February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, one of the Vatian’s highest-ranking officials, received the Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award earlier this month from Catholic businessman’s organization Legatus, along with pro-life activists Dan Zeidler, and Steve and Vivian Koob.
Cardinal Burke, who served as Archbishop of St. Louis before taking his current position as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, has been a consistent defender of the right to life, as well as the Catholic Church’s official policy of not giving Holy Communion to politicians who support abortionist legislation.
The cardinal, who also won the Legatus Defender of the Faith award in 2006, gave a talk on “The Universal Vocation to Holiness and the New Evangelization.” Also in attendance at the February 2 event were former President of the United States George W. Bush, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, and a large number of high-ranking businessmen and politicians.
Burke used the opportunity to comment on the failure of Catholics to uphold the Church’s teachings in public life.
“How many Catholics, instead of giving a strong witness to the truth, which God has written on every human heart, daily scandalize their fellow citizens that is, daily lead their fellow citizens into confusion and error by acting publicly and obstinately against the law of God?” he asked, according to the National Catholic Register.
Award recipient Dan Zeidler, who has labored in the pro-life movement for four decades, is the president of the Family Life Council and the U.S. representative for the Latin American Alliance for the Family (ALAFA). He emphasized the importance of the pro-life struggle in Latin American countries.
“Do you know how Blessed Pope John Paul II referred to Latin America? He called it the Continent of Hope - the Continent of Hope,” said Zeidler in his acceptance speech.
“Do you know that most Latin American countries protect life before birth through their constitutions and other laws - sometimes specifically from the moment of conception? Pro-life people in the United States long for the day when we would have a legal situation like that in our own country!” Zeidler said.
However, Zeidler warned, “these pro-life policies in Latin America are in great danger. In fact, in some areas these pro-life laws are hanging on by a thread.” He urged Americans to “show solidarity with our courageous brothers and sisters of Latin America who are engaged in a battle for life, family and Faith” and to “unite to save the Continent of Hope.”
Steve and Vivian Koob were also recognized for their many decades of partnership in the pro-life movement, as well as having raised eight natural children and five adoptive children, including three special needs African-American children. Their last child died at birth due to birth defects, after Vivian Koob refused an abortion advised by her doctors. As a consequence, she was hospitalized for over 90 days.
The Koobs are the founder of Elizabeth’s New Life Center, which provides health services to pregnant women in the Dayton, Ohio area, and One More Soul, which encourages parents to have more children, and warns them against the evils of contraception.
“Steve and I feel very blessed that God called us to lead this effort,” Vivian Koob said regarding the award, “but I can honestly say that we share any honor with the volunteers, employees, board and donors who have supported our ministry along the way.”
DETROIT, MICHIGAN, February 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney swept both the Arizona and Michigan primaries on Tuesday, edging out former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in a tough fight in the state where Romney was born and his father served as a three-term governor.
“Thank you, Michigan, and thank you, Arizona,” Romney said in his acceptance speech. He referred to the night’s results as “a great victory.”
This morning on Fox News, Santorum also referred to the Michigan primary as a “victory.” Santorum adviser John Brabender said, “I don’t know how you look at that as anything besides this being a strong showing for Rick Santorum and anything short of a disaster for Mitt Romney.”
Romney won handily in Arizona, besting Santorum by 20 percentage points. But Michigan was much narrower in the popular vote—and may have resulted in a tie in the delegates race.
“We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough. And that’s all that counts,” Romney told supporters in the Detroit suburb of Novi Tuesday night.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Romney won Michigan by 41.1 percent to 37.9 percent for Santorum. Due to Michigan’s proportional representation system, two delegates are awarded to the winner in each of the state’s 14 congressional district.
As of this writing, both Romney and Santorum earned 13 delegates. “It’s highly likely this is is going to end up being a tie, based on the data that we have,” Brabender said. “Splitting the Michigan vote in the face of being outspent by millions of dollars was certainly a moral victory for Santorum,” wrote George Rasley on ConservativeHQ.com, run by longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie.
Exit polls from Michigan show Santorum and Romney essentially split working women. Santorum won voters who described themselves as “very conservative” by 14 points. Santorum won heavily among pro-life voters, evangelical Christians, and values voters.
Catholic voters preferred Mitt Romney by seven points.
Despite Tuesday’s victories, the GOP party base may still be uncomfortable with Romney as the nominee. “According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 38 percent of ‘very conservative’ Americans now express favorable views of Mitt Romney. That’s his lowest mark of the campaign among staunch conservatives, and is down 16 percentage points over the past two weeks,” Rasley wrote. “Consolidating the conservative vote, staying on message and rejecting the establishment media’s advice to run to the middle will pay even greater dividends for Santorum on Super Tuesday.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, Campaign for Working Families, CatholicVote.org, the Culture War Victory Fund, and Let Freedom Ring launched a five-day statewide bus tour throughout Michigan and purchased $150,000 in radio ads. Their bus will travel through Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia leading up to Super Tuesday. They will also run $250,000 in radio ads.
“After tonight’s encouraging results, we move ahead to Super Tuesday with even more energy,” said Susan B. Anthony List Vice President for Government Affairs Marilyn Musgrave.
