Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Same revolution, different day: US nun touts gay sex, liberal Catholics outraged at Vatican response

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, ITALY, June 8, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Once again, the various bodies of the “progressive” establishment in the U.S. Catholic Church have erupted in a frenzy of outraged condemnation at the Vatican office issuing a warning this week to an academic who wrote that homosexuality and masturbation are morally acceptable.

Sr. Margaret Farley, a former full professor of ethics at Yale University’s Divinity School, also happens to be a member of the Sisters of Mercy and an established leader in the Catholic Church’s own internal sexual revolution. Her 2006 book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which asserts the moral acceptability of homosexuality, “gay marriage,” remarriage after divorce, and masturbation, has been the subject of an ongoing intervention by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2010.

On June 4, the revolution’s flagship paper, the National Catholic Reporter, published a notification Sr. Farley received from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and has been furiously fanning the flames since then. The NCR coverage has been picked up by dozens of blogs and several mainstream news outlets, all echoing the theme of the big, bad, retrograde Vatican attacking innocent defenders of freedom of thought and our new era of sexual freedom.

“Among the many errors and ambiguities in this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage, and the problem of divorce and remarriage,” the CDF, which has been in discussion with Farley about the book since 2010, said in a four-page document. Farley’s position “contradicts,” “is opposed to,” and “does not conform to” authentic Catholic teaching.

While the Catholic Left thunders about the Vatican’s “war on women,” commentators in Rome have said that this is just another skirmish between the CDF and the elderly leadership of the liberal Catholic revolution in the U.S., who are growing increasingly furious that their rebellion has failed to triumph.

Foremost among the combatants in the civil war have been many members of women’s religious orders, nearly all overseen by the hard-Left feminist umbrella group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). One source told LifeSiteNews.com that the real problem is the long-standing “tolerance of liberals” by the Vatican, noting that the book had been published four years before it received any attention from the CDF.

The rebellion of the sisters, that started very publicly in the 1960s, has only lately been publicly acknowledged in Rome with the launching of the CDF’s doctrinal investigation of LCWR, a move that reportedly “stunned” LCWR, accustomed as it has become to decades of inaction from Rome. It has been noted that the furor over Sr. Farley is being manufactured by NCR at precisely the moment LCWR leadership produced their defiant response to the CDF’s decision last month to substantially reform the organization.

Among those fanning the flames is Charles Curran, the notorious priest who arguably launched the revolution in 1968. He wrote in NCR on Wednesday, “All have to recognize there is such a real crisis in the church today. But the crisis is not just a crisis in moral theology; it involves a crisis in the church as a whole and in our very understanding of the Catholic church.”

Indeed, it is impossible to deny that a near-state of civil war exists in the Catholic Church, starting with Curran’s own spectacular rebellion, followed by innumerable academics, priests and nuns, against the publication of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae that reiterated the Church’s prohibition against artificial birth control. Nearly 20 years later, the CDF was forced to declare that Curran could no longer teach as a theologian at Catholic University of America, opposing as he did the Church on precisely the same topics: divorce, artificial contraception, masturbation, pre-marital intercourse, and homosexual acts.

Over the decades since Curran published his letter against Humanae Vitae, the secular media has worked closely with the left-liberal movement within the Church to undermine or even overturn Catholic teaching, mainly on matters of sexuality. Through the media, the goal has been largely obtained: that of establishing in the mainstream of the Catholic Church the concept of “loyal dissent,” the idea that it is possible to be a “good Catholic” while refusing to accept whichever teaching is felt to be undesirable. This notion has been broadly accepted throughout the Western world and has resulted in such phenomena as the “pro-choice Catholic” politician.

One source inside the Vatican told LifeSiteNews.com that although the CDF’s intervention was necessary to clarify Catholic teaching, in the current climate, such actions often have unintended negative consequences. “Of course, this is how Hans Kung made his name, and Charles Curran for that matter.”

“Both are mediocre theologians whose names would have been lost in dusty academic obscurity had the Vatican not unintentionally made them into folk heroes of the anti-Catholic Left. In fact, they should both be thanking the CDF for bolstering their careers.”

