Peter Baklinski

, , ,

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 ( – 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

Share this article

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

Share this article

Featured Image
Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

Share this article

Featured Image
A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

, ,

‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

Share this article


Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook