Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

, , ,

Pope decrees: Catholic charities must always act in accordance with Catholic teaching

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, December 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a surprise move, Pope Benedict XVI this morning issued a formal legislative document instructing Catholic charitable organisations that they must act in complete compliance with Catholic teaching. The Vatican rumour mill failed to predict the appearance today of the pope’s Motu Proprio, a special letter written and promulgated on Pope Benedict’s personal initiative, that lays out specific legislation on how Catholic charities must be governed.

Benedict issued the Motu Proprio, “De Caritate Ministranda,” on the Church’s charitable activities after strongly hinting in recent years at his deep concern at the secularising and outright anti-Catholic trends growing within officially recognised, and lay-funded, Catholic charitable agencies.

The document, using the formal legal language reserved for the Sovereign Pontiff when creating binding legislation for the whole Church, specifies that Catholic charitable organizations “should not limit themselves merely to collecting and distributing funds,” but exist to further Catholic religious objectives by exercising “a valuable educational function within the Christian community”.

“The Church’s charitable activity at all levels must avoid the risk of becoming just another form of organized social assistance,” Pope Benedict wrote.

“To the extent that such activities are promoted by the hierarchy…there is a need to ensure that they are managed in conformity with the demands of the Church’s teaching and the intentions of the faithful.”

“The collective charitable initiatives to which this Motu Proprio refers,” the pope wrote, “are required to follow Catholic principles in their activity…”

It is ultimately up to the bishops, he said, to ensure that the staff of such agencies believe or “at least respect” Catholic teaching on all matters, and that the works undertaken are not to the “detriment of their activity and effectiveness with regard to their stated goals”.

In those groups where this has ceased to be the case, the pope decreed that the local bishop “is obliged,” to inform his flock that “the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching,” and to “prohibit that agency from using the name ‘Catholic’.”

Bishops overseeing Catholic charitable initiatives, the pope added, must also provide for the “theological and pastoral formation,” of the staff, “through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life”.

“It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding,”  Benedict decreed.

“They are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.”

The bishops must also ensure that Catholic agencies do not distribute funds to receive funding from groups “that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching”.

“Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.”

The pope explicitly named the organisation Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella group that represents hundreds of Catholic charitable groups around the world. Rumblings from Rome have hinted that a major push for reform of the Church’s charities has been high on the pope’s agenda. It is an open secret that many official Catholic charitable groups working in the developing world have adopted the secularist, and anti-Catholic agenda, such as pushing condoms as a means to stop the transmission of HIV.

The current document, Benedict wrote, is to “give adequate expression in canonical legislation” that will outline “the legal aspects of this ecclesial service, especially when carried out in an organized way and with the explicit support of the Bishops”.

The pope wrote, “I establish and decree…” that the bishops ensure that Catholic charities “avoid the proliferation of charitable initiatives to the detriment of their activity and effectiveness with regard to their stated goals”. They must also see to it that “the norms of the Church’s universal and particular law are respected, as well as the intentions of the faithful who made donations or bequests for these specific purposes.”

“In particular, [the bishop] is to take care that their activities keep alive the spirit of the Gospel.” He must “take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity.”

Moreover, the pope wrote, the Bishop must also ensure that the salaries paid to staff, including those in leadership positions, offer “a testimony of Christian simplicity of life” and are “in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia”.

LifeSiteNews.com has been informed that in recent years Vatican officials have become increasingly concerned over reports that many charitable agencies overseen by national Catholic bishops’ conferences are funneling money to groups working in opposition to Catholic teaching on life and family issues.

Scandals erupted in 2009 when LSN first uncovered evidence that groups promoting legalised abortion and artificial contraceptives were being funded through grants from the Canadian Catholic Organisation for Development and Peace. LSN has been made aware that large numbers of reports from concerned members of the Church, including bishops, have reached the ears of the Vatican machinery.

D&P officials continue to try to resist efforts to reform the organisation to bring it into line with Catholic beliefs. After first denying and attempting to cover up the evidence, D&P leadership has most recently accused Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins and other pro-life bishops of ‘shameful blackmail’ for their attempts to reform D&P to bring it into unity with Catholic teaching.

At the same time, Vatican officials have been recently sharply critical of the secularised direction taken by some of the largest Catholic charities. The matter came to a head last year when the Vatican was forced to intervene directly twice in Caritas activities.

In May 2011, Pope Benedict told the assembled leadership of Caritas that their ministry must be “completely in accord” with the Catholic Magisterium, or teaching authority of which he is the head. At the same meeting, Peter Cardinal Turkson, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace warned Caritas that their first priority must be evangelisation of the Church’s religious purposes. In doing charitable work, he said, “No one is allowed …to appropriate the Church’s authority for his opinion.”

In February that year, the Vatican had refused to allow Caritas General Secretary Lesley-Anne Knight to submit her name for reelection to her position, citing concerns over Knight’s adherence to Catholic teaching and the need to strengthen the organization’s “Catholic identity”.

Later, Vatican officials cancelled the appearance of Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, the former head of the Dominican order at the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis. Radcliffe is well known for his adherence to radical theological liberalism and his opposition to Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

At that time, Robert Cardinal Sarah, the head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum that oversees the Church’s charities, warned of a “silent apostasy” within the world of Catholic charities. Cardinal Sarah anticipated today’s papal letter when he told Caritas, “Today, dear friends, the tragedy of modern mankind is not lacking clothing and housing. The most tragic hunger and the most terrible anguish is not lack of food. It’s much more about the absence of God and the lack of true love, the love that was revealed to us on the Cross.”

Truth. Delivered daily.

Get FREE pro-life, pro-family news delivered straight to your inbox. 

Select Your Edition:


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
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."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"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.

Advertisement
Featured Image
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

,

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

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
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!

Share this article

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

,

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.

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook