Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Catholic ‘Day for Life’ about sports? Really?

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, July 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - If you were to ask the average, ordinary British person, whether Catholic or not, what the most pressing subject matter would be for the Catholic Church’s annual “Day for Life,” what do you think they might say? What do the words “life issues” and “Catholic” usually mean to people who are, well, sane? Apparently, to the English and Welsh Catholic Bishops, firmly ensconced as they would like to become in the country’s ruling liberal elite establishment, it means … wait for it …

the Olympics.

You know, the sporting event. Oh, and the importance of living a “healthier, more balanced and environmentally sensitive lifestyle”. The official theme for this year’s Day for Life, July 29th, is “Use your body for the glory of God.” The front cover of the leaflet shows a woman swimming. Yes, the mind boggles.

Day for Life, “celebrates an extraordinary gift: the human body. It recognizes the marvelous achievements of the human body in events such as the Olympic and Paralympic games to be held in London this year, and the Commonwealth Games to be held in Scotland in 2014.”

In their Message the bishops hint darkly that sometimes, in our otherwise wonderfully enlightened times, people might sometimes have funny ideas about ending the life of bodies before the, ahem, duly appointed time: “Day for Life invites us therefore to show respect for the dignity of our body in every moment of its existence, from conception to natural death… From the first moment of conception, where the unique ‘genetic plan’ of my body is already present, to the moment of natural death, my body is part of God’s eternal plan for me.”

They briefly shave close to the actual issue with: “Where there is a lack of respect for the right to life from conception to natural death, where human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial and human embryos are sacrificed to research, then the conscience of society loses its sensitivity to the ecology of the human person and, with it, to the gift and treasure of Creation itself.” Then they head briskly back to the thicker ice of environmentalism.

The tasteless terms “abortion,” and “euthanasia,” however, do not appear. To find them, we have to rewind to the theme of 2007, “The sacredness of human life,” which offered a little catechism with helpful explanations :

“What does the Church mean by pro-life? To be pro-life means to promote human dignity and development in every sphere of life; to say ‘yes’ to life…

“The Church is opposed to all direct attacks against innocent human life e.g. abortion, abortifacient pills and devices, the abortion pill and the morning after pill, destructive embryo and embryonic stem cell research, genetic engineering, euthanasia, etc. because it believes that every life has purpose, meaning and inherent value.”

But even when the theme was was specifically about abortion, on the 40th anniversary of the nation’s Abortion Act, that was more or less the last we heard of the A-word, which was mentioned a grand total of three times in 2007. Euthanasia, once. After 2007, the themes have been, in order, “mental health,” “suicide,” “the Christian meaning of death” and “happiness”. Isn’t that nice?

Dr. William Oddie, author and columnist for the Catholic Herald doesn’t seem to think so. He called it “the most grotesque and cynical example” of the English bishops “persistent failure” to follow the example of the late Pope John Paul II, who appointed most of them, to “collectively to oppose abortion and euthanasia as they should have been opposed.”

“Year after year,” Oddie said, the Day for Life has “been about anything but what Pope John Paul … intended that it should be about.”

He decried the “breathtaking cynicism,”with which the bishops’ spokesmen have employed a lot of “windy drivel” in order to manipulate the pope’s intentions to actively exclude the “primary purpose” of the day.

Deacon Nick Donnelly, writing on his Protect the Pope blog, suggested that the Vatican take the Day for Life away from the jurisdiction of the bishops and give it over to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

Donnelly said,“It is nothing short of scandalous that the Catholic Church of England and Wales wastes the annual opportunity of the Day for Life” by failing to urge the public to oppose abortion.

Fr. Tim Finigan, the leader of Britain’s independent clerical internet pack, sticks his tongue in his cheek and suggests that the next few year’s Days for Life be devoted to garden allotments, public transport, or the importance of flossing.

“I offer these suggestions since it seems that the theme for the Day for Life in England and Wales is to be about anything except what Blessed Pope John Paul called for when he proposed a Day for Life in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae.”

“Last year,” Fr. Finigan notes, “the theme was ‘Happiness’. As you might have guessed, I’m not happy. Many priests and active pro-life lay people are not happy either. It is estimated that by the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act, nine million children will have been killed before birth in our country.

“We pioneered the legalisation of embryo research and we are giving the Dutch lessons in how to do euthanasia more politely by means of continuous sedation.”

Fr. Ray Blake, the pastor of St. Mary Magdalen parish in Brighton, and the number two Catholic clerical blogger in the realm, wryly quoted the great early 20th century clerical blogger and wit Ronald Knox, who rhymed, “When suave politeness, tempering bigot zeal, corrected ‘I believe’ to ‘one does feel’ “.

Fr. Blake said there is something “more than mealy mouthed” about the leaflet, saying it is “unfocussed, diffuse” and “lite”. “It is like so much material produced by Catholic Justice and Peace organisations that worry about curtains and flower arrangements rather than the crumbling foundations of the house.”

If it seems surprising that a Catholic bishops’ conference would be so keen to avoid a difficult but pressing topic, (the abortion rate in England and Wales hit 200,000 per year recently and is still climbing,) let us examine the record. We have for years been subjected to the spectacle in Britain of Catholic bishops desperate to please their zealously anti-Christian masters by scrambling away from any guilt-by-association with the pro-life movement; being the first to bravely lead the way in concern for all the warmest, cuddliest and most fashionable left-liberal topics.; in the forefront of the fight for the environment; boldly declaring the awfulness of bigotry and discrimination; taking care to be seen courageously wringing their hands over immigration control and cuts to state benefits.

Abortion and homosexuality, the demonic twins of the Culture of Death, seem to be the English bishops’ most vexed topics. Most scandalous to lay Catholics is the openness of their closeness to the homosexualist movement, dating back decades. The same political juggernaut that resulted in the secularisation or outright closure of all of the country’s Catholic adoption agencies.

Perhaps we need only look to the thunderous, glowering silence from his brother bishops when one of their own, Bishop Patrick O’Donohue, wrote a series of booklets saying, with unusual lack of politesse, that their Church institutions, both schools and parishes, are not “fit for mission,” having failed broadly to further, pursue or really to have anything whatever to do with the aims and intentions of the Catholic Church, one, holy and apostolic, founded by Jesus Christ.

Admittedly, there have recently been a few little glimmers in the England/Wales Catholic scene as the light of The Real World comes glittering through, piercing the liberal gloom.

A bishop attended a highly public demonstration against abortion in London a while back, despite a brief spate of rumours that his ecclesiastical superiors, fearful of upsetting their political superiors, would prevent him.

More recently, the newly appointed bishop of Shrewsbury declared to the astonishment of all that a study of the Holocaust should generate “profound reflection” on abortion and euthanasia.

This evening, I got a call from an English priest who lives in Germany and teaches at the seminary of the Fraternity of St. Peter, the organisation for priests who prefer the traditional liturgy, who pointed me to the Catholic Herald article on the new nuncio Archbishop Antonio Mennini and the appointment of Philip Egan to Portsmouth.

It has been said many times that the solution to the problems of a local Church is in the appointments of bishops. I hope that I was mistaken in my somewhat grim-faced in response to his hope that the new guys are a sign that the days of the greying “Magic Circle” leftists are at last numbered, and there are better things to come. always lies in improvements of the episcopal stock.

With the appointment of Egan by Pope Benedict’s ally and supporter Mennini, could we be looking at the start of an upswing in Britain? Egan surely annoyed the Magic Circlers earlier this month when he said Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae was infallible.

Certainly it is on record that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, formerly of Westminster and still the leader of the Magic Circle, was said to have been furious at having missed a plane, and therefore his chance to veto Mark Davies appointment to Shrewsbury.

My friend in Germany expressed the hope that the new men are a sign that the days of the greying Magic Circle leftists are at last numbered, and there are better things to come. Though the cynic in me fears the cavalry has come over the hill thirty years and one papacy too late, and my acquaintance with the priorities of the Vatican have not filled me with confidence … I say, maybe. I think it will take a lot more than this, but stranger things have happened than the conversion of an entire nation.

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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."

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.

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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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