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Commentary: Aziz Ansari's hookup was a game of Russian roulette

New York City, N.Y., Jan 19, 2018 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- There are better models of fraternal correction than telling the story of the horrible night you spent with comedian Aziz Ansari to a reporter from a casually crude website. But that was where “Grace” (a pseudonym) went to express what she didn’t have a way to say to Ansari—that he had hounded her physically; pressured her to go farther, faster than she wanted; and left her feeling wretched after their night together.

Grace spoke up, she said, because she saw Ansari wearing a “Times Up” pin and supporting the #MeToo movement, and she couldn’t see how he reconciled his support of women generally with the way he treated her particularly.

Grace’s story sparked many reactions. But if Aziz Ansari is reading all the thinkpieces about him, he must feel most ill-served by his allies. “Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader” wrote Bari Weiss for the New York Times, exonerating Ansari in a singularly insulting way.

It’s unreasonable, Weiss and others write, to expect Ansari and other men to be able to know if they’re scaring or upsetting their one-night-stands. The solution isn’t for men to pay attention to women’s non-verbal cues, she writes, but for women to be much more aggressive in fending off men who make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

For all the worry about women defining themselves as snowflakes or victims, the defense offered to Ansari sounds much more cossetting than comforting.

What virtuous man would feel relieved to be told he is powerless to avoid harming the women he takes to bed? Who would be put at ease, after seeing a woman in tears, to be told that it’s not his fault, he couldn’t help it, there’s no way for him to know—he’s not a mind-reader.

If sex is always such a blind leap, with no way to take care of your partner, what good man could have an assignation and respect himself in the morning. The sexual culture Ansari’s supporters describe is a game of Russian roulette: eventually, every man will wind up deeply wounding a woman he’s taken to bed, but he may never even find out which lovers were the collateral damage of our hookup culture. (And, of course, he also may be coerced, objectified, or abused himself).

Ansari’s critics agree, in part, with his supporters. Those non-verbal cues are hard to read, so men (and women) should stick to a “Yes means yes” model of consent, waiting to hear explicit, enthusiastic consent before pushing things with a partner, they say.

The “affirmative consent” model, viewed simply as harm reduction, is an improvement over the “Not a Mind Reader” defense, but it still sells men and women short. It’s a way of camouflaging the fundamental problem: you can’t have generically respectful and ethical sex.

As long as men and women go to bed as strangers, it will be very difficult for them to take care of each other. The most egregious behavior can be minimized with affirmative consent, but who is aiming for a sex life that is simply “not assault?"

Sex that is a gift of self is intimate and particularized. You make a gift of your particular self to one other particular person. No one makes love to “a woman” or “a man” generically—those who try are engaged in something much more like mutual masturbation than intercourse.

Before couples get intimate—which starts, physically, well before sex—they must know and love each other. There must be trust, in each other, and trust that they share an understanding of what the good is, if each person is relying on the other to will his or her good correctly. (They must also be right about what that good consists of, but the other pitfalls are more obvious).

That means ethical sex starts long before clothes come off. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes chastity as “the successful integration of sexuality within the person” (CCC 2337) and purity as that which “frees one from wide-spread eroticism and avoids those things which foster morbid curiosity” (CCC 530).

Both must become a habit, before it is possible to offer the gift of one’s sexuality to another. These virtues are a prerequisite to the other step Ansari and Grace skipped, getting to know the other person, to the point where you do know their non-verbal signals, because you see and know them in all their particularity.

One school for these virtues (and corrective to the culture) is the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, a fellowship of men and women pursuing chastity through prayer. Even someone not enrolled in the Confraternity can join (from time to time, or even every day) in the 15 Hail Marys that Confraternity member pray daily for chastity and purity. Joining in the Confraternity’s daily prayer is a particularly good redoubt to flee to in the case of temptation.

