John Westen

Fallout continues from misinterpretations of Pope Francis interviews

John Westen
John Westen
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ROME, October 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis has the heart of a liberal, and I’m not speaking here of "liberal" in the pejorative sense, but in the positive sense - a generous and child-like heart.  With this heart and his mandate to care for souls, Pope Francis can perform miracles, even the miracle of halting the downward spiral of the Catholic Church in the West.  It will take radical action to achieve that miracle, and it is just such a heart that is needed to take such radical action. 

In addition to having the heart for action, realistic perception is required, to see the needs of the Church all over the world. Those who advise the Pope on the status of the situation globally aid in this monumental task.  The role is principally, but not exclusively taken up by clergy from all parts of the globe who have regular meetings with the Pope to advise him.

However, it seems that he has had some very questionable advice.  This can be seen very clearly in his remarks from his interview on the return flight from World Youth Day in Rio. 

The official Vatican transcript of the interview records a reporter asking him: “You did not speak about abortion, about same-sex marriage.  In Brazil a law has been approved which widens the right to abortion and permits marriage between people of the same sex.  Why did you not speak about this?”

Pope Francis replied, “The Church has already spoken quite clearly on this.  It was unnecessary to return to it, just as I didn’t speak about cheating, lying, or other matters on which the Church has a clear teaching!” 

When the reporter pressed again saying, “But the young are interested in this,” Pope Francis said, “Yes, though it wasn’t necessary to speak of it, but rather of the positive things that open up the path to young people.  Isn’t that right! Besides, young people know perfectly well what the Church’s position is.”

As many of the activists in the trenches of the culture wars in North America and Europe have remarked, the youth of today do not know what the Church teaches on these matters. They have misperceptions of the Church’s teachings, viewing them as a big ‘no’ to all things fun, but have no clue about the truth, beauty and depth of the Church’s teaching. Moreover, as speakers on these controversial topics will readily attest, the youth are hungry for such discussion, especially from those who, like Pope Francis, are willing and able to speak freely and from the heart about these issues.

Polling

Recent polling shows that Pope Francis has a higher approval rating, at 89% favorable or very favorable, among American Catholics than both of his predecessors. The same poll asked Catholics: “As you may know, Pope Francis recently remarked that the church has become too focused on issues like homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives. Do you agree or disagree?” Sixty-eight percent agreed. 

The same poll that found a majority of Catholics approving of Pope Francis and agreeing with his supposed belief that the church is too focused on abortion, etc., also showed that Catholic Americans approved of same-sex “marriage” at a higher rate than the average American.  The poll found 56% of all Americans approving of same-sex "marrige," but among Catholics it’s 60%. Even among Catholics who attend Mass every week, the poll notes a majority (53%) support homosexual "marriage." 

Similarly, questions on legal abortion found Catholic Americans only very slightly less approving than the average American. A majority of Catholics - 52% - were found to support legal abortion in all or most cases, with the American average at 54%. 

While it is undoubtedly a good thing that Pope Francis is able to reach a wide and diverse audience through his popularity, there are troubling questions about whether this popularity is based more upon an authentic encounter with the real Pope Francis and everything he stands for, or with a fabricated Pope that has been created by media-driven misinterpretations of some of the more ambiguous statements in his recent interviews.

There is a considerable body of evidence to indicate that many of the Pope’s more unlikely fans are more enamored with a pope of their own imagination than the real thing, and that at some point there is going to be a necessary correction in the public square, as many of these fans recognize that he will not, contrary to their hopes, change any Church teachings on their pet moral issues. 

Media using Pope’s remarks to attack Catholic activists

Since the off-the-cuff papal interviews began, it has become commonplace for media pundits to use selective quotes from Pope Francis to berate Catholic activists in the life and family arena. A few of the many examples will illustrate the trend.