“We just gave Mitt Romney the fight of his life in his home state and now we are in for a long, important battle to the convention,” Santorum wrote in a fundraising e-mail. Brabender agreed, “If we can do this well in Romney’s home state, this bodes well for Super Tuesday.”
Romney told his supporters Tuesday night his “unwavering conviction” led him to a message that “has rallied millions of Americans to our cause. And it’s the message we will take to every corner of this country – from Ohio and Idaho to Georgia and Tennessee.”
“We are going to continue to work to earn every vote, taking nothing for granted,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told LifeSiteNews.com. “But we are confident that the more voters continue to learn about Mitt Romney, the more they will realize that he is exactly what our country needs right now to get spending under control, create jobs, and get our nation back on the right track.”
The Associated Press reports that Romney leads the delegate count with 165 to Santorum’s 85 delegates. Newt Gingrich has 32. Ron Paul has 19. A candidate will not secure the nomination until he has the votes of 1,144 delegates.
Ten states participate in the Super Tuesday primaries on March 6.
GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND, February 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A parish priest in Maryland, who denied communion to a woman who identified herself as a lesbian, has been publicly rebuked by the Archdiocese of Washington.
Barbara Johnson attended her mother’s funeral last Saturday and introduced her lesbian partner to the priest before Mass.
Fr. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, covered the Host as she approached and told her, “I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the Church, that is a sin.”
Afterwards, she wrote him a letter telling him, “I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.”
Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout wrote a formal letter of apology telling Johnson, “I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.”
The Archdiocese of Washington issued a brief press release saying Fr. Guarnizo’s actions were inappropriate. “When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”
Monsignor Charles Pope, who blogs for the Archdiocese of Washington’s website, told LifeSiteNews.com, “One would presume a priest would have had more ongoing conversations with somebody of a private nature before one would publicly deny somebody communion.”
“There may be a time when a pastor has concerns about a parishioner and then speaks to them privately and advises them privately not to receive communion,” he said. “But we don’t have these confrontations at the altar rail.”
Canon 915 of the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law admonishes priests to deny Holy Communion to those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
The New Commentary on Canon Lawstates: “Eucharistic Ministers are also to refuse holy communion when they are certain (1) that a person has committed a sin that is objectively grave, (2) that the sinner is obstinately persevering in this sinful state, and (3) that this sin is manifest,” or widely known to those present at the Mass.
“Catholics who are conscious of committing any mortal sin must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion,” they wrote.
Public denial of communion must also be preceded by a private warning not to come forward to communion.
The commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law, prepared by the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, states, “before a minister can lawfully refuse the Eucharist, he must be certain that the person obstinately persists in a sinful situation or in sinful behavior that is manifest (i.e. public) and objectively grave.”
“Most canonists, including pastors and priests, interpret that not just as not just a quick conversation but something of a more substantial nature,” Monsignor Pope told LifeSiteNews.
Dr. Ed Peters, a canon lawyer at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, wrote “a few minutes conversation…would not suffice, in the face of numerous canons protecting the right of the faithful to receive the sacraments, to verify either the notoriety of the (objectively) sinful situation, or to verify the obstinacy of the would-be recipient.” However, Dr. Peters noted after a sufficient period of warning and instruction, a priest would be well within his rights to invoke Canon 915 and deny communion to an obstinate, sexually active homosexual.
“I don’t know that that can be determined by a brief interaction in a sacristy,” Msgr. Pope told LifeSiteNews.
Fr. Guarnizo may have been forcibly denied the opportunity to expand on his conversation. A commenter on Deacon Greg Kandra’s blog, who claimed to have been “in a meeting with Fr Marcel and heard the whole story,” wrote: “The woman in question brought her lesbian partner into the vesting sacristy just before the funeral Mass and made sure to introduce her partner to Fr. Marcel, introducing her as her ‘lover’. He told her then that she should not present herself for Communion.” A commenter claimed Barbara’s partner “blocked his way out of the sacristy when he attempted to speak with her further.”
The Catholic Church believes a faithful Christian has such an interest in receiving Holy Communion that it must only be denied only in extreme cases. “When in doubt, give it out,” Msgr. Pope said.
The popular blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf wrote no one should be surprised that questions persist about when to publicly deny someone communion.
Fr. Zuhlsdorf writes that “Many priests have received inadequate training in these matters of law and have been given even worse example by bishops who ought to be applying can. 915 is genuine cases of applicability,” he wrote.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, waded into a similar controversy in 2009 when he said he would not deny House Speaker Nancy Pelosi communion, claiming to do so would amount to “Communion wielded as a weapon.” When asked, he said, “there’s a question about whether this canon  was ever intended to be used.”
Fr. Zuhlsdorf described Fr. Guarnizo’s actions as “well-meaning” but “premature,” adding he could not find fault with his motivation.
“He should be thanked for taking his role seriously and for wanting to uphold the Church’s teaching,” he wrote.
Fr. Guarnizo did not return messages left by LifeSiteNews.
Archdiocese of Washington
The law cannot be divorced from reality, from nature. The moment this happens, law becomes arbitrary, the whim of the ruling power: it becomes tyranny.
