Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Media ‘derailed’ my message on gay civil unions: Vatican prelate

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, February 7, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Since Monday, the Catholic and pro-family internet has been abuzz with conflicting articles and blog posts about comments by a Vatican prelate who was reported to have supported legal structures recognizing same-sex partnerings. A story published by the U.S. bishops’ news service reported Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, as saying, “While the Catholic Church opposes legal sanctions against homosexuality and favors legal protections for unmarried people living together, it must defend traditional marriage for the good of society.”

The story touched off a small firestorm in the secular media, with some claiming that the archbishop had contradicted previous statements from Pope Benedict XVI and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

But in a follow-up interview with Vatican Radio yesterday, Archbishop Paglia insisted that his remarks, which had been given off-the-cuff after a prepared statement, were taken out of context and that he had never intended to imply that the Church supports homosexual civil unions.

In her coverage on Monday, Cindy Wooden, a Rome correspondent for Catholic News Service, quoted Archbishop Paglia saying, “If a country outlawed homosexuality, I would work to overturn it.” Wooden noted that he believed “there are still ‘20 or 25 countries’ that define homosexuality as a crime."

Wooden reported Paglia calling for “greater efforts to ensure legal protection and inheritance rights for people who are living together, but not married,” and that “legal means must be found to guarantee rights and regulate inheritance.”

“But do not call it marriage,” the CNS article quoted the archbishop saying.

The report was followed within hours by stories from secular liberal news outlets, carrying headlines like this one from the Huffington Post: “Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia Says Vatican Should Do More To Support Gay Couples.” The Global Post said, “Vatican official opens to rights for gay unions”. 

The reports even prompted a positive response from homosexualists in Italy. Franco Grillini, the head of Gaynet, an Italian homosexualist organization, said, “For the first time a senior prelate recognises that there should be rights also for gay couples and that there are many countries in the world where being gay is a crime.”

The ambiguity of the comments was highlighted, however, by the response from Aurelio Mancuso, head of Equality Italia, who said they could as easily be interpreted to mean “keeping the status quo, in other words an absence of rights.”

But in his interview Wednesday with Vatican Radio, Paglia said he was “very surprised at how some media reported” his statements, saying his intention had been “derailed.” “And it is certain that, when the train is derailed, it does not reach the station, it risks running off a cliff,” he added.

Paglia said it is worth considering whether existing laws, which in Italy do not include “civil partnerships,” are enough to grant all citizens sufficient protection from “unjust discrimination”. It is a matter, he said, of “individual rights,” as opposed to collective “gay rights.”

“This is far from the approval of certain perspectives,” he said.

Paglia added that he had been deeply moved by the pope’s discourses on both the value of marriage and the need to defend all persons, including homosexuals, from “malevolent and violent actions.” 

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

“I really hope that precious treasure, the heritage of humanity, which is the family, can be defended, supported and helped,” he said, “and woe to those who distort its meaning.”

Fr. Shenan Boquet, the president of Human Life International, issued a media release today thanking the archbishop for his clarification, saying it has relieved the widespread confusion created by the media reports. 

Whatever the media may have implied, Fr. Boquet said, the archbishop has “simply affirmed the Church's long held defense of basic human dignity (which is a gift from God the Father as every person is made in His image), her defense of the unchangeable nature of marriage, and her desire that no one suffer unjust discrimination.” 

Fr. Boquet cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a recent document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith showing that the Church has no established position on questions of inheritance law and has never opposed the claims of individuals to pass on their property to whomever they choose, or to allow visitors of their choice when in the hospital.

But this does not mean that the Church has or could ever condone legal changes creating “civil unions” between persons of the same sex. Rather it has said clearly that Catholics must oppose efforts to establish legal recognitions of any type of non-marital sexual relationships. To do so, Boquet said, would only create “confusion” over the true nature of marriage, “which is rightfully elevated and defended in almost every nation”. 

“It makes perfect sense to protect marriage in law, just as it makes little sense to provide legal recognition to dissolvable, affection-based relationships between individuals,” he said. 

With regard to “laws against homosexuality,” Boquet added, “in certain nations, we are not aware of any law against sexual orientation per se. Some nations have retained laws against homosexual acts and the Church has never opposed these laws nor sought their reversal.”

However, the Church does not concern itself with the morality of “orientation.”

“Being attracted to a those of the same sex is not in itself sinful,” Fr. Boquet said, “but is rather a disordered desire, that is to be responded to with the virtue of chastity. 

“But she respects the right of any nation to elevate natural marriage as the most basic institution of any healthy society, which is thus worthy of legal recognition and protection.”

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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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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, www.babycaust.de, 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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‘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,” Katholisch.de 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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