Friday, June 15, 2012

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Catholic Health Association reverses; now opposes HHS mandate

by Kathleen Gilbert Fri Jun 15 17:58 EST Comments (45)

 
Sr. Carol Keehan

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a reversal that deals a significant blow to the HHS contraception mandate, the major Catholic hospital association that once provided crucial political steam for President Obama’s health care legislation has now backed off supporting the mandate, saying that the president’s “accommodation” of religious groups is inadequate.

The Catholic Health Association (CHA) on Friday issued a letter to an official with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, stating that the government’s proposed rule forcing religious employers to provide birth control insurance to employees left them “deeply concerned.”

CHA noted that it was changing its initial position welcoming the White House’s “accommodation” to religious groups in February, whereby President Obama claimed insurance companies would offer the birth control for free, rather than having religious institutions directly pay for it.

“While this new development seemed at the time to be a good first step, our examination and study of the proposal as outlined then and in the ANPRM has not relieved our initial concerns,” wrote CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan and two members of the board.

“Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, we continue to believe that it is imperative for the Administration to abandon the narrow definition of ‘religious employer’ and instead use an expanded definition to exempt from the contraceptive mandate not only churches, but also Catholic hospitals, health care organizations and other ministries of the Church.”

If the exemption is not expanded, they said, then the administration must pay directly for such coverage.

CHA was an early supporter of the federal health care legislation, pledging to support the administration’s proposal as early as July 2009. The group continued to support the measure even as Catholic bishops issued strong warnings over the bill’s potential to expand abortion, leading then-USCCB president Cardinal Francis George to chastise CHA as causing “confusion and a wound to Catholic unity” on the issue.

After the insurance mandate was announced last August, CHA pushed unsuccessfully for a compromise before stating opposition to the rule. However, the group’s position quickly reversed after the February “accommodation”: CHA almost immediately stated its renewed support even as U.S. bishops moved from caution to condemnation.

According to one calculation, if the mandate is not reversed or modified, it has the potential to shutter the 12.6 percent of American hospitals that are Catholic - an option Cardinal George in February emphasized as not far-fetched.

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George had urged people to buy a copy of the Archdiocesan directory “as a souvenir” and to look at a page containing a list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions. “Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank,” he said.

Tags: birth control mandate, carol keehan, contraception

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Famed pro-life Brazilian bishop who sued ‘Catholics for the Right to Decide’ dies at 76

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Fri Jun 15 17:08 EST Comments (12)

 

June 15, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Brazilian Catholic bishop Luis Gonzaga Bergonzini, a pro-life crusader who recently sued “Catholics for the Right to Decide” for “moral damage,” has died.

Bergonzini, who last year won Human Life International’s Cardinal Von Galen award, was best known to the Brazilian public for his decision to print 2.1 million flyers during the 2010 elections condemning presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff and Brazil’s Labor Party for their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage.”

The flyers were seized by Brazil’s Federal Police, and held until after the election, which was won by Rousseff following her decision to sign a pledge not to introduce any legislation to legalize abortion or prohibit the freedom of speech of those who condemn homosexual behavior. Bergonzini responded to the confiscation by calling the Labor Party, “the party of lies and of death.”

Bergonzini also made headlines earlier this year when he chose to sue “Catholics for the Right to Decide,” the Latin American sister organization of “Catholics for Choice,” for “moral damages” for misrepresenting the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion. He was also widely quoted for advocating the firing of homosexualist and pro-abortion professors at Brazil’s Pontifical Catholic University (PUC).

“If the PUC is a Catholic university, [professors] must follow the Gospel and Christian morality,” wrote Bergonzini on his blog, adding that the PUC “cannot have teaching professors who contradict the teachings of the Church, inside or outside of the classroom.”

“Abortionist professors, and those who defend euthanasia, the legalization of marijuana, homosexual ideology, or those who are communist can find schools that defend those ideas,” wrote Bergonzini.

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“The Church and the world have lost a great champion for Truth, Faith and Life,” said Fr. Shenon Boquet, President of Human Life International. “His example of courageous leadership has inspired many thousands to live in accordance with the will of God, which is the greatest gift any bishop can give. It is this example of stalwart faith and his great love for those he served that inspired us to award him our highest honor, the Cardinal von Galen Award, in November of 2011.”

“Those of us who had the opportunity to meet Bishop Bergonzini last year were immediately struck by his joy and peace.  He truly was a priest who passionately lived the Gospel of Christ. He suffered greatly in his life, standing up for the Culture of Life, but always did his work with a smile.”

