All articles from February 06, 2018


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African-American teacher faces three-year suspension for calling homosexuality a sin

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

UNION, New Jersey, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- A high school teacher was suspended for three years for sharing her views of homosexuality on a personal Facebook page.

Jenye “Viki” Knox served Union High School since 2000 as a teacher and faculty adviser for the students’ Bible study group. She began teaching handicapped students 28 years ago.

An ordained minister, Knox communicated her opinion openly on social media. In 2011, she criticized an LGBTQIA+ promotion featured in the school’s display glass. “Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us?” Knox posted.

"Homosexuality is a perverted spirit ... I know sin and it breeds like cancer,” Knox, 56, commented. Sodomy is “unnatural immoral behavior” that is “against the Nature and Character of God.”

Those comments got Knox in hot water with the school district.  

"We do not have to accept anything, anyone, or any behavior or any choices!” she expressed in all-caps to emphasize her constitutional freedoms. “I do not have to tolerate anything others wish to do.”

"I do have to love and speak and do what’s right!” she admitted, again in all-caps.

Knox was summarily charged with conduct unbecoming a teacher and suspended without pay. Later, school officials filed tenure charges against her to take away her job security in order to fire her.  

Included in the school charges were allegations that Knox alerted school officials via email that homosexual teachers were “targeting young and impressionable students for indoctrination into alternative sexual lifestyles.” Knox denied sending the emails.

Knox eventually resigned in mid-2012 under “stress.”

In 2013, Knox sued the district for violating her right to free speech and her right to the free expression of her religion. She wanted her job back with back pay and the admission that she was within her rights under the Constitution to express her views on Facebook.

"These Facebook posts that she made were done on her time, at her home, after school hours, on her home computer, and it was addressing a matter that could arguably be of big societal concern,” Knox attorney Demetrios Stratis said.  

"Her personal beliefs are what they are. They are her Christian values and that has nothing to do with hate,” her sister, Wanda Leake, said.

"They’re vilifying her. If they knew her they would not do that,” her husband Gene said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey admitted that though they did not approve of Knox’s Christian beliefs, “her beliefs and comments are protected by the First Amendment.”

Eventually, the schoolteacher reached a confidential settlement on the tenure issue. The board used that against her, arguing her lawsuit was moot because she settled on the tenure issue, but in 2015 U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty allowed her suit to go forward.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Department of Education voided her teaching certificates.  Knox appealed and bargained for compromise to a three-year suspension.  

The state agreed last month and has suspended Knox’s certification as an elementary and  nursery school teacher and as a special ed teacher for handicapped students.

The three-year suspension agreement specifies Knox “did not admit or concede to the truth of allegations.”

Teachers who qualify for a disability pension receive about 43 percent of their average salary.

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Christine Accurso (second from left) of Morning Star OB/GYN and Dr. John Bruchalski (second from right) of Tepeyac Center and Divine Mercy Center receive $2,500 gifts.
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Catholic health share group honors solidly pro-life healthcare providers

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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Catholic health-share ministry that offers a moral alternative to costly and often problematic healthcare is celebrating tremendous growth and its pivotal place in the changing climate.  

Solidarity HealthShare (SHS) is also developing key relationships in its mission to restore and rebuild an authentic healthcare system that respects and defends the sanctity of all human life.

SHS hosted a "Celebration of Life" in conjunction with the March for Life in Washington D.C. Solidarity is a supporter of the March.

The group honored two pro-life healthcare providers with a monetary award that will promote collaboration among them and others to expand genuinely pro-woman healthcare.

Tepeyac Center and Divine Mercy Care of Fairfax, Virginia, and Morning Star OB/GYN of Gilbert, Arizona, each received a $2,500 gift on the eve of the March to support their work in the new Pro Women’s Healthcare Centers Consortium. Tepeyac OB/GYN was founded by former abortionist Dr. John Bruchalski. 

Solidarity COO Chris Faddis said the two providers “have not only professed and lived the pro-life movement, but have dedicated their service and their careers to it as well.”

Faddis said the award recipients have also helped other OB/GYNs see that they can go out and be pro-life healthcare providers while living their faith in their practices.

Assisting Catholic healthcare providers in maintaining moral principles is the other side of the coin in the mission of SHS -- becoming known as the affordable, efficient, and effective alternative to health insurance that is also respects Catholic Christian principles.

“We’ve grown tenfold over the last year,” Hahn told LifeSiteNews.

SHS now has 3,431 memberships, he said, which equates to 8,308 souls participating.

The advent of this Catholic health-share ministry comes at a critical time with healthcare and conscience rights -- for both providers and patients -- are in the headlines.

Even with the Obamacare individual mandate having been repealed, significant concerns remain in U.S. healthcare, including high insurance costs, issues with coverage availability, and patients losing provider choice.

With the Obama administration’s policies promoting abortion, contraception and other progressive issues, countless individuals and faith-based organizations were faced in recent years with violating their consciences in providing and purchasing healthcare.

Solidarity was already providing a moral alternative to the abortion and contraception-subsidizing Obamacare. Now, as the Trump administration reinforces conscience protections in healthcare, SHS continues to work to foster the ability of patients and providers to participate in healthcare without sacrificing Catholic principles.

“It’s a true blessing, what’s going on,” Solidarity HealthShare CEO Brad Hahn told LifeSiteNews. “It’s amazing the path we’re paving right now.”

Trump’s HHS announced a new conscience protection of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights last month. The new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division brings enforcement of conscience and religious liberty laws in healthcare back as a focus -- a U-turn from the Obama administration’s stance.

The following day, HHS took further steps to protect conscience rights and life.

First, HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance to state Medicaid directors that restored the individual states’ ability to determine program standards. The letter rescinded 2016 Obama administration guidance that explicitly restricted states’ ability to take certain actions against providers that offer abortion.

In addition, HHS’ Office for Civil Rights announced a new proposed rule to enforce 25 existing statutory conscience protections for individuals involved in HHS-funded programs. These protect people from being coerced into taking part in activities that violate their consciences, such as abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide.

This was something welcomed by Hahn.

He pointed out that the rule specifically designates healthcare sharing ministry for protection. It also protects patients from being subjected to certain healthcare or services over their conscientious objection.

The proposed rule also explains how conscience protection in healthcare is an actual benefit to society, Hahn noted, through promoting diverse participation in the field, which gives patients the ability to access providers who share their convictions.  

Hahn said the proposed rule and the recently revived federal conscience protections are great to have in place but would still be at risk from another subsequent administration that does not uphold the conscience issue.

For this reason, Solidarity HealthShare has begun collaborating with the Catholic Medical Association to explore ways to safeguard the protections.

“This Ping-Pong match we’re playing with conscience rights has to stop,” Hahn told LifeSiteNews.

Chris Faddis lauded the Catholic Medical Association, telling the Celebration of Life gathering that the CMA has been bringing together Catholic doctors from around the country and driving forward the ethic of life in healthcare.

Catholic Medical Association president Peter Morrow, M.D., praised Faddis and Hahn in his keynote speech for the event for SHS providing “affordable and sustainable healthcare that respects and defends life at all its stages.”

"The CMA and Solidarity know full well that true healthcare must be based not only on sound economics,” Morrow said, “but also sound morals and ethics. Both our organizations are committed to the same goal -- restoring healthcare.”

To this end, he said the two groups are collaborating on an educational conference in the fall, the theme of which will be restoring healthcare and building a parallel structure to deliver compassionate care.

"Securing conscience rights is critical if the principles of the Catholic Church are to be preserved in the practice of medicine, said Morrow.

But this doesn’t only refer to Catholic patients and healthcare providers.

"And this is true for all pro-life advocates,” Morrow said.

"Yes, we do live in very challenging times,” he added, “and, yes, we are engaging in a fierce battle -- a battle between good and evil -- however it is the Divine Physician that has chosen each of us to live in this precise time in history.”

Hahn said the time has come for healthcare to respect life and conscience.

"We believe, in this fight for life, it is now time to build a healthcare system that respects and defends life at all stages, lowers costs for families, and provides access to high-quality care where the patient and doctor relationship is respected and encouraged." Hahn said. 

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Cardinal Zen rebukes the Vatican’s Secretary of State over China: He is a ‘man of little faith’

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ROME, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen has criticized the Vatican’s Secretary of State over comments about the Holy See’s relations with China. Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, says Cardinal Pietro Parolin is a “man of little faith” and he wonders if Parolin knows what “true suffering is.”

