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New petition calls for pro-life support against nuclear warfare

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 22:01

Washington D.C., Aug 17, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As political tensions increase between the United States and North Korea, one pro-life group began a petition urging nuclear disarmament around the world.

Rehumanize International is asking pro-life advocates to join them in the fight against nuclear arms by signing a letter directed to President Donald Trump and attending an anti-nuclear weapons march outside the White House on Sept. 9.

“And with many pro-lifers around the world who understand that nuclear weapons can never be tools of a Just War, we call on the Trump administration and the governments of all nuclear-wielding nations to dismantle and destroy their nuclear arms!” read the letter, which was posted on Change.org Aug. 11.

Concern over nuclear warfare has recently escalated as North Korea has refused to halt its reported efforts for increased nuclear power as well as intercontinental missiles capable of reaching the U.S.

Among many smaller ballistic missile tests this year, North Korea last month tested its second intercontinental missile since the country was established, inciting the U.S. to increase economic sanctions against it.

Last week, North Korea mentioned the possibility of targeting U.S. territory Guam, but as of Aug. 16 the country's main news agency said the plans have been paused.

Linking pro-life support to anti-nuclear arms advocacy, the letter begins by stating that nuclear war is opposed to human dignity and demands that more responsibility be taken to end it.

“As supporters of the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings from conception to natural death, and the intrinsic right to life of every member of our human family, we call for an end to nuclear warfare,” the letter read.

“We demand that our executive branch of government be more accountable for our existing nuclear arsenal and sign on to the U.N. treaty for nuclear disarmament.”
 
The U.N.'s 1968 Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons required its signatories to refrain from acquiring nuclear arms, besides the five countries who had attained them before 1967, including the U.S., the U.K., France, China, and Russia. The treaty went into effect in 1970, and was renewed indefinitely in 1995.

The letter is currently open for signatures which can be done electronically on Change.org. They will then be sent to President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence as well as French, British, and United Nation leaders. Among other organizations, the American Solidarity Party and Feminists for Nonviolent Choices have both expressed support for the petition as well as the upcoming march.

“We will join together as powerful pro-life voices who work tirelessly to build a culture of life,” Ruhimanize executive director Aimee Murphy said in an Aug. 17 statement, “as we call on our government to make the truly pro-life policy declaration to condemn the usage of nuclear weapons, no matter who wields them.”

Guam's Catholics pray for peace amid ongoing threats from North Korea

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 19:11

Hagatna, Guam, Aug 17, 2017 / 05:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the face of North Korea’s threats to bomb the island of Guam, the Catholic faithful have gathered in parishes across the US territory to pray for eased tensions between the two nations.

With more than 80 percent of Guam’s 162,000 population identifying as Catholic, large groups of clergy, religious, and lay persons gathered to offer Mass, rosaries, and other prayers for relief to the pressure between the United States and North Korea.

The world has seen tensions rise between the U.S. and North Korea in recent years, continuing to test ballistic missiles and develop its nuclear options, facing opposition from the world’s leaders and even recent sanctions from the United Nations.  

The coadjutor archbishop of Agaña asked the clergy of the country’s 26 churches to promote peace and offer prayers during Sunday Mass on August 13.

“In your Masses this Sunday, especially in the prayer of the faithful, please offer prayers for peace between our nations, just resolution of differences, and prudence in both speech and action,” said Archbishop Michael Byrnes in an August 11 statement.

Additionally, hundreds of parishioners responded to an invitation by the Archdiocese of Agaña to pray a rosary at the old Spanish government palace, and rallies commemorating the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima took place all across the country.

Guam has faced threats before, but the recent round are particularly intense and explicit. However, priests and lay leaders say prayer brings comfort and hope, recognizing that God is in control of the situation.

The Gospel messages “tell our people that God is in control of what is happening and if we have faith and believe in God all this rhetoric and war possibility here on Guam will be taken care of by God,” said Monte Mesa, vice-chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau, according to ABC News.

North Korea has been aiming to lengthen their missile range, in what many political leaders have speculated is in ultimate attempt to reach U.S. soil. Last month, the country tested its second intercontinental ballistic missile, leading the U.S. to call for additional economic sanctions.

In response to President Donald Trump’s threat to “bring fire and the fury” if tests continue to pose a risk to American safety, Pyongyang said via an August 9 statement by the Korean Central News Agency that they were “examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam.”

Some 3,000 miles from North Korea, on the southern end of the Mariana Islands, the 210-square mile piece of land is a strategic presence for the U.S., due to its proximity to Asia. Guam has a large number of bases, housing around 7,000 U.S. service members, as well as aircraft carriers, which were a significant force during the Vietnam War.

In an August 16 statement, KCNA said the country is pausing the potential attack on Guam while continuing to monitor U.S behavior. United States officials have still expressed concern.

 

 

Planned Parenthood investigator claims victory in Washington State appeal

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 17:49

Washington D.C., Aug 17, 2017 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Lawyers for Planned Parenthood investigator David Daleiden claimed a victory on Wednesday as the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court sent back a lower court's ruling against him.

“The Court of Appeals, by reversing this decision and remanding this case back to District Court, has prevented a serious threat to the public's right to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Peter Breen, special counsel for the Thomas More Society who argued the appeal for Daleiden.

David Daleiden is the project lead at the Center for Medical Progress, the group that released undercover videos of conversations with Planned Parenthood officials and others in the abortion industry, as well as interviews of a former clinician for a tissue harvester.

The videos claimed to report on the transfer of fetal tissue of aborted babies from clinics to tissue harvesters for research purposes.

Daleiden and other citizen journalists created a fake medical supply company company and adopted fake identifications to pose as representatives of a fetal tissue procurement company looking to possibly do business with Planned Parenthood clinics. They discussed possible prices for fetal tissue of aborted babies.

Compensation for fetal tissue of aborted babies that is used for research is allowed under federal law for, provided the amount of compensation is not for “valuable consideration” and is “reasonable,” to cover operating expenses like storage and transfer.

In the particular case decided on Monday, Daleiden had requested to view records from the University of Washington’s acquisition and use of fetal tissue of aborted babies for research in their Birth Defects Research Laboratory.

According to his lawyers, Daleiden requested that the names and personal contact information of persons in the records not be made public, but the university sued to block even more information like the job titles and departments from being made public.

“The government employees and the abortion personnel are seeking to force heavy redactions in public documents about their work procuring, processing, and transferring the organs and tissue of aborted human fetuses, in connection with the school’s taxpayer-funded Birth Defects Research Laboratory,” the Thomas More Society stated.

“Such heavy redactions render these public documents useless for investigative purposes,” the group said of the additional requested redactions.

A district court ruled in the university’s favor, issuing an injunction on the additional information being made public. Daleiden’s lawyers appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit unanimously ordered the lower court to explain further why it had allowed censorship of the public records.

The “Doe Plaintiffs” – or the persons whose information was contained in the records – would have to prove both that they “were engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment” and that they faced a “reasonable probability” of harm which could threaten their First Amendment rights, due to backlash once the records were made public, the court said.

The Ninth Circuit kept in place a temporary injunction on release of the information, to allow the district court time to find if the plaintiffs’ claims met the standards for the information to be censored.

“We remand for the district court to address how disclosure of specific information would violate the constitutional or statutory rights of particular individuals or groups of individuals,” the ruling said.

Theologian Pia de Solenni appointed Orange County chancellor

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 16:44

Orange, Calif., Aug 16, 2017 / 02:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Moral theologian and cultural analyst Dr. Pia de Solenni has been appointed chancellor for the Diocese of Orange in California, effective Aug. 28.

“Pia is an inspirational and well-respected theologian and has proven herself a thoughtful and humble leader within our Church,” said Bishop Kevin Vann in a statement announcing the appointment.

“We are blessed as a Diocese to benefit from her expertise, passion, and faith. I look forward to the many gifts that she will continue to bring to bear in service to the people of Orange.”

As chancellor – the diocese’s highest senior lay position – de Solenni will be the head administrator and secretary of the Curia, official archivist and record keeper, and aid in protecting the integrity of the faith. She will help support the administrative and ministry efforts of the bishop, and will advise the bishop on various writings and questions involving doctrine and dogma affecting the Church’s local work.

Currently, de Solenni serves as a theological consultant to the Office of the Bishop, as well as associate dean of the Augustine Institute’s satellite campus at the Christ Cathedral in Orange. She holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.