On September 20, CNN host Chris Cuomo used Pope Francis’ remarks to attack the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, a stalwart defender of the Church and her teachings on life and family matters.  “You just heard what the Pope said. Why wouldn’t you try to move past this parsing rhetoric and try to be what your Church is supposed to be about?” And again, cutting off Donohue, Cuomo quipped, “The Pope has given you a different message. He’s saying don’t make these statements about the homosexuals, don’t make these statements about the Jews, get back to what your Church is about. Jesus wasn’t about what you’re doing right now. Are you going to hear that message or not? Because it doesn’t sound like it.” 

On Fox News Detroit’s Let It Rip program of September 29, the hosts spoke with homosexual ‘marriage’ promoter John Corvino about a Catholic college’s decision to disinvite him from speaking on campus, and representing the Catholic position was Fr. Paul Nicholson, a priest known for his rock-solid evangelization efforts.  

On the show, not only Corvino, but also the hosts, repeatedly pushed Fr. Nicholson over their misreading of Pope Francis’ remarks. Speaking of the Pope, one of the hosts said, “He’s not endorsing the gay lifestyle but he’s saying we have to be more accepting of it.” Then again, answering the priest’s explanation that the Pope did not change Church teaching on the matter, the host said, “No, but he is saying, didn’t you think that he did say, that we need to be more accepting of gay people and not focus on the negatives of these peoples’ private lifestyles?”

An October 6th New York Times article covered a Catholic University voting on whether or not to remove coverage for elective abortion from the staff health care plan.  Writer Ian Lovett began his piece this way: “Not three weeks have passed since Pope Francis said the church had grown ‘obsessed’ with abortion, declaring, 'We have to find a new balance.' But on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, overlooking this city’s west side, a fight over abortion now threatens to rip the school asunder.”

Political Catholics

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, known as the leading promoter of abortion and homosexuality in Congress while simultaneously proclaiming herself to be a devout Catholic, was interviewed on CNN about the Pope’s remarks.  Like President Obama, who recently said he was “hugely impressed” with the Pope’s pronouncements, Pelosi was ecstatic. “(He’s) starting to sound like a nun. The Pope is starting to sound like the nuns,” Pelosi began, in an apprent reference to the liberal reputation of many of the older religious orders in the United States, many of which were recently investigated by the Vatican and promoting views contrary to the faith. 

“I was there for his inauguration. And I, being Catholic, believed that he was chosen Pope by the intercession of the Holy Spirit, so I pay attention to what he says,” she said. “And I can tell you that there is great joy among Catholics and friends of Catholics … It’s really quite remarkable. It’s a source of joy to us all.”

When the host noted that the comments were not a source of joy for all Catholics and that conservative Catholics had expressed some reservations, Pelosi responded: “I don’t know about them because certainly when it was another Pope who had something else to say, they wanted to hold us all to it.”

Pro-abortion New York Congressman Charles Rangel wrote in the New York Times that the Pope’s remarks were “a much-needed call for the clergy to move beyond the threats of excommunication or denying communion to pro-choice politicians.”

“As a former altar boy who has never shied away from pleading with the Church to broaden its focus beyond gays, abortion and birth control, I thank Pope Francis for urging the Church to refocus on its fundamental teachings of love and compassion,” he said.

Leaders of Catholic institutions

The new President of a Minnesota Catholic college used her reading of Pope Francis’ remarks on homosexuality to justify allowing practicing homosexuals to be professors at the college.  In her opening speech at convocation, Julie Sullivan, President of the University of St. Thomas, announced, “It pains me to think that a gay student, staff or faculty member would ever feel unwelcome or a need to ‘hide’ at St. Thomas. As Pope Francis reminds us, we are not called to judge. We are called to love and support everyone in our community regardless of their sexual orientation. And, I might add, regardless of the gender of their spouse.”

