What Pro-Aborts Wish We’d Stop Talking About!
Abortion Survivors and Late-Term Abortions  The pro-abortion movement desperately wants everybody to stop talking about two things: late-term abortions and abortion survivors. If you listened to the pro-abortion talking points, you’d think that the first (late-term abortions) only ever take place for the rarest, gravest, and most life-threatening reasons, and that the second (abortion survivors) are purely mythical creatures, like unicorns. Unfortunately for pro-aborts, their own extremism has resulted in the whole country talking about both. March for Life 2108When Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam recently appeared to support letting babies who survive abortions die, abortion activists scoffed at the backlash as overblown. And when, in response, Republican Congressmen re-introduced the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act to ensure that babies who survive abortions are in fact cared for, Democrats dismissed the bill as unnecessary and have repeatedly blocked it. After all, infanticide is already technically illegal and simply doesn’t happen. And babies don’t survive abortions. It’s all politically-driven fear-mongering. Right? Well, try telling that to Melissa Ohden, Josiah Presley, and Claire Culwell, all three of whom survived abortions. This week, they all appeared on Fox News to share the brutal truth about abortion. In 1977, at seven-months gestation, Ohden’s mother underwent a five-day-long saline abortion. Instead of succumbing to the saline, Ohden was born alive. Despite initial concerns that she wouldn’t survive, Ohden did survive, and was later adopted by a loving family. She went on to earn a master’s degree, become a top pro-life activist, and is very fortunate to suffer no health problems from the abortion. Claire Culwell, a friend of mine whom I first met during an HLI mission to New Zealand, was not so lucky. Her 13-year-old birth-mother was forced to abort when she was five months pregnant. Claire was one of a pair of twins. Her twin sibling, tragically, did not survive the abortion. But when Claire’s mother later realized that she was still pregnant, the abortionist refused to do a second abortion, since by that point it would have been a late-term abortion. Claire, however, has suffered life-long health complications from the abortion. On the other hand, she says that these are a small price to pay for the gift of life, and of a loving adoptive family – gifts that were stolen from her twin. “God created our family, and I owe my parents so much credit for the way I was able to respond to my birth mother when she told me [about the abortion] because they raised me on love and grace and forgiveness,” Claire said on Fox News. Finally, Presley’s mother underwent an abortion in South Korea when she was two months pregnant. Three months later, however, she realized that the abortion had failed, and she was still pregnant. Presley, however, was born missing an arm, likely a consequence of the “curettage abortion” that he survived. As Presley explained on Fox, “A curettage abortion is a type of abortion where the doctor goes into the mother’s womb and basically rips the baby apart and brings them out in pieces, and that’s actually why we think that I’m probably missing an arm today.” What barbarity! Presley was subsequently adopted by a Baptist pastor in Oklahoma. And that is how love trumps death. Abortion Survivors Left To Die Ohden, Culwell, and Presley all prove that babies do sometimes survive abortions. They, however, were fortunate in receiving care when they were born, ensuring that they didn’t escape the abortionist’s forceps only to be left to die after birth. Plenty of other babies are not so lucky. In 1999, Jill Stanek worked at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. That’s when she learned that her fellow nurses were regularly taking babies who survived late-term abortions and leaving them to die slow, agonizing deaths in the hospital’s “soiled utility room.” In a video interview describing what she saw, Stanek explains that the hospital practiced what they called “induced labor abortion.” In other words, they would simply induce early-term labor in pregnant women who wanted to abort. When the babies were born – too young to survive without medical attention – “health-care” workers (if they deserve the title) would just let them die. “My experience was that they [the babies] survive as short as a few minutes, to once, almost as long as an eight-hour shift,” explains Stanek. “To be clear these were living babies who were left out to die. And they were issued both birth and death certificates according to Illinois state law.” Stanek describes cradling one of these dying babies in her arms for 45 minutes. Other doctors and nurses, however, simply turned their backs on the babies until they died. It is hard – very, very hard – to grasp the callousness of heart that can allow someone to do that to a crying, living newborn baby. Christ Hospital is in Illinois, where President Barack Obama once served as a state senator. When Illinois was considering a bill to ban the kind of barbaric practices that Stanek witnessed in her hospital – a state-version of the federal Born Alive