An expert on moral issues pertaining to bioethics, culture, and women’s issues, she has given commentary for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, as well as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press, among others.

With more than 1.3 million Catholics, the Diocese of Orange is the 12th largest diocese in the United States.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve the Diocese of Orange as Chancellor. I am very grateful to Bishop Vann for his confidence in me and for giving me this opportunity,” de Solenni said.

 

Archbishop Gomez: Make Oscar Romero's mission your own

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 08:02

Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 16, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The 100th birthday of Blessed Oscar Romero was a time for Los Angelenos to reflect on the martyred Salvadoran bishop's virtues and how his vision can be made a reality today.

“One hundred years after his birth, Blessed Oscar Romero still inspires us for his humility and courage – for his love for the poor and his witness of solidarity and service to others, even to the point of laying down his life,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said at an Aug. 13 Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral marking the centenary of Romero’s birth.

“Our brother, Blessed Oscar, had a vision for a new society – the society that God wants – a society in which God’s gifts are shared by everyone, and not only the few,” he continued. “We want to carry that vision forward in our own times, and in our own society.”

Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador was born Aug. 15, 1917.

Amid El Salvador’s bloody civil war, the archbishop preached the importance of Christian love. At a time when government-aligned death squads would kill and abduct opponents of the government, he was a strong critic of government violence against the poor, human rights violations, and corruption, despite many death threats.

He was assassinated March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador. Right-wing death squads are suspected in his death.

Pope Francis declared Archbishop Romero a martyr in February 2015, then beatified him in May 2015.

There were three relics of the slain archbishop at the Mass in Los Angeles: the microphone he used to celebrate Mass at the San Salvador cathedral; an autographed photograph he gave to a woman religious who assisted him and was present the day he was murdered; and a piece of cloth with his blood from the day he was assassinated. Many Salvadorans were in attendance.

Archbishop Gomez told the congregation: “we want to ask this great saint to help all of us to live with new faith, new hope and new love.”

“We ask him to intercede for us – to give us courage to continue his project, his ‘revolution of love’,” the archbishop continued, saying that Romero “walked in the company of Jesus and in the company of his people.” He served his people “with a pastor’s love, with a father’s love”

“God gives each of us a mission. It is not just for bishops, like Monseñor Romero,” said the Los Angeles archbishop. “Each one of us, in our own way, is called to build the Kingdom of God.”

Archbishop Gomez cited Romero’s own words: “Let each one of you, in your own vocation – nun, married person, bishop, priest, high-school or university student, workman, laborer, market woman – each one in your own place live the faith intensely and feel that in your surroundings you are a true microphone of God.”

The archbishop emphasized the need for “total confidence in God” despite times of troubles and trials, as in the Gospels when the apostles were at sea in a powerful storm. Even when they saw Jesus approaching on the water, they think he is a ghost.

“We can get anxious about our future or worrying about the things in our lives, that we can think that God is not there for us. But he is,” said Archbishop Gomez. St. Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but began to sink when he thought about his human limitations and the storms around him.

Despite the struggles and challenges Romero faced, he kept his eyes on Jesus Christ.

“Let us carry the Gospel message of love and mercy, truth and justice into every corner of our world,” said the archbishop. He invoked the patron of El Salvador, Our Lady of Peace, asking that she guide her children “to know the freedom, justice and peace that Blessed Oscar Romero gave his life for.”

The archbishop voiced prayers for those in El Salvador who suffer violence, and those who live in poverty throughout Central America and Latin America, especially for those in Venezuela.

US State Department recognizes ISIS genocide in religious freedom report

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 18:57

Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2017 / 04:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Religious freedom advocates were heartened by the State Department recognizing in its annual religious freedom report released Tuesday the genocide of Christians by the Islamic State.

“As we make progress in defeating ISIS and denying them their caliphate, their terrorist members have and continue to target multiple religions and ethnic groups for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and even death,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated at the Aug. 15 release of the 2016 International Religious Freedom report.

“Application of the law to the facts at hand leads to the conclusion ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled,” he said. “ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”

The annual State Department report is mandated by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which created the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department and worked to make promoting religious freedom a part of U.S. foreign policy.

The 2016 report makes explicit reference to the “genocide” of Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims at the hands of the Islamic State, or “Daesh.” Then-Secretary of State John Kerry had said in March of 2016 that “in my judgement, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.”

In 2014, Islamic State militants conquered large areas of territory in Iraq and Syria, forcing religious and ethnic minorities in the region to stay and convert to Islam, leave, or die.

Reports documented that Islamic State committed mass killings of Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and others, as well as enslaving women and children. The Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians partnered to release a massive report documenting Islamic State atrocities committed against Christians.

As Islamic State has been driven from towns in northern Iraq, the inhabitants have returned to find their homes vandalized and their churches desecrated or destroyed.

“America’s promotion of international religious freedom demands standing up for the rights of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” the preface to the State Department’s report stated.

Tillerson added that in addition to Christians being targeted for genocide in Iraq and Syria, they have also been targeted by Islamic State militants in Egypt.

“The protection of these groups – and others subject to violent extremism – is a human rights priority for the Trump administration,” he said.

Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., welcomed Tillerson’s statement as an even more forceful pronouncement of genocide than was made by the previous administration.

Tillerson, Shea said, “forcefully clarified that ISIS has the ‘specific intent’ of destroying the Christian community, along with the other two minorities.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the author of the update to the original International Religious Freedom Act, also praised Tillerson for specifically recognizing the atrocities committed against minorities under Islamic State.

“I want to commend Secretary Tillerson for focusing on those who have been victims of genocide,” he said. “These groups are looking for help and leadership, and I am proud that after eight years of denial and foot dragging, this report positions the United States to become a world leader in helping those who need it most.”

Tillerson, in his remarks unveiling the report on Tuesday, also focused on the persecution of minorities in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Pakistan, Sudan, and Bahrain.

In Iran, for instance, 20 persons were executed by the state in 2016 for apostasy charges including “waging war against God,” he said. Baha'i leaders are still imprisoned for their religious beliefs in the country, where the state religion is Ja’afari Shia Islam.

In Turkey, religious minorities have seen their rights infringed upon by the government, which has also imprisoned Pastor Andrew Brunson who should be released, Tillerson said.

“Turkey continues to unjustly imprison Dr. Andrew Brunson without charges, and I appreciate Secretary Tillerson reminding the world of this. It is important for America to be clear about the human rights abuses happening around the world,” Sen. Lankford (R-Okla.) said.

Tillerson also named Saudi Arabia as a violator of human rights and religious freedom, as punishments like prison and lashings are given to persons for charges of apostasy, atheism, blasphemy, and insulting the state’s interpretation of Islam.

“We urge Saudi Arabia to embrace greater degrees of religious freedom for all of its citizens,” Tillerson stated to the U.S. ally.

China is another well-known human rights violator, torturing and detaining thousands of citizens for their religious beliefs, including Uyghur Muslims and the members of Falun Gong, Tillerson said.

However, the secretary did not also mention that Christians are persecuted by the government there. State-sanctioned destruction of churches, or removing crosses from churches, has become commonplace in some provinces, and state officials have hampered parents from bringing their children to church.

In addition, the Vatican and the Chinese government have been working on an agreement on the appointment of bishops in the state-sanctioned Church, although critics like Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, say the atheistic government will continue to meddle in the elections of bishops.

Smith said the report “rightly shows that China’s religious freedom conditions are among the world’s worst.”

“The Chinese government is an equal opportunity abuser of the rights of Protestants, Catholics, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners – all who face imprisonment and torture for practicing their faith,” he said.

Calling the report “a step in the right direction,” he also commended the reporting on other countries, such as Vietnam, Pakistan, Nigeria. and Syria, “with individuals who simply want to worship in peace being beaten, jailed, tortured or worse.”

“The more difficult step will be to place these countries or non-state actors like ISIS and Boko Haram on the U.S. blacklist of severe religious freedom violators,” he said.

This would include updating the “Countries of Particular Concern” list, which is comprised of countries the State Department deems where the worst violations of religious freedom are taking place and the government is either the instigator, actively complicit, or is powerless to stop the abuses.

The creation of the list was mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act as a way to hold violators of religious freedom accountable. Actions can be legally taken against such countries if the State Department places them on the CPC list, like imposing sanctions.

With the rise of non-state terror groups like Islamic State and Boko Haram, Smith’s bill created the “Entities of Particular Concern” designation for violators of religious freedom that are not themselves states and who are active in multiple countries.

