Young Pastor’s Powerful Sermon Encourages Parishioners to Take Part in Life Chain

By Steve Jalsevac

  MANOTICK, Ontario, October 5, 2007 ( - On Sunday, Sept. 23, a week before Canada’s Life Chain Sunday, Fr. Geoff Kerslake gave what was seen as a powerful sermon encouraging his parishioners to take part in the local Life Chain the following Sunday. Fr. Geoff is the young pastor of St. Leonard’s parish in Manotick, Ontario, located on the fringe of Canada’s capital city of Ottawa.

  Fr. Geoff’s sermon so encouraged one couple who heard it that they had the text re-printed in the bulletin of their own nearby parish the following Sunday. In turn, an enthusiastic reader forwarded it on to LifeSiteNews. We called Fr. Geoff and he gave permission to have his pro-life/Life Chain homily published on LifeSiteNews. We do so especially with the hope that it will provide inspiration to US pastors who will also be delivering pro-life homilies this Life Chain Sunday in the United States.

  Homily for Pro Life/Life Chain Sunday 2007
  by Fr. Geoff Kerslake

Fr. Geoff KerslakeMother Teresa of Calcutta once said: "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." The greatest challenge facing the western world is not violence from without, but the tragic decision to take a life within.

  Forces at work in society today argue that human beings are only worth loving and protecting if they are wanted. Each year people make the decision to end a human life in its most vulnerable stage of growth in the womb under the banner of ‘freedom of choice’. 

  We tell ourselves that the debate about access to abortion is the same as improving waiting times for hip replacement surgery. Society has done a masterful job of selling abortion as a human rights issue. But society ignores that framing the issue of abortion as a freedom issue is done at the expense of another human being’s existence.

  Debate on this subject often is silenced with the assertive quotation of catchy slogans such as "my body, my choice" or by arguing that this is a private medical matter and has nothing to do with ethics or morality. To question whether or not the developing human person in the womb has a right to life labels a person ‘anti-women, patriarchal and undemocratic’.

  This is an emotionally loaded subject and it needs to be approached rationally and compassionately. Many people within the Catholic Church have first hand experience with the trauma of abortion or have lived through its aftermath with family or close friends. The message they need to hear from the Church, from you and me, is not one of judgment or condemnation, but empathy, and compassion. Victims of this trauma, female and male, need to know that the Church is there to listen, to support, to counsel and through the sacrament of reconciliation, to forgive and to begin the process of healing.

  Too often, we as a Catholic community remain silent on this issue because we fear causing upset or division. Pretending that abortion does not happen or that we can just ignore it is like what the rich man in today’s gospel did with Lazarus. He was wilfully blind to the tragic circumstances of someone literally on his doorstep. Pretending that the struggle to recognize the right to life of all human beings does not affect us, or that it is someone else’s issue or problem, is to be as deliberately ignorant as the rich man - and today we see clearly how God looks upon wilful blindness. We must never forget that before there can be a right to freedom of expression or conscience, we must safeguard a human person’s right to life.

  That abortion is an intrinsically morally evil act has been a core tenet of the Church’s belief from its very beginning. There is no wiggle room on this issue and no ability to ‘opt out’ of the Church’s teaching.

  We forget sometimes that the first recognition of Jesus as the Messiah was by John the Baptist, leaping for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, at the approach of Mary, pregnant with the child Jesus. The inherent worth and dignity of the human person, the right to be treated as a person and not an object, is what Jesus Christ proclaimed and suffered for in his ministry. And his death on the cross eloquently shows us the redemptive value of suffering.

  In an effort to avoid giving offence or stirring the pot, we sometimes dance around the truth that the Church safeguards and teaches. Today let us be clear. We have a right, as a Roman Catholic, to the truth, even when it challenges us or upsets us, or causes us to question things we take for granted as ‘given’ in our post-modern, post-Christian society: Roman Catholics cannot support the destruction of an innocent life and remain in solidarity, in harmony, in communion with the church.

