Hilary White

Irish Children’s Rights Referendum will make children property of the state: U.S. legal expert

Hilary White
Hilary White

DUBLIN, November 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.comt) – A proposed “Children’s Rights” amendment to the Irish constitution will make children “creatures” of the Irish state, totally subject to the whims of state officers, who can order them adopted out to strangers without even judicial review, an American legal expert has warned.

The public is set to vote on the wording, which was described by the expert as “frightening,” on November 10th. Michael Vacca, a lawyer with the group Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-governmental organization focusing on religious freedom and family law issues, says the language places the rights of children at odds with the rights of their parents and the family, a move that is in direct contradiction to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Ireland is signatory.

“The Children’s Rights Referendum gives Ireland absolute control over children in Ireland, who are subjected to the fancies of the State and can be deprived of loving and caring parents without a clear showing of parental neglect or abuse.”

Vacca has written a comprehensive analysis of the proposed new wording to Ireland’s constitution in response to questions by LifeSiteNews.com. He told LSN that he hopes it will help to educate the Irish public on the threat to the family and to children posed by the government’s amendment. Recent polls show that, with millions of public and private funds being spent on the Yes campaign, and the No side coming late and underfunded to the fight, the referendum is likely to overwhelmingly pass the new wording.

Read: Why You Must Vote “No” on Ireland’s Children’s Rights Referendum on November 10th

“If this Referendum passes, Irish children will belong to the State, and parents will be powerless to protect their own children from the State,” Vacca warned.

“Ireland is legally obligated to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Children’s Rights Referendum will place Ireland out of step with the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world.”

In the proposal, “The child is viewed as an isolated individual rather than as a part of the family,” Vacca said. “As a result, the child becomes a creature of the State of Ireland. Ironically, by claiming the authority of Ireland to safeguard the best interests of the child independent of parental rights, Ireland would thus violate the right of children not to have their families interfered with through the dismissal of parental rights.”

Ominously, given the current government’s growing antipathy towards the Catholic Church, Vacca warns that the ambiguity of the new wording could be used to impose a secularist interpretation of “best interests” and remove children from homes based on anti-religious prejudice.

“Whether, for example, a child’s safety or welfare is ‘likely to be prejudicially affected’ may very well depend upon the religion or culture of that child’s parents, or rather, the perception which an agent of the State has about that religion or culture,” he said.

The Irish state has claimed that the referendum will bolster protections for children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But Vacca has found that it is precisely the rights defined by that document that will be threatened by the proposed amendment. He points out that the Convention on the Rights of the Child “explicitly and implicitly protects parental rights” as the best means of protecting children. Despite it being the Convention’s foundational principle, any mention of protections for the family is glaringly omitted from the wording.

The Convention’s Preamble states that the family, is “the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children,” and as such “should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community”.

But far from protecting families, Vacca says, the government’s Committee on the Rights of the Child has “so contorted the express language used in the Convention that it has effectively interpreted [it] as a means for the State to usurp parental rights”.

The amendment’s wording grants the state the right to dissolve the family. It asserts that in undefined “exceptional cases” the “State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents.” It allows children to be seized by the state and adopted out to others against the will of their natural parents “where the best interests of the child so require,” with “best interests” also remaining undefined.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, however, is quite specific about the meaning of “best interests” and defines it clearly as being “intrinsically connected with the protection of parental rights based on the family,” Vacca says.

Article 3(2) of the Convention says, “States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her…”

Vacca writes, “Lest States are tempted to think that they are the primary guarantors of the ‘best interests of the child,’ Article 3(2) makes clear that the best interests of the child standard necessarily involves the protection of parental rights.”

Further, the Convention repeats the priority of the rights of parents, saying in Article 5, “States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents”. According to the Convention, Vacca says, “Implicit in every child’s right, to education, to healthcare, to clothing and shelter, etc, is the right of children to exercise such rights within their family, that is, within the context of parental rights and duties.”

“There are no children’s rights which of their nature exclude parental rights because all the rights of a child should be exercised, if possible, within their respective families.”

The Convention also prohibits states from arbitrarily and unilaterally removing children from their parents’ supervision, even in “exceptional cases” where the child is subject to abuse. The determination of the State to remove children from their parents must be subject to judicial review, and courts must have the authority to return a child to his parents if that is in the “best interests” of the child. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child presumes that parents act in the ‘best interests’ of their children,” Vacca said.

