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His loyalties were to his power and authority This artwork by Paul Tong relates to Barack Obama’s inauguration. L. Todd Wood
There was so much hope in January 2009 when Barack Obama took office. Here was the first black president of the United States, promising to be a leader for all Americans, to halt the rise of the oceans and to be the most transparent administration ever. Even black Americans were saying the Civil War was finally over.
Unfortunately for America, it didn’t turn out that way. As more and more evidence is revealed daily on the evening news, it is now very clear the Obama administration was the most corrupt presidency in the history of the republic.
As Mr. Obama’s favorite, President Abraham Lincoln, warned us, the most dangerous threats can come from domestic enemies.
First of all, that bit about being a leader for all Americans, color-blind if you will, was a tall tale. Mr. Obama never missed an opportunity to sew racial divide. During his term in the Oval Office, racial relations literally went off the cliff. Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle promoted the false narrative that white America was literally guilty of hunting down blacks with glee. They whipped up resentment in minority communities against the police, even though a Harvard study found that blacks are no more likely to be killed by police than whites.
But the racial divisions, as painful and heartbreaking as they are, were not the worst of it.
The abuse of power started to become clear when it was revealed the Internal Revenue Service was biased against conservatives. I still don’t understand why that woman is not in jail. She sat there and lied to the American people and to Congress with no accountability.
Mr. Obama used the agencies, and the awesome power of the federal government, against his political enemies. He used the power of the state against those he didn’t like. This was full-on banana republic dictator kind of stuff.
The negligence at Veterans’ Affairs, the “stimulus bill” that was simply a redistribution to unions (those “shovel ready projects” weren’t so shovel ready after all), the sale of uranium to the Russians, the lies about Benghazi, the Clinton email scandal that was not prosecuted, the appeasement of the Iranians — even sending billions in cash in the middle of the night and bragging about how they lied to the American press and public, the use of financial penalties to fund leftist causes, the use of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to take property from Americans, on, and on, and on. I literally could go on forever.
However, the coup-de-grace is what we are now learning about the 2016 election and the criminal spying on the Trump campaign.
The president of the United States was set up. Mr. Trump is exactly right. The weaponization of our intelligence and security services has damaged their reputation for generations, and the rule of law, to which this great nation is so committed, has been irreparably damaged as well.
I’ve said it before, the Obama administration was nothing more than highly organized crime.
Justice will be served. It may take a while, but the truth will continue to come out.
It’s a shame the administration of the first black president was also the most corrupt. Such a lost opportunity to better this great country.
It’s not that hard to understand. Still, it’s difficult to accept.
It may be true that President Trump illegally conspired with Russia and was so good at covering it up he’s managed to outwit our best intel and media minds who've searched for irrefutable evidence for two years. (We still await special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.)
But there’s a growing appearance of alleged wrongdoing equally as insidious, if not more so, because it implies widespread misuse of America’s intelligence and law enforcement apparatus.
Here are eight signs pointing to a counterintelligence operation deployed against Trump for political reasons.
The operation reportedly had at least one code name that was leaked to The New York Times: “Crossfire Hurricane.”
Secret surveillance was conducted on no fewer than seven Trump associates: chief strategist Stephen Bannon; lawyer Michael Cohen; national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner; campaign chairman Paul Manafort; and campaign foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
The FBI reportedly applied for a secret warrant in June 2016 to monitor Manafort, Page, Papadopoulos and Flynn. If true, it means the FBI targeted Flynn six months before his much-debated conversation with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
The FBI applied four times to wiretap Page after he became a Trump campaign adviser starting in July 2016. Page’s office is connected to Trump Tower and he reports having spent “many hours in Trump Tower.”
CNN reported that Manafort was wiretapped before and after the election “including during a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Trump.” Manafort reportedly has a residence in Trump Tower.
Electronic surveillance was used to listen in on three Trump transition officials in Trump Tower — Flynn, Bannon and Kushner — as they met in an official capacity with the United Arab Emirates’ crown prince.