At a Catholic school board meeting in Ottawa, Ontario in late September, a Catholic trustee invoked Pope Francis to question a delegation of parents who were concerned over the board’s promotion of a pro-abortion group.  The parents suggested replacing problematic partners with those who “refuse to participate in any immoral activities.” After the presentation, a trustee demanded to know if the parent-presenter had “listened [to] or heard the Pope’s latest statement and clarification.”

Dissident Catholics

Initial euphoric reactions from liberal Catholics were trumpeted in mainstream media all over the world.

Catholics for a Free Choice, in their press release on the day of the publication of the Jesuit interview, said, “We welcome what Pope Francis said today when he called for the Catholic church to be ‘home for all’ and not a ‘small chapel’ focused on doctrine and limited views on moral teachings.”  The pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ group’s President, Jon O’Brien, added, “We hope he takes steps to ensure that his more open view of how the church should deal with people trickles down to his brother bishops around the world.”

The press release from the homosexuality promoting ‘Catholic’ group Dignity USA stated: “We find much to be hopeful about, particularly in the Pope’s firm desire that the Church be a ’home for all people,’ and his belief that God looks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with love rather than condemnation.”

DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke added: “LGBT Catholics and allies will rejoice in the Pope’s call for Church leaders to focus on being pastors rather than rule enforcers. We hope that the bishops will heed this call and immediately end their anti-LGBT campaigns, the firings of church workers for who they are, the attacks on people who challenge or question official teachings, and the exclusive and judgmental rhetoric that comes too often from our pulpits.” She concluded, “The Pope is unambiguous. Leave the bully pulpit, and accompany your people.”

Sister Jeanine Gramick, who heads up the pro-homosexual group New Ways Ministry, which has already been publicly sanctioned by Church leadership, was on MSNBC television with a glowing reaction to the Papal interview. ”I cried when I first began to read it,” she said.  She repeatedly said the Pope is saying that these “these hot button issues” are “not essential.”

Communists

Paul Kengor, a convert to Catholicism who was drawn, as he says, “to the Church initially in large part because of its stalwart anti-communism across centuries,” was dismayed to report that he found praise for Pope Francis in the pages of the radical communist publication People’s World.

Writing in the American Spectator, Kengor notes, “After decades of slandering, attacking, denigrating, and even trying to kill various popes in the Roman Catholic Church — from Pope Pius XII to Pope John Paul II — communists are suddenly embracing a pope.”

Commenting on the Jesuit magazine interview with Pope Francis, the Communist publication argued that “the most important point the Pope made regarded the narrow focus of some Catholics on a few controversial issues of sexual morality.”

Author Henry Millstein explained: “Why should this matter to progressives? Because Catholic (and other) right-wingers, including, lamentably, some bishops, have latched on to this narrow set of issues to promote a broader right-wing agenda. If the essence of being Catholic is to oppose abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, then faithful Catholics (and some other Christians) can easily be hoodwinked into supporting rightist candidates who line up with this agenda, disregarding flagrant violations of other aspects of Catholic teaching. Pope Francis knocked the legs out from under this ploy…”

From the Pews

Some of the first reaction from Catholics in the pews to be publicly revealed came in the column of Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.   Describing responses he received to the Pope’s Jesuit magazine interview, Archbishop Chaput wrote:

Some people grasped at the interview like a lifeline — or a vindication. One person praised the Holy Father for stressing that the “Church must focus on compassion and mercy, not on enforcing small-minded rules.” She added that “we’re at last free from the chains of hatred that have ruled the Catholic Church for so many years and led to my unease in bringing my own children into that Church.”

More common though were emails from catechists, parents, and everyday Catholics who felt confused by media headlines suggesting that the Church had somehow changed her teaching on a variety of moral issues.

I heard from a mother of four children – one adopted, another disabled from birth — who’d spent years counseling pregnant girls and opening prolife clinics. She wanted to know why the Pope seemed to dismiss her sacrifices.

