Peter Baklinski

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Family leaders decry bishops’ response to Bill 13 passage: ‘weak,’ ‘disappointing,’ ‘reprehensible’

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski

Correction: A previous version of this article originally stated that Phil Lees is the head of the Christian Heritage Party. He is in fact the head of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario.

TORONTO, Ontario, June 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic bishops in Ontario have indicated that they have no immediate plans to challenge McGuinty’s recently passed Accepting Schools Act, a bill that pro-family leaders have warned will impose a radical homosexual agenda on publicly-funded Catholic schools across the province, and may even threaten private schools.

In a statement on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario following the passage of Bill 13 Tuesday, Archbishop of Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, said simply: “Recognizing that the Accepting Schools Act is now the law, Catholic partners will seek, as we have always done, in a way that is in accord with our faith, to foster safe and welcoming school communities.” Collins observed that the bishops have expressed unspecified “serious concerns regarding certain aspects of this legislation,” but gave no indication of any further plans to oppose its provisions.

Pro-family advocates who had anticipated a vigorous response from the province’s bishops to what many have argued is an unprecedented attack on freedom religion in Ontario, say they were stunned by the anemic statement.

Cecilia Forsyth, president of Real Women of Canada, called the statement “weak and disappointing.”

“Real Women of Canada sees Bill 13 as a serious infringement of religious freedom and as a denial of conscience rights to Catholic schools,” she said to LifeSiteNews. “Cardinal Collins has in essence said that ‘the law is the law and we will follow it, even if that law is contrary to Catholic teaching on sexual ethics.’”

Forsyth said that Bill 13 is not about “preventing anti-bullying in schools,” but about “pushing on our children a radical revision of sex-education that is built on the full acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.”

“How can Catholic schools stay true to Catholic teaching on sexual ethics that comes directly from the teaching authority of the Catholic Church while at the same time adhering to McGuinty’s new law that promotes a radical homosexual agenda? Catholic educators are now caught in the midst of a terrible dilemma of having to serve two masters.”

Alongside the bishops’ statement came another from Marino Gazzola, chair of Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, who indicated that Catholic schools would bow to the law and ditch the Catholic-friendly approach to preventing bullying outlined in the document “Respecting Difference.”

“If anywhere there’s a contradiction between our Respecting Difference document and the legislation, Bill 13 is going to take precedence,” he said to The Catholic Register.

Respecting Differences, put out by the province’s bishops and Catholic trustees earlier this year, not only explicitly rejects using the name Gay-Straight Alliance for a club, but says that any anti-bullying clubs set up should be “respectful of and consistent with Catholic teaching” and that they should be led by a carefully selected staff advisor who “must know and be committed to Catholic teachings.”

Forsyth pointed out that Gay-Straight Alliances, which trace their roots to radical homosexual activist organizations, will “exist only for the sake of approving and condoning the homosexual lifestyle, a lifestyle that is contrary to Catholic sexual ethics.”

Some family leaders say that the response to the bill’s passage shows Catholic leaders became “blind” to the real purpose of the bill.

Kim Galvao, head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ontario, told LifeSiteNews that the “biggest thing that Catholic leaders missed was the bill’s violation of Parental Rights and Religious Freedom.

Now that the bill’s passage has remained unchallenged, Galvao thinks that Catholic education in the province will be “changed forever.”

“What Catholic leaders do not realize is that they have put the final nail in the coffin of what once differentiated the Catholic education system from the Public one. Catholic leaders have now made Catholic schools just like the Public ones. And they did this out of fear. They caved to the nasty media pressure that cried out loudly that ‘Catholic schools should lose their funding if they do not comply’. Out of fear they complied.”

“Our Catholic leaders caved because they were more afraid of losing Catholic funding than about keeping Catholic Schools faithfully Catholic,” she said.

Others expressed dismay that the Catholic bishops have seemingly turned their backs on the moral formation of children in Catholic schools.

