John Westen

A plea to U.S. Bishops: Please love enough to speak of the dangers of homosexuality

John Westen
John Westen

June 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - As the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate plays out in the United States, with New York having recently fallen, I can’t help but think that it all feels strangely familiar.  Back in 2003 and 2004 Canada went through these same debates. 

The methods used by homosexual activists in Canada were actually exported to the United States (first to Massachusetts) and have been similarly successful.  However, I cringe to see that the same unsuccessful approach to combating this agenda taken by religious leaders in Canada is being taken by U.S. leaders, with similar results.

To be sure, the efforts of the newly formed U.S. Bishops Conference office for the ‘promotion and defense of marriage’ are commendable. However, they are off target.  The slick and beautiful videos they have produced for the promotion of marriage and family life are truly great.  Thirty years ago they would have made a massive impact in fighting divorce and the contraceptive mentality. 

Today, however, what we need to realize is that in the same-sex ‘marriage’ battle, the fight is not really about marriage.  As it was in Canada, in the debates leading up to the passage of our same-sex ‘marriage’ legislation in 2005, the issue is about societal approval for homosexual acts.

Homosexual activists argue the need for ‘marriage,’ but most have no interest in the constraints that such a formalized union would entail in terms of exclusive partnership.  However, the leaders among the activists have convinced the movement that they must attain marriage as a societal stamp of approval to homosexual behavior. 

For practicing homosexuals, as with all those engaged in aberrant sexual behavior, the conscience speaks uncomfortably.  Many activists in the sexual sphere seek societal approval, since they falsely believe that it will quell the voice of the conscience.  They are not looking for mere tolerance, but outright approval and even to quash all dissent, with coercion if necessary. 

In nations like my own, where speaking out against homosexuality has led to fines and penalties, there is also a growing movement advocating that pro-homosexual education be taught in schools and that parents be prevented from exempting their children from such classes.

The only way to truly win this debate is to raise the long-ignored subject of homosexuality itself: to teach the truth that homosexual acts are perilous to the body, and especially to the soul. To fail to do this would be to fail to address the heart of the matter.

In most people’s minds, arguments about the goodness of (heterosexual) marriage and raising children can be accepted right along with homosexual ‘marriage.’  Arguments that gay “marriage” will be a detriment to society, or that we should not alter traditional definitions, are tangential.  The core issue is the Church’s loving concern for those individuals who are putting their bodies and souls in danger with illicit and dangerous sexual practices, and society’s encouraging such behavior with the title of ‘marriage’.

That was what struck me when I read the New York Times coverage of the passage of the same-sex ‘marriage’ legislation pushed so hard by Catholic Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York. “The Catholic Church, arguably the only institution with the authority and reach to derail same-sex marriage, seemed to shrink from the fight,” it said.

The only answer that will move society away from the acceptance of homosexuality and thus same-sex ‘marriage’ is – caritas in veritate – or love in truth. And it is up to the Church to fearlessly preach this difficult, but beautiful message. It is not love to allow your children to rampantly misbehave without correcting them.  Speaking as a father of seven children, I will admit that it is often easier to turn the other way and purposely fail to notice misbehavior.  But out of love parents must correct and discipline their children, lest they come to harm. 

So too the Church, and especially Her shepherds – the fathers of souls - must feed the flock, must teach the truths however difficult and politically incorrect.  That is true love.

The Vatican has specifically warned against silence on the hard truths of homosexuality.  The man who is now our Pope, while he headed up the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a public document directed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, stating that silence about the Church’s teachings regarding the spiritual harm of homosexual acts stems from a false charity which is ‘neither caring nor pastoral.’

Therefore I beg you, good priests and bishops and religious leaders of all Christian denominations, to speak out with conviction and love the truths of Christ, especially in these hard areas of human sexuality.  You will be criticized for it, but you must trust that God will see to it that the truth is well received. 

Love demands it and the future of Christianity depends on it.  How can I say the future of Christianity depends on it, since we know that Christ will be with His Church till the end of time? Because in this battle of homosexuality, a time of persecution of the Church is near at hand, and indeed, in many parts has already arrived.

This is not my estimation, but that of the Pope Benedict XVI.  In an address given only 18 days prior to his election to the pontificate, and one day prior to the death of Pope John Paul II, then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said: “Very soon it will not be possible to state that homosexuality, as the Catholic Church teaches, is an objective disorder in the structuring of human existence.”

Yes, the time may be coming shortly when we are forbidden to state the basic truths of the Church.  Will we then have the courage to proclaim Christ’s truth with the possibility of losing our freedom, or perhaps even shedding our blood? If we choose silence now because of cultural pressures, the loss of human respect and political calculations, how can we imagine that when the penalties are increased to include imprisonment, and possibly even torment and death, we will dare to speak the truth of Christ?


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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