Bergonzini served as Bishop of Garulhos, Brazil (a suburb of Sao Paulo), from 1992 until he retired in November of 2011.

Tags: abortion, brazil

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Virginia softens abortion regulation, Utah considers banning sex-selective abortion, and more

by Ben Johnson Fri Jun 15 16:37 EST Comments (2)

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com)

Virginia
The State Board of Health on Friday voted to eliminate a rule that would have required abortion clinics to meet the same building regulations as a hospital. New clinics must meet the code, but existing facilities can maintain lower standards. Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia said, “We’re ecstatic.” The regulations will be reviewed by the governor and Attorney General Ken Cucinelli, then put up for a final vote in August.

Utah
Utah’s only female state senator is considering introducing a bill to ban sex-selective abortion. State Senator Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said she opened a bill file in order “to review what other states are doing and see if that would enhance Utah’s laws.” She has not yet drafted a bill. Four other states have prohibited the practice, but a federal bill failed to clear a legislative hurdle.

Louisiana
On Monday, Louisiana’s pro-life governor Bobby Jindal signed the “fetal pain bill.” The law, which will take effect in August, restricts abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life of the mother.

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Pennsylvania
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe introduced the “Whole Women’s Health Funding Priorities Act,” which would prioritize state family planning funds to hospitals, health centers, and other health care providers. The move would effectively strip all funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider.

Indiana
The Indiana state Republican Party has stripped a plank from its platform defending marriage. The pro-marriage language had been in effect since 2006. The state Democratic Party, however, added a position against a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 

 

Tags: pennsylvania, sex-selection abortion, utah, virginia

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Bye Bye Cheerios?: General Mills announces support for gay ‘marriage’

by Thaddeus Baklinski Fri Jun 15 16:24 EST Comments (195)

 

ST. PAUL, Minnesota, June 15, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Minnesota-based food giant General Mills has publicly come out in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Currently same-sex “marriage” is against the law in Minnesota. However, in November, Minnesotans will vote on the amendment which would insert the true definition of marriage in the state constitution, making it much more difficult to introduce gay “marriage” in the future.

According to a post put up Thursday, June 14 on the General Mills company blog by Ken Charles, vice president of global diversity and inclusion, “General Mills CEO Ken Powell on Wednesday addressed 400 local gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender professionals and announced that the company opposes the amendment.”

“While General Mills doesn’t normally take positions on ballot measures, this is a business issue that impacts our employees,” Charles said in his post. “I am proud to see our company join the ranks of local and national employers speaking out for inclusion. We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy - and as a Minnesota-based company, we oppose it.”

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“Obviously, there are strongly held views on both sides,” Charles said. “We acknowledge those views, including those on religious grounds. We respect and defend the right of others to disagree. But we truly value diversity and inclusion—and that makes our choice clear. General Mills’ mission is Nourishing Lives. Not just some. But all.”

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a major advocate for the marriage amendment, blasted the General Mills Corporation for effectively declaring a “war on marriage” with its own customers.

“Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is profoundly in the common good, and it is especially important for children,” said Brown.

“General Mills makes billions marketing cereal to parents of young children. It has now effectively declared a war on marriage with its own customers when it tells the country that it is opposed to preserving traditional marriage, which is what the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment does.”

NOM points out that a national survey conducted by the Alliance Defense Fund last year showed that 63% of people with children living in their home, “believe marriage should be defined ONLY as a union between one man and one woman.” Just thirty-five percent of people with children at home disagreed with the statement. Overall, the ADF survey found that 62% of adults believe marriage is only the union of a man and a woman.

“This will go down as one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time,” said Brown. “It’s ludicrous for a big corporation to intentionally inject themselves into a divisive social issue like gay marriage. It’s particularly dumb for a corporation that makes billions selling cereal to the very people they just opposed.”

The National Organization for Marriage stated it has sent letters to Minnesota’s 50 largest companies and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, asking them to remain neutral on the marriage issue.

The move by General Mills was sharply criticized by the Minnesota For Marriage Campaign, which said that opposing the amendment thrust the company into a war against marriage that goes against the beliefs of an overwhelming majority of their customers and the best interest of their shareholders.

“It is very disappointing that General Mills has decided to play PC politics by pandering to a small but powerful interest group that is bent on redefining marriage, the core institution of society,” said John Helmberger, Chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, in a statement.

“Marriage is more than a commitment between two people who love each other. It was created by God for the care and well-being of the next generation. The amendment is about preserving marriage and making sure that voters always remain in control over the definition of marriage in our state, and not activist judges or politicians.”


