Thaddeus Baklinski

SPLC lawsuit against reparative therapy group 'the height of intolerance': Lawyer

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski

NEW JERSEY, December 20, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Charles LiMandri, the president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) has announced that he has accepted the role of lead defense counsel for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) in a precedent-setting lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

JONAH is a Jewish organization that offers assistance to men and women seeking to resolve their sexual conflicts, focusing specifically on unwanted same-sex attractions.

The SPLC filed a lawsuit against JONAH, alleging the group is guilty of “consumer fraud,” because the therapy will fail to change some people’s sexual orientation.

In taking on the case, Charles LiMandri stated, “The SPLC lawsuit is ill-conceived and legally untenable for multiple reasons. It seeks to violate the First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion. and association—not only of JONAH and the other defendants, but also untold numbers of people in need that stand to benefit from their services.”

“It is the height of intolerance and arrogance for the SPLC to dictate to individuals who experience unwanted same sex attraction and who are seeking help, that they are not entitled to receive such help nor support in a way that respects their personal values,” LiMandri stated. “JONAH and the other defendants will be vigorously defended against these baseless claims to protect not only their Constitutional rights, but also the right of self-determination of all those who wish to resolve their unwanted same sex attractions.”

LiMandri pointed out that since its founding more than 12 years ago, JONAH has helped hundreds of people live the lives that they want, consistent with their personal values.

Arthur Goldberg, JONAH’s co-director, has stated that his organization will vigorously defend itself against a lawsuit that he called “without merit,” and “designed to create a chilling effect upon speech and programs that assist people in overcoming unwanted same-sex attractions.”

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to assist those with unwanted same-sex attractions,” Goldberg said. “There are thousands of people who have overcome or significantly diminished their unwanted same-sex attractions, not only through our programs, but also through other similar programs.”

“As indicated by the publicity surrounding the event, the lawsuit is designed to create a chilling effect on people and organizations that stand for the position that change is possible, a position that is not contradicted by the APA’s latest statements,” Goldberg said.

JONAH’s mission statement states that “because mankind has been endowed by our Creator with a free will, everyone has the capacity to change. Through psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment, JONAH seeks to reunify families, to heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality, and to provide hope.”

The FCDF noted that JONAH has never been the target of a lawsuit until now, and this lawsuit is apparently the result of SPLC advertising in the media for people willing to be named as plaintiffs against JONAH.

The SPLC has labeled numerous pro-family organizations “hate groups” for failing their moral objections to homosexuality.

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Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council called the SPLC’s assertion that reparative therapy is a fraud, because not everyone is “cured, equally “as ridiculous as suing Weight Watchers because they promised you’d lose weight and you didn’t.”

“The only people guilty of fraud are the ones who claim people with same-sex attractions can’t change,” he said.

Mr. LiMandri indicated that the FCDF is teaming up with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to litigate the case, which was filed in New Jersey, with the assistance of Michael Laffey, a highly respected New Jersey attorney who is experienced in freedom of speech and religious liberty cases.

The FCDF is a national public interest law firm that specializes in defending freedom of religion and conscience by providing legal services at the trial level.

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Douglas Dewey

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Cardinal Dolan, please step down as Grand Marshal: an open letter

Douglas Dewey
By Douglas Dewey

Editor’s Note: A well-connected parishioner in the Archdiocese of New York wrote the following open letter to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan in response to the cardinal’s defense of his decision to serve as Grand Marshal in the 2015 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. For full context, see the cardinal’s column here.

Your Eminence,

Thank you for devoting your September 17 column to clarifying your response to the recent decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal to march in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Much as it pains me to say it, I am even more concerned now than I was before.

In your explanation, you reiterate your insistence that you don’t control who is allowed to march in the parade, that this has always been the decision of the Parade Committee. No doubt, although that didn’t seem to prevent Cardinal O’Connor from stepping up and publicly opposing the identical request, in the not-too-distant past. Either way, it begs the bigger point: this is the kind of response we might expect from a politician, not a shepherd. It is hard to imagine William Wallace explaining to his countrymen that Edward Longshanks “did not ask my approval, nor did he need to” on whether to institute prima nocta. Sorry lads, out of my hands.

Had you stopped there, and said nothing more, at least those of us who want to be faithful and stand by our bishop could have, in charity, assumed there was more to the matter and trusted in your discretion. But you went two steps further. First, you insisted that the Parade Committee’s decision to include openly homosexual groups was not a cause for you to step down as Grand Marshal, and secondly, you commended the committee’s policy change saying, “I have no trouble with the decision at all...I think the decision is a wise one.” 

