Ben Johnson

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Cardinal Dolan applauds football player for ‘coming out’, but didn’t back homosexuality: diocese

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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NEW YORK CITY, March 10, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Archdiocese of New York has told LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Timothy Dolan's decision to congratulate a homosexual football player for coming out of the closet did not mean the cardinal “was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexual activity.”

During an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" focusing on the "Francis effect" in the Church, host David Gregory asked the cardinal about the decision of Michael Sam, a 24-year-old senior at the University of Missouri and defensive end, to announce that he is a homosexual.

“Good for him,” Cardinal Dolan replied. “I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya.”

He added that “the same Bible that tells us, that teaches us about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So, I would say, ‘Bravo.'”

The cardinal's reaction was more exuberant than that of Michael Sam Sr., the player's father, who told the New York Times about his son's coming out, “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.”

The archbishop's words caused consternation among some Catholic writers. Popular priest-blogger Fr. Dwight Longnecker wrote that the cardinal could have said that while he does not judge Michael Sam or “know the state of his love life,” he could not condone homosexual actions or their consequences. “There is a higher risk of disease and health problems among those who are active homosexually–especially those who are promiscuous.”

“The problem is the homosexual lobby have increasingly been unwilling to acknowledge the distinction between a person and his action,” he wrote at Patheos. “To judge a person by their sexual choices is a grave wound to the human person. We are all greater than what we do with our reproductive organs.”

The Archdiocese of New York told LifeSiteNews such criticisms are misguided.

Communications Director Joseph Zwilling told LifeSiteNews that it would be “wrong for anyone to say, or even imply, that the Cardinal’s words on Meet the Press meant that he was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexual activity (or any other immoral behavior).”

“I believe that the Cardinal’s intention was clear,” he said in an e-mail. “The Cardinal is a very strong supporter of Courage, the Church’s ministry to those with same-sex attraction who are trying to follow the Church’s teaching.”

While the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that homosexual sexual relations are immoral, it also states that same-sex attraction itself is “objectively disordered.”

Some Catholics drew greater comfort from Cardinal Dolan's statement that he was uncomfortable with civil unions for homosexuals. Gregory raised Pope Francis' recent interview with Corriere della Sera, in which he said the concept of civil unions between homosexual couples should be studied further.

“It wasn't as if he came out and approved them,” Cardinal Dolan said. “In a sensitivity that has won the heart of the world, he said, 'Rather than quickly condemn them, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people.'”

“Marriage, between one man and one woman forever” is not “just a religious, sacramental concern,” he said. “It's also the building block of society and culture. ... If we water down that sacred meaning of marriage in any way, I worry that not only the church would suffer, I worry that culture and society would.”

Changing social policies that have long guided Western society may curtail religious liberties that have also served as a bedrock principle, he hinted.

“In the recent rush to what you might call more liberal laws on social issues, whether that be abortion, whether that be redefinition of marriage, you will hear the people immediately say, 'Don't worry, we will never impede religions from the complete freedom that they need to exercise their faith,'" he said.

"We're afraid we've learned the hard way," he said, that “what becomes tolerated quickly becomes obligatory for everybody...I would have to admit a certain amount of trepidation, that perhaps we're now moving in that direction.”

While opinion polls reflect the massive media push for the American people to accept homosexual unions or marriage definition, the cardinal said the church cannot change its bedrock teachings on this or any other dogmatic issue.

“When people seek God, they wanna know what God has taught,” Dolan said. “And the Church's sacred enterprise is not to conform its teaching to the values of the world.”

That, he said, earned condemnation from both sides of the political fence. "From the more Left side of society, we may be taking some sucker punches because of our views on the redefinition of marriage and the sacredness of human life in the womb. We're taking it from the other side when it comes to immigration, when it comes to capital punishment, when it comes to the rights of the poor," he said.

While Cardinal Dolan said the church cannot change its teachings, it was necessary to “more effectively pass on God's teaching” by being “somewhat sensitive to what the world is saying, what the world is feeling.”

Dolan said Catholic traditionalists “seem to be rejoicing in what you might call the evangelical fervor” of Pope Francis' pontificate.

You may read the full transcript of the "Meet the Press" interview here.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
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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