John Westen

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Will Pope Francis fulfill Benedict's legacy on abortion and Communion?

John Westen
John Westen
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ROME, March 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - One of the little-known legacies of Pope Benedict XVI is his consistent push to have pro-abortion politicians given the opportunity to repent and come back to a right relationship with God by refusing them Holy Communion. Benedict’s public role in the matter began in 2004 prior to his pontificate, while head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II.

At that time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger intervened into a debate among the U.S. bishops on the issue of Communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians. The then-Cardinal said in his letter titled "Worthiness to receive Holy Communion," that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion.

Ratzinger’s letter explained that if such a politician "with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it."

As Pope, Benedict XVI confirmed this position. Answering a reporter on an in-flight press conference in 2007, he responded to a question on the Mexican bishops excommunicating politicians who support legalizing abortion. "Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon law, which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving Communion, which is receiving the Body of Christ," said the Pope.

Will Pope Francis follow suit?

The initial signs are positive that Pope Francis will follow in Pope Benedict’s footsteps on the matter.

As LSN reported in 2007, it was Pope Francis (then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) who, on behalf of the bishops of Latin America presented the "Aparecida Document" regarding the situation of the Church in their countries. The document made a very clear statement regarding the consequences of supporting abortion, disallowing Holy Communion for anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians.

The text states in paragraph 436 that "we should commit ourselves to ‘Eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals."

But beyond this signal is Francis’ approach to matters eternal, seeing true love as embracing the cross and the eternal realities rather than merely the temporal and political climate.

But Pope Francis is “pastoral”

To answer the common objection that such disciplinary measures would not be employed with a pastoral approach, one must consider the nature of denial of Holy Communion.

From the earliest days of the Church, receiving Holy Communion unworthily has been forbidden; but forbidden out of concern for those who would make such unworthy Communions. St. Paul in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians wrote: "Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27-29)

From this perspective, Bishops who treat Catholic politicians who support abortion as if they were in full Communion with the Church are neglecting their pastoral concern and charity for their wayward spiritual children.

As Pope Benedict’s appointee to head the highest court in the Vatican, Cardinal Raymond Burke told LifeSiteNews in a 2009 interview, politicians who are persisting in what the Church says is a "grave sin" must be refused Communion for the sake of their own souls. "When you talk to these people, they know," he said. "They know what they're doing is very wrong. They have to answer to God for that, but why through our pastoral negligence add on to that, that they have to answer to God for who knows how many unworthy receptions of Holy Communion?"

The highest authority on the subject in the Vatican, next to the Pope, is the head (or Prefect) of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Antonio Canizares. In a 2009 LifeSiteNews interview, Cardinal Canizares said: "The strongest words are found in St. Paul: one who goes to the Eucharist and is not properly prepared, duly prepared, 'he eats his own condemnation.' This is the strongest thing that we can say and what is the most truthful statement."

He noted that this approach to love in truth is contained in Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate: “This principle, caritas in veritate [love in truth], should be the principle used, first by politicians when they come to Communion, and second it should be the rule for bishops when they decide whether to give or to withdraw Communion."

It remains to be seen if Pope Francis will fulfill the legacy of Pope Benedict on this question. As hard as Pope Benedict pushed for this pastoral reform, it was rarely practiced or enforced by bishops in the West.

Perhaps Pope Francis will be more successful in having the world’s bishops get with the program.

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Lisa Bourne

Planned Parenthood claims database, website hacked by anti-abortion ‘extremists’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Planned Parenthood Federation of America says that its website had been hacked on Sunday by a group of “extremists” opposed to its agenda, who it said had enlisted some of the world’s foremost hackers for the job.

The hackers were able to penetrate into Planned Parenthood website databases, and have released names and email addresses of employees of the abortion provider. The hackers have reportedly said they have plans to decrypt and release internal Planned Parenthood emails soon as well.

“Today Planned Parenthood has notified the Department of Justice and separately the FBI that extremists who oppose Planned Parenthood’s mission and services have launched an attack on our information systems and have called on the world’s most sophisticated hackers to assist them in breaching our systems and threatening the privacy and safety of our staff members,” a Monday statement from Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said.

Laguens called the alleged hack a “new low” in a report from Politico, and said Planned Parenthood was working with “top leaders in this field to manage these attacks.”

“Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women’s health care provider in this country, and anti-abortion extremists are willing to do anything to stop women from accessing the reproductive health care they are seeking,” Laguens said. “Extremists have broken laws, harassed our doctors and patients, produced hack videos, and now are claiming to have committed a gross invasion of privacy — one that, if true, could potentially put our staff members at risk.”

On a public website that included the login credentials of numerous Planned Parenthood employees, the hackers wrote that they are seeking, "to reclaim some sort of lulz for the years and thousands of dollars that Planned Parenthood have wasted and made harvesting your babies."

Planned Parenthood has landed under an intense spotlight since undercover videos surfaced recently showing top officials from the nation’s largest abortion provider discussing the sale of body parts harvest from babies aborted at their facilities. Those behind the undercover videos say that selling the body parts for profit is a violation of federal law.

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In the first round of videos, high-level Planned Parenthood employees bartered for fetal remains and joked about being able to afford a luxury sports car from the proceeds of the transaction.

The latest video released today has a Planned Parenthood vice president selling the body parts of aborted children.

“I think a per-item thing works a little better,” the abortion doctor said of the deceased child in the video, while discussing pricing, “just because we can see how much we can get out of it.”

The controversy has also resulted in increased calls to defund the abortion chain, which receives millions of dollars in federal subsidies each year.

Planned Parenthood has tried to downplay the content of the videos and criticized the group behind them.

News of Planned Parenthood’s cyber breach was first reported by the internet news site The Daily Dot, which quoted the hackers saying the attack was politically motivated.

“We've noticed quite a lot of attention has been diverted to a supposedly malicious organization known as Planned Parenthood,” the hackers reportedly said. “The actions of this 'federation' are not seen as right in the eyes of the public. So here we are, the social justice warriors, seeking to reclaim some sort of lulz for the years and thousands of dollars that Planned Parenthood have wasted and made harvesting your babies.”

Planned Parenthood Chief Information Officer Tom Subak told the Daily Dot just after the attack was discovered that the abortion provider was not aware of the breach beforehand, but that Planned Parenthood had good cyber security.

“We think we have really good security, especially on flagging suspicious behavior,” Subak said. “We have not [received any flags].”

The hackers had reportedly attempted to deface Planned Parenthood’s website or redirect it to their Twitter account, but said they could not because, according to the report, the website “backend is so terribly configured.”

The hackers included an SQL injection command, likely the specific technique used to attack the Planned Parenthood site, at the bottom of the hack’s post, saying, “I didn’t think people were this dumb.” 

Cyber security professionals told LifeSiteNews the attack is likely legitimate, but that it was not as sophisticated as Planned Parenthood claims, given the outdated version of the abortion behemoth’s webserver.

“Prevention is super easy in the realm of computer security,” said Dan Schaupner, a certified security professional and Chief Technology Officer for a Virginia cybersecurity consulting firm.

Based on the claims of the alleged attackers, Schaupner told LifeSiteNews, it appears that they compromised Planned Parenthood’s website, logged into administrator accounts, and obtained user accounts associated with Planned Parenthood, all possible by exploiting weaknesses associated with the outdated webserver.

Planned Parenthood’s management will probably suffer scrutiny from their board members and major funders, he said, and they risk experiencing extensive legal and cleanup costs resulting from the possibility of compromised client information.

Cyber security professional David Flynn checked some of the published employee emails and told LifeSiteNews they appear to be legitimate, but, he said, “interestingly not including the email for Chief Information Officer Tom Subak, who has reported to the news services that he hasn’t observed any intrusion signatures.”

Schaupner said it is likely that a “hacktivist” conducted the attack, quite possibly the ones that made the claim, and that this seems reasonable considering Planned Parenthood’s high profile.

“An alternate possibility is a politically motivated or unhappy insider,” he said, such as a Planned Parenthood employee or contractor.

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Carson Holloway

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Same-sex ‘marriage’ and interracial marriage: not the same thing at all

Carson Holloway
By Carson Holloway

July 28, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse) -- One of the same-sex marriage movement’s most potent polemical tools has been, and surely will continue to be, its equation of same-sex marriage with interracial marriage. On this telling, today’s opposition to same-sex marriage is akin to the opposition to interracial marriage mounted by yesterday’s racists and segregationists. If this assumption were granted, then the legal recognition of same-sex marriage would seem to realize a legitimate equality. A public—like our own—that had largely accepted this parity could at least acquiesce in such a step once it has been imposed by the Supreme Court.

