Alan Yoshioka

Toronto Catholic group: ‘Reclaim the rainbow!’

Alan Yoshioka
By Alan Yoshioka
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June 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The stripes of the rainbow surround us. Little decals on storefronts, triangular logos on the noticeboards of liberal churches, flags, bumper stickers. Pro-family folk may feel positively screamed at: “Diversity! Tolerance!” The rainbow is meant to send a message that certain people are welcome, and if others of us feel shut out, well, that’s just the price of inclusiveness, isn’t it?

We may be tempted to resent the intrusion: first they took the word “gay,” and now they’ve taken the rainbow. Well, without resentment or malice towards anyone, our group aims to take the symbol back.

We are Reclaim the Rainbow – Toronto (RTRT), and we are a policy group of Catholics who are faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and who have experience of same-sex attraction either in ourselves or in our loved ones. We came together in response to the disparagement of the Courage Apostolate by the president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (see coverage here), and we’ve been cooperating with parent advocates to fight for the integrity of the Catholic schools in our province.

Naturally we have a particular interest in the symbolism of the rainbow, which has often been in the news as some students and staff have seized opportunities to display it within Catholic schools. Whatever the gay press may have suggested, by the way, it’s not true that rainbows are flatly banned at St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga. But it is true that Catholic institutions have every right to prohibit promotion of ideologies hostile to Catholic doctrine, and that’s exactly what the rainbow flag is intended for—whatever pretense to the contrary may be made by people trying to cover their tracks.

Properly the rainbow symbolizes God’s covenant love, his promise never again to send waters to wipe out all living creatures on earth. Most people who are a bit biblically literate know that. But only recently did I notice that in blessing Noah and his three sons after the flood, God twice tells them, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

In other words, we need to understand the rainbow in light of the Creation story and the divine intention of human fruitfulness. Bearers of rainbow flags typically love to proclaim the value of diversity, as if diversity itself were somehow productive. At the same time, many deride the need for sexual difference, complementarity, for a true marriage to exist. The finite creature cannot adequately represent God by himself, but the male and the female together – when they live as friends and as a society, and most particularly when in marriage they offer to God their potential for fruitfulness – together represent God better than either could as individuals.

It’s not, of course, that fertility is necessary for marriage. So often, revisionists point to elderly or otherwise infertile couples as a supposed counterexample to the Christian insistence that two people of the same sex cannot marry each other. As it happens, through the mysteries of divine providence my wife and I ourselves still have not been able to conceive after nearly two years of marriage. Yet nonetheless our complementarity is undiminished as a sacramental sign of God’s presence. Throughout Scripture, salvation history is repeatedly depicted as a courtship between God/Christ/the Groom who is continually wooing and purifying Israel/the Church/his Bride.

We share with gay advocates at least the principle that people who experience homosexual inclinations “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” (CCC 2358). But in countering the insults and other affronts to human dignity that many people have experienced in connection with their sexuality, gay pride is neither necessary nor desirable. Those of us in RTRT who once affirmed homosexual acts as a positive good have seen the lie for what it is. Having experienced firsthand the damage that results from dismissal of the Church’s wisdom about human sexuality, we of all people long to see schools convey the fullness of truth handed down from the apostles.

Towards that end RTRT offers a program of staff training, school assemblies, parish nights, parental support. Schools should ensure that counselling referrals go through the Courage chaplaincy to reliable therapists and priests. We aim to transform school cultures so that “inclusiveness” isn’t just a buzzword – and especially that it isn’t used to silence authentic moral teaching.

Christopher West introduces one compilation of Blessed John Paul II’s writings on the theology of the body by using the notion of the “ethics of the sign.” He writes, “If it is possible to be a ‘sign’ of God’s love, it is also possible to be a ‘counter-sign.’ If it is possible to speak the truth with the body, it is also possible to speak a lie.” So too the rainbow in its most prevalent use today serves as a counter-sign.

In the current environment it is only rarely possible to use the rainbow without risk of scandal; without careful explanation on our part, bystanders may infer from it our support for gravely disordered acts. But with prayer, perseverance, and the grace of God, some day this misappropriation will give way to the victory Christ has already won.

For more information, visit Reclaim the Rainbow - Toronto’s website here.


“Reclaim the Rainbow – Toronto is a policy group of Toronto Catholics who have experience of SSA, same-sex attraction, either in themselves or among their loved ones, and who are loyal to the Magisterium. Its membership partly overlaps with Courage Toronto (established in 1986) and EnCourage Toronto (which will soon be active); however, as a policy group it is separate from them and will continue to be. Courage and EnCourage maintain their own purpose, which is for pastoral and peer support. They are the only Church-approved apostolates dealing with SSA.”


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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