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Grassroots protest petition and letters halt Estonian homosexual civil unions bill

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By Hilary White
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TALLINN, May 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A small group of family campaigners has for the moment turned back an internationally-backed effort to create “civil union” legislation in Estonia. In a surprising turnaround, within 24 hours of the launch of a petition the bill has been withdrawn for further consideration and is not expected to be reintroduced until the autumn. The signature drive was a re-play of a similar outcome a year ago when 38,000 people said no to a bill that proposed to create “gay marriage” in Estonia.

In April this year, a group of forty parliamentarians tried again, bringing forward their Civil Partnership Act, the most recent of several efforts since 2005, that proposed to confer legal recognition on homosexual relationships, establishing that children can have “two mothers” or “two fathers.” Its supporters argued both that the bill was not exclusively aimed at same-sex partners and that it was in no way a prelude to the introduction of “gay marriage.”

Opponents, however, said that the bill was specifically intended to “undermine the concept of family and the meaning of the basic values of our society.” They launched a website asking concerned Estonians to send an email to parliamentarians “categorically” rejecting the bill. Within 24 hours of its launch, the petition had “gone viral” throughout the country and collected over 44,000 signatures and by today has sent over 200,000 letters to all 101 members of Parliament.

The petition’s author told LifeSiteNews.com that the success this week built on last year’s. Varro Vooglaid, a pro-family activist in the capital Tallinn, said that when they were contacted the signatories from the last petition drive not only sent letters of protest to MPs, they added 6,000 more names who did the same.

Vooglaid is the director of Perekonna ja Traditsiooni Kaitseks (Foundation for the Defence of Life and Family). He said, “We sent an e-mail to people whose contacts we had from last year and suggested to them to send protest e-mails to all members of Parliamant. This is what they did and by now more than 215,938 protest emails have been sent.”

“There would be many more, but the parliament has now blocked these letters classifying them as spam. naturally, we strongly object and protest, stating that this goes against elementary principles of democracy.” He added that his group has also collected “thousands of protest cards on paper and will start delivering these pretty soon.”

Vooglaid added, “We started the protest campaign on 19 May and on that same day the first news came that the bill might not be passed before autumn. The message was repeated during the week.” The bill’s sponsors had originally intended to see the bill passed June 23 before Parliament’s summer break.

Responding to reports that some lawmakers were sending the emails directly to their trash files, Vooglaid said it is a “glimpse of the understanding of democracy of the kind of people who govern us. This is how much they actually care about the views and voice of the people.”

The letter read, “I categorically protest against the Civil Partnership Act!” It pointed to Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia that says lawmakers are obliged to “protect the institution of the family as the foundation of the preservation and growth of the nation and as the basis of society.”

“And the family, according to the meaning of constitution, is founded upon the union of a man and a woman. Therefore, all members of the parliament who have sworn fidelity to the constitutional order are obliged to protect the institution of the family from ideologically motivated attempts of subversion and radical redefinition.”

The letter warned parliamentarians that their support for changing the definition of the family would have political repercussions in upcoming elections. “Should parliament, however, decide to proceed with the Civil Partnership Act, it has to be put on a referendum, because adopting this law would mean the redefinition of the foundation of the society – something that only the people are entitled to do.”

A statement from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Estonian Orthodox Church supported the initiative, saying that instead of same-sex recognition parliament should enact legislation to support the “flagging institution of marriage and the traditional family." The Orthodox statement called for strong state guarantees to protect “the whole family, consisting of husband, wife and the family, with the children born.”

The Orthodox Plenary said they “think it is extremely unfortunate that our country’s laws will directly contradict the laws of God, which are based upon the revelation to mankind in the Ten Commandments.” 

“Really, our church does not see reason why the Estonian government needs to take such a step, which threatens to weaken our country and may cause us to lose respect for the country by a huge number of citizens.”

Vooglaid said that his group had communicated with the members of parliament “on numerous occasions the message that should they support the bill we will do all we can to mobilize tens of thousands of people not to vote for them.” Parliamentary elections are set for March 1, 2015.

This week, the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups held their annual meeting this year on a cruise ship making stops at Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. This year’s theme, the group said, is “Sailing with Hope,” taken from a popular Estonian myth of a “white ship” that “brings freedom or takes people away to a better land.” During the conference a representative of Geikristlaste Kogu (the Estonian Association of Gay Christians) gave a featured presentation on “our hopes for the future.”

Asked why such a group would take such an interest in tiny Estonia, with a population of only 1.2 million and very few active Christians, Vooglaid said that Estonia is seen as an ideal “gateway” to Eastern Europe by homosexualist activists.

“Due to its almost completely destroyed Christian culture,” he said, the formerly majority Lutheran Estonia will be the means of “breaking down Eastern European cultural resistance” to the homosexual and gender ideology.

Estonia is regularly described as one of the “least religious” countries in the world. The most recent statistics from the country found that 54 per cent of the population say they have no religion and 16.7 per cent are “unspecified.” 9.9 per cent are still Lutheran; 16.2 per cent of residents, mainly ethnic Russians, are Orthodox and 2.2 per cent are listed as “other Christian.”

“The homosexual movement knows that they have almost no chance whatsoever of succeeding in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia, and therefore they are trying to break a hole by attacking the moral foundations of the society in Estonia,” Vooglaid said.

A 2009 poll found that only 32 per cent of the population were supportive of same-sex “marriage”. 40 per cent of younger people approved, but only 6 per cent of their parents were in favor. By 2012 that number had dropped to 34 per cent overall. 51 per cent of ethnic Estonians and only 35 percent of Russians supported same-sex civil unions. Vooglaid confirmed that the homosexualist movement wants to create the impression of being a “grassroots movement.” “The reality, however, is that the homosexual movement has almost zero popular support in Estonia,” he said. “Everything they are able to do is because of extensive support and funding from the European Union, the Soros Foundation (Open Society Foundation) and other interest groups that originate from outside our country.”

He added that the movement did not expect such strong and ongoing popular resistance. At least five attempts have been made since 2005 to introduce some form of same-sex recognition and all have failed.  

Vooglaid pointed to the escalating crisis in Ukraine and the fact that Estonia’s second largest ethnic population group is Russian, sent as settlers during the Soviet era. He said that representatives of religious organizations have warned parliamentarians that giving a legal recognition to the homosexual lifestyle could “bring about a serious security risk to the country.” It would “alienate a huge portion of the society from our legal and political system” and prompt them to look towards a possible alliance with the Russian Federation, “where respect for family values is gradually being restored.”

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Dr. Miriam Grossman speaks to large audience in Mississauga, Ontario Steve Jalsevac/LifeSite
Lianne Laurence

VIDEO: How DO you to talk to kids about sex? US sex-ed critic gives practical tips

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Talking to their children about sex is “anxiety provoking to say the least,” for parents, says American sex-ed expert, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

“Some people just can’t even do it, and that’s okay,” the New York-based psychiatrist told the crowd of 1,000 who packed a Mississauga conference hall August 18 to hear her critique of the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

After Grossman explained how the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is dangerously flawed and ideologically driven, she used the question-and-answer session to give parents much appreciated and sometimes humorous practical advice on how to teach their children about “the birds and the bees.”

“If you feel you can’t do it, maybe there’s someone else in the family or in the constellation of people that you know you can trust that could do it,” said Grossman, author of “You’re teaching my child WHAT?” and an internationally sought-after speaker on sex education.

A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 12 years’ clinical experience treating students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clinic, Grossman said explaining sexuality and procreation to children is “a process,” that “shouldn’t ideally happen all at once. A child is not a miniature adult, and absorbs…new information differently than adults do.”

And parents need to be sure just what their child wants to know.

