Hilary White

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Archdiocese cancels gay-friendly Masses: homosexual group moved to Jesuit parish

Hilary White
Hilary White

LONDON, January 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a surprising reversal of six years of policy, the Archbishop of Westminster has rescinded permission for a group of homosexual activists to hold specially dedicated Masses at which the homosexual lifestyle was promoted as morally acceptable for Catholics.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols issued a letter today saying that “after six years of the pastoral care,” the notorious Soho Masses will no longer be offered at Our Lady of the Assumption church in central London.

“It is time for a new phase,” Nichols wrote.

One of the leaders of the group that organizes the Masses has responded saying the group is unruffled by the announcement and that they will simply be moving on to a larger and more useful facility for their purposes.

Nevertheless, the announcement of the end of the Soho masses came as a surprise. As recently as February last year, while under growing pressure from Catholics who maintain that the event constitutes a formal scandal, Nichols had reiterated his determination that they would continue. He said at the time, however, that officials were giving “consideration” to whether the Masses were fulfilling the purpose for which they had been established.

In his letter Nichols wrote that the Soho Masses community is invited to “focus their efforts” on receiving “pastoral care” at the Jesuit parish of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday evenings. This care, he said, “is to be conducted fully in accordance with the teaching of the Church.”

“Such pastoral care,” Nichols wrote, “will include support for growth in virtue and holiness, the encouragement of friendship and wider community contacts, always with the aim of helping people to take a full part in the life of the Church in their local parish community. It will not include the organisation of a regular Mass.”

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The church that had formerly been used by the Soho Masses is slated to be given over to the work of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the group formed to answer Pope Benedict’s invitation to Anglicans to come into the Catholic Church while retaining their liturgical traditions.

The group behind the Soho Masses as well as the archdiocese have come under heavy criticism from many Catholics who have compiled written and electronic evidence that the Masses were being used by homosexualist activists to promote their “lifestyle” as normal within the Catholic Church.

A small group of core activists have long campaigned to put an end to the masses, but until now their efforts had yielded little result, either in the UK or in Rome. In his letter, Nichols made no mention of the controversy over the Masses. 

But despite Nichols’ letter, the Soho Mass organizers themselves appear unfazed. Terrence Weldon, a founding member of the Soho Masses organizing team, wrote today on his blog “Queering the Church,” that the Soho Mass “congregation is emphatically not being ‘shut down,’ as the opponents will claim, but simply being relocated.”

He described the move as merely “the next phase of our evolution”. Weldon wrote that the “key” issue is the group’s identity as a “congregation.” In the various discussions the group had about changes, “it was observed that as long as we retained our congregation, we would continue to flourish. So it proved, and flourish we have.”

Despite the public insistence of the Archdiocese of Westminster to the contrary, the group itself has been quite frank about the nature of their identity and purpose. The Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC) published openly on their website their intention to promote of the goals of the homosexualist movement.

Weldon wrote that the approval of the group by the archdiocese, as well as their relocation to a Catholic parish, significantly furthered the group’s goals and expansion. Until the move into Our Lady of the Assumption, the congregations at the Masses, which had been carried on with quiet diocesan approval, were “overwhelmingly of older, White men.”

“Since the move, the transformation has been astonishing. Numbers have doubled, and the degree of active participation has simultaneously increased. We are now far more diverse in age, ethnicity and gender balance, and offer far, far more than just two Masses a month, with a steadily expanding range of support groups and activities, social and spiritual, outside of the Masses themselves.”

The new move to the Jesuit parish, he wrote, could greatly facilitate their efforts by providing more space for meetings and social events.

“I am increasingly convinced that one of the major challenges facing the LGBT Catholic community, is that of achieving visibility in the wider Church, and engaging openly and honestly with others,” Weldon said. “If we can make a success of developing a new model at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, we should find that although the ‘Soho Masses’ may end – Catholic LGBT ministry will be strengthened, and expanded.”

Despite the group’s history of close collaboration with archdiocesan officials, Weldon responded to an email from LSN today saying that he was not aware of any “negotiations” between the SMPC and the archdiocese over the move to the Jesuits.

“This decision was taken by Archbishop Nichols personally, without any consultation with us. The only negotiations that occurred, were with the Society of Jesus,” he said.

A commenter on his website, however, identified only as “Martin,” said, “A degree of confidential consultation around this took place over the past month.” One of the group’s more prominent organizers is Martin Pendergast, a former priest currently living in a civil partnership with another man. Weldon responded, “A very limited degree of ‘consultation,’ Martin – I’m not sure that I would dignify it with that word (it certainly did not amount to anything like negotiation). But there was certainly a small degree of very discreet communication.”

Asked publicly on his website whether he anticipated that the Jesuits would be offering Masses for the group, Weldon wrote, “We know from Archbishop Nichol’s statement that we will, from the beginning of Lent, be worshiping at the 6:15 Mass at Farm Street – which, as can be seen at their website, is an existing feature of their regular Sunday Mass program. It is clear therefore, that we will be worshiping as part of a larger parish community – who, I am convinced, will give us a warm and valued welcome.”

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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