 

Leah Libresco Sargeant is the author of Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers Even I Can Offer. Her writing has appeared at First Things, FiveThirtyEight, and The Washington Post.  Her opinions do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Catholic News Agency.

 

Pro-life strength lies in love, speakers tell March for Life

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2018 / 02:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The pro-life movement’s most powerful tool lies in its ability to love, speakers said Friday at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

This year’s annual March, the theme of which was ‘Love Saves Lives’, was an historic event for numerous reasons - it marked the 45th anniversary of the March, it was an uncharacteristically balmy 50 degree day in January, and it was the first time the event was addressed live by the sitting President of the United States.  

“I want to thank every person here today who works with such big hearts to make sure parents have the care and support they need to choose life,” President Donald Trump told the crowds from the White House via a satellite feed.

“Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential...you are the living witnesses of the theme ‘Love saves lives,’” he said.

Some speakers shared personal stories of love in difficult moments and pregnancies to emphasize this year’s theme during the March for LIfe rally.

One such story was told by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), who was joined on stage by her family, including her 4 year-old “miracle” daughter Abigail, who punctuated her mother’s remarks with questions and exclamations.

Beutler told the audience that while she was pregnant with Abigail, an ultrasound revealed devastating news - their daughter was not developing vital organs properly within the womb, and she would likely suffocate to death as soon as she was born.

Beutler said that she and her husband were told the baby had a “zero percent chance” of survival, and that most parents in their situation opt to get an abortion.

“We prayed, we cried...and in that devastation, we saw God,” Beutler said. Unwilling to abort, the couple sought doctors and experimental treatments that could give their daughter a chance at life. She said their love of their daughter and unwillingness to give up would save her life.

“Through divine intervention, and some very courageous doctors who were willing to take a risk, we now get to experience our daughter Abigail, who is a healthy, happy 4 year-old big sister,” Beutler said. “She says that someday she’s going to be the boss of mommy’s work - look out Speaker Ryan.”  

Sr. Bethany Madonna of the Sisters of Life told the crowd the story of Raquel, a scared pregnant woman who came to the sisters for help and told them that while she believed abortion was wrong, she could never tell another woman what to do.

That all changed one day when Raquel met a fellow scared pregnant woman in an elevator. She took the mother’s hand and had her feel the kicks of her own unborn baby.

“Yeah, my baby’s gonna be a linebacker. He’s gonna be strong and he’s gonna be blessed,” Raquel told the woman. “Why is he gonna be blessed? Because he’s here.”

Raquel then told the woman that she would have a girl, and could name her Raquel Jasmine, after the “fabulous lady you met on the elevator.”

Two years later, Raquel met the woman again at the doctor’s office. She was pushing a stroller with twin girls - named Raquel and Jasmine.

“It was such a small thing, this loving exchange, and the impact reaches in to eternity,” Sr. Bethany Madonna said. “You may not see the impact of your love, but God sees it. The love in your hearts is totally unique to you...and your love saves lives.”

Other speakers addressing the March included Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Pam Tebow, the mother of former pro-football player Tim Tebow, U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and well as Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Orthodox Church of America, and Bishop Vincent Matthews Jr., President of the International Missions Department of the Church of God in Christ.

Ryan encouraged the crowd - mostly made up of young people, he noted - that love is the reason the pro-life movement is on the rise in the United States.

“The pro-life movement is on the rise because we have love on our side,” Ryan said. “We believe every person is worthy of love and dignity.”

“That’s one thing that gets lost [in the political debate about abortion] - just how compassionate the pro-life movement really is,” he said. “I’m proud of what this movement has done for women who have gone through the pain of abortion, how it supports single mothers who are struggling to support their children...this is the face of the pro-life movement,” Ryan added.

He also noted several pro-life bills that have been passed by the House in the past year, including the just-passed Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, which protects the lives of babies who survive failed abortions.

“Most importantly, we are striving to do all of this without judgement in our hearts, but with compassion and love for all of the victims [of abortion],” he said.  