“Catholic parents and parents of people of all faiths count on the bishops to draw a line in the sand and defend religious freedom in Ontario,” said Andy Pocrnic, head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ottawa to LifeSiteNews.

“We have been failed by those who have been given the duty and authority to protect our children and Catholic teaching. It’s hard to understand why our bishops and trustees weren’t active in the public debate before this law was passed – they simply weren’t there. And now it’s hard to understand why they gave up so quickly once the law was passed when other options were available.”

“The feeling of betrayal felt by parents is difficult to describe,” he said.

Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Catholics told LifeSiteNews that his organization was “hoping for much more than the bishops’ lack-lustre response,” and pointed out that the bishops’ statement runs contrary to their own advice offered to faithful Catholics.

In their Pastoral Letter on Freedom of Conscience and Religion, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops admonishes Catholic citizens “not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order.” 

“Bill 13 surrenders the hearts and minds of Catholic children to an immoral education program,” said Fonseca. “Does the instruction from the Bishops on following the moral order apply only to the laity?”

Peter Stockland, a senior fellow with Hamilton-based Cardus, a think tank that studies the intersection of religion and society, told the National Post that it is “imperative” that religious leaders be willing to get into the fight to protect their liberties.

“This is not about gay rights versus somebody’s else’s rights,” he said. “This is about Charter rights to religious freedom — rights not only to believe what you want but to actually live your life according to those beliefs.”

“If you’re not prepared to defend that then what you are willing to defend? I think the Church had to get out in front of this in an activist way. It’s mystifying they didn’t,” he said.

Phil Lees, leader of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario, told LifeSiteNews that the Catholic Church’s acceptance of Bill 13 makes it “more challenging” for other faith groups to become motivated to fight for the protection of religious liberties.

“I find the statements from the Catholic leadership discouraging,” he said, adding that he has “often used the Catholic church’s position on life and family matters as a way of motivating Protestant involvement.”

Lees pointed out that Catholic leaders should have “clued in” to what Bill 13 was really about when both Minister of Education Laurel Broten and NDP Education Critic Peter Tabuns made statements to the effect that that the purpose behind the legislation was to “change the traditional norms and values of society.”

“Bill 13 is about far more than social clubs for those who self-identify as LGBT,” said Lees. “Why did the Catholic church not clue into this?”

Forsyth thinks that Catholic leaders, by not issuing any kind of a challenge to the bill’s passage, have handed control of Catholic schools over to the government.

“In essence, McGuinty has seized jurisdiction of Catholic schools by dictating to Catholic leaders what they can and cannot do in their schools,” she said.

“The lack of leadership from the Catholic hierarchy in this matter is simply reprehensible.”

But Iain Benson, a constitutional lawyer with Miller Thomson in Toronto who has been an advisor to Canadian Catholic bishops, approved of the bishops’ strategy.

“I don’t think any other action would have done any good,” he told the National Post. “The Catholic community negotiated in good faith and thought their interests would be protected”.

Please read: “Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports


Contact information:

To find contact information for every Ontario bishop, click here. and select Ontario region,

His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins (President)
Archbishop of Toronto
e-mail: [email protected]
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto ON.  M4T 1W2
Phone:  416-934-0606 Fax:  416-934-3452

Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, c.s.b. (Vice-President)
Bishop of London
E-mail: [email protected]
1480 Richmond Street
London, ON.  N6G 0J4
Phone: 519-433-0658 Fax:  519-433-0011

Most Rev. Brendan O’Brien (Counselor)
Archbishop of Kingston
E-mail: [email protected]
390 Palace Road
Kingston, ON.  K7L 4T3
Phone:  613-548-4461   Fax:  613-548-4744

Most Rev. J.-L. Plouffe (Counselor)
Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie
E-mail: [email protected]
30 St. Anne Road ,
Sudbury , ON. P3C 5E1
Phone:  705-674-2727   Fax:  705-674-988

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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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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
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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