Hilary White

German pro-life groups complain to UN Human Rights Council about attacks, harassment

Hilary White
Hilary White
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BRUSSELS, October 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Physical attacks and property damage, negative stereotyping by the media and infringement of freedom of assembly and expression are just part of a normal day’s work for pro-life activists in Europe, according to German pro-life groups.

The two pro-life organizations, “Kostbare Kinder” (Precious Children) and the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, are submitting briefs to the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council, saying that people publicly opposed to abortion are subject to regular harassment.

“Four times the windows of our life-center have been destroyed since October 2008. And very often the walls have been scrawled with left radical and/or blasphemous slogans,” Kostbare Kinder said.

In their brief, the group says that the Agency for Public Order in Freiburg has “restricted access” for one mile around the entrance area of a pro-abortion pregnancy counseling and abortion service. Kostbare Kinder’s pro-life advocates had been doing sidewalk counseling outside the facility. The city of Freiburg reacted with a media-campaign initiated by the abortion service, called Pro Familia, in two local newspapers and a TV station which gave no chance to the pro-life group to tell their story.

“In our thirteen years of side-walk counseling, we haven’t done anything wrong or illegal,” the group says in their brief to the UN.  “In Germany abortion continues to be an illegal action though not punished under certain circumstances.”

“Not to be able to manifest one’s convictions by peaceful demonstration or speaking kindly and respectfully to strangers, is a violation of freedom of expression, which indirectly discriminates especially against Christians, as the issue is of particular concern to Christians.”

CLICK ‘LIKE’ IF YOU ARE PRO-LIFE!

Dr. Gudrun Kugler of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, says that in Freiburg and Munich, Christian-inspired non-governmental organisations protesting in front of abortion clinics and offering “alternatives and conversation” have had their activities “severely limited” by the authorities.

“Local courts have given in to the pressure of the targeted locations, which could have been mainly financial ones. Courts have restricted the form of manifestation as well as established a geographical ban. Appeals are ongoing,” she said.

The Agencies for Public Order have called sidewalk counseling a “threat to women’s privacy and rights.” In the city of Freiburg pro-life activists have faced fines and in Munich they have been ordered to pay 1500 € for showing a picture of a 12 weeks old embryo with the message “six months before birth” on a public sidewalk in front of an abortion-clinic.

Until now, the group says, there has never been a complaint by any women to the police or to an agency of the public order. “The police of Munich confirm that our conduct always has been and still is impeccable.”

The group particularly objected to a television news video made by the state-sponsored ARD television channel. Kostbare Kinder says that the makers of the clip refused to accept evidence that women who had changed their minds about abortion were happy with their decision, though the pro-life group offered the TV station contact information for women willing to speak about their experiences. “We offered this, but the TV team did not show any interest.”

The group told the TV studio about several cases in which the women received “solidarity and real help from us”… “we handed over written testimonies of thankful and happy mothers including baby-photos to the reporter Tim Fugmann,” but they say that none of this information was included in the film.

In the clip, the moderator introduced the group as people who “harass and threaten” women and doctors, “but in the film itself neither the abortion doctor nor his patients said anything about this,” Kostbare Kinder will tell the UN.

“By this and other examples it became very clear for us that the makers of the report created wrong ‘facts’ on purpose and transferred these to their viewers.

“There was no balanced coverage at all (which our constitution and the German Broadcasting Law directs especially for media under public law), but a virulent campaign.”

Pro-life and pro-family marches and public events in Germany and throughout Europe are often held with the protection of police in riot gear, with violent attacks becoming the norm. A video made by Kostbare Kinder shows a relatively peaceful confrontation in Münster between pro-life marchers, including some with small children in strollers, and radical counter-demonstrators. The Christian pro-lifers are guarded by dozens of police and have to run a gauntlet of screaming and abusive counter-demonstrators, some dressed in nun costumes and others carrying the rainbow flag. The counter-demonstrators shout and blow whistles and horns in an attempt to drown out the Christian hymns.

The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians is also planning a brief to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. They will say that in Germany, “anti-religion groups have created a climate hostile to frank discourse.”

According to the Observatory, defamation campaigns in the media and negative stereotyping have become common and have recently given rise to “hate incidents” such as the blocking of speaking venues at universities for professors or speakers, as well as “manifestations against peaceful events.” The Observatory records incidents across Europe and produces an annual report compiled of anti-Christian activities. These include increases in vandalism and physical attacks as well as government suppression of the political rights of Christians.

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

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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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