Honestly, Your Eminence, when I read this I felt like I had been punched in the stomach by my own father. The emotional blow was greater than the physical could ever have been. 

Regarding your statement that the decision was “wise,” you cite the committee’s worry about a seemingly invincible perception that the parade’s policy was biased and discriminatory, even though you believed the policy was neither. If this be so, surely the only response is to continue to speak the truth with clarity and charity—till kingdom come, if necessary. Acceding to what is false abets falsehood.

But let’s allow that somehow, some avoidable harm is done by the perception of some that the parade’s policy is unfair. I would argue that such a “scandal” is a piker compared to the one that you have now brought upon us. That is, the scandal of dereliction: the perception—however incorrect—that a prince of the Church is backing away from bedrock Catholic teaching, or is reluctant to uphold it. You said the most important question you asked yourself was whether the new policy “violate[s] Catholic faith or morals.” Indeed. Even assuming it does not, was equal consideration given to the potential for creating new scandal among the faithful, as was given to addressing the sensitivities of those who, for the most part, oppose or are indifferent to Church teaching?

Because here’s how the “messaging” is working out here in the vineyard, with help from the secular press: this is one more sign that the Church is gradually redefining its teaching on sexuality. It’s getting with the program. This false message will reach a crescendo on March 17, 2015, when you preside as Grand Marshal: the TV broadcast will use a split screen to show the smiling and waving Grand Marshal, leader of the American Church, on one side, and gay-identifying marchers under gay-identified banners, on the other. I can only guess what the New York Post will put on their cover the next morning. The point is, as unfounded as this message might be, it does and will press hard on the hearts of the faithful, sowing confusion and discouragement. I have yet to speak to a single Catholic who isn’t profoundly discomfited by your response. Not one. And wasn’t the decision to change the parade’s policy based upon addressing a stubborn, but false, perception?

As a vexing side note, perhaps the most ill-served of all by this new scandal are those who are contending bravely against the affliction of same-sex attraction, who may well see—or want to see—this as an invitation to give up the struggle to be chaste.

Which brings us to identity, and the most perplexing part of your explanation: the jaw dropping claim that “while actions are immoral, identity is not!” [Your exclamation point]. The best I can construe here is that you intended to say “predilection” or “proclivity,” not identity. We are all sinners called to repentance, with different predominant vices. But we know that any sinful tendency, whether by genetic predisposition or choice, can be overcome through cooperation with grace. To identify oneself with one’s sin is not to repent of it but to become it. To call yourself “gay” means you do it. To march under a banner with that word means you’re proud of it. This is a fact almost too elementary to labor. Surely Your Eminence is not the only one in New York who understands that any group calling itself OUT is, like the magazine, an advocate.

By your reasoning, the Parade Committee must also include pick pockets, pedophiles and prevaricators of Irish ancestry—even if they have not come up with a nice euphemism for their favorite vice. That is, of course, as long as they are just identifying, not advocating. You wrote, “if the Parade Committee allowed itself to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teachings, I would object.” Well, there are your grounds for objecting. If you doubt me, why don’t you meet with some members of OUT@NBCUniversal and ask them if they are proud of their lifestyle and would encourage anyone with same-sex attraction to embrace it. (And while you’re at it, you might ask how many of their members are of Irish ancestry.)

I happen to right now be reading Whittaker Chambers’ majestic apologia, Witness. In the opening chapter, written as a letter to his beloved children, he defines a witness as “a man whose life and faith are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences.” Right now, Iraqi Christians are witnessing to their faith by suffering bloody martyrdom. Like all people of good will, I am horrified by the stories and images I see. But I am also edified by their courage. I entreat you as our shepherd, to be a witness for your flock. In these daunting days, we need a Braveheart. 

Please prayerfully reconsider your statements, decry the committee’s decision, and step down as Grand Marshal. 

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Douglas Dewey

Douglas Dewey works in the health care field and formerly worked in the financial industry in Manhattan. He and his wife have ten children and attend Mass at Holy Innocents Parish in Pleasantville, New York.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Are you praying for the upcoming Synod on the Family? You should be, and here’s why

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Catholics, and all Christians who value family values, should be praying earnestly for the Catholic Church as a struggle over critical family issues is coming to a head in the run-up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which takes place October 5-19. 

Augmenting the concerns is the fact that some of the cardinals closest to Pope Francis himself are increasingly in public disagreement over crucial matters related to faith and family. For some, the concerns reach right to the pope himself.

While Synod preparations have been going on for a year, Sunday’s weddings of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Francis presented a figurative, and perhaps foreboding launch.

