Monday, August 26, 2013

Kevin Williamson Smacks Down "Transgenderism"

Counterfeit marriage, and now even counterfeit men and women. For liberalism, the enemy is reality itself.

Kevin Williamson writes at National Review Online:

Bradley Manning is Not A Woman

Dennis Avner was not a tiger, and Bradley Manning is not a woman. Mr. Manning, who upon his sentencing for his role in the WikiLeaks case announced that he desires to live out his days as a woman called Chelsea, is what he is, and no amount of pronoun play, psychotherapeutic doublespeak, or wishful thinking can make it otherwise....

We have created a rhetoric of “gender identity” that is disconnected from biological sexual fact, and we have done so largely in the service of enabling the sexual mutilation of physically healthy men and women (significantly more men) by medical authorities who should be barred by professional convention if not by conscience from the removal of healthy organs (and limbs, more on that later), an act that by any reasonable standard ought to be considered mutilation rather than therapy....The duty of the medical profession is not to encourage and enable delusions, but to help those who suffer from them to cope with them.

It is worth noting here that as a matter of law and a matter of social expectation, the fiction of sex change is treated as the paramount good: We are not expected to treat those who have undergone the procedure as men who have taken surgical and hormonal steps to impersonate women (or vice versa) but as people who have literally changed sex, which they have not — no more than Dennis Avner, the famous “Stalking Cat” who attempted to physically transform himself into a tiger, changed species.

A society of enablers, enabling insanity! 

It is a measure of the intellectual degradation of our times that the physical reality of these cases is considered, if it is considered at all, a distant second to the subjective impressions of people who are, not to put too fine a point on it, mentally ill and in need of treatment.

But what caused this "intellectual degradation?" Men's desire to be as gods. In our post of July 1, 2008 "The Roots of Same-Sex 'Marriage'" we quoted Bishop Thomas Wenski:

"(Bishop Wenski) characterized the 'culture wars' as a conflict about 'the understanding of man and his relationship to truth and reality.'

One side, which, he argued, includes homosexual marriage advocates, 'holds that anyone can essentially create his or her own reality. This side holds for a radical autonomy by which truth is determined not by the nature of things but by one's own individual will.'

This position, in the bishop’s view, is a 'recipe for tyranny.'

The other side, the bishop argued, thinks men and women are 'not self-creators but creatures.'

'Truth is not constructed, but received and thus must reflect the reality of things,' he said. This position promises freedom that is achievable only 'through adherence to objective truth which we do not, and could never, invent.'”

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Adult Stem-Cell UPDATE: Researchers Grow Heart From Human Skin Cells

One of our long-time mantras here at "A Shepherd's Voice" is "Are California voters having second thoughts yet about shelling out $3 billion + for immoral & unproven embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to show a single cure, while adult stem cells are curing people left and right?"

There have been too many adult-stem cell advances to count, but we just ran across this one today. It's an August 14 report from

Breakthrough: Scientists build a beating mouse heart with human tissue

In a major scientific first, a team of developmental biologists has built a functional mouse heart from human tissues. The results herald a future where specific patches of heart muscle – or even the whole organ – could be grown for transplantation.

The work, which was led by University of Pittsburgh's Lei Yang and is recounted in the latest issue of Nature Communications, hinges on the combination of two major regenerative medicine techniques. The first is the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). iPS cells are mature, differentiated cells (liver cells, for instance, or skin cells) that have been reprogrammed into an undifferentiated state.RELATED

Like embryonic stem cells, iPS cells can be stimulated by growth factors to give rise to a wide range of different cell types; just because an iPS cell started out as, say, a renal cell expelled in the urine, doesn't mean it can't be coaxed into becoming dental tissue (fun fact: a team of researchers recently did exactly that) – it just needs the right set of instructions. Yang and his colleagues took cells from a small biopsy of human skin, reverse-engineered them into iPS cells, then instructed them to produce what are called multipotential cardiovascular progenitor cells. These "MCP cells," as they're called, are the precursors to three very important types of heart cell: cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells."

