Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

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Pro-family movement: with this strategy, get used to losing

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
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December 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Advocates of the gay agenda hit a home run against pro-family forces on November 6, winning four out of four statewide referenda permitting homosexual ‘marriage’ or even establishing it.  Now pro-family activists must answer the question: “why?” What we’re hearing from them is not encouraging.

Although questions of tactics are always relevant to the postmortem analysis following an election loss, they ultimately cannot address the essence of the problem these defeats represent: a grave sexual perversion, one rightly denounced by virtually every society that has ever existed, is being converted in the mind of the public from a vice into a public institution, with associated privileges and rights, including access to infants and small children.

In short, the losses experienced in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State could never have happened in a healthy society that upholds basic standards of sexual morality.  The very fact that they were on the ballot at all, that the subversion of the institution of marriage has become a topic of polite conversation, is an indication of a level of moral confusion and decadence that borders on the apocalyptic.

The question that should be on the minds of pro-family activists should not be “how did we fail in our tactics,” but rather, “how did we arrive at this late stage of social breakdown in the first place?”  The answer, sadly, will be staring us back in the mirror.

Although millions of dollars have been spent on massive campaigns to counteract the homosexual lobby’s well-financed propaganda machine, and numerous dedicated individuals have committed many hours of labor to the cause of defending marriage, pro-family activists have made the catastrophic mistake of accepting many of the false premises upon which homosexual activists base their claims in the hope of appearing moderate and reasonable, while fatally weakening their own position.

Ceding the moral high ground

A public letter written by three eminent Catholics in Washington State prior to to the vote and published as an op-ed in the Seattle Times is a useful if lamentable example of this doomed strategy of moral compromise. Entitled, “We are Catholics and we oppose Referendum 74 to legalize same-sex marriage,” the letter sought to appear gracious and reasonable by speaking positively about the immoral, unnatural relationships that constitute the “gay lifestyle.”

Instead of denouncing sodomy as a socially-harmful vice, the letter appears to treat it with respect, stating that “No one denies the close and intimate bond experienced by same-sex couples. However, it simply is not the same thing as marriage because by its very nature it cannot produce children.”

In reality, homosexual relationships do not represent an authentic intimacy, but rather involve mutual exploitation for the sake of satisfying an unnatural lust.  Such behavior harms bodies and minds, causing physical damage and spreading diseases, and leading often to depression, drug abuse, domestic violence, and even suicide. Numerous studies have documented the destructive consequences of the “gay lifestyle,” although they should be hardly necessary if one merely considers the physical and psychological incompatibility of same-sex relationships, which substitute the natural complementarity of an opposite-sex companion in favor of a narcissistic parody of the same.

Confining one’s objections to homosexual marriage to the fact that gay relationships cannot produce offspring undermines the case for traditional marriage with a reductionist, functionalistic understanding of a relationship that is also profoundly psychological and spiritual.  Many heterosexual couples suffer from sterility and cannot produce children, but this does not deprive their relationships of validity nor the title of marriage.  Moreover, homosexuals have already anticipated this objection by adopting children, or using technology to create their own. If the reproductive element in heterosexual unions is the only basis for rejecting homosexual “marriage,” then we have already lost the battle.

Faulty principles produce long-run defeat

As Brian Camenker of Mass Resistance points out in his incisive post-electoral analysis, such losing strategies characterized virtually the entire effort on the part of pro-family activists, led by groups such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), in the four states.

“In sharp contrast to the homosexual lobby’s slick, sophisticated propaganda machine, the pro-family overall approach was largely the same moderate, inoffensive, often logically incoherent approach that they’ve coasted on until now,” writes Camenker, who notes that “most of the pro-family message was some variation of: Every child needs a father and a mother; the word ‘marriage’ is special; marriage is about procreation; marriage is a timeless institution; gays already have all the rights marriage brings; etc.”

However, Camenker adds, “At its root, ‘gay marriage’ is really about the forced acceptance of homosexuality as a normal part of society. But both NOM and the state pro-family groups went to great lengths not to criticize homosexual behavior. They were very fearful of being perceived as ‘anti-gay’ or ‘homophobic’ especially in the liberal press.”  Some smaller groups that did point out the objectionable nature of homosexual behavior were pilloried by the the larger groups, Camenker notes.