In a press release prior to the ceremony, the Rome diocese inexplicably went out of its way to highlight the fact that some of couples the pope was going to marry were cohabiting. "Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” it said. “There are those who are already cohabitating; who already have children.”

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream press took the bait and seized upon this statement to run headline after headline pushing the confusing notion that the event was a prelude to, or evidence of, a change in Church teaching on marriage.

Headlines like: 

All I can do is pray that the public fallout from these wedding ceremonies does not foreshadow the public outcome of the Synod. If so, we could be headed for a tragedy akin to the tragedy of the late sixties when, despite the proclamation of the truth of Humanae Vitae against contraception, the effect among ordinary Catholics was a near universal rejection of the teaching in practice.

What to expect at the Synod

The official list of those taking part in the Synod includes 114 presidents of Bishops’ Conferences, 13 heads of Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, 25 heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, nine members of the Ordinary Council for the Secretariat, the Secretary General, the Undersecretary, three religious elected by the Union of Superiors General, 26 members appointed by the Pontiff, eight fraternal delegates, and 38 auditors, among whom are 13 married couples and 16 experts.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Cardinal Kasper’s intervention at the Consistory of Cardinals earlier this year, in which he laid out a contentious proposal to allow Catholics who have been divorced and then ‘remarried’ outside the Church to receive Communion. 

Since then a bevy of heavy-hitter cardinals have fought that proposal, including:

Today, however, Cardinal Kasper said the “attacks” from these cardinals were not so much directed at him but at Pope Francis, since, claims Kasper, he discussed his intervention with the pope and gained his approval.

The claim has some basis, since the day after Kasper made the proposal, before it was made public, Pope Francis praised it publicly.  According to Vatican Information Service, the Holy Father said:

I read and reread Cardinal Walter Kasper's document and I would like to thank him, as I found it to be a work of profound theology, and also a serene theological reflection. It is pleasant to read serene theology. And I also found what St. Ignacius described as the 'sensus Ecclesiae', love for the Mother Church. ... It did me good, and an idea came to mind – please excuse me, Eminence, if I embarrass you – but my idea was that this is what we call ‘doing theology on one's knees’. Thank you, thank you.

Of note, Vatican correspondent Sébastien Maillard, writing for France’s La Croix, reports today that Pope Francis is “irritated” by the release of a book containing criticisms of the Kasper proposal by five cardinals.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported yesterday, one of those authors, Cardinal Raymond Burke, is being demoted from his headship of the Apostolic Signatura. The only post planned for the 66-year-old cardinal thus far is patron of the Order of Malta. 

Cardinal Burke’s pre-Synod interventions go beyond the divorce and remarriage question and into the matter of homosexuality.  In a recent interview Cardinal Burke gave a clear refutation of the misuse of Pope Francis’ famed ‘Who am I to judge’ quote to justify homosexuality.

While the issue of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality is seldom raised in reference to the Synod, with most of the emphasis being placed on the question of divorce and remarriage, it is mentioned in the working document, or ‘Instrumentum Laboris’, of the Synod.

As with the matter of divorce, no doctrine regarding homosexuality can be changed, but much confusion can still be sown under the auspices of adjustments to “pastoral” practice. Without a clear teaching from the Synod, the effects could be similar to the shift in “pastoral” practice among dissenting clergy after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, which led to the use of artificial contraception by most Catholics.

Already and for many years there has been de facto broad acceptance of homosexual sexual practices in many Catholic schools, universities and many other institutions, with many staff being active homosexuals in open defiance of Catholic moral teaching.

Regarding the Synod’s deliberations on homosexuality, it does not bode well that one of Pope Francis’ personal appointees to the Synod is retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels.  The selection is remarkable because of Danneels was caught on tape in 2010 urging a victim who had been sexually abused by a bishop-friend of Danneels, to be silent.  Then, only last year Danneels praised as a “positive development” that states were opening up civil marriage to homosexuals.

Then, just this week, as reported on the Rorate Caeli blog, one of the three Synod presidents gave an interview with the leading Brazilian newspaper in which he said that while stable unions between homosexual persons cannot be equated to marriage, the Church has always tried to show respect for such unions.

The statement matches that of another prominent Synod participant, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who in 2010 spoke of giving more consideration to ‘the quality’ of homosexual relationships. “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous,” Schönborn said.

In the end, while there is currently a public battle in the Vatican that is unprecedented in modern history, the faith will not and cannot change.  As faithful Catholics, and Christians, we must cling to the Truths of Christ regarding the family and live them out in our own lives first and foremost.  That is difficult, to be sure, especially in our sex-saturated culture, but with Christ (and only with Him) all things are possible. 