Last week, the Maryland Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act by a 25–22 vote. The Maryland House of Delegates had passed the bill on Friday, February 17, by a 71–67 vote, and Governor Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign it. This bill will grant the legal status of marriage to any two non-related consenting adults, irrespective of their sex.
Why is this important, and how does it affect even those who do not live in Maryland? Isn’t it best just to let people do what they want with their lives and leave well enough alone, as long as we are left in peace to do what we want with our lives? That’s a pipedream. This law is a misnomer, and its passage signals the destruction of, not greater protection for, marriage. Let me explain why.
First, let’s step back from the rhetoric and define our terms. Fundamentally, what defines a marriage? What makes it unique and distinct from all other human relationships? It is the only relationship that naturally leads to the procreation of a child, and, through its stability and mutual commitment, provides the optimal conditions to nurture and educate that child. Same-sex unions cannot achieve this biologically. Two women cannot conceive a child, nor can two men. Therefore, they simply cannot, naturally speaking, be “married,” for their relationship lacks the essential component of fertility. Sexual difference is an essential component of marriage.
Some will claim that homosexual partners raise children just as heterosexual ones do. But again, let’s step aside from the rhetoric and look at facts. Two lesbians who bring a child into the world through artificial insemination still require the male gamete necessary for fertilization to take place. Whether aware of him or not, the child of that lesbian couple actually does have a father. Though same-sex couples may be able to afford the process of artificial insemination or even adoption, their relationship can never naturally produce a child. And this infertility is not due to a defect or flaw in the reproductive system, but is due to nature. This is a primary reason why it is impossible to refer to the union of a same-sex couple as a “marriage,” and to afford it the same rights and privileges. Not only is it impossible, but it is also unjust and arbitrary.
It is because of the unique nature of the marriage relationship that the term “family” cannot be lightly defined. A marriage can only be between a man and a woman; and thus a natural family can only consist of a mother, a father, and the children they conceive. All other families—adoptive families and foster families—are based upon this one. Even the very attempt to give same-sex unions the status of “marriage” and to refer to them as “families” assumes the prior natural institution of the family as its model. Gender is as crucial for marriage as it is for the family that it engenders. Further, children need the complementary love of both a mother and a father. To deny this to children would be far from granting them rights equal to those of children who do have a mother and a father.
A Civil Rights Issue?
Further clouding matters, this has been framed as a civil rights issue. The state, so the argument goes, cannot discriminate against people because of how they choose to have sex; this discrimination is a grave injustice, relegating homosexuals to a second-class citizenship. But if the argument rests solely on personal preference, an appeal cannot be made to a civil right. In other words, the choice of sexual partner does not provide sufficient grounds for the state to formally recognize such a union as a “marriage”; the state’s refusal to recognize a sexual relationship is not tantamount to denying a “civil right.”
A person is more than his sexuality. Sexuality is an essential part of the person, but not the sole defining element of the person. While rightly insisting that their humanity be regarded first and foremost (hence the concern about civil rights), it is actually contradictory for gays and lesbians to follow this up with the accusation that it is discriminatory to deny them the legal status of marriage based on their sexual preference. Their accusation implicitly equates their sexual inclination with their personhood, and takes the denial of legal status to their sexual lifestyle to be a personal judgment against them. It is not a denial of the personhood of gay and lesbian persons to deny their homosexual relationships the legal status of marriage. They are unequivocally persons in fact and under the law, and have all the rights of persons; but their homosexual relationship is denied the legal status of marriage because it lacks the intrinsic element necessary for a marriage: the natural ability to procreate children.
The law cannot be divorced from reality, from nature. The moment this happens, law becomes arbitrary, the whim of the ruling power: it becomes tyranny. The foundations of our very democracy are at stake with this debate, and this affects each and every one of us.
Reason, not Emotion, the Basis of Public Discourse and Law
If Maryland’s Civil Marriage Protection Act becomes law, Pandora’s box will be opened. Once the law redefines marriage as the sexual union of any two consenting adults, further modifications will no longer appear alarming: two consenting adults might become two consenting persons (age therefore being eliminated and opening the door to disguised child abuse), or “two” might be deemed an arbitrary number (already there are lawsuits making their way through the courts), thus opening the door for polygamy and polyamory. When the law can be changed so flippantly, it does not inspire confidence in its ability to “protect.” What sort of “freedom” and “protection” will your children, and their children, enjoy in fifty or sixty years at this rate?
Finally, we need to take a good, hard look at the type of discourse surrounding this issue. Rational discourse seeks truth: it employs premises that flow together to yield a sound conclusion. The pathos-laden language that is being employed in this issue is simply not a valid response to rational discourse. Reason must be answered with reason, not emotion. There is an objective truth that continues to shine in the debate, and it is the simple fact of nature: the essential component that sexual difference brings to marriage. This is a fact of nature that can be clearly seen by reason, and it is here, on the plane of reason, that this Act needs to be assessed by law.
That said, the fact that a good number of persons define themselves by their sexual behavior and interpret as a personal judgment the objective and rational refusal to equate their sexual relationship to that of heterosexuals, points to a very real and objective emotional reality. At some level of their personhood, they are asking to be heard, acknowledged, and accepted, and this is a valid human need.
