Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

New France president’s first deeds: get ready for more secularism and gay ‘marriage’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, France, May 18, 2012 ( - Dismantling of the family, attacks against parental rights and times of trouble for faith-based, mainly Catholic schools are looming large in French politics since France’s new socialist president, François Hollande, took over office from Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday morning at the Elysée, in Paris.

Government nominations, as well as Hollande’s inaugural speeches, are making it clear that ideological choices have been made and can be expected to be implemented in the near future. The discussion of a law instituting gay “marriage” has been announced for the Fall by the new Family minister – that is, if the French legislative elections in June vote in a socialist majority, which is considered likely.

Hollande’s first public act after the official investiture ceremonies at the Elysée Palace in Paris, on Tuesday, was to drive over to the nearby Tuileries gardens to pay tribute to the founder of the French state school system, Jules Ferry, whose monument was erected there in 1910 by the secularist “Ligue de l’enseignement” (League of Education).

The timing and the symbolism of this first presidential act was seen as a clear indicator that Hollande aims to intensify the role of the state in education and to step up control over what remains of the private school sector.

The new president’s speech front of former education ministers – exclusively of the socialist variety – teachers and dozens of children, used military phraseology to make his point. “School is the weapon of justice. It is the weapon of republican equality,” he said. A weapon to force “equality”, or to put it more clearly, egalitarianism.

School, as François Hollande sees it, is “the locus of equality.” “Equality of opportunity,” according to the new socialist president, means equality that “knows no other measure of distinction than personal merit and effort, since birth, fortune and chance establish hierarchies which schools have the mission, if not the duty, to correct, and even to destroy.”

Interesting omissions and changes to the written speech were made by François Hollande in his spoken delivery at this point. He left out the word “talents” as a legitimate measure of distinction and changed the phrase saying that the mission of schools regarding these hierarchies is “if not to abolish, at least to correct” them, choosing the much more aggressive formula quoted above.

This agenda, to be implemented in a country where large sections of the poorer suburbs of many major cities are mainly populated by ethnic minorities, many of them Muslim, has already shown its limits: the level of general culture of most school-leavers has gone steadily down over the past decades in a system where exactly the same curriculum is supposed to apply to all pupils up to age 14 or 15. In state schools leftist teachers’ organizations and progressive pedagogues have had the upper hand since 1968. François Hollande clearly intends to enhance their power and to dismantle the few concessions made to parental rights by the Sarkozy administration, which gave families a bit more freedom to choose a state school for their children and stepped up financial aids to private, state-funded schools.

Secularism is also a master word for schools according to Hollande. He sees schools as the “locus of emancipation”: emancipation from traditions and “dogma” in view of the “sovereign liberty of the spirit,” of reason left to itself. And also of reason destroyed: in state-funded French schools, be they public or private, whole reading methods and other pedagogical aberrations are effectively preventing a large percentage of French children from learning to read and think independently.

This is a far cry from the school of Jules Ferry, which formed minds and intelligences effectively, albeit in open conflict with religious beliefs.

Jules Ferry himself was remembered by François Hollande for two laws: the one which instituted cost-free primary schooling for all in 1881, and the law which in 1882 made schools secular and compulsory. At the time these laws were accompanied with persecution of faith-based schools and Catholic teaching congregations, many religious being expelled from the country or driven into exile.

Over the years, elements of freedom were returned to parents and nowadays 20% of pupils go to private, mostly Catholic schools where state curricula are obligatory, and teachers are formed and paid by the State. Only a fraction of schools are completely independent, receiving no direct public funds but entitled to issue tax refund forms for donations. These tax refunds are at risk of being suppressed under Hollande’s period of office.

The French Republic has long seen secularist state education as a means to counter the influence of families and faith. Hollande’s first speech on the matter, from which the words “parental rights” and “liberty” were totally absent, has made it clear that securalism is back with a vengeance.

As regards families, the naming of Mrs Dominique Bertinotti, a close friend of François Hollande’s ex-partner Ségolène Royal, as delegate minister to the Family, is seen as an insult to its defenders. Wednesday morning, hours before taking up her new office, she committed herself during an interview with the nationwide news radio “France-Info” to reduce tax relief associated with the number of children for richer families – less tax is owed when more persons form the “fiscal home” – in order to increase social aid to poorer families at the beginning of the school years. This would break with the French tradition of compensating a fraction of the extra charge children bring with them, whatever the social status of their family.

Bertinotti immediately promised to work on legalization of homosexual “marriage” and homosexual adoption and to “redefine” the meaning of the word family which should include, she says, not only the “classic” type but also “recomposed, single-parent and homoparental families,” so that they can obtain “exactly the same rights and be seen the same way by society, whatever their way of life.”

Mrs Bertinotti also intends to step up availability of public childcare systems, and to increase the number of 3, and even 2 year-olds in State schools.

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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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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