In a statement released on Monday, Cardinal Zen addressed the controversy over the Vatican legitimizing excommunicated bishops loyal to Beijing and the forcing of legitimate bishops of the underground Church into retirement.

Zen said that while several close associates have advised him to pray more and to speak less, he wants to “keep talking,” especially because he senses that “before long” he will no longer be able to speak.

“How many nights of suffering will the priests and laity endure, at the thought that they will have to bow down to and obey those bishops who are now illegitimate and excommunicated, but tomorrow will be legitimized by the Holy See, and supported by the government,” he said.

Responding to accusations regarding the appointment of bishops, Cardinal Parolin said in a Jan. 31 interview with La Stampa that the Church knows the sufferings endured by the Chinese people but is confident that once the question of episcopal appointments has been settled, the obstacles to Chinese Catholics living in communion with the Pope and among themselves should be greatly diminished.

“Does this man of little faith know what true suffering is?” Cardinal Zen asked.

“The brothers and sisters of mainland China are not afraid of being reduced to poverty, of being put into prison, of shedding their blood. Their greatest suffering is to see themselves betrayed by ‘family,’” he said.

The Cardinal of Hong Kong described Parolin’s interview as “filled with erroneous opinions,” and accused him of manipulating Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics.

One day earlier, on Jan. 30, 2018, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke issued an official statement concerning “widespread news on a presumed difference of thought and action” between Pope Francis “and his collaborators in the Roman Curia on issues relating to China.”

The communique came the day after Cardinal Zen revealed in an open letter the contents of a conversation he had with Pope Francis. The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong said he expressed to the Holy Father his grave fears over the recent steps taken in China by Vatican representatives regarding the appointment of bishops. Burke’s statement read:

The Pope is in constant contact with his collaborators, in particular in the Secretariat of State, on Chinese issues, and is informed by them faithfully and in detail on the situation of the Catholic Church in China and on the steps in the dialogue in progress between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, which he follows with special attention. It is therefore surprising and regrettable that the contrary is affirmed by people in the Church, thus fostering confusion and controversy.

In his statement on Monday, Cardinal Zen took issue with the Vatican spokesman, calling him a “caged bird” who should be comforted since he is “forced to carry out such an embarrassing role.”

Here below is a LifeSiteNews translation (from Italian) of Cardinal Zen’s full statement.

***

FOUR OBSERVATIONS

by Joseph Zen Zekiun

Several people who care about me have advised me to pray more and not to speak too much. Of course it is right to pray more, because the Lord is our hope and we have confidence in the intercession of Our Lady, the Mother of God.

They have probably advised me in this way out of the fear that if I speak too much, I will be more easily attacked. But I am not afraid of this, because my words are correct and helpful. At my age, I don’t care whether I gain or lose.

I want to keep talking because I have the impression that before long I will not be able to talk anymore. And so I ask your forgiveness.

1. In the reading at Mass this Sunday, Job has to endure the long night of suffering, in which he laments that he no longer sees happiness with his eyes. But Psalm 146 invites us to praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted. In recent days, brothers and sisters living on the Chinese mainland have learned that the Vatican is ready to surrender to the Chinese communist party, and so they are uneasy. Given that illegitimate and excommunicated bishops will be legitimized, while the legitimate ones will be forced to retire, it is logical that the legitimate and clandestine bishops should be concerned about their fate. How many nights of suffering will the priests and laity endure, at the thought that they will have to bow down to and obey those bishops who are now illegitimate and excommunicated, but tomorrow will be legitimized by the Holy See, and supported by the government. Especially as a disaster has already begun without having to wait for tomorrow. As of February 1, new government rules on religious activity have gone into effect. The clandestine priests of Shanghai have asked the faithful not to go to their Masses anymore, because those who persist in doing so will be arrested! But do not be afraid, because the Lord heals the brokenhearted.

2. The Holy See’s Secretary of State has said that “we know the sufferings endured yesterday and today by our Chinese brothers and sisters.” But does this man of little faith know what true suffering is? The brothers and sisters of mainland China are not afraid of being reduced to poverty, of being put into prison, of shedding their blood. Their greatest suffering is to see themselves betrayed by “family.” Parolin’s interview is filled with erroneous opinions. It is not decent for a high-ranking official of the Holy See to manipulate the letter [to Chinese Catholics] of a Pope, even if he is already retired, by citing the passage (4.7): “The solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities,” but concealing the fact that the letter immediately continues by saying that “at the same time, though, compliance with those authorities is not acceptable when they interfere unduly in matters regarding the faith and discipline of the Church.”

During World Youth Day in Korea, the Pope told the Asian bishops that “the prerequisite of dialogue is coherence with one’s own identity.” Well informed persons in the upper ranks of the Holy See are now saying with regret that “we will be like a bird in a cage but the cage will be bigger; we are asking for as much space as possible.” But the real problem is not whether the cage is big or small, but who is in this cage. The clandestine believers are not in it. But now you want to force them into it as well, so that that they too may be “reconciled” with those who are already inside! Of course, there are people in the cage who are trapped there, but there also servile and domineering persons who are inside it quite willingly. (I was the first to say that there is only one Church in China and that all believers, both of the official Church and of the clandestine Church, love the pope; but now I no longer dare to say this).

Since I have decided to let truth and justice prevail (everything I say starts from the principle of preserving the pope’s reputation and setting the Church’s doctrine in clear light), I have no difficulty in saying that I reported my opinions on “dialogue” to Pope Francis when he received me in private audience three years ago. The pope listened to me attentively for forty minutes, without interrupting me. When I told him that, objectively speaking, the official Church of mainland China is schismatic (in that it has an autonomous administration independent of the Holy See and dependent on the government), the pope replied: “Of course!”

3. Yesterday not a few individuals came to see me or telephoned me to offer me some comfort, following the accusation made against me by the spokesman for the Vatican. But they have misunderstood, because I do not need to be comforted. It would have been better for them to have gone to comfort that spokesman. He is the one who is a caged bird forced to carry out such an embarrassing role: this time he was very efficient and immediately criticized by intervention (and of course he read what had been written by others). One may recall that more than a year ago, prior to the 9th Congress of Representatives of the Chinese Catholic Church, he was the one who said that “the Holy See is waiting to make a judgment based on proven facts.” One year later, they are still waiting to make judgments.

4. Also deserving of pity is the commentator from the “South China Morning Post” who every day finds someone to criticize and lampoon: he must be an expert who knows everything and could have his say on all the programs de omnibus et aliquibus aliis. This person has written that I love politics more than religion. I want to wake him up a bit: “Where angels fear to tread, the fools rush in.” Does he know what religion is, what faith is? He has said that I have decided to make the believers of mainland China suffer. But does he understand what the real suffering is for persons of faith? Nonetheless, the last thing he said was right: “The Vatican has to readjust its worldly diplomacy, whatever its spiritual preferences.” But they are not only preferences, they are non-negotiable principles!

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Bishop Juan Barros
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Pope Francis’ claim he never heard from abuse victims regarding Chilean bishop is false, AP reports

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis’ recent claim that he never received any victim testimony regarding the complicity of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros in child sex abuse is being called into question after the Associated Press reported that the pope had indeed received a letter about Barros from a victim.

Moreover, the letter was hand-delivered to Pope Francis by none other than Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, according to the AP.

The AP reports that both the author of the letter and members of Francis’ commission on clerical sex abuse told them that “Pope Francis received a victim's letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope's recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up.”

The victim’s letter, according to the AP, was taken to Francis by Cardinal O’Malley after the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors expressed concern to O’Malley over the Barros appointment, and delivered the letter to O’Malley. The agency also claims to have a copy of the letter.

The AP says Cardinal O’Malley’s office declined to comment on its current story, referring inquiries about the matter to the Vatican.

“The day that they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will speak”

The controversy over the delivery of the letter stems from the pope’s recent trip to Chile, where a reporter asked Francis about Barros, who was appointed by the pontiff to lead the Diocese of Osorno in 2015, despite allegations from a number of individuals who say that Barros knew about and even witnessed another priest abusing them.

The priest in question, Fr. Fernando Karadima, was sent off to a forced retirement after the Vatican examined victims’ accusations against him and found them to be credible. He continues to maintain his innocence, as does Barros and other clergy that victims say knew about the abuse.

