Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Paris judge: nudity, sex positions in “blasphemous” ‘Golgota’ play OK for public

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits
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PARIS, December 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - One day before the opening night of what has been called a “blasphemous” play, “Golgota Picnic”, a Paris judge has refused to sign an interim ruling prohibiting the opening of the show. Judge Magali Bouvier decided not to “destroy a work of art” which, she writes, will only be seen by a few hundred spectators at the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” on the Parisian Champs-Elysées, regardless of its offensive content and messages of hate against all Christians.

An emergency proceeding was introduced on these grounds a few weeks ago by the French and Christian rights defense group, AGRIF (Alliance générale contre le racisme et pour le respect de l’identité française et chrétienne). In French law, emergency proceedings are intended to put a stop to situations which “disrupt the public order”.

AGRIF’s counsel argued that the showing of “Golgota Picnic” would do that on several counts. The play’s Hispano-Argentian author, Rodrigo Garcia, expresses hatred towards Christ throughout the play, accusing centuries of Christian art of being directly responsible for sex abuse of minors by priests and religious, violence, and more generally all that is wrong with the world. Christ Himself is portrayed as a selfish, antisocial fraud and covered with verbal abuse calling him a “devil whore” or the “messiah of AIDS”.

The play visually attacks Christians’ central, treasured beliefs about all things related to the Crucifixion. Hundreds of bread burgers cover the scene in a parody of the Multiplication of the Loaves; the actors, five male, one female, repeatedly mock the Crucifixion while endlessly reciting rambling prose, then sing and dance the last words of Christ to strident guitar music.

The DVD of the play, produced by the Theatre’s counsel, has been found to contain more disturbing elements than press reports from Spain, where the play showed at the beginning of the year, had indicated. “Crucifixion” scenes were presented lascivious or grotesque, a “Pieta” scene showed an actress, completely nude, moving sensuously on a male actor’s lap and the “making” of the Shroud received similar sexual treatment.

Another scene showed three actors, two male and one female, scantily covered and soaked with blue and red paint to evoke classical paintings of Golgotha, entwining in sexual positions. After this they all undressed completely, facing the public or moving about the stage for at least five minutes.

This was not a problem, judge Bouvier ruled today, as the lighting was “dimmed” during the scene (in fact, during part of that scene the stage-lighting was a strong red, and normal the rest of the time). The AGRIF, one of whose objects is to combat pornography and to protect the dignity of women and children, argued that this scene, among several others, constitutes “sexual exhibition” which is prohibited by law, and should at the very least justify banning “Golgota Picnic” from being shown to minors under eighteen.

French law does not prohibit blasphemy, but it does affirm all believers’ right to freedom of religion and to the respect of their beliefs. AGRIF argued that “Golgota Picnic” violently disregards this right and adds incitement to hate against Christians by its repeated desecrations of Christian beliefs and its central figure Jesus Christ. Emphasizing that these actions are subject to prosecution under the law, the AGRIF asked that the most objectionable passages of the show be scrapped and that its name, which the group called an insult to believing Christians, be replaced by a less provocative title.

All the demands of the AGRIF were rejected by judge Magali Bouvier, who openly disregarded and misrepresented the unanimous and firm reactions of the French episcopate against “Golgota Picnic.”  Bouvier quoted admiring lines from the progressive Catholic newspaper La Croix to justify Rodrigo Garcia’s artistic portrayal of his “doubts and interrogations” about the God he feared as a young boy in Argentina.

The judge went on to assess the AGRIF for court costs of 3,500 euro (over 4,600 USD) legal expenses incurred by the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” for its defense.

Last week’s hearing took place in judges’ chambers at the top of the “Caesar Tower” in the Conciergerie facing the Seine in the heart of Paris. The tower is one of the main remnants of the medieval palace where French kings lived from the 11th-15th century, after which the buildings would serve as the Parliament of Paris, the prison where Marie-Antoinette was kept until her execution, and, now, as “Palace of Justice” sheltering all Parisian judiciary courts as well as the equivalent of the Highest Court of Appeal. Ironically, upon entering this chamber the first thing that visitors see is a life-size reproduction of the “Retable of the Parliament of Paris”, an impressive 15th-century rendering of the Crucifixion.

This week several events were set to mark the “premiere” of Golgota Picnic.

In an unprecedented move, the archbishop of Paris, cardinal André Vingt-Trois, has called “all those who are willing” to participate in a vigil in his cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris after the Mass of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The cardinal referred to the play that “insults Christ on the Cross”, and called Catholics to participate in a “meditation of the Passion of Christ and the veneration of the Holy Crown of Thorns”. The relic is usually only shown to the faithful on Fridays in Lent and on First Fridays during the year.

Some have speculated that the special vigil purpose is to undermine or take attention away from the emphatic public protests against the play, which will be taking place from the 8th through the 17th December, each time “Golgota Picnic” will be shown in the Théâtre du Rond-Point. Several groups are calling on Parisians to participate in these peaceful, prayerful demonstrations as they already did in recent protests against “On the Concept of the Face of Christ”, another “blasphemous” play which some bishops excused on the grounds that they found it “thought-provoking”.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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