Peter Baklinski

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Family leaders decry bishops’ response to Bill 13 passage: ‘weak,’ ‘disappointing,’ ‘reprehensible’

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski

Correction: A previous version of this article originally stated that Phil Lees is the head of the Christian Heritage Party. He is in fact the head of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario.

TORONTO, Ontario, June 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic bishops in Ontario have indicated that they have no immediate plans to challenge McGuinty’s recently passed Accepting Schools Act, a bill that pro-family leaders have warned will impose a radical homosexual agenda on publicly-funded Catholic schools across the province, and may even threaten private schools.

In a statement on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario following the passage of Bill 13 Tuesday, Archbishop of Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, said simply: “Recognizing that the Accepting Schools Act is now the law, Catholic partners will seek, as we have always done, in a way that is in accord with our faith, to foster safe and welcoming school communities.” Collins observed that the bishops have expressed unspecified “serious concerns regarding certain aspects of this legislation,” but gave no indication of any further plans to oppose its provisions.

Pro-family advocates who had anticipated a vigorous response from the province’s bishops to what many have argued is an unprecedented attack on freedom religion in Ontario, say they were stunned by the anemic statement.

Cecilia Forsyth, president of Real Women of Canada, called the statement “weak and disappointing.”

“Real Women of Canada sees Bill 13 as a serious infringement of religious freedom and as a denial of conscience rights to Catholic schools,” she said to LifeSiteNews. “Cardinal Collins has in essence said that ‘the law is the law and we will follow it, even if that law is contrary to Catholic teaching on sexual ethics.’”

Forsyth said that Bill 13 is not about “preventing anti-bullying in schools,” but about “pushing on our children a radical revision of sex-education that is built on the full acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.”

“How can Catholic schools stay true to Catholic teaching on sexual ethics that comes directly from the teaching authority of the Catholic Church while at the same time adhering to McGuinty’s new law that promotes a radical homosexual agenda? Catholic educators are now caught in the midst of a terrible dilemma of having to serve two masters.”

Alongside the bishops’ statement came another from Marino Gazzola, chair of Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, who indicated that Catholic schools would bow to the law and ditch the Catholic-friendly approach to preventing bullying outlined in the document “Respecting Difference.”

“If anywhere there’s a contradiction between our Respecting Difference document and the legislation, Bill 13 is going to take precedence,” he said to The Catholic Register.

Respecting Differences, put out by the province’s bishops and Catholic trustees earlier this year, not only explicitly rejects using the name Gay-Straight Alliance for a club, but says that any anti-bullying clubs set up should be “respectful of and consistent with Catholic teaching” and that they should be led by a carefully selected staff advisor who “must know and be committed to Catholic teachings.”

Forsyth pointed out that Gay-Straight Alliances, which trace their roots to radical homosexual activist organizations, will “exist only for the sake of approving and condoning the homosexual lifestyle, a lifestyle that is contrary to Catholic sexual ethics.”

Some family leaders say that the response to the bill’s passage shows Catholic leaders became “blind” to the real purpose of the bill.

Kim Galvao, head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ontario, told LifeSiteNews that the “biggest thing that Catholic leaders missed was the bill’s violation of Parental Rights and Religious Freedom.

Now that the bill’s passage has remained unchallenged, Galvao thinks that Catholic education in the province will be “changed forever.”

“What Catholic leaders do not realize is that they have put the final nail in the coffin of what once differentiated the Catholic education system from the Public one. Catholic leaders have now made Catholic schools just like the Public ones. And they did this out of fear. They caved to the nasty media pressure that cried out loudly that ‘Catholic schools should lose their funding if they do not comply’. Out of fear they complied.”

“Our Catholic leaders caved because they were more afraid of losing Catholic funding than about keeping Catholic Schools faithfully Catholic,” she said.

Others expressed dismay that the Catholic bishops have seemingly turned their backs on the moral formation of children in Catholic schools.