The same article had an embedded link to another adult stem-cell advance:

Scientists grow teeth from human urine because why the hell not

"A new study shows that stem cells extracted from urine can be turned into rudimentary tooth-like structures."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bibles Out but Drag Queens OK at US Air Force Bases

We'd barely finished our last post on the marginalization of normalcy in the United States when we saw this story at LifeSiteNews about drag queens performing at a United States Airforce base. LSN picked up the story from Fox News. Here's part of the LSN story:

"Jewels and the Brunchettes, a drag queen group of entertainers, were invited to perform at the Los Angeles Air Force Base on August 8 as part of a “Diversity Day” celebration, according to Fox News....'Drag acts to this day represent the struggle for freedom and equality of the LGBT community, while at the same time providing a deep-rooted historical form of entertainment for the LGBT culture,' said Peggy Hodge, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, according to Fox News

'Drag queen acts are historically one of the main forms of entertainment in the LGBT culture, having its roots in the earliest of days of the gay rights movement,' Hodge said in the statement.

Public sado-masochism  is also one of the main forms of entertainment in the LGBT  "culture" Miss Hodges. I guess we can look forward to that on US Air Bases, too. It would be discriminatory not to allow it! At least one airman was rightly offended, and looking at all the empty seats, he wasn't the only one:

An airman, who spoke to Fox News on condition of anonymity, said the drag queen performance was offensive and was inappropriate on a military base.

'I am really surprised that this happened on a military installation,' he said. 'I get that people want to be able to have committed relationships with members of the same sex, but this crossed the line.'

The airman said it was ironic that the Air Force is cracking down on Christians being able to openly share their faith, but they would allow men dressed in drag to display themselves on the base.

'We can't even have Bibles on our desks,' he said. 'This base is not a platform for political agendas. It is a military installation. The [Diversity Day] display was totally inappropriate and offensive.'"

Wisdom of Russia's New Law: U.S. Photographers Fined for Refusing to Shoot "Commitment Ceremony"

In our post of August 15 "On Russia's New Law" we expressed support for Russia's new law outlawing homosexual propaganda, and we also noted that supporters of same-sex "marriage" themselves accept the marginalization of those with differing views:

"Back in July 30, 2012 Matthew Franck wrote a piece at Public Interest called Truth and Lies, Nature and Convention: The Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage. Mr. Franck quoted same-sex “marriage” supporter Jon Corvino:

'Whichever side prevails in this debate, the other’s views will be marginalized. There’s no getting around that.' 

So it is a question of which side should be marginalized. One side has built civilizations, the other side has built nothing, and exists parasitically within the civilization built by its enemies. In concrete terms: who will be marginalized, Dan Savage or Baronelle Stutzman? Savage, an ill-mannered lout (caution: link has vile content), is invited to the White House, while Ms. Stutzman is being sued by the state of Washington for refusing to provide flowers for a counterfeit “wedding”--and she's not alone."

Today, LifeSiteNews reports on John & Elaine Hugenin, photographers who live in New Mexico. It shows the wisdom of Russia's law. The Hugenin's refused, out of religious conviction, to photograph a "commitment ceremony" of two same-sex attracted persons:

"The Supreme Court of New Mexico has ruled that Christian photographers do not have the right to decline photographing a gay 'wedding,' even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Richard C. Bosson said Christians must 'compromise' their religious beliefs as “the price of citizenship.”

Judge Bosson also wrote: “At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others,” he wrote. “A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less.”

(For the record, His Honor is on the "wrong side of history." America is no longer a pluralistic society, it is a plurality of societies and cultures living in the same geographical area.)

Read the whole thing.

So, again, the question is, as Professor Corvino stated, which views will be marginalized. That's a question of power. The Hugenin's are being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. You can donate to the organization here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Equality at the Expense of Sanity: A Case Study

"Equality at the Expense of Sanity" has been one of our post tags here at A Shepherd's Voice for quite a while now. Here's a classic example, from a column by Karla A. Erickson who is an associate professor of sociology at Grinnell College. We first encountered it in a post by Laura Wood, at The Thinking Housewife, who was referencing Simcha Fischer reply to Erickson at the National Catholic Register.

Mrs. Erickson's column is called "Explaining why, next time I won't breastfeed"  It's so bizarre it seems like a hoax, but it must be read in its entirety. She writes:

"Every time I got to breast feed him I was holding my son, singing, whispering, touching, and loving on my sweet little boy.

