Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Vatican archbishop: attacks on Church’s life, family, other teachings betray ‘pogrom sentiment’

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, February 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In recent comments to the German newspaper Die Welt, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller has said that recent “targeted campaigns to discredit” the Catholic Church remind him of a “pogrom sentiment.” The remarks by Müller, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, have enraged liberal Catholics, German politicians and garnered criticism from some Jewish groups.

Church teachings on the impossibility of ordaining women, homosexuality and priestly celibacy have come under increasing attack in North America and Europe media, the archbishop said earlier in the interview.

In response to a subsequent question about Cardinal George's famous remark that his successor may end up in prison for defending the faith, Archbiship Müller said, "campaigns which are specifically targeted at discrediting the Catholic Church in the U.S. and Europe have led to clerics in some sectors being publicly insulted in a vulgar way."

“An artificially created fury is growing here which sometimes reminds one of a pogrom sentiment,” he said, adding that such attacks “recall the struggles of totalitarian ideologies against Christianity.”

Leftist politicians and media were less than impressed with Müller statements.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, “Comparisons with the Holocaust are tasteless when it comes to divergent opinions in our society about current issues such as the role of marriage, family and registered life partnerships.”

Claudia Roth of the far-left Green party called Müller’s statement “utterly unacceptable and dangerously forgetful of history”. Roth called it the utterances of “Vatican’s chief ideologist,” and said it sounded as though the “Catholic Church wants to beam back to the Middle Ages.”

Alois Glück, president of the Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (Central Committee of German Catholics) distanced himself from the comments, saying that although there were some “aggressive tones towards the Church and religious people” this is “thankfully not the general climate”. Glück complained instead of a “process of alienation” between Church leaders like Müller and their flocks for which a “self-critical reflection is necessary”. 

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Müller, before his appointment to the Vatican’s number three spot, was the head of the Regensburg diocese where he was widely depicted as a “hardline” conservative, despite his long-time sympathy for the Liberation Theologians of the 1970s. In the Die Welt interview, Müller said that though it is positive for bishops to be in discussion with laypeople about the nature of Church doctrine, the idea that the laity can demand that the Church change its teaching is beyond the pale. 

The Church, he said, “cannot accept relationships between people of the same sex in a way that means they will be treated as marriage.”

On priestly celibacy, a hot topic for the ultra-liberal German Catholic Church, the issue is closed, he added. “Priestly celibacy is the example and words of Jesus and found in the spiritual experience of the Latin Church, a particular expression.” Rumblings within the Catholic Church in Germany to change this practice, he said, come from misunderstandings of sexuality common to the times.

He also decried the growing notion of a “German Church” understood as separate and independent from Rome. He spoke instead of the Catholic Church in Germany, saying that it suffers not from “Roman centralism” but the fact that “we have too little unity.”

“The Church does not suffer from centralization, but the fact that the centrifugal forces are too strong.”

In a previous interview last year, Müller said that being Catholic at a “reduced price” was not possible, but one had to accept Catholic teaching in its entirety. People cannot create their own Church, “according to taste and in respect to the zeitgeist.”

Josef Schuster, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, responded to the comments, saying that Müller does not know what a “pogrom” means. The archbishop, he said, as one of the highest dignitaries of the Catholic Church,  “would be well advised to immediately correct his statement publicly”.

But Jerusalem Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of the American Jewish Committee for Interreligious Affairs, has countered that the comments have been interpreted “maliciously”.

“Is no comparison with the atrocities of the Holocaust ever appropriate?” asked Rosen.

“It is also clear to any reasonable person,” he added, “It is also clear to any reasonable person who rereads the words of Archbishop Müller, however, that such a comparison was not his intention. Refer to the interview, this can only be the result of malicious intent.”

Müller made his comments in response to a growing movement among the “Boomer” generation of extreme-left clergy in Germany, Austria and elsewhere. Groups of clergy and laity have formed in Germany, Austria and Ireland who have publicly declared themselves independent of the Catholic Church’s authority and denied certain key doctrines regarding the nature of the priesthood and the Church.

However, in June last year, one of the Church’s most prominent prelates, the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, who had been ordered by Rome to bring Austrian group into line, told the Austrian Priests’ Initiative that they will not be required to renounce their anti-Catholic work.

The Initiative had issued a public letter titled, “A Call to Disobedience,” that demanded the Church change her teachings on priestly celibacy and homosexuality, and had been the subject of a direct papal rebuke from the pulpit of St. Peter’s Basilica. Schönborn sympathetically heard their grievances, even bringing a letter from the group to give to the pope personally, and told them they must renounce only the letter’s use of the word “disobedience.”

“You can easily remain a member of the Priests Initiative,” the cardinal’s spokesman said. “You must only distance yourself from the ‘Call to Disobedience’ in an appropriate way.”

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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.

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
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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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