The State Department currently has designated China, Burma, Eritrea, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan as CPCs.

Pakistan does not occupy a place on the list despite leading the world in the number of prison sentences for blasphemy, which can carry a death sentence.

Also, Tillerson did not mention Russia in his remarks, despite the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan federal commission that advises the State Department, asking that it be added to the CPC list as one of the worst violators of religious freedom.

In its annual report earlier this year, the commission pointed to the criminalization of certain non-sanctioned religious beliefs in the Russian mainland, and the treatment of minorities in the Russia-occupied Crimean Peninsula as serious abuses that merited Russia’s place on the CPC list. Recently, Russia’s supreme court rejected an appeal of the outlawing of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country.

Religious freedom advocates applauded the Trump administration’s selection earlier this summer of an Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who is charged with monitoring abuses of freedom of religion abroad and promoting religious freedom as part of U.S. foreign policy.

President Donald Trump nominated Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a former U.S. Senator, for the position. Lankford expressed his desire that Brownback be confirmed for the position soon.

'Forgive them' – powerful words from father of Charlottesville victim

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 16:49

Charlottesville, Va., Aug 15, 2017 / 02:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia involving white supremacy groups and counter-protesters, the father of the woman who was killed after the rally spoke out against hatred and offered a different message: forgiveness and love.

“I just think about what the Lord said on the cross, 'Forgive them. They don't know what they're doing,'” Mark Heyer said Monday, according to USA Today.

“I include myself in that in forgiving the guy who did this,” he said.

Mark Heyer is the father of Heather Heyer, the 32 year-old woman who was fatally hit by a car after the “Unite the Right” rally near the University of Virginia on Saturday. The rally drew white supremacists including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, who were protesting the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the park downtown.

Heather was among the group of counter-protesters who were standing against the Unite the Right rally, which also included various religious leaders and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Heather grew up near Charlottesville and was a paralegal at Miller Law Group. The law firm called Heather an “irreplaceable asset,” and noted her “big heart for people.” She was known in her community for standing up for the marginalized in society.

“She was a strong woman who had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone, and she tried to stand up for that,” her father said.

“With her, it wasn’t lip service. It was real… it was something that she wanted to share with everyone,” he continued, saying “she had more courage than I did.”

Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, also noted her daughter’s passion for others, saying that “it was important to her to speak up for people who were not being heard.”

The driver of the car that hit Heather is 20-year old James Alex Fields, who is now facing multiple charges including a hit and run, second-degree murder, and counts of malicious wounding. He drove his car into several other cars while crowds of people were crossing the streets after the rally, injuring dozens of people. A total of 19 victims were hospitalized.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice issued a joint statement on Sunday, condemning the “evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”

They also prayed for Heather, and two other victims who were Virginia State troopers, saying “let us especially remember those who lost their lives. Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression.”

While devastated with the loss of his daughter, Mark Heyer hopes that her death will cause bigger waves of change.

“I hope that her life and what has transpired changes people's hearts.”

New Texas law axes insurance coverage for elective abortion

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 16:45

Austin, Texas, Aug 15, 2017 / 02:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A new law in Texas removes elective abortion coverage from the standard package of health insurance benefits offered in many plans, a move that pro-life advocates hailed as a victory for those who do not want to subsidize abortion.

“As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,” said Governor Greg Abbott upon signing House Bill 214 into law on Tuesday.

“This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policy holders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”

Under the new law, elective abortions will not be covered in standard private or state employee health insurance plans, nor in public plans subsidized by the Affordable Care Act.

Abortions deemed to be necessary in cases of medical emergency will still be covered in standard plans, and optional separate coverage for elective abortions may be purchased by those who are interested.

“This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion,” said Rep. John Smithee, lead author of the bill.

The law was signed during a special legislative session. It had been approved by the House in a 95-51 vote last week, and by the Senate in a 20-10 vote on Sunday.

More than half of U.S. states limit coverage of abortion under the Affordable Care Act.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, denounced the law, saying it will negatively impact women who “need” abortions.

Another bill signed into law by Abbott on Tuesday requires doctors and health care offices to report additional details about abortion complications.

State Sen. Donna Campbell said during a debate on the legislation last month that “collecting this data is important to guarantee best medical practices.”

Abortion-pill reversal: The next frontier of informed-consent laws?

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 08:04

Indianapolis, Ind., Aug 15, 2017 / 06:04 am (National Catholic Register).- Medication abortions are on their way to becoming the dominant method of abortion in the U.S. But lawmakers are starting to look at whether to change their state’s informed-consent laws to let women know of an experimental treatment that could possibly reverse the effects of a progesterone-blocking abortion.

Indiana state Rep. Ronald Bacon, (R-Chandler), told the National Catholic Register that he heard about the “abortion-pill reversal” technique during a presentation by Fort Wayne obstetrician-gynecologist Christina Francis. Bacon, who is Catholic, thought that women contemplating abortion, or who have taken mifepristone – the first pill in the two-pill RU-486 abortion process – should at least know the possibility existed.

In the event they wanted to reconsider their choice for abortion, Bacon said they should know about this possibility and who they should contact from the information packet that abortion doctors are required to give their patients.

“We should at least try to give women as much information as possible,” he said.

Bacon’s legislation passed Indiana’s House of Representatives Feb. 27 on a 54-41 vote, but never made it through the state senate. Other pro-life lawmakers balked at the law, citing the need for more studies.

Still, Bacon said the media coverage of the debate did create awareness.

“I felt at least the word got out there,” he said.  

Rapidly Changing Industry

First-trimester abortion accounts for 91 percent of all abortions performed in the U.S. But RU-486 medication abortions account for nearly a third of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. That figure is rising, and in some states, RU-486 accounts for half of all abortions.

In Scandinavian countries, that future has already arrived: Medication abortions account for 96 percent of abortions in Finland, 91 percent in Sweden and 86 percent in Norway.

Mifepristone is the first drug taken in the two-step RU-486 chemical abortion regimen. The first pill (also known as Mifeprex) blocks the hormone progesterone from bonding to the uterine wall, causing it to shed, killing the embryo by literally starving it to death. Approximately 24-48 hours later, a second pill called misoprostol (commercially known as Cytotec) is ingested to expel the deceased unborn child with the other contents of the uterus.

However, Dr. George Delgado, medical director of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego, California, that runs the AbortionPillReversal.com program and its 24/7 hotline, has developed protocols designed to block the effects of mifepristone by flooding a woman’s body with progesterone, ideally within 72 hours of taking the abortion pill. The concept involves overwhelming Mifeprex with progesterone in order to save the uterine lining and allow women to exercise their choice to continue their pregnancies.

Delgado said he is in the process of submitting an article for publication to a peer-reviewed medical journal that “will describe over 200 cases of successful reversals.”

The article will build on another study published in the spring 2017 edition of Issues in Law and Medicine by his colleague Dr. Mary Davenport, which reviews studies on women who took mifepristone alone for abortion. The review, he said found the embryo survival rate to be between 8 and 25 percent.

Delgado said that upper limit of 25 percent will form the “historical control group” for comparing the embryo survival rates from their best progesterone-treatment protocols, which their data puts in the range of 60-70 percent.

“It does make a difference if a woman who changes her mind undergoes our reversal protocols,” he said.

Abortion-Pill Reversal

Many pro-life physicians and pro-life health centers across the country have now made abortion-pill reversal a treatment option to women.

Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder of the Obria Medical Clinics and president of the Obria Foundation, told the National Catholic Register that Obria provides the progesterone treatment to women who request it. She said that as Obria’s telemedicine platform expands in more states, it will provide another mechanism for women searching for help after taking the first abortion pill.

“We have a much better opportunity to save lives this way,” she said. Bravo, who is a post-abortive mother, said when she had time to reflect on her surgical abortion decades ago, it was too late to do anything to save her child. But the woman who takes mifepristone in a doctor’s office actually has time in the privacy of her home to consider whether she really wants to go through with abortion before taking the second pill. At that point, she said, a woman who changes her mind and wants to keep her baby will turn to her smartphone and start searching for help.

“We have a much larger window of opportunity to save this child’s life if we can reach them through their smartphones,” Bravo said. “This is a much bigger opportunity to save lives than we’ve ever had through surgical abortions.”