A priest said the Pope “has implicitly accused brother priests who are serious about moral issues of being small minded,” and that “[if you’re a priest,] being morally serious is now likely to get you publicly cast as a problem.” Another priest wrote that “the problem is that [the Holy Father] makes all of the wrong people happy, people who will never believe in the Gospel and who will continue to persecute the Church.”

LifeSiteNews co-founder Steve Jalsevac described another perception in his recent blog post on Pope Francis’ interviews. He related that his priest gave a homily on angels and demons with a strong pro-life emphasis and later there was a pro-life announcement that generated applause from the people. Afterward in the parking lot a “disgruntled older couple” was overheard “complaining about all the abortion talk during the Mass.”  One of them said, “Don’t they know what Pope Francis just said?"

A parish group in Ontario, Canada which has participated in a yearly fundraiser for the pro-life cause, has let the pro-life group in question know that “because of what the Holy Father has said,” they will no longer be participating in the fundraiser.

Catholics have also found a new need to defend against charges that the Pope is no longer pro-life. At a LifeChain on Sunday in Valparaiso, Indiana, Dr. Richard Stith reports, “we held our annual peaceful, prayerful Life Chain protest against abortion. A  Mennonite protester asked a Catholic, "What do you think of your Pope coming out pro-abortion?"

Priests

Priests have not been immune from misinterpretations of Pope Francis’ remarks. 

A Rhode Island newspaper did interviews with a number of local priests in response to Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge” remark concerning homosexuality.

Father David Thurber, ordained in 2008, told the newspaper he saw in Pope Francis’ remarks a justification for refusing to deny communion to couples living together without being married. “I am not in the business of denying Communion,” he said. “As Pope Francis said, it’s not fair to judge. I preach the Gospel, and whoever hears it, hears it.”

Redemptorist priest Fr Tony Flannery, one of the five Irish priests censured by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and threatened with excommunication over his stand on women priests and contraception, has also lauded the Pope’s interview.

He told the Irish Independent: “What the Pope said seems to amount to a fairly substantial critique of the way in which the Curia and, in particular, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith have been operating.”

The Pope said that in some cases, when Vatican Congregations are not functioning well, "they run the risk of becoming institutions of censorship". The paper says the Pope’s call for local bishops’ conferences to handle such matters could potentially be "good news" for Fr. Flannery and the other censured Irish priests.

Fr Flannery added: “It changes the rules of the game in the sense that it appears that the Curia has largely been taken out of the business of dealing with disciplinary matters and it has been handed back to the local church to deal with it.”

He also said there was "no question" that the Pope was criticizing the "thought police" who spent their time reporting people to Rome.

Conclusion

Let us pray for Pope Francis and his collaborators that they may have the strength, courage and wisdom to direct the Church in Her mission to save souls. As Pope Leo XIII remarked in an 1899 encyclical letter to the then-Archbishop of Baltimore, some contend that “it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.” However, he said, the Church has already visited such suggestions and has determined, “Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ.”

Concluding his point, Pope Leo said that there was nothing closer to his heart “than to have those who are separated from the fold of Christ return to it.”  He added, however, “but in no other way than the way pointed out by Christ.”

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Dan Guernsey

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Where’s the tolerance in San Francisco?

Dan Guernsey
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April 20, 2015 (CardinalNewmanSociety.org) -- Proclaiming their values of tolerance, inclusion, and non-judgment, 100 “prominent” San Francisco Catholics last week took out a full-page ad in the newspaper to tell the Pope and the world that they will not tolerate or include and indeed soundly condemn the archbishop of San Francisco.

His crime? Following Canon law, which requires him to ensure that “Instruction and education in a Catholic school must be based on the principles of Catholic doctrine, and the teachers must be outstanding in true doctrine and uprightness of life” (Canon Law, 803, § 2). He is also condemned for following the teachings of the U.S. Bishops, who have consistently taught that “all members of the faculty, at least by their example, are an integral part of the process of religious education…. Teachers’ life style and character are as important as their professional credentials” (1976, Teach Them, p. 7), and the bishops’ National Directory for Catechesis which requires Catholic school leaders to “Recruit teachers who are practicing Catholics, who can understand and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and the moral demands of the gospel, and who can contribute to the achievement of the school’s Catholic identity and apostolic goals” (2005, National Directory for Catechesis, p. 231, 233).