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Indeed, this week, Sr. Farley’s book, previously of interest only to students and professors, shot into the stratosphere of the online booksellers’ world, reaching 138th on Amazon’s bestseller list, from 147,982, within hours of NCR breaking the story. Since then, the book eventually reached number 21.

And Sr. Farley herself is a far cry from the humble, anonymously habited teaching sisters whose nearly unpaid labor in parochial schools have become the stuff of American cultural legend. Although the Sisters of Mercy do not reveal the salaries of their high-ranking academic members, Yale News reported in 2006 that the salaries of full professors at Yale ranked sixth among all private U.S. universities, at an average of $151,200 in 2005.

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, the head of the Rome office of Human Life International and a long-time observer of Vatican affairs, commented on the situation, saying that the same essential error being made by Sr. Farley, her defenders, and by extension the entire “liberal Catholic” movement, has dominated the Church since the 1960s. Not even the CDF, not even the pope, he said, makes up Catholic doctrine, but the Church merely keeps it as a “deposit” handed down, ultimately, Catholics believe, from Christ himself, to be passed on and shared with “everyone of good will”.

“That is what Christ established. The main function of the Vicar of Christ [the papacy] is to determine what is in accordance with the will of the Lord. A traditional title of the pope is ‘servant of the servants of god’. It’s a duty of service.”

If this is altered through adherence to the preferences of the secular world, he said, “that is not the institution established by Jesus Christ. It would be a human institution. The value of the Catholic Church is that we are an institution established by God in order to keep the integrity of the deposit given to us by God. We are not the owners of that deposit, but we are to give it to people of good will.”

In response to the accusations of suppression of freedom, Msgr. Barreiro said, “The Vatican has as part of its duties to establish what is and is not Catholic teaching. The Church is not forcing people to be Catholic, but it has a duty of service to ensure the orthodoxy and accuracy of its teachings,” and to correct misrepresentations of it.

“We dare to deny that opposition to this is acceptable within the Church,” he said, adding that “if they don’t accept it, it’s sad, but it is a function of the truth.”

In cases like that of Sr. Farley he said:

A person who calls herself a Catholic has to write and teach in accordance with the teaching of the Church. To do otherwise is to defy not only Catholic teaching, but logic.”

To clarify, if you are a member of a club, and you want to remain the member of that club, you have to follow the rules, if you don’t, you’re not being “suppressed” if the club asks you to leave. Similarly, If you pretend to play soccer, you have to follow the rules of soccer, otherwise you are not playing the same game. You invent your own game, and you play in accordance with the rules of the new game, that could be called soccer 2. But it’s no longer soccer; it’s a different game.

If…they want to follow their own rules, fine, but it’s not Catholicism; it’s a different religion. We don’t pretend to use force against different religions, but they have to be honest and not call themselves what they are not.


Msgr. Barreiro acknowledged that many Catholics involved in these battles over the years have become disheartened with the lack of action by Church authorities, but he said that this notification can be taken as a signal for renewed action.

“We now have to wait and see if the notification is implemented by the local ordinary [bishop],” he said. “If this woman continues and does not cease teaching and promoting these ideas, she might receive the same sanctions that Kung and Curran have received, and be barred from teaching or writing as a Catholic theologian. If she continues there might be an escalation of sanctions.”

The second benefit, he said, is as a “warning to local ordinaries that her book cannot be used.”

With the CDF’s notification, the book will in theory be barred from use in ecclesiastical institutions. Barreiro said that the next step is up to the informed laity: “The function that concerned laity might have is to be vigilant that this book is no longer used.”

“If it is used against this prohibition,” he said, “it is up to the knowledgeable laity to bring it to the attention of the local ordinary [bishop] and if that fails, to the CDF.”

He confirmed that this uproar is being orchestrated to generate smoke and light in response to the CDF’s actions against LCWR. “Clearly, her order is protecting her,” he said, “that it’s apparent from the CDF‘s document, and it’s also a known thing that her order is one of the dissenting orders that are part of the problem with religious in America.”

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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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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.

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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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