Abortion Survivor Act – she testified in support of the bill. Despite Stanek’s heart-rending testimony, Obama would go on to repeatedly vote against the bill. As we are learning, despite overwhelming public opposition to late-term abortion and infanticide, inhuman abortion extremism seems endemic among Democratic politicians. The Truth Behind Late-Term Abortions Which brings us to late-term abortions in general. Last week former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards tweeted the following: “The vast majority of abortions – about 90% – occur very early in pregnancy. When they do occur later, it is almost always because a woman’s health or life are at risk, or because her pregnancy is no longer viable.” Richard’s tweet is a typical example of the pro-abortion response to the outrage that has greeted the push in several states to make getting late-term abortions far, far easier – i.e. “late-term abortions almost never happen, and when they do, it’s for the most serious and tragic reasons, often because the baby is so malformed that he won’t survive birth in the first place.” The problem is, the abortion movement’s own data doesn’t support this. The Guttmacher Institute is a pro-abortion research organization. Its founder, Alan F. Guttmacher, was a former president of Planned Parenthood, and his organization itself was founded as a branch of the abortion organization. When the Guttmacher Institute looked into the reasons why women get late-term abortions, the answers they found didn’t match the pro-abortion narrative. To begin with, contrary to one of the most pervasive pro-abortion talking points, “[D]ata suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” Instead, reports the Guttmacher Institute, some 80% of women getting abortions after 21 weeks meet four different profiles. They are: “raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous [had never given birth].” Now, there is nothing trivial about whatsoever about any of these circumstances (well, except for having “trouble deciding”). However, it is worth noting that none of them confirm the talking point that women who get late-term abortions are doing so either because they are suffering life-threatening complications, or because the baby would not survive birth. Even the Guttmacher Institute had to admit that some women are doing it – well, just because. While it is true that the overwhelming majority of abortions take place prior to 21 weeks in the U.S., it should be noted that the overall number of abortions is so high, that the estimated 1.3% of post-21-week-abortions translates into about 8000 late-term abortions in 2015. Eric LeVon Frazier II and his twin were born 23 weeks and 3 days. Here he grips his mothers little finger. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)I think it’s crucially important that everyone reading this column stop right now and imagine what an unborn baby at 21 weeks looks like, to understand why a mere 1.3% is not “mere” at all. At 21 weeks a baby might only weigh less than a pound, but absolutely every visible feature of a fully-developed baby is in place. The baby has arms, legs, fingers, and toes; the baby moves about, may suck his thumb, and kicks. Babies at this age now routinely survive being born, albeit with intensive medical attention. But every year, abortionists around the country inject these babies’ hearts with lethal injections and tear them apart limb from limb, or scald them with saline solutions, or induce premature labor and let them die. Their bruised and broken bodies are collected and then dumped in dumpsters or sold and sent off to labs that buy their bodies for macabre scientific research. Now imagine that there was any other circumstance where, with the full blessing of the law, doctors did the same things to 8000 human beings in the United States. Imagine the outcry, the outrage, the media coverage showing the graphic evidence of the crime, the speeches in Congress, the petitions and the rallies. Every abortion is a crime and a tragedy. Every abortion is a gruesome violation of human rights. But the facts about infanticide and late-term abortion are so transparently, self-evidently gruesome, that they have the effect of waking people’s consciences to the intrinsic horror of abortion, and the unconscionable extremism of the pro-abortion activists and politicians that perpetrate legal abortion in this country. Pro-aborts want us to stop talking about infanticide and late-term abortion. I can’t think of a better reason to start talking about them. Talk loudly and talk often. For the truth will set us free. The post What Pro-Aborts Wish We’d Stop Talking About! appeared first on Human Life International.
How to observe Septuagesima, Carnival, and Shrovetide
As the Church enters the traditional pre-Lent season, here is all you need to know about how to have one last celebration
What does Pope Francis really think about Venezuela?
On the one hand, the Pope backs the Venezuelan bishops. On the other, he's keeping the Holy See neutral. What's going on?
Analysis: After McCarrick sex abuse verdict, money and power questions remain
McCarrick’s laicization still doesn't answer the question of how he was able to rise so high
Pope Francis, toward the final reform?
