Kirsten Andersen

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Charlotte diocese backs nun who gave school talk promoting Church teaching on homosexuality

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen

CHARLOTTE, NC, April 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The bishop of Charlotte is backing a Dominican nun who has been at the center of a fiery controversy since last month when she gave a speech promoting Catholic teaching on sexuality to students at Charlotte Catholic High School. 

After a public meeting with diocesan and school officials turned ugly, with parents and students alike shouting at administrators over what they perceived as “hateful” remarks criticizing homosexual behavior, divorce and extra-marital sex, a spokesman for the diocese told LifeSiteNews that the nun in question, Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, did nothing wrong and will be welcome to speak on the issue again if she chooses.

“Nothing in Sister’s talk opposed Church teaching,” Diocese of Charlotte Communications Director David Hains told LifeSiteNews in an email. “Sister would be welcomed to speak in the diocese in the future.” 

Hains said Bishop Peter Jugis is expected to make further public comment on the situation soon.

Sr. Laurel’s critics have complained about a section of her talk in which she discussed scientific findings related to the causes of homosexuality. According to the Charlotte Observer, she was accused of using “suspect anecdotes, antiquated data and broad generalizations to demonize gays and lesbians as well as divorced and single parents.”

But one Catholic scientist says he recently heard the sister give the exact same speech she delivered to the students, and in his opinion, there is nothing in it to which a practicing Catholic could possibly object.

“I was in attendance at the same presentation when given on Long Island, NY a few months ago,” Dr. Gerard Nadal told LifeSiteNews.  “In that meeting, Sister Jane gave medical and scientific data that came from reputable sources and were presented as examples of the consequences for human behavior that contravenes the moral magisterium of the Church. As a Ph.D. in medical science, and as a Catholic schooled extensively in my faith, I saw no contradictions, but rather a seamless presentation.”

Still, in light of all the controversy, Aquinas College announced in a press release Friday that Sr. Laurel has asked to take a sabbatical from her teaching and speaking duties for an indefinite amount of time. 

After the sister’s speech at a school assembly last month, students at the school launched an internet petition drive demanding an apology from everyone involved with arranging the speech, which quickly garnered thousands of signatures.  Some parents also initiated a letter-writing campaign to the school’s chaplain, the bishop and even the Vatican, to complain.

Last week, school and diocesan officials held a public meeting to address the issue.  The meeting attracted nearly 1,000 people, most of them offended by the nun’s remarks. 

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The Diocese of Charlotte’s newspaper, the Catholic News-Herald, reported that the meeting was acrimonious, with those who dared to speak out in support of Sr. Laurel or the Church being shouted down by an angry mob.  The paper’s sources called the atmosphere “disrespectful” and “hate-filled.”

“Where was the trust? Where was the communication?” one parent said to school chaplain Fr. Matthew Kauth, who arranged to bring Sr. Laurel to the school. “It is trust. It is respect. It is confidence. I have lost confidence. I do not trust your judgment and I do not respect you.” 

Another said, “You have divided parents, you have divided students, and we’ve lost respect for you."

“You don’t know best for our children,” said another. “What are you planning on doing for the healing? We want our children to remain Catholic, but we are being pushed away by the climate of what is going on here.”

The Catholic News-Herald reported that the angry remarks were met with thunderous applause.

Fr. Kauth said he brought Sr. Laurel to the school because he felt students at Charlotte Catholic had been poorly catechized and were suffering from spiritual darkness, particularly around the issue of sexuality. 

“When I came here, I experienced to an increasing degree the suffering that comes to our children and the blackness they feel inside,” Kauth told the meeting. “They are taught by nearly every form of media that Christ’s teachings in His Church are restrictive bars, medieval torture chambers to keep them from happiness. When they have ‘broken free’ I get to see their agony.”

“I desire with a father’s heart to protect them [from] harm and the false notions of freedom to be able to live in the true freedom which chastity brings - free to love as we were made to love. This is where Sister comes in,” Fr. Kauth explained. “I heard Sister speak in the fall at St Patrick’s. While I had given so many talks on this topic in so many different ways I found her approach just different enough - a new voice and the added perspective coming from a woman. I decided to bring her here.” 

“Sister and I are both quite aware of the biblical admonition from our Lord about what happens if one leads a little one astray and I am not fond of the mixture of millstone and water,” Kauth said. “The intent is and has only been to shine so as to set them free. However to hide Christ’s saving teaching is also a means to lead them astray by allowing them to be led away by another- and as you know as parents, there are many who would take your children where you do not want them to go.”

“Christ is light and in Him there is no darkness. His light sets us free to love as we were made to love-in the full dignity and beauty of the sons and daughters of God. His light also exposes and that can be painful. But that same light radiates the beauty of what we were made to be and can be if we would but receive it and assist each other in love to receive it. That is why it is Good News.”

“Darkness has fallen upon us with all of the attendant confusion which it brings,” Kauth continued. “Our Lord can speak to this darkness just as He did in the beginning and say, let there be light.”

To read Fr. Kauth’s full statement regarding Sr. Laurel’s presentation click here.

Contact:

Diocese of Charlotte
Phone: (704) 370-6299
chancery@charlottediocese.org


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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