Archbishop Cordileone and all U.S. bishops are bound by Canon law and Church teaching to do what he is doing: ensuring that Catholic schools in his diocese are Catholic. And indeed, he is not alone in this effort. He is joined by similar significant efforts underway by bishops in the dioceses of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Santa Rosa, Honolulu and Oakland, among others.  He is just currently the biggest target in a bastion of the fully-empowered tyrannical Left who will not tolerate any deviance from their liberal orthodoxy.

The sexual dogmas of the liberal orthodoxy are so confused and so consuming that any other understanding of the nature and purpose of human sexuality and marriage, even those views held by the vast majority of humanity throughout all ages, must be condemned and ultimately silenced. To state the clear and unequivocal Catholic teaching that the only proper and moral exercise of the marital act is exclusively in the context of a committed natural marriage in the service of both love and life is viewed by some as a type of hate crime.

These “anti-bully” bullies are doing what bullies do. They are seeking to gain in their own social status and self-concept by belittling, shaming and humiliating someone outside their local social norm. As the authors admit, the social sexual norms in the Bay Area are completely supportive of sex outside of natural marriage. Those who control the culture are dead set on humiliating and eliminating anyone who would not fully support their power and the status quo.

Many other dioceses have stipulations in their employee handbooks and in their contracts related to the need to uphold Catholic teachings in word and action as terms of employment. This is nothing very new. A challenge has occurred more recently, because of the rapid deterioration of social norms related to human sexuality, and because so many Catholics and Catholic school employees are so poorly catechized regarding human sexuality and complex but critical human life issues.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

It is possible that some employees can unwittingly jeopardize their employment by running afoul of the expectations of their employment agreements. In a preemptive effort to avoid such suffering and embarrassment, a number of dioceses are striving to clarify and publicize these expectations of Catholic teachers in a spirit of truth and charity and to ensure that folks do not unwittingly join in an evangelical enterprise they cannot advance, support or—even worse—work against. Charity demands clarity and truth. Justice to one’s employees demands clarity and truth as well. Justice to ones’ employer demands that one should not work against his interests or intent. The more clearly we can all be about what we intend and believe, the better.

It is also important in a pluralistic society, where we should not all have to agree with each other on complex issues and matters of faith, that we leave room for dissent and marginalized thinking and thinkers—especially in the realm of religious thought. Our country was founded by religious dissidents whose religious views and practices did not fit in with the dominant cultures and beliefs of the powerful in their home countries. They came here seeking freedom of religion—freedom to practice their faith as they saw fit without governmental persecution. Archbishop Cordileone has sought no retribution or even disparagement against those in San Francisco who clearly disagree with the Church; he only seeks to protect his right not to hire them to do the work of the Church, a reasonable and just freedom.

While these wayward Catholics seek to drive their archbishop out of San Francisco in the name of the dominant culture, but not the Catholic faith, we must be aware that many more of us are endangered from attack as well in this rapidly declining culture. These same bullies demanding that Archbishop Cordileone lose his job as a bishop for teaching the truths of the Catholic faith will next deem it critical that Catholics lose their jobs for agreeing with him and the Church.

Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society

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Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 7, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
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Rubio: I’d attend a gay ‘wedding’. Walker: I have. Santorum: I wouldn’t. Cruz: Pass.

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Are you now, or were you ever, willing to attend a same-sex “wedding”? That seems to be the question lighting up the Republican presidential field, as GOP hopefuls who may one day have their finger on the nuclear button are asked the query over and over again.

So far, the Republican hopefuls' answers are yes, no, I have (sort of), and...unclear.