Francis sparked outrage in Chile when he told the reporter questioning him about the Barros case, “The day that they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will speak. There isn’t a single piece of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

Pope Francis’ statement was denounced in the Chilean media, as well as by Cardinal O’Malley, who said “it is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements yesterday in Santiago, Chile were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator,” and added that the pope’s words “abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile.”

During a press conference on the return flight to Rome on January 21, Pope Francis partially apologized for denying the evidence provided by the testimony of victims but claimed that he had not received any such testimony from them himself. He repeated that such unsupported accusations are “slander.”

“Slander, yes, when one says pertinaciously, without evidence, that you have done this, that this person has done this, this is slander … ” said Francis.

“But it is the victims who say it,” a reporter responded.

“I did not hear from any Barros victims,” Francis replied.

“There are victims of Karadima (the priest accused of the abuse) who say that Barros was there,” the reporter said.

“They did not come, they did not give the evidence for the trial. This is a bit vague, it's something that can’t be taken up,” said Francis, adding, “You, with good will, tell me there are some victims, but I have not seen them because they did not present themselves.”

The pope has continued to implement damage control after his return to Rome, declaring his intention to send the Archbishop of Malta, Charles J. Scicluna, to Chile to investigate further.

Thus far, the Holy See’s press office has not released a statement on the AP story.

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British doctors prepare to implant ‘three-parent’ embryos in women

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UNITED KINGDOM, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Doctors at Britain’s Newcastle University have selected two women to bear implanted embryos created from genetic material collected from three parents.

Both women carry gene mutations causing a rare condition known as “myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibres,” called “Merrf syndrome” for short.

Mitochondrial Replacement Technology, or MRT, aims to prevent diseases passed through mitochondrial DNA by transferring the mother’s nuclear DNA to a donor egg in which the nucleus has been removed but the mitochondria remains.

Described as “radical therapy” by the UK’s The Guardian, the process was legalized by Britain’s Parliament in 2015 and was met with a huge uproar from religious leaders and ethicists.  

Britain’s Newcastle University received a license in March allowing its scientists to create babies using DNA from three people, the first time such approval has been granted.

Now, eleven months later, the University’s doctors are prepared to move forward with procedure.

“To perform the procedure, doctors create a fertilised egg using IVF as normal,” The Guardian report explains.  “But rather than letting it develop into an embryo, the parents’ chromosomes are removed and placed inside a donor egg that has had its own genetic material removed. The embryo so created has all of the parents’ chromosomes, but the mother’s damaged mitochondria are replaced with the donor’s healthy ones.”

Some warn that this is the first step toward creating so-called “Designer babies.”

MRT destroys human life

When the law was passed, Britain’s Catholic and Church of England bishops blasted MPs.

“This is about a human life with potential, arising from a father and a mother, being used as disposable material,” Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster said at the time on behalf of the bishops of England and Wales.

“The human embryo is a new human life with potential; it should be respected and protected from the moment of conception and not used as disposable material.”

Three-parent IVF procedures “destroy human life, since in order to construct a disease-free embryo, two healthy ones will have to be destroyed,” noted Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, Scotland.

The technique “is not a treatment, it does not cure anyone or anything, rather it seeks to remove anyone affected by certain conditions from the human gene pool. Destroying those who have a particular disease and presenting it as a cure or as progress is utterly disingenuous and completely unethical,” he said.

The practice “distorts the natural process of fertility,” added Keenan.

Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, California, warned in a 2013 article, A slippery slope to germline modification, that “those opposed to green-lighting mitochondrial replacement have been described in some quarters as religious objectors, against all types of IVF.”

Yet “many secular and actively pro-choice scientists, bioethi­cists and women’s-health advocates have voiced grave and detailed concerns about the safety and utility of mitochondrial replacement,” she said, “and about authorizing the intentional genetic modification of children and their descendants.”

Darnovsky argued it would unilaterally cross “a legal and ethical line” observed by the entire international community that “genetic-engineering tools” should not be used ‘to modify gametes or early embryos and so manipulate the characteristics of future children.”

MRT forbidden in the United States

Since December 2015, Congress has prohibited the FDA from reviewing applications on clinical tests involving genetically modified human embryos “until safety and ethical issues can be resolved,” reports Bloomberg BNA.  “Also, researchers don’t know what impact the procedure will have on the babies it produces.”

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Christian governor-candidate takes heat for ad highlighting GOP governor’s pro-abortion-LGBT record

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ILLINOIS, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Illinois legislator seeking to beat the pro-abortion Republican governor in his party’s primary released an ad highlighting his radical pro-abortion and pro-transgender beliefs, igniting fury from national media, leftists, and establishment Republicans.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, a liberal Republican, signed a law in 2017 expanding forced taxpayer funding of abortion. Rauner supports transgender bathrooms, is squishy on LGBT issues, and supports liberal immigration policies.

So Jeanne Ives, who currently represents the state’s 42nd district, released an ad showing people “thanking” Rauner for what he’s done for them.

“Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls’ bathroom,” says a man wearing makeup and a dress.

“Thank you for making all Illinois families pay for my abortions,” a woman wearing a pink “pussy hat” says.

A young man with a bandana covering much of his face – a seeming representation of the “anti-fa” movement – “thanks” Rauner for making Illinois “a sanctuary state for illegal immigrant criminals.” 

The ad also illustrates how Rauner has, at the expense of most of his state’s population, helped wealthy businessmen and radically left-wing Chicago teacher unions. 

Rauner’s campaign spokesman trashed the ad as having “no place in Illinois.” 

“There is no place in the Illinois Republican Party for rhetoric that attacks our fellow Illinoisans based on their race, gender or humanity,” Rauner said in a statement.

Ives’ ad has been called “racist,” “sexist,” “transphobic,” and “repulsive.”

Slate called it a “bigoted ad that mocks trans women.”

But Ives has defended her ad, asking what exactly is so offensive about these accurate portrayals of Rauner’s policies. She also isn’t buckling to pressure to yank the ad off the air – and instead secured a $2 million donation to keep it running. 

“The fact that you saw a visual representation of the policies [Rauner] put in place is maybe considered offensive,” she said. “I don’t understand that.”

“Rauner chose Planned Parenthood and Personal PAC over pro-lifers or even simply over abiding the sprit of the Hyde Amendment, which remains in force at the federal level,” she explained. “And Rauner chose the political agenda of the LGBTQ movement over the privacy interests of moms and dads who don’t want their daughters forced to be in the same bathrooms and locker rooms as men.”

“This is a real issue being litigated in Palatine Distinct 211 and across the country,” Ives explained. “Last month a Wisconsin school district agreed to pay a transgender student $800,000 to settle a lawsuit she filed in a successful attempt to share bathrooms and overnight sleeping quarters with male high school students. There was a story in the New York Post over the weekend about a father-daughter dance at a Staten Island elementary school being cancelled because it offended the trans rights community.” 

“I’m sorry, but as parents of a daughter in elementary school, my husband Paul and I are not on board for this,” she said. 

“As Christians we believe every person is made in God’s image and deserving of dignity, said Ives. “I respect people who are different from me. I respect people who have different views than me. In fact it seems that the converse is not true among many (with) whom I disagree. They shouldn’t be silenced. But neither should I. And I won’t be.”

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BREAKING: Ohio Supreme Court upholds ruling shutting down city’s last abortion center

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Ohio Supreme Court upheld a 2014 state order shutting down Toledo’s last abortion center for violations of health laws, in a five-two decision released today.

Abortion center Capital Care had been operating without a transfer agreement with a local hospital since 2013, in violation of a state law passed that same year, according to a press release from Created Equal, a pro-life group based in Columbus, Ohio.

Ohio’s Department of Health ordered Capital Care closed in 2014, but the abortion facility appealed the decision, and the lower courts ruled in its favor.

Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office took the case to the Supreme Court in September, arguing the state’s order should be upheld, the Washington Post reported. 

The abortion facility had partnered with an out-of-state hospital about an hour away in order to “circumvent Ohio’s safety laws,” said an Americans United for Life (AUL) media advisory.

Capital Care negotiated with the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, the Post reported.

But the Supreme Court ruled this arrangement “would not allow for the transfer of patients in the event of medical complications, emergency situations, and for other needs as they arise,” said AUL.

AUL lauded Ohio’s top court for the ruling.

“For years, the abortion industry has vociferously argued that it should be granted an unmerited exemption from standards routinely applied to other facilities performing invasive surgical procedures, as well as an exemption from the comprehensive inspections required of such facilities,” it noted.

“The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected that argument and has correctly decided that abortion centers should be held to the same standards as all other ambulatory surgical centers in the state.”