Vacca says it is the proposal’s blanket permission to adopt children out without their parents’ consent that is “most frightening” because the grounds for this extreme action are left entirely to the discretion of the state to define.

The state can adopt out children when parents fail in their “duty” but this is undefined, and “in practice means …whatever the State of Ireland wants it to mean”.

“Secondly, since the ‘best interests of the child’ is determined without regard to parental rights, it is the State which unilaterally determines the ‘best interests of the child.’

“Thirdly, the period of time that parents must fail in their duty towards their child to have their child taken away from them without their consent is unspecified, and could theoretically be a very short period of time.”

Many of the amendment’s critics have pointed out that the scandals involving abuse of children in various institutions, that prompted the proposal for the referendum, occurred in state-funded and supervised institutions, not within private families. Moreover, the amendment includes no language to create a mechanism or structure to supervise state officials in their dealings with children.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 6, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
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Bobby Jindal: I’ll fight for religious freedom against Hollywood and Wall Street

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Although other Republican governors have “quickly cowered” when large corporations place the homosexual agenda ahead of religious liberty, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal vowed today to defend freedom of conscience from anyone – whether the assault comes from Hollywood liberals, activist judges, homosexual pressure groups, or even a traditional Republican ally like Big Business.

In a New York Times op-ed that combined constitutional philosophy with political strategy, Jindal wrote those who believe in traditional values are under assault from a well-funded alliance of secular “progressive” elitists from L.A. to Wall Street.

“Hollywood and the media elite are hostile to our values and they tip the scales to our liberal opponents at every opportunity,” he wrote. “Liberals have decided that if they can’t win at the ballot box, they will win in the boardroom.”

The two-term governor had a simple message for anyone who would try to get him to change his position on marriage or religious protections: “Save your breath.”

Jindal said he had already received corporate pushback as he fought for his state's pending Marriage and Conscience Act (H.B. 707).

Contrary to media caricatures of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts – like the one Jindal signed in 2010 – RFRA bills do not create a blanket right for businesses to discriminate against homosexuals. However, a devout business owner would not have to violate his, or her, conscience by participating in a same-sex “marriage” ceremony, a ritual with clearly religious implications.

“As a nation we would not compel a priest, minister or rabbi to violate his conscience and perform a same-sex wedding ceremony,” Jindal wrote. “But a great many Americans who are not members of the clergy feel just as called to live their faith through their businesses.”

Jindal's proposed H.B. 707 would add an additional layer of legal protection by preventing the state from denying state funding, licenses, or taking any “adverse action” against business owners who refused to participate in or recognize same-sex “marriages.”

The bill does not forbid gay “marriage” statewide – another, popular law already does that. But David Badash wrote at The New Civil Rights Movement that under the bill's terms, for instance, “Your employer doesn't have to extend medical coverage to your spouse.”

That has not made corporate interests, which often favor left-leaning social policies, happy.

Jindal linked to a letter from James M. Driesse, the Senior State Executive of IBM, who clearly linked its economic participation in Louisiana with Jindal's revising the law.

“IBM has made significant investment” in the state, Driesse wrote, but allowing businesses to deny same-sex “marriages” for religious reasons “will create a hostile environment.”

“IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law,” the letter warned.

Jindal, who is a likely 2016 presidential hopeful, said he is “certain that other companies, under pressure from radical liberals, will” follow suit, “but they will not deter me.”

Instead, they should be joining what had once been a three-legged stool of social, economic, and national security conservatives fighting against the Left, he said.

“The left-wing ideologues who oppose religious freedom are the same ones who seek to tax and regulate businesses out of existence,” he wrote. “The same people who think that profit making is vulgar believe that religiosity is folly.”

He added that denying religious freedom would rend our fraying social fabric. “A pluralistic and diverse society like ours can exist only if we all tolerate people who disagree with us,” he counseled. “That’s why religious freedom laws matter.”

His op-ed immediately generated angry remarks from the Left and sighs of recognition on the Right.

Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council told LifeSiteNews that Jindal is “correct that corporations have to do some soul-searching to see if they truly support religious freedom for all, or if they are prepared to tell some religious believers their claims aren’t worth as much as others.”

“Big Business needs to remember that the many Americans who support its services and buy its products will observe how it treats and talks about their deeply held beliefs. All they are asking is to be left alone by the government to freely live out these beliefs in their lives and businesses,” Weber told LifeSiteNews.

“Governor Jindal recognizes this,” he said. “Big Business should do the same.”