The new statutes of the Vatican general auditor, in effect since Feb. 16, can be considered a further step in Pope Francis’ path of reform. However, their release also shows that reforms are really made on the go, with trials and errors. The way the statutes are drafted, then, show also a recognition that there is no need to dismantle the Vatican system, but rather to perfect it. The rationale of the necessity to dismantle the Vatican system, starting from economic reforms, dates back to the beginning of the Pontificate. It was said: structures do not work, so they have to be changed. And it was said further: structures are corrupted, so it is better to build them up again, from scratch. This discussion was part of many of the pre-Conclave meetings. The outcomes of those discussions have been interpreted as Pope Francis’ mandate. Many of the speeches actually dealt with the economic sector. In the beginning, it was also said that the Institute for Religious Works, the so-called Vatican bank, had to be abolished. The Vatican economic sector was later redesigned with the motu proprio Fidelis Dispensator et Prudens, that established the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, and the office of the General Auditor. There were many initiatives left undone. The establishment of a Vatican Asset Management was foreseen in order to generate revenues, but in the end it was not set up. At the same time, Cardinal George Pell denounced that Vatican dicasteries had millions tucked away, and that those millions had to be returned to the Vatican. It is obvious that the first the decisions had to be groundbreaking. Even the hiring of Pricewaterhouse Cooper as an external auditor to review the Vatican balance sheets was made in order to break with the past. However, that hiring was the first clue that a new balance was needed. It was noted that the external auditing could not take place before the end of the internal review, still not completed. In the end, Vatican City State is, in fact, a State, and its internal finances cannot be subjected to any external review. No State would allow this for their own finances. The new Statutes for the office of the general auditor has closed all the issues that were still pending: the IOR was not shut down, and the review of the IOR accounts were completed and showed how good was the work already done in the past (as proved by the 2012 MONEYVAL report). The general auditor is now fully inserted in the Curia framework. It has become a State entity. That the auditor is a State entity is certified by the statutes’ references to the General Curia Regulations, and by the fact the reporting procedures involve all the proper Vatican entities (starting from the Financial Intelligence Authority): the auditor is not any longer established as an independent and autonomous entity. It is now an entity with a specific reference, the Council for the Economy. Vatican News rightly noted that the Auditor has more power, and that the statutes note that he can ask for and get all the documents he may need (it was slightly different in the 2015 statutes). The authority of the auditors is key for access to documents of eventual external auditors. This reform cannot be considered a setback, though it is one of the many steps back that have taken place during Pope Francis’ pontificate. So, what is really the situation? The secular media considers it a setback, as expectations were so high for this pontificate. From the Vatican point of view, it is not a step back. It is rather a step forward to outline a Vatican system tailored to fit the peculiarities of the State. The narrative of the “setback” was in fact exploited when a new anti-money laundering Vatican reform was issued in 2012. Riding the wave of the setback were mostly those who had promoted a new law too closely based on Italian laws, notwithstanding the Vatican peculiarities. The reform of the law was instead requested by the Council of Europe’s MONEYVAL committee. Following that reform, MONEYVAL always looked positively upon the Holy See. In general, Pope Francis’ pontificate was accompanied by reform expectations that did not take into consideration the Holy See peculiarities. The expectations were mostly an outcome of external pressures, and also emerged as a reaction to several scandals spread by the media. Dismantling, in the end, is never an intelligent move, if there is not a vision. It is yet to be assessed what is the vision of Pope Francis’ reform. Pope Francis always speaks about a missionary Church, outward bound. In support of this missionary push is the new apostolic constitution to regulate functions and offices of the Curia, “Praedicate Evangelium”. Pope Francis always warned about the corruption of the heart, and there is in this constitution an attempt to prevent it with some measures – one of those is that of limiting at 5 years all the terms for Curia positions, in order to avoid careerism. The issue with the reform is that there was not a unitary vision. It was carried forward while walking, as Pope Francis likes to do. This led to several adjustments, and some of these adjustments revealed a return to the past. The very Council of Cardinals’ discussions were often preceded by Pope Francis’ decisions. The Pope, de facto, already made concrete the reform establishing new dicasteries like the Secretariat for the Economy and the dicastery for Communication, or merging several dicasteries in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life and the Dicastery for the Service to Integral Human development. However, it seems that Pope Francis and his counsellors always begin with the idea of starting from scratch, without considering the existing structures (that have a meaning), nor having a plan to establish new structures. This principle also led to the project of shutting down the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household and the Apostolic Camera, without planning the establishment of new structures to cover their duties, or the transfer of some of its competences to other structures. The appointment of Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell as Camerlengo, the reform of the Prefecture for the Pontifical Household that led to the lost of control over the Sistine Chapel choir, indicate that this idea has been halted. If, however, these possibilities re-emerge, there would also be a need to think about a new organization. The church is not a company, and this is often overlooked. This means that the abolition of a structure does not merely mean to abolish a body to be replaced. Shutting down an entity means an end to a part of the history of the church, filled with a religious meaning, and a deposit of meaning that is more important than any structure. Shutting down the prefecture would not just mean shutting down a protocol office. It would mean setting aside a series of religious meaning connected with the way the Pope receives heads of State and important people These are the general difficulties of the reform. The Vatican Financial reform, adjusted as it has been in these years after the first changes, is a clear example of these difficulties, as are the new statutes of the office of the general auditor. This is food for thought, aside from any alleged or real scandal connected with the auditor (the auditor position is currently vacant, and the former auditor was fired over grave allegations he always rejected). The crucial point is that every reform needs to be consistent with the Church’s history and meaning. This is the most difficult part of the job. Everybody is waiting to see how the new Apostolic Constitution will fare. The Council of Cardinals is meeting Feb. 18 – 20. After that meeting, more will come.