That was echoed by Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s founder and president.

“Capital Care should be held responsible for killing innocent babies, but at least today they are being held accountable for violating Ohio state law,” said Harrington.

Those who kill babies should not be given special privileges to skirt the law. This common sense decision should set a pattern for authorities across the nation.”

In a related decision, the court ruled Cleveland abortion facility Preterm did not have the legal standing to sue the state over the restrictions on abortion clinics that were passed in the state’s 2013 budget bill, the Post reported. 

Those restrictions specified an abortion facility had to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital, and banned public hospitals from having such agreements with abortion centers, according to the Post. 

The University of Toledo Hospital’s transfer agreement with Capital Care ended about two months before the 2013 restrictions were passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Capital Care is expected to appeal the decision.

Related:

Judge strikes down Ohio law that could have closed Toledo’s last abortion facility

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Vatican denied, now admits papal commission is re-examining Humanae Vitae

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An official of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has admitted in an interview that a papal commission exists to carry out an historical review of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, according to Kathpress, the official news agency of the Catholic bishops of Austria.

Kathpress reports that it received confirmation of the existence of the papal commission from Msgr. Alejandro Cifres, who has long overseen the archives of the CDF and is currently the dicastery’s Chief of Office.

“It is not certain whether or not a reinterpretation of the ‘pill encyclical’ (Humanae Vitae) is coming soon from the Vatican,” stated Kathpress last week. “The fact that a commission on behalf of the Pope is investigating the genesis of ‘Humanae vitae’ was recently confirmed to the news agency Kathpress by the head of the Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Alejandro Cifres.”

Humanae Vitae, an encyclical published in 1968 by Pope Paul VI, famously upheld the Catholic Church’s perennial condemnation of artificial birth control.

However, the writings of Pope Francis are leading some of the Vatican’s theologians to contradict the encyclical, and Francis himself appeared to deny the encyclical’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception in an in-flight press conference in 2016.

When the Italian journalist  Marco Tosatti broke the story of the commission’s existence in May of last year, followed by articles confirming it by Maike Hickson and Roberto de Mattei, the Vatican said nothing about the matter for a month, and then responded by denying the commission’s existence.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Spanish Catholic weekly Alfa y Omega that, “There isn’t any commission. That has been completely invented.”

In an interview with the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Paglia repeated his denial in a more qualified way, claiming that “there is no pontifical commission called to re-read or to reinterpret Humanae vitae” but added that “we should look positively on all those initiatives, such as that of Professor Marengo of the John Paul II Institute, which aim at studying and deepening this document in view of the 50th anniversary of its publication.”

Fr. Gilfredo Marengo, who was identified as the head of the commission by Roberto de Mattei, also issued a denial, claiming that the story of a commission to revise Humanae Vitae is “an imaginative report.”

Marengo told Catholic News Service that the scholars were members of a “study group” whose aim was to carry out “a work of historical-critical investigation without any aim other than reconstructing as well as possible the whole process of composing the encyclical.”

“Historical-critical” methods seek to understand texts by means of the processes that produced them as well as the social and cultural contexts in which they were written. With regard to the Bible, they have been used in doctrinally orthodox ways but have also been used to justify revisionist forms of interpretation that deny traditional understandings of Scriptural texts.

Additionally, Marengo has admitted that his “study group” has been given unprecedented access to the Vatican Secret Archives for the period of the composition of Humanae Vitae, that is, the mid-late 1960s. The archives from that period are strictly closed to scholars, and are not scheduled to be opened to them for many years.

Marengo has sought to dispel concerns that he is seeking to reconcile Humanae Vitae with Pope Francis’ confused apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, but that is exactly what his recent scholarship appears to do. Last year, Marengo wrote an article for Vatican Insider called “Humanae Vitae and Amoris Laetitia,” in which he belittles the Church’s condemnation of birth control, asking if “the polemical game – the pill yes – the pill no, like today's — Communion to the divorced yes – Communion to the divorced no — is only an appearance of discomfort and strain, [which is] much more decisive in the fabric of ecclesial life.”

In the same article, Marengo parrots the reasoning of Amoris Laetitia that seeks to lower Catholic moral dogma to an often unattainable and purely abstract ideal. “Every time the Christian community falls into error and proposes models of life derived from too abstract and artificially constructed theological ideals, it conceives its pastoral action as the schematic application of a doctrinal paradigm,” said Marengo, and cited Amoris Laetitia in asserting, “We have presented a too abstract theological ideal on marriage, almost artificially constructed, far from the concrete situation and the effective possibilities of families as they really are. This excessive idealization, above all when we have reawakened trust in grace, has not made marriage more attractive and desirable, but quite the opposite.”

Paglia’s and Marengo’s denials of the existence of a papal commission to revise Humanae Vitae led the liberal Cruxnow.com to mock concerns raised by orthodox Catholic blogs about the commission’s existence, publishing an article headlined “No, Virginia, there’s no ‘secret commission’ on Humanae Vitae.”

“Perhaps the moral of the story is this: If conspiracy theorists would devote the same energy to real reporting as they do to mental gymnastics and connect-the-dots exercises, they might actually know what’s going on once in a while,” wrote Cruxnow.com writer Inés San Martín.

Correction: This story initially identified Kathpress as the German bishops' news service. However, it is actually that of the Austrian bishops.

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Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo Wikimedia Commons
Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

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Vatican archbishop praises Communist China as ‘best’ at implementing Church’s social doctrine

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

ROME, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – According to the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academies for Sciences and Social Sciences, China’s current communist regime which is infamous for its massive scale of human rights violations is the “best [at] implementing the social doctrine of the Church.”

Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo told this to the Spanish-language version of Vatican Insider, and the Catholic Herald translated his remarks.

Sorondo praised China as “extraordinary.”

“The economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say,” he said. “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs.”

China’s support of the globalist Paris Climate Agreement – a deal from which President Trump withdrew the United States – means it has assumed a “moral leadership that others have abandoned,” Sorondo said.

READ: One man, close to the pope, responsible for so much evil in the Vatican

China’s two-child policy, formerly its one-child policy, allows the government to violently force women to abort their babies.

“In 2012, 6.7 million women in China were forced to have abortions under the one-child policy, according to official statistics,” the Washington Post reported in 2015. “Rates in previous decades often topped 10 million a year.”

Forced abortion still continues under the two-child policy.

“I find the Bishop’s remarks frankly incredible,” Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, told LifeSiteNews. “How could anyone with even passing knowledge of the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party, historically and at present, possibly say that ‘those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese’? One of primary social doctrines of the Church [is] respecting ‘life and the dignity of the human person.’

“The Chinese government has boasted of ‘preventing’ 400 million lives through its One Child Policy. In so doing, women have been forcibly aborted up to the ninth month of pregnancy,” she explained. “Some of these forced abortions have been so violent that the woman died, along with her full term baby.”

China is a top location where gendercide, the practice of killing pre-born baby girls due to a cultural preference for boys, is widely practiced.

“China has also sterilized hundreds of millions of women,” Littlejohn continued. “Some of these forced sterilizations have butchered the women, destroying not only their reproductive health, but their overall health as well.”

And “because of the One Child Policy, there is not enough of a young population to support the elderly. Many elderly are left destitute and elder suicide in China is on the rise.”

“How is any of this consistent with respecting ‘life and the dignity of the human person’ – a doctrine absolutely central to Catholic social teaching?” Littlejohn asked.

Sorondo has been instrumental in bringing globally-recognized promoters of contraception, abortion, and population control to speak at numerous Vatican-run conferences. Some of these include John Bongaarts, Paul Ehrlich, Jeffrey Sachs, and Ban Ki-Moon (here, here, and here).

According to various reports that contradict Sorondo’s claim, China has drug problems.

The majority of the meth” in the Philippines comes from China, one report states. According to U.S. officials, the majority of synthetic opioids in America are produced in China.

There is wide availability of meth at “the city’s [Beijing] highest density of nightclubs and bars,” according to the New York TimesAnd “China’s wealthy coastal cities in the south were determined to have the highest total consumption of meth, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.”

As of 2014, more than 82 million people in rural China lived on less than $1 per day.

Sorondo has previously said the Pope’s view on climate change is as authoritative as Church teaching against abortion.

At a 2017 Vatican conference on “biological extinction,” Sorondo said women need “education” so they will have one or two children instead of “seven.”

