Fr. Shenan Boquet

Learning from the panic over population growth

Fr. Shenan Boquet
By Fr. Shenan Boquet

September 4, 2012 (HLI - The contrast is striking. On one side, we have those telling us that there are too many people in the world, and that for the sake of “women’s health” and “sustainability,” abortion and contraception must be basic rights—perhaps even an obligation for some—if we are to achieve sustainability in this world. On the other side are nations who are ahead of the curve, already achieving the so-called “success” of population reduction, that are in a panic to reverse course.

Representing the champions of “women’s health” is one of the wealthiest women in the world, Melinda Gates, whose “No Controversy” campaign has already raised over $4.6 billion to create new forms of birth control to push onto the more than 120 million women in the developing world. Mrs. Gates, who seems genuine when she claims that her Catholic faith leads her to defy Catholic teaching in this enormous effort to prevent births, has thus far been effective at uniting Western governments, the world’s largest abortion providers, relief organizations and developing world governments toward this goal.

One would think that if the issue was “women’s health,” that there would be more discussion among these elites about the health risks for women in their proposed solution to poverty. We might expect to hear a serious discussion about how, exactly, Catholic teaching can lead one to see children as the biggest threat to progress for developing nations. We might hear why they think contraception is more important than education, training qualified birth attendants and building hospitals in the great effort to reduce the problem of maternal mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Just as important, we would expect input from countries who have already achieved what Mrs. Gates and her partners seem bent on doing – actually reducing the population. The “No Controversy” gang should go beyond the voices they hear who only seem to tell them how desperately they need contraception. Instead, they should listen to those who are scrambling to reverse what they thought was a promise of progress, only to learn that population decline comes with terrible costs that never seem to be considered by the champions of “progress.”

South Korea is to many around the world a model of progress – a wealthy nation with a well-educated citizenry and plenty of opportunities for employment and upward mobility. This seems true especially in contrast with North Korea, whose murderous and corrupt leaders have succeeded in driving the nation’s economy right into the ground. With this contrast in such proximity, South Korea is lionized as a beacon of free market and democratic success.

But we need to look closer. Over the last several years a realization is setting in that South Korea’s progress has come at the expense of the next generation, as certain attitudes in the culture have left the country with an extremely low birth rate.

Superficially, this would seem to indicate that there is something to that often-unspoken argument about children being an obstacle to progress. But if this is so, why is South Korea (like several European nations) scrambling to reverse its low birth rate? Just recently the highest court in South Korea recognized the right to life of the unborn and ruled to enforce the country’s anti-abortion laws. Abortion has been illegal in South Korea since 1953 except in certain cases. Why have they decided to start enforcing this law which had been essentially ignored for decades?

Has South Korea given up on “progress?” Or have Koreans finally realized that such false progress, at the expense of children, is short-lived and potentially very destructive?

More importantly, how can we get Mrs. Gates, who may very well have the best of intentions for women in the developing world, to see the bigger picture? Is the real cause of such devastating and widespread poverty really children? Or is it government and moral corruption, a desire to control rather than liberate people, lack of education and a true sense of community?

The Catholic teaching that Mrs. Gates bizarrely claims led to her current campaign is actually very concerned with development, but the Church understands development in a very different way. In what the Church calls “authentic, integral development,” all people and the entire person – including in her spiritual and eternal dimension – are the end of, not the primary obstacle to, development. Markets should freely allow the development of wealth and its generous sharing. Laws must be just and justly enforced. Basic freedoms—including, and especially, religious freedom—must be defended by the state along with the right to life and all other legitimate rights that flow from this most essential right.

And people are the greatest resource—again, NOT the greatest obstacle—to authentic, integral development. For serious reasons, parents (NOT governments) may choose to postpone pregnancy using natural means that uphold both the unitive and procreative aspects of sexuality. But children are never to be seen as an obstacle, and dangerous hormonal drugs, of the means favored by Mrs. Gates and her partners, do not truly empower anyone. Any view to the contrary does not come from the Church, and the Catholic faith cannot be claimed in its support.

The social and moral teachings of the Catholic Church—which are in harmony with one another, not in opposition—provide a wealth of thinking on how to achieve true sustainable development. We pray that more nations can hear this truth before they too begin to see children as a threat to progress.

Reprinted with permission from

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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.

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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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