The FBI also reportedly wiretapped Flynn’s phone conversation with Kislyak on Dec. 31, 2016, as part of “routine surveillance” of Kislyak.
NBC recently reported that Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, was wiretapped. NBC later corrected the story, saying Cohen was the subject of a “pen register” used to monitor phone numbers and, possibly, internet communications.
National security letters
Another controversial tool reportedly used by the FBI to obtain phone records and other documents in the investigation were national security letters, which bypass judicial approval.
Improper use of such letters has been an ongoing theme at the FBI. Reviews by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General found widespread misuse under Mueller — who was then FBI director — and said officials failed to report instances of abuses as required.
“Unmasking” — identifying protected names of Americans captured by government surveillance — was frequently deployed by at least four top Obama officials who have subsequently spokenoutagainst President Trump: James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence; Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Susan Rice, former national security adviser; Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general.
Names of Americans caught communicating with monitored foreign targets must be “masked,” or hidden within government agencies, so the names cannot be misused or shared.
However, it’s been revealed that Power made near-daily unmasking requests in 2016.
Prior to that revelation, Clapper claimed ignorance. When asked if he knew of unmasking requests by any ambassador, including Power, he testified: “I don't know. Maybe it's ringing a vague bell but I'm not — I could not answer with any confidence.”
Rice admitted to asking for unmasked names of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports after initially claiming no knowledge of any such thing.
Clapper also admitted to requesting the unmasking of “Mr. Trump, his associates or any members of Congress.” Clapper and Yates admitted they also personallyreviewed unmasked documents and shared unmasked material with other officials.
Changing the rules
On Dec. 15, 2016 — the same day the government listened in on Trump officials at Trump Tower — Rice reportedly unmasked the names of Bannon, Kushner and Flynn. And Clapper made a new rule allowing the National Security Agency to widely disseminate surveillance material within the government without the normal privacy protections.
Former CIA Director John Brennan and Clapper, two of the most integral intel officials in this ongoing controversy, have joined national news organizations where they have regular opportunities to shape the news narrative — including on the very issues under investigation.
Clapper reportedly secretly leaked salacious political opposition research against Trump to CNN in fall 2017 and later was hired as a CNN political analyst. In February, Brennan was hired as a paid analyst for MSNBC.
There’s been a steady and apparently orchestrated campaign of leaks — some true, some false, but nearly all of them damaging to President Trump’s interests.
A few of the notable leaks include word that Flynn was wiretapped, the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” of political opposition research, then-FBI Director James Comey briefing Trump on it, private Comey conversations with Trump, Comey’s memos recording those conversations and criticizing Trump, the subpoena of Trump’s personal bank records (which proved false) and Flynn planning to testify against Trump (which also proved to be false).
Friends, informants and snoops
The FBI reportedly used one-time CIA operative Stefan Halper in 2016 as an informant to spy on Trump officials.
Another player is Comey friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor, who leaked Comey’s memos against Trump to The New York Times after Comey was fired. We later learned that Richman actually worked for the FBI under a status called “Special Government Employee.”
The FBI used former reporter Glenn Simpson, his political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and ex-British spy Christopher Steele to compile allegations against Trump, largely from Russian sources, which were distributed to the press and used as part of wiretap applications.
These eight features of a counterintelligence operation are only the pieces we know. It can be assumed there’s much we don’t yet know. And it may help explain why there’s so much material that the Department of Justice hasn’t easily handed over to congressional investigators.
Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist, author of The New York Times bestsellers “The Smear” and “Stonewalled,” and host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program, “Full Measure.”
Grassley rips Strzok-Page redactions amid mystery text
A top Senate Republican is challenging the Justice Department over extensive redactions made in files showing text messages between anti-Trump FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, drew particular attention to one text that suggested the Obama “White House is running this,” in reference to an unspecified investigation.
But, like in so many of the files, a name was redacted and the context was unclear, though one report suggests that was related to the Russia probe.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Grassley called for all redactions to be removed.