The media began by asking Florida's U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, if he would attend a homosexual 'wedding' ceremony, especially if he were invited by a relative or close friend.

“If there’s somebody that I love that’s in my life, I don’t necessarily have to agree with their decisions or the decisions they’ve made to continue to love them and participate in important events,” Rubio told Jorge Ramos of Fusion TV's America program.

Rubio, who became the third Republican to throw his hat in the ring last week, likened attending a same-sex “marriage” to attending the second marriage of a divorced friend. “If someone gets divorced, I’m not going to stop loving them or having them a part of our lives,” he said.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – who has not yet formally announced his candidacy yet is considered a front-runner – said that he attended a same-sex reception, but not a ceremony. “I haven’t been to a [homosexual] 'wedding,' that’s true,” he said, “even though my position on marriage is still that’s defined between a man and a woman, and I support the Constitution of the state.”

“But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception,” he added.

A series of candidates and potential candidates have faced similar hypotheticals.

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, a libertarian-leaning Republican who strongly supported Mitt Romney in previous primaries, asked two contenders “a meta-question.” Is it more important to know whether a candidate would attend a homosexual wedding or whether a president will “destroy the Islamic State before it throws hundreds of thousands of gay men to their deaths”?

Former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has said he is considering another presidential run, said it was “amazing that the Left has not risen up” against Islamic Shari'a law. “They don't focus their energy on anything except the attempt to gather more power in this country by using this issue of same-sex 'marriage' as a tool to do that.”

Then he addressed the direct question: Would he attend a gay “marriage” ceremony?

“No, I would not,” he replied curtly. When asked why not, he said, “As a person of my faith, that would be something that would be a violation of my faith. I would love them and support them, but I would not participate in that ceremony.”

Ted Cruz, the first Republican to say he will seek the GOP's presidential nomination next year, gave a more roundabout reply.

“That's part of the 'gotcha' game that the mainstream media plays, where they come after Republicans on every front, and it's designed to caricature Republicans to make them look stupid or evil or crazy or extreme,” he said. “Sadly, most media players are not actual, objective journalists. They're active partisan players.”

He called reporters “the praetorian guard protecting the Obama administration” now gearing up to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

Cruz said he had not attended a gay “marriage” ceremony but made no commitments about the future.

“Well, I will tell you, I haven’t faced that circumstance,” he said. “I have not had a loved one have a gay wedding. You know, at the end of the day, what the media tries to twist the question of marriage into is they try to twist it into a battle of emotions and personalities. So they say, 'Gosh, any conservative must hate gays.'”

The Texas senator said that he is a conservative Christian and also “a constitutionalist.”

“What we’ve seen in recent years from the Left is the federal government and unelected federal judges imposing their own policy preferences to tear down the marriage laws of the states.”

“And so if someone is running for public office, it is perfectly legitimate to ask them their views on whether they’re willing to defend the Constitution, which leaves marriage to the states, or whether they want to impose their own extreme policy views like so many on the left are doing, like Barack Obama does, like Hillary Clinton does,” he said.

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Lesbian teacher Pam Strong teaches a classroom of elementary students at Ellengale Public School on Day of Pink in 2012. http://etfovoice.ca
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Lesbian teacher: How I convince kids to accept gay ‘marriage’, starting at 4-years-old

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Some of the pro-gay children's books Strong uses with her students. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
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The chart Strong uses to show her students that same-sex partnerships are the same as male-female families. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

TORONTO, April 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A primary grade lesbian teacher from an Ontario public school revealed in a workshop at a homosexual activist conference for teachers earlier this month how she uses her classroom to convince children as young as four to accept homosexual relationships.

“And I started in Kindergarten. What a great place to start. It was where I was teaching. So, I was the most comfortable there,” Pam Strong said at the conference, attended by LifeSiteNews.

