Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

French police brutality against Catholic demonstrators

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, France, October 21, 2011 ( - A group of Parisian Catholic students was beaten by riot police during a protest in front of a theater during the premiere of a blasphemous play by Italian playwright Romeo Castellicci, on Thursday evening.

On the Concept of the Face of the Son of God is a scatological representation of an old man wracked with diarrhea whose son wipes and cleans him repeatedly on stage under a large reproduction of a Face of Christ by Antonello da Messina. Brown feces fill the stage - synthetic odor included -, the two actors leave the stage, then a dozen children carrying schoolbags make their appearance and throw plastic grenades at the image of Christ. The image later appears to crack up and a dark liquid similar to the feces seen earlier invades the face which is then covered with the words, “You are not my shepherd”.

For the first night at the publicly subsidized “Théatre de la Ville” in Paris on Thursday, several unrelated groups organized public protests. One group had bought tickets and disrupted the show with stink bombs before climbing on the sage with banners proclaiming “Cathophobia : we’ve had enough”. Riot police entered the theatre to move out the protesters, some of whom were arrested.

Another group of young activists of the historic French royalist movement, l’Action française, chose to organize a peaceful demonstration in front of the theatre. A few dozen young French Catholics chained themselves to the railings of the theater under the noses of three vanloads of riot police (“CRS”) who quickly closed in to dislodge them. Heavy-handedly using their bats and teargas, the armored police forces beat up the young people, handcuffed them and forced many of them flat on the ground.

One young man who was lying handcuffed, with part of his body on the street, unable to move, was injured at this point when a police van backed into him, riding over his foot. The injury appeared to be severe as he was in great pain, and he was quickly evacuated by emergency services to the nearby “Hôtel-Dieu”, the historic Parisian hospital near Notre-Dame. As it turned out there was only a severe flesh wound. A complaint is being lodged against the police force responsible for this brutality.

Seventeen other young demonstrators were arrested and kept in police custody for 24 hours, at the end of which three of them were charged with “rebellion”. One of the young men has also been charged with “theft” as one of the police force’s caps was missing…

At the beginning of the week the rights defense group AGRIF (Alliance against racism and for the respect of French and Christian Identity) used an emergency procedure to obtain an order to block the showing of On the Concept of the Face of God. The request was rejected on the ground that some scenes were undoubtedly offensive and violent, but that they were susceptible to many contradictory interpretations.

The judge, Emmanuel Binoche, made clear that there is no anti-blaspheme law in France.  Although the judge was correct, anti-hate-crime laws nevertheless make it an offense to dishonor and ridicule believers through the most sacred aspects of their faith. Still Binoch ruled that AGRIF must pay the “Théâtre de la Ville” 1,200 euros in costs.

The judge’s stance aided by the fact that a few priests have been applauding Castellucci’s play for its thoughtfulness and insight.

On the other hand, a growing number of French bishops have publicly voiced their dismay at the rising number of anti-Catholic shows and plays: cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris and the spokesman of the French bishops’ conference, Mgr Bernard Podvin, both called on French Catholics to make their indignation public and to question public funding of the shows.

In December, Paris will be hosting a Hispano-Argentinian play called Golgota Picnic which outraged Spanish Catholics when it opened in January this year in Madrid. Like Castellucci’s work, it is obsessed with the image of Christ and heaps insults and accusations on the Church. Typically, it accuses the traditional representations of the Crucifixion of planting the seeds of pedophilia within the priesthood.

Another Catholic group which launched a petition ( against these plays, “Civitas”, received support from a French bishops including Mgr Aillet of Bayonne and Mgr Aumonier of Versailles who encouraged Catholics to react against these “insults to our faith”.

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

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By Steve Jalsevac

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

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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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.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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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.

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