Quebec court forces Catholic school to teach 'neutral' course on religion and morality
MONTREAL, December 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Quebec’s Court of Appeal has ruled that a private Catholic high school in Montreal must cease teaching a Catholic course on religion and morality and switch to the “secular” and “neutral” Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course provided by the province’s government.
The judges ruled on Tuesday that “exposing students to the global study of religions in a neutral perspective without requiring them to adhere to it, is not an infringement of freedom of religion”.
Patrick Andries, secretary of the Coalition for Freedom in Education, told LifeSiteNews.com that he was “surprised” that three Quebec judges found it to be “perfectly reasonable” to “secularize the education provided in a Catholic private school.” He pointed out that the move is an “oxymoron at the very least.”
The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) called the ruling “a grand social experiment” that raised the “legitimate objections of religious parents”.
“With this decision, the Court of Appeal has seriously infringed upon the right of parents to direct the religious education of their children,” said League President Philip Horgan.
The CCRL pointed out that the decision “creates a dilemma” for Catholic parents in Quebec who send their children to private Catholic schools “to avail their children of an authentic moral and religious upbringing in accordance with their faith”.
The case arose in 2008 when the Education Minister at that time forbade the Jesuit run Loyola High School from covering the mandatory curriculum by means of an already developed equivalent course but from a Catholic perspective. The Minister argued that Loyola’s course would not meet the requirements because it was faith-based rather than secular, and thus manifested a religious bias.
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The ERC program was mandated at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year for all students, and spans from grade one to the end of high school. The course purports to take a “neutral” stance on world religions, giving equal merit to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and aboriginal spirituality, as well as pseudo-religions such as atheism.
The highly-controversial course has been criticized for its “relativistic” approach to moral issues, teaching even at the earliest grades, for instance, that homosexuality is a normal/healthy expression of sexuality.
Loyola argued that the ERC program was “incompatible with Catholic beliefs of the school and it is not really neutral because it promotes an ideology of relativism”.
Loyola responded by taking the Education Ministry to court and won a resounding victory.
In the 2010 strongly-worded ruling, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that the Ministry’s attempt to force Loyola to teach the strictly secular course violated their freedom of religion under the Quebec Charter of Rights. The Superior Court reversed the Ministry’s decision and allowed the school to teach its substitute and equivalent program.
The judge at that time found it “surprising” that Quebec’s Ministry of Education had assumed what he called “a totalitarian character essentially equivalent to Galileo’s being ordered by the Inquisition to deny the Copernican universe”.
The Ministry appealed that decision and this week the Court of Appeal overturned the lower court.
“The program offered by Loyola seems to target the teaching content similar to that of the Ministry, but the perspective adopted is unquestionably religious,” wrote judge Jacques Fournier, whose decision was supported by judges Allan Hilton and Richard Wagner.
The judges ruled that “in light of the political will to secularize education” Loyola’s Catholic-perspective course cannot be considered “equivalent” to the ERC program, because the ERC course was specifically designed to be religiously “neutral”.
Judge Fournier pointed out that if the ECR course were to harm the faith of students, the “damage” would be “negligible because this is only one course among many.”
The judges noted in their ruling that teachers are not being asked to “refute the teachings of the Catholic religion, but to refrain from expressing their opinion or belief.”
Andries noted that the judges do not explain in their ruling why the “new ‘secular’ ERC program is a more effective way to learn for students than the old proven Catholic approach of Loyola”.
“Ultimately, this judgement strongly reinforces the discretion of the Ministry of Education to decide what is an equivalent program. This raises the bar for private schools who oppose the ideology or the pedagogy set out in the curriculum by the Ministry.”
Andries scored it, “State: 1—Parents and private schools: 0.”
Douglas Farrow, a McGill University professor, who testified at Loyola’s original case, told LifeSiteNews that “there is currently in Canada no more important case respecting religious liberty than this one.” Farrow noted that Loyola is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.