Patrick Craine

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CRS ended major contract with printer over ties to pro-life group that criticized it

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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BALTIMORE, August 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic Relief Services ended a longstanding relationship with a Virginia printing company last year because of the company’s ties to a pro-life group that has criticized CRS over its million-dollar grants to pro-abortion groups, LifeSiteNews.com has learned.

The news comes as the U.S. Bishops’ agency has been under fire from pro-life leaders and activists in the last month after LifeSiteNews revealed that they gave over $13 million to the pro-abortion group CARE in 2012 and are in the midst of giving a $2.7 million grant to the abortion marketing firm Population Services International.

On July 26, 2012, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, chairman of CRS’ board of directors, wrote a letter to the bishops to inform them that CRS would not renew its contract with AKA Printing and Mailing because it is owned by the family of Judie Brown, president of American Life League (ALL). AKA was founded by Paul Brown, Judie’s husband, and is currently run by their son Hugh Brown.

AKA has been doing business with CRS for over a decade. From 2009 to 2012, AKA was CRS’ largest independent contractor, according to CRS’ 990s, receiving over $7 million in contracts over that period. (See CRS’ 990s here: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

In his letter, Bishop Kicanas says CRS would end its largest printing contract with AKA as of September 30, 2012 after learning “recently” that AKA is owned by Brown’s family and “maintains a close affiliation with ALL.”

"While the board and I welcome all constructive questions about the work of CRS, we have strongly disagreed with the manner used by ALL in raising its concerns, including tactics used against the USCCB, its members, staff, and programs,” the bishop writes.

Pro-life activist Shaun Kenney, who served as executive director at ALL from 2008 to 2010, told LifeSiteNews that he believes Kicanas’ letter is “black and white” evidence that CRS leveraged its relationship with AKA against American Life League.

“It’s abundantly clear CRS put direct pressure on AKA so that they would put direct pressure on ALL. That is not Catholic,” said Kenney, who is a columnist at RedState.com and is no longer associated with ALL. “It doesn’t live up to the standards of charity we should expect from an authentically Catholic organization.”

Kicanas’ July 26, 2012 letter came after Brown had issued a commentary critical of CRS on July 20, 2012 following LifeSiteNews’ first story on July 17, 2012 revealing that CRS was funding the pro-abortion group CARE. However, Kicanas says the decision to end AKA’s contracts was made earlier, at the CRS board meeting in June.

LifeSiteNews discovered Bishop Kicanas’ letter on a parish website August 6th after CRS’ dealings with AKA were made public by a senior CRS official on Facebook earlier this month. LifeSiteNews contacted Bishop Kicanas the same day, August 6th, but has not heard back by press time.

The Facebook comments came from John Rivera, CRS’ Director of Communications, who was responding August 1 to a post by Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith Project. Rivera was initially responding to Hichborn but then had an exchange with Kenney.

Rivera [to Hichborn]:  …how's AKA's business doing these days? And what was the REAL reason your video on CRS was taken down a couple of years ago. As I recall, we received a note of apology from Judie Brown for it.

Kenney: I wonder how long CRS held that over AKA's head in order to pressure ALL to stay silent...

Rivera: I wonder what it says about ALL's integrity that they'd be silent to preserve a printing contract?

Kenney: were they? or were they pressured to do so by CRS? you deny this?

Rivera: We didn't have to. Once Hugh Brown saw that video he flipped out and contacted us immediately to profusely apologize.

Kenney: CRS *never* pressured AKA or ALL? is that you're telling folks? interesting if so.

Rivera: We're not telling folks anything. We've never publicly discussed this. This is just between us

(See a screen cap of the back-and-forth here.)

Asked for comment on the allegations he made about ALL’s integrity via Facebook and why CRS was going public now about its dealings with AKA, Rivera told LifeSiteNews: “My conversation with Michael on my own Facebook page contained my personal comment. CRS has not made any allegations, and has not made any information publicly available.”

Rivera’s comments on Hichborn’s Facebook page were posted under the handle “John Rivera CatholicRelief”. He also has a private account at “John Rivera”.

CRS also declined comment when asked about allegations from Kenney and others that they used financial pressure to silence ALL.

The ALL video that Rivera refers to was published in May 2011. It included a criticism of CRS’ then-president Ken Hackett for his endorsement of The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. In the book and elsewhere, Sachs promotes population control through “family planning” as a solution to poverty.

A couple of days after the video was posted, Hackett sent a letter of complaint addressed to Judie Brown but used Hugh Brown’s fax number at AKA. ALL pulled the video, but they reposted it on August 21, 2012. In a piece on July 12, 2013, Brown said they had been wrong to pull the video but did not mention the AKA connection.

Questioned by LifeSiteNews.com, Judie Brown acknowledged what she called “veiled threats” that AKA and the ALL board had received over criticism of CRS.

She said her decision to pull the video was because they had neglected to reach out personally before going public. “We felt at least before we put it up, we should have asked them for a statement for what we were going to report. We violated the biblical principle of going to your brother first.”

She said they began publicly criticizing CRS a year later, in July 2012, after meeting with them directly and finding there was no interest in mending their ways.

Since neither CRS nor Bishop Kicanas responded to requests for comment, LifeSiteNews went to Brandon Vogt, a prominent Catholic blogger and speaker who has defended CRS’ grants to pro-abortion groups in the past through his blog and Facebook account. Vogt spoke up for the Catholic agency when LifeSiteNews provided him with the information.

