Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Homosexual activists excited by softer tone of U.S. cardinals

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, April 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Experts say, despite an apparently softer tone on homosexuals from two leading American cardinals, the Roman Catholic Church will not and cannot shift its moral teaching on same-sex "marriage" or the grave sin of homosexual acts.

Cardinals Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., both said in separate interviews that the Church would not be altering its position on “gay marriage” but both are being praised by Terrence Weldon, a British homosexual activist and author of the blog “Queering the Church”.

In an interview with This Week on Easter Sunday, Dolan was asked what he would say to “a gay couple who told him: ‘We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we want to raise a family in faith.’”

Dolan replied, “When it comes to sexual love, that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally.”

“We gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people,” Dolan added. “And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody. We’re in the defense of what God has taught us about…marriage. And it’s one man-one woman, forever, to bring about new life.”

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In a Fox News interview this weekend, Cardinal Wuerl commented that “gay” Catholics fall into the same kind of category as those who have divorced and remarried, a situation that normally precludes them from receiving Communion.

Fox’s Chris Wallace asked, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that there is a constitutional right to same-sex "marriage,” what Cardinal Wuerl would say to “gays who are good Catholics…who believe that God made them that way and who want to commit to a partner?”

Wuerl responded, “The Church is probably…with 20 centuries of experience…probably the most understanding of the human condition of any institution. But at the same time it does remind not only gay people but heterosexual people, straight people, ‘You’re not supposed to be following a moral law apart from what Christ has said to us.’”

When asked if the couple would be allowed to continue in the Church without clerics recognizing their "marriage," Wuerl said" “Well, we do that same thing with people who are married and divorced and remarried. We say, ‘You’re still part of the family, but we can’t recognize that second marriage. We do that, and it’s never been a great problem.”

He added that people in such unions should continue to “walk as close to Christ as you can. That’s why we’re here. Come to Mass. Participate in the life of the Church.”    

Whether these comments were intended as a softening or a distancing from the Church’s official teaching on the nature of marriage, they are being taken as such by homosexual activists seeking to force the Church to change and secular media.

Terrence Weldon, an organizer of the notorious Soho Masses in London, wrote on his blog “Queering the Church” that the language used by Wuerl moves the Church a step closer to accepting “gay marriage” and homosexuality.

Thus far, Weldon said that the “orthotoxic” language usually used by churchmen about homosexuality, “especially the description as an ‘intrinsically disordered’ condition, leads many of us to assume that Catholic doctrine is especially discriminatory towards us.”

But Weldon said Wuerl’s comments, taken together with Dolan’s, do “point to part at least of a workable response.”

“Cardinal Wuerl’s recognition that married gay Catholics are in a position no different to those who have remarried after divorce, ‘and it’s never been a great problem,’ is a helpful step forward,” Weldon said. The key, he said, is that in practice, the “formal rules,” are “ignored” in most parishes where “a more sensitive, pastoral welcome applies instead.”

“I hope that married gay and lesbian Catholics will take Cardinal Wuerl at his word, and take their places in Catholic parishes alongside other married couples – and expect the equal treatment, without encountering ‘great problems,’ that the Cardinal has given them grounds to expect,” he wrote.

But Fr. Peter West, Vice President for Missions of Human Life International, said that any suggestion to the contrary, Cardinal Wuerl’s comments cannot be taken as any kind of softening by the Church on homosexuality or “gay marriage.”

“Despite what some anti-Catholic activists wish he said,” Fr. West told LifeSiteNews.com, “Cardinal Wuerl simply restated the Church’s long held position that the Church preaches love for sinners -- which includes all of us -- but a hatred of sin.”

The issue of how the Church deals with those who openly flout its moral teachings has always resolved onto the pinpoint question of reception of Communion at Mass.

Asked whether persons in same-sex unions would be refused Holy Communion, a spokesman for the cardinal told LifeSiteNews.com today, “The interview speaks for itself. We’re not doing interviews on what the cardinal said.”

But Fr. West clarified the Church’s official teaching.

He told LifeSiteNews.com, “Catholics of good will are welcomed to Mass, but only Catholics in the state of grace are allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist, which is a statement of communion with the Church. Catholics who publicly reject Church doctrine and are living in grave sin are called to repentance out of a pastoral concern for their souls, and a desire for their return to communion.”

Wuerl himself, however, has long been a leading voice among the U.S. bishops who “refuse to refuse” Communion to those who publicly flout Catholic moral teaching.

Despite clear instructions from Rome and multiple criticisms from prominent Catholics, including the Vatican’s chief canonist Raymond Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Wuerl’s responses have been consistent on the issue of whether he will refuse Communion to those in a state of what the Church’s Canon Law calls “manifest,” or publicly known, “grave sin.”

In 2007 Wuerl, was asked, as the bishop closest to the national political scene, whether he would discipline the strongly pro-abortion Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by refusing her Communion. Wuerl told California Catholic Daily reporter Allyson Smith, “I will not be using the faculty in that, in the manner you have described.”

When Smith pressed him on whether he would tell priests to refuse her Communion, the archbishop said, “You’re talking about a whole different style of pastoral ministry. No, thank you.”

And Wuerl has backed up his convictions with actions. In March last year, he stripped a priest of his faculties to celebrate Mass for refusing Communion to a woman who was known to have been living in a homosexual relationship. Fr. Marcel Guarnizo was “placed on administrative leave” by the archdiocese after he refused to distribute Communion to Barbara Johnson, a self-identified Buddhist who had reportedly introduced her lesbian “lover” to the priest in the sacristy right before her mother’s funeral Mass. The Archdiocese issued an apology to Johnson and said that Fr. Guarnizo’s actions were “against policy” and that an investigation was underway.

Wuerl’s position on refusing Communion closely follows that of his predecessor as Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, who told the business news site Bloomberg on the weekend that he has “no problems” with homosexual civil unions.

Bloomberg’s interviewer asked McCarrick the same question that Wallace presented to Wuerl, given that “the majority of Catholics according to polls now favor same-sex marriage. If two gays or two lesbians came to you for counsel, what would you tell them?”

McCarrick responded, “Well, I would tell them to try to be as good as they can, to try to be as -- as faithful as they can. They can be good friends. The difficulty is we believe that the sacrament of marriage is made for a man and a woman.”

Asked if he has “any problems with civil unions?” McCarrick responded, “No. I have no problem if this is the situation that…I certainly would prefer that to…what I would call a 'marriage' in quotes.”

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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."

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"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.

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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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