But this emotional need to be heard, understood, and affirmed is separate from the requisite reasons to justify such a momentous legal redefinition of a primordial institution that precedes the state, and the devastating social ramifications that would result from such a redefinition. As a society, we seem to be losing our ability to distinguish these two planes; we are trying to think with our emotions, and the result is to forfeit thinking altogether. How can we have a dialogue with one another if we lose our ability to reason?
If we want to preserve the democracy that stands on self-evident truths as its foundation; if we want to provide our children and grandchildren with the same protection we currently enjoy; and if we want to salvage the remaining bits of rationality essential to a truly diverse and integrated society, we will stand against bills like the Civil Marriage Protection Act. There is too much at stake in these battles, and there is too much to lose by forfeiting common sense in favor of pathos. The elected officials of Maryland have acted against the will of the citizens. If you are a Maryland resident, you can sign a petition to put the issue of marriage up for a referendum, allowing the citizens of Maryland to decide for ourselves.
This article originally appeared on The Public Discourse. Melanie Baker is a Contributing Writer of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. She writes for the Truth and Charity Forum.
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-lifers voting for Tara Brinston in the ACTIVE-8 Atlantic Canada leadership competition that closes tonight at midnight may be wondering why their votes and pledges to help the young woman with her goal of improving the rights of persons with an intellectual disability have been rejected. It is because organizers behind the event have decided not to count pledges that bear any mark of being pro-life.
Last week, Matthew Falman of Saskatchewan Youth LifeGroup voted for Brinston with the following pledge:
“I pledge to support my own brother and others with Down Syndrome. I pledge to spread awareness that all Down Syndrome children have the right to live out their beautiful lives. I pledge to end the statistic that 9 out of 10 Down Syndrome children are aborted because of the myth that their’s is a lesser quality of life!”
But Falman’s pledge was rejected. He contacted the organizers of the competition, The Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC) and asked them why is pledge was not approved.
Rena Kulczycki, Member & Public Engagement Coordinator for ACIC responded as follows:
“Last week Tara was put in the middle of the pro/anti-choice debate without her consent. Once this was brough (sic) to her attention, she indicated to us that she would not welcome any reference to abortion in the list of pledges made on her behalf, which is why your pledge was not accepted. We would welcome your resubmission of a pledge that does not in any way refer to the abortion debate.”
The ACIC, a coalition in the Atlantic region working to achieve what they call “global sustainability encompassing social justice, human dignity, a healthy environment and participation for all” states on the website of the competition that they will review each pledge to ensure that they are “actual commitments to make a positive change in the world”.
“We retain the right to reject pledges that are offensive, harmful or irrelevant to the spirit of the campaign,” they say.
Falman responded to Kulczycki that he was “truly sad” that his pledge would not be honored.
“Like Tara, I have been inspired to support the intellectually disabled with the best gift we can give them, the gift of life where they know that they are valued, beautiful, and worth every breath they breathe! I stand firm with my pledge.”
Falman pointed out the incongruity of ACIC’s “abortion debate” criteria for acknowledging pledges. Front runner Kandace Hagen and her ambition to bring abortion to Prince Edward Island has more than one hundred pledges where the word “abortion” appears. “To support and promote the work and views of a candidate like Kandace is really asking for a debate to happen,” he said.
“Please understand,” continued Falman “that from my perspective, and that of others whose pledges were not approved due to references to abortion, the current results are not only innaccurate (sic), but unfair, as the free voices of young Canadians have been shut out.”
“While Kandace’s voice is loud and strong, my voice is silenced.”
Kulczycki told LifeSiteNews that it is against the spirit of the campaign to “pledge for one of the other ambassadors in an attempt to sabotage what Kandace is doing. Undermining the campaign of another person … is not something we support”.
Alissa Golob, Youth Coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews however that as a Youth Activist in Canada, she finds it “disgraceful that the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation, along with the candidate herself, have chosen to ignore the voice of the people who have pledged to make a difference in the lives of all people, including people with disabilities in and out of the womb.”
Golob believes that pledges such as Falman’s should appear in the final tally.
“The contest description says this campaign is for young Canadians who are an ‘inspiration for all of us who dream of a better world’. To deny pledges that promise to defend human life, all the while counting votes that pledge to destroy it, goes against the ACIC’s very motto for the contest.”
Contact the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation
Phone: (902) 431-2311
EDINBURGH, U.K., February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Judgment was handed down today in the case of two senior midwives from Glasgow who have a conscientious objection to abortion. The midwives have been told that they must accept the decision of their hospital management that they must oversee other midwives performing abortions on the labour ward.
Lady Smith, judge in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, ruled that the senior midwives’ role is not covered by the conscience clause in the Abortion Act.
Both the midwives have served for over 20 years at the Southern General Hospital, caring for many thousands of mothers and babies. The case arose when the hospital demanded that all senior midwives must take responsibility for overseeing mid-term and late term abortions. Since 2008 the hospital has insisted that these abortions, mostly for suspected disability in the foetus, must be conducted on the labour ward, rather than the gynaecology ward where most early abortions are performed.