Bravo said the best prevention against medication abortion is building relationships with abortion-vulnerable women so they never end up taking the abortion pill in the first place. She pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s abortion business model today is based on pre-existing relationships with clients: It utilizes telemedicine to connect with women and men and is providing them with health services. She noted that in California, Planned Parenthood is expanding into primary care and is starting to rebrand as “Melody Women’s Health.”

Bravo said that Obria is seeking to build those pre-existing relationships with women and men by connecting to them through Obria’s telemedicine platform and providing them with medical care and social support so that if they are in a crisis situation, they will turn to Obria first for help.

Model Legislation

So far, just three states have enacted changes to informed-consent laws related to informing women about abortion reversal.

Arkansas explicitly requires women to be told that it might be possible to reverse a mifepristone abortion. South Dakota’s legislation states that a woman does not have to continue the two-step abortion regimen if she changes her mind, and to look to the state health department’s website for information on reversal – none of which can be found there. Arizona passed and then repealed legislation requiring women to be informed that medication abortion could be reversed after a court challenge.

Lawmakers in a handful of other states have attempted to bring similar bills to their statehouses for consideration based on model legislation developed by Americans United for Life (AUL).

Denise Burke, AUL’s vice president of legal affairs, told the National Catholic Register that the organization believes women should know there’s a “possibility” that they could increase their chances of keeping their children with this treatment.

“This is empowering women to make the best decision for them and their families,” she said.

Burke said AUL has been in contact with a number of legislators that are contemplating bills for 2018. She hopes that the results of Delgado’s forthcoming study will bolster the case for lawmakers for making this knowledge part of the informed-consent process for abortion.

ACOG Opposed

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), however, has weighed against states changing their informed-consent laws. An ACOG spokesman referred to a position paper noting abortion-pill reversal has not been substantiated by the body of scientific evidence and is not recommended in ACOG’s clinical guidance on medication abortion.

ACOG’s paper noted that pregnancy will continue in 30-50 percent of women who take mifepristone alone and do not take misoprostol.

“Available research seems to indicate that in the rare situation where a woman takes mifepristone and then changes her mind, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is just as effective as intervening with a course of progesterone,” it stated.

Dr. Gretchen Stuart, director of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s family-planning division, told the National Catholic Register that “laws that affect medical practice should be based on scientific evidence.”

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that medication abortion reversal is not supported by scientific evidence, and, therefore, this approach is not recommended,” she said.

Stuart also noted that Delgado’s previous report in the literature of women receiving progesterone injections was “too small a sample size to make scientific conclusions.”

In contrast, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has lent its support to Delgado’s work.

Studies on the Way

Delgado told the National Catholic Register his latest findings will be published over the next several months. However, he stated the ACOG position paper cited figures for incomplete abortion, which are not the same figures as embryo survival. In the studies where doctors checked for the embryo’s survival with ultrasound, the embryo was already dead, even though the woman’s body had not begun the process of expelling the uterine contents.

In principle, he said women should know that reversal is an option “in case they change their minds” and be assured no scientific data indicates either mifepristone or progesterone treatments cause birth defects.

“We have evidence that using progesterone to reverse the effects of a mifepristone abortion is both safe and effective,” Delgado said.

Further studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Delgado’s technique will likely be needed before more legislators act on it. Rep. Bacon said he intends to bring his bill back to the statehouse once he can approach his fellow Indiana lawmakers with “more clinical proof.”

“I definitely will bring it back then.”

 

This article was originally published by the National Catholic Register.

 

US Catholics to mark 50 years since Navy chaplain's heroic death

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 02:03

Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2017 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Mass and a documentary premiere are among the events marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Father Vincent R. Capodanno, the decorated Navy chaplain who was killed seeking to provide the sacraments to ambushed Marines in the Vietnam War.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services will celebrate the Annual Mass for Father Capodanno Sept. 5 at the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Mass will take place at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

“Many of the surviving Marines who served with Father Capodanno will participate, along with current senior military leaders and active-duty personnel. The public is invited to attend,” the Archdiocese for the Military Services said Aug. 10.

Father Capodanno was a Maryknoll priest from Staten Island, N.Y. He was nicknamed the “Grunt Padre” for his service to members of the infantry.

While with Maryknoll, Fr. Capodanno served in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and then requested to be reassigned as a chaplain with the US Marine Corps. He was sent to Vietnam in 1966, and requested an extension to his tour of duty when it was up.

The chaplain was killed at the age of 38 on Sept. 4, 1967 in Vietnam’s Que Son Valley after his unit was ambushed by North Vietnamese forces. Despite suffering injuries from mortar fire, including a partly severed hand, he continued to last rites to the dying and medical aid to the wounded.

In disregard of intense small arms fire, automatic weapons fire, and mortars, Fr. Capodanno rushed about 15 yards to reach a wounded corpsman in the direct line of fire of a North Vietnamese machine gunner. He was killed just before he reached the wounded man.

He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on Jan. 7, 1969. “By his heroic conduct on the battlefield, and his inspiring example, Lt. Capodanno upheld the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom,” said the priest’s Medal of Honor citation.

Many of the Catholic faithful devoted to Fr. Capodanno have reported favors granted following intercessory prayers to the chaplain. In 2006 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared Fr. Capodanno a Servant of God.

On Aug. 30 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, EWTN Global Catholic Network will broadcast the world premiere of a 90-minute documentary “Called and Chosen: Father Vincent R. Capodanno,” about his life and death. The documentary’s producer is Jim Kelty.

Before the documentary, at 8 p.m. Aug. 30, EWTN Live will carry a one-hour panel discussion about Fr. Capodanno. The show will be hosted by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., with panelists including Kelty; Capt. George Phillips, USMC (Ret.), board chairman of the Father Capodanno Guild; and Mary Preece, vice-postulator of Fr. Capodanno’s cause for canonization.

The Archdiocese for Military Services encouraged viewings of the documentary on EWTN and to participate in the Mass for Father Capodanno.

In October 2013 Archbishop Broglio appointed a tribunal to investigate whether the priest had led a life of heroic virtue, with the goal of determining whether his cause for sainthood should be pursued.

The archbishop in May announced that the archdiocesan phase of the clause had closed. A decision is pending from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concerning whether to declare the priest “venerable.”

The history of the Assumption – and why it's a Holy Day of Obligation

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 02:01

Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2017 / 12:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Today, Catholics around the world mark the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, commemorating the end of her earthly life and assumption into Heaven. But while the feast day is a relatively new one, the history of the holiday – and the mystery behind it – has its roots in the earliest centuries of Christian belief.

“As her earthly life comes to an end, the Assumption helps us to understand more fully not just her life, but it helps us to always focus our gaze to Eternity,” said EWTN Senior Contributor Dr. Matthew Bunson.

“We see in Mary the logic of the Assumption as the culmination of Mary’s life,” he continued. “A Eucharistic requirement for that day is very fitting.”

The dogma of the Assumption of Mary – also called the “Dormition of Mary” in the Eastern Churches – has its roots in the early centuries of the Church. The Catholic Church teaches that when Mary ended her earthly life, God assumed her, body and soul into heaven.

This belief traces its roots back to the earliest years of the Church. While a site outside of Jerusalem was recognized as the tomb of Mary, the earliest Christians maintained that “no one was there,” Bunson said.

According to St. John of Damascus, in the 5th century, at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Roman Emperor Marcian requested the body of Mary, Mother of God. St. Juvenal, who was Bishop of Jerusalem replied “that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven,” the saint recorded.

By the 8th century, around the time of Pope Adrian, the Church began to change its terminology, renaming the feast day of the Memorial of Mary to the Assumption of Mary, Bunson noted.  

The belief in the Assumption of Mary was a widely-held tradition, and a frequent meditation in the writings of saints throughout the centuries. However it was not defined officially until the past century. In 1950, Pope Pius XII made an infallible, ex-cathedra statement in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus officially defining the dogma of the Assumption.

“By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” the Pope wrote.

Within the decree, which was passed beforehand to dioceses around the world, Pope Pius XII surveys centuries of Christian thought and the writings of a number of saints on the Assumption of Mary.  

“We have throughout the history of the Church an almost universal attestation of this,” Bunson said of the Christian tradition’s testimony to Mary’s Assumption.

“We have this thread that runs throughout the whole of the history of the Church in support of the dogma. That’s significant because it supports the tradition of the Church, but it also supports a coming to a deeper understanding of the teachings of the Church of how we rely upon the reflections of some of the greatest minds of our Church.”

