Patrick Craine

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Vienna Cardinal: Same-sex relationships need ‘civil law protection’

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

VIENNA, April 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna is expressing openness to legal recognition of homosexual unions, appearing to put him at odds with Magisterial teaching.

In a talk at Britain’s National Gallery on Monday, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn defended the traditional definition of marriage, but urged “respect” for same-sex relationships, reports the UK Catholic paper The Tablet.

"There can be same-sex partnerships and they need respect, and even civil law protection,” he said, according to the paper. “Yes, but please keep it away from the notion of marriage. Because the definition of marriage is the stable union between a man and a woman open to life.”

"We should be clear about terms and respect the needs of people living in a partnership together. They deserve respect," the Cardinal added.

Cardinal Schönborn has made similar comments in the past, as for example in 2010, when he called on the Church to “give more consideration to the quality” of homosexual relationships.

In 2006, a German-language Catholic news agency reported that Schönborn’s Cathedral in Vienna had offered a blessing for unmarried couples on Valentine’s Day that included homosexual partners.

Last year, Cardinal Schönborn made international headlines when he overruled a priest in his diocese who had barred a man named Florian Stangl from joining parish council because he was living in a registered partnership with another man. After a personal meeting with Stangl, the Cardinal praised his “devout attitude, his modesty, and his lived readiness to serve.”

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Before the Cardinal stepped in, the Archdiocese of Vienna had released a statement appearing to support the priest, and affirming the Church’s long-held teaching on homosexual civil unions. “The magisterium of the Church has spoken unambiguously against homosexual civil unions,” the statement read.

The Church’s teaching on the issue was expressed most fully in a document published in 2003 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope John Paul II. The Congregation was then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI.

“Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity,” the document reads.

A bill recognizing such unions would constitute a “gravely unjust law” that would “obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage,” the document continues, adding that such a law’s “inevitable consequence … would be the redefinition of marriage.”

Cardinal Schönborn’s comments come as many have expressed hope for a new age of “dialogue” and a softened approach to controversial issues under Pope Francis.

It also follows comments made last week by several American Cardinals that homosexual activists hailed as a softening of the Church’s tone.

“We gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody. We’re in the defense of what God has taught us about…marriage. And it’s one man-one woman, forever, to bring about new life.”

Catholic teaching on civil unions for homosexual couples was in the news last month after Pope Francis’ biographer, Sergio Rubín, told the New York Times that then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had supported them.

Rubin said that during Argentina’s debate on same-sex “marriage” in 2010, Bergoglio had suggested privately to his fellow Argentine bishops that they accept civil unions as a compromise. The other bishops disagreed and the Cardinal went along with the others, according to Rubin.

Rubin’s account was disputed, however, by Miguel Woites, director of the Argentinean Catholic Information Agency and a confidant of the Cardinal’s from the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires.

It "isn't true. It's a complete error,” he told ACI Prensa. "It's not correct to write something like that out of thin air. That (New York Times) article was very criticized by the bishops. He certainly would have referred to unions of convenience but not that anything be legalized."

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Cardinal Christoph Schöenborn, Archbishop of Vienna
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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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