Patrick Craine

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D&P could fund foreign partners without permission of local bishop: Calgary bishop

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

CORNWALL, Ontario, October 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace, the official development arm of the Canadian bishops, could fund a project in the Third World even where the local bishop does not endorse it, according to one of the bishops appointed to oversee D&P.

“We are not asking for the local bishop to give a kind of a nihil obstat to the project,” Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary told Salt + Light TV at the bishops’ plenary assembly in Cornwall on Wednesday.  “But what we’re looking for is to inform, communicate with the local bishop and have him become an active partner in the project itself and the selection of partners.”

The bishop’s use of the phrase “nihil obstat,” a declaration in the Catholic Church indicating that “nothing hinders” Catholic faith in a specified book or activity, follows the publication of a major document under that title last month by a member of D&P’s theology committee.  The document, published on the leading blog opposing the reforms at D&P, denounced the prospect of “interference” by local bishops in D&P’s activities.

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Bishop Henry said that if problems arise in the effort to obtain a local bishop’s support, they should be handled by the Canadian bishops’ standing committee on Development & Peace, which has been appointed to oversee the organization.

“In some instances, it may be we back away from a project or a partner.  In other instances we may decide to opt to go ahead with it,” he explained.

Earlier this year, D&P defunded Mexico’s Centre PRODH after the Cardinal Archbishop of Mexico City wrote to the CCCB insisting that the group “has supported pro-abortion groups and promoted the purported woman’s right over her body, against unborn life.”

“We couldn’t take a position against the highest ranking authority of the Church in Mexico on this,” commented Michael Casey, D&P’s executive director, at the time.

The idea to require the approval of the local bishop was originally proposed by Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, who insisted back in 2009 that funds from his diocese could go only go to D&P partners endorsed by the bishop.

“We must always act in concert with the local bishops who are responsible for the Church in distant lands,” he explained in a July 2009 statement.  “This is required by natural courtesy, and also by the way the Church is structured.”

“The bishops on the scene are also the ones who can verify that organizations in their country are appropriate partners, and are not in any way supporting anything contrary to our faith,” he added.

The CCCB seemed to indicate they were backing away from that stance in a September communiqué following a recent meeting of their D&P standing committee with D&P’s National Council.  The CCCB and D&P agreed it is “important to involve” local bishops in the discussion about funding partners, it said.

In response to LifeSiteNews’ question about the statement, CCCB media relations director Rene Laprise explained that D&P cannot always obtain the local bishop’s permission for a project.

“There will … need to be [flexibility], especially in situations when communication is difficult within a diocese, such as during civil war, or when government is antagonistic toward Church efforts on behalf of literacy or democratic movements, or during other forms of social unrest,” Laprise said.

In such situations, he continued, D&P may need to consult with a neighboring bishop or the local bishops’ conference instead.

“There are times when a local Bishop cannot authorize a CCODP project without endangering himself or his diocese,” Laprise said.

“One of the purposes for the CCCB Standing Committee for CCODP is so Development and Peace can talk these challenges and difficulties over with our own Bishops, and also so the CCCB can work with CCODP in helping it extend its contacts with Bishops in the Global South.”

Bishop Henry, who serves on that standing committee, has in the past maintained that it is acceptable for D&P to fund projects run by “pro-choice” groups.

“CCODP is not supporting abortion but a project to help the poor and their partners also happen to [be] pro-choice,” the bishop wrote in an e-mail to concerned pro-lifers in 2009.  “There is an important difference between the two.”

“Lifesite’s position seems to suggest that before we cooperate with anyone or any organization in supporting a good action, our opening question must be: ‘What is your stance on abortion?’ and that as the litmus test should override everything else. I don’t think that this would be the starting point of Jesus.”

Archbishop Collins, on the other hand, has insisted that “it is not enough to examine the suitability of individual projects.”

“Catholic organizations could not in conscience join together with any organization that goes against Gospel principles, specifically those related to the sanctity of life,” he wrote.

Those sitting on the CCCB standing committee are Bishop John Boissonneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, who serves as chair; Archbishop Pierre-André Fournier of Rimouski; Archbishop André Gaumond, who recently retired from Sherbrooke; Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary; and CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Pat Powers.

The two bishops on D&P’s National Council - Claude Champagne of Edmundston and Richard Grecco of Charlottetown – are consultors and will join the committee when their terms on the National Council end.

See Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports.

Contact Information:

Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Fax: (613) 746-4786
E-mail: apostolic.nunciature@rogers.com

Msgr. Patrick Powers, General Secretary
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
2500 Don Reid Drive
Ottawa, ON K1H 2J2
Telephone: (613) 241-9461 ext. 209
Fax: (613) 241-8117
E-mail: Use this form.

Bishop Frederick B. Henry of Calgary
Catholic Pastoral Centre, Room 290
120 - 17 Avenue S.W.
Calgary (AB) T2S 2T2
Tel: (403) 209-3130
Fax: (403) 264-0272
E-mail: bishop.henry@calgarydiocese.ca

See Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports.


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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