What’s also notable about the dogma, he added, is that it “uses the passive tense,” emphasizing that Mary did not ascend into heaven on her own power, as Christ did, but was raised into heaven by God’s grace.

Today, the Feast of the Assumption is marked as a major feast day and a public holiday in many countries. In most countries, including the United States, it is a Holy Day of Obligation, and Catholics are required to attend Mass. Dr. Bunson explained that on important feast days, it’s important to mark the significance of the feast as especially vital by emphasizing the necessity of celebrating the Eucharist that day.

“What is more fitting than on the Assumption of the Blessed Mother to, once again, focus on her Son, on the Eucharist?” he reflected.

 

Selfies for Mary? How a Catholic art project engaged the world

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 22:02

Doylestown, Pa., Aug 14, 2017 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an effort to draw the 'selfie generation' to Marian spirituality, the Pauline Fathers of Doylestown, Pennsylvania collected photos from dozens of countries around the world for a mosaic of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

“In history of Our Lady of Czestochowa, it was a tradition to offer to her new crowns and dresses, made of precious stones and jewels,” said Father Timothy Tarnacki, the coordinator for the Living Crown of Mary Project.

“But today, the world is changing, and we have to find new ways how to reach people, how they can make their faith and their relationship with Jesus and Mary more personal,” he told CNA.

The project was started almost a year ago and the priests will collect photos until Aug. 20 to build a large mosaic of the Marian image, also known as the Black Madonna. It will be revealed on Sept. 10 in the main church in celebration of the 300 anniversary of Poland's coronation of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Along with a photo, the Living Crown of Mary project requires the participant to offer a spiritual gift to Mary, which may be an additional Marian prayer or sacrifice.

Fr. Tarnacki said the project originated from the orders' members in Poland as means to honor Mary and spread Marian spirituality especially among the youth, but also to offer pilgrims the opportunity to participate in a spiritual offering to Mary.

“They offered to the Blessed Mother their entire life, families, difficult situations, unemployment, illnesses. I remember one couple who offered to Mary their resolution to live in chastity before they get married.”

The priests do not have an exact number of the photos sent so far but Fr. Tarnacki estimates the amount to be around 2,000, ranging from cellphone selfies to old black and white photos. All of the photos will be digitalized then a computer software program will arrange the pictures into the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The Pauline Fathers, or the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit, are the original protectors of the image of the Black Madonna, first established in Poland in 1382 at the Shrine of Jasna Gora. Having a large portion of the Polish immigrant community dedicated to Czestochowa in the U.S., a copy of Mary's icon blessed by Pope Saint John XXIII was brought to America in 1951 and a shrine was later established in Doylestown in 1955.

The Marian center is a significant piece of history for the Polish-American community, Fr. Tarnacki said, noting his surprise that a project which started off slowly received a large portion of its participates from countries facing political difficulties.

“We were thinking that our project will only cover USA, but it became an international version of the project from Poland, bringing people from every continent into it from about 60 countries.”

Bishops across US condemn racism after white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 12:59

Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2017 / 10:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With deadly violence following a rally of white supremacists this past weekend in Charlottesville, Va., bishops throughout the nation denounced racism and racist ideologies.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and domestic justice chairman Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla., issued a statement on Sunday condemning “the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism.”

They also prayed for peaceful counter-protesters, saying that “our prayer turns today, on the Lord's Day, to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets.”

“Let us especially remember those who lost their lives.  Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression,” they said.

This past weekend, a planned “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., to protest the city’s removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee drew white supremacists including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members. A counter-protest, including a diverse coalition of religious leaders and members of the Antifa and Black Lives Matter movements, was formed.

On Saturday, a man drove a car into the counter-protest, injuring 19 and killing one, 32 year-old Heather Heyer of Charlottesville, the AP reported. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the incident “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute,” and promised to “protect the right of people, like Heather Heyer, to protest against racism and bigotry.”

Two Virginia State troopers also lost their lives near Charlottesville as they responded to the situation there, when their helicopter crashed in Albemarle County.

Catholic bishops denounced the violence but also explicitly condemned the racist ideology amidst the “Unite the Right” gathering.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia stated on Sunday that “the wave of public anger about white nationalist events in Charlottesville this weekend is well warranted.”

“Racism is a poison of the soul. It’s the ugly, original sin of our country, an illness that has never fully healed. Blending it with the Nazi salute, the relic of a regime that murdered millions, compounds the obscenity,” he said.

Bishop Martin Holley of Memphis called the racist rallies and the violence “appalling.”

“May this shocking incident and display of evil ignite a commitment among all people to end the racism, violence, bigotry and hatred that we have seen too often in our nation and throughout the world,” he said.

Other bishops on Twitter explicitly condemned racism over the weekend as well, in response to the unrest.

“Racism is a grave sin rooted in pride, envy and hatred. It suffocates the soul by means of expelling from it the charity of Christ,” Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas tweeted on Saturday night.

“Pray for an end to the evil of racism. And pray, especially today, for its victims. Pray for justice and mercy in our nation,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln tweeted on Saturday afternoon.

However, Americans cannot only condemn racism in statements, but must also pray and work for a collective conversion of heart, Archbishop Chaput said.

“If our anger today is just another mental virus displaced tomorrow by the next distraction or outrage we find in the media, nothing will change,” he said.

“Charlottesville matters. It’s a snapshot of our public unraveling into real hatreds brutally expressed; a collapse of restraint and mutual respect now taking place across the country.”

“If we want a different kind of country in the future, we need to start today with a conversion in our own hearts, and an insistence on the same in others,” he said. “That may sound simple. But the history of our nation and its tortured attitudes toward race proves exactly the opposite.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. also called for “soul searching” in the wake of the unrest.

“We must always identify hate for what it is, but the inevitable pointing of fingers of blame after the fact only entrenches division,” he said on his blog.

“We as a nation must also engage in soul searching about how it is that there is so much social unrest and violence in our communities. After years of seeing the flames of resentment and division fanned by incitement to bitterness and distrust, should we not now be actively seeking reconciliation and a return to civility?” he asked.

“At this time, as Christians, as disciples of Jesus, we must redouble our efforts to bear a witness for peace and the common good,” he said.

President Donald Trump condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides – on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country.”

Vice President Mike Pence, in a joint press conference on Sunday with Colombia University President Juan Manuel Santos, expressed condolences to the families of Hyer and the two state troopers.

“We have no tolerance for hate and violence, from white supremacists, neo-Nazis, or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

“Our administration is bringing the full resources of the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence that ensued yesterday in Charlottesville. And we will hold them to account, under the law,” he said.

 

Calls for prayer amid 'abhorrent' violence in Charlottesville

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 17:46

Washington D.C., Aug 12, 2017 / 03:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The head of the U.S. bishops conference called for prayers after one person was killed and over a dozen injured during a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said in a statement Aug. 11.

“We offer our prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed and for all those who have been injured. We join our voices to all those calling for calm.”

After violent clashes between hundreds of white nationalists and counter-protestors in Charlottesville's Emancipation city park, a car plowed into the crowd, killing one and injuring 19, reported the New York Times.

The white nationalist gathering aimed to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a local park. The group, which began its demonstration on Friday night, waved Confederate flags and chanted phrases such as “You will not replace us” and “Jew will not replace us.”

By the next morning, hundreds of counter-protestors, from religious leaders to Black Lives Matter activists had gathered and eventually convened with the white nationalists at Emancipation park. While the morning was relatively peaceful, violence began to escalate, with the National Guard arriving to disperse the crowds.   

President Donald Trump spoke out against the violence in a statement Saturday, saying he condemned in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”

Priest counters claim that God ordained Trump to nuke North Korea

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 14:54

Dallas, Texas, Aug 11, 2017 / 12:54 pm (CNA).- A Texas Catholic priest has countered the claim of Texas Baptist pastor and adviser to Trump, Pastor Robert Jeffress, who claimed on Thursday that the president has been given “authority by God” to use nuclear force against North Korea.

In a statement to CBN News Tuesday, Jeffress said that Scripture endowed “rulers full power to use whatever means necessary – including war – to stop evil.”

“In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un,” Jeffress said. “I’m heartened to see that our president…will not tolerate any threat against the American people.”

However, this is a gross misunderstanding of Scripture, countered Catholic priest Fr. Joshua Whitfield.

“No, God did not anoint Trump to nuke North Korea” Fr. Whitfield responded in the title of his opinion piece for The Dallas Morning News.