Contact Information:

General Mills Canada Corp
5825 Explorer Drive
Mississauga, ON L4W 5P6
Phone: (905) 212-4000
Consumer comments/questions: (toll-free) 1-800-516-7780

General Mills Inc.
P.O. Box 9452
Minneapolis, MN 55440
Phone: 1-800-248-7310
Fax: 1-763-764-8330
Email: via website form (http://www.generalmills.com/ContactUs.aspx)

Tags: gay marriage, general mills

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Another Ontario public school board bans Gideon Bibles

by Thaddeus Baklinski Fri Jun 15 16:16 EST Comments (31)

 

HAMILTON, Ontario, June 15, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Trustees of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board voted this week to ban the distribution of Gideon Bibles in their schools, marking an end to a long tradition of giving grade 5 students, with parental consent, their own copy of the Scriptures.

School boards in Toronto, Peel, Durham, York and Bruce counties have already banned the Bibles.

The Gideons, an evangelical Protestant association based in Nashville, Tennessee, have been placing Bibles containing the New Testament plus the Psalms and Proverbs from the Old Testament in Canadian public schools since 1936.

“We have institutions that do this already and they’re called churches,” said board chair Tim Simmons, according to a Hamilton Spectator report.

“Maybe churches need to look at the job they do to provide this type of material and not put it on a public school system where we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the manpower, we don’t have the knowledge, the understanding, the expertise,” said Simmons.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s superintendent of equity, engagement and system programs, Sharon Stephanian, said the Bible was banned in order to bring the board in line with the Ontario Ministry of Education’s “Equity and inclusive education strategy.”

“When we looked at what was happening in other school boards and some of the rationale around reversing the practice, we felt that we needed to look at ours and do the same,” said Stephanian. “Ultimately it’s about creating those safe, equitable and inclusive environments for all students, where all religions are respected and valued.”

The strategy, which was launched by the McGuinty government in April 2009, requires every school board in the province to develop an equity policy that outlines their commitment to inclusion based on the grounds listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code, including “sexual orientation.”  The boards are then expected to revise all policies and practices to align with this commitment to “equity.”

Critics have called the equity policy “a program of child indoctrination” that “represents a frontal assault on the moral & religious values of a majority of parents, and a trampling of their parental rights.”

Kelvin Warkentin, communications manager for the Gideons International in Canada, told the Spectator his organization was “extremely disappointed” in the board’s decision to ban the distribution of Bibles, but noted that The Gideons’ response has always been to co-operate with such dictates.

“We recognize that offering a Testament to students is a privilege allowed by school boards, not an inherent right,” he said, adding that The Gideons believe there is a place for religious study in public schools.

“We need to teach our children respect for other religions and the best way to accomplish that is to make sure they understand them better,” Warkentin said.

Contact information:

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
100 Main St. West
P.O. Box 2558
Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3L1
Phone: 905.527.5092
Fax: 905.521.2544
Email: via website (http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/contact/)

Tags: bible, gideons, ontario

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Nightmare soon to end?: Court vindicates Swedish homeschooling parents in state kidnapping case

by Ben Johnson Fri Jun 15 15:35 EST Comments (12)

 
Domenic Johansson, with his parents.
Domenic Johansson, with his parents.

June 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) –  A Swedish homseschooling couple may shortly be reunited with their son after a prolonged separation, after a Swedish court has judged that the couple did not act irresponsibly by removing their children from the public school system.

Government officials seized Christer and Annie Johansson’s 10-year-old son, Domenic, in June 2009 as they boarded a plane for Annie’s home country of India. Domenic, who was seven at the time, has been in state custody ever since. 

“We will ask the court for the immediate return of Domenic Johansson to his parents,” said Ruby Harrold-Claesson of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights, who represents the parents. “Based on the information in this verdict, there can be no justification for keeping this family apart.” 

The U.S.-based Alliance Defense Fund and Home School Legal Defense Alliance are providing legal advice. 

“The government shouldn’t abduct and imprison children simply because it doesn’t like home schooling,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “This family’s human rights have been unimaginably violated.” 

HSLDA Director of International Relations Mike Donnelly agreed the case was “a grotesque abuse of their human rights.”

“Domenic has not been returned home yet, but we have every hope that he will be soon,” he said. 

The child has been in state custody for three years with limited visitation from the parents, while the state has considered terminating their parental rights altogether. Authorities jailed Christer after he took his son on an unauthorized outing in December 2010.

According to Crisis magazine, the years-long separation led Annie to have a nervous breakdown.   

Meanwhile, the Scandinavian nation has cracked down on homeschooling, allowing it only under “extraordinary circumstances.”