“Because when you have education, we don’t have childrens [sic],” he said in English. “We don’t have seven children. Maybe we have one children, two children. No more.”

He also suggested that couples consider the “situation of their country” before having kids.

Michael Hichborn at the Lepanto Institute recently listed various papal encyclicals condemning socialism and communism. LifeSiteNews reprints them here:

Sorondo’s praise of China comes on the heels of reports that the Vatican is asking China’s Catholic bishops, who face persecution and imprisonment, to step aside so that “bishops” from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a fake church run by the communists, can take over.

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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Super Bowl champs: Football is ‘just a platform…to draw people to Jesus’

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Super Bowl champion coach Doug Pederson’s first reaction to winning it all was, “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Teammates echoed the same Christian spirit that has molded the Philadelphia Eagles into a unit despite season-long obstacles.

The Philadelphia Eagles upset the Super Bowl-defending New England Patriots 41-33 in a nail-biter Sunday night, taking the Lombardi Trophy home for the first time. Afterwards, Coach Pederson was full of praise for his team, and thanks to God.

 “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity,” he said, adding, “and I’m going to tell you something: I’ve got the best players in the world.”

Coach Pederson also led the entire, kneeling team in The Lord’s Prayer in front of the cameras after the game.  ESPN, in its online video, deleted the prayer, keeping everything else.

Quarterback Nick Foles, the game MVP who passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns and became the only player in Super Bowl history to both throw a touchdown pass and catch one, simply said, “All glory to God.”

Foles is outspoken about his Christian faith, too.  He has begun seminary classes. After football, he wants to become “a pastor in a high school.”  

“It’s on my heart,” he said, noting that high school is tough for many youth. “So much temptation in this world, so much going on with social media and the internet that you want to talk to them and address it, and share all the weaknesses I have because I’ve fallen many times,” he admitted. “You want to impact people’s hearts.”

“I’ve been blessed with an amazing platform and it’s just a door God has opened, but I still have a lot of school left and a long journey.”

Foles was the Eagles’ second-string quarterback, finishing the last three games of the season after starter Carson Wentz — who was doing so well he was the odds-on favorite for league MVP — injured his left knee in the end zone against the Los Angeles Rams in early December.

“Nick Foles told me last week in Philadelphia he thought the Lord had him here for just this time,” Tony Dungy, Christian former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told NBC Sports. “He knows this is Carson Wentz’s team, but he was ready to go tonight, and he played like a champion.”

Wentz, an outspoken Christian as well, showed no sign of envy. “God is so good!” he tweeted after the win. “So proud of this team!!!! Told y’all my boy (Nick Foles) was gonna shine tonight! Well deserved my bro!”

God is so good!!!! World Champions!!!! So proud of this team!!!! Told y’all my boy @NFoles_9 was gonna shine tonight! Well deserved my bro! #AO1 #flyeaglesfly

— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) February 5, 2018

Tight end Zach Ertz, who made the game-winning touchdown, took a back seat to praise. “Glory to God first and foremost.  We wouldn’t be here without Him,” he said, adding, “This team is amazing.”

Before the game, Ertz told reporters that following Jesus Christ and witnessing to others of His love is what he lives for. “Our number one goal on this earth is to make disciples (of Christ)... Football is just a platform that we have to draw people to Jesus.”

“I was able to prepare myself for this (Super Bowl) week because I’ve been in the Word for this past year, growing in my faith,” Ertz added. “Having teammates to push me each and every day...I’m able to be accountable to them...We’re never gonna let each other slip.”

Ertz noted he and his wife Julia grow in Christ together under his leadership.  “Being the head of the household, the foundation of our marriage is built on the Word.  Anytime you’re able to build something with that strong a foundation, you’re not going to be easily swayed.  So that’s what we strive for.”

Punter Donnie Jones’ trust in Christ kept him at an even keel in the midst of the most important game of his life and its accompanying media frenzy. “He’s going to take care of you,” the Catholic-schooled athlete said.  “You’ve got to have faith, believe.”

Every Saturday night, Jones attends Mass with fellow Catholic players and coaches. He and his wife Aubrie pray daily with their two children. “All of our blessings come from Him,” Jones told The Catholic Spirit.  “We (have) a lot of things to be thankful for.”

Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich, whose gutsy calls were repeatedly praised by play-by-play commentators, was a Christian pastor and seminary professor before joining the NFL.

And they put their money where their Faith is.  Defensive end Chris Long gave his first six game checks for scholarships so students in Charlottesville could go to college. He is donating the rest of the season game checks as seed money for his “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow” educational charity.  Wentz’ “Audience of One” foundation has donated half a million dollars for a sports exercise facility and Christian training complex in Haiti.

Wentz, Foles, Ertz, linebacker Jordan Hicks, safety Chris Maragos, and tight end Trey Burton study the Bible together three times a week, and often other players join them.  

Sometimes personal faith spreads onto the practice field, with huddles ending in “One-Two-Three-JESUS!” When someone on the team converts to faith in Christ, baptisms are held wherever the team may be, in bathtubs or hotel pools. Some players chose Christian-themed shoes for the NFL’s “My Cleats, My Cause” charity promotion. 

Members of the team even produced a video to tell the world that a common faith in Jesus Christ is “The Philadelphia Eagles Locker Room’s Binding Force.”

Owner Jeffrey Lurie inadvertently testified to the faith of players, saying the unique cohesiveness of the team is what made it great. “I’ve never seen an incredible group of men in all my years of life that come together with all the adversity and injuries and losing our franchise quarterback, and you’re world champs,” he said.

It was a long-awaited, cherished victory for one of the toughest sports towns. The last time Philly had a championship football team was 1960, before the Super Bowl was even played between the then-well established NFC and the upstart AFC.  

The Pats have won the Super Bowl championship five times (2017, 2015, 2005, 2004, 2002).  Philly has only been to the Big Game thrice (1981, 2005, 2018).

They’re a tough, loyal team for tough, loyal fans.  The Eagles have sold out every home game since 1999.  A Sports Illustrated poll ranked Philly fans as the most intimidating in all of football.

At the beginning of the season, no one predicted the Eagles would make the post-season, let alone the Super Bowl, let alone win it. Especially when Wentz went out, most people gave up hope.  “A lot of people counted (Nick Foles) out and didn’t think he could get it done,” Coach Pederson said.  But “I believed in him, (and) the staff believed in him, (and) the players believed in him.”ƒ

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Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

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Tenth bishop signs ‘Profession of Immutable Truths’ in defense of marriage

Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

ROME, February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – His Excellency Elmar Fischer, bishop emeritus of Feldkirch, Austria, has signed the “Profession of Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage,” LifeSiteNews confirmed on Monday.

Bishop Fischer is the tenth prelate to sign the profession. 

As has been widely reported, three bishops in Kazakhstan – Tomash Peta, Jan Pawel Lenga, and Athanasius Schneider – issued a Profession of the Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage on Dec. 31, 2017.  The profession was made public on Jan. 2, 2018.  

In the document, the three bishops solemnly professed the Church’s received teaching and discipline regarding sacramental marriage and the limited conditions (see Familiaris Consortio, n. 84) under which Catholics who are civilly divorced and joined in a second union may receive sacramental absolution and Holy Communion.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1961, Fischer headed the Marriage and Family Centre of the Feldkirch diocese from 1979 to 1990. After serving as vicar general of the diocese from 1989, in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Felkirch where he served until 2011, retiring at the age of 75.

Bishop Fischer’s support of the profession comes one week after Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, Kazakstan, invited the world’s bishops to sign the document and join in raising a common voice in defense of the sanctity and the indissolubility of marriage.  

“God decides the time, and the time will come when the Pope and the episcopacy again will proclaim, with all clarity, unambiguity and beauty, the sanctity of marriage, and of the family, and of the Eucharist,” Schneider told LifesiteNews in an exclusive Jan. 15 interview.

Schneider said greater public support of the document from the world’s 5,000 bishops would be “a stronger voice for professing the constant truths of the Church, and it would be a beautiful common voice defending the sanctity and the indissolubility of marriage in the midst of a real neo-pagan society where divorce has become a plague and where sexual depravity is increasingly spreading.”

Bishop Fischer’s public support of the Profession of Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage brings the number of signatories to nine bishops and one cardinal.

