Hilary White

The life and family stands of a few of Pope Francis’ new cardinals

Hilary White
Hilary White
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ROME January 17, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This past weekend, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’s choices for his first consistory, the men he has chosen to raise to the Sacred College of Cardinals. The list of new names includes 19 bishops, of whom three are already over the age of 80, making them ineligible to vote in an election of a new Pope.

Several of these bishops are well known for their strong stances on the issues that are dearest to pro-life and pro-family activists.

Among the 16 Cardinal Electors, Pope Francis’s replacement in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli, has been described as the most “Bergoglista” of the group, that is, the one most in line with the pope’s own priorities. Archbishop Poli has most recently opposed the imposition of “gay marriage” on Argentina, and as head of the Catholic archdiocese of the nation’s capital, is said to be maintaining a “respectful but distant” relationship between the Church and the leftist government.

In 2012, Poli denounced the intention of the government to decriminalise abortion. In a homily, Poli said, “We ask God to have mercy on those who are the life line to the culture of death.” Speaking to a group of pilgrims at a shrine to the Virgin Mary, Poli added that decriminalising abortion “is threatening the lives of the most vulnerable and defenseless children who are the unborn”. 

“Despite our warnings, the raising of the voice of the Church, our legislators were deaf. We will continue praying, asking the Virgin to protect all pregnant mothers,” he said.

Another new cardinal-elect who has long been of interest to the pro-life community is Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the archbishop of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Archbishop Yeom was prominent in his opposition to the work of an internationally known embryo researcher. In 2005, at the height of the furore over the work of Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk, (which was later discredited as fraudulent) then-bishop Yeom was the head of a committee launched by the Archdiocese of Seoul that raised 10 billion won (US$9.6 million) to fund adult stem-cell research.

Last year, Archbishop Yeom spoke strongly against a proposal by the Korean National Commission of Bioethics to legalise euthanasia. “My opinion on Euthanasia coincides with that of the Catholic Church: I am against it. Death should be a natural process,” the Archbishop Yeom told AsiaNews in August, 2013.

Instead of legalised euthanasia, he suggested practical assistance for patients, including comprehensive hospice and “financial support for the dying patients.” Without these changes, he warned, the recommendation “may cause negative result of approving the contempt for human life”.

Of the three older cardinals on Pope Francis’s list, 95-year-old Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, a theologian and former Archbishop of Pamplona, Spain, stands out as a fierce opponent of abortion throughout his long career. As early as 1985, the year the Spanish government changed the abortion law, Archbishop Sebastián, as secretary general of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, warned that legalising abortion would create a “license to kill” for civil servants whose moral authority it would also “degrade.”

Legalisation, he said, would cause a “demoralization of the Spanish people.” It “facilitates and encourages people to resolve issues that may arise through the expeditious and cruel formula of attacking the weakest.” The “essential reality” of abortion, he said, is “the violent suppression of a helpless human being.”

The reception of the cardinal’s red hat is an event that tends to launch a mere bishop or archbishop, a prelate who is often of only local or national interest, into the stratosphere of global newsworthiness. The source of this increased importance comes from the cardinals’ function as an advisory body and, as such, they are understood to be the highest rank of prelate below the pope himself. But their most important function is the election of a new pope. As such, a pope’s choice of cardinals is always looked upon by Vatican-watchers as one of the most important ways he signals the priorities of his papacy.

Many are observing that the list of Francis’s first consistory has much to do with the economic condition of their locations, with most coming from the developing world. Indeed, most of the names are obscure even in Catholic media and the pope seems to be using the choices to focus attention on his project of elevating his concept of reaching to the peripheries.

Notable also is the absence from the list of a number of politically important or ancient Catholic sees such as Venice, Brussels, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. 

When the cardinal emeritus of a major “red-hat” see is still under 80, his successor’s elevation to the College is often, though not always, delayed, and this is the situation with both Philadelphia and Los Angeles. But not for Archbishop Andre Leonard, the head of the archdiocese of Brussels who replaced the now 80 year-old Godfried Cardinal Danneels. Archbishop Leonard has made international headlines for his strong opposition to abortion and “gay marriage,” and for this has suffered the wrath of opponents who have on several occasions physically attacked him in public.

The pope has also hinted that there will be no formal reception for the actual consistory on February 22nd, normally a lavish public affair where Rome dignitaries and ordinary lay people alike can meet the new appointees. In a letter addressed to each of them released by the Vatican today, Francis told the new cardinals-elect that their role is to be one of “service” and warned them not to hold the traditional lavish parties. They should avoid any response that smacks of “high society or hold celebrations that have nothing to do with the gospel spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty,” the pope said.

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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 more than $400 million 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.

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
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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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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