Tags: domenic johansson, homeschooling, sweden

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Australia: horrified by infanticide, but willing to give our highest award to its leading promoter

by Amin Abboud Fri Jun 15 15:13 EST Comments (8)

 

June 15, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - Infanticide is a gruesome topic, but two of the week’s leading news stories in different ways deal with this sickening reality.

On Tuesday, Northern Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris told Lindy Chamberlain and her former husband Michael she had found a dingo did indeed kill their baby daughter Azaria in 1980. This brought an end to a 32-year struggle that had scarred the Australian psyche.

Lindy was jailed for the murder of Azaria, and Michael was given a suspended sentence for being an accessory after the fact. After three years in jail, Lindy was released when new evidence emerged. In 1987, a royal commission inquiry exonerated both.

As a 14-year-old boy, I watched this real-life drama unfold on TV. The tragic death of a nine-week-old baby, which was claimed to be at the hands of her own mother, was difficult to comprehend.

Lindy and Michael’s total exoneration is a relief for them, of course, but the Coroner’s conclusion is a relief for us all. To be certain a young mother did not take the life of her own baby helps to restore our faith in human nature. If the young and helpless are not always protected among us, what kind of society do we belong to?

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Ironically for some, we belong to the kind of society that awarded Australia’s highest civil honour to the philosopher Peter Singer on Monday. Singer has been made a Companion of Australia for “eminent service to philosophy and bioethics as a leader of public debate and communicator of ideas in the areas of global poverty, animal welfare and the human condition”.

There is something naive about this catalogue of Singer’s achievements. Around the world, his name is synonymous with arguments that legitimise infanticide. He has been advocating this case since at least 1979, when he published his most influential book, Practical Ethics.

The revisions in last year’s edition do not include a retraction of his notorious views. He says: “A week-old baby is not a rational and self-aware being, and there are many non-human animals whose rationality, self-awareness, capacity to feel and so on, exceed that of a human baby a week or a month old. If, for the reasons I have given, the fetus does not have the same claim to life as a person, it appears the newborn baby does not either.”

The world has gasped in horror at the murder of infants in Syrian atrocities. But Singer would not necessarily share our revulsion. When asked how we should react to Nazi soldiers killing helpless infants he calmly replied: “It is true infants appeal to us because they are small and helpless, and there are no doubt very good evolutionary reasons why we should instinctively feel protective towards them. It is also true that infants cannot be combatants, and killing infants in wartime is the clearest case of killing civilians, which is prohibited by international convention. None of this shows, however, that the death of an infant is as bad as the death of an (innocent) adult.”

To those of us who squirmed at the thought Azaria had been killed by another human, let alone her mother, Singer advised: “To think the lives of infants are of special value because infants are small and cute is on par with thinking a baby seal, with its soft white fur coat and large round eyes, deserves greater protection than a gorilla, who lacks these attributes.”

Mercifully, Singer is not an advocate of unrestricted infanticide. This should only be legalised under strict conditions, he recommends, because killing a child is a “terrible loss on those who love and cherish the child”.

An Order of Australia ought to reflect Australian values. Clearly, tolerance of infanticide is not one of them.

I am not writing to suggest Singer’s AC be revoked. But I do have a suggestion.

The Chamberlains ended their long journey with a revised copy of their daughter’s death certificate clearly stating that the cause of death was a dingo attack. The stain on their honour was expunged for ever.

My request is this. Can Australians who may feel like accessories after the fact to infanticide get a certificate of their own explicitly dissociating them from Singer’s repugnant views?

Amin Abboud lives in Sydney, Australia. He is a registered medical doctor, has a PhD in moral philosophy and is a Catholic priest. He is completing a book on Peter Singer’s moral philosophy, which will be published by Connor Court Publishing. This article was originally published in The Australian. This article reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com under a Creative Commons license.

Tags: australia, infanticide, peter singer

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B.C. Supreme Court strikes down Canada’s ban on assisted suicide

by Patrick B. Craine Fri Jun 15 13:37 EST Comments (21)

 

VICTORIA, B.C., June 15, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that Canada’s ban on assisted suicide is unconstitutional.

Justice Lynn Smith issued a 395-page ruling in the Carter v. Canada case Friday morning, determining that the ban discriminates against the disabled.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which intervened in the case, immediately urged the Crown to appeal Smith’s decision to the BC Court of Appeal and to seek an order that stays the effect of the decision until such time as that appeal is heard.

Given that suicide is legal in Canada, Justice Smith argues that the ban violates the equality provision in section 15 of Canada’s Charter because it prevents the disabled from getting the help they may need to kill themselves.