Voices on the Left pursued their well-worn line, accusing Jindal of aiding discrimination and giving sanction to bigotry. The feminist, and often vulgar, website Wonkette.com riffed, “This is an important, serious religion in the United States, the God Hates Fags religion, and it deserves to be protected!”

But Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said that Jindal walked the line between conscience and charity perfectly, acting as “both a defender of religious liberty and an opponent of unjust discrimination.”

The Catholic spokesman called the governor's “willingness to publicly chastise corporations, from Wal-Mart to Wall Street, that have jumped on board the gay-marriage bandwagon” as “perhaps the boldest and most refreshing part of Jindal's essay.”

Economic freedom alone is not enough to maintain liberty, he said. “A free society depends as much on the virtue of its citizens as it does any factor.”

Conservative writer Dan Calabrese seemed pleased that “if the radical gay lobby or terrified Chamber of Commerce weenies try to bully Jindal into changing” the law, “they're apparently not going to get very far.”

When corporations demanded RFRA bills be vetoed or gutted, other Reublican governors – Mike Pence of Indiana and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas – “folded like cheap suits,” he wrote.

Yet there was no great difference in the underlying principles of those state bills and the pending bill Jindal has so strongly championed, he said. “Jindal just explains it better.”

Calabrese “challenges conservatives to stop being such cowards in the face of liberal/media pressure on issues like this” and “counter their lies.”

“What Jindal understands is that you treat the radical gay mob the same way you treat a bully on the schoolyard,” he said. “You stand up to them. You refuse to be intimidated.”

Donohue agreed. “He gets it,” he said. “Hopefully he will inspire others to get it as well.”

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Patricia Jannuzzi
Fr. Peter West

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A priest’s response to the gay activist who tried to silence a Catholic teacher for opposing his agenda

Fr. Peter West
By Fr. Peter West

Editor’s note: On April 2, Father Peter West, a Catholic priest and pro-life leader, wrote an open letter at MyCentralJersey.com to Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon defending Catholic teacher Patricia Jannuzzi after she was suspended by her Catholic school for criticizing the homosexual agenda. The newspaper ran a response to Father West on the same day by Scott Lyons, Sarandon’s nephew and a former student at Jannuzzi’s school.

The following letter is Father West’s full response to Lyons, published with his permission. A shorter version ran at MyCentralJersey.com on April 17.

Dear Scott Lyons,

In your letter campaigning against Patricia Jannuzzi, you said you hoped to start a dialogue. Dialogue is good, but what you call “dialogue” is really more like pressure tactics which led to Patricia fearing the loss of her job. Her statements were bold and controversial and would have been interesting dialogue for a classroom discussion. However, your campaign stifled “dialogue” through intimidation.

You may think this statement, "We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity,” was offensive and violated modern standards of political correctness, but it is absolutely consistent with what Pope Francis and the Catholic Church teach. Pope Francis said, “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child's development and emotional maturity,” and “the family is…a remedy against social fragmentation.” Societies that accept the homosexual agenda are in danger of extinction.

Patricia’s comment that "homosexual behavior is a choice ... sometimes violently taught" affirms Catholic teaching: homosexual orientation is not chosen, but behavior is. Choose to be chaste or choose to fulfill sexual desires in disordered ways. Her statements are correct and although they offend you, they are not reason enough for firing from a Catholic school. Patricia may have used some hyperbole using the term “violently taught,” but she was essentially correct about this too.

Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen co-authored a book called After the Ball; How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90's. The strategy advocated was a technique called "jamming" -- public smearing of Christians or others who oppose the homosexual agenda. You applied this very tactic to Patricia Jannuzzi with your Aunt Susan’s support. Principal Jean Kline, Msgr. Seamus Brennan, and Bishop Bootkoski cooperated in your efforts by buckling to the pressure. They should have had Patricia’s back; instead they threw her under the proverbial bus. Had there not been a campaign by faithful Catholics and other people of good will, Patricia Jannuzzi would have lost her job.

When you compare beheadings and gay relationships, brutal violence is obviously a far greater evil. But both violence and the attack on the foundation of the family, through the attack on marriage as a union between one man and one woman, are evils. Pope Francis explained this as well: "The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life. These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces, which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself."

Scott, the big picture here is the message of love, repentance and salvation preached by Jesus Christ. Patricia Jannuzzi didn’t judge homosexuals, she judged lifestyle choices. Though we must treat persons who struggle with a homosexual orientation with compassion, we can never approve of disordered behaviors. Catholic leaders should not be afraid to boldly proclaim and defend the truth. When Patricia Jannuzzi did so, it was easy for your supporters to isolate and vilify her with hate speech calling her a "vile bigot who got what she deserved."

