Patrick Craine

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Confusion over Pope’s comments threatens campaign against Philippines repro health bill

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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MANILA, Philippines, November 24, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Confusion in the Catholic and secular international media over Pope Benedict’s recent comments on the use of condoms may be seriously jeopardizing years of efforts by the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines to defeat what they believe is a dangerous “Reproductive Health” bill.

The bishops have condemned the Filipino government’s “opportunistic misuse” of the Pope’s comments on condoms to promote the highly-controversial bill heavily backed by local and international population control forces.

Among other serious objections, the Filipino bishops insist the bill will inevitably pave the way to legalized abortion in the strongly Catholic country. In their Catechism on Family and Life for the 2010 Elections, the bishops wrote:

A high-ranking official of a foreign country massively funding reproductive health services in the Philippines categorically stated last April that, “We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health, and reproductive health includes access to abortion.” Many countries all over the world and the United Nations agencies work for reproductive health and rights until they have fully facilitated access to abortion.

President Benigno Aquino and other advocates of the country’s so-called “Reproductive Health” bill say the Pope’s reported comments on condoms will help them surmount the Church’s strong opposition.  “Our clergy cannot be more popish than the pope,” said Ricky Carandang, the president’s spokesman.

In a book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald published this week, Pope Benedict XVI defended his statement from Africa in 2009 that condoms were detrimental to the fight against AIDS.  While condoms are not a “real or moral solution” to the AIDS crisis, the Pope told Seewald, the use of a condom by a male prostitute could be “a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

The world’s media took the Pope’s words to signal a relaxing of the Church’s traditional teaching against contraception, running headlines such as “Pope endorses limited use of condoms.”  International bodies like the World Health Organization and UNAIDS praised the Pope for making “a positive step forward.”

Carandang said the comments were “a good step,” urging the Filipino bishops to follow the Vatican’s lead.  “I think our own clergy should be informed by the views of the Vatican because they’ve always referred to the Vatican when they stated their position,” he said.  “Now that the Vatican’s position is such, then I think that should result in a corresponding flexibility on the part of our Church.”

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, the author of House Bill No. 96 stated in Monday’s Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Pope’s comments were a “departure from the strictly very conservative approach of the papacy and the Catholic Church” on contraception. He further added,  “Once you have opened up and made an exception, the liberalization of the Church outlook has started. And we’d expect further liberalization. He has made an exception, then more exception would be forthcoming.”

But orthodox Catholic leaders, theologians, and journalists emphasize that the Pope has not, and in fact cannot, change Church teaching.  Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, insisted that “it’s clear that the Pope is holding to what the Church has always taught in these matters.”

“When he says that it could be a first step in a movement toward a different, more human way of living sexuality, that doesn’t mean in any sense that he’s saying the use of condoms is a good thing,” the American prelate told the National Catholic Register.

Nevertheless, one of the Philippines bill’s authors, Congresswoman Janette Garin, said the confusion generated both in the Church and in the world’s media will work to their advantage.  “It makes passage of the bill a lot easier because people would see the confusing stand of the church,” she told AFP.  “The educated and those who are confused about the bill will realize we (family-planning advocates) are concerned about the community while they (the bishops) are simply holding on to a Stone Age belief.”

Msgr. Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Philippines’ Bishops Conference, said that the Holy Father’s comment “does not in any way change the position of the church against artificial contraception,” and insisted the Filipino bishops would maintain their strong opposition to the bill.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Oscar Cruz urged President Aquino to stop the “opportunistic misuse” of the Pope’s comments.  The archbishop-emeritus of Lingayen-Dagupan emphasized that the Pope did not endorse the use of condoms, either for controlling population or as a moral solution to the AIDS epidemic.

“When we argue let’s not take half-truths because we will lose that way. I’m sorry to disappoint people who are hoping otherwise,” he said Archbishop Oscar Cruz, according to CBCPNews.

“I understand the RH proponents that they would even throw a kitchen sink just to push what they want,” he said. “Our only appeal is that for them to just stick with the truth… please!”

The Catholic bishops in the country, which is about 80% Catholic, have been fierce defenders of the truth on the transmission of life.  They have fought various incarnations of the “reproductive health bill,” which they have warned will eventually lead to approval of abortion in the Philippines, for over a decade.


Contact Information:

Willy C. Gaa, Philippines Ambassador the United States
Embassy of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
United States of America
Tel: 202-467-9300
Fax: 202-467-9417
E-mail: Fill in form here.

Jose Brillantes, Philippines Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Philippines
130 Albert Street, Suite 606
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Canada
Phone: 1-(613)-233-1121
Fax: 1-(613)-233-4165
E-mail: ambassador@philippineembassy.ca

 

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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."

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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