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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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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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.

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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
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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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