Now the Supreme Court has actually taken such a step and in the course of doing so has given credence to the analogy between same-sex marriage and interracial marriage. This argument will be employed to discredit and demonize those who dissent, those who do not want to cooperate in a distortion of the meaning of marriage. Such dissenters, we will be told, are no different from and no better than the bigots of yesteryear who railed against mixed race marriages.

Racists who objected to interracial marriages were perfectly aware—and indeed fearful—of the fact that interracial marriages would be real marriages, that they could generate and nurture new human lives.

There is, however, no reason at all for the defenders of marriage to submit tamely to the fate that the left has planned for them. They have a right, and indeed a duty, to continue to defend marriage as a union between a man and a woman, with a view to correcting an error widespread in our country, and even with a view, someday, to securing a reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision. They also have a right and a duty to defend themselves from the left’s plans—already triumphantly announced—to use antidiscrimination law to force moral traditionalists to be complicit in unions that they cannot, in conscience, regard as true marriages. It is therefore necessary for the defenders of marriage to explode the bogus charge that their efforts have anything in common with past objections to interracial marriage.

A Specious Analogy

There is an important distinction between the motives of the opponents of interracial marriage and those of the opponents of same-sex marriage: There never was, nor could there have been, a movement in America that opposed interracial marriage as an attack on the meaning of marriage. Put another way, the racists and segregationists of the past did not—unlike today’s opponents of same-sex marriage—present themselves as defenders of the integrity of marriage itself. On the contrary, racists who objected to interracial marriages were perfectly aware—and indeed fearful—of the fact that interracial marriages would be real marriages, that they could generate and nurture new human lives.

Everyone knew, for example, that a black man and a white woman, or a white man and a black woman, could generate mixed-race children. This had happened for centuries. Indeed, it was a common law liberty. This is why anti-miscegenation laws did not merely decline to recognize interracial marriages but actually sought to punish them. The people who wrote those laws knew that such unions really were marriages, that they would by their nature tend to achieve the ends of marriage: the generation and rearing of new members of the human race. Interracial marriages had to be deterred not because the racist thought marriages across the races were impossible, but rather precisely because he knew they were possible.

Viewed in this light, the defenders of traditional marriage and the opponents of interracial marriage are animated not just by different but by actually opposite motives. The former object to same-sex marriage because they know such a union could not be a marriage: a union that is in principle capable of the generation of human life. The latter objected to interracial marriages precisely because they knew that they could function as marriages thus understood.

Unlike today’s defenders of marriage, then, the opponents of interracial marriage were not at all interested in defending the integrity of marriage as it had always been understood. They were interested, instead, in something completely different and totally unrelated: the preservation of racial purity and the maintenance of white supremacy. This is why there was never a significant American movement against, and only against, interracial marriage.

Objections to mixed race marriages were part of a larger movement to keep blacks in a socially and politically inferior position—to defend segregation in education and in all public services, as well as effectively to deprive blacks of the right to vote. In contrast, the defenders of traditional marriage have no such aims. Those who contend that marriage must be understood as a union between a man and a woman have no agenda to set up separate public schools for gays, much less to disenfranchise them.

The general accuracy of the sketch above, moreover, is not undermined by the existence of isolated counterexamples. Perhaps some imaginative racists did frame their objections as the claim that interracial marriage was a threat to the integrity of the institution of marriage. First, for the reasons just noted, it would be impossible to make any rational argument to that effect; one can’t plausibly claim that the purpose of marriage is undermined when the spouses are of different races. But second, the existence of such outliers would do nothing to change the overall character of the anti-civil rights movement, which was a movement, again, not to defend marriage but to keep blacks in a socially and politically subordinate position.

By the same token, some anti-gay bigots today may oppose same-sex marriage on the grounds that the law should in general seek to harass and humiliate gays. Such objectionable arguments, however, cannot reasonably or justly discredit the efforts of serious and sincere defenders of marriage. That such people are not motivated by a desire to disparage gays can be seen by the fact that they tend to understand their definition of marriage as having various other implications regarding, for instance, divorce and non-marital sex.