  A ‘pro-choice Roman Catholic’ is an oxy-moron. This flies in the face of society’s claims that abortion is a private matter of choice. One of the things that makes us who we are as Catholics is our willingness to go against the grain and to speak the truth, regardless of how well it will be received. To do anything less is to betray our ancestors in the faith and ultimately our Saviour. Doing the right thing, choosing the narrow door, is hard but the alternative is to risk losing everything. Jesus reminds us: "What does it profit a person to gain the whole world, if they lose their soul?"

  But we must do more than preach and teach about the damaging physical and psychological effects of abortion on women and their children. We must recognize that often women faced with an unexpected pregnancy are overwhelmed by their circumstances and are bereft of material and emotional help. Tragically, boyfriends, husbands and other family members add to the confusion by counselling a ‘quick fix’ so that life can get back to normal. As well, abortion providers often minimize the health risks inherent in abortion, both short term and long term, and fail to provide all the information to patients. For example, it was only recently that the American Psychiatric Society recognized "Post Abortion Trauma Syndrome" as a real, crippling consequence for many women (and men) that requires real, medical, treatment.

  The good news is that there is a support group that is gaining strength and a public voice, "Silent no More" by women, for women, to address this very issue of being misled or of having all the relevant information withheld in an effort to supply an immediate ‘fix’ to a life changing situation. And in the bulletin today you can find contact information for several agencies here in Ottawa who help women and men who find themselves overwhelmed by an unexpected pregnancy. Abortion providers are quick to tout an abortion as the solution to a problem, but they are often reluctant to share all of the possible consequences with their patients and they seldom want to help women and their partners deal with the emotionally traumatic aftermath.
  Mother Teresa, this great saint of our times who spent her life working among the poorest of the poor, the desperate, the dying, and the unloved, was a great champion of the dignity of human life, all human life. She was quoted in the New York Wall Street Journal as saying: "America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters". "And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign."

  The church has true compassion and empathy for women who have had an abortion and their partners who are trying to come to terms with the devastating aftermath of that choice - through the sacrament of reconciliation and spiritual counselling, the church welcomes, loves and supports women (and men) who have had first hand experience of this tragedy and come seeking healing.

  There is no room for blame or self-righteous judgment in God’s church, but only mercy, healing and reconciliation. In justice, we must help women who find themselves forced to cope with a difficult pregnancy by providing more than prayers - we must devote more resources to support them and encourage them to choose life, not death for their children. And we must continue to support them and their children after the courageous decision to choose life as well.

  On our part, we have the opportunity to be a silent, visible sign to our city and the world that the God given dignity and sanctity of human life is not a matter of choice. Please join me this Sunday, September 30th, at 2 pm at the corner of Hunt Club and Bank Street for a silent witness to everyone’s right to life. I will join you as soon as possible after I have celebrated the sacrament of baptism with eight infant parishioners and their mothers, fathers and families.

  Pope Benedict, when addressing the government and diplomatic community in Austria said: "The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right—it is the very opposite."

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Prof. Robert Spaemann, a close friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, says Amoris Laetitia directly contradicts St. John Paul II’s teaching.
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Pope’s exhortation is a ‘breach’ with Catholic Tradition: leading German philosopher

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A prominent Catholic philosopher and close friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said Thursday that Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia is a “breach” with Catholic tradition and directly contradicts the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II in his exhortation Familiaris Consortio.

"If the pope is not willing to make a correction, it is up to another pontificate to officially put things back into order."

Professor Robert Spaemann told the Catholic News Agency’s German branch that changing the Church’s sacramental practice would be “a breach with its essential anthropological and theological teaching on human marriage and sexuality.”

“It is clear to every thinking person who knows the texts that are important in this context that [with Amoris Laetitia] there is a breach” with the Church’s Tradition, Spaemann said.

The professor’s remarks were translated by Dr. Maike Hickson in an article at OnePeterFive.

In Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II upheld the Church’s longstanding approach to the question of admitting to the Sacraments remarried divorcees, by writing:

…the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia seemingly contradicts the above passage by asserting that in certain cases, integrating back into the Church the divorced and remarried and others in “irregular” situations “can include the help of the sacraments.”  The footnote then mentions both Confession and the Eucharist.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan criticized Amoris Laetitia for its lack of clarity on the subject.  “Analyzing some of the affirmations of AL with an honest understanding, as they are in their own context, one finds that there is a difficulty in interpreting them according to the traditional doctrine of the Church,” wrote Schneider.

