Peter Baklinski

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Canadian Life and Family leaders enthusiastically welcome Pope Francis

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski

OTTAWA, March 14, 2013 ( – Canada’s advocates for life and family have warmly welcomed Pope Francis as a stalwart ally in safeguarding traditional values of respect for life — both young and old — and the importance of true marriage and family to a flourishing society.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) welcomed the news of the papal election “with joy and gratitude” and pledged their “loyalty and support” to the new successor of the apostle Peter.

“I joyfully offer our sincerest congratulations, highest esteem, and loving obedience to you as Bishop of Rome, Successor of the Apostle Peter, Supreme Pontiff, and head of the College of Bishops,” wrote Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, president of the CCCB, in a press release.

“May the Holy Spirit pour out upon you in abundance all the gifts you need to be our ‘rock’, our sure foundation, and to strengthen all your brothers and sisters in the faith”, he said.

Before becoming Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, unequivocally defended the life of the unborn even in cases of rape. He also denounced a "culture of discarding" the elderly, saying at the time that elderly people are the “seat of wisdom of the society”.

It was also during this time that he valiantly fought to have the law in Argentina continue to protect the traditional family, calling a 2009 bill that attacked true marriage a “machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, called the pope’s election a “truly a historic moment for the Church when Her universal character is manifested to the world!”

“Pope Francis has sent a powerful message in the choice of his name for the Church’s preferential option for the poor,” he said.

“We are delighted with him,” said Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada to “He seems to be a man of noble character, exemplified by a very good life, humility, and sincerity. I think it’s a grace that’s been given us to have such a pope who understands not only the Church, but who understands humanity.”

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Landolt said that she hopes and prays that the new pope continues to outspokenly defend the values of life and marriage. “The most important thing is [for him] to be a solid voice leading us on the values — which are pro-life and pro-family — that have kept society.”

Peter Murphy, assistant director of the Catholic Organization For Life and Family (COLF), said that COLF “rejoices” in the election of Pope Francis.

“This is a man who is in love with God – a man who, as Archbishop and Cardinal, elected to live simply and in solidarity with the poor; a man who knows that the value of human life is derived not from what we possess, or what we don’t, but rather from the fact that we have been created in God’s image, that we have been redeemed at the cost of Christ’s blood and that we are destined to live with God for all eternity,” he wrote in an e-mail to

“This is a man intimately acquainted with the struggles, the sorrows and the joys of family life. Anyone familiar with the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, will immediately recognize in the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the embodiment of the Church’s teachings in this area – teachings which see the life and family issues which preoccupy our thoughts and prayers as matters of social justice.”

“In short, the Holy Spirit has spoken: this is the man the Church needs now!” he said.

Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), said that the CCRL is “very pleased” with the election of the new pope and that Canadian Catholics “will be impressed with the leadership that he has shown on life issues and with his commitment to the poor and to simplicity.”

“We certainly congratulate Pope Francis and pledge him every prayerful support from the CCRL,” she said to “We are very impressed by his strong commitment to the poor and his simple living. That makes a very strong statement.”

One priest from Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere, Ontario, was moved to tears by how Pope Francis began his papacy.

“I was moved very deeply by his beginning his papacy by leading us in prayer”, wrote Fr. Denis Lemieux on his blog covering papal thought. “‘Let us pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict...Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be’. Simple, childlike prayer, gathering the people of God around the throne of God and under the protection of the Madonna. What more can we ask a shepherd to do?”

“I was also deeply moved — to the point of tears, truth be told — at his bowing down humbly to ask for our prayers as he begins this daunting task. Again, so simple, so childlike, so poor — ‘I want you to do something for me.' And how many millions of Catholics around the world at that point were united in praying for this man bowing before us to ask for the alms of our prayers? What a beautiful, gentle way to begin his papacy.”

People of faith around the world are reflecting on the Pope’s choice of the name Francis, calling it “symbolic” and “meaningful,” since St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) was responsible for the spiritual restoration of the Church in the 13th century.

In a dream by then-Pope Innocent III, Francis was seen by him to be saving the collapsing Basilica of St. John Lateran (the primary cathedral of Rome representing all Christendom). In the dream, Francis took upon himself the weight of the falling church, bracing it with his shoulder before restoring things to their place. It was this dream that convinced the Pope to allow Francis to start the Franciscan order.

Fr. Lemieux pointed out that St. Francis rebuilt the Church “not by political games or five-year pastoral plans, but by an example of holiness and voluntary poverty, of prayer and simplicity of life.”

Fr. Lemieux said that while the Church today is in “terrible disarray, terrible disrepair” and needs “rebuilding, desperately” he also suggested that the “path of reformation must come from holiness of life, purity of prayer, and deep poverty and simplicity of spirit.”

“Let us pray for Pope Francis that he may faithfully follow the Lamb of God in love of the Father and service to God's people, as the Spirit of God leads him to do,” he said. 

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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.

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Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.

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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
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I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
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I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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