Johanna Dasteel

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UPDATED: Franciscan U of Steubenville under investigation for teaching homosexuality as deviant

Johanna Dasteel
By Johanna Dasteel
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STEUBENVILLE, OH, September 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The national agency which grants accreditation to social work courses is questioning Franciscan University of Steubenville over a course which lists homosexuality as a deviant behavior.  Attention was drawn to the course by a group of Franciscan University alumni, identifying themselves as “Franciscan Gay Alumni & Allies”, who are demanding publicly that the university “revise its course descriptions and to stop contributing the culture of hate and ignorance.”

The course is called ‘Deviant Behavior’ and the part of the course description in question states, “The behaviors that are primarily examined are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness, and drug use.”

In the press release issued by “Franciscan Gay Alumni & Allies” and published by the Daily Kos, further accusations and demands are made, based solely on the ‘Deviant Behavior’ course description.  Among them are the group’s accusation that students are “being taught ideological falsehoods in the classroom,” and that the classification of homosexuality as a deviant behavior “feed(s) cultural biases and promote hatred for lesbian and gay individuals.”

The group goes on to make a broad demand that the university “revise its course descriptions,” “stop contributing the culture of hate and ignorance,” and “conduct an audit of its entire curriculum and remove any information being taught on this subject that is outdated and not substantiated by sound scientific fact.” 

Regarding the last demand the group states, “It is about time the University aligns itself with the truth of this matter.” 

University officials told LifeSiteNews that Franciscan University was never contacted by the alumni in advance regarding this matter.

In a written statement to LifeSiteNews, the university explains that the course uses the term “deviant” as used in the sociological sense, to mean “different from the norm.” In addition, the university stated, “Franciscan University follows Catholic Church teaching in regard to homosexuality and treats homosexual persons with ‘respect, compassion, and sensitivity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358) while holding homosexual acts as ‘intrinsically disordered.’ “

The statement goes on to say that the course description is an abbreviation of chapter headings from the course textbook, which is used by a number of other universities, including both secular and religious institutions.

Stephen Holloway, director of the school’s accrediting agency, Council on Social Work Education, in an interview with NPR (National Public Radio), stated the inclusion of homosexuality as a deviant behavior in the description “raises a red flag”. 

When asked by LifeSiteNews why the course description was a red flag, Holloway recanted, saying that “red flag” was not the best way to describe the nature of the agency’s concern.  Clarifying, he stated that their involvement is solely due to a complaint being made by alumni, regardless of the content of the complaint, because the accrediting agency takes every concern of alumni seriously and this is just one among many that they have an obligation to investigate.

According to Holloway, the course description on which the press release and ‘Franciscan Gay Alumni & Allies’ complaint was based, could not jeopardize the university’s accreditation.  It is the content of the course, whether it complies with the standards of diversity set out in the accreditation guidelines that is considered during the process of accreditation.  The university, said Holloway, is in compliance as long as the university “teaches respect for ‘gay’ people and includes content about ‘gay’ lifestyles.”

Holloway has contacted Franciscan University Officials, asking for “information on the content of the course in particular and how diversity is handled in the program more generally.” He will share that information with the accreditation committee once it is received from FUS.  Holloway went on to say that, “their (FUS’s) accreditation is not in jeopardy.”  He said, “It is only that we get a lot of alerts that something might not be right in a program and when we do we explore them.  The accrediting commission looks at the concern and merits whether or not it’s worth pursuing.”  Right now, Holloway is collecting information from FUS to pass on to the commission to make that judgment.

As a reminder of the school’s claims to religious liberty, the school states, “We understand that some, not understanding the term (deviant) or its context, might take offense at the description and it is currently under review. Nevertheless, changing standard sociological definitions is beyond the scope of our work. So, too, is changing the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Dr. Michael Brown, host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Line of Fire,” called this “another attack on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”  “This indicates once again that tolerance is not the issue,” he said, “but rather the only option is the endorsement or celebration of homosexuality.  It is absolute intolerance when it comes to differing religious and moral beliefs.”