If I had not breastfed I would have missed all those beautiful quiet times with my son. Fewer people would have seen my breasts, which would have been nice. I would have felt less like a cow, which also would have been nice. But I wouldn’t give up breastfeeding for those minor humiliations. The time with my son was too important. I had never known what it was like to be that close to another human.

Sounds good, no? But read the next sentence:

If we really want to address and redress the ongoing inequalities around the work of making life — the work of raising the next generation — then we have to look at breastfeeding. It’s one thing our bodies do that reinforces the social differences between men and women, moms and dads, and boys and girls...."

"If we really want to address and redress the ongoing inequalities around the work of making life..." Who wants to? Who says inequality is so bad? Bad enough to override a mother's bonding with her child? Erickson is obviously confusing inequality with injustice.

"Next time I won’t breastfeed because it sets up a gendered division of who does what early into parenting. It provides an infrastructure for an unequal distribution of the work (and rewards) of parenting."

See why I said it reads like a hoax? There's more:

Over the years, my husband and I will work to unwind this preliminary advantage, but we could have avoided solidifying it if we had decided to use formula, or to pump and bottle feed our son....

Sometimes we have to do a runaround our bodies to ensure equity....

You can call me a bad woman, bad mother, and you can say that it’s easy to speak in future tense. Perhaps there is something deeply selfish in me or incurably cruel...

Not bad or cruel, just stupid and ideological. "Ideology" is the logic of an idea. Erickson starts by positing inequality as the summum malum, and logically is forced to reject the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding, because the male half of humanity can't do it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Russia's New Law

I was working on a post on Russia's new law defending their culture from homosexualist propaganda, but Pat Buchanan beat me to it. Back in July 30, 2012 Matthew Franck wrote a piece at Public Interest called Truth and Lies, Nature and Convention: The Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage. Mr. Franck quoted same-sex “marriage” supporter Jon Corvino:

“Whichever side prevails in this debate, the other’s views will be marginalized. There’s no getting around that.” 

So it is a question of which side should be marginalized. One side has built civilizations, the other side has built nothing, and exists parasitically within the civilization built by its enemies. In concrete terms: who will be marginalized, Dan Savage or Baronelle Stutzman? Savage, an ill-mannered lout (caution: link has vile content), is invited to the White House, while Ms. Stutzman is being sued by the state of Washington for refusing to provide flowers for a counterfeit “wedding”--and she's not alone. We have been covering the events in France. On June 12, 2013 LifeSiteNews ran a story about the Mayor of a French town willing to go to prison rather than participate in the charade (his word) of counterfeit marriage:

“The mayor of a small town in France’s Basque region has announced his refusal to carry out a ‘marriage’ between two men who reside in his jurisdiction, becoming the first mayor to defy the country’s new law that applies the name and rights of “matrimony” to couples of the same sex. 

Jean-Michel Colo, a conservative who heads the town of Arcangues in the southern Basque region of Pyrenees-Atlantiques, faces the possibility of a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of 75,000 euros (100,000 USD), according to French media sources. However, he appears to be unafraid of the consequences of his stand, telling the media that he will ‘go all the way to the gallows’ to oppose the law.

‘I don’t give lessons, I’m not inciting other mayors to follow my example, but I won’t enforce an illegitimate law,’ says Colo. ‘My seven councilmen and I are completely in agreement in saying that we will not participate in this charade.’”

So Mayor Colo, too, has been “marginalized.”  That won’t be happening in Russia. Instead, homosexual activists are being marginalized. Mr. Buchanan's article was called "Post v. Putin--Whose Side Are You On?"

"The culture war has gone global.

And the divisions are not only between, but within nations.

“Suddenly, homosexuality is against the law,” wailed Jay Leno. “I mean, this seems like Germany. Let’s round up the Jews. Let’s round up the gays. ... I mean, it starts like that.”

Leno was speaking of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Obama eagerly agreed:

“I have no patience for countries that treat gays or lesbians ... in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them. ... Nobody is more offended than me by some of the antigay and lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia.”

(Note: As a commentator to Buchanan's article observed, Obama has endless patience when it comes to Christians being slaughtered in Muslim countries, something which is immeasurably greater than any persecution suffered by homosexuals.) Buchanan continues:

Leno and Obama were referring to a new Russian law prohibiting “homosexual propaganda.” Moscow is also warning foreigners, including visitors to the winter Olympics in Sochi, that propagandizing for gay rights can get them two weeks in detention. No kiss-ins allowed.