“Catholic parents and parents of people of all faiths count on the bishops to draw a line in the sand and defend religious freedom in Ontario,” said Andy Pocrnic, head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ottawa to LifeSiteNews.

“We have been failed by those who have been given the duty and authority to protect our children and Catholic teaching. It’s hard to understand why our bishops and trustees weren’t active in the public debate before this law was passed – they simply weren’t there. And now it’s hard to understand why they gave up so quickly once the law was passed when other options were available.”

“The feeling of betrayal felt by parents is difficult to describe,” he said.

Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Catholics told LifeSiteNews that his organization was “hoping for much more than the bishops’ lack-lustre response,” and pointed out that the bishops’ statement runs contrary to their own advice offered to faithful Catholics.

In their Pastoral Letter on Freedom of Conscience and Religion, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops admonishes Catholic citizens “not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order.” 

“Bill 13 surrenders the hearts and minds of Catholic children to an immoral education program,” said Fonseca. “Does the instruction from the Bishops on following the moral order apply only to the laity?”

Peter Stockland, a senior fellow with Hamilton-based Cardus, a think tank that studies the intersection of religion and society, told the National Post that it is “imperative” that religious leaders be willing to get into the fight to protect their liberties.

“This is not about gay rights versus somebody’s else’s rights,” he said. “This is about Charter rights to religious freedom — rights not only to believe what you want but to actually live your life according to those beliefs.”

“If you’re not prepared to defend that then what you are willing to defend? I think the Church had to get out in front of this in an activist way. It’s mystifying they didn’t,” he said.

Phil Lees, leader of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario, told LifeSiteNews that the Catholic Church’s acceptance of Bill 13 makes it “more challenging” for other faith groups to become motivated to fight for the protection of religious liberties.

“I find the statements from the Catholic leadership discouraging,” he said, adding that he has “often used the Catholic church’s position on life and family matters as a way of motivating Protestant involvement.”

Lees pointed out that Catholic leaders should have “clued in” to what Bill 13 was really about when both Minister of Education Laurel Broten and NDP Education Critic Peter Tabuns made statements to the effect that that the purpose behind the legislation was to “change the traditional norms and values of society.”

“Bill 13 is about far more than social clubs for those who self-identify as LGBT,” said Lees. “Why did the Catholic church not clue into this?”

Forsyth thinks that Catholic leaders, by not issuing any kind of a challenge to the bill’s passage, have handed control of Catholic schools over to the government.

“In essence, McGuinty has seized jurisdiction of Catholic schools by dictating to Catholic leaders what they can and cannot do in their schools,” she said.

“The lack of leadership from the Catholic hierarchy in this matter is simply reprehensible.”

But Iain Benson, a constitutional lawyer with Miller Thomson in Toronto who has been an advisor to Canadian Catholic bishops, approved of the bishops’ strategy.

“I don’t think any other action would have done any good,” he told the National Post. “The Catholic community negotiated in good faith and thought their interests would be protected”.

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Contact information:

To find contact information for every Ontario bishop, click here. and select Ontario region,

His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins (President)
Archbishop of Toronto
e-mail: archbishop@archtoronto.org
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto ON.  M4T 1W2
Phone:  416-934-0606 Fax:  416-934-3452

Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, c.s.b. (Vice-President)
Bishop of London
E-mail: bishop@dol.ca
1480 Richmond Street
London, ON.  N6G 0J4
Phone: 519-433-0658 Fax:  519-433-0011

Most Rev. Brendan O’Brien (Counselor)
Archbishop of Kingston
E-mail: obrien@romancatholic.kingston.on.ca
390 Palace Road
Kingston, ON.  K7L 4T3
Phone:  613-548-4461   Fax:  613-548-4744

Most Rev. J.-L. Plouffe (Counselor)
Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie
E-mail: jlplouffe@diocesecentre.com
30 St. Anne Road ,
Sudbury , ON. P3C 5E1
Phone:  705-674-2727   Fax:  705-674-988

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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