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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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 more than $400 million 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.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

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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