Infertility and Contraception

Nevertheless, the most zealous proponents of same-sex marriage will insist on the justice of the analogy: Opposition to same-sex marriage is just as irrational and bigoted as opposition to interracial marriage. In both cases, the opposition depends on trying to make something essential to marriage that is in reality non-essential; moreover, they charge, in other contexts the proponents of traditional marriage even agree that the feature in question is non-essential. So they are being inconsistent in this case, which is often a sign of ill will.

The proposed feature, of course, is the orientation of the marital union to generating and nurturing children—to procreation. Do not many heterosexual marriages in fact fail to produce children, as a result of spousal infertility or personal choice? And few deny that such unions are in fact marriages.

This argument is utterly unpersuasive. First of all, even if it were impossible to ground the meaning of marriage in its relation to bearing and rearing children, it would not follow that those who have not yet accepted the Court’s new definition are like the bigots who invented race-based requirements for marriage. To show that defenders of marriage are similarly bigoted, it’s not sufficient to show that they’re wrong; they could simply be defending a false belief, and not all false beliefs are defended in service of distasteful prejudice.

Certainly, their view is not obviously wrong and can be believed without malicious ulterior motive. Marriage was instituted in all cultures primarily with a view to making sure that the father would remain connected with and take care of the woman he had impregnated, for the sake of whatever children she would bear. In view of these facts, which are evident to all, it is ridiculous to maintain that the traditional definition of marriage was somehow devised with the intention of excluding or discriminating against gays.

But defenders of marriage need not concede that the possibility of infertility and contraception undermine their definition of marriage. To insist that they have, and to insist accordingly that there is just no important difference between an interracial and a same-sex marriage, is to overlook another perfectly obvious fact: While heterosexual unions may in some cases fail to generate children, homosexual relationships are absolutely incapable of generating children.

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What, then, of those heterosexual marriages that do not generate children, either through natural infertility or deliberate choice? The defender of traditional marriage contends that such instances of infertility are accidents that in some cases prevent marriage from fulfilling its aims. They are not essential characteristics on the basis of which we should define marriage. Homosexual unions, on the other hand, are essentially infertile.

Now, proponents of same-sex marriage may reject this distinction between nature and accident—although this rejection is something that would have to be defended, for plausibly the distinction does have legitimate application in the biological realm. The important point here, however, is that the further pretense that those who find this distinction relevant are motivated by aims similar to those of America’s past racists, is entirely unwarranted.

One doesn’t have to be motivated by animus to see a point in enshrining such distinctions in law. Social institutions are commonly legally defined on the basis of what usually happens and not what is exceptional. Thus the law has traditionally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman because that kind of union ordinarily yields children. From a legal perspective, even if infertile couples couldn’t marry, it might not be in the state’s interest to check whether a given couple is infertile. Positive laws cannot cover all cases and should not impose a greater burden in enforcement than they can expect to achieve.

On the other hand, same-sex couples are essentially incapable of procreating, and everyone can see this. Therefore, the defender of marriage can plausibly claim that—since marriage is a public and visible institution—licensing same-sex marriages undermines the public understanding of marriage in a way that licensing infertile marriages does not. No aspect of this position needs to be motivated by bigotry toward gays and lesbians in the way that any defense of anti-miscegenation laws must be motivated by bigotry toward blacks.

Those who believe marriage is properly understood as a union of a man and a woman should continue to press their case without being deterred by spurious charges that they are the intellectual descendants of racists. And those who disagree with them should meet them honestly on the field of rational argument without resorting to such groundless slanders.

Carson Holloway is currently a visiting fellow in American political thought in the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at the Heritage Foundation.

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute.

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BREAKING: Shock Planned Parenthood video catches affiliate vice president selling aborted baby parts

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By Ben Johnson

Urgent: Sign the petition demanding that Congress investigate and defund Planned Parenthood here

LOS ANGELES, July 28 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Allegations that Planned Parenthood harvests and sells aborted babies' organs and tissue for a profit have been bolstered with the release of a third undercover video released this morning, showing another of the organization's top leaders appearing to admit to an illegal profit motive.

The latest exposé also features the heartrending testimony of a former clinician who picked through mounds of aborted fetal tissue to find the parts fit for sale, as well as graphic footage of an investigator sorting through an aborted baby's kidneys and brain tissue, examining to see if they meet his standards for purchase.