The conference, hosted by the homosexual activist organization Jer’s Vision, now called the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, focused on the implementation of Bill 13 in Ontario classrooms. Bill 13, called by critics the ‘homosexual bill of rights,’ passed in June 2012 and gave students the right to form pro-gay clubs in their school, including Catholic ones, using the name Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).

Strong, who is in an open relationship with another woman and who has been a teacher for about five years, focused her workshop on what she called the “power of conversation” for promoting LGBTQ issues in an elementary classroom. She began her talk by relating how she reacted the first time one of her students called another student ‘gay’ as a putdown.

“With [the principal’s] encouragement, we decided that I would go from class to class and talk about what ‘gay’ means, what does ‘LGBTQ’ mean, what do ‘I’ mean,” she told about 40 attendees, all educators, at her workshop.

Strong related how she began with the junior kindergarten class.

“And I read a [pro-gay child’s] book [King and King], and I started to realize that conversations can be very difficult, and they can have the most power when they are the most difficult.”

“But difficult conversations are a part of what we do as teachers, right? And when these conversations are properly supported by teachers within the safety of the classroom, they provide a rich environment for our students as they unpack these complex social issues and they reflect on their own preconceptions, right, of gender, sexuality, love, all these different things,” she said.

Strong related that as she was reading “King and King” in the junior kindergarten class as a springboard to discuss her sexuality with the kids, she got to the part where the two princes become ‘married’ when one of the boys suddenly shouted out: “They can’t do that! They can’t get married. They’re two boys.”

Recounted Strong: “And I said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, they can. It’s right here on page 12.”

To which the boy replied, according to Strong: “Oh, yeah, I know Mrs. Strong, but that’s just a story. That’s not real life.”

“And I said: ‘It happens in real life too. I am married to a woman. I am gay. And I am in love with my wife.”

Strong said the young children “just all kind of went silent.” She then told them: “That may seem different to you, how many of you have heard of that before?”

“Not one hand went up,” she related. “And so I said: ‘That may seem different to you, but we’re not that different. Would you like to know about what I do with my family?”

“Yeah, tell us,” she recounted the children enthusiastically saying. 

“I said, you know, we take our kids to the park. I swing them on swings,” she related, telling conference attendees that she could share things she did with her own children that “mostly likely all of their families did with them.”

Then she told the children: “We laugh together. We go grocery shopping together. I read to them. I tickle them, sometimes until they scream and laugh and when they cry, I hug them until they stop.” 

Strong said that at that point, the boy who had used the word ‘gay’ looked and her and said: “Well, you’re a family.”

“And I said, yeah, we are,” she related. “And off I go to the next classroom.”

Strong said that she went from “class to class to class and continued with these conversations, and they were very powerful.”

‘It’s normal in my classroom’

Strong related an incident that happened last fall involving a new boy who had recently entered her grade 5 classroom. The new boy had not yet been made aware of Strong’s sexual preference for other women.

“All my class is very used to who I am. My family picture is very proudly in my room now. On Mondays they quite often will say, ‘What did you do with your wife?’ It’s normal in my classroom.”

Strong said that a conversation between herself and the students came up one day where it was mentioned that she was a lesbian. The new boy put his hands over his mouth and said, according to Strong: “Oh, my God, I think I’m going to puke.”

“As I took the abuse — personally, as an individual – of those words, I also saw half of my class look at me with incredible concern. One student who was right in front of me already had tears in her eyes. And I noticed several other students who were looking at him. They were just very, very upset with this kid,” she related.

Strong said the boy instantly became aware that “something he had said had just created this unbelievable tension in the room.” She related how she addressed the boy, telling him: “I think that what you might not be aware of is that I am gay, and I am married to a woman, and my family has two moms.’”

“His eyes just started darting around, and he was incredibly uncomfortable,” she related.

“I looked at the other kids and I said: ‘Ok guys, what I want to ask you is: Am I upset with him?’ And the one little girl in my class put up her hand — that doesn’t usually get into these conversations very much in my classroom — and she said, ‘Mrs Strong, I know you’re not upset with him, because he hasn’t had the benefit of our conversations.”

