Austin Ruse

Unsung international pro-life hero passes away

Austin Ruse
By Austin Ruse
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WASHINGTON, DC, December 3, 2012, (C-FAM.org)—The story goes that Richard Wilkins was lying in his bed one night back in the 90’s and could not sleep. He could not get something out of his head, the crazy idea that he was supposed to go halfway around the world to something called the UN Housing Conference in Istanbul. Wilkins had never been to a UN conference before. But he went.
Because he was connected to something called the Kennedy School at BYU, they thought he was from Harvard and they asked him to speak. He delivered a very strong message about the importance of the family. Delegates sought him out, among them the Saudi Arabians. Richard somehow convinced the Saudi’s to speak out at the conference, they only rarely do, but here they helped Richard block some dangerous anti-family language from coming into the document.

That was Richard, impetuous, passionate, convincing and effective.

Richard went on to be one of the most effective pro-life and pro-family advocates at the international level. He was a constant presence in the halls of the UN and delegates rushed to consult with him. As a law professor with great love in his heart for his fellow man, they knew they could trust him.

Richard founded the highly influential World Family Policy Forum, which was an annual gathering of high-ranking diplomats at Brigham Young University School of Law where Richard was a professor. Diplomats came from around the world for thee days of intense lectures, and networking that translated into a growing and more powerful coalition at the UN.

Sadly, the liberals at BYU—- there are liberals everywhere—- undermined Richard’s work. Every year he had to fight to maintain his program and his presence at the UN. Many of us would yearly write letters to the President of Brigham Young University to explain the importance of Richard’s work. Eventually, they got to him. His program was cut down to nothing.

Richard decamped to Qatar to live in the desert and to found a family policy institute under the sponsorship of the Sheika of Qatar, the third wife of Qatar’s Emir. This institute sponsored important conferences all over the world. Under Richard’s leadership Qatar has come to host the UN Year of the Family, which takes place in 2014.

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One thing not widely known about Richard was that he was a talented thespian. He sang the lead every year in BYU’s production of A Christmas Story. Those who saw him speak knew there was an actor buried not too deep from the surface.

Only 59 years old, the morning after Thanksgiving Richard suffered a massive heart failure. He lingered unconscious in the hospital until last Monday night, when he passed away.

Tributes to Richard are coming in from around the world.

John Klink, long-time negotiator for the Vatican at the UN said, “We have lost Richard the lionhearted. I am personally saddened not only at the loss of a valiant defender of life. Richard’s contributions were large—so large that they constitute a beautiful and lasting gift to humanity and a magnificent example of a life brilliantly lived.”

Anna Záborská, Member of the European Parliament for Slovakia and former President of the European Parliament Committee for Women’s Rights, said,  “We commemorate Richard Wilkins as an outstanding international legal expert highlighting the possible negative impact of the late EU Constitution, and the today’s EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, on family and life issues. Thanks to Richards’s international experience, we could finally limit the attempts of EU community against the natural family in the European Union. As I organize this week-end in Bratislava the first preparatory conference of central and eastern EU Member States for the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, we will hold a minute of silence to honor Richards commitment to international policy making in favor of the natural family.”

Alan Carlson, founder of the World Congress of Families said, “Richard was one of the greatest and most energetic advocates of the natural family. He was particularly effective on legal matters involving the family at the United Nations. Richard was a vital partner in making the Geneva World Congress the success that it was and set the stage and established standards for all of our future Congresses.”

Janice Shaw Crouse of the Beverly LeHaye Institute and Concerned Women for America said, “Richard was one of the most dedicated and strategic members of our pro-life/pro-family coalition. He stood firm on principle while engaging opponents with charm and wisdom.  He understood the power of principle as well as the influence of personal relationships.  He will be sorely missed, both as a colleague and as a friend.”

Bill Saunders, Senior Vice President of American’s United for Life said, “He was a wonderful lawyer and a great friend, perhaps even an irreplaceable man. A great and unexpected loss for not only his family, but for families around the world.”

We mourn his passing.

Reprinted from C-FAM.org.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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