Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Vatican’s Cardinal Burke: Media is ‘mocking’ the Pope by creating a liberal caricature

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

VATICAN CITY, February 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Rumours that Pope Francis intends to change Church teaching on abortion or homosexuality are unfounded media-generated fabrications, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said in a column this week in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura, the Church's highest court, writes that during a recent visit to the US he had noticed “a certain questioning” among many Catholics about Pope Francis’ intentions towards the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality and the sanctity of life. So pervasive was the worry that Burke said many “were surprised” when he told them the pope has “affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions.”

“They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation of Pope Francis and his views,” he added.

The cardinal noted Pope Francis’ messages to the Marches for Life in Washington, DC and Rome, and insisted that Francis has strongly “reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, as well as the practical importance of the Church’s canonical discipline in seeking the truth regarding the claim of the nullity of a marriage.”

Burke tacitly acknowledged, however, that the Pope’s style has often made Francis difficult for many to understand. “Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach,” he said. But this “tool of interpretation” he adds, can be found in Francis’ actions. Quoting Cardinal Renato Martino, he said that Francis’ ability to teach “through his actions” is the source of his “uniqueness and his magnetism.” 

Burke quotes Francis in the interview that shocked and upset many pro-life and pro-family people around the world and even drew implicit criticisms from some bishops:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. … I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

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But this quote, Burke said, did not mean that the pope thinks these issues were not important. Pope Francis, he said, wants first “to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context.” 

“In the face of a galloping de-Christianization in the West,” Burke said the pope “wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness.”

“We all know individuals who say things like: ‘Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce,’ or ‘I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality.’ The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives,” the cardinal continued.

“But his approach,” he added, “cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time.”

Burke cites Pope Francis’ many comments strongly condemning the abortion movement, particularly in his address to politicians and the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, of which Cardinal Burke is president of the advisory board. At that time, Francis condemned the modern “throwaway culture” that threatens “to become the dominant mentality.”

“The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people … who are in danger of being ‘thrown out’, expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs,” Pope Francis said.  

On other occasions, Francis has called abortion an “abomination” and said it “cries out for vengeance to God.” In 2007, then-Cardinal Bergoglio condemned abortion, even in cases of rape saying: “We aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.” Bergoglio promoted a special blessing in his archdiocese for mothers and their unborn children. 

Burke’s defense of Francis dovetails with his own many previous statements on life and family, most recently in an interview with EWTN when he said unequivocally that “we can never talk enough” about abortion. Cardinal Burke, since his days as bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin and archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, has long been regarded by both sides of the culture wars as one of the strongest and most outspoken voices in the Catholic hierarchy in support of the Church’s moral teachings on the family and human life.

In his article, after reassuring Catholics, Burke turned some of his strongest criticisms on the media and others who have perpetrated the Pope Francis mythology. Calling them “persons whose hearts are hardened against the truth,” Cardinal Burke condemned the “false praise” heaped on Francis by the mainstream media for what they have claimed are his intentions to change or “abandon” Church teaching “which our totally secularized culture rejects.”

The enthusiasm for this false Francis, Burke said, “mocks the fact that he is the Successor of Saint Peter, totally grounded in the Beatitudes, and that, therefore, with humble trust in God alone, he rejects the acceptance and praise of the world.”

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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.

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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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