In the third installment, the Center for Medical Progress covertly videotaped a conversation with Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) Dr. Savita Ginde. PPRM, which is based in Denver, oversees abortion facilities in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

As an undercover filmmaker, who posed as a buyer from a human biologics firm, discusses pricing, the doctor seems to say she is interested in maximizing the abortion facility's revenue by being paid for each individual body part.

“I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it,” Dr. Ginde says of the aborted baby.

After the investigator sifts through and identifies several fetal parts, which he says would net Planned Parenthood $200 to $300 compensation, a medical assistant jokes, “Five stars.”

That posture was familiar to Holly O'Donnell, a phlebotomist and former procurement specialist at StemExpress LLC, the company whose promotional materials promise Planned Parenthood “a financial benefit to your clinic” for selling fetal tissue.

In a jarring interview, O'Donnell remembers learning that was part of her work routine.

“I thought I was going to be just drawing blood, not procuring tissue from aborted fetuses,” O'Donnell said.

But on her first day on the job in 2012, she remembers someone emptying a bottle of blood into a strainer, then placing its contents onto a plate.

Her trainer began pulling aborted babies' body parts out of the mass of tissue. "She said, 'OK, this is a head. This is an arm. This is a leg,'" O'Donnell remembers.

Then the trainer asked her if she could identify the body parts.

"I took the tweezers. I put them in the dish. I remember grabbing the leg...and the moment I picked it up I just feel like deaths and pain...shoot up through my body,” O'Donnell says. “I blacked out, basically."

She says she had to be revived with smelling salts.

Another worker tried to reassure her, saying, "Don't worry. It still happens to a bunch of us. Some of us don't ever get over it"

"I remember leaving that day [thinking] like, what have I gotten myself into?" O'Donnell admits.

In time, she found that the business owners “weren't looking for any compassionate individual at all. They were just looking for someone who could get as much money, as many samples" as possible. "They wanted someone who could get the numbers up."

She said the main nurse from Planned Parenthood was always concerned that StemExpress procure the specimens they sought – not because of concern of medical research, but because the facilities were compensated for it.

“For whatever we could procure, they would get a certain percentage,” she says. “The main nurse was always trying to make sure we got our specimens. No one else really cared, but the main nurse did because she knew that Planned Parenthood was getting compensated.”

"If you can somehow procure a brain or a heart, you're going to get more money," she adds.

"It's a pretty sick company."

The 11-minute-long video – entitled “Human Capital, Episode1” – and the fact that the video ends by showing Dr. Deborach Nucatola (from the first video) saying, “I think this is definitely to be continued,” imply that additional undercover footage along the same lines is forthcoming.

David Daleiden told LifeSiteNews that the release of new investigative material, gathered over the course of 30 months, could stretch out over weeks or months. 

The first video showed Dr. Deborach Nucatola, who oversees medical practices for all national Planned Parenthood offices, discussing organ harvesting while eating a salad and drinking red wine during a business luncheon. She appears to discuss performing partial birth abortions, which have been illegal since 2003.

The second, released last Tuesday, shows the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s for-profit Medical Directors’ Council, Dr. Mary Gatter, seeming to haggle over the price of fetal tissue and joking that, in exchange for selling fetal body parts, "I want a Lamborghini." 

“Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts is an offensive and horrifying reality that is widespread enough for many people to be available to give first-person testimony about it,” said David Daleiden, the lead investigator. “CMP’s investigative journalism work will continue to surface more compelling eyewitness accounts and primary source evidence of Planned Parenthood’s trafficking and selling baby parts for profit. There should be  an immediate moratorium on Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding while Congress and the states determine the full extent of the organization’s lawbreaking.”

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has apologized for the "tone" of the first video but denies any laws have been broken.

It is a federal felony to sell human organs or tissue for "valuable consideration," or to make a profit from such a sale. Richards says the facilities merely break even, and Planned Parenthood has said its work in human organ sales is a "humanitarian undertaking."

“There is no doubt, based on evidence in this video, that Planned Parenthood financially profits from the illegal sale of aborted baby body parts,” said Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, who also serves on the board of the Center for Medical Progress and advised Daleiden during the investigation. "When Planned Parenthood’s head, Cecile Richards, denies this, she is brazenly attempting to deceive the American people. We need to immediately defund Planned Parenthood and hold them criminally accountable for their horrific conduct that clearly runs afoul of the law and violates every sense of human decency.”

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