The midwives in the case, Miss Mary Doogan and Mrs Connie Wood, argued that they had never been required to supervise abortion procedures in the past, and that the hospital was asking them to be morally, medically and legally responsible for abortions. They argued that this conflicted with their profound objection to abortions and with the right to opt-out that is protected in the 1967 Abortion Act.
Commenting on the judgment, Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said: “We are very disappointed by the judgment. SPUC has supported the midwives in bringing their case, and will now be considering their further legal options with them.”
Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, noted, “The case is yet another example of the way in which the UK Courts are interpreting s9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Freedom of Religion) in the most limited and restrictive way possible.” Addison continued, “The courts have not hesitated to use the convention to protect murderous terrorists but have refused to use it protect two midwives who do not want to kill unborn children.”
Speaking on behalf of both herself and the other midwife in the case, Doogan said, “Connie and I are both very disappointed and greatly saddened by today’s verdict. For most of our 20-plus years of employment as midwifery sisters at the Southern General Hospital we have been proud to be associated with a maternity unit in which the right of all midwifery staff to freedom of conscience has been acknowledged, protected and upheld with no detrimental outcome to any mother whatsoever.”
Lady Smith ruled that the 1967 abortion act only granted qualified conscience protections in relation to abortion. “The nature of their duties does not in fact require them to provide treatment to terminate pregnancies directly,” she said. “They are sufficiently removed from direct involvement as, it seems to me, to afford appropriate respect for and accommodation of their beliefs.”
Addison criticized “the extremely restrictive interpretation the judge has put on the Conscientious Objection clause in s4 of the Abortion Act.” The interpretation, he said, is such that “believing Catholics, Muslims and others will never be able to take any form of supervisory or management role as midwives or nurses unless they are prepared to be complicit in the provision of abortions.”
PAV Assembly in a conference center next to St. Peter's Basilica
Dr. Thomas Hilgers (left) and Prof. Eberhard Nieschlag
VATICAN CITY, February 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A gathering of the Vatican’s own academy for promoting respect for life was met with palpable discontent from its own members and other registrants after presenters on the topic of infertility alluded to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other artificial reproduction technologies as “natural” and legitimate for treating patients, despite their conflict with Catholic moral teaching.
In addition, one prominent Catholic doctor who noted the link between the birth control pill and breast cancer was told by the moderator that his claim was false.
A press packet included an interview with PAV President Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula emphasizing the Assembly would not be “dealing with ethical considerations of artificial fertilization” because “that’s a different subject”. The bishop, who in 2010 publicly criticized the awarding of a Nobel prize to a pioneer of in vitro fertilization, said that the February 24 Vatican workshop’s concern was to utilize a “rigorously medical and scientific” approach to divulge insufficiently known methods of fertility treatment to couples.
While some attendees said much of the conference offered helpful insights into the causes of infertility, such as delaying pregnancy and environmental factors, and presented some excellent new research on treating infertility causes, the majority of speakers also discussed such procedures as IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) as viable alternatives for couples having difficulty conceiving. The speakers were selected by the PAV leadership.
At least three of the four morning speakers, according to witnesses, referred to IVF as an appropriate option for some female sufferers of infertility. And although witnesses say moderators distanced the PAV’s views from the presenters’, the assurance fell short for audience members who gave vent to frustration during the day.
During the lunch break, one prominent member told LifeSiteNews that the morning sessions were “the best case you get for amoral science.” Another called the conference “a disaster” and another “a tragedy”.
In the afternoon session, Eberhard Nieschlag of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Andrology at the University of Münster noted that artificial insemination “can be tried if there are not enough sperm” and, after showing a video of a needle forcing a sperm into a human egg, described the process as “not really artificial.”
Pressed on the point by an audience member during a later Q&A (see audio file below), Nieschlag defended the remark by saying that “the actual fertilization process is completely natural.” “The way to bring the sperm and the egg together [is artificial] but the fertilization is not artificial,” he said. “That’s what I mean. But I think it’s mainly a semantic problem.”
Listen to brief audio of notable excerpts from Q & A session at the end of the conference:
The audience responded to the last remark with a growing clamor, including some rapping on their chairs in protest.
“I think from the audience’s reaction it’s clearly not,” chairperson Prof. Angelique Goverde interjected, adding that she would not enter “a theoretical or philosophical or religious debate” but the audience response indicated “we have a different point of view in this concern.”
The teaching authority of the Catholic Church has stated that artificial reproduction is morally objectionable, not only because techniques such as IVF regularly dispose of human embryos and “reduce” multiple pregnancies with abortions, but because children have a right to be conceived naturally in the marital act and not as a consumer product.
On its website, the PAV describes itself as existing “for the promotion and defense of human life, especially regarding bioethics as it regards Christian morality.”
Another conflict arose after several audience members challenged the morning speakers for emphasizing beneficial effects of the hormonal birth control pill on women’s health, to the exclusion of its detriments. Thomas Hilgers, Director of the National Center for Women’s Health at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, took to the microphone to point out that this tack fell in line with “a major marketing component of the oral contraceptive for the last ten years.”