“The manner in which some redactions have been used casts doubt on whether the remaining redactions are necessary and defensible,” Grassley wrote.
He sent the letter following two sessions for committee staff to view less-redacted versions of the texts between Strzok and now-former FBI official Page. Both officials previously worked on Robert Mueller's Russia probe and ran into trouble when their anti-Trump messages were revealed.
In his letter, Grassley said that, “When viewing the still redacted portions in context with the unredacted material, it appeared that the redacted portions may contain relevant information relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the matter in which the Department of Justice and FBI handled the Clinton and Russia investigations.”
As two examples of texts with unexplained redactions, he mentioned a text that had redacted the price of former deputy director Andrew McCabe's "$70,000 conference table" as well as the "text about the Obama White House ‘running’ an investigation, although it is unclear to which investigation they were referring.”
Grassley added: “I am unaware of any legitimate basis on which the cost of a conference table should be redacted. Embarrassment is not a good enough reason.”
Fox News has viewed the less-redacted text message Grassley referred to regarding the White House’s supposed involvement in an investigation.
“Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote, ‘the White House is running this.’,” Strzok wrote to Page on Aug. 5, 2016. “My answer, ‘well, maybe for you they are.’”
Page replied: “Yeah, whatever (re WH comment). We’ve got emails that say otherwise.”
The day after, Page also sent a link to a Glamour article about then-President Barack Obama.
“Okay, so maybe not the best national security president, but a genuinely good and decent human being,” Page wrote.
Strzok replied: “Yeah, I like him. Just not a fan of the weakness globally. Was thinking about what the administration would be willing to do re Russia.”
Two days later, Strzok texted Page: “Hey talked to him, will let him fill you in. internal joint cyber cd intel piece for D, scenesetter for McDonough brief, Trainor [head of FBI cyber division] directed all cyber info be pulled. I’d let Bill and Jim hammer it out first, though it would be best for D to have it before the Wed WH session.”
In the texts, “D” refers to former FBI Director James Comey, and “McDonough” referred to Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, GOP investigators told Fox News. McDonough’s name, though, was redacted and only turned up when viewed by GOP investigators.
The FBI did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on whether McDonough was briefed on the Russia investigation or which investigation the White House was “running.”
Grassley urged Rosenstein to provide “unredacted copies of all text messages produced to the Committee no later than June 6,” and noted that if the Justice Department refused to provide the copies, they should provide a “privilege log describing the legal basis for withholding that information from Congress.”
Grassley’s request comes amid revelations that there was an FBI informant in contact with the Trump campaign advisers, fueling a separate tug-of-war between the DOJ and GOP lawmakers looking for information about that situation.
The Justice Department requested its internal watchdog, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, investigate any alleged “impropriety or political motivation” in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference and potential collusion with Trump campaign, following demands from Trump over the weekend.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also has organized a meeting for GOP lawmakers to “review highly classified and other information they have requested” with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Rosenstein and others. The meeting is set for Thursday.
Grassley, along with GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn, penned a separate letter on Wednesday to Kelly and Rosenstein, expressing their “interest in attending such a meeting and in support of providing Congress with documents necessary to conduct oversight of these issues.”
It is unclear at this point whether the three senators will be invited.
It has been said that if you live long enough, you will see everything. I’m experiencing that feeling as I watch the New York Times and Washington Post abandon their ultra-liberal leanings to defend government spying on innocent American citizens.
The case shows Trump Derangement Syndrome in action as it turns two of the nation’s prominent newspapers into the type of organizations they spent 50 years attacking.
By switching sides, they become the bell cows of a Deep State Media that, in another era, would have shielded Sen. Joseph McCarthy. And so the famous question Army lawyer Joseph Welch asked the scurrilous McCarthy should now be directed at them: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
This latest version of media madness involves the confirmation that the FBI and perhaps the CIA sent a spy — or maybe two spies — to see whether Donald Trump’s associates were in cahoots with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
The spying is an event of enormous consequences, with no known precedent in American history, because it catches the incumbent party targeting the candidate of the opposition party. Even Richard Nixon didn’t weaponize law enforcement and intelligence agencies to this extent.