Two erroneous principles underlie the losing strategy of many marriage advocates.  The first, and worst, is a concession to a vague indfferentism regarding human sexuality, implying that sexual activity is a morally neutral question of personal preference, and that sexual morality is at most a matter of opinion. The second, which carries into effect the moral subjectivism of the first, is the notion that everyone has a right to control their own bodies, as long as their relationships are consensual. This transforms sodomy from a vice into a “right,” which ironically is the whole essence of the attack on marriage.

The latter principle is captured in the NOM’s number one talking point, given in italics on their own website: “Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”  Another way of wording this is the following: “We accept that homosexual sodomy is a right. We’re just don’t want to call it ‘marriage.’”

However, if homosexual sodomy is a right, that is, if it is a legitimate expression of human sexuality, it is difficult to understand why it should not be subsumed under the category of marriage. Marriage is, after all, a perpetual union between two people who share a sexual life, which in most but not all cases has the potential of bringing forth offspring.  NOM would (rightly) add that marriage is not just between two people who share a sexual life, but rather between a man and a woman who share a sexual life. However, they have no way to explain why the definition should be exclusive in this way, if homosexual sodomy is a legitimate form of sexual activity, and indeed a “right.”

Illustrating this point is a common argument made by defenders of marriage: that homosexuals can already receive all of the same rights and legal effects of marriage, but under the aegis of a “civil union” or other package of legal benefits. This attitude is also reflected on the NOM website, which concedes a wide range of benefits to homosexual couples that are customarily given to married couples. Homosexual adoption is never explicitly rejected, and NOM only occasionally opposes civil unions as stepping stones to homosexual “marriage.” In other words, the battle over marriage for NOM is almost entirely nominal; it is not about the essence of the institution, which protects a vital type of human relationship, but only the name we attach to it.

Rational arguments or incoherent slogans?

I must respectfully disagree with those pro-family activists who defended their organizations’ losing strategy following the elections.  If the only feasible approach is one that reinforces the foundation of the gay subculture by legitimizing homosexual relationships, and that isolates the defense of marriage from related issues, we have already lost the battle for marriage, both morally and politically. Sacrificing foundational principles may have given a superficial rhetorical advantage and helped to deliver short-run victories, but the ultimate fruits of this flawed approach are now becoming evident.  Poll numbers indicate that Americans are embracing homosexual “marriage” in ever-greater numbers.

The battle over marriage cannot be won by technocrats who think of human beings as Pavlov’s dog, responding to superficial slogans and emotionalistic advertising spots in proportion to the frequency of repetition and modeling votes as a function of dollars spent.  Although sloganeering has its role, in the long run, coherent and principled arguments win the day. Ultimately man is a rational animal, and ideas have consequences.

If we really wish to make the case for marriage, we must take a comprehensive natural-law approach to human sexuality that does not evade the more politically difficult aspects of the question, one that affirms the integral nature of sexual relationships and the corresponding duty of the state to defend sexual morality and repress vice. That is the approach laid out by then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in an instruction issued by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during his leadership of the same.  While affirming the goodness of natural marriage, Ratzinger also noted that homosexual unions, without qualification, must always be explicitly opposed, and that governments should act to “contain the phenomenon” of homosexuality.

Although such an approach will entail short-run difficulties and will not yield immediate victories, it is the only long-run solution to America’s terrible moral decline, which is not isolated to the definition of marriage, but includes an almost total corruption of the nation’s understanding of human sexuality, reproduction, and the value of human life. It is also the only truly charitable approach towards homosexuals themselves, who are the greatest victims of the “gay lifestyle,” and are in desperate need of the truth. Until and unless pro-family activists adopt a comprehensive and coherent answer to the ideology of the culture of death, we will continue to suffer defeat after defeat, until the institution of marriage is completely destroyed.

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Federal court says NY allowed to ban ‘Choose Life’ plates as ‘patently offensive’

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By Ben Johnson

ALBANY, NY, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life message can be classified as “patently offensive,” a federal appeals court ruled last week. The new opinion came as a three-judge panel ruled that New York state was right to reject a “Choose Life” license plate on the grounds that it may grate on New Yorkers' political sensibilities.

