaying the seriousness of abortion, as some media contend, in the statement the pope encourages the millions of women who have aborted their children to go to confession and seek God’s forgiveness.

In the Catechism, the Church calls abortion a “criminal” practice, and imposes the penalty of excommunication on those who do it -- essentially, removing those who commit abortions from the Church. In the past, typically re-entry into the Church for those who have separated themselves from it by excommunication can only be undertaken by a bishop. However in much of North America priests have already been given standing permission by their bishops to forgive abortion.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained in an email sent to LifeSiteNews today, “For many years now, parish priests have been given permission to absolve the sin of abortion here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia archbishop, who will play host to Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit later this month added, “But the practice has not been common in various other regions of the world.”

“This action in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion,” concluded Chaput. “What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart.”

The pope declared that all priests may forgive the sin of abortion for “those who have procured it and who with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.'"

The pope says in his letter that abortion is a “tragedy” wherein “extreme harm” takes place, and calls it “profoundly unjust.”  He admits however, as does the pro-life movement, that it is an “agonizing and painful decision” and many women “believe that they have no other option.”

In order to be forgiven by God of such a serious offence, the pope says the one who has procured the abortion must be made aware of the “gravity of the sin committed” and be truly repentant. They must come, says Francis, with a “contrite heart, seek forgiveness for” the abortion and hoping for “reconciliation with the Father.”

The full statement from the Pope on the matter of abortion follows:

One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured itand who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

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TLC stars Kody Brown and his four "wives"
Fr. Mark Hodges

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Surprise, surprise: New suit says gay ‘marriage’ ruling laid ground for legal polygamy

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – When "The Pill" was made available to the public in 1964, Christians warned it could lead to promiscuity and disassociation of sex with marriage and children.  They were ridiculed as religious fanatics.

When abortion was made legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy in 1973, Christians warned that it would not save women's lives, but would instead lead to devaluing all human life, especially children's lives. They were dismissed as moral-legislating hate-mongers.

When euthanasia was legalized in Oregon and other states, Christians warned that the non-terminally ill and eventually the mentally handicapped, or simply the unwanted, would be killed in the name of mercy. They were mocked as right-wing crazies.

When sodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere were stricken from the books in 2003, Christians warned that societal approval of that harmful practice would lead to an increase in disease and further perversion. They were ignored and vilified.

When DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) rules for the military were reversed, Christians warned that the epidemic of rapes in the armed services would increase, not decrease, and that combat readiness would continue to diminish. They were called bigots, their words "hate speech."

And so on. Recent history is rife with examples of conservatives warning against societal degradation being vilified as "slippery slope" straw man creators, who want only to legislate morality.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

That's how those who warned that the Supreme Court's same-sex "marriage" decision would lead to legalization of any and all kinds of "marriage," such as a man and several wives or vice versa.

And, as in every case cited above, what Christian conservatives warned is exactly what has now happened.

In a U.S. 10th Circuit court filing, reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives point to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage to buttress their pro-polygamy case.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, summarized to LifeSiteNews, "The left's chaotic cultural agenda knows no boundaries. Once 'marriage' could be redefined to accommodate sexual perversion, it would be impossible to stop other perversions from being recognized." 

The American Family Association's Ed Vitagliano told LifeSiteNews, "It has been clear for decades that sexual radicals in America have been targeting the God-ordained institution of marriage for destruction. Toss in a handful of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, beginning in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), and ending with this summer's debacle (Obergefell v. Hodges), and we are on the verge of seeing the secularists succeed." 

The AFA executive vice president concluded to LifeSiteNews, "We have no doubt that the polygamists will be next to step into the federal courts."

Indeed. Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, have asked the court to uphold a judge's ruling striking down part of Utah's law against polygamy. To prove their case, they cite precedents involving same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges), and a case that struck down a ban on sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas).

"From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence, to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to ... punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions," Brown's filing states. "This case is about the criminalization of consensual relations."

LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews that the move to legalize polygamy is no surprise. "Once the argument for homosexual so-called 'marriage' became 'Love Is Love,' it was only a matter of time before multiple-partner activists would start defending the 'right' to have THEIR [perversion of] 'love' legitimized by state-recognized 'marriage.'"

The Browns, who appear on the television show "Sister Wives," sued the state of Utah over its ban on polygamy, which Brown calls "plural relationships." They argue that the law violates their right to freely practice their religion and their right to equal protection under the law.

Specifically, Brown is challenging the state's assertion that polygamy is harmful to societies that condone it.

Brown argues that the state should not have "the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens."

LaBarbera concluded, "Social conservatives and Christians must work to overturn Obergefell, just like homosexual activists worked to overturn the Supreme Court's Bowers v. Hardwick decision in 1986 that allowed anti-sodomy laws. Otherwise, we are guaranteed to lose more and more freedoms as 'gay' power grows, using legalized 'marriage' as leverage."

Arguments in the Brown polygamy case could take place before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver before the end of the year.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, on March 6, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Sen. McConnell: GOP won’t push Obama on Planned Parenthood defunding

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Planned Parenthood won't lose its funding for at least 18 months, says America's top senator.

Speaking on WYMT TV, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said, "The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood."

“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he said. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But, yeah, we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again, but I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”

McConnell's comments came despite pressure from Senators and Representatives alike, as well as pro-life groups, who want Republicans to make defunding a priority.

"If the president of the United States and Harry Reid think it's more important that Planned Parenthood get your tax dollars than to pay our troops, then they are shutting down the government,” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, R-OH, told CNN last week.

Jordan and others have pushed GOP leaders to attach defunding efforts to must-pass pieces of legislation, such as a highway bill earlier this summer and the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running. GOP leaders have generally opposed this strategy, which has created a schism within the party.

Conversely, Democrats have been largely united. Leaders and rank-and-file members in both parties have generally supported taxpayer funding of the abortion giant, despite the possibility of illegal abortions being done to illegally harvest fetal organs and other body parts.

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