Pastoral take on abuse features sin and forgiveness, Vatican comms czar says
ROME – A summit on clerical sexual abuse convened by Pope Francis has two primary goals, according to one of the Vatican’s new communications czars: To give bishops from around the world a clear sense of expectations in managing abuse claims, and to encourage those bishops to “touch with their hands” the suffering of abuse victims. “They have the duty to be aware of the drama of the victims, because this is important,” Andrea Tornielli said. “You can have the best practices, the best norms, but if you don’t change your mentality, if you don’t demonstrate real compassion for the suffering of victims, you’re not able to solve the problem.” Tornielli, a veteran Italian journalist and a longtime friend of Pope Francis even before he was elected to the papacy, was named to the new position of the Vatican’s “editorial director” last December. He spoke with Crux on Feb. 14. While speaking freely about his understanding of the upcoming meeting for presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world, as well as heads of Eastern Catholic churches and other senior Church officials, Tornielli also emphasized that he wasn’t necessarily speaking for his boss. “Obviously I’m trying to present the mind of the Holy See, but it is my responsibility alone and I take my responsibility if I am writing something that doesn’t work,” he said. “I’m not writing to reflect the mind of the pope because I’m not in the mind of the pope,” Tornielli said. With that caveat, he emphasized that the summit has a unique character because of its composition. “This is not a technical meeting, for deciding which rules are best, or a meeting of experts,” he said. “It’s a meeting of shepherds, pastors, bishops, priests, who are engaged in announcing the message of the Gospel.” In that sense, he said, some of the concepts often tossed around in discussions of the abuse crisis take on a different meaning. “They’ll try to make the Church more transparent, but not only in managing sexual abuse but to be transparent in the light of the Gospel, so that the light of God can be reflected by the Church,” he said. In concrete terms, he said that a Gospel perspective means focusing not only on crime and punishment. “It’s not so simple to put together the reality of the Gospel with facing these kinds of terrible things,” he said. “You have to try to present the message of the Gospel of both sin and grace. You’re dealing with humanity, and you have to face the reality of sin as well as grace and forgiveness, the possibility to change one’s life.” He also warned that no solution envisioned by the summit will ever be complete, saying “the Church knows very well that these horrible, terrible, dramatic scenes are connected with human nature, meaning nature corrupted by original sin.” “That means you could have the best practices, the best rules, and you apply even more than the death penalty for abusers, but the human being is a sinner and people with this inclination will still act,” he said. The veteran journalist also suggested that the Church’s learning curve in terms of responding to its abuse crisis could hold valuable lessons for other sectors of society. “The majority of cases of abuse are inside the family,” he said. “For that reason, I think the task of the Church is to work against the abuse of minors everywhere, and we could be an example for other realities that are not so aware about this problem.” “I think that the Church could help, not because we want to teach but because we want to present as an example our suffering and how we’re trying to manage the problem,” he said. “This could be an example for different realities within the society, to open eyes, focus on the problem, and try to make schools, swimming pools, everywhere, safer for children, to respect the dignity of minors and not allow this kind of abuse,” Tornielli said. Speaking of the vision for Vatican communications in light of several recent shake-ups, his new position being one of them, Tornielli said he believes the heart of the vision is to provide “a unified vision” for the various entities the department encompasses. “There is a lot to do, but we are trying to go in the same direction … this, I think, is the real spirit of the reform,” he said. On a personal level, Tornielli said that despite being a longtime reporter on the Vatican, he decided to take the job as an inside man because “it’s a professional challenge,” and he is impressed by the teamwork of the Vatican communications staff. Yet while he is now on the other side of the looking-glass, so to speak, Tornielli said that fundamentally he doesn’t believe his job has changed. “I was a journalist, I am a journalist,” he said, explaining that Vatican Media is not an entity promoting a corporate communications strategy, but “we are a group of journalists acting with our own responsibility…we are not the agency of the Vatican City State.”