To illustrate this, Grossman referred to her earlier story about a father who gave his son every detail on human procreation after the boy asked him, “Dad, where do I come from?”

After the father finished, his son replied, “Well, that’s funny, because Johnny told me that he came from Montreal.”

“Try to find out what your child is really getting at, and, don’t give it all at once,” Grossman said. “You start with a little bit at a time…and you know, there’s so many variables here, and people have their own traditions and their own ways of explaining things, and something that might be right for my family might not be right for your family.”

She also advised that, when confronted with a four, five, six or seven-year-old asking about a pregnant woman, or where babies come, a parent can ask, “What a good question that is. What do you think?”

And parents can also legitimately put off the discussion when appropriate, telling the child, “That’s really not something you need to know about right now.”

“Wow, what a novel idea: Telling a child that they could wait until they’re older to discuss that subject,” Grossman said, adding that parents wouldn’t brook a six- or even fifteen-year-old child asking how much money they made or had in the bank. “Excuse me? Not every subject has to be an open book.”

However, the time will come when a child needs to know “about how her body’s going to change, about reproduction, about how a new life is created.”

That time, Grossman advised, is puberty, or “as puberty is beginning,” and this is especially so for girls, who, if unprepared for the surprise onset of menstruation “might think [they’re] dying.”

“The actual nitty-gritty about the birds and the bees and intercourse” can “be told in bits and pieces, or it can be told all at once, if you feel it’s necessary,” she said, adding that it’s beneficial if the parent acknowledges his or her awkwardness, because the child will think: “This must be such an important subject that my mother or my father is sitting there squirming, but he’s doing it anyway. I’m really loved.”

“And the children need to understand that as you grow up, you change a lot, not only physically but emotionally,” Grossman said, “and what may seem odd or disgusting when you’re ten years old, or whatever age, it becomes something very special and beautiful when you’re older and you’ll understand it later. You don’t have to understand it now.”


Know your child and guard your home

But as an essential foundation for this discussion, parents must both know their children and guard their home from the encroachments of a culture that Grossman described as “very, very sexualized” and “really horrible.”

“Children need parents who are loving but are also firm and authoritative,” she asserted.  “They don’t need best friends. They need us to guide them, to know what they’re doing, to be on top of what they’re doing.

So parents need to be aware of whom their child is “hanging around with, and what kind of movies are they watching…what’s going on with your child.”

“You need to know that anyway, even if it’s not about sex education,” she pointed out. “Try and know your child. Every child is different.”

And Grossman emphasized that it is “extremely important to be careful about what your child is exposed to in the home, in terms of television and Internet, obviously.”

Children need to understand that “just like you have garbage you take out of the house, you put it in the garbage bin, it’s dirty, it smells…there are other things that also don’t belong in the house.”

And children learn quickly what is, and is not, permissible inside the home, Grossman said. “Me, I keep kosher…If I go into a store, my kids know from a very young age, we don’t eat that.”

So they are used to the idea of “the world outside and the inside world, of inside your home, and inside your heart as well.”

Parents can also convey this by telling their children that “the world is an upside-down place, and sometimes the most special, holy subjects are…just thrown in the gutter. And that’s a bad thing. In our family, in our tradition, we don’t do that.”

“Sexuality is one of the subjects that in this upside-down world, it is sometimes just in the gutter,” she said. “And so I want you to tell your child to come to me when you have questions, I will give you the straight story about it.”

Grossman herself is “not even sure,” as she stated in her seminar, that sex education should be in the schools: “I believe sex education should be at home for those parents that want to do it.”

She also noted that parents “can make mistakes. We all make lots of mistakes but it’s okay, you can always come back and do it differently,” adding that this is “another wonderful message for your child. You know what, it’s okay to make mistakes, you can always go back and try and fix it.”

Grossman urged parents to visit her Facebook page, website and blog. “I have so much information you can get there that you’ll find useful,” and added that she will be publishing books for children, and has posted her critique of New York City’s sex-ed curriculum, which is similar to Ontario’s.

