Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

‘Noisy’ pro-abort protest fails to disrupt London 40 Days for Life event with bishop

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, April 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An attempt to disrupt a pro-life prayer vigil attended by a Catholic bishop in London Friday night failed as peaceful pro-lifers calmly carried on praying while abortion advocates tried to drown them out.

With pro-life activists becoming ever more effective recently, the UK’s abortion industry is resorting to increasingly aggressive tactics. Plans by the popular Catholic bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster to attend the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil in London Last Friday particularly incensed abortion advocates, who staged a “noisy” counter protest, promoted by the far-left Guardian newspaper.

The plan backlashed, however, as the publicity stirred up interest among pro-lifers, but failed to win equal enthusiasm from London’s abortion supporters. Attendees said that, despite claims by the Press Association, the pro-lifers far out numbered the abortion advocates, with several hundred pro-lifers showing up.

“The large number of people who attended the prayer vigil shows that increasing numbers are opposed to our society’s ‘culture of death’ and are horrified that in 2010 almost 190,000 abortions took place in England and Wales,” said Bishop Hopes.

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Paul Smeaton, 24, who works for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and volunteers with the Catholic youth organization Juventutum London, attended the event and told LifeSiteNews.com that it was “both uplifting and a wake-up call.”

“It was uplifting and wonderful to be amongst so many people praying for an end to abortion. Uplifting because of the courage of Bishop Hopes in leading the vigil in the face of such hostility.

“But the aggression of the opposition served as a wake-up call and a reminder of the urgency of the pro-life cause,” he added.

The counter demonstration was organized by the ad hoc group Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance, who said they wanted to show the “tiny but vocal” pro-life groups that there is a “pro-choice majority in this country”.

They accused groups like 40 Days for Life of “increasingly mimicking the tactics of hardline US groups,” that have largely succeeded in bringing out significant reductions in the number of abortions in the U.S., and the permanent closure of hundreds of abortion facilities around the country.

Of particular concern to BPAS was the possibility that women who are approached by pro-life people might change their minds and opt out of abortion. “If bishops are getting behind this then I can’t see how it’s morally justified especially when women have already made up their minds,” Abigail Fitzgibbon, policy manager for BPAS told media last month.

Bishop Hopes, however, praised such outcomes, saying that the vigil “has enabled some women considering an abortion to change their minds.

“Such a change of heart that leads to the saving of the life of an unborn child, is a demonstration of God’s grace – an outcome to be welcomed.”

Citing the work of pregnancy charity Good Counsel network, Bishop Hopes added, “It is also important that practical help and assistance is provided for women who decide against having an abortion.”

According to its charter, BPAS’s purpose is to advocate and to provide the means “to prevent or end unwanted pregnancies with contraception or by abortion.” As Britain’s busiest abortionist group, BPAS is responsible for the great majority of Britain’s 200,000 abortions each year, and 80 percent of the late term abortions.

Last year, BPAS almost succeeded in its lobbying attempt to change the legal definition of medical “treatment” to allow women to abort their children using the deadly RU-486 drug at home without medical supervision. More recently, the group issued a statement defending the practice, apparently widespread in their facilities, though technically illegal, of sex-selective abortions.

Paul Smeaton commented, “None of the aggression mustered outside the abortion centre on Friday can compare to the violence of abortion. The vigil on Friday showed the strength of the pro-life movement when roused into action, and our great potential to powerfully oppose this violence.

“It is crucial for the sake of unborn babies and mothers that we continue to increase in determination to end abortion in England.”

Many pro-life attendees wrote about the experience on their blogs, and most were heavily critical of the “sloppy” handling of the event by the mainstream press. One, who blogs under the title “A Reluctant Sinner,” singled out the Press Association coverage that claimed the numbers were even on both sides, with “about 500”.

“In this age of mounting concern over press irresponsibility, it is quite depressing to see a once respected agency publishing an article that doesn’t seem to have been checked or corroborated,” he wrote.

“In fact, it only took me a few minutes to discover that many acts of intimidation attributed to members of the pro-life vigil by the PA, had, in fact, been directed towards them by the pro-abortionists.”

A photograph taken of the counter-protest by Dr. Joseph Shaw, a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and head of the nation’s Latin Mass Society, shows a small group of protesters swamped, and almost surrounded by praying pro-life people.

Published on the LMS blog, the photo (see above) shows the pro-abortion protest on the far right of the large crowd of pro-life people.

Dr. Shaw commented on his photo, “See that line of white posters people are holding up? That marks the front edge of the counter demo. That’s where the heads of the ‘pro-choice’ crowd ends and the pro-lifers begin.”

Read more of Dr. Shaw’s comments on the Press Association coverage

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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
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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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Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishops' Conference http://chiesacattolica.it
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Church ‘discriminates’ against ‘unconventional couples’: leader of Italian Bishops’ Conference

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By Hilary White

The secretary general of the Italian Bishops’ Conference has said that “unconventional couples” suffer “discrimination” and “prejudice” from the Church.

Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in Orvieto organized by the Liturgical Renewal Centre, Bishop Nunzio Galantino gave a clear signal when he said, “The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”

“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” he said, according to the Italian bishops' newspaper, Avvenire.

Bishop Galantino stopped short of openly advocating that the prohibition be dropped, saying, “With sincerity, we should also recognize that other believers perceive the discipline of the Church as an exclusion of these brothers and sisters, and, at times, observe them with a look of injury,” an attitude he called “de facto discrimination.” Although, he added, “they cannot receive Eucharistic communion.”

LifeSiteNews contacted Bishop Galantino's office for clarification by phone and e-mail but did not hear back by press time.

A number of prominent clerics have recently placed themselves in a growing camp of supporters for the suggestion that the Church should simply drop its prohibition on distributing Communion to Catholics 'remarried' outside the Church. At February’s consistory of cardinals, German Cardinal Walter Kasper argued the Church should allow Communion for those who have undertaken a “period of penance” but who have no intention of regularizing their situations. The cardinal claims that this would have no impact on Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The Catholic Church, taking its foundation from the words of Christ in the Gospels, teaches that divorce is impossible and that a person who undertakes a civil divorce and then “remarries” is in reality committing adultery. Adultery being a grave, or “mortal” sin, those in such situations cannot receive Communion until they have been sacramentally absolved and have changed their living situations.

According to Galantino, “Eucharistic celebration should be ‘a place where everyone feels at home,’ including migrants, faithful in irregular marriage situations, the disabled, the sick, the poor, the elderly and children.” 

Paraphrasing the title of one of Pope Benedict’s encyclicals, Caritas in Veritate, Bishop Galantino said that the key was an “attitude of charity in truth.” In dealing with those in irregular marital situations, he said that in the Church “we must honestly admit that we have no longer insisted on the truth when we haven’t exercised charity.”

“I speak of that pastoral charity,” he said, “which is the primary responsibility of the pastors of the Church, but also other members and the Christian community as a whole, that pastoral charity which for people facing marriage and family difficulties means acceptance, understanding, accompanying and support.” 

He said that those who live in such “irregular” situations “live their condition with great suffering” and “perceive the discipline of the Church as very strict, not inclusive, if not punitive.” 

Zenit news service also noted that Galantino said the Christians should follow the example of Pope Francis and adopt the attitude of a Church that “goes out” and “takes the initiative” to be “friendly” and “close the gap.” He held up Cardinal Kasper and the Dominican priest Yves Congar as theological leaders, saying that in the past the Church has looked up on people who were divorced and civilly remarried as “adulterers,” but added that the world has moved on from such opinions.

Cardinal Kasper’s suggestion immediately unleashed a storm of controversy after he presented in February. His keynote address at the consistory received scorching criticism both from lay commentators and high-ranking clerics who have said that such a practice would be “impossible.” Kasper’s speech was intended as a prelude to the deliberations on the various issues surrounding the family at the upcoming Synod of Bishops, set for the Vatican in October.

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Kasper, a prominent and very public theological opponent of Pope Benedict XVI, has given interviews in the US and elsewhere promoting his idea of allowing Communion for divorced and remarried people as a matter of “compassion.” The issue has long been a “hot button” one for the Catholic Church in Germany, whose bishops have spearheaded the movement in the face of falling Church revenues.

Bishop Galantino was hand picked by Pope Francis to fill the position of secretary of the powerful Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops in a country where the Church still wields considerable influence in secular politics.

In May this year, Galantino angered pro-life advocates around the world when he told an interviewer that he does not “identify” with those Catholics who pray the Rosary outside abortion facilities.

“I do not identify with the expressionless faces of those who recite the Rosary outside the clinics who practice interruption of pregnancy,  [‘l’interruzione della gravidanza’] but with those young people who are opposed to this practice and strive for the quality of life of the people, for their right to health, to work,” he said.

He added, “In the past we have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia. It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing.”

His comments were strongly criticized by Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life in the US, and by John Smeaton, the head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Fr. Pavone responded, “When somebody says that the Church has ‘concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia,’ I take it as a compliment for the success of ministries like Priests for Life, which have called and will call upon the clergy, and indeed the entire Church, to sound the alarm about these atrocities more loudly and clearly than ever. Nor will we stop calling for that until the killing stops.”

John Smeaton, in an open letter addressed to Galantino, said, “I thought I would let you know that I do identify with the person outside the abortion clinic praying their rosary, whether or not the person is expressionless.”

“It’s probably fair to say that tens of thousands of unborn children, each one made in the image and likeness of God, are killed every day throughout the world. For example, there are 500 killed daily in Britain, thousands in the US, thousands upon thousands in China, to name just three of the world’s 193 countries.”

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