The case centres on Gloria Taylor, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS in 2009. Taylor says she does not currently wish to kill herself, but wants to have assurance that she could receive help to commit suicide in future.

Justice Smith argues that the ban “perpetuates disadvantage” because it “is felt particularly acutely by persons such as Ms. Taylor, who are grievously and irremediably ill, physically disabled or soon to become so, mentally competent and who wish to have some control over their circumstances at the end of their lives.”

Ironically, Justice Smith also argues that the ban violates the right to life under section 7 of the Charter because it could lead someone to commit suicide earlier than they might otherwise, while they are still physically able to do it themselves.

She has issued a stay on the ruling for one year to give the government an opportunity to consider its options. But she granted Taylor an exception, allowing her to seek assisted suicide immediately if she chooses.

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) launched the case in April 2011 claiming that Canada’s provisions against euthanasia and assisted suicide are unconstitutional since they violate the “right” to die.

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The suit was launched on behalf of the family of Kay Carter, who died by assisted suicide at the Swiss Dignitas suicide center in January 2010. But Taylor was added as an additional plaintiff in August, which allowed them to fast track the case because she had been told in January 2010 she only had a year to live.

The campaign in the courts began after Canada’s Parliament rejected a bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2010, by a vote of 228 to 59. Canada’s Justice Minister, the Hon. Rob Nicholson, has stated that the Conservative government will not reopen the issue in Parliament.

Despite Parliament’s determination, on Thursday the Quebec government announced it was appointing a committee of legal experts to implement the recommendations of the province’s Select Committee on Dying with Dignity, which issued a report in the fall calling on the province to permit euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg, the EPC’s executive director, said the court ruling “is fundamentally at odds with the will of Parliament as expressed just months ago and is fundamentally anti-democratic.”

“Most elder abuse is hidden from view - and if we can’t detect the abuse now, how are we going to do it when the stakes are raised?” asked Dr. Will Johnston, British Columbia chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “I have seen how easily influenced older people can be, and how inadequate are our national strategies against suicide. The present decision, which should be immediately appealed and corrected, is a huge step backwards, a blow to public safety, and would force changes in public policy which would do more harm than good.”

“Today’s decision would point Canada towards the Oregon assisted suicide regime, which has become notorious for its erosion of medical standards and abuse of psychiatry to rubber-stamp suicide requests,” added Dr. Johnston. “The wish to avoid Oregon’s mistakes has been reflected in over 100 rejections of assisted suicide by legislatures in North America and by medical associations around the world.”

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is calling on Canadians to urge Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to launch an appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeals.

Contact Information: mcu@justice.gc.ca.

 

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Reflections on being a grandfather

by Donald DeMarco, Ph.D. Fri Jun 15 13:25 EST Comments (2)

 
Donald DeMarco

June 15, 2012 (HLIAmerica.org) - T. H. Huxley, for whom evolution provided both his religion and his family tree, asserted repeatedly that, “a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather.” Whereas it may be said that I have occasionally “gone ape” over my dozen grandchildren, all bona fide human beings, I must assert rather decisively that I am proud to not be an ape. I much prefer being a “grandfather.” Despite its suggestion of advanced age, it does ratify my humanity as well as granting me a special place in history. Man is the only animal who knows his grandchildren.

Father’s Day takes on a very special significance for those of us who are fathers of fathers. I have two sons who are fathers, thus perpetuating the noble title of fatherhood within my family. It is a humbling thought that one’s children can endow their dad more than once with that honorific title of “father.” It has been said that great fathers get promoted to grandfathers. I am not sure of the first accolade, but I will accept the second. The Holy Father has been called “the grandfather of the world.” It is a fitting title since he superintends the family of man while at the same time remaining intimately united to it in love and responsibility.

Pope Benedict XVI has stated that grandfathers “offer the little ones the perspective of time; they are the memory and heritage of families. In no way should they ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure that the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith at the approach of death.” Having a grandfather is being twice blessed, for it includes one’s father as well as one’s father’s father.

I recall being asked once by a disconsolate man whether he was still a grandfather since his son, the father of the grandchildren, is now divorced. Divorce, of course, does not dissolve generational lines, though it may greatly weaken one’s sense of being a grandfather. In a world of broken relationships the need for intergenerational ties becomes all the more important. We live in a throwaway society, where products have built-in obsolescence, and most human relationships are as lasting as soap bubbles. Change for change sake seems to be self-justifying. Without a sense of continuity, however, children are vulnerable to trends and fashions. They are concerned not with what is right and what is wrong, but with what is “hot” and what is not. They can easily be captured by the reigning ideologies of the day.