Additionally, the timing of the spying effort matters because it began before the FBI says it started its counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign. So was that official July start date another James Comey lie?
Then there’s John Brennan, Barack Obama’s last CIA chief, who is calling attention to himself with Twitter threats against Trump and any others who pursue the matter. His panic is not pretty, but it is instructive.
On its face alone, the spying destroys any possibility that the Obama administration played it straight during the 2016 election. The only questions now are how wide and how high did the cancer spread.
Yet instead of denouncing the malignant invasions of privacy, as they did when President George W. Bush spied on foreign terrorists, the Deep State papers are rushing to defend domestic snooping. They split semantic hairs, calling the spy an “informant” or a “source” in a silly bid to give him a sheen of respectability.
The Times, based on anonymous sourcing, even had the chutzpah to lecture President Trump on its front page, saying the president had his facts wrong about what the spy, er, informant was up to. In a news story, no less.
In other words, the Times is so wired into the circle of anti-Trump spooks that it feels qualified to speak for them. So in addition to being the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party, the Times is the flak for crooked cops and spies.
Both papers also accuse Trump of sinking to a new low because he demands to know what the hell was going on. Who does he think he is?
Alice, meet the looking glass — but watch the drop.
This much we know: The man identified as the spy is Stefan Halper, an American professor in Great Britain who has long family ties to the CIA. Reports say he was paid up to $1 million during the Obama presidency for vague research projects.
Halper, sometimes with a female assistant, approached three members of Trump’s team in the spring and early summer of 2016 with various inducements — and chatter about Russia’s hacking of emails. Another member of the Trump team says he was approached by a different man during the campaign, suggesting there might be a second spy.
Trump, as I wrote Sunday, has been angry about the probe of special counsel Robert Mueller, but hasn’t been able to do much about it. But the Halper story was the final straw, and the president threw patience out the window and jumped into the fray.
In the span of 24 hours, he demanded — and got — a Justice Department investigation into the matter. He also set up a process for his chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, to forge a settlement between Justice officials and congressional Republicans, who have tried for months to get documents on the origin and other details of the FBI investigation.
The president’s moves, combined with Rudy Giuliani’s attacks on Mueller, have changed the dynamics just as polls show diminishing public support for Mueller’s probe, now in its second year.
But I’m not persuaded the Justice Department is serious about the new investigation or turning over documents. I believe that under Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is the point man thanks to AG Jeff Sessions’ foolish abdication, the agency sees itself as above the law and the Constitution. Large portions of it have joined the “resistance” to Trump.
Thus, Rosenstein’s statement that the department’s inspector general would look into whether anything “inappropriate” happened in 2016 gives him a loophole large enough to drive a cabal of spies through. Any agency that spied on a presidential campaign cannot be trusted to investigate itself.
As for producing documents, Rosenstein recently said the demand amounted to extortion.
There is an additional option. Trump has the power to declassify virtually any government document, making it accessible by the public under Freedom of Information Law requests. That’s the best route and the only one with a chance to lead to timely transparency. Justice and the FBI could make objections on national security or personal safety grounds, but final decisions should be made by a qualified team led by Kelly, with a prejudice toward openness, not secrecy.
The time is up for professional gatekeepers like Comey and Rosenstein to control what the public knows. They have done nothing but add to distrust of the FBI and that will not change if their ilk makes the final decisions.
By insisting that the documents go online, Trump would be letting taxpayers see for themselves what the government was up to, and what it was hiding. And to connect the dots between the various agencies involved.
Besides, think of the distress public release of the documents would cause the Deep State and its media handmaidens. All their wailing and gnashing of teeth would make the perfect soundtrack as ordinary citizens take back their government.
On top of his plan to create injection sites with medical supervision, the kiosks show how Mayor Bill de Blasio is surrendering to drug dealing and addiction, aiming only to put the horrors out of sight.
This way lies madness.
