Patrick Craine

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Bishop obeys govt order to remove Catholic school teaching on sinfulness of homosexual acts

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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WHITEHORSE, Yukon, Oct. 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse has obeyed an order by the Yukon government to remove Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality from its policy on pastoral care for same-sex attracted students in its publicly-funded Catholic schools.  Critics have pointed out that even in the title of the new policy, the ‘truth’ has been removed.

The original policy contested by the government was called 'Living with Hope, Ministering by Love, Teaching in Truth.'  The new policy title reads: ‘One Heart: Ministering by Love.’

The original policy, published in the spring of 2012, sparked opposition from media, homosexual activists, and some citizens in the town of 20,000 last spring because it expounded the Catechism’s teaching that homosexual acts are “gravely depraved” and the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered.”

The controversy culminated in then-Minister of Education Scott Kent sending a letter to Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon in which he effectively told the bishop that Church teaching on homosexuality was barred from publicly-funded Catholic schools because it violates the equality provisions of Yukon law.

Bishop Gordon, who also serves as the diocese’s religious education director, agreed to draft a new policy, which he released in July.

The new draft is facing criticism from faithful Catholics, because, while it stresses forcefully the Church’s teaching that homosexual persons should be treated with respect, it is completely silent about the immorality of homosexual activity.

The policy quotes a 1986 document from the Vatican on the need for respect of homosexual persons, but this same document had stressed that pastoral care for homosexual persons is ultimately damaging to them if it is silent about Church teaching.

“We wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral,” wrote Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1986 letter ‘On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons’. “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”

The new policy does mention the call to chastity and points to the Catechism paragraphs dealing with homosexuality, but the policy emphasizes that Catholic schools should “value diversity,” and aim to offer an environment that is "safe, welcoming, inclusive and affirming of the uniqueness of each and every student."

The draft policy also says that the schools will promote “understanding and tolerance of sexual minorities,” and that they will use materials to present homosexual “writers, historians, scientists, artists, musicians, and spiritual leaders” as “positive role models.”

At an Oct. 3rd consultation meeting on the policy held by the school councils of the diocese’s three Catholic schools, ratepayer Judy Douglas said the draft leaves out “God’s standard.”

“This whole policy should have a higher standard. It should have God’s standard in it, I don’t believe it has that,” she said, according to Yukon News. “It talks a lot about honour and dignity and respect for people with same-sex attraction, which I believe in. I believe all human beings should be valued and honoured and respected.”

“However, it’s very unbalanced because it doesn’t talk about the sin of it. It doesn’t talk about the fact that it’s immoral, it’s unclean,” she added.

The new policy is also facing strong criticism from the other side, however, for not going far enough in removing Church doctrine. The Ministry of Education’s top public servant has expressed openness to their view, even though the draft was developed in conjunction with the government and the government’s lawyers had determined it conforms to Yukon’s Human Rights Acts, Canada’s Charter, and the Education Ministry’s policies.

According to the Whitehorse Star, the majority of speakers at the Oct. 3rd consultation, which drew about 30 people, expressed concern with the policy’s reference to Church documents like the Catechism, because they expound Church teachings on homosexuality that are deemed derogatory.

Tjitske van der Eide, a parent whose children attend Vanier Secondary, said the policy was “an example of homophobia in the name of religion.”

“I find it archaic and deceiving. It refers in its footnotes to church doctrine and dogma in which our homosexual brothers and sisters are being referred to as intrinsically evil,” she said, according to the Whitehorse Star. “How legal is that in our publicly funded schools?”

The critics also called for the removal of a provision in the policy that gives the bishop the power to disband a “gay/straight” student club if he finds it is teaching views opposed to Catholic doctrine.

Many took the criticism even further, however, and called for the government to scrap the policy altogether and instead force the Catholic schools to use the government’s 2012 Sexual orientation and gender identity policy.

After hearing the feedback, the deputy minister of education, Valerie Royle, said the government had believed the policy document properly balanced the concern for inclusivity with a respect for the Church’s teaching. But, she said, “clearly we’re hearing that there’s still certainly some variation of opinions so maybe we haven’t struck that balance.”

“What we’re trying to do is find a policy, and I still believe it’s possible, that serves all needs,” she said.

Consultation on the policy ended Oct. 11th. Royle said the government, the Catholic school councils, and the bishop will go over the feedback and then release a summary of the responses. From there the three parties will make a final decision about the policy.

Bishop Gordon published the original policy in Sept. 2012, after, he says, it was vetted by the Ministry of Education.

That original policy emphasized the Church’s respect for the dignity for those who experience same-sex attractions, but also affirmed Church teaching. It quoted the Catechism and said those who are same-sex attracted, “for whom marriage is not an option,” are called to chastity. It made no mention of seeking out homosexuals to hold up as “positive role models” for students.

After a student complained about the policy, however, then-Education Minister Scott Kent ordered that it be withdrawn.

After Bishop Gordon met with Kent on March 5, 2013, the bishop removed the policy from the website of Vanier Catholic Secondary School, the diocese’s Catholic high school. But the bishop told the press that the policy would still remain in effect. “Homosexual activity is always morally wrong,” he said. “The teaching of the Church is always going to guide what goes on in a Catholic school.”

Kent insisted in a March 19th letter, however, that removing the policy from the website was not enough – it had to be withdrawn and rewritten.

The minister said the policy’s treatment of homosexuality violated the Ministry of Education’s Sexual orientation and gender identity policy and “may be in contradiction to the Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

While the diocese is responsible for teaching the faith in the schools, Kent wrote, the diocese’s first obligation in providing such instruction is to comply with the laws in force in the Yukon. Religious teachings that are “inconsistent with and do not meet the requirements of existing laws and policies cannot have application in any publicly supported schools in the Yukon,” he wrote.

In July, Bishop Gordon told LifeSiteNews that he hoped there would not be a showdown between the Church and the government, even as the government insisted it was “not flexible” in its stance against Church teaching on homosexuality in the schools.

Asked at the time if he would allow the government to “bully” the Church, the bishop said, “Well we’re in discussions and everybody’s pretty clear that I’m a Catholic Bishop and I teach the Catholic faith. I mean what else can I say?”

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women, said the Yukon government has no business “dictating policy to a Catholic school.” “Why not send your children to the public schools?” she asked of parents critical of Church teaching in the schools.

But she also expressed concern over the Diocese of Whitehorse’s actions, suggesting that in their draft policy they had “capitulated on a matter of intrinsic Catholicism.” “It seems to me that it’s appalling that the Catholic bishops and the Catholic board have not stood for the teaching of the Magisterium,” she said.

LifeSiteNews.com was unable to reach Bishop Gordon after multiple attempts. Minister of Education Elaine Taylor was unavailable for an interview.

Contact Info:

Hon. Darrell Pasloski, Premier
867 393-7053
darrell.pasloski@gov.yk.ca

Hon. Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education and Deputy Premier
867 667-8641
elaine.taylor@gov.yk.ca


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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