Plead with heaven for the pope and the bishops in the Synod.  LifeSiteNews will be there reporting from Rome, and, with your prayers and support, be of service to those defending truth.

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Cardinal Dolan greets worshipers and guests on the steps of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan after Easter mass on April 8, 2012 in New York City. Lev Radin / Shutterstock.com
Lisa Bourne

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Catholic leaders criticize Cardinal Dolan’s defense of gay group at St. Patrick’s Parade

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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New York Cardinal John O'Connor on the cover of the New York Post on January 11, 1993. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended his decision to serve as grand marshal for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Wednesday, in the wake of widespread criticism from Catholics after he praised the organizing committee for allowing a homosexual activist group to march.

“If the Parade Committee allowed a group to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teaching, I’d object,” Dolan stated in his weekly column. On the contrary, he argued, “The committee’s decision allows a group to publicize its identity, not promote actions contrary to the values of the Church that are such an essential part of Irish culture.”

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, was not impressed with the cardinal’s argument. This is precisely about publicizing advocacy contrary to Catholic teaching,” he said.

“As a Catholic father I find there is rapidly contracting space where this shameful agenda is not stuck in the faces of my children,” Ruse told LifeSiteNews. “The Church should be protecting our children rather than abetting those who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of innocent souls."

Pat Archbold, a popular blogger at the National Catholic Register and who runs the Creative Minority Report blog, lambasted Dolan for suggesting the embrace and promotion of “gay identity” can be separated from the sin of homosexuality.

“This identity is not a morally-neutral God-given attribute such as male or female, black or white,” he said. “The identity is with the immoral choice to engage in immoral behavior.”

“The best that can be said in this situation is that these people choose to proudly identify themselves with an intrinsic disorder.  But in reality, it is worse than that,” he continued. “The people find their identity and pride in sin.  Either the Cardinal knows this or he doesn't, either way Cardinal Dolan reveals himself unequal to his responsibility as a successor of the Apostles.”

The parade committee changed its longstanding policy on September 3 after decades of pressure from homosexual groups. Upon being announced as the parade’s grand marshal later the same day, Cardinal Dolan said he had no trouble with the decision at all, calling it “wise.”

The organizers had never prohibited any marchers, but did not ban issue-focused banners and signs, whether promoting homosexuality or the pro-life cause.

Cardinal Dolan stated in his column Wednesday that he did not oppose the previous policy.

“This was simply a reasonable policy about banners and public identification, not about the sexual inclinations of participants,” he explained.

“I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching,” he said as well, “but simply identifying themselves as ‘Gay people of Irish ancestry.’”

The homosexual activist group that will march is called OUT@NBCUniversal, which describes itself as the employee resource group for LGBT & Straight Ally employees at the media giant.

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The network held the broadcast contract for parade coverage. Reports indicated the contract was about to expire, and that NBC joined in pressuring on parade officials.

Cardinal Dolan conceded in his column there were many thoughtful reasons for criticizing the parade policy change, and noted that he shared some of them.

“While a handful have been less than charitable in their reactions, I must admit that many of you have rather thoughtful reasons for criticizing the committee’s decision,” he said. “You observe that the former policy was fair; you worry that this is but another example of a capitulation to an ‘aggressive Gay agenda,’ which still will not appease their demands; and you wonder if this could make people think the Church no longer has a clear teaching on the nature of human sexuality.” 

However, he said, the most important question he had to ask himself was whether the new policy violated Catholic faith or morals.

In stressing that homosexual actions are sinful while identity is not, Cardinal Dolan said, “Catholic teaching is clear: ‘being Gay’ is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals.”

Making opinion paramount, the cardinal offered that the parade committee “tried to be admirably sensitive to Church teaching,” and even though the original policy was not at all unfair, the committee was “realistic in worrying that the public perception was the opposite, no matter how often they tried to explain its coherence and fairness.”

“They worried that the former policy was being interpreted as bias, exclusion, and discrimination against a group in our city,” Cardinal Dolan wrote. “Which, if true, would also be contrary to Church teaching.”

When the decision was announced and Cardinal Dolan named the parade’s grand marshal, Philip Lawler, director of Catholic Culture and editor for Catholic World News, called it a significant advance for homosexual activists, and a significant retreat for the Catholic Church.

Pointing out in his column that the media will be correct to concentrate on that narrative at next March’s event, Lawler identified what he said is almost certain to be the result of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Next year there will be only one story-line of interest to the reporters who cover the annual parade in the world’s media capital: the triumph of the gay activists,” Lawler wrote.

“Photographers will be competing for the one ‘money’ shot: the picture of the contingent from OUT@NBCUniversal marching past the reviewing stand at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, under the benign smile of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.”

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