Peter Baklinski

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

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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Planned Parenthood closes rural Iowa abortion facility because of low business

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DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.

Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”

The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.

“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.

As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.

“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.

American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.

“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”

That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.

Be loving and compassionate, he said.

Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”

Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.

Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.



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Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers

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MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.

Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.

DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.

DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.

She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.

“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”

Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.

“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.

After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.

“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”

Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.

"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.

DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.

Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.

Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.

When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:

Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”

DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary. 



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This year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an honor on Vice President Joe Biden, the silence from the Catholic hierarchy is deafening. Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com
Phil Lawler

Opinion,

The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage

Phil Lawler

Ask Notre Dame not to honor pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden. Sign the petition!

May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.

Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.

These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:

The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.

This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.

Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.

Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.

“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:

In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.

By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”

That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”

Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.

And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. Reprinted with permission from Catholic Culture.



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