Patrick Craine

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Responding to CRS on employee who rammed pro-lifers with car

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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August 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the last year, the Holy Father has begun a painstaking effort to reform the Caritas network to ensure the world’s Catholic aid organizations are fully living out their Catholic identity. They’ve even gone so far as to remove the head of Caritas Internationalis. In this effort, the Vatican has strongly emphasized a need to recover the evangelical purpose of the Church’s charitable works.

But how can we expect these organizations to be agents of evangelization – bearers of the Gospel – when they send workers into the field who disagree with fundamental Gospel teachings?

Last week, LifeSiteNews released a report raising concerns about several employees of Catholic Relief Services who have had strong ties to pro-abortion and pro-contraception organizations.

CRS responded in a press release on Saturday. They emphasize that each of the four employees we named have “abided by Church teaching” while on the job for CRS.

But doesn’t that miss the point? Do any of these employees actually believe Church teaching?

In response to pro-lifers’ concerns about CRS’ relationships with pro-abortion organizations - such as their $5.3 million grant to CARE - CRS has argued that these relationships are important to ensure there’s a “Catholic voice” at the table.

But how can CRS be a “Catholic voice” at the table if their representatives are advocates of abortion or population control?

None of the employees we named were secretarial or administrative – each in some way is on the ground representing the U.S. Bishops’ development arm and implementing its programs.

One of them was Dr. Amy Ellis, who joined CRS after three years at the pro-abortion, population-control group Population Services International. In our report we stated that Ellis gave a presentation on “global contraceptive needs” at a conference in Senegal in 2011 while she was employed by CRS. We’re grateful that CRS has now clarified that Ellis did not attend that conference, though they still acknowledge that she contributed to the paper. We’re sorry for the error and have corrected it, though we would have appreciated the clarification before running the story had they responded to our request for comment.

CRS also confirmed that Ellis represented them at the Women Deliver conference in May 2012. Of course, it’s not intrinsically problematic that CRS would send a representative to a pro-abortion conference like Women Deliver. In fact, LifeSiteNews sent a reporter to that very conference in 2010.

But it becomes scandalous when the person you’re sending as your representative has herself advocated population control, was hired directly from a pro-abortion “relief” organization, and then is sitting at a table discussing “maternal and reproductive health” with Marie Stopes and Planned Parenthood.

CRS also responded to concerns about Charisse Glassman, who was convicted in the fall after ramming her car into a crowd of pro-lifers at the March for Life in January 2011. CRS defends itself by emphasizing that they gave Glassman “the presumption of innocence” and say she resigned in July 2011 before the case went to trial.

But that’s all beside the point. We’re not concerned by the fact that Glassman was kept on as she faced what were then unproven criminal charges. Our concern is that CRS employed someone who is so adverse to the pro-life cause that she not only rammed her car into a crowd of pro-lifers, but reportedly laughed while doing it. It’s not the criminal act that was the issue, but the animus to Catholic teaching that the act represented.

Sadly, it seems CRS has completely missed the point of our investigations. In an internal e-mail to CRS leaders sent by communications rep Jim Stipe, LifeSiteNews is accused of “spearhead[ing] a series of attacks against CRS.” “These attacks are intended to discredit CRS and mobilize their base against us,” he writes.

But it’s never been our intention to “attack” or “discredit” CRS, or the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, or Canada’s Development & Peace, or any other Catholic organization we’ve reported on.

In each of these cases we’ve taken pains to bring the concerns to the organization before going public, and even held the articles for weeks in some cases. We would much rather the issues be fixed, or the organization reformed, without the spotlight and controversy. But when it’s clear the issues will not be resolved, we have no choice but to take them public – to shine some light on the darkness.

We’re pleased to hear CRS’ assertion that all of its employees “adhere to Church principles and teaching” while on the job. But is that the best we can do - that development workers simply not oppose Church teaching when contentious issues arise? Would we not rather that they actively propose the Church’s perennial wisdom in these areas?

If it truly believes Pope Paul VI’s prophetic warnings about the destruction wrought by contraception in families and societies, for example, how could a Catholic development organization not make it a key aim to actively counter the massively-funded contraceptive effort? But instead they align themselves with its advocates – groups like CARE.

In promoting the dignity of the human person in the Third World, as CRS aims to do, a Catholic aid organization cannot reduce the person to her physical needs, divorced somehow from her moral and spiritual needs. The Church’s moral teachings and her evangelistic mission are integral to her development efforts.

This was one of the most crucial emphases of Caritas in Veritate. As Pope Benedict wrote, both Humanae Vitae and Evangelii Nuntiandi, though lacking a “direct link to social doctrine,” are “highly important for delineating the fully human meaning of the development that the Church proposes.”

The Church’s moral teachings are not fundamentally a restraint on the Church’s work in the social sphere, but an impetus. They are not something merely to be “adhered” to, but believed and put into action.

Patrick Craine is Canadian Bureau Chief for LifeSiteNews.com.


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

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"It is noble to combat a deadly disease," Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that "it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the email to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in the ice bucket challenge," said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. "But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.

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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”

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