Catholic leaders, including the U.S. bishops and Pope Francis, have been outspoken about the need to eliminate all nuclear weapons in the pursuit of peace, particularly at this time of escalating tensions. Numerous other Catholic leaders in the recent past, including Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, all opposed the development of nuclear weapons.

In Gaudium Et Spes, a Vatican II document released by Pope Paul VI in 1965, the authority of the Church reiterated its opposition to the arms race, calling it “an utterly treacherous trap for humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree. It is much to be feared that if this race persists, it will eventually spawn all the lethal ruin whose path it is now making ready.”

The idea that God has given political powers such as President Donald Trump authority to “take out” evil authorities such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un often stems from a misreading of Chapter 13 of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Fr. Whitfield noted.

“Particularly, it's based upon those verses that call upon Christians to subject themselves to governing authorities because they serve the Lord as an ‘avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer,’” he said.

But it’s important to understand the context under which St. Paul was writing, he added. St. Paul was writing to people living under “arbitrary and often anti-Semitic pagan rule, offering fellow believers a moral strategy for survival, on how to abide by Jesus' ethic of love until his coming again in glory.”

It is not meant to be read as “a theology of politics, not a charter for Christian participation in the affairs of state, not a proof text for subservience,” he said.

“For Paul, it would have been unthinkable to consider a political ruler some sort of anointed Christian prince or president waging war on behalf of believers. We should remember that Paul was biblical, not Constantinian. He saw political authority as something ordered by God rather than ordained by him. Governments, wars, rulers, the innumerable fools of history: All of it, both good and evil, God mysteriously ultimately arranges according to his will,” he said.

Christians are called to imitate Jesus’ way of peace, Fr. Whitfield noted.

“That’s what’s biblical, not any sort of sacralizing of national leaders,” he said.

“...we shouldn't be so quick to assume God's bellicose blessing (on aggressive use of force). It's why we should pray for peace.”

 

Is it weird that Catholics venerate relics? Here's why we do

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 05:32

Houston, Texas, Aug 11, 2017 / 03:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- “We are many parts, but we are all one body,” says the refrain of a popular '80s Church hymn, based on the words of 1 Cor. 12:12. 

While we are one body in Christ, if you happen to be a Catholic saint, the many parts of your own body might be spread out all over the world. 

Take, for example, St. Catherine of Siena.  

A young and renowned third-order Dominican during the Middle Ages, she led an intense life of prayer and penance and is said to have single-handedly ended the Avignon exile of the successors of Peter in the 14th century.

When she died in Rome, her hometown of Siena, Italy, wanted her body. Realizing they would probably get caught if they took her whole corpse, the Siena thieves decided that it would be safer if they just took her head. 

When they were stopped on their way out by guards outside of Rome, they said a quick prayer, asking for St. Catherine of Siena’s intercession. The guards opened the bag and did not find the dead head of St. Catherine, but a bag full of rose petals. Once the thieves were back in Siena, Catherine’s head re-materialized, one of the many miracles attributed to the saint. 

The head of St. Catherine of Siena was placed in a reliquary in the Basilica of St. Dominic in Siena, where it can still be venerated today, along with her thumb. Her body remains in Rome, her foot is venerated in Venice. 

From the Shroud of Turin, or the finger of St. Thomas, to the miraculous blood of St. Januarius, or the brain of St. John Bosco, the Catholic Church keeps and venerates many curious but nevertheless holy artifacts, known as relics, from Jesus and the saints. 

To the outsider, the tradition of venerating relics (particularly of the corporeal persuasion) may seem like an outlandishly morbid practice. 

But the roots of the tradition pre-date Jesus, and the practice is based in Scripture and centuries of Church teaching. 

While it’s one of the most fascinating traditions of the Church, it can also be one of the most misunderstood. 

Father Carlos Martins, CC, is a Custos Reliquiarum, which is an ecclesiastically appointed Curate of Relics with the authority to issue relics. 

He is a member of Companions of the Cross, and the head of Treasures of the Church, a ministry that aims to give people an experience of the living God through an encounter with the relics of his saints in the form of an exposition. The ministry brings expositions of various relics throughout North America by invitation. 

In the following interview with CNA, Fr. Martins answers questions and dispels some common misunderstandings about the tradition of relics. 

First of all, what is a relic? 

Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord. They are usually broken down into three classes: 

First class relics are the body or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh.

Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items). 

Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third class relic of a saint.

The word relic means “a fragment” or “remnant of a thing that once was by now is no longer.” Thus, we find in antique shops “Civil War relics” or “Relics of the French Revolution.” Obviously, we are not talking about these kinds of relics but rather sacred relics.

Where did the Catholic tradition of venerating saints’ relics come from? 

Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing. In fact, when surveying what Scripture has to say about sacred relics, one is left with the idea that healing is what relics “do.” 

When the corpse of a man was touched to the bones of the prophet Elisha the man came back to life and rose to his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21).

 A woman was healed of her hemorrhage simply by touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak (Matthew 9:20-22).

The signs and wonders worked by the Apostles were so great that people would line the streets with the sick so that when Peter walked by at least his shadow might ‘touch’ them (Acts 5:12-15).

When handkerchiefs or aprons that had been touched to Paul were applied to the sick, the people were healed and evil spirits were driven out of them (Acts 19:11-12).

In each of these instances God has brought about a healing using a material object. The vehicle for the healing was the touching of that object. It is very important to note, however, that the cause of the healing is God; the relics are a means through which He acts. In other words, relics are not magic. They do not contain a power that is their own; a power separate from God.  

Any good that comes about through a relic is God’s doing. But the fact that God chooses to use the relics of saints to work healing and miracles tells us that He wants to draw our attention to the saints as “models and intercessors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 828).

When did the veneration of relics begin?

It was present from the earliest days of Christianity, during the Apostolic age itself. The following is an account written by the Church in Smyrna (modern day Izmir, Turkey) when its bishop, St. Polycarp was burned alive:

“We adore Christ, because He is the Son of God, but the martyrs we love as disciples and imitators of the Lord. So we buried in a becoming place Polycarp’s remains, which are more precious to us than the costliest diamonds, and which we esteem more highly than gold.” 
(Acts of St. Polycarp, composed approx. 156 AD)

Polycarp was a significant figure. He was converted by John the Apostle, who had baptized him and subsequently ordained him a bishop. Thus we see that from its outset the Church practiced devotion to the remains of the martyrs. 

What is the spiritual significance of relics? 

I think that St. Jerome puts it best when he said:
    
“We do not worship relics, we do not adore them, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator. But we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.” (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907).

We venerate relics only for the sake of worshipping God.  

When we collect relics from the body of a saint, what part of the body do we use? 

Any part of the saint’s body is sacred and can be placed in a reliquary. Any and every bone may be used. In addition, flesh, hair, and sometimes blood, are also used. Sometimes everything from the tomb is dispersed from it. Sometimes a tomb is preserved.

At what point in the canonization process are items or body parts considered official relics by the Church? 

Before the beatification takes place, there is a formal rite whereby the relics are identified and moved (the official word is “translated”) into a church, a chapel, or an oratory. Put simply, the grave is exhumed and the mortal remains are retrieved.

Only the Church has the juridical power to formally recognize the sanctity of an individual. When the Church does this – through beatification and canonization – their relics receive the canonical recognition as being sacred relics. 

There is an importance difference between beatification and canonization.  Beatification is the declaration by the Church that there is strong evidence that the person in question is among the blessed in heaven. Nevertheless, beatification permits only local devotion. That is, devotion in the country in which the individual lived and died. When Mother Teresa was beatified, for instance, only in India and in her native Albania was her devotion permitted. Her Mass could not be celebrated, for example, in the United States, nor could her relics be placed within its altars.

Whereas beatification permits local devotion, canonization, on the other hand, mandates universal devotion. It grants to the canonized individual the rights of devotion throughout the universal Church.

The Church allows saints’ body parts to be scattered for relics, but forbids the scattering of ashes of the deceased who are cremated. Why is that? 

Every person has a right to a burial. This means that the community has a duty to bury the dead.  

Every human society and culture throughout time has felt this duty. The dead have always been buried, and archaeology has never discovered a human community that did not practice this.  One could rightly say, therefore, that burying the dead forms part of our human cultural DNA. 

The theological term for this instinct natural law. Nature has imprinted a law within the human heart that manifests itself in the practice of burying the dead as a final act of love and devotion, or at least an act of respect and propriety.  

