Patrick Craine

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Pro-abort ex-Bloc Quebecois leader drops support for D&P

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

MONTREAL, Jan. 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, a long-time proponent of legal abortion who has been described as an "anti-Christian bigot" for his harsh criticism of conservative believers, has pulled his support from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) as the agency struggles to convince the faithful of its Catholic identity. 

The Montreal politician, who stepped down as leader after 15 years in 2011 when he lost his seat in the House of Commons, made the announcement Jan. 11th in a short post for Le Journal de Montréal.

But one pro-life leader is questioning how the bishops’ official development agency was ever able to win his support in the first place.

“The only reason I could see that Duceppe could accept to donate to D&P for so many years is that in all that time D&P never did anything that would distinguish it as being particularly Christian,” said Georges Buscemi, president of Campagne Québec-Vie. “It may even be that D&P's approach to alleviating poverty corresponded to Duceppe's Marxist, materialist outlook."

Buscemi noted that during his tenure as leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Duceppe consistently whipped his caucus to vote against pro-life measures whenever they came up.

In his post, Duceppe says he has supported D&P “for years” but stopped this year because the organization has too closely aligned itself with the Vatican’s moral stance on contraception and abortion, and the Harper government’s “ideological obsession” that is “inspired by a certain religious right.”

“The orientation imposed recently on this group by the Harper government and Canadian bishops no longer meets the needs of the population of countries that received assistance up until now,” he writes. “The question of family planning is at the centre of this change in orientation. These fundamentalists can't accept the right to abortion as a last resort as being an integral part of family planning.”

“The Vatican’s policy goes farther: all methods of contraception are unacceptable!” he continues. “How can we oppose the use of condoms in Africa, for example, where there is rampant extreme poverty and child mortality? How can we preach religious principles that have nothing to do with faith in countries that face the AIDS epidemic?”

“I find this behavior not just inhumane, but downright criminal. I will therefore no longer support a movement that aligns itself with such orientations,” he concludes.

The separatist icon joins a growing list of defectors from D&P in recent months as the organization walks a careful line between calls for an improved Catholic identity from Canada’s bishops and demands to maintain the status quo from long-time activists.

After the agency delayed its fall education campaign after complaints from bishops that it was too politically-focused, both its In-Canada Program Director and a member of the theology committee announced they were resigning, and the Francophone youth wing called a boycott of the upcoming Share Lent fundraising campaign.

The pressure on the organization intensified in March after the federal government announced it was cutting the group’s federal by 65%, meaning a loss of $34 million in the period up to 2016.

D&P executive director Michael Casey told the Catholic Register last week that the loss of funds “puts more emphasis on our support from the Catholic community.”

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has been guiding the agency through a process of renewal since 2010 and the current CCCB president, Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, has insisted that the bishops “would not have patience for one minute to be supporting any partner that would in any way be pro-abortion.”

Yet researchers continue to uncover D&P partners that advocate legalized abortion.

In September, LifeSiteNews reported that the agency was funding the NGO Forum on Cambodia, a consortium of development NGOs in Cambodia that has called for greater access to “safe abortion” and joined a coalition that promotes a pro-abortion interpretation of the UN’s Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Last March, LifeSiteNews reported that D&P is funding a Haitian woman’s group, named APROSIFA, that openly hands out free contraceptives and has produced literature on how to obtain abortions.

it is unclear whether or not the funding has remained in place, but both groups are still highlighted on D&P’s website. Neither Development and Peace nor the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has commented on the funding relationships.

The pressure on the group to clean itself up is expected to mount all the more as the Pope himself entered the fray in December, issuing a formal legislative document, called a Motu Proprio, insisting Catholic charitable agencies must act in complete compliance with Catholic teaching.

He re-emphasized the point on Saturday, insisting in an address to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum that Catholic charities should refuse partnerships that even indirectly support acts opposed to the faith. “We must exercise a critical vigilance and at times refuse funding and collaborations that, directly or indirectly, favour actions or projects that are at odds with Christian anthropology,” he said.

The papal intervention came after Vatican officials expressed concern over several years that the Caritas network of Catholic charities, in which D&P represents Canada, needed to strengthen its Catholic identity.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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