“Medieval,” howled The Washington Post. “Mr. Putin’s war” on gays and lesbians is “part and parcel of his lapse into xenophobia, religious chauvinism and general intolerance....

What this reveals is the distance America has traveled, morally and culturally, in a few short years, and our amnesia about who we Americans once were, and what it is we once believed.

Only yesterday, homosexual sodomy, which Thomas Jefferson said should be treated like rape, was outlawed in many states and same-sex marriage was regarded as an absurdity.

Was that America we grew up in really like Nazi Germany?

In the Catholic schools this writer attended, pornography—let alone homosexual propaganda—would get one expelled.

Was this really just like Kristallnacht?
Pat's last points are important. What has happened to America? How did the moral vacuum come into being? President Putin is a Russian nationalist. That's why he cares about what happens to Russia. Makes sense. But what is President Obama? What about us? We've gone from Jefferson's "We hold these truths..." (an assertion which, as Willmoore Kendall taught, presupposes a belief in Truth with a capital "T") to Anthony Kennedy's "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life..."

In his 1978 autobiography "In Search of History," the legendary liberal journalist Theodore H. White wrote of the changes he had seen:

"The old English political culture had lost control over … the polyglot peoples of America [who] had no common heritage but only ideas to bind them together… What would be really at issue was whether America would be transformed, in the name of Opportunity, simply into a Place, a gathering of discretely defined and entitled groups, interests and heritages; or whether it could continue to be a nation, where all heritages joined under the same roof—ideas of communities within government."

Well, the answer seems pretty clear. America has come to be "a gathering of discretely defined and entitled groups, interests and heritages" and the most politically powerful interest group wins. For now, that group has proved to be homosexual activists.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wake up Call for Hierarchy:Youth Conference Attendees say “We Never Hear Talks Like This!”

An edited version of this story appeared in today's California Catholic Daily.

Young people energized at SF Pro-Life Youth Conference.

On August 9 & 10 the First Annual Pro-Life Youth Conference NorCal was held at the Patron’s Room of San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral. The conference was organized by Maria Lewis, the 17 year-old president of Pro-Lifers of the Mystical Rose, and was co-sponsored by the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. A number of groups sponsored informational tables at the event, including 40 Days for Life, the Sisters of Life from New York, Daughters of Mary for Life, Walk for Life West Coast, the GotLove Conference, Project Rachel, The Devout Life, and the Human Life Alliance.

Before the conference began we spoke to some of the older people in attendance. Ed Hopfner, the Marriage and Family Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco said. “This is awesome! With the Walk for Life, the Rosary Rally, and now the Youth Conference, San Francisco is becoming a pro-life city!” We asked Judy Parcher, the animator of the Daughters of Mary for Life, what message she would give to the young people facing the challenges in today’s world. She responded “Clear your mind with prayer and the sacraments and the graces will come to enable you to understand the work Jesus wants you to do”-a sentiment echoed by the Sisters of Life.

The conference opened on Friday, August 9, with an afternoon session and dinner from 4-9PM. About 60 youth were in attendance. It was opened with a prayer by Fr. Lawrence Goode, the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in East Palo Alto, followed by a welcoming speech by lead organizer Maria Lewis (left), the 17 year-old president of PLMR. Despite her youth, Lewis managed to attract top-notch pro-life speakers to the event. Friday’s speakers included Joe Langfeld, Deputy Director of Human Life Alliance, who told the crowd: “A lot of people think youth are the future of the pro-life movement. That’s not correct. They are the NOW of the pro-life movement!” He told the youth that when we “show up, speak up, and stand up,” that’s when things change, and gave two examples where a single pro-life action by a single person had lifesaving effects.

Saturday’s session, which lasted the whole day, was attended by around 100 people. The top-notch speakers continued: pro-life hero Walter Hoye, President of the Issues4Life Foundation; Lori Hoye, who shared her moving testimony; Stacy Massey of Abortion Recovery International; Patricia Sandoval, the former Planned Parenthood employee and post-abortive woman who is now a determined pro-life pro-woman voice, and whose EWTNespanol and Spanish youtube videos have gone viral; Mary Gabriel of Live Action, who have done so much to publicize what really goes on at Planned Parenthood; and Catholic convert and father John David Black. The talks were interspersed with breakfast and lunch, informational videos, and music by Caitlyn Cordano, and Jordyn Foley.

