Patrick Craine

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Catholic principal faces dismissal for promoting 40 Days for Life

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, October 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The principal at a Catholic elementary school in Winnipeg faces possible dismissal after he considered allowing students to count the 40 Days for Life vigil towards community service hours.

Principal David Hood of Christ the King School advertised the local 40 Days campaign in a recent newsletter and then told the Winnipeg Free Press on Tuesday that he was considering allowing students to join the vigil to satisfy part of the 10 hours of community service required of grade 7 and 8 students.

The comments led to a media firestorm with calls for the school, which is independent and under the auspices of the Archdiocese, but receives 50 percent funding, to lose its public funding for promoting “political” activism.

Now Principal Hood’s employment is under review by the school’s board of directors, the CBC reported Thursday afternoon.  Hood was asked to stay home Thursday.

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After the Winnipeg Free Press broke the story Tuesday, the Archdiocese, headed by Archbishop James Weisgerber, immediately distanced themselves from Hood’s actions, insisting that “Catholic Schools in Winnipeg do not give community service or academic credit for participation in prayer vigils.”

“There are no Catholic schools in Winnipeg that give academic credit for political activity,” Robert Praznik, the Archdiocese of Winnipeg’s director of education, told the Winnipeg Free Press.  “We’re very careful, we’re not a political organization. None of this is part of the curriculum, and none of this is done on school time.”

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Praznik insisted the Winnipeg Catholic schools strongly uphold the right to life, but said they “would never give credit to people for attending a prayer service,” just like they “wouldn’t give credit to people for attending Mass.”

“We respect the sanctity of human life.  It would be individual parents, families that would make those decisions,” he continued.

Asked if the schools would organize a group to attend a pro-life event, like the Catholic schools in Ontario do by sending students to the Ottawa March for Life, he said, “We would have difficulty if it happened during school hours because of our funding.”

“It’s not that we’re not supporting pro-life activities, but we’re also politically sensitive to the political environment,” he said.  “In terms of government regulations in terms of school hours and so forth.  We walk a fine line.”

Maria Slykerman, the organizer of Winnipeg’s 40 Days for Life, insisted the campaign is not political, and questioned why a Catholic school would not count standing as a witness to the dignity of the unborn as a service to the community.

“They’re not getting involved in political lobbying.  They’re getting involved in praying,” she told LifeSiteNews.  “I don’t see anything wrong about the teacher and the principal giving these kids community service.”

Manitoba’s Ministry of Education told LifeSiteNews in a statement that the 40 Days for Life would not fit into the government’s community service curriculum requirements, which they say are meant to support “worthwhile causes or organizations.”

Under the Manitoba government’s curriculum, community service for credit begins in high school, when students can earn one credit for a minimum of 110 hours.  Christ the King’s 10 hours of service is not mandated by the government curriculum.

“Community service credits are awarded to students who make a contribution by volunteering for worthwhile causes or organizations,” the statement read.  “Participation in this type of activity during school hours or as organized by a teacher would not fit under the Manitoba curriculum which all funded independent schools in Manitoba are required to follow.”

Bishops across the world have joined the 40 Days for Life vigils, including campaigns in North Carolina, New Jersey, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Toronto, and Sydney.  Most recently, Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver joined his local campaign.

In September 2010, an aide to Pope Benedict XVI replied to a letter from the 40 Days for Life campaign in London assuring them that the pope would be praying for “you and all those who seek to protect life in the womb, that their efforts might lead to a growing appreciation of the inalienable rights of the unborn child.”

Winnipeg is home to two Archdioceses - Winnipeg and St. Boniface.  Christ the King School is based in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface but is overseen by Praznik at the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.

Principal David Hood was unavailable for an interview.

Contact Information:

Christ the King School
Board of Directors
Click here for online e-mail form.

Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, Archbishop of Saint-Boniface
151, avenue de la Cathédrale
Saint-Boniface, MB R2H 0H6
Tel: (204) 237-9851
Fax: (204) 231-2652
E-mail: [email protected]

Most Rev. V. James Weisgerber, Archbishop of Winnipeg
1495 Pembina Highway
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2C6
Tel: (204) 452-2227
Fax: (204) 475-4409
E-mail: [email protected]

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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