The parental backlash to that sex-ed curriculum, set to roll out in the province’s publicly funded schools this September, has been “amazing” Grossman noted.

Grossman’s seminar was sponsored by Mississauga-based HOWA Voice of Change along with the Canadian Families Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than 25 associations and 200,000 Ontarians opposed to the curriculum. The report on her devastating critique of the sex-ed curriculum can be found here, and the video here.

Ontario readers may find information and sign up for a September 2 province-wide protests at MPPs offices here. So far, there are protests planned for 92 of Ontario’s 107 constituencies. The parents’ movement seeking removal of the curriculum is urging all concerned citizens to join this special effort to influence individual Ontario legislators.

See related reports:

Ontario’s dangerous sex-ed is indoctrination not science says U.S. psychiatrist to large audience

Videos: US psychiatrist tells parents “stand firm” against dangerous sex-ed

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Ontario sex-ed curriculum containing nearly 100 LifeSite articles related to the issue

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Did the pope just endorse a gay children’s book? Of course not, says Vatican

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

ROME, August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- While mainstream media is gushing with news today that Pope Francis allegedly praised a children’s book that promotes gender theory, the Vatican is decrying what they called the "manipulation" of a cordial letter from an official in the Secretariat of State to suggest that the Vatican is promoting teachings contrary to the Gospel.

Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.

In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.  

While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.

“Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book,” the paper’s headline states. “Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter,” reads the subtitle.

In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.

The Vatican's statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely "acknowledged receipt" of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication. 

"In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel," says the statement, decrying the "manipulation" of the letter.

Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church's teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned the notion of “gender theory” on numerous occasions, saying that it is an “error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Poll suggests most US Catholics wrongly believe Pope Francis backs gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A considerable majority of U.S. Catholics are in conflict with Church teaching on abortion and marriage, a new study says, and a startling number of those also believe Pope Francis backs homosexual “marriage.”

Despite Church teachings, Catholics in America also closely parallel the general populace in their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage,” falling short in the Biblical call to be “in the world but not of the world.”

The findings suggest what many Catholics have said is a climate of confusion in the midst of the Francis pontificate. Concerns over that confusion prompted a coalition of pro-family groups to respond with an international petition effort asking the pope to reaffirm Church teaching, drawing more than a half-million signatures.

The survey, conducted by Public Religions Research Institute, found that 60 percent of all U.S. Catholics favor legalized homosexual “marriage,” compared to 55 percent of all Americans. Likewise, 51 percent of Catholics think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 53 percent of the general population holding this view.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman, mirroring Christ and the Church respectively as bridegroom and bride.

The Church also teaches that life begins at conception, that each human life possesses dignity as a child of God and is to be afforded protection, making abortion an intrinsic evil.

Catholics, accounting for 22 percent of adults in the U.S. population, have a favorable view of Pope Francis, the study said, but they are very confused about his take on homosexual “marriage.”

Of the Catholics who back homosexual “marriage,” 49-percent also think the leader of the Catholic Church backs it along with them. Fifteen percent of those Catholics who oppose homosexual “marriage” also mistakenly believe Pope Francis supports it.

Pope Francis has made numerous statements in support of life, marriage and family, but the confusion remains.

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"After Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie stated.  "Young Catholics -- even non-Catholics -- look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."

TFP Student Action is a part of the lay Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and is part of the alliance behind the Filial Appeal, the petition asking the Holy Father to reinforce Catholic teaching at the Vatican’s upcoming Synod on the Family in October.

Ritchie explained how the confusion was aiding the Church’s enemies, and warned of the potential consequences.

"This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that's been spreading against Natural and Divine Law," he said. "If the enemies of the family continue to chip away at holy matrimony, the future of the family and civilization itself will be in even more serious peril."

At press time more than 500,000 signature had been gathered for the appeal, including five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of well-known civic leaders.

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