Analysis: As abuse summit looms, Farrell appointed and McCarrick case lingers
The appointment of Farrell as Camerlengo and the expected verdict against McCarrick will likely overshadow the abuse summit
Follow-up will be key to pope’s abuse summit, Scicluna says
[Editor’s note: This is part one of Inés San Martín’s interview with Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, one of the Church’s leading reformers on the issue of clerical sexual abuse. Part two will appear on Monday.] ROME – Big things come in small packages, and such is the case with Archbishop Charles Scicluna, of Malta, who, despite his diminutive size, has a huge reputation when it comes to addressing the issue of clerical sexual abuse of children. Formerly the Vatican’s top prosecutor of abuse crimes, Scicluna today divides his time between Malta and Rome, where he serves as adjunct secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Since 2001, that office has had lead responsibility for cases of clergy accused of abusing minors. Credited with the investigation that exposed the crimes of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, last year Scicluna was hand-picked by Pope Francis to look into the situation of the Catholic Church in Chile, where seven bishops who’ve been accused of either cover-up or of abuse themselves have resigned. Speaking with Crux just before Francis convenes a Feb. 21-24 summit of presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world to discuss clerical abuse, Scicluna addressed widespread frustration over the fact that to this day, there are still bishops who don’t understand the scope of the problem. “We have to realize that there are constraints and circumstances of culture, geopolitical, social and ecclesial that mean we’re not at the same point in different parts of the world,” he said. “This meeting is not going to be a three-day wonder, solving every problem we have in the book, but [it’s still] a very important exercise,” he said. Speaking with Crux on Thursday, Scicluna also discussed accountability, the situation of the Church in Chile, the role women play in the fight against abuse, and the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. RELATED: Vatican investigating third accusation of abuse against ex-Cardinal McCarrick What follows are excerpts of that conversation. Why is this summit being called? What do you hope will come out of it? The initiative comes from the Holy Father… He’s gone on record what he meant when he had this convocation, asking the presidents of the bishops’ conferences to come to Rome. He mentioned three points on the plane coming back from Panama. If I have to summarize them, I would say awareness, getting to know what to do and then praying together. I think it’s a very powerful sign to bring the leadership of the Church together discussing a specific point. Whatever you call it, a meeting, a synod, it is the leadership of the Church coming together in one place, with the Holy Father presiding. It is the presidents of all the bishops’ conferences, we’re talking about the leaders of the Oriental churches, the major religious congregations and the curial leaders. We’re talking about some 200 people, getting together in one room with the Holy Father, discussing a topic, which should be top on the agenda, and it is the safeguarding of our young people, making the Church as it should be, a safe place, preventing abuse, and when abuse happens, criteria for good governance. Because I think this is the main purpose. That is why we’re talking about responsibility, accountability and transparency. Why those three topics? Because this is about governance, about the way we exercise our stewardship, our leadership. And it’s basically saying that our stewardship is in a context, and the context is communion and co-responsibility. And that is what synodality means: you walk together, but you’re accountable. You’re not above the law. You don’t hide things, that’s why it has to be transparent. And then also, you’re a steward, you’re responsible for your flock. It’s not “yours,” because when Peter is entrusted with the flock, Jesus says “feed my sheep,” a very important statement. “My sheep, my lambs.” They’re not ours, there’s no need to be possessive about it. But you have to give an account. The more you’re entrusted, the more will be expected of you. And this is the principle of accountability that Jesus explains to Peter in Luke, chapter 12. Does it frustrate you that there are still bishops who don’t understand just how widespread the problem is? Yes and no. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel and understand the differences in culture and in attitudes. If you’re an IMF executive, you know that the economy is not the same everywhere. Even if you expect high standards, you won’t find the same everywhere. And I think that this is also true for important matters in the Church. We have to realize that there are constraints and circumstances of culture, geopolitical, social and ecclesial that mean we’re not at the same point in different parts of the world. One of the major aspects, and as a lived experience, it’s to bring the leadership from these different cultures and these different points in the globe together in the same place, listening to the same input, being able to also respond, express frustrations and expectations, is something that has not happened yet. You have the United States’ experience, which I think is, in all honesty, an experience in good practice, because the wave struck in 2002, we’re talking about 17 years ago, and we have other places in the world where we still need to change the culture that impedes disclosure. I remember listening to Cardinal Chito Tagle at a symposium organized at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 2012, in which he gave an input about the cultural response