When asked about the nature of the increased threats to the religious liberties of American institutions, he told LifeSiteNews, “the day may come when religious institutions will have to seek out their own accrediting associations because of the continuing encroachment of political correctness.”

Attacks on religious freedoms have become more frequent and severe in recent years in the United States. The most notable violation of religious freedom decried by religious leaders and organizations has been the recent HHS mandate that contraceptives, sterilizations and the like be provided and covered by health care institutions, regardless of whether compliance would be a violation of conscience for religious institutions.

With FUS’s accrediting agency conducting an investigation at the request of what many see as a militantly anti-Catholic group, there are growing concerns being expressed about the future ability of Catholic Universities to live out their mission and teach in accordance with Catholic Social Doctrine with full religious freedoms.

FUS told LifeSiteNews in a written statement, “As a Catholic university, Franciscan teaches “all the truths of revelation whether found in Scripture or Tradition as taught by the Catholic Church” (Mission Statement, p. 6). To do otherwise would be a violation of our basic mission as a Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition.”

Contact information for the accrediting body:
Council on Social Work Education
1701 Duke Street, Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314

P: +1.703.683.8080
F: +1.703.683.8099
E: info@cswe.org

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Belgium approves euthanasia for rapist serving life sentence

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Belgium’s Minister of Justice approved a euthanasia request Monday from a convicted rapist serving a life sentence.

The Brussels court of appeal will review the case September 29, but Belgian media report it is expected simply to record the existence of the agreement between the man and the government.

This would not be the first euthanasia of a Belgian prisoner – a terminally ill man who had already spent 27 years in jail was legally killed two years ago – but in the case of Frank Van Den Bleeken, the euthanasia request is being linked to the conditions of his imprisonment.

Van Den Bleeken, 50, has spent close to 30 years in prison. He was sentenced to life-long imprisonment for several counts of rape, one of them followed by murder. He has been declared irresponsible for these acts because of psychiatric disorders and does not want to be released from prison, considering himself to be “a danger for society.” Despite having repeatedly asked for psychiatric treatment, none has been forthcoming in the absence of any Belgian institution prepared to take up this sort of patient.

The convicted rapist says his psychological suffering is “intolerable” and it is on these grounds that three doctors decided last May that Van Den Bleeken should be entitled to euthanasia – even though he has also asked for a transfer to a Dutch institution where psychiatrically ill criminals receive adequate treatment and care.

He presented both demands to the minister of Justice via an emergency procedure. The Brussels appeal court decided that the minister, Maggie De Block, was not competent to order a transfer to the Netherlands but that she could decide to grant his request for euthanasia. The decision is being called a purely “medical” one by the minister who told the press that she confined herself to following the doctors’ opinion.

A previous euthanasia request made by Van Den Bleeken three years ago was rejected on the grounds that all had not been done to ensure that he would suffer less and that other options than death were available.

Now, even though it is clear that the prisoner would find more humane conditions of detention in nearby Holland, that he is conscious of the gravity of the acts he commits under the pressure of his mental illness, and that he is in need of medical care, the decision to make him die reads as a further trivialization of euthanasia in a country where an ever-increasing amount of psychological motives are being accepted to justify “mercy-killing.”

As in all the states of the European Union, the death penalty does not exist; it was abolished in Belgium in 1996. Rapists and murderers can find themselves sentenced to life-long sentences with no hope at all of ever being freed, a perspective which some find worse than death.

Since Van Den Bleeken’s story received media coverage, including a televised interview at the end of 2013, fifteen other prisoners have contacted the “UL-Team,” an information center for end-of-life questions, euthanasia expert Wim Distelmans told the media this Tuesday. He said those numbers are expected to rise. Distelmans is known for his support and active participation in cases of euthanasia for psychological reasons.

