Patrick Craine

Catholic school principal fired for promoting 40 Days for Life fights back with statement

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, January 10, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In his first public statement since controversy broke last year, the Winnipeg Catholic school principal who was fired in November after promoting the 40 Days for Life campaign argues that he was used as a “scapegoat” by Church and school leaders to escape negative media attention.

David Hood, the former principal at Christ the King elementary school, was dismissed following the publication of an Oct. 12th Winnipeg Free Press article alleging that he was planning to offer academic credit to grade 7 and 8 students who attended the 40 Days prayer vigil.

The article, which got immediate national attention and was the newspaper’s “most commented on” piece for 2011, sparked calls for the school to lose its 50 percent funding from the government for “political activism.”

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In his first public comment since that initial interview with the Free Press, Hood accuses the news publication of grossly misrepresenting and twisting his remarks, and ultimately blames the paper for his dismissal.

An ardent pro-lifer and father of seven children, Hood laments that the “most vulnerable in our society” ended up getting caught in the middle of the dispute.  “[These are] the souls whom I was trying to protect in the first place,” he writes, “our future students and citizens who are still in the womb.  This is the real travesty.”

Hood explains that the Winnipeg Free Press got on the story when some parents complained after he had encouraged families to join the 40 Days for Life vigil in the school’s newsletter.

While, according to Hood, he had emphasized that joining 40 Days for Life would be voluntary, and had stressed to the Free Press reporter that he was new in the job and was merely considering allowing the 40 Days to count for community service hours and would have to pass it by other school staff, the Winnipeg Free Press nevertheless ran with the headline “Anti-abortion vigil earns credit.”

“In the article, the opening sentence stated that children of the school who walk in the daily vigil would receive community service credit.  Let me be clear, I did not state - and have never stated any such thing,” Hood writes.  “Under my watch, no credit was ever given.  You know this – why continue to propagate lies?”

“The fallout from these allegations has not only cost me my job of many dedicated years in Catholic education, but has caused undue hardship to my wife and family of seven children,” he adds.

After the Oct. 12th article, the school and the Archdiocese of St. Boniface immediately distanced themselves from Hood’s comments.  He was put on leave the next day and then reinstated temporarily on Oct. 25th.

“I feel I was used as a scapegoat by those in power - who became uncomfortable with the situation and the media attention it garnered,” Hood wrote in his statement.

The archdiocese’s Director of Education Robert Praznik insisted that the Catholic schools would not give community service credit for a “political activity.”  Praznik told LifeSiteNews after the controversy broke that the archdiocese’s schools would not get involved with the 40 Days for Life because of its ties to Campaign Life Coalition, a national pro-life group that works to secure full legal protection for the unborn.

Archbishop Albert LeGatt himself has participated in the city’s 40 Days vigil, which takes place outside Women’s Hospital, and even was the speaker at the midpoint rally in fall 2010.

“The ‘40 Days for Life Vigil’ is a peaceful and prayerful activity underscoring a major church teaching: ‘the sanctity of life from conception to natural death’,” writes Hood.  “While abortion may be a controversial issue in the public sphere, it is considered ‘a grave offence’ in the eyes of the Church. (Catechism of the Catholic Church Article 2270-2275)”

“We should not be apologizing for our Catholic beliefs. … Nor should one be chastised for promoting these beliefs to students within the Catholic system,” Hood insists.  “Those within the Catholic community, who question the Sanctity of Life and its profession to the masses, should seriously question their Catholicity.”

Hood concludes: “It should be understood that I am not bitter, nor do I hold any grudges or resentment.  I do however, feel the public - and those directly involved - deserve to hear the truth.”

Read David Hood’s complete statement here.

See Winnipeg Free Press article covering David Hood’s current statement.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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