“They’ll raise things like, once raised this morning, that you can cut the ovarian cancer rate in half [by taking oral contraceptives]. Well that’s good, but what if you increase the breast cancer rate in the process, or the cervical cancer rate?” he said. “It’s given as a health benefit without looking at the health implications, and that’s an unbalanced view, but it’s being sold that way, and it’s on purpose.”
Chairperson Goverde interjected asserting to the contrary that oral contraceptives did not increase the breast cancer risk but did agree that it increased the cervical cancer risk. Hilgers interjected to refer Goverde to a 2006 meta-analysis by the Mayo clinic showing the pill’s clear link to breast cancer. Hilgers later pointed to Ortho Tri-Cyclen’s own documentation showing the breast cancer link.
IVF industry eclipses real science: expert
Hilgers’ half-hour talk outlined the significant success of NaPro technology, a cost-effective method for discovering and treating underlying causes of infertility, and one that is not “built on a foundation of destroying life.” However, he said, these gains have been largely eclipsed by the IVF industry, particularly in the United States: had it not been for the race to create children artificially, said Hilgers, “we probably would have had a cure for infertility by now.”
The NaPro expert’s presentation that was fully in line with Catholic moral ethics was met with sustained applause far exceeding that given for any of the other speakers of the day.
In later remarks to LSN, the doctor expressed concern that the crowding-out of real infertility treatment by the IVF mindset was reflected at the conference itself.
Hilgers, a member of the PAV since 1994 and an international leader in his field, said the science of the day’s speakers “wasn’t good at all” and named several experts who could have offered insights into authentic fertility treatment, but said the conference didn’t approach him for suggested names. According to the PAV website, topics and speakers are chosen from a pool of submitted professional papers by a Governing Council currently composed of four lay experts and four clerics who include the President and Chancellor or the PAV.
Not all PAV conferences have been so controversial: Hilgers pointed out that last year’s conference on the psychological effects of abortion featured “really good” experts and information. However, he said, like a similar fertility conference by the academy over a decade ago, Friday’s was problematic for featuring “one IVF person after another.”
“[This year’s conference was] a huge disservice to Catholics everywhere for the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is the major Catholic pro-life organization you could say, to come into formal cooperation with a group of people who are diametrically opposed to the Church’s teaching,” he said.
Others told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that at a follow-up meeting Saturday morning for official members, several members expressed their discontent regarding the selection of speakers and the lack of ethical context throughout most of the day. One PAV member called it a “pile-on”. It was said that more wanted to express similar comments but were not recognized by the PAV leadership.
‘The arrogance of taking the place of the Creator’
The following morning, the speakers, PAV members, and others at the conference attended a special PAV audience with Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace.
In contrast to the conference’s avoidance of Catholic ethical concerns, a notably subdued pontiff emphasized the moral roots of reproduction in the conjugal act and warned against the fertility industry’s lure of “easy income, or even worse, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator,” quoting his own words from 2008. “The human and Christian dignity of procreation, in fact, doesn’t consist in a ‘product’, but in its link to the conjugal act, an expression of the love of the spouses of their union, not only biological but also spiritual,” said Benedict.
The pope also warned that the “indifference of conscience to what is true and good represents a dangerous threat to genuine scientific progress,” as “scientism and the logic of profit” now dominate the field “to the point of limiting many other areas of research.”
“The humility and precision with which you study these issues, considered obsolete by some of your colleagues before the allure of the technology of artificial insemination, deserves encouragement and support,” he said.
One member said the pope’s remarks were a saving grace for the troubled conference.
“If it weren’t for the pope’s speech, the conference would have been a devastating blow to truth,” the member said.
February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Canada has a Charter of Rights that speaks about freedom of speech but nowhere does it mention something called “freedom from hatred.” That concept has become part of the Canadian Human Rights Act, specifically Section 13 of that act which defines hate speech as communication “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”
The parameters of this seeming protection are so broad as to allow swimming space for a blue whale. This injunction against hatred is, in effect, an assault on free speech and essentially overrides a fundamental democratic freedom, replacing it with a nebulous and misplaced guarantee that Canadians need never be exposed to anything unpleasant, or even the very chance that they might be exposed to some form of contempt or perceived contempt. This provision has in fact been successfully used to silence all forms of legitimate criticism in this country, since any form of criticism can naturally be construed or distorted to be a form of hatred and therefore inadmissible in Canada. Critics of Sharia Law have been accused of fomenting hatred against Moslems. Section 13 has also undermined basic religious freedom as well. Any criticism of homosexuality, on the basis of it being a lifestyle incompatible with Biblical precepts, is also subject to the question of whether this belief and consequent analysis could possibly cause anyone discomfort.
Thankfully it has fallen on one backbench Conservative Member of Parliament to take back free speech in Canada. Never heard of Alberta MP Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul)? You should have. Storseth has quietly moved a private member’s bill (PMB) past second reading that would repeal sections 13 and 54 (related to 13) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Bill C-304 just passed second reading in the House of Commons and should be up for third reading by mid-April. That means the bill could receive royal assent by the time Parliament recesses for the summer. The legislation has the support of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson so there is little chance of the government deciding the PMB is too controversial to carry forward.