No date has been fixed for Van Den Bleeken’s death but his family has indicated that a doctor willing to perform the act has been found. Once the appeals court has given its ruling the prisoner will be allowed to leave the Turnhout prison where he is interned at present, and will be transferred to an unnamed hospital where he will be able to say goodbye to his family before receiving a lethal injection.

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH http://portman.senate.gov
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First GOP senator to back marriage redefinition may run for president in 2016

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By Ben Johnson

The first Republican U.S. senator to support same-sex “marriage” is considering running for president in 2016 – if he is re-elected this year.

Sen. Rob Portman, the junior senator from Ohio, told reporters he would decide about campaigning for the GOP presidential nod during a recent visit to New Hampshire, home of the first in the nation primary.

“I’m focused, as you can tell, on 2014 and on doing my job as a senator,” he said, according to The Daily Caller. “After the election, I'll take a look at it.”

Portman became the first Republican senator to support same-sex “marriage” last March, citing a two-year “evolution” that took place after he learned his son, Will, is homosexual. He announced his change of heart shortly after he “held a dozen meetings with big New York donors” who did not believe the GOP sufficiently championed the cause of redefining marriage, in his capacity as vice chairman of finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), according to Politico.

That provoked a backlash from pro-family leaders in the state, who warned Portman's move – which is at odds with the Republican Party platform – would splinter the Republican Party.”

That splintering could be seen on the pages of Ohio newspapers this month.

Lori Viars, vice president of Warren County Right to Life, wrote a column entitled, “Why Conservatives Are Dumping Portman.” She recounted asking then-Congressman Rob Portman if he would vote for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the 1990s.

“I thought he'd give me a quick yes and that I'd be on my way in search of air conditioning. But Portman would not answer my question. I pressed him, and again he deflected,” she wrote. “On my third (more emphatic) try, he got angry with me. He clearly did not want to take a position on DOMA. At the time, his son would have been in preschool.”

“Whatever his reason, Portman's flip-flop puts his presidential ambition at a disadvantage,” Viars wrote.

That garnered a ripping riposte from Mike Gonidakis of Ohio Right to Life, which was published as a letter to the editor. He accused Viars of “recklessly question[ing] Sen. Rob Portman's commitment to the pro-life cause.” Portman has a zero percent vote rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and, while representing his conservative southwestern Ohio district voted against taxpayer funding for abortion at home and overseas, in favor of the partial birth abortion ban and protecting babies who are born alive during botched abortions, and against human cloning.

Still, Viars is not alone in distancing herself from the senator. Ohio's social conservative group, Citizens for Community Values, now lists Portman as an "unacceptable candidate."

In August 2013, Cleveland Right to Life criticized Rob Portman's stance. National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) President Carol Tobias sent a letter to CRTL, saying it had chosen to “disaffiliate” itself with NRLC because it had “issued public criticisms of and implicit political threats against a U.S. Senator who has supported the right-to-life position on every vote that has come before the Senate, and who is a sponsor of major NRLC-backed bills – because the chapter disagrees with his position on a non-right-to-life issue.”

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Aside from his stint in the U.S. Senate, the 58-year-old served 12 years in the House of Representatives and acted as U.S. Trade Representative and Director of Management and Budget under the George W. Bush administration, holding each office for one year, respectively. He largely favored free trade and voted for the 2002 authorization for the use of force against Iraq.

He has prepared presidential and vice presidential candidates for debates and has twice been considered for the vice presidential nomination, in 2008 and 2012.

Polls show Portman a virtual lock for re-election to the Senate. But the largely unknown, not especially charismatic senator does not register in polls for the presidential nomination of a party that is still committed to the traditional concept of marriage and family. 

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A topless activist with Femen attacks Belgian Archbishop Andrè-Joseph Leonard, who is known for his strong pro-life and pro-family stance.
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Why are pro-abortion protesters always taking their clothes off?