“I don't see any evidence of financial pressure,” said Vogt. “The only relevant info comes from John Rivera's private Facebook account, but the exchange contains no indication of financial pressure. In fact, he explicitly denies it when accused: ‘We didn't have to [apply pressure].’”

Asked if there might be a double standard in the fact that CRS defends its multi-million dollar grants to pro-abortion groups but cut off a printing company because of its association with a pro-life group that criticizes it, Vogt responded that he believes the question “paints an extremely misleading picture.”

“CRS grants only go toward noble projects like providing food, water, and healthcare,” he said. “When they work alongside other groups toward these ends, the money used is non-fungible, meaning it cannot be used for objectionable ends. Therefore insinuating that CRS gives grants which promote the culture of death is disingenuous.”

“Even still, I don't see how their decisions regarding grants are relevant to choosing a printing vendor,” he said. “I don't see any problem cutting ties with a company that publicly admonishes your own company, especially when the critique is unfounded. Any secular-business CEO would take the same approach. CRS did not act unjustly or inconsistently by deciding not to renew their printing contract.”

Kenney, however, responded by clarifying that, “ALL doesn’t receive a dime from Catholic Relief Services.” “What [CRS is] doing is going after the family. It’s almost as though they went after your father in order not to print a news article,” he said.

Contact info:

Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3357
phone: (011) 39-06-6988-3413
Fax: (011) 39-06-6988-3409
E-mail: cdf@cfaith.va

Find contact information for all U.S. Bishops here.

Readers may also comment on Catholic Relief Services’ Facebook page.

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Victoria Duran screams at 17-year-old Created Equal intern Ian Spencer at a demonstration in Columbus, OH, July 9.
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Mother plans lawsuit after video of her daughter assaulting pro-life teen goes viral

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

The mother of a Burger King employee caught on video shoving and hitting members of a pro-life activist group and kicking down their signs during an obscenity-laden tirade against “male privilege” says she will file a civil lawsuit against the pro-life group due to the “emotional distress” her family has experienced after the embarrassing clip went viral online.

The video in question shows Victoria Duran, 28, screaming in the face of a teenage boy who was standing beside an image of an abortion victim and passing out literature for pro-life group Created Equal on a street corner in Columbus, Ohio.  Duran was apparently enraged over a poster depicting a 12-week-old unborn child, which she insisted was a “lie.”

WARNING: EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE – VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED

“That is not what a fetus looks like,” Duran screams in the video. “It’s a clump of cells at 12 weeks. It does not look like that! It’s a clump of blank cells. You’re a racist f—ing male that doesn’t stand for women’s rights!”  She then violently kicked over the poster, and when she realized she was being filmed, physically assaulted the person holding the camera and started running down the street, kicking over another poster as she fled.  

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Seth Drayer, the group’s director of training, pursued Duran on foot and informed her they were calling the police.  She stopped running and confronted Drayer face-to face, screaming obscenities at close range until she spotted the police.  At that point, she shoved Drayer aside and boarded a nearby city bus.  The police removed her from the bus and arrested her on charges of assault and criminal damaging of property.

Duran’s mother, Anairis Carter, who lives in Florida, fought the charges, claiming her daughter is autistic and therefore can’t be blamed for her actions.  The county prosecutor dropped the criminal charges, but ordered Duran to pay $80 to Created Equal to cover the cost of the posters she destroyed.

Now, Carter is suing Created Equal for emotional distress.  She says that ever since the group posted video of her daughter’s violent outburst, her family has received threats and harassment, driving her to purchase a security system for their house.

“On top of emotional distress all the excess things that have to do that have come out of pocket for me to be able to protect my children because of what they've done," Carter complained to ABC6. "It irritates me that [the pro-life activists] are trying to make themselves be victims when they are hardly that if you're a victim you don't sensationalize it.”

On Created Equal’s Facebook page, Carter continued to defend her daughter and vowed to keep up the fight against the pro-life group.

“[Victoria] had an outburst ... autistic people have them,” Carter wrote. “She didnt [sic] deserve everything else that happened afterwards and THAT'S why I AM SUEING [sic] them. They have HURT my children and their lives and their way of life … So, no, I wont leave them alone. The courts will decide on what happens. It will be in their hands.”

In another Facebook post, Carter compared Created Equal to abortion clinic bombers and expressed her support for abortion-on-demand. 

“I am so disgusted by these people,” Carter wrote. “I actually went on their website and I saw the MOST horrendous of things [sic]. These people are using an intro of MLK's ‘I have a dream speech’ [sic] to compare themselves and what they do to to [sic] the civil rights and civil liberties movement. They are comapring [sic] what they do to something so important as this?”

“Trying to overturn Roe v Wade is the most horric [sic] thing there is,” declared Carter. “Trying to send women back to the 30's, 40's, and 50's where llegal [sic] abortions with wire hangers and dying on kitchen tables must be more acceptable to them than the alternative.”

Carter has repeatedly accused Created Equal of lying about her daughter shoving Drayer into the side of a city bus.  In response, the group recently posted a second video that clearly shows the assault, along with a bystander threatening to mace Duran if she continued her violent behavior.

WARNING – OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE – VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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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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