Che it ain’t so
In a press release addressed to “Comrades of Lower Manhattan!,” the Democratic Socialists of America announce a training session.
“You’ll learn how to chair an effective meeting — a crucial skill for any socialist organizer,” it promises.
Chairing meetings? Looks like the comrades are getting soft.
'VA Mission Act will ensure veterans have timely access to the quality care'
The Senate on Wednesday is expected to easily pass legislation to give veterans the option to seek private-sector medical care when the Department of Veterans Affairs is unable to provide a patient with adequate or timely health services, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) said Tuesday.
Isakson, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said President Donald Trump will sign the measure by the end of the week, codifying it into law just days before Memorial Day. The bill, called the VA Mission Act, sailed through the House last week in a 347-70 vote.
"I'm delighted to say that a few days before the celebration of Memorial Day we're going to pass through the United States Senate, and the president is going to sign later this week, the VA Mission bill, which is the final piece of the mosaic we started two years ago to put together to fix the veterans healthcare service system—make it more accountable, make it relative to our veterans, and make sure we use the private sector as a force multiplier to deliver health services to our veterans at their choice," Isakson told reporters during a news conference.
"The veterans, in consult with their primary care VA doctor, will be able to choose the doctor of their choice and the service of their choice, whether through the VA or delivered in the private sector, based on quality, accessibility, availability, and the choice of the veteran."
The Senate on Tuesday voted 91-4 on cloture to end debate and proceed to a final vote on the $52 billion package, which will expand outside medical care options for veterans, increase stipends for veteran caregivers, and streamline community care programs to cut waste. It also strikes arbitrary distance and time restrictions on a veterans' ability to seek private-sector care.
The bill authorizes $5.2 billion to the Veterans Choice Program, which is expected to run out of funding by the end of the month, disrupting care for thousands of patients. Congress created the Choice program in response to a 2014 scandal over manipulated wait times at federal facilities that led to the deaths of dozens of veterans.
Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said he is "thrilled" the Senate will vote on the bill this week after the overwhelming support the measure garnered in the House.
"The VA Mission Act will ensure veterans have timely access to the quality care they have earned, and I look forward to seeing our president sign this bill into law," Roe told the Washington Free Beacon.
Critics of the legislation have said the package is aimed toward eventual privatization of the VA health care system—a charge Roe rejects. The bill garnered widespread support among 40 different veterans advocacy groups.
Dan Caldwell, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, said the bill marks a "big step toward accomplishing President Trump's goal of giving veterans full health care choice through the VA."
"Over the last four years, the VA has demonstrated that it cannot care for veterans by itself and that veterans need to have private sector healthcare options," Caldwell said. "In order to incentivize the VA to better perform and to ensure that veterans have the ability to choose their healthcare provider, it's absolutely necessary that the VA give veterans more healthcare choices."
As some bishops call for blessing gay unions, where does Pope Francis stand?
PHOTO: ANGELO CARCONI/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK
Francis X. Rocca
ROME—Reports that Pope Francis told a sex-abuse victim that God made him gay have drawn headlines this week, with many observers inferring a new level of acceptance of homosexuality, which the catechism of the Catholic Church describes as “objectively disordered.”
The Vatican spokesman declined to confirm or deny the statement, citing a policy of not commenting on the pope’s private conversations.
But no aspect of Pope Francis’ five-year reign has been better known or more controversial than his conciliatory approach to gay people, most famously expressed in his 2013 words about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?”
Conservatives have been prompt to argue that Pope Francis’ statements on homosexuality, confirmed or otherwise, don’t conflict with church teaching or suggest toleration of homosexual acts, but simply reflect the basic Christian message of God’s love for all people.
Yet the pope’s stance has encouraged a greater openness to homosexuality among the church’s hierarchy, leading to calls for the appreciation not just of gay people but of gay relationships. That trend is straining any appearance of a consensus on the subject within the church.
A major speech by a cardinal at a 2014 Vatican meeting on family issues caused a sensation—and a backlash from conservatives—with a section on “welcoming homosexuals,” which said that some same-sex unions were characterized by “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” and “precious support in the life of the partners.”
