Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Paris judge: nudity, sex positions in “blasphemous” ‘Golgota’ play OK for public

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits
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PARIS, December 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - One day before the opening night of what has been called a “blasphemous” play, “Golgota Picnic”, a Paris judge has refused to sign an interim ruling prohibiting the opening of the show. Judge Magali Bouvier decided not to “destroy a work of art” which, she writes, will only be seen by a few hundred spectators at the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” on the Parisian Champs-Elysées, regardless of its offensive content and messages of hate against all Christians.

An emergency proceeding was introduced on these grounds a few weeks ago by the French and Christian rights defense group, AGRIF (Alliance générale contre le racisme et pour le respect de l’identité française et chrétienne). In French law, emergency proceedings are intended to put a stop to situations which “disrupt the public order”.

AGRIF’s counsel argued that the showing of “Golgota Picnic” would do that on several counts. The play’s Hispano-Argentian author, Rodrigo Garcia, expresses hatred towards Christ throughout the play, accusing centuries of Christian art of being directly responsible for sex abuse of minors by priests and religious, violence, and more generally all that is wrong with the world. Christ Himself is portrayed as a selfish, antisocial fraud and covered with verbal abuse calling him a “devil whore” or the “messiah of AIDS”.

The play visually attacks Christians’ central, treasured beliefs about all things related to the Crucifixion. Hundreds of bread burgers cover the scene in a parody of the Multiplication of the Loaves; the actors, five male, one female, repeatedly mock the Crucifixion while endlessly reciting rambling prose, then sing and dance the last words of Christ to strident guitar music.

The DVD of the play, produced by the Theatre’s counsel, has been found to contain more disturbing elements than press reports from Spain, where the play showed at the beginning of the year, had indicated. “Crucifixion” scenes were presented lascivious or grotesque, a “Pieta” scene showed an actress, completely nude, moving sensuously on a male actor’s lap and the “making” of the Shroud received similar sexual treatment.

Another scene showed three actors, two male and one female, scantily covered and soaked with blue and red paint to evoke classical paintings of Golgotha, entwining in sexual positions. After this they all undressed completely, facing the public or moving about the stage for at least five minutes.

This was not a problem, judge Bouvier ruled today, as the lighting was “dimmed” during the scene (in fact, during part of that scene the stage-lighting was a strong red, and normal the rest of the time). The AGRIF, one of whose objects is to combat pornography and to protect the dignity of women and children, argued that this scene, among several others, constitutes “sexual exhibition” which is prohibited by law, and should at the very least justify banning “Golgota Picnic” from being shown to minors under eighteen.

French law does not prohibit blasphemy, but it does affirm all believers’ right to freedom of religion and to the respect of their beliefs. AGRIF argued that “Golgota Picnic” violently disregards this right and adds incitement to hate against Christians by its repeated desecrations of Christian beliefs and its central figure Jesus Christ. Emphasizing that these actions are subject to prosecution under the law, the AGRIF asked that the most objectionable passages of the show be scrapped and that its name, which the group called an insult to believing Christians, be replaced by a less provocative title.

All the demands of the AGRIF were rejected by judge Magali Bouvier, who openly disregarded and misrepresented the unanimous and firm reactions of the French episcopate against “Golgota Picnic.”  Bouvier quoted admiring lines from the progressive Catholic newspaper La Croix to justify Rodrigo Garcia’s artistic portrayal of his “doubts and interrogations” about the God he feared as a young boy in Argentina.

The judge went on to assess the AGRIF for court costs of 3,500 euro (over 4,600 USD) legal expenses incurred by the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” for its defense.

Last week’s hearing took place in judges’ chambers at the top of the “Caesar Tower” in the Conciergerie facing the Seine in the heart of Paris. The tower is one of the main remnants of the medieval palace where French kings lived from the 11th-15th century, after which the buildings would serve as the Parliament of Paris, the prison where Marie-Antoinette was kept until her execution, and, now, as “Palace of Justice” sheltering all Parisian judiciary courts as well as the equivalent of the Highest Court of Appeal. Ironically, upon entering this chamber the first thing that visitors see is a life-size reproduction of the “Retable of the Parliament of Paris”, an impressive 15th-century rendering of the Crucifixion.

This week several events were set to mark the “premiere” of Golgota Picnic.

In an unprecedented move, the archbishop of Paris, cardinal André Vingt-Trois, has called “all those who are willing” to participate in a vigil in his cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris after the Mass of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The cardinal referred to the play that “insults Christ on the Cross”, and called Catholics to participate in a “meditation of the Passion of Christ and the veneration of the Holy Crown of Thorns”. The relic is usually only shown to the faithful on Fridays in Lent and on First Fridays during the year.

Some have speculated that the special vigil purpose is to undermine or take attention away from the emphatic public protests against the play, which will be taking place from the 8th through the 17th December, each time “Golgota Picnic” will be shown in the Théâtre du Rond-Point. Several groups are calling on Parisians to participate in these peaceful, prayerful demonstrations as they already did in recent protests against “On the Concept of the Face of Christ”, another “blasphemous” play which some bishops excused on the grounds that they found it “thought-provoking”.

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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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