The judges split on whether New York could deny a pro-adoption group the right to have its own license plate, although the state has in the past allowed plates endorsing political causes associated with the liberal viewpoint, such as environmentalism.

Judge Rosemary Pooler, who was appointed by President Clinton, wrote that the state's denial did not harm anyone's right to freedom of expression, because drivers “may display a ‘Choose Life’ bumper sticker — or even cover every available square inch of their vehicle with such stickers. That message will resonate just as loudly as if vehicle displayed a ‘Choose Life’ license plate.”

Judge Debra Ann Livingston, a President George W. Bush appointee, wrote in her dissent that “a proposed custom plate depicting a sun and two smiling children, and bearing the words, ‘Choose Life’ [thought] to be ‘patently offensive’” was “surprising.”

“Pro-adoption organizations should have the same speech rights as any other organization. While the district court affirmed this basic freedom, the circuit court denied free speech in favor of government censorship,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel at ADF. “The state doesn’t have the authority to target The Children First Foundation specialty plates for censorship based on its life-affirming viewpoint.”

The ruling is the lastest round in a legal battle that has raged for more than a decade and, pro-lifers say, seen state officials repeatedly suppress their First Amendment rights.

The Children First Foundation applied for the specialty license plate in 2002, but state officials say the message and design was “too controversial.” In 2004, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on CFF's behalf.

New York's Department of Motor Vehicles repeatedly denied the “Choose Life” license plates on the grounds that the message was “patently offensive.”

The same appeals court rejected an effort to suppress the plates made by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and agreed that Albany officials denied the plates based on viewpoint discrimination.

In 2006, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals noted that CFF “specifically alleges that defendants denied the picture-plate application ‘based on their disagreement with [the] life-affirming viewpoint expressed on the plate.’”

“On a motion to dismiss, we must accept this allegation, and all reasonable inferences drawn from it, as true,” the judges ruled.

Spitzer, a Democrat who strongly supported abortion-on-demand and gay “marriage,” served as governor beginning in 2007 but resigned his office in the midst of a prostitution scandal only 15 months later.

In November 2011, a federal court ruled that “New York has run afoul of the First Amendment by giving the Commissioner unbridled discretion to engage in viewpoint discrimination.”

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Yet the case has dragged on through the appeals process.

“The state has wrongly gotten away with speech discrimination against our client for more than 10 years,” Tedesco said after last week's ruling.

He said ADF is considering its next legal move.

As of this writing, “Choose Life” license plates are available in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

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Michael Coren stands outside St. James Anglican Cathedral as he prepares to be received into the Anglican Communion on April 19, 2015. Anglican Diocese of Toronto / Facebook
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‘Official’ Catholic newspaper defends running pro-abortion piece by Michael Coren

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MUENSTER, Saskatchewan, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The Prairie Messenger, described as the "official Catholic newspaper for western Canada," is defending the publication of a piece last week in which ex-Catholic author Michael Coren openly advocates for abortion in the case of rape while saying the notion of “criminalizing abortion” is “repugnant.”

In his piece titled "Seamless garment," Coren — who recently left the Catholic Church to join the Anglican Church of Canada over Catholic teaching on homosexuality — writes that the 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who seized international headlines after becoming pregnant by rape should be legally allowed to abort her baby.

“A terrified little girl victimized by those around her and forced by a government to give birth to the child of her rapist? That is not justice, that is not life, that is not right. God must be weeping,” he writes.

Criminalizing abortion, Coren writes, would “give state legitimization and authority to a minority view and what is to a very large extent a particular religious teaching.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes a different position, however. In paragraph 2273, it states that “as a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights." Catholic teaching holds that every human life is sacred since it comes from God. There is no exception for rape. 

For many years, Coren was one of the most prominently pro-life broadcasters in Canada. Calling himself a “journalist for life,” he wrote a column for The Interim, Canada’s life and family newspaper, and was a frequent paid speaker at pro-life events. The Prairie Messenger column appears to be the first time that he has publicly renounced his pro-life position.

Prairie Messenger: “We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white."

Rebecca Kiessling, founder of Save The 1, told LifeSiteNews that she was disgusted to see an article in a Catholic newspaper that supports abortion. Kiessling, who was conceived by rape, is a public advocate for those targeted for abortion because they were conceived in rape.

