Stephanie Gray

The healing hold of a baby

Stephanie Gray
Stephanie Gray

February 27, 2013 ( - “I was raped at 16 and had an abortion.”

That’s not what you normally hear from someone you met just a few minutes prior; but I’ve gotten used to it. It seems that almost every time I give a presentation or participate in a pro-life display like the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) or “Choice” Chain, some wounded woman confides in me a horror story of abuse.  And it leads me to believe that sexual abuse is far more rampant than we realize.

I met this most recent woman during our annual pro-life mission trip where we take the GAP (Genocide Awareness Project) display to university campuses in Florida.  She jumped into a conversation I was already having with three other female students—they weren’t pro-life so I was explaining the pro-life position to them.  This fourth female student, I’ll call “Emily,” echoed the sentiments they expressed and seemed agitated, but as I went through the logic of the pro-life perspective, the first three drifted away and it was just Emily and me, who started to “get” the logic and conceded it made sense if the science was right. 

But sometimes something that makes the most sense in our minds can be rejected because of what’s going on in our hearts.  And that’s when she told me.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. 

Our friends over at Justice for All teach that when someone asks about abortion in cases of rape, they’re not so much asking to see if the pre-born are human, but to see if the pro-lifer is human—in other words, do we care about the teenage victim of rape as much as we care about the pre-born victim of abortion?  And so my immediate concern was for her, asking if she had received help and if she was safe, or if the victimizer was still around.

And then I was reminded of our culture of cover-up: It was a relative who raped her; her mom knows but was the one who drove her to the abortion clinic; to this day, years later, her dad doesn’t know any of this happened.  Violated by a relative.  Betrayed by her mother who covered it up.

And now her arms are empty, which I think explained her sudden interest in my little friend Elizabeth.

After we spoke a bit about what happened, Emily said, “I hear you guys have a baby with you.”

Me: “Yes, we have a married couple on our team who brought their 3-month old baby Elizabeth with them.”

Emily: “OH! That’s so cool!  [With great interest] Is she here right now?”

Me: “Yes.  Would you like to see her?”

Emily: [With great excitement] “Really?! Could I?”

Me: “Sure, just come over to the back of the display with me.”

Emily: [Shocked] “Really? Okay! For sure!”

As we walked, I was struck by her fascination and excitement about seeing a baby.  I see them all the time; and hold them often—of course, I am delighted each time, but there was something out of place about Emily’s response; it was as though she had never gotten close to a baby before.  Maybe she didn’t let herself, after the doctor ripped her own from her.

When we got to the back, the fencing was such that she couldn’t get through, so I told her I’d bring Elizabeth to her.  She smiled and waited with excitement.  And when I brought Elizabeth over to her, she smiled with joy. 

“Do you want to hold her?” I asked.  Again, Emily expressed both surprise and delight: “Could I?!”

And so I placed little Elizabeth in her arms and watched as this mother of a dead baby gently, lovingly, and peacefully embraced this living baby.

She had to go to class soon after, but as she left she expressed that she had assumed the pro-lifers with the exhibit were going to yell and be mean, and how grateful she was that we were just the opposite to what she thought.  I was able to tell her about my friend Nicole, who wrote a book about how she was also raped, had an abortion, and regrets the choice she made (even saying it was more difficult to heal from the abortion than the rape).

Nicole once remarked, “I want to encourage those suffering in the aftermath of an abortion that indeed God can help you pick up the pieces of your life again.  He is truly bigger than your pain offering both forgiveness and hope.”

I wish I’d had more time to be with Emily, to hear her grieving heart and tell her more to give her hope.  But our brief encounter reminds me, as John Henry Newman once said, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth.”

That’s the call of each one of us—to be a link in a chain.  There are many links before us, as well as after.  I tried to play my small part, as did Baby Elizabeth (who doesn’t even know the beautiful role she played to impart light and life to Emily).

As Archbishop Oscar Romero once said, “This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

“We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.”

Click "like" if you want to end abortion!

This is the first of several reflections from CCBR’s Genocide Awareness Project Mission Trip 2013.

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
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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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
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,, 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 /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
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,” 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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