Timothy Herrmann

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Melinda Gates: I’m Catholic and contraception is not controversial

Timothy Herrmann
By Timothy Herrmann
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April 11, 2012 (C-FAM) - On Holy Thursday Melinda Gates publicly professed her Catholic faith and then personally attacked her Church over its position on contraception. I could not help but be reminded of Judas and his mysterious betrayal of Christ that night, sealed with a kiss.

In fairness to Mrs. Gates, her speech wasn’t expressly about the Church. It was about her foundation’s new “NoControversy” initiative to promote universal access to contraception. Her message was simple: Contraception is not controversial.  And to convince people of this, she argued that population control, abortion, and forced sterilization have nothing to do with the international promotion of universal access to contraception. If people associate them together,  they are just “confused”.

This is a life and death crisis. Every year, 100,000 women who don’t want to be pregnant die in childbirth. About 600,000 women who don’t want to be pregnant give birth to a baby who dies in her first month of life.

I know everybody wants to save these mothers and babies.

But somewhere along the line, we got confused by our own conversations and we stopped trying to save these lives. We need to be clear about our agenda. It is not abortion. It is not population control.

But why attack the Catholic Church?  Well, because the Church isn’t confused about contraception. In fact, even if the contraceptive movement really had successfully cut ties with the population control movement and no longer had anything to do with the promotion of abortion, which is very hard to believe thanks to the work of UN agencies like the UNFPA, the Church would still refuse to change its message: Contraception is bad for people.

That is why Melinda Gates did what she did. As a Catholic, she knows contraception is controversial, and she knows that dismissing the controversy isn’t as simple as laying the blame on confused people making confused arguments about the very real dangers of contraception and its affects on human health, relationship, and society. So she knew she had to dismiss the Church’s teaching as unreasonable and to do it publicly. If she was going to prove to the world that contraception was objectively good, she had to dismiss the Church and, and particular the Church’s audacious claim that it speaks the truth.

In the tradition of the great Catholic scholars, the nuns also taught us to question received teachings. One of the teachings most of my classmates and I questioned was the one saying that birth control is a sin.

I think one of the main reasons people are so uncomfortable talking about this issue is a lingering concern that separating sex from reproduction will encourage promiscuity. It’s a reasonable question to ask about contraception: What is its impact on sexual morality?

But like most women, my decision about birth control had nothing to do with promiscuity. I had a plan for my future. I wanted to go to college, and I studied hard. I am proud that I was one of the very few female computer science graduates in my class. I also wanted to have a career.

Judas knew Christ and was with Him everyday, even in public, and he still betrayed Him. It would be very difficult to deny that Judas wasn’t aware of his own actions. He went to see the high priests, he took their blood money, he brought their guards to Christ. But did he really know what he was doing? Or was Judas confused?

I imagine that the Apostles hardly ever understood exactly what Christ meant when he spoke about the inevitability of His impending death. All of them were used to Christ speaking beyond their comprehension. Some of them ran away from Him, one of them betrayed Him three times before the cock crowed. But not all of them handed Him over to death.

We also shouldn’t forget that for Judas it must have seemed like Christ was the one who was betraying him. Christ was the one abandoning him.  Christ’s death proclamation did not evoke images of the power, or the King, or the Kingdom that Judas has imagined. In fact it was beyond imagination and must have seemed to Judas to be an inconceivable and unnecessary sacrifice.

This was the same Christ who Judas had seen preform countless miracles and who spoke to Judas with an affection he had never encountered anywhere else. So, Judas betrayed Christ because Judas felt betrayed first. But the others did not. They did not because they belonged to Christ and his friendship, while Judas merely “participated”, unconvinced.

The others, even if they did not understand, were so caught up in wonder, so in love with Christ that they could only follow, continually convinced that what Christ had to say, even if it exceeded the confines of their imagination, was nonetheless true.

Today, most Catholics struggle with the Church’s teachings on contraception, but many are convinced by and in wonder of the person of Christ and the Church which continues to proclaim His truth. Within their struggle, they keep following, convinced by the overall attractiveness of the faith. Melinda Gates is not convinced, and so she chooses to deny its teaching, not because she hates the Church, but because she feels somewhat betrayed by it—because she can’t understand it, just like Judas couldn’t understand why Christ, instead of accepting to be turned over to the Romans, didn’t raise up an army of angels to take over and have Himself crowned King. However, we can’t forget, that those who stayed, eventually did.

In June the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the support of the British Government and the UNFPA will host a family planning summit in London. Her speech was meant to pave the way for its success and to call for the entire world to get behind what she claims is a very worthy cause.

Those who denied Christ also did so for what they considered a worthy cause, and this story, even 2,000 years later, continues dramatically today.

Timothy Herrman is the UN representative for the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Herrmann’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.


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LifeSiteNews staff

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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

LifeSiteNews staff
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

Tony Gosgnach
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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