“We are also told in Deuteronomy not to punish a child for the sins of the father and we are not to shed innocent blood. Doing so goes against every concept of justice. I did not deserve the death penalty for the crimes of my biological father. There is a misplaced compassion when anyone wants to kill the innocent child. Punish rapists, not babies,” she said.

Monica Kelsey, who was also conceived in rape, told LifeSiteNews that she was “deeply saddened to hear about Christians standing for the killing of an innocent child.”

“We all agree that this is a situation that deeply saddens us all, but killing this young woman’s child is not going to unrape her. It will further victimize her and, in the process, kill an innocent child.”

“As a child conceived through a brutal attack and rape where my birth mother almost died, I am deeply saddened that Mr. Coren is making an exception for this precious child's life, simply because his father is a rapist. God can get this 10-year-old child through this tough time, but why compound the issue with an abortion? This girl needs us to walk beside her, loving her and helping her make an adoption or parenting plan,” she said.

"This is a life, this is justice for this child. Saving this pre-born child's life is the right thing to do,” she added.

Dolores Castellanos, the doctor who is monitoring the 10-year-old girl in Paraguay, has confirmed that the pregnancy is developing without affecting the health of the infant or the little girl. Nevertheless, the international abortion lobby has latched onto the case as an opportunity to force the small South American country to change its pro-life constitution which currently protects life from the moment of conception.

Prairie Messenger is a weekly Catholic newspaper published by the Benedictine monastic community at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan. The Diocese of Saskatoon, the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface, and the Archdiocese of Regina are among those that promote the newspaper.

When LifeSiteNews asked Prairie Messenger News Editor Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB, why it ran a piece from an ex-Catholic who advocates for positions at extreme odds with clear Catholic teaching, spokesperson Maureen Weber responded: “Because we have much to gain by listening to the voices of others.”

“To carry only Catholic columnists who repeat the catechism would mean never hearing and acknowledging the voices of those who are living the hard realities of life on the peripheries, as Pope Francis puts it. Other columnists present other viewpoints that reflect these difficult life issues. Our readers can address these issues when they are presented and, as thinking adults, they need to do more than repeat rote answers.”

Weber said that the editors of Prairie Messenger “refuse to see abortion as a single issue, but rather, as a seamless garment of protection for all of life, both the unborn and the born, support for women, for work toward alleviating the poverty that leads so many women to make desperate decisions, restorative justice rather than harsh sentences with no possibility of rehabilitation, defence policies, health care, policies on the disabled, the aged, euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

“We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white,” she said.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized in 2013 those who champion the Church’s moral vision as a “seamless garment” while ignoring actual occasions of real injustice.

“The ‘seamless garment’ image was used to great effect to root the Church’s response to various moral issues — from nuclear proliferation to poverty — within the overarching teaching on the sanctity of human life, from natural conception to natural death,” he said.

“Unfortunately, however, it is also true that the image of the ‘seamless garment’ has been used by some theologians and Catholic politicians, in an intellectually dishonest manner, to allow or at least to justify turning a blind eye to instances of abortion, contraception, or public funding for embryonic stem cell research, as long as these were simultaneously accompanied by opposition to the death penalty or promotion of economic development for the poor - issues which are also part of the fabric of Catholic moral teaching,” he said.

The Prairie Messenger, which acts as the newspaper for a number of dioceses in Western Canada, has faced criticism in the past for opposing Catholic teaching.

In a July 2004 Catholic Insight article titled “A flawed stewardship,” Joe Campbell of Saskatoon, SK, called the Prairie Messenger’s editorial stance “disappointing” for taking what he called a “cafeteria approach to teachings on faith and morals, accepting some while rejecting others.”

Campbell criticized then-editor Rev. Andrew Britz, OSB, for failing to support Church teachings on issues such as the male priesthood, contraception, fornication, and homosexuality.

“Not only has Fr. Britz failed to support certain teachings, but he has repeatedly challenged them. He has managed this in three ways: through his editorials; through regular columnists he has retained; and through unbalanced coverage of certain events and issues,” he wrote at that time.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that a Catholic publication should publish what the Catholic Church teaches.