When Lewis was asked what her best take-away moment from the conference was, she responded “It’s having all the youth come together realizing they can make a difference. They told me ‘We never hear talks like this!’ and said they would invite their friends and their parishes, and that they can’t wait for the next conference. They offered to fundraise, too. I’m really encouraged. We are planting seeds!”

Another high point for Lewis was the presence at the conference of four priests to hear confession. In addition to Fr. Goode, Fr. Jerry Brown of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brentwood, Fr. Stanislaw Zak, of St. Margaret Mary in Oakland; and Fr. Carl Arcos of St. Francis of Assisi in East Palo Alto were there. Lewis said “Some young people told me ‘Thanks for the opportunity’—they had not been to confession in over a year.” Since one theme of Pope Francis’s young pontificate has been the importance of going to confession, one can imagine him smiling in approval.

Following the talks, the young people again followed the words of Pope Francis by taking their message to the streets (left, courtesy SFNewsFeed). Led by three Knights of Columbus in full regalia, and PLMR vice-president Nitin Mathew carrying a large cross, about 25 young people walked to the Civic Center, praying the rosary, singing hymns, and chanting “PRO” followed by “LIFE!” At the plaza, the young people assumed fetal positions on the ground in solidarity with their slain brothers and sisters, and spoke, as Lewis said “…for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Lewis also said “One person kept yelling at us, and some gave us the finger, but we just kept praying.”

Given that the attendees told Lewis “We never hear talks like this” the need for similar Pro-Life youth conferences seems clear. That statement should serve as a wake-up call. Before the conference began, Joe Langfeld told us that studies show “…our real problem is that 60-70% of young people consider themselves pro-life when they leave high school. But only 29-30% (depending on the study) consider themselves pro-life when they leave college.”

Miss Lewis is already planning for next year’s conference. To learn more about the work of Pro-Lifers of the Mystical Rose, visit which also links to the group’s Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More on the Necessary Relationship between Same-Sex "Marriage" and Totalitarianism

Our long-time observation about the totalitarianism required by the push for counterfeit marriage is being borne out every day. James Kalb has an excellent column on the subject in Crisis Magazine.

The Darkness Gathers

 In his dissent in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court decision invalidating the federal definition of marriage as natural marriage, Justice Scalia rightly identified as particularly outrageous the Court’s assertion that the purpose of the definition was a “‘bare … desire to harm’ couples in same-sex marriages.”

The assertion is ignorant and bigoted to the point of being delusional. It’s not as if the justices hadn’t seen arguments to the contrary. How did they come to say such a thing?

From one perspective the Court was simply doing what it always does when it establishes as a matter of constitutional law sexual autonomy rights that are favored by governing elites but lack any basis in the Constitution. It has the justice with the least professional shame (William O. Douglas) or the least intelligence (Harry Blackmun, Anthony Kennedy) put together some words that purportedly support the right. The rest of the majority then attach their names to what he writes, and it becomes a leading case from which principles and language can be extracted for use in further development of legal principle.

Still, four additional justices signed on to the opinion as it stands, and no doubt commented on it in advance, and they had good reason to take what it said very seriously. Also, they had signed on to similar assertions in previous majority opinions composed by Justice Kennedy. So we have to assume that they are prepared to commit themselves to the assertion and want it treated as a prominent example of the kind of reasoning by which our fundamental law should be determined.

Kennedy did not, of course, invent the claim. He has enough intelligence, and undoubtedly received enough advice, to choose a theme that would fly in the circles he wants to impress. And from what counts as serious discussion by serious people in our country it is clear that most well-placed and influential Americans have come to believe that opposition to same-sex marriage can only be a matter of ignorance and bigotry. They are convinced that a social institution that involves sexual differentiation can have no legitimate function or right to exist, and the point is so obvious that no rightly constituted mind could possibly believe otherwise.

But why on earth would anyone believe such a thing?

Read the rest for Kalb's answer.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Update to Madagascar/Catholic Relief Services Story

Yesterday we reported on the PRI Report which claimed to have documented instances in Madagascar where CRS employees were offering contraceptives and abortifacients to the people there. We also linked to a PRI report which had quotes from a number of Madagascar bishops and other clergy.

