Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent


14 months long protests continue asking ‘Catholic’ Barcelona hospitals to stop abortions

Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent
Matthew Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

Updated: 10/3/2012 at 3:38 pm EST

June 28, 2012 ( - After fourteen monthly protests in front of Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona, little has changed. The institution, which includes multiple priests on its board of directors, is accused of continuing to perform abortions. Cardinal Archbishop Lluis Martínez Sistach remains silent while mainstream media headlines shout: “Hospitals linked to the Catalan Church still offer abortion services.”

Other hospitals in the Archdiocese of Barcelona and neighboring dioceses also continue to perform abortions and sterilizations, and dispense contraceptives, all in opposition to Catholic teaching, according to protest organizer Fr. Custodio Ballester.

Spanish pro-lifers, however, remain undaunted and are resolved to continue the demonstrations, which occur on the 25th of each month at 8:30 pm, beginning in front of the Sant Pau hospital, and ending in front of the Holy Family Basilica, several blocks away.

Monday’s march included a testimony by Mercedes Cruz Quesada, a Catholic nurse who works at a local hospital and claims that her organizing efforts have prevented the performance of abortions at the facility.

Fr. Ballester, a Barcelona-area priest who has helped to lead the demonstrations and repeatedly asked for action on the part of his prelate, Cardinal Sistach, compared Cruz Queseda’s victory in protecting life to the ongoing failure of his archbishop to do the same in Catholic hospitals.

“If she was able to do it, from her humble position, why can’t the bishops do the same with the board of directors [of Catholic hospitals]?” he asked in an email interview with LifeSiteNews.

The abortions continue, evidence indicates

“The Santa Creu y Sant Pau Hospital, in whose administration the leadership of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Barcelona participates, continues to carry out abortions according to various witnesses and the health care workers themselves,” Ballester told, adding that the most the archdiocese has done is to state that “abortions should be done in other health centers.”

However, notes Ballester, that hasn’t happened. There is “an agreement with the administration of the hospital to deny the problem and not a coercive order to not do abortions.”

He cites the case of Alicia Rojano Miguel, whose testimony was publicized by the Spanish newspaper ABC and other publications, “to whom they offered an abortion in the Sant Pau Hospital this past April 18th.”

“The sterilizations and abortion pills that are dispensed in the hospital is a topic that the archdiocese has not wanted to broach, nor has been interested in,” stated Ballester. “Regarding the experimentation with human embryos, the Archdiocese of Barcelona excuses itself saying that a ‘foundation independent of the hospital,’ is doing it. But it has its headquarters and acts in the very facilities of the Sant Pau Hospital.”

In addition to Fr. Ballester, Spanish medical expert Dr. José María Simón has opined that the presence of abortionist physician Joaquim Calaf Alsina, as head of the hospital’s gynecology department, is evidence that abortions are continuing at the facility.

ABC’s Esther Amora reported in late 2011 that the Sant Pau hospital was again being listed as an abortion facility on a Catalonia government website. The page with the listings was eliminated soon after the publication of the report, according to ACI Prensa.

Despite the evidence offered by official government records and reported statements by hospital officials and patients indicating that abortions are carried out at the Sant Pau hospital, Cardinal Sistach has repeatedly denied the claims, the last time in late 2011 in an interview with the Catholic news agency ACI Prensa.

Other area hospitals also problematic

Ballester says that other area hospitals, which were revealed in 2010 and 2011 to be carrying out abortions and sterilizations and distributing abortifacient contraceptives, are still doing so.

“The General Hospital of Granollers—in whose board of directors the Diocese of Tarrsa participates—carries out abortions continuously, above all eugenic ones, and dispenses RU-486 and Levonorgestrel,” Ballester told “Various medical professionals and various witnesses say so, and on the website of the hospital it is indicated with a great deal of clarity…Despite this, the diocese of Tarrasa still participates in the leadership of the hospital.”

“The situation of the Comarcal Sant Celoni Hospital — sterilizations and abortifacient pills — came out in March of 2011 with the singular resignation of the pastor of St. Martín of St. Celoni [church] as vice-president of the hospital, for reasons of conscience. The three parochial representatives of the board abandoned the pastor in his decision and continue in their positions. The diocese of Tarrasa has kept silent.”

“In the Maternal hospital of San Juan de Dios in Espluges (diocese of San Feliu), today, they are carrying out abortions in the first weeks of pregnancy. They dispense the abortion pill, they carry out sterilizations, and in the Medical Center for Reproduction, located in the hospital’s facilities, they experiment with frozen embryos. The Diocese of San Feliu excuses itself saying that the topic is not part of their jurisdiction, since the hospital belongs to the Order of the Hospitalers.”

“In short, the situation continues to be mired in confusion, passivity, and silence. The only clear directives of the chanceries hasn’t been directed at eliminating the practices that are abortionist and contrary to Christian morality, which those four hospitals are carrying out, but rather to deactivate and silence the pro-life movements that publicly denounce this grave scandal on the 25th of each month.”

Requests for interviews with the Archdiocese of Barcelona and the Sant Pau Hospital were not answered by publication time.

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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