“And I looked at my little friend, my ‘new’ friend, and I said: ‘But, we’re going to have one now,’” she related.

Strong said that she then directed her class to the board and asked them to write everything she had told them related to LGBTQ.

“And my class all of a sudden popped up. ‘LGBTQ’ was on the board, ‘lesbian,’ and all the different words coming out there. And I sat back and said, ‘Let’s review.’ So, the last year and a half of ‘inclusive’ education came alive in my classroom.”

Strong told her workshop attendees that her “new little friend” is now a devoted champion of diversity. She boasted how he was the one in her class to count down the days to the pro-homosexual Day of Pink that took place earlier this month. When Strong took a photo of all the children wearing pink shirts in her classroom, she said the boy requested to be in the front.

“For me, that is the power of conversations. That’s the power of sharing our stories,” she said.

LGBTQ classroom ‘conversation starters’

Strong called it “key” to develop a “positive classroom culture” — and she mentioned it often takes months — before getting into what she called “difficult conversations” with students about convincing students of the normality of her sexual preference for women.

She mentioned how she spends time “building a common vocabulary” in her classroom of words like “stereotype, prejudice, discrimination” so her students will be able to more readily conform to her pro-LGBTQ message.

“Sometimes with these big ideas there are also very big words that are very hard to understand. I find that whether it’s kindergarten, right up to grade six, visuals help a lot,” she said.

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The lesbian teacher has amassed a collection of “conversation starters” that she says helps get her started when presenting to her students the LGBTQ message. She said pro-gay children’s books are one of her favorites.

“I use current events, news articles, advertisement are great for gender, especially with Kindergarten kids, pink and girl toys and all the rest of it. Commercials are great, I use one right now, the Honey Maid commercial.” The 2014 “Dad & Papa" commercial depicts two male same-sex partners engaging with their children in normal family activities such as making s’mores, eating dinner around the table, and walking in the park.

Strong says she watches the commercial with her students up to three times, asking them to make a list of all the similarities between the gay-partnership and their own families.

“Of course they think it’s going to be so different, [that] this family is going to be so different,” she said.

Strong said the kids notice dozens of similarities, but usually only one difference, namely that the commercial has “two dads.” Other than this, she said the students “could not find one thing in that commercial that was different than their own families.” In this way she convinces the kids that a gay-partnership is identical to a family made up of a male and female. Strong called it a “fantastic lesson for kids of all ages.”

“There was nothing left for me to teach at the end of it. It was a huge learning for some kids,” she said.

‘Recruiting children? You bet we are’

Though homosexual activists their efforts in the schools as a way of combatting bullying, a number of homosexual activists have highlighted that the movement’s goal is in fact to “indoctrinate” children into accepting the normalcy of the homosexual lifestyle.

“I am here to tell you: All that time I said I wasn't indoctrinating anyone with my beliefs about gay and lesbian and bi and trans and queer people? That was a lie,” wrote Canadian gay activist Sason Bear Bergman, a woman who identifies as a transgender man, in a March 2015 piece titled “I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBTQ Agenda (And I'm Not a Bit Sorry).” Bergman holds nothing back, stating she wants to make children “like us” even if that “goes against the way you have interpreted the teachings of your religion.”

In 2011 U.S. gay activist Daniel Villarreal penned a column for Queerty.com stating that the time had come for the homosexual lobby to admit to “indoctrinating” schoolchildren to accept homosexuality.

“Why would we push anti-bullying programs or social studies classes that teach kids about the historical contributions of famous queers unless we wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal?”

“We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it. Recruiting children? You bet we are,” he added.

Homosexual activist Michael Swift wrote in 1987 in the Gay Community News that school children would become explicit targets for homosexual indoctrination. “We shall seduce them in your schools…They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us,” he wrote at the time. 

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