More recently, several bishops in Belgium and Germany have openly called for allowing priests to bless couples in committed same-sex relationships.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, center, says there should be no uniform policy on blessing same-sex relationships but that individual pastors should act on a case-by-case basis. PHOTO: GUIDO KIRCHNER/DPA/ZUMA PRESS
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, a top adviser to the pope, opposes a uniform policy on the matter, but says individual pastors should make arrangements on a case-by-case basis. Priests in Germany already commonly bless same-sex unions, sometimes in a church and in the presence of the couple’s friends and family.
The situation is different in other parts of the world.
The Rev. James Martin, author of “Building a Bridge,” a book about the church’s relationship with gay Catholics, says he has never heard of Catholic priests in the U.S. formally blessing same-sex unions inside a church. He says some American priests do show support in other ways, such as saying grace at a wedding reception or celebrating a private Mass with the couple later on.
“But all of these priests have done so very cautiously,” knowing the risks of punishment by their superiors, Father Martin said.
Most church leaders in Africa are adamantly against blessing same-sex unions.
“I’m sure there are elements of value in an adulterous situation. Does that mean we must bless adulterous unions?” said Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa. “If same-sex unions are going to be blessed, is the church going to say, ‘OK, you can bless polygamous ones’?”
Pope Francis has shown a willingness to let different parts of the world-wide church go their own wayon important matters, including how to translate the Mass into local languages and whether to allow divorced people in second marriages to receive Communion. This month, the pope indicated that it was up to the German bishops conference to decide whether to allow some Protestants to receive Communion in Catholic churches in Germany.
That last decision drew a public denunciation from Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk, who said the pope should have given the Germans “clear directives, based on the clear doctrine and practice of the church,” that Protestants may receive Catholic Communion only in highly exceptional cases.
“By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the church is endangered,” said Cardinal Eijk, adding: “This is also the case with cardinals who propose to bless homosexual relationships, something which is diametrically opposed to the doctrine of the church.”
The cardinal’s statement echoed one by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, who in February wrote that the support of some German bishops for such blessings “requires a response, because what happens in one local reality of the global church inevitably resonates elsewhere—including eventually here.”
“Any such ‘blessing rite’ would cooperate in a morally forbidden act,” Archbishop Chaput wrote. “It would confuse and mislead the faithful. And it would wound the unity of our church, because it could not be ignored or met with silence.”
Some Catholics see the Anglican Communion as a test case of the issue’s potential for divisiveness. That global group of churches descended from the Church of England has held together despite differences on liturgical and theological questions, including whether to ordain women as bishops and priests. But during the past two decades, the unity of the Anglican Communion has experienced unprecedented strains over the question of homosexuality.
A major factor in this trend has been the rise of Anglican churches in Africa, where Christianity is growing as it declines in the West. Both Anglican and Catholic church leaders in Africa speak of the imposition of liberal sexual teaching by their counterparts in the West as a form of colonialism. Pope Francis himself has criticized using financial pressure on poorer countries to accept same-sex marriage, calling it a form of “ideological colonization.”
Pope Francis has also written that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” which would seem to rule out anything resembling a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples.
Father Martin says the potential for confusion is high.
“If a priest stands up, in his collar especially, and says a prayer at a reception, some people might come away and say, ‘Isn’t that great, that the Catholic Church approves this now?’” he said. “It would be misleading to people and in a sense unfair to the couple, too.”
Yet it’s hard to imagine the Vatican under Pope Francis categorically forbidding priests around the world from such activity. Not only would such a prohibition clash with the welcoming tone the pope has adopted toward gays; but it would also conflict with the emphasis he has placed on the exercise of individual conscience, rather than the observance of strict rules, in moral decision-making.
As more governments around the world legalize same-sex marriage, the Catholic Church’s internal debate over whether to recognize such unions—and if so, how—is likely to get only more intense and fractious.
—Francis X. Rocca is the Journal’s Vatican correspondent. This column appears from time to time.