“Why they would allow this to be published is certainly beyond me. I think it behooves a Catholic publication to stand-up for what the Church actually teaches. Without some counter argument in defense of Church teaching right along side this piece, I think it's wrong to run something like that,” he said.

Contact info for respectful communcations:

Diocese of Saskatoon (home of Prairie Messenger) 
Bishop Donald Bolen
Ph: 306-659-5824 ext. 824
Email: [email protected]

Prairie Messenger 
Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB
Ph: 306-682-1772
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Saint Boniface
Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, DTh
Ph: 204-237-9858
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Regina
Archbishop Daniel Bohan
Ph: (306) 352-1651
Director of Communications
Bobbi Yanko - ext 230
Email: [email protected]

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Dutch bishops’ aid group funding Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes

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By Lisa Bourne

May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cordaid, the Dutch arm of the Vatican’s charitable umbrella Caritas Internationalis, is openly promoting contraception and says access to birth control is vital for the good of women in developing countries. The group has also given money to leading international abortion providers Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.

Cordaid defended itself when questioned by LifeSiteNews. Calling itself a “proud member” of Caritas Internationalis, a representative said that “access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

A new report by the Lepanto Institute details evidence of numerous violations of Church teaching from Cordaid's own website.

In 2012 Cordaid started a program called “Making sexual and reproductive health services work for the next generation” in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cordaid: “Access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

“There is a clear need for sex education and contraception in the African Great Lakes region,” Cordaid wrote of the program. “Its aim is to provide a better future for young generations, reduce childbirth mortality among women through more effective family planning and alleviate poverty among families.”

It began another contraception program the following year in Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda. A Cordaid program distributed condoms in the Congo in 2012, and another worked to provide condoms and other contraceptives in Malawi in 2013, while a third provided condoms in Sierra Leone in 2011 and 2012.

The Cordaid website also shows that it gave the Philippines Planned Parenthood affiliate €220,491 in 2013 for a teen sex-ed program, and partnered with another affiliate in Sierra Leone in 2013 and 2014. Cordaid gave a Marie Stopes affiliate over half a million Euros in 2013 to provide birth control, including sterilization.

Cordaid is not only a member but also a co-founder of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s coalition of Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations. There are 165 members in some 200 countries and territories across the world, and Cordaid is Caritas Internationalis’ local affiliate for the Netherlands.

The head of Caritas Internationalis was released from her position in 2011 amidst internal changes requested by the Vatican, prompted by concerns over the development agency’s Catholic identity. The following year Pope Benedict XVI ordered a reform of Caritas Internationalis.

The Lepanto Institute’s Michael Hichborn criticized Cordaid’s open flaunting of its membership in Caritas Internationalis while obviously disobeying Church teaching.

"With Cordaid boasting its proud membership in Caritas Internationalis while simultaneously fully admitting to dispensing contraception and funding Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International, Caritas has an obligation to expel Cordaid from its rosters," he told LifeSiteNews.

Responding to LifeSiteNews’ inquiry into the report’s specifics, in addition to stating that women benefit from “family planning” services and expressing importance in reducing “unwanted pregnancies,” Cordaid insisted it is not involved in providing abortion.

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“Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion,” the relief group said.

Cordaid also said it had the esteem of those with whom it collaborates. “Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south.”

“The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work,” the group added. “The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum com unum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in the world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.”  

LifeSiteNews sent inquiries to Caritas Internationalis regarding Cordaid’s activities in conflict with Church teaching, and did not receive a response before press time.

Hichborn decried the thought of Catholics in the Netherlands funding anti-Catholic initiatives. "Are the bishops of the Netherlands aware of what Cordaid is doing?” he asked. “Do Catholic parishes in the Netherlands take up collections for Cordaid? The Catholic faithful need to be made aware of what is happening in our Church."

Cordaid’s full statement to LifeSiteNews:

As a Catholic organization, Cordaid has long experience in healthcare in developing countries, especially sexual and reproductive healthcare.

In our programs one of our aims is to build bridges between citizens and governments, partners in the North and partners in the South, and bring together both religious and non-religious organizations.

Our long experience has taught us that good, complete and timely information and access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies. Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion.

Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south. The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work. The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum comunum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.   

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