Patrick Craine

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Canadian bishops’ development arm rocked by internal divisions

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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MONTREAL, Nov. 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has been rocked by internal divisions this fall as members chafe over the Canadian bishops’ increasing oversight of their official development agency.

D&P’s Francophone youth wing has launched a boycott of the annual Share Lent campaign and D&P’s Canadian programs director has resigned, alleging that the organization’s identity has been “shaken to its very foundations.”

The internal struggle, described variously as a “crisis” and a “catastrophe,” was sparked by the delay of D&P’s fall education campaign in September after objections from some bishops. But the frustration of D&P members had built up since 2009 as the bishops responded to revelations that the agency had been funding dozens of organizations in the Third World that advocate for the decriminalization of abortion. The struggle also comes amidst increased pressure as the organization grapples with a 65% funding cut from the Canadian government, which was announced in March.

On September 5th, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops took the unprecedented step of intervening in the traditional fall campaign after several bishops complained it was too politically-focused, reportedly refusing to allow the materials in their parishes. Now underway in a modified form, the campaign targets the federal government’s decision to cut funding to foreign aid groups.

Much of the criticism from D&P membership has been leveled against the organization’s leadership, particularly the National Council and executive director Michael Casey. Members claim Casey and the Council have focused too much on appeasing the bishops at the expense of D&P’s member-focused, democratic character.

The French-language Radio-Canada profiled D&P’s internal crisis in a 13-minute documentary on Nov. 4th, highlighting the so-called “virulent attacks” levied against it by LifeSiteNews and the SoCon or Bust blog.

After learning of the delay of the fall campaign, D&P’s national Francophone youth wing announced in October they were launching an “internal campaign” to restore D&P’s democratic governance by boycotting the fall campaign and the Share Lent fundraising drive.

“We have shed tears together and shared our pain and anger as a result of the decision made by the leaders of this movement to cancel the original advocacy portion of the 2012 fall campaign,” they wrote in an official declaration Oct. 16th, published on the We Are a Movement blog. “This decision attacks the very heart of the mission of our organisation and it is this mission which unites us.”

“The decision made by our leaders undermines the credibility of our movement and renders it almost impossible to recruit new members or to retain active members in our local youth groups,” they added.

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On Oct. 18, D&P’s In-Canada Program Director, Claire Doran, announced her resignation, saying the “abrupt cancellation” of the fall campaign was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“Faced with these pressures on our organization, I can only note that the fundamental values of Development and Peace seem to have collapsed within its leadership,” wrote Doran, a member of D&P’s management team. “An exclusive concern for the survival of the institution is bringing the leadership of Development and Peace to eviscerate the mission of our organization.”

“This situation has existed for some years but is now deteriorating rapidly,” she continued. “Already in 2011, Development and Peace abruptly cut its support to a Mexican human rights organization – the highly respected Center PRO. Subsequently, it would be the entire program of human rights in Mexico that would disappear.”

D&P was forced to cancel its longstanding relationship with Center PRO after Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa cancelled a talk at his diocesan centre by the group’s former executive director Fr. Luis Arriaga. The Jesuit priest had refused to sign a statement assuring his belief in the right to life of the unborn, reportedly on the basis that such a stand would be a “violation of basic human rights.”

D&P’s national president Ronald Breau responded to concerns over the fall campaign’s delay in a joint statement with CCCB President Archbishop Richard Smith on Nov. 5th.

“You are aware that changes have been made to the campaign material,” they wrote. “Speculation in the media and among some of the membership as to the reasons for the changes has caused considerable anxiety for many. We want to assure you there is no cause for worry.”

“The reason for the change was simple. In a meeting of the CCCB President and General Secretary with the President and Executive Director of Development and Peace, concern was expressed that elements of the original materials could be a source of division among Bishops, priests, parishioners and donors,” they continue. “Lack of unity compromises our Christian witness to justice and charity. These concerns were taken very seriously, and Development and Peace decided to revise its campaign literature.”

The general reaction from D&P members to the statement is unclear, but it was quickly denounced by Richard Beaucher, president of D&P’s Diocesan Council in Sherbrooke.

“This joint declaration is disappointing; it is empty, soporific and partially mendacious with respect to the sequence of events, the reasons invoked and the surrounding context, according to witnesses on the ground,” he wrote.

After LifeSiteNews began reporting on D&P’s problematic funding relationships in 2009, the Canadian bishops launched a renewal of the organization, but D&P’s leadership remained intact and they have since refused to release a full list of partners.

In March, LifeSiteNews reported that D&P is funding a Haitian woman’s group, named APROSIFA, that openly hands out free contraceptives and has produced literature on how to obtain abortions. Then in September, LifeSiteNews revealed that D&P is funding the NGO Forum on Cambodia, which has called for greater access to “safe abortion” and recognition of “reproductive rights.” Both groups are still highlighted on D&P’s website.


Contact Information:

Important: see Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports.

Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Fax: (613) 746-4786
E-mail: apostolic.nunciature@rogers.com

Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton
CCCB President
8421-101 Avenue
Edmonton (AB) T6A 0L1
Tel: (780) 469-1010
Fax: (780) 465-3003
E-mail: rstrauss@caedm.ca

To contact any Canadian bishop, find contact information here.

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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 millions 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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