Tony Gosgnach

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Verdict to be rendered on March 21 in Mary Wagner case

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach
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TORONTO, February 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life heroine Mary Wagner will have to wait until March 21 to find out whether she will be found guilty or not guilty on a charge of mischief and two counts of failing to comply with probation orders concerning her arrest at the site of the Bloor West Village “Women’s Clinic” - an abortion mill - last November 8. She was remanded to that date by Mr. Justice S. Ford Clements of the Ontario Court of Justice after a day-long trial in downtown Toronto Tuesday.

Clements heard from three witnesses and listened to submissions from Crown attorney Derek Ishak and defence counsel Russell Browne after Wagner – who is out of custody following her release on bail – entered a plea of not guilty. The hearing began with a contested issue, as Ishak attempted to amend the information on the mischief charge to reference a different subsection of the Criminal Code than was originally cited. This was strenuously objected to by Browne, who said the move was a last-minute “shifting of gears” that hampered a defence he had prepared using the original information. However, Clements upheld Ishak’s application and allowed the amendment.

First on the witness stand was Patricia Hasen, who described herself as a nurse and 50 per cent owner of the abortion centre Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic Inc., which was established in 2005. She said her site leases the property from Paramed Properties and her name is on the lease. Hasen said her business operates from Tuesday to Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. “until the last patient goes home,” which could be anywhere from noon to 3 p.m.

On November 8, she said there were 10-12 patients and their escorts at the site when she was alerted by a co-worker that “Mary is in the clinic” and called the police, as she usually does in such circumstances. She said she then asked Wagner, whom she saw carrying roses and pamphlets, to leave several times, but Wagner refused to do so.

Hasen claimed, “People were getting upset, crying, asking why we weren’t doing something” about Wagner’s presence. She then asked the patients’ escorts to leave the site and brought the patients themselves into a secure area behind bulletproof glass, where “counselling” takes place and abortions are committed. She said Wagner moved to enter the secure area and tried to “push” her way through by holding the door open, but the door was eventually closed and police arrived in 15-20 minutes.

Toronto police officer Douglas Eaton was the second Crown witness and testified that he arrived at the abortion site to find “a lone female standing in the lobby” and arrested her under the Trespass to Property Act after asking her to leave and she refused. He noted she was holding a bag and flowers at the time. Under cross-examination by Browne, Eaton acknowledged no attempt had been made to interview any of the patients who were allegedly so upset at Wagner’s presence.

Browne called as his witness Dr. Philip Ney, a child and family psychiatrist and child psychologist, under whom Wagner has studied in the past. His testimony was immediately objected to by Ishak, who charged that Ney was not qualified before the court as an expert witness and had no direct knowledge of the events of November 8. His concerns were shared by Clements, who asked Browne of what relevance Ney’s appearance was at the hearing. After extensive discussions between Browne and Clements, Ney was dismissed from the witness stand.

In his closing submissions, Browne said Hasen had little direct knowledge of Wagner’s conduct on November 8, seeing her only for a few minutes in an incident that lasted some two hours. He suggested the degree of disruption suffered by the abortion site was minimal at best and not enough to constitute a criminal offence. There was no disruption to the “business” and no physical contact involved. In addition, the police were remiss in not interviewing any of the patients who were alleged to be upset at Wagner’s presence, he said.

For his part, Ishak said the charges were proven beyond a reasonable doubt on all counts. He suggested the evidence of corroborating witnesses was not necessary and that interference with the business was constituted just by Wagner’s presence and her refusing to leave when asked to do so. In addition, he referred to Hasen’s testimony that Wagner had held a door open while it was being shut and the fact that patient escorts were asked to leave the premises.

Ishak continued there was no evidence that Wagner was there simply for the purpose of communicating with patients. Holding the door, he added, went beyond simple communication. Finally, he said, there was no justification for Wagner’s presence in the first place, as she was forbidden to be there by a probation order.

The Wednesday March 21 hearing, which may include both a verdict and sentencing if Wagner is found guilty, will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 504 of the College Park courthouse at Yonge and College Streets in downtown Toronto. However, the hearing may be traversed to another room depending on where the Crown and judge are assigned that day.

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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
The Editors

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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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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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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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