Spaemann also condemned the exhortation’s seeming embrace of “situation ethics” as opposed to universal norms and its call to not judge people’s actions that directly contradict the Church’s sexual ethics.

“When it comes to sexual relations which are in objective contradiction to the Christian order of life, I would like to know from the pope after which time period and under which conditions such an objectively sinful behavior becomes a conduct which is pleasing to God,” said Spaemann. 

By turning “chaos into principle” with “one stroke of a pen,” Pope Francis is leading the Church “into the direction of schism,” Spaemann said—and he warned that such a schism would not be “at the periphery, but in the middle of the Church.” 

Spaemann also warned that Amoris Laetitia may be used to bully faithful priests. He wrote:

Each individual cardinal, as well as each bishop and each priest is now called to preserve in his field of authority the Catholic Sacramental Order and to confess it publicly. If the pope is not willing to make a correction, it is up to another pontificate to officially put things back into order.


Famed German Catholic philosopher makes waves for criticizing Pope Francis’ ‘autocratic’ style

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The Institute for Family Health, a federally qualified health center, has been running an abortion facility in apparent violation of federal law.
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Federally funded community health center may have illegally performed abortions: Report

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A federally qualified health center (FQHC) apparently performed abortions, although nearly all federal funds are forbidden from being used for that purpose, sources tell LifeSiteNews. Now, pro-life congressmen are demanding further investigations into the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to promote abortion-on-demand.

The issue came to light when a federal inspector general's report found that six Americorps volunteers had been acting as "abortion doulas," giving emotional support to women who chose to have abortions.

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) allowed the volunteers – who received tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars – to support abortions that took place inside a New York abortion facility run by the Institute for Family Health (IFH).

Americorps “volunteers” illegally supporting abortion at taxpayer expense is an ongoing problem. But there's more to the story.

The IFH proudly advertises itself as a federally qualified health center (FQHC). Federal dollars are restricted from underwriting most abortion at FQHCs, in line with the Hyde Amendment. This does not hold true for the Affordable Care Act, conventionally known as ObamaCare.

To ease qualms raised by pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak and others, on March 24, 2010, Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13535. It states that “the Hyde [Amendment] language shall apply to the authorization and appropriations of funds for Community Health Centers...I hereby direct the Secretary of HHS to ensure that program administrators and recipients of federal funds are aware of and comply with the limitations on abortion services imposed on CHCs by existing law.”

Pro-life groups warned at the time that an executive order was insufficient to prevent taxpayer funding of abortion, and the law itself had to be amended – or defeated.

Stupak, who voted for ObamaCare before retiring from Congress, later said he was “perplexed and disappointed” by President Obama's “double cross” during the law's implementation.

Pro-life experts today say Congress must investigate whether the law is being violated and, if so, if the offense is isolated to IFH.

"For years the Obama administration has claimed that the Affordable Care Act and federally-funded health centers do not subsidize abortion, and the president finally signed additional provisions, passed last year by Congress, to ensure that community health centers do not use federal funds to support abortion,” said Arina Grossu, the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. “Now we learn that CNCS is violating the law by helping women obtain abortions.”

“This blatant violation of federal law by CNCS and AmeriCorps demands that Congress investigate government-funded community health centers,” Grossu said. “It's time for this administration to stop foisting its radical abortion agenda on the American people and using their tax dollars to do so.” 

Pro-life advocates have long said that there is no need to fund Planned Parenthood, because federal women's health dollars could be reappropriated to FQHCs, which do not perform abortion.

There are 9,170 federally qualified health centers compared to about 700 Planned Parenthood facilities, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. FQHCs see 21.1 million patients a year, while Planned Parenthood saw 2.8 million people, the institute reported.

The latest example of federal dollars being channeled to support abortion, the law notwithstanding, has undermined some confidence in the FQHCs.

