Dustin Siggins


RNC chairman: ‘March for Life was a little bit of a wake-up call’

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that attending the 2014 March for Life gave him “a little bit of a wake-up call” about the fact that the Republican Party needs to lay greater emphasis on its commitment to the pro-life cause.

Priebus, who was speaking with a group of bloggers and reporters at CPAC, told LifeSiteNews that while “our party has to grow where we're weak...we also have to grow where we're strong. I think that sometimes we spend too much talking about where we're weak."

"We wanted to remind people about where we stand on life, we went to the March for Life, as an RNC. And I will tell you, personally – which is something I don't think I've shared a whole lot – the RNC going to the March for Life, for me, was a little bit of a wake-up call for me as chairman.”

(Listen to an audio recording of Priebus' answers here.)

Priebus allowed members of the RNC who wanted to attend the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C., to do so before the GOP's annual winter meeting.

“Here I am, the chairman of a pro-life party...and I got all this appreciation,” Priebus said. “But it was the appreciation that sort of woke me up to say, 'Why are these folks so appreciative of something that I thought was a pretty easy decision to make?'”

Priebus said that the gratitude of pro-life organizations brought a whole new realization. “I thought to myself, 'If these folks are this appreciative of something so simple, maybe we need to start reminding people about the core positions of our party more, so that we can grow in places where we're strong.'”

"Sometimes, the best fruit is right above your head," he said.

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While Priebus did say that the RNC doesn't typically get involved with direct policy – “we're a campaign organization,” he told LifeSiteNews – he also told Breeanne Howe of Red State that the RNC is not shying away from the issue of life. “We brought on a full-time faith engagement program at the RNC, and we've got full-time people going across the country talking to people of faith of all faith backgrounds, registering voters, working with different other groups – like Paster and Pews – and others, and challenging pastors, too, across the country, that church can't just be vanilla ice cream and cotton candy on Sunday morning, either. There is joint responsibility in talking about issues of faith.”

Priebus says he challenges pastors to stand up for what's right. “I tell a lot of pastors sometimes, in groups like this, 'I got a deal for ya. I'll be as strong on these social issues as you're willing to be on Sunday morning.' How about that deal?”

Priebus declined to criticize CPAC over what Howe said was its “[dropping] the issue of life this year.” He said that he “[does not] speak for CPAC, and [is not] going to criticize CPAC for the decisions they make that I'm not a part of or don't understand, but as far as our party, we're a pro-life party, and I'm not shying away from that at all.”

In 2012, the Republican Party's formal platform said the GOP “support[s] a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.”

Priebus also said that the GOP is “a party that believes marriage ought to be between one man and one woman. That's our party platform, and it's a position I've never backed away from. What I have said, though, is that we need to treat each other with grace, dignity, and respect. And that's not code language. It comes out of the New Testament. And so there should be no confusion about where we stand, and so that's where we are.”

However, he demurred when asked by National Review Online's Betsy Woodruff on whether he would “hope to be reminding people of” the party's position on same-sex “marriage” more often.

“I'm not walking on down the street, but if someone wants to ask me, like you did, I didn't dance” around the issue, either, the chairman said. “I answered the question head-on, I'm very clear, and that's what you should expect out of the party.”

The discussion, which lasted 35 minutes, included a great deal of analysis about the party's primary system, an effort to get the RNC up-to-speed on digital data and other performance metrics (the party has long acknowledged its technology gap compared with Democrats), and changing the debate format to better fit with the party's needs. This includes having fewer debates and choosing better moderators, Priebus said.

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

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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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, www.babycaust.de, 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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‘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,” Katholisch.de 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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