Peter Baklinski

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Culture of life is winning, says Canadian Primate

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, January 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Primate of Canada electrified the airwaves during the Priests For Life radio show on Monday, telling listeners that he believes that a strong vibrant “culture of life” is superceding the “culture of death.”

“I have a lot of hope in what is growing in our Church. There’s something dying, but there’s something new that’s coming up, that’s growing, that’s sprouting, that is filling me with hope,” said Archbishop Gérald Lacroix during the interview.

The Quebec Archbishop was interviewed by Fr. Tom Lynch and Fr. John Lemire from Priest for Life Canada, an association of Canadian Catholic priests and lay people who promote and defend the sanctity of human life. The interview, which was transmitted by Radio Teopoli AM530, focused on the state of the Catholic Church in Canada, and in particular, on what the Church has to offer to the pro-life cause.

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Lacroix is convinced that Canadians are living in “very exciting times, but very challenging ones.”

“The pope said the Church is going through a time of turmoil and difficulties — that was in the 12th century and it hasn’t changed since. It’s just normal. The Church is living and preaching the Gospel — the Word of God — and inviting people to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. As we preach the Gospel, we also present God’s plan for life, God plan for humanity, and that is not accepted by everyone.”

The primate argued that not everyone accepts God’s plan for life and for humanity because of the many “influences out there in the world that have other interests than [human] life.” He pointed specifically to “economic values” that foster “materialism” and a “very secularized way of seeing life in our society.” He noted that in this context “production” of goods becomes more important than the “family, the cell base of society.” He says that these have “drawn us away from family values” and have “hindered very much and hurt our families.”

He also said that the country has not always had “governments, whether they be on a local level or national level that have favoured life, that have supported family policies.”

As the archbishop approaches the end of his first year as the Primate of Canada, he said that people have indicated to him that “we cannot go on living like this without having reference to God and his plan… We are not succeeding in life… We have tried to do it without him, and it’s not working.”

When people are searching for answers to such seemingly insurmountable difficulties, says Lacroix, the Church has something to offer them.

“Bringing people to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Gospel changes their life because it brings them into a relationship with the Lord, with God our Father, with the Holy Spirit. And that changes everything. And that gives them a new vision of life, of values, of family, of the world. And it helps them to be different in the midst of this world.”

Lacroix sees signs that young people are looking intently to the Church for a new way of living, a way that is radically opposed to the anti-life and anti-family values of the world.

“And that is my hope. We have young people, young families who are very open to life right now and who want to live out the Gospel and who want to respect life and live by God’s rules which is a way of life which brings really that liberty, it helps you become yourself and it helps you to be happy.”

Lacroix says that people are mistaken when they think that Christianity will restrain them, will impede a good life, or that it will not let them love like they should. “To the contrary,” he says, “in encountering Christ and accepting the Gospel, and accepting the Word of God and the Church’s teaching, [these] will bring you to fullness of life.” 

Lacroix compared current scandals in the Church to dead trees falling in the forest making lots of “noise.” “When a tree falls in the forest it makes quite a BANG, and everyone says, ‘Wow!, what a scandal’.” In this analogy, he said that the hope that he sees in young people and in young families is like a “growing forest that makes no noise.” 

“There are things falling in our Church and maybe they need to fall, old ways of doing things, things that are not adapted. The Second Vatican Council 50 years ago has invited us to a whole renewal. Well, renewal is letting things go and opening your heart to what the Lord is putting before us today. Well, that makes a lot of noise. But what I am seeing [now] is a whole forest growing that makes no noise.”

Lacroix is convinced that the most effective way to build up a culture of life is with a “one-on-one” encounter with another person.

“[It’s] the time we will give and share with people whether it be with one person, with a couple, whether it be a family; the time we spend to build bridges, to welcome, to listen, to walk with, to be able to bring them to make a good decision. I think that is where we are most effective.”

Lacroix stressed that it is one’s very own “presence” at “ground zero” that makes the difference, whether it be supporting the life of someone in palliative care, accompanying someone who is suffering or depressed, or helping a woman with a crisis pregnancy.

“We need to train our people more and more to be effective on a very local level,” he said.

Witnessing one-on-one takes courage, says the archbishop. That is why the Church strengthens her people by nourishing them with the Eucharist and the Word of God, he said.

The “Word of God” and the “Bread of Life” make us “more like” Christ and to be “with him and him with us,” to be “true Christians who witness and who work for life year round, day in and day out.”

People have asked the Primate, “what is the Church going to do in front of these challenges of abortion and euthanasia?”

“We are in this together,” he responds. “The Church has leaders, has bishops, has priests, but you are the people of God who need to look at this seriously also.”

“In my diocese I have one million, seventy-five thousand Catholics. Potentially I have one million, seventy-five thousand missionaries for [the cause of] life; missionaries who feed on the Word of God, who live in communion with the Father, with the Son, and with the Holy Spirit, and who are out in this world making it a place where life is celebrated, welcomed, protected, sustained.” The archbishop pointed out that young people who choose to “live the Gospel are becoming apostles. They are being sent out to other young people.”

“We need to continue to be very well connected to God so that he will give us the Spirit, give us the Truth, and the courage, the audacity, to be able to be faithful to life.”

To young people, Archbishop Lacroix says: “Do not be afraid. Open the doors to Christ. He will bring you to life and fulfillment and happiness. Open wide the door. He will set you free. Come to a relationship with the Lord.”

Listen to entire interview here.


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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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