“Thank you for being here...this is one that we will win this day. Thank you. God bless you, tell everybody come back next year and bring three friends.”

Meet the priest who serves an unlikely community in Peru's Amazon

Puerto Maldonado, Peru, Jan 19, 2018 / 02:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Pablo Zabala is a 70-year old Spanish priest, who serves in a remote part of the world: the Peruvian Amazon.

Most of the people who fill his church pews are gold miners and sex workers in Boca Colorado – an area that some are likening to the California Gold Rush. Before Fr. Zabala began serving in the Amazon, his fellow clergy compared it to Sodom and Gomorrah.

“God is in all parts,” Zabala told them, saying he felt a calling to serve with “the life of the common people,” according to the Associated Press.

Kabala, a former biologist, has lived in the Amazon for the past 24 years, 10 of which have been spent heading up the parish in Boca Colorado, part of the Madre de Dios region. Pope Francis visited the region's capital, Puerto Maldonado, on Friday.

During his ministry, he has seen how miners support their families through their trade mainly because they have no other option for work. Poverty, Zabala noted, has driven thousands into mining or prostitution.

According to AP, miners in the area are using mercury in their pursuit of gold, which has infiltrated into the local water systems. In addition, the miners have brought with them new roadways which have tapped into the rainforest’s supply of trees.

However, Zabala has been working closely with the locals, saying he often points the women toward the witness of St. Mary Madgalene, who has been an effective inspiration for them. He also noted that the women in the town have been instrumental in building two churches.

In addition, Zabala offers the support that he can to the miners, usually in the form of a listening ear. However, on occasion, the task falls to the local priest to bury lone miners who get caught up in local conflicts.

“He’s here for the difficult moments,” said Juana Roque, a local woman who lives with her family in the mining camps.

Pope Francis visited the Madre de Dios region Jan. 19, meeting with indigenous Amazonians, the people of Puerto Maldonado, and the community of a home for orphaned children.

While meeting with members of the Amazonian community, he handed out copies of his 2015 encyclical Laudato si' and noted that “the defense of the earth has no other purpose than the defense of life.

He also spoke about desperations of poverty which has led many to seek gold in the Amazon’s mines. However, he warned that gold can turn into “a false god that demands human sacrifices,” which can “corrupt people and institutions, and they ruin the forest.”

House passes protections for abortion survivors

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2018 / 01:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the annual March for Life began just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol on Friday, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring medical care for babies surviving botched abortions.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protections Act requires physicians and abortion clinics to provide proper medical treatment for babies born alive after an abortion.  The bill mandates fines and the possibility of imprisonment for medical professionals found to be noncompliant.  

“Justice and compassion took a great leap forward today,” Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List said of the bill’s passage..  

“We thank Leader McCarthy and our allies in the House for holding a timely vote on this crucial bill, as hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans rally at Congress’ doorstep,” Dannenfelser said in a Jan. 19 press release.  

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), says that abortionists would be required to provide to meet the same standards of care for a child surviving an abortion as would be expected for infants of the same gestational age who were not subjects of an abortion. The law would also specifically require surviving babies to be transported to a hospital.

Women undergoing abortion could not be prosecuted under the law’s provisions, but it would give them a cause for a lawsuit if the a child surviving an abortion was uncared for.  

A bill already exists which orders medical professionals to provide emergency care for the infants who survive late term abortions, but the problem, according to Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), is that the current bill has little power to be enforced.  

“The problem with existing law, Mr. Speaker, is enforcement—the lack of legal implications,” Smith said on Jan. 18 in a speech on the House floor.

“The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act...requires appropriate health care to be given to any child who survives an attempted abortion,” Smith added.

Every Republican in Congress voted for the bill, as did six Democrats.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) was among Democrats opposing the bill, stating there was little evidence that doctors aren’t already providing health care for babies born after failed abortions.