It should be no surprise, then, that the Church lists as one of the corporal works of mercy burying the dead. Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.

There is flexibility in the kind of burial. Remains may be buried in the ground, in the sea, or above ground within, for example, a cave or columbarium. The point is that a burial occurs within a single place, such that it can be said that the person “occupies” the place as a final location of rest. The human heart longs for this. We see people arriving at graves and speaking to the grave as if they were speaking to the deceased. And they do so differently than they might speak to the dead at home. At the grave, they speak to the dead as if they are in a place.  

For this reason, among others, the Church has always taught not only that it is completely beneath the dignity of human body to have its remains “scattered,” but also completely beneath basic human sensibilities. People need a place to encounter and meet the dead in their physicality.  

Nevertheless, the saints, as members of the body of Christ, have a right to have their remains venerated. And this right, flowing from their dignity as members of the Body of Christ, supersedes their right to have their remains remain in burial.   

What is the proper way to keep relics? Are lay Catholics allowed to have first class relics in their homes? 

Relics are very precious. They are not something that was alive at one time and is now dead. In the case of first class relics, we are talking about flesh that is awaiting the general resurrection, where the soul of a saint will be reunited with his physical remains.

As such, the way we treat relics is of the utmost importance. Ideally, relics should be kept in a Church or chapel where they can be made available for public veneration. 

The highest honor the Church can give to a relic is to place it within an altar, where the Mass may be celebrated over it. This practice dates from the earliest centuries of the Church. In fact, the sepulchers of the martyrs were the most prized altars for the liturgy.  

As an alternative to encasing them within altars, they may be installed within a devotional niche where people may venerate them. Such shrines are important as they afford people a deeper experience of intimacy with the saint.

The Church does not forbid the possession of relics by lay persons. They may even keep them in their homes. However, because of the many abuses that have been committed concerning relics, the Church will no longer issue relics to individuals – not even to clergy.  

These abuses included failing to give them proper devotion (neglect), careless mistreatment of them, discarding them, and in some cases, even selling them. The abuses were not necessarily committed by the person to whom the Church had originally bequeathed the relics. But when such persons became deceased, and the relics were passed on by inheritance, they were often subject to great vulnerability. With the eclipse of the Christian culture in the western world, faith can no longer be taken for granted, even among the children of the most devout people.

Thus, to protect relics, the Church only issues them to Churches, chapels, and oratories.

How important is the authenticity of the relic? How does the Church go about determining authenticity of very old relics from the beginning of the Church? 

The authenticity is critically important.

But for the ancient saints, determining identity is much easier than you might think.  It was tradition to build a church over top of a saint’s grave. That is why St. Peter's Basilica is where it is, or why St. Paul Outside the Walls is there. Both encompass the tomb for the saint, which is located directly beneath the altar.

Modern archaeology has only affirmed what the ancient tradition has believed.
 

A theologian's take on how to avoid conflict with North Korea

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 13:08

Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2017 / 11:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Dialogue and prudent actions to uphold international resolutions are key to maintaining peace amid rising tensions between North Korea and the international community, one theologian said.

“Dialogue is critical to resolving this particular issue,” Dr. Joseph Capizzi, a moral theologian at the Catholic University of America, told CNA. “We have kicked the can down the road for 50-plus years, with regard to Korea.”

“And the further we kick the can down the road, the more difficult the situation becomes, the less solvable it becomes by the use of force. So dialogue is more essential now than it ever was before.”

The Vatican has shown concern over the developing situation and has also expressed the need for dialogue between countries. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, said on Wednesday that the “way of conflict is always the wrong way.”

“The way forward is not that of having the latest military technology, but of having an approach of inclusion,” the archbishop said, as reported by Vatican Radio.

In July, North Korea successfully tested ballistic missiles that had the capability of reaching the U.S. mainland, following a series of launches of medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles earlier this year.

Then on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea had produced a small-enough nuclear warhead that could be placed inside a missile, according to intelligence analysts. North Korea reportedly has as many as 60 nuclear weapons, according to one United States estimate.

On Wednesday, DPRK state media reported that the Kim Jong-Un regime was considering a strike against the island of Guam in the West Pacific, the westernmost U.S. territory and one from which B-1 bombers have flown over the Korean peninsula in military exercises. The AP followed up on Thursday by reporting that a plan for North Korea to launch four missiles aimed to land in the ocean within 25 miles of Guam, as an exercise of its threat to the U.S. territory, had been hatched and could be submitted for approval in the next week to Kim Jong Un.

Because of North Korea’s continued nuclear buildup and its ballistic missile tests, the UN Security Council unanimously voted last weekend to impose more sanctions on the Communist dictatorship.

President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday that if North Korea continued to threaten the United States, they would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a Wednesday press conference that “what the President is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un can understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”

“I think the President just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S. unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies,” he said.

The need for dialogue carries with it the importance of prudence and “sobriety” in the rhetoric of U.S. and world leaders, Capizzi said.

“We do want to engage them,” he said. “We’re trying to pull back some of the incendiary nature of the rhetoric. And then to have the President immediately follow that up with the ‘fire and fury’ comment, it makes us seem erratic. It makes us seem inconsistent,” he said.

Yet, he added, “action is much more important here than rhetoric.” The international sanctions, and the unanimous vote of UN Security Council members – including even Russia and China -- to impose them, were an important step to take, he said, “to induce North Korea to stop testing missiles.”

Also, the actions that have not been taken are important, he said, like an overly aggressive mobilization of U.S. military forces.  “You don’t see our military or our navy sort of ratcheting up right now,” he said.

“That’s what we really need to keep our eyes on, is what is our military doing? Where are our ships going in that part of the world? What is Japan doing?” he said. “And so far I think everybody recognizes there’s nothing to gain by pushing this further. What we really want to do is sit down and see if we can negotiate out of this.”

Pope Francis, in an April 29 in-flight press conference during his return from Egypt, said that regarding the escalating international tensions with North Korea, “the path is the path of negotiation, the path of diplomatic solutions.”

“This world war in pieces of which I've been talking about for two years, more or less, it's in pieces, but the pieces have gotten bigger, they are concentrated, they are focused on points that are already hot,” he said.

“Things are already hot, as the issue of missiles in North Korea has been there for more than a year, now it seems that the thing has gotten too hot.”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told UN News this summer “general disarmament -- that is a priority this year.”

“There is no doubt that the Catholic Church, Pope Francis now in particular, is very much against not only the use but also the possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.  

Leaders for the U.S. and European bishops also called for nuclear disarmament in a July 6 statement “Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security.” Bishop Oscar Cantu, chair of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, signed the statement along with Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions.

“For many, the horror of a potential nuclear war receded from consciousness with the end of the Cold War, but recent geopolitical developments remind us that our world remains in grave danger,” the bishops stated.

“Even a limited nuclear exchange would have devastating consequences for people and the planet. Tragically, human error or miscalculation could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.”

While the United Nations conference to negotiate the multi-lateral and legally-binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was wrapping up in July, the bishops said, the U.S. and “most European nations” were noticeably absent.

122 countries present voted in favor of the treaty, with one, the Netherlands, voting against it and Singapore abstaining, the UN reported.

“Nuclear states are making significant new investments to modernize nuclear arsenals. These costly programs will divert enormous resources from other pressing needs that build security, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” the bishops stated.

“The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons, compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence. We call upon the United States and European nations to work with other nations to map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Why YouTube needs Catholics

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 05:02

Denver, Colo., Aug 10, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic YouTube junkies of the world, unite – you are needed for the New Evangelization.

That was essentially the message of the recent Catholic YouTubers Hangout, the first-of-its-kind online meeting of dozens of Catholics from around the world who last month about bringing the Gospel to their YouTube channels.

About 50 channels logged on to take part, hailing mostly from the United States, but also with channels joining from places like Italy, Brazil and Spain.

The hangout started as the brainchild of Daniel Glaze, who is one-half of the channel “That Catholic Couple” – the other half is Daniel's wife, Ana. On their channel, they show their followers (dubbed “The Donut Squad,” a play on Glaze) all about their life as a young Catholic couple and first-time parents.

Daniel said the idea for the hangout came when he was watching a Catholic YouTube video one day and wondered whether Catholics on YouTube knew each other or ever collaborated together.  

Steve the Missionary (aka Steven Lewis) of the “Steve the Missionary” channel, and Maria Mitchell, the producer of the “Ascension Presents” channel, had similar questions. Why weren't there more Catholics on YouTube, the way there were on other social media platforms like Twitter? Why wasn't there a Catholic community on the platform?

