Patrick Craine

Exclusive interview: ‘Join me’ challenges Canadian pro-life prisoner of conscience

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, June 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After being released from prison on Friday, pro-life advocate Linda Gibbons is preparing yet again to challenge the injunction that has landed her in jail for nine of the last 17 years.  But this time, she’s calling on other pro-lifers to join her campaign.

“I really feel if we’re going to turn this around, there has to be some kind of a mobilization,” said Gibbons, who spoke with LifeSiteNews from her temporary quarters in Toronto on Monday.  After her lengthiest prison stay to date, the grandmother and devoted prisoner of conscience plans to head right back to jail again at the end of July.

Gibbons’ campaign against the injunction has gained notoriety in the last year, propelled by the length of her most recent imprisonment, with multiple cover stories in the National Post and growing rumblings from pro-lifers about joining her.

“I think that it should be a movement. … Our witness at the abortion clinic is saying we’re here with our bodies,” she said.  “And when the court says, ‘Well, no you’re not going to be here,’ we’re saying, ‘Well, regardless of the cost, regardless of the risk.’”

A life-saving witness

Gibbons was freed Friday after 28 months of uninterrupted imprisonment for witnessing prayerfully outside Toronto’s Scott abortion facility.  It is one of several in the city that is protected by a 1994 court injunction banning pro-life activity within a specified zone.

Though Gibbons has repeatedly been prosecuted by the Crown in a criminal court, the “temporary” injunction was actually instituted in a civil court at the request of Bob Rae’s NDP provincial government.  It came amidst calls for a government crackdown against the pro-life movement after they were declared guilty by the media for the 1992 bombing at abortionist Henry Morgentaler’s Toronto facility.

Charges were never laid in that bombing, however, and the prime suspect was the father of a child aborted at the facility.  A Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report even suggested the bombing was likely perpetrated by pro-abortion activists.

Nevertheless, the injunction has had the effect of silencing pro-lifers’ freedom of speech, and effectively shutting down the life-saving work of sidewalk counselors and vigil-keepers.

Gibbons, who has dedicated her life to challenging the injunction, called it a “political construct” that lacks “legal propriety” and “proper authority.”  She noted that the injunction itself states the pro-life activity was threatening the financial interests of the abortionists.  “[The government is] extorting money from Canadian citizens to pay hired killers to butcher babies,” she said.  “The injunction [is] to protect that activity.”

“Since when does a government have an obligation to the commercialization of killing?  The government’s duty is to protect life,” she added.

Though she could be released on bail, Gibbons has remained behind bars for long stretches because she steadfastly refuses in conscience to accept a bail condition that requires her to stay away from the abortion facilities.  Signing the bail papers, she told LifeSiteNews, would be to say, “Yes I will cease defending innocent unborn children that are about to be killed.”

“I have no intention of agreeing to that.  It violates principles.  It violates conscience,” she explained.

‘Are you pro-lifers really acting like abortion is murder?’

Gibbons’ 17-year campaign has been fueled by a deep love for children in the womb, and hence a keen awareness of the atrocity of abortion.  She has taken to heart a question she was asked once by a Jewish reporter from the Ottawa Citizen: “Are you pro-lifers really acting like abortion is murder?”

“If a two-year-old was being murdered next door, you’re not going to sit down and write a letter to your MP,” she explained.  “That we need to do more, that’s obvious, obvious. … If I was going into a house to save a child from a fire, no one’s going to charge me with trespass for that.” At the same time, she insists that she has no interest in calling into question the efforts of pro-lifers who do not join her campaign.

But for Gibbons, the effort is a simple question of maintaining an authentic Christian witness.  “If the Church is not seen defending life, it puts the impression that Christ is not really concerned about it,” she said.  “The way the Church acts and behaves gives validity to our beliefs.”

She has often been asked if she regrets the time lost with family and the missed birthdays, marriages, and graduations.  “When we’re having unborn children slaughtered at the rate we are in Canada, … should our lives go on as normal?” she asked in response.  “It’s not normal to live in the Holocaust and sort of pretend it’s not happening.”

“I want [my life] to be a witness that the lives of these children cannot be forgotten,” she continued.  “I’m ready to surrender all my assets, … all my time. [Otherwise,] we’re saying these babies must be allowed to die so I can stay in my comfort zone.  Because what we say then is it doesn’t matter.”

“When we begin to suffer for the unborn, our identification with them, that’s when we’re going to impact society, when they see that,” she added.  “The Church is not hurting enough for the unborn.  When we start feeling their hurt in a real concrete way, then things are going to change, because then we’re saying very clearly that this cannot go on.”

Saving babies in prison

Gibbons has been a vocal critic of conditions at Milton, Ontario’s Vanier Centre for Women, where she says women in outer cells are subjected to hypothermia-like conditions as a result of the cold.  And she admits that the length of her stay this time around had her convinced that she would never get out.

Nevertheless, she puts her jail time to good use, counseling women struggling with drugs, alcohol, and prostitution, keeping the peace as needed, and spreading the Gospel through one-on-one conversations or by leading Bible studies with small groups.

“I treat them like my daughters.  I call them my girls.  It’s a matter of just trying to love them where they’re at,” she said.

In fact, in her most recent stint she was able to convince three pregnant prisoners to keep their babies, and connected them with a Toronto pregnancy resource center when they left.

‘As long as God gives me life and breath’

While the grandmother would normally turn around to challenge the injunction again in less than a week, this time she’s going to take a brief break in order to visit her 89-year-old mother and take care of medical needs.  But she says she’ll be back at it by the end of July, and is committed to the cause until the very end.

She said she will continue to challenge the injunction “as long as God gives me life and breath.  If I can get out of bed and put my feet on the floor, then I want to continue.”

“My mission is to be all that Christ wants me to be.  It is his mission and we are simply walking with Christ,” she said.  “It becomes simply a daily moment-by-moment walking with Christ.”

See the LifeSiteNews Feature page, Linda Gibbons, Prisoner of Conscience, listing many past reports on her efforts to steer vulnerable women away from making the same mistakes that she herself made.

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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
The Editors

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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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