Though your tone is much more reasonable now, your campaign against Patricia Jannuzzi has successfully intimidated many Catholic teachers. Even though Patricia has been reinstated, Immaculata High School, Immaculate Conception Parish, and the Diocese of Metuchen still act as if she has done something terribly wrong. They owe her an apology for what they put her through.

They should question how Immaculata graduates end up becoming homosexual activists who fight against Church teaching and intimidate others into silence. Instead, they’re more worried about not offending anyone. Truth will cause division. (Mat. 10, 34-36) While it is true that Bishop Bootkoski did not say anything denying Church teaching, nor did he do anything to defend it. This situation is extremely disturbing: silence is complicity.

I believe those in charge of your formation failed you by failing to impart a proper understanding and love of the Catholic faith, especially her beautiful teaching about God’s plan for human sexuality, marriage, and the family. I wonder if you have even heard of Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. I believe that God’s judgment on those who failed to impart the faith to you will be more severe than yours.

Scott, I believe Jesus loves you, but he loves you too much to leave you in your sins. Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest man of his times. (Mat. 11, 11) In the spirit of John the Baptist, who told Herod that it was not right for him to live with his brother’s wife (Mark 6,18), I say to you it is not right that you should live with another man as a husband.

Love, indeed, is the highest good, but following the moral law including on matters of sexual morality is part of requirements of love. Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my Commandments.” (John 14, 15) My hope is that you will eventually come to understand the emptiness of seeking satisfaction apart from God's will, repent of your sins, and begin to follow Christ's teachings, including those regarding chastity, and that you return to the practice of your Catholic faith.

Sincerely,

Fr. Peter West

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March-related events will begin at noon, with a rally from 12:00-1:00, and then the march itself at 1:00. Participants will gather at the mall in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
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Thousands to join March for Marriage in D.C. Sat. under shadow of Supreme Court hearing

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By Dustin Siggins

April 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - On Saturday, thousands of pro-family Americans are expected to flock to Washington, D.C. for the third annual March for Marriage.

Organized by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), March-related events will begin at noon, with a rally from 12:00-1:00, and then the march itself at 1:00. Participants will gather at the mall in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.  

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex "marriage," or if states should be allowed to make their own marriage policy.

The will take place in the shadow of what may be the most consequential marriage hearing in American history. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex "marriage," or if states should be allowed to make their own marriage policy.

A related rally, sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom, will take place before the March. The NOM rally will begin at noon Eastern Time, with the March starting at 1:00 Eastern. The rally and March will be live-streamed by LifeSiteNews, the March for Marriage’s official media partner.

"We expect thousands of people to attend,” Frank Shubert, National Political Director of NOM, told LifeSiteNews. “This is the third March for Marriage and will attract the largest group of marriage supporters yet. We have people coming from all over the country."

"Imagine if we could go back in time and rally the pro-life community in Washington before the infamous Roe v Wade case was heard by the justices of the Supreme Court. We have that opportunity now to preserve marriage.

“The March for Marriage is our last, best opportunity to show the justices of the Court, the media and opinion leaders in Washington that the American people continue to support marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and demand that their votes and values be respected and upheld."

The March has drawn dozens of sponsors and coalition partners, as well as national voices on marriage.

When: Saturady April 25, from noon-1:00
Where: The mall in front of the U.S. Capitol

 

Speakers include:

Brian Brown
Senator Ruben Diaz
Reverend Brandon B. Porter Prelate
Josh Duggar
Rev. Bill Owens
Rev. Jim Garlow
Tom Minnery
Mat Staver
Archbishop Kurtz
Jennifer Marshall
Carlos Luis Vargas Silva
Bishop Anne Gimenez (closing Prayer)
Cathy Ruse

Sponsors include:

ActRight
Alliance Defending Freedom
American Principles Project
Catholic Vote
Christian Union
Citizen Link
Crown Them With Glory
Manhattan Declaration
Tradition, Family, Property
USCCB

Coalition Partners:

2nd Vote
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Centro Biblico Internacional
Coalition of African-American Pastors
FRC
Focus on the Family
FRC Action
Heritage Foundation
Human Life International
Liberty Counsel
MRC
North Carolina Family Policy Council
NC Values Coalition
The Family Foundation (VA)
Wisconsin Family Action

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