to sexual abuse in Asia. And one of the things emphasized was that there’s a culture of shame that protected the person’s privacy, the dignity of the family, especially the extended family, and this is something that conditioned disclosure: people are traumatized but they do not talk about their trauma because this sense of shame is also a defense mechanism, that defends their privacy and also their dignity in society. It’s a stigma to be known as a victim. These are cultural aspects that will certainly need time to develop into a different attitude. So, this meeting is not going to be a three-day wonder, solving every problem we have in the book, but a very important exercise in which we come together. Follow-up will be of the essence. That’s why the Holy Father has asked the organizing committee to stay in Rome for two days after the meeting and discuss follow-up. And I’m sure that’s something that we’ll have to continue. You need to engage the Roman Curia in talking about the follow-up in the short term, the midterm and the long term. Shouldn’t you have found a way to include more women in the process, even granting this is a meeting of the hierarchy? Your point is a valid one. We’re talking about leadership in the Church, and without being in sacred orders [ordained into the priesthood] women are in the leadership of the Church. I understand that the main leaders of the superior generals are going to be represented, there are female speakers who are going to give their input to the bishops. At the end of the day, when it comes to the follow-up and prevention on the ground, the bishop will need to join forces with so many women who are leaders in the Church, in the local churches, even on a national and continental basis. I think your comment is important because we cannot ignore the fact that the maternal instinct that is a guarantee of safeguarding and care has to be not only promoted but also empowered. And that means that leadership has to be a leadership in communion, with one’s people. I am archbishop in my own archdiocese, Malta, and I delegate all safeguarding investigations to lay people, most of them women, who are experts in different social sciences: psychology, law, welfare, investigation. And I find that their wisdom and care are an extraordinary gift to our church and our safeguarding policies. The fact that women are not part of the “boys’ club” often means they’re not tempted to defend the club, meaning, more often than not, women weren’t professors or students of those accused of abuse, neither mentors nor proteges … Most women in leadership in the Church I know don’t want to go around wearing clerical habits. They are interested in moving together as a pilgrim church. So yes, I think that guarantees a sort of distance, and at the same time, it also guarantees a certain standard of care for the victims and even for the perpetrators. [In part two of his Crux interview, Scicluna discusses the McCarrick case and the press for greater accountability not just for the crime of clerical sexual abuse, but also the cover-up.]
Bishop accuses Russia of ‘ecclesial colonialism’, ‘saber-rattling’ in Ukraine
[Editor’s note: This is part one of Elise Harris’s conversation with Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In part two, Gudziak discusses the approach to the clerical sexual abuse scandals in the Eastern Catholic Church.] ROME – A leading Ukrainian Catholic bishop has said a recent declaration of independence for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church amounts to a refutation of what he called Russia’s “ecclesial colonialism,” and roundly condemned efforts to placate Russian sensitivities as part of Catholic-Orthodox relationships. “Bending before nuclear powers has little to do with authentic reconciliation of churches,” Said Greek Catholic Bishop Borys Gudziak. “Saber-rattling by churches backed by nuclear power has little to do with true ecumenism.” In comments to Crux, Gudziak, who heads the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris, said the recent recognition of the independence, or “autocephaly,” of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “is a stark refutation of ecclesial colonialism, something almost no church today dares to preach.” “Before the developments of the last months, the communion of 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches did not include Ukraine. According to the Russian Orthodox Church, these Churches and faithful were deprived of grace, without hope for salvation unless they repented and rejoined.” However, with the Orthodox Church in Ukraine being the second largest in the Orthodox community post-independence, Borys said he believes it’s only a matter of time before the decision is commonly accepted, and as such, “the sooner Russian Orthodox realize that colonization is not an evangelical principle the better their own ecclesiastical and spiritual life will be.” In November 2018, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople approved a tomos, or decree, granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. It marked a historic step for Ukraine, which had been considered part of the “canonical territory” of the Russian Orthodox for centuries. Ukraine currently has three Orthodox communities – one still under Moscow’s control, and two independent churches. The push for the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been a source of tension for years, which was exacerbated following Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. In December a “Unification Council” called by Bartholomew was held in Kiev, resulting in the election of Metropolitan Epiphany as the head of the newly-independent church. In his interview with Crux, Gudziak said restructuring following the independence vote will last for years, and while the position of the broader