Fr. Frank Pavone

John Paul II: The pope of life

Fr. Frank Pavone
Fr. Frank Pavone
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May 2, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Sunday, May 1 the Catholic Church declared Pope John Paul II to be “Blessed,” a step on the way to being declared a saint. This was done not as a judgment on the effectiveness or influence of his pontificate, nor on the depth of his knowledge of theology, but rather on his fidelity in living the Christian virtues.

The Church said, in other words, “If you want to follow Christ, look to John Paul II as an example.”

Each person whom the Church beatifies or canonizes, moreover, has his or her special theme, some aspect of discipleship that marks his or her life. For Pope John Paul II, it is the theme of pro-life. Not only was this a theme he spoke and acted upon continuously, but he gave the Church and the world a new way of understanding and practicing it.

At a recent conference, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as Vatican spokesman under Pope John Paul, said that the key to his effectiveness was his conviction that each person was created in God’s image and likeness. “He was a man profoundly convinced of the truth of those words in Genesis, ‘God made man and woman in his image and likeness.’ This gave him optimism even when he could no longer walk, and then even when he could no longer speak,” Navarro-Valls said. “I think this was what attracted people even more than the way he spoke.” (April 1, 2011, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome).

I was privileged to see this dynamic up close, as I served under Pope John Paul II at the Pontifical Council for the Family, an agency of the Vatican that he created in 1981 specifically to sustain and coordinate initiatives for the protection of human life from its conception.

This pope did not simply repeat the longstanding teaching of the Church that abortion is wrong. He did not simply hand down dogmas about what we can and cannot do, and how we are supposed to live up to the principles and the commandments, such as “Thou shalt not kill.”

Traditionally, these and other teachings of the Church have been communicated in a philosophical context that is objective, deductive, and principled. There is a truth to which we have to adhere, and from which we deduce moral imperatives that are the same for everyone.

Now John Paul II never denied that. But he also realized that people today don’t think that way anymore. Modern thought is more subjective, experiential, and inductive. It relies more on personal insights and viewpoints. “What’s true for me may not be true for you” is one of its favorite positions.

John Paul II was able to join traditional, objective thought with the patterns of modern thought in what came to be known as his “personalism.” He focused on the dignity, the uniqueness, of each individual human person and affirmed their subjective insights and experiences. He taught that in each person we have a unique and unrepeatable being. And that uniqueness is precisely a reflection, or image, of God himself. Here is where the two worlds merge. Individual experience is not crushed, lost, or absorbed by the recognition that there is a God who has revealed universal moral norms. On the contrary, when God reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ, he reveals us to ourselves.

This is a key teaching of John Paul II. Precisely by accepting, not rejecting, our individual uniqueness, we connect with a truth that surpasses it and leads us, as individuals and a community, to fulfillment.

That’s what he meant by the exhortation with which he began his pontificate and which he repeated so often: “Be not afraid!”

In other words, don’t fear what you will lose if you welcome Christ into your life. You will in fact find your best self!

One of the most powerful expressions of this teaching is in “The Gospel of Life” (Evangelium Vitae) the 1995 encyclical that John Paul II considered central to his entire pontificate.

Newsweek devoted a cover story to the Encyclical when it came out. Religion editor Kenneth Woodward praised it as John Paul II’s “signature statement” in history.

The encyclical calls us to “proclaim, celebrate, and serve” the gift of life, which is the foundation of society and of all the rights and goods we enjoy as individuals. He speaks in that document of how both the Church and state need to serve the human person in every circumstance, and identifies abortion and euthanasia as the fundamental and most serious moral problems of our day.

But they are not presented just as “issues.” They are presented as contradictions to a deeper call to serve the person.

The pope wrote often about women, and one of many points he made is that we need to provide them alternatives to abortion, and forgiveness and healing after abortion.

In “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” (1994) he said, “In firmly rejecting “pro choice” it is necessary to become courageously “pro woman,” promoting a choice that is truly in favor of women.”

He challenged public officials to realize that when a state permits abortion, “the disintegration of the State itself has already begun” (Evangelium Vitae, 20).

And he called upon the young, and all of us, to build a “Culture of Life” with tremendous hope.

If he could repeat one thing to us this day, I believe it would be his words at World Youth Day in Denver on August 15, 1993: “Have no fear. The outcome of the battle for life is already decided … You too must feel the full urgency of the task … Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life. …This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops.”

By beatifying John Paul II, the Church is saying “Amen!”

This article reprinted with permission from www.priestsforlife.org


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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

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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

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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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