Rep. Diane Black, a pro-life Republican from Tennessee, said, “NACHC didn’t just break the rules; they broke trust with the American people. My constituents expect that federal funding given to our community health centers will be used to protect and enhance people’s lives, not to be a willing partner in their destruction.”

At least two Congressional leaders – the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the chair of the House Health Subcommittee – have promised they will take action immediately.

“Federal law demands that taxpayer dollars are never to be spent on abortion activities. Not one penny. Period. But a disturbing report from an independent watchdog reveals that was not the case with brazen pursuits by the National Association of Community Health Centers,” said Congressmen Fred Upton and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, both Republicans. “The law was violated and this shameful failure of trust will not be tolerated.”

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Abortion lobbyists demand Ted Cruz renounce pro-life leader Troy Newman

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WICHITA, Kansas, April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The nation's largest abortion providers, an abortion lobbying group, and an ultra-liberal political organization are demanding that Senator Ted Cruz cut ties with Operation Rescue President Troy Newman – something that only proves how effective he has been, Newman's organization says.

Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and People for the American Way are asking Cruz to fire Newman as national co-chair of the “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition, claiming that Newman supports violence.

“Troy Newman’s history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women’s health providers is truly beyond the pale,” the three say in a letter to Sen. Cruz, linking to quotations from his 2000 book, Their Blood Cries Out.

“What Planned Parenthood and their cohorts call 'violent rhetoric' is really a discussion of Old Testament Bible verses taken out of context,” said Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue and co-author of the book Their Blood Cries Out. The work establishes the sinful guilt of abortion before highlighting the mercy available in the New Testament for those who accept Jesus Christ, Sullenger said.

The letter also cites a report from the National Abortion Federation stating that abortionists have experienced an increase in “hate speech and internet harassment” since the release of CMP's undercover videos of Planned Parenthood, “which Newman was a driving force behind.”

“What they call 'harassment' is peaceful activism that is completely protected by the First Amendment,” Sullenger responded.

Newman has consistently denounced criminal action and violence of any kind during his decades in the pro-life movement, Operation Rescue said of the allegations – many of which were circulated to prevent Newman from entering Australia last year.

“Newman’s position on abortion-related violence is clear. He denounces violence against abortion providers as well as the violence perpetrated by the abortion cartel against innocent babies in the womb and their mothers,” Sullenger said.

“Attacking the messenger is the only way they have to try to discredit the hefty volume of evidence against them. This most recent attack is all about manipulating the public’s perception against those who exposed Planned Parenthood in order to deflect attention from their own crimes.”

But the three groups poured vitriolic scorn on Newman. Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, called Newman's role “completely unacceptable...No politician should be allowed to pander to violent anti-choice extremists without being called out.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said, "Troy Newman is an anti-choice extremist and misogynist ideologue.”

A Planned Parenthood executive said the choice proved Sen. Cruz and his vice presidential choice, Carly Fiorina, are unfit for office.

“It is not surprising to see Ted Cruz embrace this type of violent extremism -- after all this is the same man who has told malicious lies about Planned Parenthood, would criminalize abortion, and tried to shut down the government” to defund Planned Parenthood, said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This is what the Cruz-Fiorina ticket stands for."

Sullenger dismissed their rhetoric as “a feeble attempt to hurt the presidential candidacy of Sen. Ted Cruz, who they know will seek to enforce the laws against them.”

Cruz has repeatedly stated that, if he is elected president, he will defund Planned Parenthood – before prosecuting them.

Their letter has led to a number of articles in the mainstream media, including Politico, the Huffington Post, and Glamour. The last publication, a feminist magazine aimed at young women, slammed Ted Cruz's choice of Carly Fiorina for vice president, telling its readers to “hold on to your uterus.”

“Not one of these publications bothered to reach out to Newman or Operation Rescue’s staff for their response,” Sullenger said.

This morning and afternoon, both sides of the abortion debate have used the Twitter hashtag #FireTroy to get their message across.

Sen. Cruz has not responded to the call, but the letter implies that purging Newman from the campaign would not satisfy the pro-abortion coalition. “There are a number of coalition members whose records raise serious concerns,” they say.


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