Orthodox community will become clearer in the coming months, independence will eventually be widely accepted – though not, he warned, without a fight. He also spoke of Orthodoxy in Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania, all majority Orthodox nations that will be visited by Pope Francis this spring, as well as Francis’s historic meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba, in 2016. Calling the meeting a mere “photo opportunity” that boosted Kirill’s status, Borys said that since then, there’s been “little progress in ecumenical relations.” “Ecumenism cannot be power politics or secular diplomacy,” he said. “In Jesus’ teaching, might does not make right,” he said. Below are excerpts of Crux’s conversation with Gudziak. What impact has the approval of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine had in the wider Orthodox world? What are the possible consequences of this decision at both a religious and geopolitical level? The recognition of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine (OCU) has rendered undeniable some basic facts. It is a belated acknowledgement of a fundamental reality in the Orthodox world. Orthodox Ukrainians exist – in great number – and many reject colonial submission, ecclesial or otherwise. Not many realize that taken together, the Orthodox in Ukraine constitute the second biggest Orthodox community in the world. Often one can read that the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is the largest of the Orthodox churches and that it constitutes a plurality of global Orthodoxy. But when the ROC speaks in these terms it always subsumes the Orthodox of Ukraine. If practicing Orthodox are counted, probably half of those in the ROC are Ukrainian or of Ukrainian ancestry. Before the developments of the last months, the communion of 14 autocephalous Orthodox churches did not include an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. According to the ROC these churches and faithful were deprived of grace, without hope for salvation unless they repented and rejoined the ROC. The recent recognition of the autocephaly of the Orthodox church is a stark refutation of ecclesial colonialism, something almost no Church today dares to preach. The sooner Russian Orthodox realize that colonization is not an evangelical principle, the better their own ecclesiastical and spiritual life will be. Of course, history has shown that colonizers rarely relinquish their subjects willingly or easily, be it political, cultural, or ecclesiastical colonization. The ROC has formally broken off communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. There will be tension between those Orthodox churches that follow Constantinople and those that do not. (However), the autocephaly of the second biggest Orthodox church is quite natural and, sooner or later, will be recognized by all. It may take decades, but historical precedent suggests that this process is irreversible. What impact will it have on Ukrainian society generally? Hopefully it will make Orthodoxy in Ukraine freer and more effective to address the spiritual and pastoral needs of Ukrainian society. Like all societies, cultures, or races that have endured historical trauma, the scars and complexes in Ukraine run deep. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine has a long way to go not only to restructure itself but to really liberate and purify itself of the Soviet and Russian imperial legacy. Becoming a unified autocephalous Church that is an effective evangelizer in a post-communist, post-modern society will not happen overnight. We are talking about decades of future endeavors. It should be clear that Moscow is doing everything in its power to obstruct and derail this process. No means are beyond the pale. To try to reestablish control over Ukraine, five years ago Russia invaded the country and militarily annexed Crimea. Orthodox are killing Orthodox – members of their own church. More than 10,000 persons have died as a result of the ongoing war. Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and have become refugees. The imperial ambitions, political or ecclesiastical, will not go away easily or soon. In terms of Orthodox relations with the Vatican, do you think this decision will hurt the Holy See’s relationship with Moscow? Could it possibly cause relations to go backwards, following the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in 2016? In recent decades, Moscow has often formulated its demands – particularly regarding processes in Ukraine— in categorical terms: either you do what we want, or we will cut off relations. The Holy See’s reaction is usually cautious. In recent years the Holy See has not publicly challenged the Church of Moscow. It seems back door efforts have been applied, but at least regarding the position of the ROC and its non-response to Putin’s war in Ukraine, we see little effect. It is difficult to say what will happen, but I hope that truth and justice will prevail. It is important not to overestimate the impact of the 2016 Havana meeting of the Pope and Patriarch Kirill. The two church leaders met, the meeting gave Kirill an historical photo opportunity which served to raise his status in Russia and particularly in the West, but subsequently we see very little progress in ecumenical relations. Ecumenical relations can authentically develop only in the framework of profound Gospel principles. Ecumenism cannot be power politics or secular diplomacy. In Jesus’ teaching, might does not make right. Bending before nuclear powers has little to do with authentic reconciliation of churches. Saber-rattling by churches backed by nuclear power has little to do with true ecumenism. How would you evaluate the Vatican’s strategy when it comes to Orthodox relations? The strength of the Holy See when it comes to Orthodox relations