Fr. Peter-Michael Preble

An Orthodox priest salutes Bishop Jenky’s courage

Fr. Peter-Michael Preble
By Fr. Peter-Michael Preble
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One of the fundamental characteristics of a good leader, no, strike that, a great leader is courage. Of all the skills that leaders, especially leaders in the Church, need it is courage. We are faced with an unprecedented attack on religious freedom in this country, and what we need more than anything are leaders who are not afraid to say what needs to be said. We need leaders who put themselves out in front to protect their flocks from attack. We need leaders who will speak the truth in all situations regardless of the consequences of that truth.

I spent twelve years in the Army of the United States, and I served under many leaders. The one thing that distinguished the good ones from the bad ones was courage. I am not talking about courage under fire on the battle-field, but courage to do what had to be done, regardless of the consequences. That is the mark of true leaders: the willingness to risk it all to complete a mission because they know what will happen if they fail. Courageous leaders always have the welfare of those they are leading in the fore-front of their mind and think of themselves only after they think of those they are leading. Their platoon’s or their church’s welfare is more important than their own.

Recently, Daniel Jenky, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Peoria, Illinois preached a sermon in which he said that President Obama was heading down the same road that Hitler and Stalin had taken. He was referring to the change in the HHS mandate that would require religious institutions to provide abortion and contraception coverage regardless of their moral objections. This change, in my opinion and the opinion of many others, is a direct attack on the religious freedom we have always enjoyed in America. I have written on this topic myself and was publicly taken to task by a bishop of my own Church for what I had to say.

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In that April 14 sermon, Bishop Jenky said that the Church will survive what is being done to her and that many “have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide within the confines of their churches.” It is important to note that those governments that have tried to extinguish the church have all fallen, yet the church continues. As Jenky said.

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care…

In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama - with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path….

Every other Roman Catholic bishop in America has made similar statements saying what the Church should be teaching and speaking what her bishops are speaking.

This takes courage! Shortly after Jenky’s sermon, a left-wing, God-hating group filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service citing the sermon as a violation of the IRS tax code in relation to churches. And the faculty of what used to be a Roman Catholic University, Notre Dame, publicly called on Bishop Jenky to retract his statements but so far he is standing by his words.

I believe we have lost sight of the fact that the Church does not change to fit the culture; the Church is supposed to influence the culture and keep the culture on track. When a church changes to fit what society wants her to believe, she has failed in her mission and confused the people. The Church does not decide matters of faith and morals based on opinion polls; the Church decides on what has been revealed to her by the Holy Spirit and through her long tradition. If the culture needs correction, it is up to the Church, and her authentic teachers, the bishops, to bring that culture back on track. I believe we are where we are as a society, because we, the Church, have not been doing our job effectively.

We can look back at the political takeovers of the last century, and see that one of the first things accomplished was the silencing of the Church. When the Nazis rolled into Poland the Roman Catholic Church gave her assent, because Hitler had promised that the Church would not be affected. Soon after the Nazis arrival, that all changed; the Church began to be persecuted.

The socialist plan will not work unless the government is in control of the moral compass of the people. The moral compass of the people is the Church, the authentic Church and her bishops. Right now, with few exceptions, the Roman Catholic Church is fighting this fight on her own. She has the loudest voice, yes, but this is not a simply a Roman Catholic issue, as the liberal media would like us to believe. This is an issue of religious freedom that will affect all of us in America. If we stay silent, we will end up like the Roman Catholic Church in Poland of the 1940s.

To be a leader means to have the courage that it takes to stand up when needed. Leaders cannot be afraid of the political or economic fallout of teaching and upholding what the Church teaches. The Church is to be counter-cultural and to remind people that we do have a moral code, a code that this country was founded on and, if we are not careful, a code that will become a distant memory.

This moral code is very counter-cultural, and most of the adherents to the Orthodox faith are confused on many of the issues that face them every day. The Orthodox faith is not simply a faith practiced on Sunday or when it is convenient another issue that the faithful need to consider but it is a faith that is lived, a faith that is part of the very fabric of our humanity. We can’t separate our life outside the Church from our life inside the Church, because there should be no difference.

What we need now, more than ever before in the history of America, are leaders who are filled with the power and the boldness of the Holy Spirit, as the apostles were on the day of Pentecost. Courageous, Spirit-filled leaders leading the church and say what needs to be said, whether or not it is politically correct and regardless of the fallout. We need leaders who are not afraid to stand up and say that what is being done is not right and who will tell the world we will not be silenced.

But it is not just up to the leaders of the Church. The laity needs to support its leaders when they come under attack. The Church needs to be defended at all levels of society and everyone needs to be involved in this defense of the faith.

The Church needs courageous leaders who are and will be authentic shepherds of their flock and are, in a very real way, willing to lay down their lives for those that God has entrusted to them. Thanks be to God, the Church does have leaders like this, but we need so many more. We need leaders with the courage and conviction of Bishop Jenky, who will stand up and be counted, and take the government and the faithful to task for what they are doing or not doing.

Throughout Scripture, the image of the shepherd is used as an image of Jesus leading His flock. This image has been repeated throughout the history of the Church in reference to the clergy, who lead the Church as descendants of those very apostles. The shepherd who stands on the hillside is not there for his own gain, but to watch carefully over the flock that God has entrusted to him. He is constantly scanning the horizon for any threat to that flock. He provides the nourishment the flock needs. His first thought in the morning and his last thought at night is about his flock. If left alone, the flock is not able to defend itself. The flock needs the shepherd.

Each bishop of the Church carries a staff like those of the shepherds on the hill-side. That staff is to remind him, and the faithful, that he is there to protect them, nourish them, and lead them at all times. If the shepherd turns away, even for just a moment, he opens the flock up to attack. He needs to be as concerned for the ones in the back of the pack as he is for the ones in the front. The shepherd has to be fearless in the defense of his flock, and he has to be willing to lay down his life to save just one.

We have just completed the holiest week of the Church year. The entire week was spent focusing on the Cross. The hymns of the Church services and the Scripture reads helped us to focus on the events that took place. In a very real way, we walked along side Jesus as He went to His voluntary death. We walked alongside Him as He laid down His life for His flock.

The Romans had used the Cross as a symbol and instrument of terror and death for years. The action of one man, Jesus Christ, transformed it to a symbol of freedom. This symbol we need to cling to. With the Crucifixion of Jesus, the cross changed from a symbol of fear to a symbol of courage. We wear that Cross around our necks as a reminder what Jesus did for us. The Cross has become a symbol of truth, and if we just cling to that symbol, we find the courage that we need.

I was reminded recently that the role of the priest is to be the mediator for his people. When priests or bishops put on their vestments for the liturgy, we are reminded that we are clothing ourselves with the armor of God and preparing for battle. We are warriors in the army of the Lord and we are to use that armor to defend the flock.

More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ called twelve men to follow Him and to continue His teaching as the inheritors of His mission on earth. One of those chosen fell into temptation and sold Him into the hands of the enemy, but the others became the voice that has given us the church we have today.

The earliest settlers of America had the courage to leave all that they knew to come to a harsh and uninviting place, simply because they wanted to be able to practice their faith without government interference. For more than 200 years, that has been the law here in America. Recently, with the stroke of a pen, that liberty and freedom has been taken away. For the first time in the history of America, the government has forced the Church to go against her teachings. The wolf is standing close to the flock. We need leaders who are courageous who are not afraid to place themselves between the wolf and the flock.

After all, this is what Jesus did!


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

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By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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