Hilary White, Rome Correspondent


Roundup: Brits don’t want to fund abortion with taxes, Bulgaria attacks parental rights…more

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Lithuania considers constitutional amendment supporting natural family

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian parliament is considering amending the country’s constitution to confirm the definition of the family as based on marriage or parenthood. After a debate in April, 62 MPs voted yes, 13 voted against, and 13 abstained. Another vote is scheduled for this month, after which a break of 3 months is required to make constitutional changes.

The vote came shortly after the house voted down a proposal from the Social Democrat party to recognise more than one type of family.

Lithuania has been under constant fire from European-based homosexualist groups since 2009 when parliament passed a law making it illegal to promote homosexuality as normal. The European Union, under pressure from organisations like the International lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) has demanded that Lithuanians accept homosexuality, including “gay pride” demonstrations.

The country annoyed homosexualist activists again in 2011 when the government considered a law banning “gender reassignment” surgery.

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Parents have responsibilities but no rights: Bulgaria

SOPHIA – The Christian Post reports that Bulgaria’s government is instituting new family law asserting that while parents have responsibilities towards their children, they have no rights to make educational decisions.

Viktor Kostov, a Bulgarian lawyer and human rights activist, reports that Bulgarian MPs have stated that “parents have only duties, no rights” and “do not hide their negative attitude to the ‘patriarchal family’.” Kostov has called the bill “dangerous and unnecessary” and a hold-over from Bulgaria’s communist, totalitarian past.

“Under the guise of ‘children’s rights,’ the bill contains a radical view of the state having more rights over children than their parents,” Kostov writes.

Among the bill’s provisions is one that allows the state to “protect” any child from “being involved in religious activities”. Parents who do not enroll their children in state schools could be subject to heavy fines. Mandatory sex education, without the right of parents to withdraw their children, will start at age five. The sex education programs will be decided by the state in conjunction with European NGOs.

Under the bill, reporting to authorities any “violence” against children is mandated, but the offence is broadly defined as the “causing of any pain or suffering” and can result in prison terms for parents. The bill also allows for anonymous reports of violence, leaving room for parents to be denounced to the state by anyone.

A statement by a Bulgarian representative of UNICEF, Kostov wrote, sums up the philosophy behind the bill: “We are not against the family; we simply want to give the children to those who can raise them.”

Kostov has worked in Bulgaria promoting religious and conscientious freedom as an advocate and Christian missionary. He is the founding editor of Freedom for All, an internet magazine for “dialogue on the issues of church, state and liberty for the Bulgarian context.”

He warns that should the bill pass, it could be used by state ideologues to quash the religious and political rights of citizens by threatening their custody over their children. Freedom for All Advocates, the Alliance Defense Fund, and the Home School Legal Defense Association have intervened in the debate over the bill, warning that similar measures in other EU countries have resulted in the state having near-total control over families and children.

Homeschooling families, parents who object to state-mandated sex education programs and families with strong religious beliefs have been forced to flee to the US and other countries from Germany and Sweden.

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Majority of Brits don’t want abortion paid for on the public dime

LONDON – A recently published Angus Reid poll showed that 57 percent believe the National Health Service should only fund abortions in the case of medical emergencies. Forty-eight percent support reducing the gestational time limit on legal abortion to less than 24 weeks. Only 33 percent believe that there should be no restrictions.

Forty-two per cent of 2,018 randomly selected British adults said there is “no point in re-opening the debate on abortion; 40 percent thought a public debate in the UK is “long overdue”.

When asked about their personal feeling on abortion, 35 percent want more restrictions; 21 percent would permit abortion only in cases of rape, incest and to save the woman’s life and 5 percent would allow it only to save the woman’s life.

Government statistics show that nearly all of the abortions carried out in Britain are for “social or economic” grounds, with the use of so-called “medical abortion,” that is, abortions using deadly drugs to kill the child and induce premature labor, becoming increasingly popular. The majority of abortions are carried out in private facilities, run by groups like the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stopes, who contract with the NHS. If the NHS were to cease funding all “social” abortions, these organizations would lose millions in annual revenue.

In 1991, an effort to reduce the gestational time limit for abortions from 28 to 24 weeks was successful, but the votes were bought at the price of allowing all eugenic abortion without any time restrictions. Under the current law, a child suspected of having a disability, including easily treatable problems like a cleft palate or clubfoot, can be killed up to the point of full-term gestation.

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Scots police ordered by homosexual police group to refuse Gideon bible gift

EDINBURGH – Scottish Police have been instructed, on the insistence of the Gay Police Association (GPA), to refuse the proffered gift of free bibles featuring the badge of the force, being offered by the Gideons International. The GPA issued a statement saying that the bible is “homophobic” and demanding that the police not involve themselves in the scheme.

The Gideons wanted to offer the Bibles as a “valuable guide to life,” saying they can “be offered to all members of the individual force, both serving police officers and civilian staff,” the Christian institute says.

The statement from the GPA said that their members had “contacted us expressing concern that their Force is officially endorsing a religious book containing text which condemns homosexuality.”

“The GPA does not feel that a public service, such as the police, should be seen to be endorsing, by their active involvement, any particular religion over and above any other religion or non-religion.”

If the Bibles were to be offered, “surely this can be done without the actual involvement of the police force concerned”.

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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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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon / Shutterstock.com
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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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