But today the Catholic News Agency reports that one of the bishops quoted in the PRI Report, Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina, has "distanced himself" from claims made in the report. The CRS story begins:

"A Madagascar archbishop has distanced himself from controversial claims that Catholic Relief Services distributed contraceptive drugs and abortifacients in his country, affirming that the agency’s actions do not violate Catholic teaching.

The U.S. bishops’ conference reported Aug. 2 that Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina voiced his 'strong support' for the relief agency and confirmed that CRS does not provide or facilitate access to contraceptive or abortion-causing drugs in the region.

The archbishop, who serves as president of the bishops’ conference of Madagascar, spoke by phone Friday with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, U.S. bishops’ conference president, and CRS chairman of the board Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson.

According to the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Tsarahazana said that there had been 'some confusion in his archdiocese that was quickly resolved.' He said Catholic Relief Services acted according to Catholic teaching and does not provide or facilitate access to contraception or abortion, which Catholic teaching recognizes as sinful."

While good news if true, it leaves his original quotes, particularly the first one reproduced below, unexplained. The phrase "some confusion," which His Excellency uses, certainly requires clarification and elaboration. Who was confused? About what?

 Here's what His Excellency Désiré Tsarahazana was quoted as saying by PRI:

“Even in my own diocese! Without my knowledge,...they [CRS] were working on an artificial contraception project here,” said Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina.

“I’m not sure why, and I don’t want to exaggerate, but maybe 70% of its staff, or even more – is not Catholic,” said Archbishop Tsarahazana. “They’re not Catholic… I do understand that about CRS’s commitments to the U.S. Government…but, the question that remains is: Why are there so few Catholics on CRS’s staff…that I don’t understand so well.”

Archbishop Tsarahazana said he had been head of the Archdiocese for over three years before he even knew where CRS’ office was. “Just this year CRS held a very big meeting here in town – a ‘capacity-building’ meeting or something, at a hotel here – and I heard about it only accidentally, when I was up in the [town] of Diego, and somebody told me about the meeting to be held [in my own town],” he said. “I was embarrassed; I didn’t know anything about it.”

And the CNA article still leaves unexplained the quotes in the PRI report from the other Madagascar Bishops and clergy..

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"“Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid;”

Love it, from Catholic News Agency:

"Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, Ill., is defending his decision to cease funding of an immigration organization after it declared support and encouragement for same-sex “marriage.”

The board of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights “broke faith with its member organizations when it publicly supported so called 'same-sex marriage,'” said Cardinal George in a July 29 statement.

“For its own political advantage, it introduced a matter extraneous to its own purpose and betrayed its own members, who were not consulted....

Of those who signed the letter, he said that because they are Catholic, they know that “in a few years, like each of us, they will stand before this same Christ to give an account of their stewardship.”

“Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid;” he said, “he knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the Church for political advantage is wrong.”

Madagascar Archbishop on Catholic Relief Services: "I threw them the hell out of my office"

We had followed but not yet commented on the accusations made by the Population Research Institute against Catholic Relief Services' work in Madagascar.

Over the past few days we had read the PRI report, which claimed to document specific instances of CRS employees pushing contraception and abortafacient drugs in Madagascar. Because the report was quite specific, we were waiting to see CRS's response.

On July 30, the CRS published a press release written by John Rivera with the headline:"CRS Refutes Inaccurate and Misleading Report from Population Research Institute." But that is boilerplate: the headline is not backed up in any way in the body of the release. Had they replaced "refutes" with "denies" that would have been more accurate, because nothing in the release refutes the PRI report at all. The release begins:

"Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is a pro-life organization dedicated to preserving the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Every aspect of our work is to help life flourish. We are resolute in our commitment to the Church and its teaching.

Population Research Institute (PRI) has alleged that CRS has used funding from American Catholics to distribute contraceptive and abortifacient drugs and devices in Madagascar. This allegation is simply false. As a pro-life organization, CRS programming does not include the promotion or distribution of artificial family planning or distribution of abortifacients in any country in which we work."