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By Jonathon van Maren

I’ve seen a lot of bizarre responses to pro-life activism. There’s the crude picket signs, the illiterate chants, the flashes of violence, the incoherent threats that so often seem to involve used tampons, and even activists dressed up like giant genitalia.

But there is one phenomenon that never ceases to stagger me with its counterproductive stupidity and moral blindness: The increasing prevalence of “feminist” protestors, almost exclusively women, stripping down to “protest” something—usually protection for the pre-born or some other dissent from the totalitarian death cult of the Sexual Revolution.

When people ask me what the weirdest response to pro-life work is and I try to explain this phenomenon, they find it hard to believe. So do I. But yet it happens, time and time again.

The suicidal tendencies of modern-day feminism would be almost laughable if they were not so depressing.

One student stripped down and sat on a folding chair in front of our pro-life display at the University of British Columbia. A few protestors decided to protest the launch of our 2012 national tour by going topless. Then, at a presentation in London, Ontario, a bunch of pro-abortion protesters showed up at a counter-protest organized by the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union, sans clothing. And of course, at last year’s March for Life a topless Femen protestor flung herself at a remarkably composed Catholic bishop as he spoke to the crowd, shrieking “F*** your morals!”

You’d think such behaviour would attract ire rather than admiration. But this is 2014 and most of our municipal governments use our taxpayer’s cash basically to fund a day dedicated to that type of behaviour when the Pride Parade rolls around.

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Instead, these women are now generally referred to as “brave.” Even the popular, but tiresomely far-left website Upworthy recently pushed a video with a street activist protesting harassment by misogynist pigs by standing on the street in her lingerie. (Little tip: Protesting the fact that some misogynists define you by your body by voluntarily showing them what they wanted to see in the first place isn't defiance, it's acquiescence. Protesting the fact that these guys aren't treating you with dignity by acting like you have none is counter-productive. “That guy crudely suggested he wants to see me naked! Well, I’ll show him! By showing him exactly what he wants to see! Wait…”)

A bit of research into the infamous nude activist group Femen (“Our mission is protest, our weapon is bare breasts”) shows just how exploitative (inadvertent though it may sometimes be) this entire phenomenon is. In recent documentary the group’s leader, Viktor Svyatski, admitted that he had perhaps started the group to “get girls,” and that he carefully selected only the most attractive girls for his group. The documentary also revealed that Svyatski had described the Femen girls as “weak,” and was often verbally abusive with them.

Again, the suicidal tendencies of modern-day feminism would be almost laughable if they were not so depressing.

But the phenomenon of public nudity is also more than just incoherent protest—it is a way of forcing people to accept any and all manifestations of the Sexual Revolution. As I noted some time ago:  The public is now regularly subjected to crude and wildly exhibitionist “Gay Pride Parades” and “Slut Walks.” These are not considered to be optional festivals hosted by tiny minority groups. No, politicians who refuse to attend are labelled as heretics by the high priests of the New Moral Order, which is of course not an order at all, but a proud lack thereof.

Liberal activists don’t want the State to be outside the bedroom anymore, they want the State in the bedroom—loudly applauding the acts they see taking place, refraining from any judgment but one of approval, and paying for pills and bits of rubber to ensure that such acts do not go awry and result in reproduction or infection.

Your prayers are not welcome in public, but your privates are. The Emperor has no clothes, and is quite enjoying it—so long as the chilly breezes of moral truth don’t leak out of drafty cathedrals to cause discomfort.  

There may be hope on the horizon, as indicated by the wild popularity of such books as Wendy ShaIit’s A Return to Modesty, as well as increasing disinterest in topless beaches in places like France. Some “feminists” have responded to such trends with irritation, grumbling that all the hard-won ground they had fought for is being spurned by the ungrateful brats of today. But perhaps, instead, many women are realizing that allowing men to freely objectify them in public is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Perhaps people have begun to rediscover a human value that was once enormously prized, but now almost forgotten: Dignity.

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