Hilary White

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Children’s referendum grants the State power to seize children to serve new ideology: experts

Hilary White
Hilary White
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DUBLIN, October 25, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – According to opponents, Ireland’s upcoming Children’s Rights Referendum is nothing more than a ploy by a power-mad State to grant itself the right to snatch children from parents and seize control over the most fundamental unit of society. Polls indicate the Irish public is about to pass the measure.

Critics have called the proposed amendment to the Constitution “a beachhead by the state into what has traditionally been the preserve of the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children”. The amendment’s wording allows state agents to remove children from the family and place them in care if they believe it is in the child’s “best interests”. It allows children to be adopted out to other families without parents’ consent. Richard Green of the Christian Solidarity party said the State has already “failed dismally” to protect children already in their care.

Government and the amendment’s supporters have said that the amendment will “give a voice” to children. But those who oppose the amendment, who began organizing later than its proponents, have warned that a yes vote will force the country’s families into an unenviable position: play along with the prevailing ideology or lose your children to the mercies of state social services. Such a threat is only too familiar to homeschooling families in Germany and Sweden.

The group Parents for Children has said, “This referendum will remove the most important right that children can have: the right to parental protection and advocacy.”

“Instead there will be the State and the child, and the parent is removed. The State will be the final arbiter of the child’s rights, will decide what a child’s rights are.”

Polls show 74 percent of respondents saying they would vote yes, with just 4 percent saying they would vote no.

Maria Mhic Mheanmain, spokesman for Parents for Children, told LifeSiteNews.com that it is “untenable” that so many are supporting the amendment “while at that same time only 10 percent understand the issues involved”, something she called “highly irresponsible”.

The current provisions of the Irish Constitution already recognise the same personal rights for children as for other citizens under article 40. It recognises that children, being immature, are unable to protect themselves, and therefore stands upon the duty of parents to uphold and protect their children’s rights.

Its current provisions already obliges the State to intervene in those cases where parents fail in their duties. “When the State fails in its obligations no one will be in a position to vindicate a child’s rights,” Mhic Mheanmain said.

The amendment’s supporters claim that current constitutional protections for the family exclude the “voice of children.” Mhic Mheanmain responded that, in a 2006 by Supreme Court case, Justice Adrian Hardiman described the claim as “breathtakingly inaccurate”.

Hardiman said the Constitution does not prefer parents over children, but preferred parents over the State.

“If this is passed,” Mhic Mheanm added, “that balance will be removed and the State will be preferred to parents when it comes to deciding children’s matters. So the child still won’t have a voice, the only difference is who will be the child’s voice!”

Still, the No campaign is already well behind in the race and, with support for the Yes side coming now from the Church, have an even steeper hill to climb.

Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin has said he believes that the proposed wording tries to address the rights and obligations of all involved “in a balanced way”. Martin said he believes that a “reasonably good job” has been done protecting the family, with state intervention permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

Father John I. Fleming Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Bioethics, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide, South Australia Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, wrote a legal analysis of the amendment’s wording. Fr. Fleming wrote that the new wording will add nothing to the rights of children already enshrined in the Constitution.

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The current wording, he wrote, gives “explicit recognition of the family as the fundamental group unit of society which preceded the formation of the state.” The ability of the state to intervene in the family is “carefully circumscribed” and starts by protecting the “natural and imprescriptable” [inalienable] rights of the child, including the “natural right of the child to be brought up by his or her own parents in the context of their family life”.

The new wording, however, “represents a dramatic ideological shift” away from these fundamental principles. This shift, he said, is “away from the prior rights of the family, of parents, to bring up their children as they see fit”. These principles are replaced by the notion of the State protecting the “best interests” of the child, which term remains undefined, without reference to the family. The only point of supervision for the State is the courts, “where an unelected group of individuals will be encouraged to move well beyond the black letter requirements of the law to impose their own personal preferences.”

These will, Fleming said, be supplemented by the opinions of “a plethora of ‘experts’”.

“The reality is that we will be left with state bureaucrats, politicians, and judges “balancing” the different opinions in some kind of utilitarian calculus, a calculus which has been aptly described as a ‘smokescreen for arbitrary preferences and desires” on the part of those who will have the power to judge and enforce’,” Fr. Fleming wrote.

Others have objected to the use of public funds to promote a particular outcome. It is estimated that as much as €1.1 million is being spent by the allegedly neutral government with media and internet materials having been prepared and disseminated since September. Mark McCrystal, an engineer from Dublin said that the materials are clearly supporting the Yes campaign, and this constitutes a breach of a 1995 judgment by the Supreme Court. McCrystal has launched proceedings over the matter against the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the Government of Ireland, and the Attorney General. He has said he has no objection to the State arguing for a Yes vote but that the government should not be using public funds to support a particular outcome.

The Yes campaign is officially made up of an array of groups and individuals, and has the broad support of the country’s left-leaning mainstream media. Behind it are the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), the Children’s Rights Alliance and other organisations including Campaign for Children. Former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness is chairwoman of Campaign for Children, while board members include journalist Olivia O’Leary and former senator Joe O’Toole. It also has support from all major political parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and Sinn Féin.

Funding from non-government sources has also been generous, totaling, as of September 20th, €1.5 million from two philanthropic groups: Atlantic Philanthropies, founded by US billionaire Chuck Feeney, and the One Foundation, co-founded by RyanAir heir Declan Ryan and Deirdre Mortell, according to the Irish Times.

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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