“There is no evidence at all that doctors currently are failing to provide an appropriate level of care,” he said during the bills debate on Jan. 19.

But Smith said there is no evidence for the problem because it is swept under the rug. He cited Willard Cates, M.D., former head of the Centers of Disease Control Abortion Surveillance Unit.

“[Live births] are little known because organized medicine, from fear of public clamor and legal action, treats them more as an embarrassment to be hushed up than a problem to be solved. It’s like turning yourself in to the IRS for an audit,” Smith said, quoting Dr. Cates.

The legislation needs 60 votes to pass through the Senate, which has not yet passed a ban on abortions of 20 weeks of pregnancy, passed by the House last year.

“We urge the Senate follow their colleagues’ lead and pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act as well as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end cruel late-term abortions after five months of pregnancy,” Dannenfelser said.

In his remarks supporting the bill, Smith encouraged Americans to continue working to end abortion.  From the House floor, he offered “a call to increased prayer and fasting asking God to protect the weakest and most vulnerable and to heal.”

 

March for Life hears praise from President Trump

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2018 / 12:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- President Donald Trump praised the pro-life movement’s support for pregnant women and touted his administration’s pro-life policy achievements in his remarks to the March for Life Friday.
 
“You come from many backgrounds, many places, but you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished,” he told the March for Life Jan. 19 via videocast. “The March for Life is a movement born out of love.”
 
“You love every child, born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God,” he told the marchers on the National Mall while speaking before an audience in the White House Rose Garden. “Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential. Because of you.”
 
Hundreds of thousands of people were in Washington, D.C. to attend this year’s March for Life, which is in its 45th year. The theme of this year’s march is “Love Saves Lives.” The march is held annually on or near the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which mandated permissive abortion laws nationwide.

The president said he was “honored and really proud” to address the march. While previous presidents addressed the march while in office by phone or remote loudspeaker, organizers said he is the first president to do so via telecast.
 
Trump said the Roe decision resulted in “some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world,” making the U.S. comparable to countries like China and North Korea in permitting late-term abortions.
 
“It is wrong, it has to change,” he said. “Americans are more and more pro-life.”
 
Trump promised that his administration would always defend the right to life.

He touted his re-implementation of the Mexico City Policy, which bars federal funds for groups that perform or promote abortion overseas, and cited his administration’s reversal of an Obama-era policy that restricted state’s efforts to direct federal dollars away from “facilities that violate the law.” He voiced strong support for a House bill to ban late-term abortions in which supporters say the unborn child can feel pain. Trump called on the Senate to “pass this important law.”
 
He also cited his executive order protecting religious liberty and an effort to protect conscience rights and religious freedom of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.
 
The president also introduced Marianne Donaido, a woman whose parents supported her when she became pregnant at the age of 17. He praised her work with Room at the Inn, a Greensboro, N.C.-based maternity program that helps house and support pregnant homeless women. The charity is affiliated with Catholic Charities USA.
 
In a separate Jan. 19 statement, Trump declared that Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe decision, will be National Sanctity of Human Life Day, “to affirm the truth that all life is sacred, that every person has inherent dignity and worth, and that no class of people should ever be discarded as ‘non-human’.”
 
Vice President Mike Pence, who addressed last year’s March for Life in person, introduced Trump in the Rose Garden. He said the Roe Supreme Court decision “turned its back on the right to life” but began the pro-life movement that continues today, a movement defined by “compassion and love.”
 
“Life is winning in America, because love save lives,” he told the march. “Your compassion, your persistence your activism and your prayers are saving lives… this pro-life generation should never doubt that we are with you.”
 
“This president stands with you,” he said, contending that Trump was “the most pro-life president in American history.”
 
Trump once declared himself “pro-choice in every respect,” but increasingly advocated anti-abortion views ahead of and during his 2016 election campaign, Politico reports.
 
Other political leaders at the March for Life rally were House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).
 
In previous years Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush addressed the March for Life remotely.