Ensuring the ascendancy of free speech should never be a subject of controversy in a democracy. We do not and should not enjoy anything approaching freedom from hatred. In the first place, just how does one define hatred? Do Marxists hate capitalists? It may well be argued that yes, they do. Should we be banning the works of Karl Marx because these tomes “are likely to expose” the monied class to “hatred and contempt?” Was hatred, to some degree, not a force that fuelled most political revolutions in history? Moreover, is the hatred that promulgates the murder of one person by another not just as real and toxic as the hatred of one person towards a race or religion? Yet with the same logic as we suppress free speech to stifle offense, we have uber-criminalized crimes that have achieved a special status on the hate index while pretending that every crime is not somehow motivated by that same emotion.
Secondly, if we are so supine in debate that we are reluctant to condemn or criticize behaviour, thought or practice because that speech may be judged to be hateful, then we might just as well refrain from any form of philosophical, moral or political debate in this country because someone will be offended in the process. Democratic debate necessitates offence. I shall be offended at some point. My opponents will be equally offended. We shall never have – and in a temporal world, we should never desire – a marketplace of ideas bereft of controversy and objection. Any law that seeks to create such a sea of homogeneity has no place in a democracy and needs to be repealed.
David Krayden is the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, an independent, not-for-profit institution dedicated to the advancement of freedom and prosperity through the development and promotion of good public policy.
School children congregate in pink shirts to celebrate the homosexualist 'Day of Pink'.
BURNABY, British Columbia, February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A group of parents in British Columbia were dismayed Wednesday after teachers posted a video on YouTube of students dancing to a Lady Gaga song in support of the “Day of Pink,” a pro-homosexual initiative that organizers say “rais[es] awareness to stop homophobic, transphobic & all forms of bullying.”
Burnaby Parents’ Voice had argued in a letter to Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister George Abbott that Lady Gaga and her song ‘Born This Way’ are not appropriate “learning resource[s] in public schools.”
The parents pointed out in their letter that the music video that accompanies Gaga’s hit pop song contains scenes of simulated group sex, masturbation, semi-nudity, a birth scene, and many crotch grabbing shots. They also pointed out that the song’s lyrics contain a “worldview which [is] offensive to most religions as well as atheism.”
In one verse Gaga sings about the need to stand firm against the “religion of the insecure.” She also sings in another verse: “rejoice and love yourself today ‘cause baby you were born this way. No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life.”
Despite the concerns raised by the parents, Premier Clark was filmed yesterday on the steps of the legislature dancing along to Gaga’s song with a number of students wearing pink shirts.
In response to a question about the controversy that had brewed over the use of the song in support of the Day of Pink, Clark told reporters that she was “sure there must be people who listen to the words more closely than I do. I just like the beat.”
The Day of Pink video showing 1,500 B.C. elementary and secondary school students dancing to Gaga’s song was posted yesterday on YouTube. All the children were wearing pink shirts with the message “Acceptance” written in black across the front.
The B.C. Parents and Teachers for Life organization has criticized the B.C. Teachers’ Federation for using the “Day of Pink” as a day to “indoctrinate” children into the homosexual worldview.
In a memo the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the Vancouver School Board urged teachers and schools to “focus on gender-role stereotyping and gender-based teasing and homophobia, as this was the origin of the movement.”
They suggest a list of lesson ideas that include “draw[ing] analogies between racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression in discussions with students,” “discuss[ing] the difference between ‘sex’ (biological) and ‘gender’ (societal) in which “nature is diverse and includes many variations — it may be helpful to see gender as a spectrum,” and “read[ing] books which positively portray lesbian, gay, and transgender characters in your classroom.”
“Will this project reduce bullying? Not likely,” said Gordon World, a spokesman for the concerned parents’ group in a news release. “They claim this sends a positive social message of acceptance of self and others. Not for overweight kids, anorexic kids or those who don’t dance well. Not for those who resist their school’s promotion of Lady Gaga’s ‘sex sells’ world view.”
British Columbia Teachers’ Federation
E-mail president Susan Lambert: email@example.com
Phone: (800) 663-9163
Vancouver School Board
Online E-mail contact form
Phone: (604) 713-5000
TORONTO, February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life heroine Mary Wagner will have to wait until March 21 to find out whether she will be found guilty or not guilty on a charge of mischief and two counts of failing to comply with probation orders concerning her arrest at the site of the Bloor West Village “Women’s Clinic” - an abortion mill - last November 8. She was remanded to that date by Mr. Justice S. Ford Clements of the Ontario Court of Justice after a day-long trial in downtown Toronto Tuesday.
Clements heard from three witnesses and listened to submissions from Crown attorney Derek Ishak and defence counsel Russell Browne after Wagner – who is out of custody following her release on bail – entered a plea of not guilty. The hearing began with a contested issue, as Ishak attempted to amend the information on the mischief charge to reference a different subsection of the Criminal Code than was originally cited. This was strenuously objected to by Browne, who said the move was a last-minute “shifting of gears” that hampered a defence he had prepared using the original information. However, Clements upheld Ishak’s application and allowed the amendment.