To date, in addition to the three original signatories from Kazakstan, the following prelates have signed the profession:

• Cardinal Janis Pujats, Emeritus Archbishop Metropolitan of Riga, Latvia
• Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò of Italy and former apostolic nuncio to the United States
• His Excellency Luigi Negri, Archbishop emeritus of Ferrara-Comacchio, Italy
• Bishop Andreas Laun, Emeritus Auxiliary of Salzburg, Austria
• His Excellency Rene Gracida, Bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
• His Excellency Marian Eleganti, auxiliary bishop of Chur, Switzerland

• His Excellency Elmar Fischer, Bishop emeritus of Feldkirch, Austria.

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Phil Lawler

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There’s nothing Catholic about Communist China

Phil Lawler

February 7, 2018 (CatholicCulture.org) – If Rome will be preparing for the canonization of Pope Paul VI later this year, only the most hardened ideologues could suggest that this year is the right time to scuttle his heroic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Come to think of it, maybe the blessed Pontiff—who has already shown his intercessory clout with two miracles involving unborn children—could now intercede to protect the perennial teaching of the Church, which he championed at a great personal cost.

And speaking of hardened ideologues at the Vatican, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo has moved into the realm of self-parody with his claim that China offers the world’s best example of implementing Catholic social teaching. What is it that the loquacious Argentine prelate so admires about the Beijing regime? Its commitment to religious freedom? Can’t be. To the principle of subsidiarity? I doubt it; the entire, vast nation is ruled by a central government. Protection of the environment? Not likely; mainland China is the world’s leading polluter. Respect for the rights of workers? Not in the slave-labor industries. Opposition to the death penalty? Guess again. Nuclear disarmament? Nope.

So what is it, then. The bishop cites a “positive national conscience.” I don’t think he’s referring to the Communist Party’s ideology, which seeks to be the “national conscience.” But I’m at a loss to explain what else he might have in mind. And since Bishop Sanchez Sorondo is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, this sort of political/economic analysis is an embarrassment to the Holy See.

This article was first published on Catholic Culture and is re-published with permission.

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Clarice Feldman

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Democrats oppose Trump/Russia memo release because it may sink their chance to impeach Trump

Clarice Feldman

February 6, 2018 (American Thinker) – As the “Russian Collusion” story disintegrates, it takes with it any reason to rely on the Fourth Estate, which in large part assisted in Obama administration wrongdoing. It has proven to be a handmaiden of those who concocted a big lie to bring down a political opponent.  As Josephus said of Haman -- Antiq., 50:2, c. 6,) “without a remark upon the almighty power, and admirable justice of the wisdom of God; not only in bringing Haman to his deserved punishment, but in trapping him in the very snare which he had laid for another, and turning a malicious invention upon the head of the inventor.” This time, it’s not only Haman -- the FBI and DOJ officials involved in lying to the FISC and unmasking what they learned -- but their hangers-on in the press that are trapped as well.

1. Prelude to the Devin Nunes Memo’s Release

As she so often does, Kimberley Strassel nailed it:

Kimberley Strassel‏Verified account @KimStrassel

1) I've covered politics a long time. I've never -- never -- seen anything approaching the desperations Ds have to keep this memo quiet. And as we know that worry about law enforcement (Snowden/Manning) is not their biggest worry, this memo must be damning to the core.

2) Have been in journalism all my life. Have never -- never -- seen the press corps fight so hard against transparency. Same media that after election wondered if it was out of touch with avg Americans, now ignoring the legit worries so many have about govt. accountability.

3) Every journo should be asked if they'd be fighting this hard against disclosure if it was a Bush DOJ/FBI accused of wiretapping abuses. Of course not. They'd be leading the charge to put it all out. 4th estate is supposed to enlighten the people. Not cover for govt. officials

Others took up the same tack. Notable among them was Mark Penn, a long-time Clinton pollster. He notes the shocking calls by the NY Times and Washington Post

Post for prior restraint -- blocking the release of the memo House Intelligence Chairman Nunes prepared based on what witnesses told the committee and official documentation about the spying on the Trump campaign. The hypocrisy of their efforts is astonishing -- these are some of the same people who argued successfully that the public was entitled to see (and then to publish) the “Pentagon Papers.” Penn observes, as we must, that the dossier is nonsense, and has been discredited -- not as the press is wont to say, “unverified.”

So mainstream journalism today tells us we should see the dossier, even if it’s filled with junk, and read the Comey memos, even if they have no verification -- and, yet, be prevented from reading the report of the House Intelligence Committee based on documents that it took the committee six months to pry out of the FBI and Justice Department.

I believe in the First Amendment, and I thought that mainstream media did too. I did not see it as a doctrine of convenience that applied only to documents that buttress one side but then not applied if it might conceivably help the other side. 

The effect of this, he concludes, is to keep the public seriously in the dark about what shocking things have occurred -- something to remember when some of your friends and family seem to be on a different planet than you are:

So it’s a fact that six senior leaders of the FBI or Justice Department have been either reassigned or fired based on facts that have come out largely from the work of this committee and of the inspector general of the Justice Department. Yet, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is being branded almost as a lunatic. The hypocrisy here is not confined to newspaper editorial pages. We have seen a veritable news blockade on information coming out of these investigations on the front pages.

In the last Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, we read people a list of recent facts that have come out and almost all of them were unknown to the public, even when prompted. A majority did know that Comey had drafted the memo on the Clinton investigation long before the investigation was over. But most people did not know who paid for the dossier, and most had not heard about the text messages and their reference to an “insurance policy” in case Trump was elected. After hearing this information, 75 percent said it was significant and 63 percent said the FBI needs to be investigated.

2. Panic and Hypocrisy on the Left

Lacking any coherent policies, the Democrats have pinned their hopes on persuading Americans that Trump is Hitler, Stalin, a usurper and a traitor who must be impeached. Their reaction to the release of the memo underscored their fright as this last remaining hope -- impeachment -- slips away. A prominent voice on that end has been Congressman Adam Schiff, who claimed falsely that the memo was inaccurate. Other Dems claimed it would reveal sources and methods that would endanger national security. (It didn’t, by the way.)  The Wall Street Journal’s “Best of the Web” took hard aim at Schiff:

In March of 2007, a very libertarian sort of Congressman announced that he was “deeply troubled” by what he called “abuses of authority” by the FBI in acquiring personal information on U.S. citizens. Over the years, he urged various restrictions on the ability of the executive branch to get information on Americans’ phone calls. In order “to protect privacy and increase transparency” he sought in various ways to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- the very court that approved the electronic surveillance of a Trump associate for reasons that are still not entirely clear.

Way ahead of the news, he specifically introduced the “Ending Secret Law Act” which according to a press release from his office, “would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted” its legal authorities.

He said that his legislation “will help ensure we have true checks and balances when it comes to the judges who are given the responsibility of overseeing our most sensitive intelligence gathering and national security programs.”

His name is Adam Schiff, and he is now the ranking member on House Intelligence. But oddly he doesn’t seem to want to take credit for his early concern for civil liberties.

Some on the left are continuing this line. Others, predictably, have changed their tune now that it’s been released: now, it’s a nothingburger.

It isn’t.

Adam Schiff, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, among seemingly dozens of Democrats, not to mention half the mainstream media, had been warning us for days that the release of the memo authored by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee would place our national security at grave risk.  "Sources and methods" would be revealed.

Now that we have seen the memo, it's clear that was an absolutely bald-faced lie of the most obvious sort.  Nothing in it impacts national security in the slightest.  There's no mention whatsoever of any "sources and methods." [snip]

So what was up here below the surface?  It can't just be the "evil party" trying to live up to its nickname, although that certainly happened.

It seems this particular lie was a last line of defense -- for now -- against a coming potential Armageddon for their party.  This memo, bad as it is, is apparently only the first of many, a small percentage of what is to come.  And the Democrats know it.  Fear is operative. Maybe panic.  An entire weltanschauung is under threat, jobs, friends, self-image, who knows what. If this goes on much longer and much more comes out, some Democrats -- not apparatchik Schiff, needless to say, but others -- might have to face reality and say something.

3. The Nunes Memo

The whining that releasing the memo would reveal sources and methods, thereby endangering national security, proved as false as all the other claims about the memo. “The details of Friday’s memo also rebut most of the criticisms of its release. The details betray no intelligence sources and methods. As to the claim that the release tarnishes the FBI and FISA court, exposing abuses is the essence of accountability in a democracy.” 

Here’s the memo in easy to read format.

Here’s the short form version.

