Thaddeus Baklinski

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Ontario gvmt sets “dangerous precedent” of bypassing Catholic boards in teacher contract deal

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski

By Thaddeus Baklinski

TORONTO, July 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In what has been called a “dangerous” precedent, Ontario’s Liberal government reached a key contract agreement on July 5th directly with the pro-homosexual Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) after the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA) left the bargaining table late Wednesday night. OCSTA, which represents all Catholic school boards in the province, negotiates the contracts with its Catholic teachers, with the Ontario government acting as a go-between, but was stunned to find the province took over without any consultation.

Kathy Burtnik, vice-president of OCSTA, said negotiations broke off over concerns the deal on the table “did not represent the best interest of students.” She stated she was not aware that negotiations were under way between the government and the OECTA union after other unions representing elementary, high school and French school teachers walked away from the talks.

“At no point were we informed or was it even intimated that a potential agreement could be made between OECTA and the ministry, and we are absolutely opposed to any agreement made without our involvement,” Burtnik said, adding that cutting the school boards out of negotiation sets a dangerous precedent.

“We are dismayed at the dangerous precedent this agreement sets,” said Burtnik.

A spokesman for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) said the agreement between the McGuinty government and the Catholic teachers’ union is an undemocratic attempt to make board trustees, who are the elected representatives of parents, irrelevant.

“By cutting out local government, that is the local boards of education, McGuinty has perverted democracy,” CLC’s Jack Fonseca told LifeSiteNews. “This move represents a hostile takeover of the education system by big government, and McGuinty is making the role of elected school officials totally irrelevant. The contempt McGuinty has for democracy is astounding.”

Noting that one of the concessions OECTA made was a 2-year wage freeze, Fonseca pointed out that, “While economic conservatives may applaud finally getting a union to agree to a wage freeze, and I don’t disagree, there is a larger, more important principle at stake relating to liberty.

“This has frightening implications for parental rights and democratic freedom. After all, the trustees are the legal representatives of parents. The closer McGuinty gets to making trustees irrelevant, the closer he gets to eradicating the authority of parents within the education system. Is that his objective? There is a psychological repercussion of having teachers basically reject their employer (the school board), to sign a deal directly with the Liberal government. In essence, it makes McGuinty their employer and the school board trustees nothing but window dressing,” Fonseca stated.

Kathy Burtnik told the National Post yesterday that, “The precedent this sets as to who the employer is, as far as labour relations go, is quite confounding,” adding that, “I saw that the minister [Ontario education minister Laurel Broten] made a comment today about the importance of working with their education partners and how good that can be. Well, one of their partners does not know what has been agreed to.”

Minister Broten said, “Many people thought that this day would never come, that we would never agree, that we were too far apart. But this agreement demonstrates the value of partnership,” according to a Globe and Mail report, and stated that the deal with OECTA will act as a “road map” for bargaining with the other unions.

The Catholic teachers’ association issued a media release late Thursday with highlights of the deal, which include a two year wage freeze for all educators and principals, three unpaid professional development days in 2013-14, and reduction of paid sick days from 20 to 10, which can no longer be accumulated.

“We continued discussions, even when other unions left the table, because we believed that negotiating was the best way to secure a fair and reasonable agreement for our members - and we believe we have achieved that goal,” said Kevin O’Dwyer, OECTA president. “This agreement mitigates the impact of the government’s original parameters, protects younger teachers from having to make larger sacrifices and achieves significant gains for our members on key non-monetary issues.”

Reaction from local Catholic school boards across the province was consistent with the surprise and dismay expressed by Burtnik.

Barbara Holland, chairwoman of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, told the Windsor Star, “We were a little dismayed,” noting that school boards are teachers’ employers. “We had not been given any indication they [OECTA] could sign with the province.”

Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board director of education Greg Reeves expressed shock that the provincial government and the teachers’ association reached an agreement without the involvement of the representative of the school boards.

“That’s a very dangerous precedent this agreement sets,” he said in a Peterborough Examiner report.

A Progressive Conservative MPP, Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), waded in saying the Liberal government’s actions infringe upon the school boards’ rights. “They feel usurped,” MacLeod said, according to the Toronto Star.

Jack Fonseca pointed out the connection between the Liberal government’s “power grab” from the boards, and “the homosexual agenda of Bill 13 which McGuinty rammed down the throats of unwilling parents.”

“More than ever before,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews, “Catholic teachers will perceive the provincial government as their boss, instead of the school board. It’s reasonable to assume that as teachers are unmoored, little by little, from subservience to trustees/parents, the more they’ll shift allegiance to the government. After all, who wants to upset the boss who signs your pay cheque.”

If OECTA’s agreement with the government is to act as a “road map” for the other unions, as Minister Broten has stated, Fonseca warned that “they had to feel they were benefitting from their pal once again.”

“As far as the optics of the ‘concessions’ made by OECTA, I don’t trust them,” Fonseca remarked.

“OECTA is 100% in favour of McGuinty’s radical gay agenda. In the 2011 election, OECTA was part of the Liberal election campaign, raising millions to elect McGuinty. There’s something we don’t know. In time, I’m sure the details will surface.”

Contact Information:

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Phone: 416-325-1941

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association
Kevin O’Dwyer, OECTA president
65 ST. Clair Ave. East, Suite 400, Toronto, ON M4T 2Y8
Phone: 416.925.2493
Fax: 416.925.7764
Toll Free: 1.800.268.7230
Email: k.odwyer@oecta.on.ca

Ontario Minister of Education, Laurel Broten
900 Bay Street, 14th Floor, Mowat Block
Toronto ON M7A 1L2
Phone: 416-325-2929
Fax: 416-325-6348
Email: via website

Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association
Kevin Kobus, Executive Director
P.O. Box 2064, Suite 1804, 20 Eglinton Ave. W Toronto, ON M4R 1K8
Phone: 416-932-9460 Ext. 222
Fax: 416-932-9459
Email: kkobus@ocsta.on.ca

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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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