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The grandfather has lived long enough to know how shallow and ephemeral fads can be. His role is to impart a higher wisdom. He is concerned about the things that nourish and endure: faith, love, beauty and one’s eternal destiny. He has survived fads and his words come from a life that has not been lived from impulses of the moment. He may have silver in his hair, but he has gold in his heart.

Grandfatherhood is not only an honor, it is also a paradox. When a man begins to feel old, his grandchildren can make him feel young again. An hour with one’s grandchildren can be rejuvenating; but any longer than that, it must be noted, it can be debilitating. It is a paradox tinged with poignancy. As the sands of time flow from the upper region of the hourglass, they fill the lower half. Advancing age is redeemed by emerging life. Thereby, life is not diminished. Time is not wasted. Sacrifices are not in vain.

And so, I will proudly accept the title of grandfather, a title shared by clocks and clauses, those apt and enduring symbols of time and antiquity. And, contrary to Mr. Huxley’s view of evolution, I will boast that I have evolved from a lad to a man, a husband to a father, and finally to a grandfather. At the summit of life, the view is certainly grand.

Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. He is Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He writes for the Truth and Charity Forum, where this article first appeared.

Tags: benedict xvi, father

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The unavoidably human aspect of human sexuality

by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D. Fri Jun 15 12:09 EST Comments (10)

 

June 15, 2012 (Zenit.org) – It could be said that the common enemy of the diet industry and the junk food industry is self-control.

Information from the World Health Organization indicates that global obesity has doubled since 1980[1], which suggests that self-control is not winning the fight. Many tactics have been attempted to curb this trend, due to the heavy cost of obesity, both to the individual’s health and the society’s health care system. Educational programs have been implemented to teach children good habits early in life, taxes have been levied against foods deemed to be nutritionally lacking, and restrictions have been placed on where and how such foods can be accessed. A recent attempt to ban the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces in New York City drew intense scrutiny, although it ultimately failed to pass into law. Meanwhile, popular diets lure people to join programs promising quick results “without dieting or exercise,” to quote a common slogan.

While psychologists tout the benefits of self-control and suggest that it can be increased through practice, it’s easy to see why campaigns to improve societal health don’t focus on this angle, and not only because impulsive consumption provides economic stimulus. Self-control, self-denial, and a willingness to forego immediate gratification are fundamentally moral concepts. A recent column in Time Magazine presented the notion that self-control, as highlighted during Lent, has benefits beyond the spiritual, referring to this as “the open secret of all religions”[2]. Nonetheless, even if you manage to convince people that self-control has its advantages, developing it in a society that emphasizes convenience, sensory pleasure, and material acquisition is an uphill battle.

One of the central difficulties in the field of public health is the fact that influencing large populations of people to make healthier choices is extremely difficult. This struggle is echoed in the realm of morality as well – both priests and medical doctors know that the advice they give in a confessional or examination room may fail to be effective when met with a lack of compliance on the part of the penitent or patient.

Nowhere is the uneasy association of public health and public morality more fraught with controversy than in the area of sexual behavior. While religious teachings, such as those of the Catholic faith, focus on self-control and a view of human sexuality in the context of the divine plan, public health officials focus on pragmatism, arguing that people will engage in potentially risky behavior regardless of the consequences, particularly when the behavior presents immediate sensory rewards. Public health advocates pay nominal tribute to the fact that reserving sexuality for a faithful and committed marriage affords the optimal outcomes both for the sexual health of the individual and the long-term well-being of the resulting children, but are then quick to point out that many people do not live according to this standard, even among those who claim to uphold it, and cite studies linking increased emphasis on abstinence-only education with increased rates of unintended pregnancy among teenagers[3].

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The gap between “ideal” and “typical” behavior exists among users of contraceptives as well as those who aspire to be abstinent. A recent survey of women who identify themselves as being sexually active and desiring reversible contraception measures revealed that the women overestimated the effectiveness of the contraceptives, especially those which rely more heavily on human compliance, such as condoms, pills, injections, patches, and rings[4]. In fact, nearly 60% of participants overestimated the ability of these measures to prevent an unintended pregnancy, a fact which the study’s authors attributed in part to the information contained in the manufacturer’s packaging of these products, which report failure rates with the assumption of perfect use.