The NRO zeroed in on the dossier:

The Obama Justice Department and the FBI used the unverified Steele dossier to convince a federal court to issue a warrant authorizing surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser [Carter Page]. Confirmation came in the much-anticipated memorandum released today by the Republican-controlled House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The memo states that the Obama administration concealed from the court that the dossier was commissioned and paid for by the political campaign of Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Nor was the court informed that the dossier’s author, former British spy Christopher Steele, told a senior Justice Department official that he was “desperate” to prevent Trump from being elected president. Moreover, despite presenting dossier information as probable cause on four separate occasions — for the initial FISA warrant in October 2016, and three times in the ensuing months — the FBI failed to verify the dossier’s explosive allegations and failed to inform the court that its efforts to corroborate the allegations had been unavailing. Indeed, the memo relates that the government once presented a news story to the court as corroboration for Steele’s claims, apparently unaware that Steele himself was the source for the news story. The dossier was a compilation of Steele’s reports, based on anonymous Russian sources. His informants provided information based on accounts that were multiple levels of hearsay removed from the events they purported to describe. The FISA court warrant targeted Carter Page, who had volunteered to serve as a Trump campaign foreign-policy adviser. The memo relates that the warrant was originally issued on October 21, 2016, and re-authorized three times thereafter. Under FISA, warrants targeting American citizens lapse after 90 days. If you’re keeping score that means a warrant based on claims that Trump was corruptly aligned with the Kremlin was renewed twice after Donald Trump became president. According to the committee testimony of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, the information in the dossier was necessary to the probable-cause showing required to justify issuance of a FISA warrant. That is, the warrant would not have been issued without the dossier information. 

The pretext for the warrants was that an obscure minor figure in the campaign, Carter Page, was an alleged agent of Russia. Michael “Spikey” Isikoff, who got it from Steele, first floated that claim on Yahoo. It was that story that the FBI absurdly offered up to the Court as corroboration for their suspicions. Steele then peddled the story to David Corn of Mother Jones, and when the FBI found out, they fired Steele as an agency informant. (Isikoff and Corn might be familiar to readers as the promoters of the fairytale that Valerie Plame was a covert agent whose identity had been revealed out of vengeance against her husband for telling tales about Iraq.) In any event, after years of surveillance and providing cover for the unprecedented snooping by the FBI and DOJ, Page has never been charged with espionage or criminal activity at all. He has sued Yahoo and the Huffington Post for slander.

Why was Page selected? The FBI apparently had him under observation since 2013 and it was clear he was neither a Russian agent nor any danger of becoming one. In fact, he was a businessman who frequently traveled to Russia and may even have been an FBI asset who in 2013 helped them nab a Russian agent Victor Podobny. Byron York offers up a rationale: “Put it all together, and Page was the easiest guy to go after. Plus, the wiretap would allow the FBI not just to listen to Page's phone calls but to read his emails, not only going forward from the date of the warrant, but going backward for as long as Page had kept them. If Page truly were the beating heart of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, then there would likely be email evidence the FBI could use.”

The memo discloses a sordid tale of “state corruption,” says Mark Steyn.

In the "national security" sphere, the entire system is ex parte. Carter Page, the peripheral Trump campaign volunteer who was the target of the surveillance, was not represented in court. In fact, he did not even know he was on "trial". A year and a half after he attracted the attentions of Deputy Director McCabe and his chums, Mr. Page has not been charged with a single crime, never mind (to be old-fashioned about these things) convicted of one. Indeed, the only reason he is even aware that he is/was under 24/7 surveillance by the panopticon state is because McCabe's FBI found it politic to leak that fact to the newspapers -- via the coy disclosure that he briefly came under FISA surveillance as "Male-1" five years earlier.

Mr. Page has committed no crime and been charged with none, but is routinely spoken of in the press as if he has been. In it is interesting to contrast his treatment with, say, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whom the Department of Justice designated as "unindicted co-conspirators" in a major terrorism-funding case, but which designation is apparently no obstacle to their continued respectability in the media, their invitations to speak at small-town libraries, churches and schools (for example, a CAIR operative will be spreading the word at Firelands College in Huron, Ohio next month), and even their influence upon Robert Mueller's FBI. [snip]

The DoJ/FBI did not "inform the tribunal of all material facts" but misled the judge, seriously, on fundamental matters necessary to "enable the tribunal to make an informed decision". They misled him/her as to the nature of the document, its provenance, its credibility, the motivations of its author, and his financial ties to the Clinton camp. They did, however, argue that the dossier had been independently "corroborated" by a September 2016 story in Yahoo News -- even though that Yahoo story came from the same guy who authored the dossier: in effect, the Government got its surveillance warrant by arguing that its fake-news dossier from Christopher Steele had been independently corroborated by a fake-news story from Christopher Steele. Either the FBI is exceedingly stupid, which would be disturbing, given their lavish budget. Or the same tight group of FBI/DoJ officials knew very well what they were doing in presenting such drivel to the FISA court.

They're really the two choices here: either "the world's premier law enforcement agency" was manipulated by one freaky Brit spook, or "the world's premier law enforcement agency" conspired with the freaky Brit spook to manipulate the judge.

How serious was the misuse of the FISA procedure? So serious, to my mind, that Congress must interrogate the judges involved and find out how the Court allowed itself to be so misled. Perhaps the law needs to be revised.

Streetwise Professor compares the actions of the DOJ and FBI officials to Russian Siloviki (security forces who came to power in Russia).  

There is a constitutional crisis, he argues -- though it’s not, as Leon Panetta and other Democrats claimed, caused by the memo having been made public.

Disclosing information about the misbehavior of executive branch officials does not represent a Constitutional crisis: if anything, it is the misbehavior of those officials during a presidential election that raise the issue of such a crisis.

Some of the reporting and commentary on this issue has been utterly incredible (in many senses of the word).  For example, Trump overruled current-FBI director Wray’s objection to releasing the memo.  The WaPo framed this as “Trump defies Wray.” Um, who the hell works for whom? If there is defiance going on, it is Wray’s going public with his objections to the actions of his Constitutional superior.  Wray should have raised his objections in private to Trump, and if overruled (as he was, in the event), kept his mouth shut in public, or resigned -- and then kept his mouth shut. To lobby publicly (and disingenuously, by raising national security concerns) in an attempt to pressure his superior into doing something is beyond the pale.

Or should be, anyways. But one thing that this entire sordid episode has demonstrated is that the bureaucracy generally, and the intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies in particular, consider themselves an independent power, a co-equal -- superior actually -- branch of government, the Constitution be damned. Trump is deemed the usurper.  Indeed, it is clear that many senior members of the FBI, DOJ, and the intelligence community considered it their right to intervene in the election in order to prevent Trump’s election, and failing that, to kneecap his presidency. And virtually all of the political class in the US is on their side. This is the real Constitutional crisis.

You should view this as a Constitutional danger regardless of your partisan leanings. For ask yourself: would you like the same to be done to your guy (or gal)?

It is also disgustingly ironic that in a fervid controversy about the alleged intervention of the Russian siloviki into an American election reveals that high-ranking American officials in control of the vast powers of US law enforcement and intelligence used siloviki methods (including most likely disinformation planted by Russian siloviki!) in an attempt to influence an American election and then to cripple the winner of that election when their original plotting failed.

4. Upcoming

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is about to release his report on Steele, the FBI, and the dossier. 

The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General is about to release his report on the FBI and DOJ handling of the Clinton investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has referred the allegations about the DOJ and FBI officials to the Inspector General for further investigation

This article first appeared on American Thinker and is re-published with permission of the author.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Canadian Prime Minister interrupts girl for saying ‘mankind,’ tells her to use ‘peoplekind’

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Just when you thought Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could not possibly be more nauseating and frivolous, he showed up at a town hall meeting in Nanaimo, British Columbia and decided to correct one young woman on the wording of her question, which apparently constituted for Trudeau a violation of the “inclusivity” that he values so highly. 

The questioner, who was from the World Mission Society Church of God, wanted to ask Trudeau to take a look at restrictions on the ability of charitable religious organizations to volunteer. After a rather windy introduction to her question, she got to the point:

My question is about volunteering. So, the World Mission Society Church of God is truly growing and changing society through our volunteer work. We have received the Queen’s Award in the UK… [and] have received many awards throughout the whole word; however, unfortunately, in Canada, our volunteering as a charitable religious organization is extremely difficult. Extremely.

