John Westen

U.S. bishops’ relief agency gives $5.3 million to major contraception-providing charity

John Westen
John Westen
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Co-author Angela O’Brien

July 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the epic battle between the American Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration over being forced to pay for contraceptive coverage, the efforts of the bishops have been undermined time and again by individual Catholics and Catholic entities that support contraception. One major example of this is within the Bishops’ own jurisdiction. 

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), “the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops” has recently given millions to an organization that doles out contraceptives, including abortifacient ‘emergency contraception.’

The most recent CRS annual returns (2010) indicate that the largest CRS grant — $5.3 million — went to CARE, an international “relief and development organization,” that actively promotes and provides contraceptives for women in developing countries, and supports pro-abortion groups and legislation.

According to the 2010 990s, CRS gave $5,380,466 to CARE, which is noted on page 86 of the filing.

Noted theologian Dr. William Marshner told LifeSiteNews that he believes the CRS’ funding of CARE is “ghastly.”

“Obviously this expenditure of funds on the part of Catholic Relief Services is an immoral use of the money,” he said.

Human Life International, the largest international pro-life Catholic organization is similarly troubled.  There is “no way to support CARE financially that does not also support the problematic work that they do,” Fr. Shenan Boquet told LifeSiteNews.

The HLI president noted that that CARE has made “‘reproductive health’—which typically includes contraception as well as abortion—a cornerstone of their ‘development’ strategies.” Because the revenues that CARE receives are fungible, he said, any funds given them would automatically support their whole program—including abortion lobbying and contraception.

“We hope that CRS reconsiders its funding for CARE and for other groups who have for some time, whether knowingly or not, set themselves against the Church’s view of the dignity of the human person,” said Fr. Boquet.

When asked if, given the evidence on CARE, CRS would end its partnership with the organization, CRS Communications Director John Rivera said “no.” He indicated that concerns had already been raised and dismissed. 

Rivera told LifeSiteNews that CRS doesn’t so much give the money to the organization as act as a “pass-through” for federal funding to such groups, and that the money is given only to projects in line with Catholic teaching.

However, when asked if CRS would similarly issue ‘pass-through’ funding to Planned Parenthood for a morally neutral project, Rivera replied in the negative.  “We would never partner with Planned Parenthood,” he said.

He explained the difference saying, it’s about “the preponderance of work they do.”  Rivera noted that CRS acts on criteria developed by the U.S. bishops. “We’ve given this a lot of consideration, and there’s a threshold in terms of what the focus of an agency is, and the preponderance of their work.”

Marshner, the founding professor of theology at Christendom College, took issue with this rationale:

“Well this is like saying that we will fund an organization that does 50 or fewer assassinations a year, but not one that will commit 50 or more assassinations a year. The idea of such a threshold is preposterous. The only defense would be if a group to whom they had given money incidentally, or rarely, or accidentally, or inadvertently did something immoral with it. But, if the group to whom the money is given has a regular practice of using some of their funds in this way, then it is immoral for a Church organization to give money to that outfit.”

In its Mission Statement, CRS claims to “uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life,” and “embody Catholic social and moral teaching.” In April 2009, CRS senior communications manager, Tom Price, told LifeSiteNews: “We would not fund any [abortion] advocacy organization.” 

Price said at the time that CRS’s official policy “on relationships with organizations that carry out activities counter to Church teaching is that we would not partner or fund them. This is very clear policy at CRS. We are an agency of the Catholic Church and we do not just follow Church teachings, we embrace them.”

However, CARE’s provision of contraceptives is explicit. In a statement on International Women’s Day, the CARE website declared: “…CARE instituted community-based distribution systems to make contraceptives available at clients’ doorsteps”.

While claiming that “CARE does not fund, support or perform abortions,” CARE notes its partnership with leading abortion-provider Marie Stopes International (page 4).

CARE also provides abortifacient emergency contraception. “Together with governments and other partners,” the CARE website states, “we are focusing on emergency obstetric care, family planning (including emergency contraception)…”

In an article titled “A Request for President Obama” on the CARE website, CARE clearly expresses its hostility to anti-abortion legislation: “Thankfully, on Election Day, we did not choose four more years of conservative, unsympathetic leaders. Under the previous administration, we simply made it far too difficult for women outside of the U.S. to access reproductive-health and family-planning services. Case in point: In 1984, the Reagan administration established the Mexico City Policy… because it denies foreign organizations receiving U.S. family-planning assistance the right to use their own non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion or counsel, or even to refer abortion or to lobby for the legalization of abortion.”

HLI President Fr. Boquet called for the immediate defunding of CARE, and for a review of its granting policies.

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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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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

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
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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