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John Haas warned Catholic Relief Services “scandal would be unavoidable” with grant to CARE

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WASHINGTON, DC, July 24, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - There has been a flurry of response to the LifeSiteNews revelations on July 17th that Catholic Relief Services’ top grant-recipient has been a major promoter of contraception. The $5.3 million grant to CARE by the U.S. Bishops’ international charity arm represents more than a quarter of all the monies it gave out to US-based organizations according to its 990s for 2010.

After LifeSiteNews published the piece, CRS demanded a retraction or correction.  “None of the activities listed suggest support of or involvement in immoral activities,” spokesman John Rivera wrote in an e-mail. “In the terminology of moral theology, there is no material cooperation with evil.”

Then on July 20th, CRS issued a press release titled CRS Disputes LifeSiteNews Article, in which they stated that “all of the CRS programs … are entirely consistent with Church teaching.” At the same time, they strongly implied that the grant was approved by Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, the U.S. Bishops’ top advisor on bioethical issues. 

In a follow-up statement on July 24th, CRS states that after reviewing all of their grants, Haas “found that none of them constitutes support of or involvement in immoral activities.”

But when LifeSiteNews contacted Dr. Haas he revealed a very different picture.

Dr. Haas told LifeSiteNews that when he reviewed the proposed donation to CARE it was “of grave concern to me.” 

While Haas noted that the NCBC assessment did not dispute that CARE’s project was laudable nor that the monies were non-fungible, he opposed the grant because of the scandal it would cause. His main concern was the stridently pro-abortion stances taken by CARE’s president and CEO, Helene D. Gayle.

Reading from his submission to CRS, Dr. Haas said:

“On the anniversary of Roe v Wade in 2009 [Gayle] called on President Obama to rescind the Mexico City Policy and fund abortions abroad. She issued this call on the very day hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators including many bishops called for the reversal of Roe v Wade. Her testimony and statement are both posted on the website of CARE.

“Even though the grants going to CARE are for very laudable and indeed life-saving initiatives, I believe that these very strong public positions taken by the President of CARE in complete opposition to the policies and positions of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops would certainly give rise to legitimate theological scandal if not confusion as to why the Bishops would fund such an organization.

“I think even some bishops would take exception to the grant to CARE if they were aware of the strong public advocacy of abortion and the positions at odds with those of the bishops.”

While the CRS release mentions the NCBC concern that scandal could be caused by the CARE grant, it fails to mention that Haas believed CARE should not be funded. The CRS release says only: “The NCBC found that there could be a risk of scandal over such partnerships if people become confused and wrongly assume that CRS was endorsing a partner’s position on other issues. To avoid any misunderstanding, such as the Lifesite news article, CRS worked with the Bishops and the NCBC to address this risk through internal and external communications on our work, and continues to do so.”

In the report to CRS, Haas added: “In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.”

Haas was referring to the fact that while the US Bishops were advocating for the Mexico City Policy, CARE was publicly opposing it. The Mexico City Policy ensured agencies in receipt of US funding could not divert the money to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions.  It was enacted in 1984 under Ronald Reagan, and has since been rescinded by Democratic administrations and reinstated by Republicans.

On numerous occasions the U.S. Bishops Conference has advocated for the policy.  Without the Mexico City policy, Cardinal Justin Rigali said in a letter sent to all Senators before a vote in 2007, “abortion-promoting organizations will exploit their status as the conduits for U.S. aid to promote abortion to vulnerable women in the Third World.” 

Meanwhile CARE President and CEO Gayle appeared before the Senate Committee handling the matter to demand that the Mexico City Policy be repealed. “In the reproductive health field, many of the best local organizations provide comprehensive family planning services, sometimes including counseling on safe abortion,” she said.  “The Mexico City Policy prohibits organizations like CARE from working with such organizations, and in some cases, prevents us from working with the only organizations that are capable of providing the most basic family planning services.  Thus, it diminishes not just the availability of these services but also their quality.”

When President Barack Obama repealed the policy, Cardinal Rigali noted that it was “very disappointing.” He added: “An Administration that wants to reduce abortions should not divert U.S. funds to groups that promote abortions.” 

With respect to funding CARE in light of Gayle’s advocacy for international abortion funding, Haas told LifeSiteNews, “It would be different if she weren’t so public about her opposition to the moral teaching in this area and I said I had grave reservations about this whole thing going forward without the question of the scandal being addressed.”

Haas revealed that CRS wanted to retain the long-standing relationship with CARE nonetheless.  At that point he advised that the only way to do so was to publicly chastise Gayle and CARE. 

“I said ‘I think that would be a necessary part of going forward, if you decide to go forward, it’s up to you,’ because the scandal question rests with the local authority, so in that case it would have been Bishop Kicanas and the CRS Board,” said Haas.

CARE’s pro-abortion activism is felt far beyond the United States.  Pro-life groups on the international scene have reported on the strident activism of CARE at the United Nations.

LifeSiteNews spoke today with Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D., of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM). She confirmed a C-FAM report she penned in 2007 regarding the CARE CEO, noting that Gayle “is an avid advocate for an international human right to abortion on demand.”

“She was a key figure at the 2007 Women Deliver conference and a founding partner of the International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights which seeks to make abortion rights part of a new international right to maternal health,” said Yoshihara.

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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 millions 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.

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

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
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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