That’s why, in actuality, we cannot do free volunteering to help our neighbors in need as we truly desire. So, that’s why we came here today to ask you, to also look into the policies that religious charitable organizations have in our legislation so that it can also be changed, because maternal love is the love that’s going to change the future of mankind

And that’s when our feminist prime minister, the world’s 'woke' boyfriend, stepped in with a condescending smile

“We like to say peoplekind,” he chided, “Not necessarily mankind. Because it’s more inclusive.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. 

Of course, some people cheered. This was Vancouver Island, after all. Even the questioner was forced to give Trudeau a few claps, as he nodded smugly at having managed to seize this golden opportunity to push Canada one teeny step further on the path to progress – even if his smarmy response ignored the fact that nobody, anywhere, ever uses the word “peoplekind.”

I’m willing to bet that not one of the drones who clapped for Trudeau’s nonsense in that audience has ever heard anyone use the word “peoplekind,” mostly because the jury is out on whether that’s even a word. The Oxford Dictionary Online, for example, has no record of its existence. On the other hand, when you search for the definition of “mankind,” you get this: "[mass noun] Human beings considered collectively; the human race. ‘research for the benefit of all mankind.’"

Well, would you look at that. It’s almost as if the young woman asking the prime minister a question was using a perfectly acceptable word, but his ignorance concerning both the definition of that word as well as whether or not an appropriately inclusive alternative existed resulted in his looking like a virtue-signaling idiot who simply made something up in order to buffer his credentials as an impeccable progressive social justice warrior and gain the applause of a wide variety of "peoplekind."

Don’t get me wrong here. This is not the sort of thing that should get me or any other people(kind) outraged, especially considering the fact that there are genuinely outrageous things happening, most of which concern Justin Trudeau’s actual disregard for inclusivity and diversity of belief, as is symbolized by his ongoing battle with faith communities right across Canada.

Canadians from religious communities of nearly every kind are upset with Trudeau’s new “abortion attestation,” that requires organizations applying for grants from the Canada Summer Jobs Program to check a box indicating their support of abortion and a laundry list of other progressive causes and Trudeau beliefs. 

Justin Trudeau, our Shakespearean prime minister, cannot actually bring himself to be inclusive of Canadians who do not share his values, and find true diversity to be repugnant and hateful—he even lied about those religious groups who asked him in good faith to reconsider his position, insisting that they merely have a political axe to grind.

But Canadians are in luck.

When a young woman working for a religious organization approaches him with a question on how she can work with the government for the good of mankind, Justin Trudeau will be right there – to let her know that there’s a new word for that: “peoplekind.”

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Abortion is an anti-sacrament, concocted by Satan to serve his counter-church

Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter

February 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Back in 1997, I was browsing a bookshop and came upon a book that shocked and horrified me. A feminist theologian had written a book in which she argued that the two greatest “crosses” Catholic women must bear are—you guessed it—the Catholic Church’s opposition to women’s ordination and its opposition to abortion. I could hardly believe that blasphemy had reached this level, but there was no denying my senses, as much as I might have wished myself caught in a nightmare.

Then, not long after, someone told me of a woman in Canada who spoke of abortion as “sacramental.” The abuse of language is nothing short of Luciferian. In reality, there is nothing sacred or sanctifying about sin, destruction of life and self-destruction, just as there is nothing beautiful in the devil after his rebellion. Sacraments are about bringing life to man. Abortion is more rightly called the anti-sacrament par excellence, since it deprives the unborn human of his or her opportunity to be brought to life, naturally and supernaturally.

“The devil is the ape of God,” runs an old saying. The devil really does have an organized religion—organized at least to the point of bringing the enemies of Christ into the most rigid and efficient political, psychological, and cultural structures he can manage to devise with his super-human intelligence. Everything done by the Catholic Church is parodied by the “church” of the devil, and in this parody we find an explanation of the blasphemies of the people mentioned above, whose use of the words “cross” and “sacrament” are nothing less than a frontal assault on the very holiness and mercy of God.

The only way God’s infinite mercy can be turned away is by a direct affront to it: “Amen I say to you, that all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and the blasphemies wherewith they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, shall never have forgiveness, but shall be guilty of an everlasting sin” (Mk 3:28–29). If people repent of their sins—any sins whatsoever!—and seek God’s mercy, He will give it to them, though not without a just punishment, in this life or the next. But if people directly offend against the divine mercy exhibited or communicated in the order of creation and the higher order of redemption, and they go to their grave in this state of rebellion against the Holy Spirit, how can He help them? By showing them mercy? That is the very gift they have scorned.

It is the hard truth that people choose hell for themselves; and I would add further that this hell is always of the sinner’s own making. His prison is his own mind, and his punishment is to be stuck with his dark, twisted ego for eternity. That is hell enough, before we even talk about flames or any of the masterfully imagined torments of Dante’s Inferno. I often think of what Lewis says in The Great Divorce: hell is like a suburb where the houses keep getting further and further apart, their residents more and more isolated as time goes on. And could we not connect this image with Ratzinger’s conviction that hell is already irrupting into our modern world, seeping in through the cracks, as it were? The childfree suburbs of earth, evacuated by contraception and abortion, are the precursors of the God-free suburbs of Hades, indwelt by vacuity.

Abortion is the crime of people who, at root, hate themselves and despair of life’s meaning. If people loved who they are and saw their lives as having meaning, they would welcome every new life as a continuation of what they love, a further verification of that immense meaningfulness of life, a harbinger of hope, a down payment on the future. The crime of extinguishing and discarding the child is the absolute nadir, the complete ebb, of life and existence; it is the death of the social instinct and of the human heart itself, the suicide of common sense, the brutal murder of compassion and mercy, a sick parody of love. Seen in this way it is the most evil act possible, since it is like murdering innocence, life, God, and the future, all at once. Abortion is both literally and symbolically the final stage of metaphysical decadence and loss of meaning.

Hence, our fight against abortion and all that leads to it and flows from it must have not only a practical, political side, but a speculative side as well. Christians now more than ever must study and internalize the speculative roots of their heritage as well as the multitude of modern errors that undermine this heritage, this “gospel of life.” We would be naive to think that philosophy, that abstract and rarefied discipline, has little or nothing to do with our present-day culture of death. On the contrary, it has everything to do with it. In the words of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn:

The philosopher is able to engage in very dangerous games with reality, games played by his shadowy colleagues, gnostics, alchemists, and magi, verbal games in the main but which easily degenerate through pride and through the wrong combination into distortions of reality. And if ideologies are such arrogant and evil combinations, it is because they are prepared in the philosophical hell’s kitchen. (Quoted in Thomas Molnar, Decline of the Intellectual, Preface to the New Edition, ix)

We know from moral theology that there are some sins worse in kind than abortion—for example, profaning the Holy Eucharist or committing suicide. But as St. Thomas often says, there is nothing to prevent a sin from being the worst in a certain respect, even if it is not the worst absolutely speaking. No crime can be more abominable than abortion in at least this way: it is so utterly contrary to the fundamental natural good of life and to the deep-seated affection that human beings feel towards fellow humans, especially the innocent and helpless. There can be no satisfactory excuse for this crime; everyone knows that a pregnant woman is, as the old saying went, “a woman with child,” that the abdomen is rounded because a child is in the womb growing and squirming, that from the moment of conception there is a new human being in addition to the mother. It is impossible not to know this if one still enjoys the use of reason.

Which leads to a frightening conclusion: the immense prevalence of abortion in the modern world is a sign of the utmost spiritual darkness having descended upon mankind, a darkness unlike any that history has ever witnessed. For abortion to be “accepted” (let alone chosen), a person’s intellect, indeed his or her entire soul, must be drifting away from reality, from self-knowledge, love for life, basic humanity—even the principle of non-contradiction, and with it, the possibility of logical thought. Contentions of man against man are one thing: as long as human beings fall prey to avarice, libido dominandi, and exaggerated nationalism, wars will arise and be fought. But a technologically refined and lucrative warfare against unborn children? There is nothing more depraved, nothing more profoundly contrary to the very nature of man. Abortion undermines that love of offspring written by nature upon the human heart and puts in its place an empty negation, in fact a murderous negation, of being; it turns a heart of flesh into a heart of stone.

This is why Cardinal Pell could say: “Abortion corrupts everything it touches—law, medicine, and the whole concept of human rights.” This it does because it corrupts the human heart first. That is why those who perform, counsel, or undergo abortions desperately need our prayers and penance: there is nothing they need more than the sacraments and the life of grace, the pardon and peace of the Lord.

Adapted from an article that first appeared at the Truth and Charity Forum of Human Life International, www.hli.org.

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