Bishop obeys govt order to remove Catholic school teaching on sinfulness of homosexual acts
WHITEHORSE, Yukon, Oct. 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse has obeyed an order by the Yukon government to remove Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality from its policy on pastoral care for same-sex attracted students in its publicly-funded Catholic schools. Critics have pointed out that even in the title of the new policy, the ‘truth’ has been removed.
The original policy contested by the government was called 'Living with Hope, Ministering by Love, Teaching in Truth.' The new policy title reads: ‘One Heart: Ministering by Love.’
The original policy, published in the spring of 2012, sparked opposition from media, homosexual activists, and some citizens in the town of 20,000 last spring because it expounded the Catechism’s teaching that homosexual acts are “gravely depraved” and the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered.”
The controversy culminated in then-Minister of Education Scott Kent sending a letter to Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon in which he effectively told the bishop that Church teaching on homosexuality was barred from publicly-funded Catholic schools because it violates the equality provisions of Yukon law.
Bishop Gordon, who also serves as the diocese’s religious education director, agreed to draft a new policy, which he released in July.
The new draft is facing criticism from faithful Catholics, because, while it stresses forcefully the Church’s teaching that homosexual persons should be treated with respect, it is completely silent about the immorality of homosexual activity.
The policy quotes a 1986 document from the Vatican on the need for respect of homosexual persons, but this same document had stressed that pastoral care for homosexual persons is ultimately damaging to them if it is silent about Church teaching.
“We wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral,” wrote Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1986 letter ‘On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons’. “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church's position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”
The new policy does mention the call to chastity and points to the Catechism paragraphs dealing with homosexuality, but the policy emphasizes that Catholic schools should “value diversity,” and aim to offer an environment that is "safe, welcoming, inclusive and affirming of the uniqueness of each and every student."
The draft policy also says that the schools will promote “understanding and tolerance of sexual minorities,” and that they will use materials to present homosexual “writers, historians, scientists, artists, musicians, and spiritual leaders” as “positive role models.”
At an Oct. 3rd consultation meeting on the policy held by the school councils of the diocese’s three Catholic schools, ratepayer Judy Douglas said the draft leaves out “God’s standard.”
“This whole policy should have a higher standard. It should have God’s standard in it, I don’t believe it has that,” she said, according to Yukon News. “It talks a lot about honour and dignity and respect for people with same-sex attraction, which I believe in. I believe all human beings should be valued and honoured and respected.”
“However, it’s very unbalanced because it doesn’t talk about the sin of it. It doesn’t talk about the fact that it’s immoral, it’s unclean,” she added.
The new policy is also facing strong criticism from the other side, however, for not going far enough in removing Church doctrine. The Ministry of Education’s top public servant has expressed openness to their view, even though the draft was developed in conjunction with the government and the government’s lawyers had determined it conforms to Yukon’s Human Rights Acts, Canada’s Charter, and the Education Ministry’s policies.
According to the Whitehorse Star, the majority of speakers at the Oct. 3rd consultation, which drew about 30 people, expressed concern with the policy’s reference to Church documents like the Catechism, because they expound Church teachings on homosexuality that are deemed derogatory.
Tjitske van der Eide, a parent whose children attend Vanier Secondary, said the policy was “an example of homophobia in the name of religion.”
“I find it archaic and deceiving. It refers in its footnotes to church doctrine and dogma in which our homosexual brothers and sisters are being referred to as intrinsically evil,” she said, according to the Whitehorse Star. “How legal is that in our publicly funded schools?”
The critics also called for the removal of a provision in the policy that gives the bishop the power to disband a “gay/straight” student club if he finds it is teaching views opposed to Catholic doctrine.
Many took the criticism even further, however, and called for the government to scrap the policy altogether and instead force the Catholic schools to use the government’s 2012 Sexual orientation and gender identity policy.
After hearing the feedback, the deputy minister of education, Valerie Royle, said the government had believed the policy document properly balanced the concern for inclusivity with a respect for the Church’s teaching. But, she said, “clearly we’re hearing that there’s still certainly some variation of opinions so maybe we haven’t struck that balance.”
“What we’re trying to do is find a policy, and I still believe it’s possible, that serves all needs,” she said.
Consultation on the policy ended Oct. 11th. Royle said the government, the Catholic school councils, and the bishop will go over the feedback and then release a summary of the responses. From there the three parties will make a final decision about the policy.
Bishop Gordon published the original policy in Sept. 2012, after, he says, it was vetted by the Ministry of Education.
That original policy emphasized the Church’s respect for the dignity for those who experience same-sex attractions, but also affirmed Church teaching. It quoted the Catechism and said those who are same-sex attracted, “for whom marriage is not an option,” are called to chastity. It made no mention of seeking out homosexuals to hold up as “positive role models” for students.
After a student complained about the policy, however, then-Education Minister Scott Kent ordered that it be withdrawn.
After Bishop Gordon met with Kent on March 5, 2013, the bishop removed the policy from the website of Vanier Catholic Secondary School, the diocese’s Catholic high school. But the bishop told the press that the policy would still remain in effect. “Homosexual activity is always morally wrong,” he said. “The teaching of the Church is always going to guide what goes on in a Catholic school.”
Kent insisted in a March 19th letter, however, that removing the policy from the website was not enough – it had to be withdrawn and rewritten.
The minister said the policy’s treatment of homosexuality violated the Ministry of Education’s Sexual orientation and gender identity policy and “may be in contradiction to the Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
While the diocese is responsible for teaching the faith in the schools, Kent wrote, the diocese’s first obligation in providing such instruction is to comply with the laws in force in the Yukon. Religious teachings that are “inconsistent with and do not meet the requirements of existing laws and policies cannot have application in any publicly supported schools in the Yukon,” he wrote.
In July, Bishop Gordon told LifeSiteNews that he hoped there would not be a showdown between the Church and the government, even as the government insisted it was “not flexible” in its stance against Church teaching on homosexuality in the schools.
Asked at the time if he would allow the government to “bully” the Church, the bishop said, “Well we’re in discussions and everybody’s pretty clear that I’m a Catholic Bishop and I teach the Catholic faith. I mean what else can I say?”
Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women, said the Yukon government has no business “dictating policy to a Catholic school.” “Why not send your children to the public schools?” she asked of parents critical of Church teaching in the schools.
But she also expressed concern over the Diocese of Whitehorse’s actions, suggesting that in their draft policy they had “capitulated on a matter of intrinsic Catholicism.” “It seems to me that it’s appalling that the Catholic bishops and the Catholic board have not stood for the teaching of the Magisterium,” she said.
LifeSiteNews.com was unable to reach Bishop Gordon after multiple attempts. Minister of Education Elaine Taylor was unavailable for an interview.
Hon. Darrell Pasloski, Premier
Hon. Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education and Deputy Premier
Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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