That's fair enough although not responsive. It would be a fine preamble if the rest of the release went on to address the incidents documented by PRI. The release continues:

"We are confused by the strong allegations coming from PRI regarding CRS programs, as we simply do not engage in such work. All current CRS grants in Madagascar clearly delineate what activities CRS will implement within its programming portfolio, and artificial family planning and abortifacients are most definitely not included in any of our programming grants. At the end of every grant, a full report of our activities is submitted to the grant agency. Our reports clearly indicate that CRS did not engage in the distribution of contraceptive or abortifacients drugs or devices."

Emphasis in original. That, too, is not responsive. If it is the policy of CRS is not to distribute contraceptives or abortifacients, of course it will not appear in the report.  The question is not: did it appear in the report? the question is: did it happen? In the next paragraph, Mr. Rivera writes:

"Yet in order to remain vigilant, we are reviewing the allegations to ensure that all CRS programming is consistent with the teaching of the Church. This review is ongoing, but this is what we have determined so far regarding PRI’s allegations:

"PRI reported it interviewed a program manager for USAID-SantéNet named Jean Patrick Bourahimou, who made statements about CRS and USAID’s work. However, CRS staff in Madagascar do not know this person, and the USAID Madagascar office reported that Jean Patrick Bourahimou is not a USAID employee and therefore could not make statements on USAID’s behalf about programming related to CRS and USAID. Mr. Bourahimou worked for the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a contractor on the SanteNet2 project that PRI references."

So nowhere are Mr. Bourahimou's words "refuted" or even challenged. All that this portion of the CRS release does is say Mr. Bourahimou "is not a USAID employee and therefore could not make statements on USAID’s behalf about programming related to CRS and USAID." But that does not address the issue--it does not matter who exactly he is working for, the question is, was what he was saying in the PRI report true?

Mr. Rivera then writes:

"PRI also quotes two CRS staff, Nicolas Ragalison and Jean Ferlin Nambana, describing family planning activities. Both were short-term contractual employees who are no longer with CRS. Note that the two short-term contractual employees are native speakers of Malagasy and may have a low level of French-speaking ability. We are concerned that there may have been some misunderstandings during the interview if not conducted in their native language. We find their statements posted on the PRI website extremely odd since CRS simply does not engage in any artificial family planning activities. Still, we are looking into these reported statements very carefully and trying to reach these former employees." Emphasis added.

That they were "short-term contractual employees who are no longer with CRS" is utterly irrelevant.   Mr. Rivera then expresses concern that there may have been a language problem between the interviewer and Mr. Ragalison and Mr. Nambana. That is certainly possible. But the more important fact is that Mr. Rivera is stating that he has not spoken with the two, and that CRS is still looking into the reported statements. In other words, despite his claim to have "refuted" the PRI report, he simply does not know whether it is true or not.


Jump forward to today, and our headline "I threw them the hell out of my office," taken from a statement by Archbishop Odon Razanakolona of Antananarivo, Madagascar's capitol. On July 26, as the story began to unfold, CRS had issued a press release, with the title "CRS Responds to Concerns About Programs in Guinea and Madagascar." The release began:

"CRS works in many countries throughout the world to protect human life and human dignity. Within each of the countries where we work, we approach our mission of serving the poor and vulnerable very seriously. Committed to our Catholic identity, we review all organizations via a vetting process that begins with our local Bishops in-country."

But LifeSiteNews today covered PRI's latest report, which was the responses of at least two Madagascar Archbishops, plus a number of other clergy who have very serious problems with CRS's work in Madagascar. Please read the whole article. And here is the full quote from Archbishop Razanakolona, part of which we used as our headline:

"Archbishop Odon Razanakolona of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, expressed concern over the Catholic agency’s apparently tight relationship with the U.S. government.

'One time, for ‘visibility’ purposes, they [CRS-Madagascar representatives] came in here [to my office] and asked me to put up this thing, this sign, with ‘USAID’ on it; to put it up behind my desk,' he said. 'I threw them the hell out of my office: ‘Take your sign and your money out of here. I don’t need it. I’ve lived in my poverty; leave me in my poverty.’ ”

We've been down this road with Catholic Charities, with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and with Development and Peace (Canada's version of the CRS). Denial, stonewalling, sometimes an admission of improper oversight when confronted with overwhelming evidence, then reform. 

The entire Church should be thanking groups like Reform CCHD Now the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, LifeSiteNewsand now PRI.

Contact info:

Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3357
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3413
Fax: (011) 39-06-6988-3409

Find contact information for all U.S. Bishops here.