is always connected with the authenticity of Christian witness of the Catholic Church. When the Church is strong morally it can make a contribution to the entire world, including the Orthodox community. When it is weak or burdened by internal contradictions, its witness becomes less convincing. Today, Pope Francis seeks to speak in the name of the poor, calling his church and the global community to reevaluate many positions and postures. For any community or institution, reform is an arduous process. The Catholic Church today is conducting such a reform. Exactly where do the Orthodox churches in Romania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria stand? How influential are they, and what has their reaction to this decision been? The Romanian Orthodox Church is a community that was able to develop its theological life and church institutions in communist times. Romanian communist authority, the Ceausescu regime, also charted a somewhat independent course. Consequently, today Romanian Orthodoxy has a rather vibrant ecclesial life and its leaderships makes rather free decisions. The Macedonian Orthodox Church is seeking recognition as its proclaimed autocephaly is not yet accepted by other Orthodox churches and it is a hostage to the whole issue of the name of the country [it cannot be called simply Macedonia because that is the name of the bordering part of Greece], which causes disputes with Greek Orthodox. The autocephaly of the Church in Ukraine and resolution of the conflict over Macedonia’s name as a country are probably the preconditions for recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Bulgaria has traditionally been in the Russian sphere of influence, but politicians and representatives of Bulgarian society strongly rebuked Patriarch Kirill for his condescending attitude towards Bulgarians and their church. In each of these cases there is a complex ecclesial and national history behind the position of individual Orthodox churches. As history changes, these positions evolve.
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El Salvador: An Uncertain Future for Children and Families?
by Julia Regina de Cardenal,  President, Fundación Sí a La Vida On Sunday, February 3, 2019, the citizens of El Salvador elected a new president for a five-year term: Nayib Bukele, a 37-year-old man who ran as the GANA candidate (Grand Alliance for National Unity), a party known for its centrist-right inclination. This is the first time that the GANA party has won a major election in the country, breaking the grip held by the two major opposing political parties in the general elections: it was either the rightist political party ARENA (National Republican Alliance) or the leftist political party FMLN that would usually win the elections. Bukele is in some respects an unknown quantity; previously an FMLN member, he served as mayor of the nation’s capital. There he once celebrated the LGBT movement, but he has also allegedly said he only favors abortion to save the life of the mother. Those signs will likely embolden the anti-life and anti-family movements to ruthlessly pursue their agendas with Bukele as President of El Salvador. El Salvadorean President, Nayib Bukele (Facebook page)FLMN, Bukele’s former party, accused him previously of disrupting the party and he left. But the FLMN is known for its hard push towards implementation of anti-life and anti-family policies. During the last ten years, there have been FLMN presidents ruling the country. Their terms witnessed to serious attempts to weaken and change the nation’s constitution and laws in these areas: protecting life from conception to natural death with no exceptions, the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, legalization of abortion and same-sex unions, and even allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Additionally, FLMN leaders have been pushing a gender identity bill that would allow persons to “alter” their biologically ordained sex for another. Luckily, despite such attempts to date, strong national laws in favor of life and family remain in place. In the midst of this uncertainty, HLI’s affiliate Fundación Sí a La Vida, which translated means “Yes to Life Foundation,” will reach out to Bukele as the new-president elect, before he assumes office June 1, 2019. His wife, Gabriela, is expecting their first child. There is hope Bukele will understand defending life and family enables a country prosper. There is neither prosperity nor justice in the allowing the destruction of human life and the traditional family. HLI Latin American Team, with Fundación Sí a La Vida President, Julia Regina de Cardenal, front row right – Photo credit: elsalvador.comFundación Sí a La Vida has documented multiple testimonies from mothers deeply grateful for the support provided by its crisis pregnancy assistance since 1994, through which 11,200 lives have been saved. Fundación Sí a La Vida has also been vocal in the public square in affirming abortion never saves the life of the mother in a high-risk pregnancy, while medical treatment for the mother and unborn child is always the life-affirming and scientifically-sound response. Saint Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who was canonized in 2018 by Pope Francis, spoke many times against abortion and disordered sexual unions. In a homily he delivered in 1977, he stated: “The prevention (by contraception) of births, homosexuality, premarital relations, abortion, (and) prostitution, are slaves to pleasure, to selfishness….” It is our hope that El Salvador will remain a nation cherishing life and family in the midst of the demonic storms that seek to ravage our country and the world. The post El Salvador: An Uncertain Future for Children and Families? appeared first on Human Life International.
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