It is worth pointing out that this survey was conducted as part of a program designed to promote the use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), including intrauterine devices and implants. Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that approximately half of unintended pregnancies are attributable to contraceptive failure, emphasizing human error as the primary cause, again proposing LARC methods as the best solution[5]. However, the effort to promote the use of LARC methods may come at a cost: a recent report in the British Medical Journal indicates that non-oral contraceptives, including LARC methods, as well as contraceptive rings, carry a higher risk of serious blood clots than the pill, and the accompanying press release urged women to consider switching to oral contraceptives[6].

The idea that humans are not perfectly consistent or reliable is certainly no new revelation: the fallen nature of man is a central teaching of Christianity, and our capacity for error is unavoidably evident to religious and non-religious people alike. So it should come as no surprise that people often fail at both abstinence and contraception, in much the same way as we often fail to exercise moderation when we eat. But where the religious and the secular world diverge is in the response after a failure occurs. Within the Catholic Church can be found methods to grow in virtues like self-control, the Sacrament of Confession for when we fall, and a spirit of gratitude and welcome for new life, even when its arrival is unintended. In contrast, the secular world, having long-since abandoned sexual self-control, can only view unintended pregnancy as a tragedy, and one to be avoided by adopting forms of contraception that place a woman at increased risk of life-threatening blood clots, for the sake of avoiding maternity.

In the United States, there has been widespread controversy regarding the sex education curricula presented in public schools, with some favoring “abstinence-only” education and others touting a more comprehensive approach. Critics of “abstinence-only” education object to its moralistic tone, exemplified by the language in its definition that condemns all extramarital sexual activity[7]. While some might argue that this standard, which derives from Judeo-Christian morality, should not be part of a curriculum presented to students who may or may not embrace that worldview, the separation of public health and public morality into discrete boxes is apparently only desirable when it curtails the establishment of moral standards. When Pope Benedict XIV reiterated the Church’s stance against barrier methods of contraception in 2009, it ignited a huge controversy, partly due to the tendency of many news outlets to take his words out of context, but also because he challenged the notion that condoms are the best solution to the worldwide AIDS epidemic. In fact, he went further; lost in the media tempest regarding condoms was his plea for the “humanization of sexuality”[8].

The Holy Father’s words call us back to the recognition that humans are endowed with intelligence and free will[9], and while this means we are capable of falling, it also means we are able to succeed and improve ourselves through the development of virtue. However, the harmony that exists within the Church’s teachings on human sexuality cannot be replicated outside of a framework that acknowledges the importance of self-control, the procreative aspect of human sexuality, and the value of human life at all stages. Only when we acknowledge the harms caused by lust and gluttony can we fully appreciate the benefits of chastity and temperance, and only when we embrace self-mastery can we know both its difficulty and its desserts.

(1) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/

(2) http://ideas.time.com/2012/02/23/lent-and-the-science-of-self-denial/

(3) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0024658

(4) Eisenberg DL, Secura GM, Madden TE, Allsworth JE, Zhao Q, Peipert JF. Knowledge of contraceptive effectiveness. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012 Jun;206(6):479

(5) Winner B, Peipert JF, Zhao Q, Buckel C, Madden T, Allsworth JE, Secura GM. Effectiveness of long-acting reversible contraception. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2012 May 24;366(21):1998-2007.

(6) http://www.bmj.com/press-releases/2012/05/09/study-adds-evidence-clot-risks-non-oral-contraceptives

(7) http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title05/0510.htm

(8) http://www.zenit.org/rssenglish-31026

(9) http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm#311

This article originally appeared on Zenit.org and is reprinted with permission.

Tags: catholic, contraception

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Pro-lifers host opposing conference steps away from huge ‘right to die’ conference in Zurich

by Adam Cassandra Fri Jun 15 11:11 EST Comments (2)

 

June 15, 2012 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - Members of Human Life International (HLI) Switzerland are helping to organize a pro-life conference in Zurich, Switzerland on June 15 in opposition to a meeting of euthanasia activists from around the world.

“Our aim is not to disrupt their conference,” said HLI Switzerland Secretary Christoph Keel. “Our aim is to put other arguments to the visitors of the congress. We are going to organize discussions and we will be there at the entrance (of the conference) to distribute leaflets.”

Representatives from about 55 countries have gathered in Zurich for the three-day “right to die” conference of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, which is held every two years. Euthanasia supporters will also honor the 30th anniversary of Zurich-based assisted suicide organization Exit. Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, and is legal in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington.

HLI Switzerland is working with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to host the alternative conference, whose theme is “Assisted Suicide Harms Human Dignity,” just steps away from the meeting of assisted suicide activists.

“We specifically want to target those who are dying and most susceptible to the ‘mercy killing’ propaganda to petition Congress to confront this issue and ask whether assisted suicide actually guarantees more human dignity,” said Keel.