First on the witness stand was Patricia Hasen, who described herself as a nurse and 50 per cent owner of the abortion centre Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic Inc., which was established in 2005. She said her site leases the property from Paramed Properties and her name is on the lease. Hasen said her business operates from Tuesday to Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. “until the last patient goes home,” which could be anywhere from noon to 3 p.m.
On November 8, she said there were 10-12 patients and their escorts at the site when she was alerted by a co-worker that “Mary is in the clinic” and called the police, as she usually does in such circumstances. She said she then asked Wagner, whom she saw carrying roses and pamphlets, to leave several times, but Wagner refused to do so.
Hasen claimed, “People were getting upset, crying, asking why we weren’t doing something” about Wagner’s presence. She then asked the patients’ escorts to leave the site and brought the patients themselves into a secure area behind bulletproof glass, where “counselling” takes place and abortions are committed. She said Wagner moved to enter the secure area and tried to “push” her way through by holding the door open, but the door was eventually closed and police arrived in 15-20 minutes.
Toronto police officer Douglas Eaton was the second Crown witness and testified that he arrived at the abortion site to find “a lone female standing in the lobby” and arrested her under the Trespass to Property Act after asking her to leave and she refused. He noted she was holding a bag and flowers at the time. Under cross-examination by Browne, Eaton acknowledged no attempt had been made to interview any of the patients who were allegedly so upset at Wagner’s presence.
Browne called as his witness Dr. Philip Ney, a child and family psychiatrist and child psychologist, under whom Wagner has studied in the past. His testimony was immediately objected to by Ishak, who charged that Ney was not qualified before the court as an expert witness and had no direct knowledge of the events of November 8. His concerns were shared by Clements, who asked Browne of what relevance Ney’s appearance was at the hearing. After extensive discussions between Browne and Clements, Ney was dismissed from the witness stand.
In his closing submissions, Browne said Hasen had little direct knowledge of Wagner’s conduct on November 8, seeing her only for a few minutes in an incident that lasted some two hours. He suggested the degree of disruption suffered by the abortion site was minimal at best and not enough to constitute a criminal offence. There was no disruption to the “business” and no physical contact involved. In addition, the police were remiss in not interviewing any of the patients who were alleged to be upset at Wagner’s presence, he said.
For his part, Ishak said the charges were proven beyond a reasonable doubt on all counts. He suggested the evidence of corroborating witnesses was not necessary and that interference with the business was constituted just by Wagner’s presence and her refusing to leave when asked to do so. In addition, he referred to Hasen’s testimony that Wagner had held a door open while it was being shut and the fact that patient escorts were asked to leave the premises.
Ishak continued there was no evidence that Wagner was there simply for the purpose of communicating with patients. Holding the door, he added, went beyond simple communication. Finally, he said, there was no justification for Wagner’s presence in the first place, as she was forbidden to be there by a probation order.
The Wednesday March 21 hearing, which may include both a verdict and sentencing if Wagner is found guilty, will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 504 of the College Park courthouse at Yonge and College Streets in downtown Toronto. However, the hearing may be traversed to another room depending on where the Crown and judge are assigned that day.
PORTUGAL, February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A newly-minted Portuguese cardinal has sparked controversy at home and abroad by repeating the Catholic Church’s longstanding teaching encouraging women to be at home with their children.
Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, who was given the red hat last Saturday, told Portugal’s Correio de Manha newspaper that Portugal’s greatest problem is “the lack of support given by the government to families.”
“A woman should be able to remain at home, or, if she works outside, to do so on a reduced schedule, so that she can apply herself to that for which her function is essential, which is the education of the children,” said Monteiro.
Following media-generated controversy over his comments, Monteiro said that “I never said that women must stay at home, what I meant to say was that the presence of the woman in the family has a very, very important value for the whole nation.”
In a separate interview with the Jornal de Noticias before the controversy, Monteiro had said that “We should give much more value to family and to the value of women at home.”
“Women working full time, I think is not useful for the country,” he said. “Working at home, yes, but having to work from morning to night, I think is a negative for the country. The best educator is the mother, and if the mother doesn’t have time to breathe how is she going to have time to educate?”
“A country depends much, much, on mothers, because it is they who educate the children. There is no better educator than the mother,” said Monteiro, who opined that as a result of women working outside the home, they have “much value in one sense” but have “lost much of the value that they had” as mothers.
Monteiro’s words should not be unexpected from a cardinal of the Catholic Church, which has long promoted the woman’s domestic role in the family. His statements are similar to those of Pope John Paul II, who wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio in 1981 that “the true advancement of women requires that clear recognition be given to the value of their maternal and family role, by comparison with all other public roles and all other professions.”
“The mentality which honors women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and that society should create and develop conditions favoring work in the home,” the pontiff wrote.
The Roman Catechism, which John Paul II reaffirmed as an authoritative summary of the Catholic faith, states that “To train their children in the practice of virtue and to pay particular attention to their domestic concerns should also be especial objects of [wives’] attention. The wife should love to remain at home, unless compelled by necessity to go out; and she should never presume to leave home without her husband’s consent.”