“(We all) noticed that there really wasn't a cohesive community of people who create together, react to each other, or collaborate with each other,” Lewis told CNA.

“Daniel was the one who was smart enough to start calling his friends and asking what we wanted to do about it.”

And that's how the Catholic YouTubers Hangout was born. The free online conference was open to any channel that was in some way, shape or form, Catholic – meaning either the content explicitly talked about Catholicism and the Catholic church, or the creator of a channel is a Catholic who is letting their faith influence their work.

The goals for the hangout were twofold: to create a community of Catholic YouTubers, and to encourage further collaboration within that community.

Each host of the hangout also gave a keynote address, the main ideas of which can also mostly be found in this collaborative by Daniel, Ana and Lewis: https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=inXOliuYdQk&t=21s  

This community of Catholic YouTubers is necessary, Lewis said, because “Catholics need to get their voice in the hyper-progressive, strictly materialistic, and atheist and agnostic conversation happening on YouTube.”

He said he wants there to be a “Catholic YouTube” of sorts – a corner within the platform dominated by explicitly Catholic conversations and creators, like there is on Twitter or Instagram.

“But I know that that's not enough,” he said.

“The second thing I want is for Catholics to be a part of every other corner of YouTube. We should be earning our rights to be heard in the conversations happening on 'Gamer YouTube,' 'Politics YouTube,' or 'Movie-Nerd YouTube,'” he said.
 
“Having both of these is important to spreading the Gospel. The first is important for answering the explicit questions of people interested in the faith, the second is important for putting the Gospel in new places among the people of the world.”

Lewis, who has been creating videos for his channel since 2013, said he was inspired to start making videos because he was already a major YouTube junkie, as well as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the time. He realized there was a need for the Gospel to reach one of his favorite online platforms.

“I love trying to say old truths in new ways. I love seeing and explaining the new ways that deep truths percolate into our lives,” Lewis said.

While many of his videos could fit in a category of apologetics and faith conversations geared towards millennials, they also include things like Lewis' thoughts on the World Cup, eulogies for closing coffee shops, or his ability to eat bacon on certain Fridays in Lent when some dioceses were granted dispensations and others were not.

Daniel noted that even within his own Catholic-themed channel, the conversations are not necessarily explicitly Catholic, but are about life as a young family, informed by a Catholic view.

“We need more variety of Catholic content on YouTube, which means we need Catholic content creators living out their faith and showcasing it through video. For example, my channel 'That Catholic Couple' is a vlogging (video blogging) channel where we regularly share what it means to be a young family. Yes, we speak about our faith, but our content isn't always explicitly Catholic. Plus, we need different perspectives on the platform to put the Gospel in the niche corners of YouTube,” he said.

During the hangout, Lewis said he challenged Catholic YouTubers to do two things: first, to watch and subscribe to each other's channels, because it helps build community. Secondly, he encouraged them to keep watching their favorite secular videos on YouTube, because it can help creators to hone a more professional style.  

“Don't be afraid of the secular influences on your style,” Lewis said.

“We think of Audrey Assad (a Catholic singer/songwriter) as writing in the tradition of modern praise and worship writers. While that's true, if you ask her what her musical and lyrical interests are, she'll tell you about artists like Paul Simon: a secular artist of such quality, that anyone can learn from him,” Lewis said.

Daniel added that the community is important, because it will allow Catholics to push each other to be better. Creating great art is something that the Church used to lead the world in, but has fallen behind in recent years, especially when it comes to creating good video.

“To be frank, the time of bad Catholic video content needs to end,” he said.

And the need for good Catholic video has never been more urgent, as video streaming has exploded in recent years with the boom of smartphones, Lewis added.

“The explosion of streaming video, especially through our phones, means that people are open to the possibilities of what a video can show them. Like any media, streaming videos can be baptized and used to glorify God. Let's not waste our time!” Lewis said.

“It's tough because we are currently outnumbered on YouTube, but so were the Apostles, so we're in good company,” he added. “Also, I really like this new bromance I've got with Daniel.”

Daniel said that the hangout was only the beginning, and the he plans on continuing to look for opportunities to provide resources to foster community and collaboration among Catholic YouTubers, ultimately to help further the message of the Gospel.  

“A good friend of mine once said, ‘conversion of the heart isn't fostered by one video, but it can start one.’”

Lewis urged all Catholics to share videos and blogs that further the Gospel message. And, if they find a gap somewhere, to fill it.

“Online evangelization is not about getting famous, it's about seeing a need and addressing it,” he said.

“If you find a video/post/blog that says what you need to say right now, like and share it! If you can't find that video/post/blog, I guess it's time for you to make it yourself!”

Texas bishop: Don't deport mother of young cancer patient

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 18:50

El Paso, Texas, Aug 9, 2017 / 04:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Deportation to Mexico of the mother of a cancer-stricken girl would be cruelty, the Bishop of El Paso has said.

“It certainly touched my heart to hear about this little girl in the hospital, facing the possibility that her mother would be deported,” the Bishop Mark Seitz told the El Paso Times Aug.7, adding “Clearly it would be a cruel thing for our country to deport her mother.”

He has met with Alia Escobedo, 8, and her mother Maria Elena de Loera, who sought asylum in the U.S. in 2014 after her husband was killed in Mexico. She has said she feared for the safety of her children.

Bishop Seitz joined other religious leaders and the woman's lawyer at the El Paso Processing Center in asking ICE officials to halt her deportation.

Since her mother arrived in the U.S., Alia has since been diagnosed with bone cancer. She has gone through eight surgeries on her leg, lungs and mouth. While the cancer appeared to be removed and went into remission in February, it has returned with tumors in her lungs.

“Her medical condition is very complicated. Two different kinds of cancer,” the bishop said of the girl. “Her ongoing treatment is something that is extremely important in a situation like this.”

The woman facing possible deportation reflected on her daughter's endurance. “She is very strong,” de Loera said. “She has tremendous strength. She does not give up. She wants to keep living.”

“If we go back to Juarez, she is not going to survive. She has a better chance to live if she stays here,” the mother told the El Paso Times.

The case was the first time Bishop Seitz had intervened directly to prevent an individual's deportation.

“The Church's responsibility is, I think, to speak the gospel and to speak to the conscience of people in our country to call us to something better, to call us to be a place of compassion, even as we deal with these complex issues of immigration,” he said.

In 2015 immigration officials denied de Loera's request to remain in the U.S., but granted her a reprieve while her daughter was undergoing cancer treatments. They have argued that her sister is caretaker of her daughter, but de Loera said that there are no documents guaranteeing her sister is the guardian.

De Loera wears an ankle monitor and immigration officials can access her location any time.

Her attorney, Linda Rivas, has asked immigration officials to reconsider renewal of her permit and to reverse orders to deport her.

Rivas said ICE officials have agreed to consider the evidence to decide whether de Loera can remain in the U.S.

“We find this to be good news and we do appreciate the cooperation from ICE at this time given that Maria is at her daughter's side,” she said.

Study: Age of pornography exposure affects how men view women

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 13:45

Lincoln, Neb., Aug 9, 2017 / 11:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pornography exposure affects men’s attitudes towards women, but in different ways depending on the age when they are first exposed, a new study suggests.

“We found that the younger a man was when he first viewed pornography, the more likely he was to want power over women,” said lead researcher Alyssa Bischmann, a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “The older a man was when he first viewed pornography, the more likely he would want to engage in playboy behavior.”

The study of 330 male Midwestern university students aged 17 to 54 years found that the average age of first exposure to pornography was 13.37 years old, the American Psychological Association says.

The men in the study were asked about the age of their first exposure to pornography; whether this exposure was accidental, sought out, or forced; and what their answers were to 46 questions designed to measure two “masculine norms.” These two norms were playboy/sexually promiscuous behavior and seeking power over women.

Study co-author Chrissy Richardson, also from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the research provides further evidence that pornography viewing has a real effect on men, especially on their views towards sex roles.

The researchers were surprised by their findings; they had expected that early exposure to pornography would be correlated with promiscuous behavior. This raises more questions to be examined, Richardson said.

About 43.5 percent of the men said their first exposure was accidental, 33.4 percent indicated it was intentional, and 17.2 percent indicated it was forced. The nature of the men’s first exposure to pornography appeared to have no significant association with the men’s attitudes.

 

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