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Zurich voters rejected proposed bans on assisted suicide and “suicide tourism” in 2010, and the government refused to impose new limits on assisted suicide last year.

“Together with the increasing cost pressure in the health sector and the increasing loneliness of older people, organized assistance for suicide is a breeding ground which promotes suicide,” said Roland Graf of HLI Switzerland. “The pressure is growing on people who can no longer give to society what is expected of them. They increasingly feel themselves as a burden for society and their relatives.”

According to government statistics released in March of this year, there were about 300 recorded cases of assisted suicide by residents of Switzerland in 2009. That number has increased continually since 1998.

“Assisted suicide is resorted to when life no longer appears worth living for the person concerned, in particular in the presence of a serious physical illness,” according to the report. “In 44% of cases, cancer was reported as the underlying disease, in 19% a neurodegenerative disease, in 9% cardiovascular diseases and in 6% musculoskeletal disorders. ‘Other diseases’ includes pain syndromes, multimorbidity and other pathologies. Depression was reported in 3% of cases and dementia in 0.3%.”

Ninety percent of those who sought assisted suicide in Switzerland were 55 years old or over, with the number of women resorting to assisted suicide markedly higher than that for men.

News reports reveal that the Swiss assisted suicide group Dignitas helped kill 1,169 non-Swiss nationals between 1998 and 2011, mostly Germans (664), followed by residents of Britain (182) and France (117) among others. Exit claims to only aide in the killing of Swiss residents.

“Advocates of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) describe it in sterile terms such as ‘self termination’ and ‘self deliverance,’ and even apparently laudable terms such as ‘an act of compassion and mercy,’ a ‘choice for freedom from suffering’ and ‘aid in dying.’ Behind this fabricated veil of credibility and compassion, they have won victories in the court of public opinion,” wrote HLI’s Arland K. Nichols in a recent article. “But behind that veil is a reality that cannot be hidden. Once suicide is considered a medical treatment, bureaucratic authorities tasked with keeping health care affordable can deem it the best course of ‘treatment’ for a patient.”

Nichols pointed to the case of Barbara Wagner in the United States, who was denied life-saving chemotherapy by the Oregon Health Plan, and instead offered suicide as a course of treatment.

Wagner told ABC News, “It was horrible. I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die. But we won’t give you the medication to live.”

“The problem with euthanasia or assisted suicide is you’re giving somebody else the right to be involved in causing your death,” stated Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “Society needs to be vigilant about suffering, but the answer is not giving power over life and death to somebody else.”

Reprinted with permission from HLIWorldWatch.org.

Tags: euthanasia, euthanasia prevention coalition, switzerland

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15 federal Conservatives who helped Canadian ‘transsexual’ bill pass 2nd reading

by Peter Baklinski Thu Jun 14 20:04 EST Comments (14)

 
Once considered social conservative Jim Flaherty voted for the bill.

OTTAWA, Ontario, June 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A small number of Conservatives were responsible last week for a swing in the vote that helped a private member’s bill pass its second reading that aims at giving what its sponsor calls “specific protections” to “transsexual and transgendered Canadians”.

Bill C-279, an Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) passed June 6 by a vote of 150 to 132. The bill would not have passed had the Conservatives voted the other way.

The Conservative MPs who supported the bill are the following:

Mr. Chris Alexander (Ajax-Pickering)
Mr. Michael Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills)
Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Ms. Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay (Delta-Richmond East)
Mr. Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Oshawa)
Mrs. Shelly Glover (Saint Boniface)
Mr. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre)
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore-St. Margaret’s)
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo)
Ms. Lisa Raitt (Halton)
Ms. Michelle Rempel (Calgary Centre-North)
Mr. Bruce Stanton (Simcoe North)
Mr. Bernard Trottier (Etobicoke-Lakeshore)
Mr. Bernard Valcourt (Madawaska-Restigouche)
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay-Columbia)

Numerous religious and pro-family organizations have opposed bill C-279, including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Campaign Life Coalition, REAL Women of Canada, and the Canada Family Action Coalition.

Critics warn that the bill furthers the sexual revolution’s ideology that gender is a purely fluid social construct that can be completely separated from one’s biological birth sex.

The bill’s sponsor Randall Garrison (NDP MP, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, BC) said during debate of the bill on April 5 that the bill would “help complete what we might call Canada’s human rights project”.

The bill has now been referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights before returning to the house for a third vote, which if successful, would land the bill in the Senate.

See contact info for above MPs here.

Tags: homosexuality, stephen harper, transgenderism

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