Vatican official: UN gay ‘rights’ agenda endangers Church’s freedom

The Vatican’s representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva says a recent resolution on “sexual orientation and gender identity” is part of an agenda that could restrict the Church’s freedom.

“The resolution marks a change. It is seen as the beginning of a movement within the international community and the United Nations to insert gay rights in the global human rights agenda,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, head of the Holy See’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. in Geneva, in a recent e-mail interview with CNA.

The archbishop noted that a U.S. State Department spokesperson had described the resolution as “a beginning of an international norm that will take hold gradually.” But “if norms are established,” Archbishop Tomasi wondered, “what provisions will be made for freedom of expression on the part of religious leaders?”

He spoke of a “genuine concern” that natural marriages and families “will be socially downgraded with the eventual legislation that puts homosexual “marriage” and the marriage between a man and a woman” on the same level. The Vatican representative also said marriage could be threatened by related measures that would mandate homosexual adoptions and introduce “compulsory sex education at school that clashes with Christian values.”

At a June 27 event co-hosted by the U.S. State Department and the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies organization, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton credited a “major push by American diplomats” for the June 17 passage of what she described as “the first ever U.N. resolution recognizing the human rights of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people worldwide.”

Clinton called the resolution a “huge step forward,” and stated that “so far as the United States is concerned and our foreign policy, and our values … gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

The resolution, which expresses “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination … against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” will not have an immediate effect on U.N. member states. Instead, it formally requests that the High Commissioner for Human Rights undertake an investigation into such acts, in preparation for further dialogue at the council during 2012.

Although the resolution will do little in the short term, the secretary of state described its passage – over the objections of numerous Arab and African counties, as well as Russia and Moldova – as one of the department’s “momentous achievements” on a matter of “high priority.”

In his remarks to CNA, Archbishop Tomasi reiterated that the Church does not support violence against those who engage in homosexual behavior, or any attempt by the state to punish an individual simply because of “feelings and thoughts.”

“I think that violence against homosexual persons is not acceptable and it should be rejected, even though this does not imply an endorsement of their behavior.”

“The terms ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ are not defined in international law,” he noted.

“To the extent that they are not external behavior, but feelings and thoughts, they cannot be subjected to punitive laws.”

But “for some people,” he pointed out, “these words are a code phrase for types of conduct.”

The archbishop expanded on a point he has previously tried to impress upon the Human Rights Council, as he observed that all societies regulate sexual behavior to some extent – by forbidding practices like incest, pedophilia, or rape – for the sake of the common good.

He contrasted the “clear message” of God’s creation, which spells out the complementarity of the two sexes, with the U.N.’s contrived and vague terminology of “orientation” and “gender identity.”

“Instead of ‘gender,’” Archbishop Tomasi said, “the concept we should use is ‘sex,’ a universal term in natural law referring to male and female.”

“In fact, it seems that terms such as ‘gender’ or ‘sexual orientation’ are devised to escape reality and to accommodate a variety of feelings and impulses that then are transformed into rights.”

This use of “rights” language, to justify practices like same-sex “marriage,” may appear superficially harmless as long as the alleged rights seem to be confined to private life.

But Archbishop Tomasi warned that these impulse-driven claims of “rights” are in conflict with authentic rights – such as the free exercise of religion, and the education of one’s children.

He pointed to the “traditionally Catholic country” of Spain, as “an example of where the current trend may lead.”

In that country, “legislation has been passed in the last four or five years in favor of homosexual marriage, free abortion in the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, of compulsory education even for children aged 8 to 12 on such issues as masturbation, same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion.”

This arrangement prevails in Spain, “notwithstanding the fact that thousands of parents are opposing this policy that denies their fundamental right to decide on their children’s education.”

Archbishop Tomasi suggested that Catholics today have a responsibility “to clarify legal and moral aspects of the current culture” – by drawing a distinction between desires and rights, promoting the Catholic synthesis of faith and reason, and making it clear that a judgment against homosexuality is not a condemnation of homosexuals.

“There is confusion in some people’s mind,” he noted, “in combining a just respect and protection for every person – including homosexuals – and support for the indispensable role of the family, the parents right to educate their children, the support of the natural family for the common good.”

While the secular West may find this ethos increasingly incomprehensible, the Church will continues to promote it.

“The teaching of the Church is not conditioned by political consensus,” the archbishop noted.

“At times she is misunderstood and even becomes the target of reprisals and persecution.”

“Reason and natural law, however, support faith-inspired positions,” he stated, “and the convergence of faith and reason is exceptionally fruitful for the progress and well-being of the human family.”

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Brooklyn Bishop Bans All Politicians Who Supported Gay Marriage

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has asked all Catholic churches and schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn to ban state lawmakers who voted for gay marriage in New York.

DiMarzio, the leader of the Brooklyn diocese, has urged the Catholic institutions to decline donations and speaking engagements from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and any lawmaker who voted “yes” on the bill legalizing same-sex marriages.

Calling New York’s passage of gay marriage “another ‘nail in the coffin’ of marriage,” DiMarzio issued a statement two days after the New York gay marriage bill was approved by the Legislature demanding that “all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.”

The Catholic bishop also said the church should now speak more “forcefully and clearly” against gay marriage.

Joseph Lentol, an assemblyman representing Brooklyn’s 50th district, saw firsthand just how serious the Brooklyn Diocese was.

The Catholic legislative assembly member who openly voted for same-sex marriage made a donation to Our Lady of Mt Carmel Parish School.

The donation was declined.

Along with the return of his $50 donation, Lentol received a letter from Monsignor Joseph Calise, the church pastor.

The letter stated: “Bishop DiMarzio has requested that all gifts received from politicians supporting same-sex marriage legislation be refused.”

Lentol, a patron of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, expressed his confusion about the Bishop’s response to his donation.

“I was certainly surprised because I know the church needs the money and the school certainly needs the money for the scholarship program they run, ” Lentol told Pix11.

Calise said he made sure the community children weren’t affected by the donation ban.

“I did find another donor to make sure those awards would be given so that the children themselves wouldn’t be made to suffer,” Calise said, according to Pix11.

Monsignor Kieran Harrington, spokesman for the diocese, explained the church’s frustration with the bill passage to the media. He said the decision to reshape the values of a centuries’ old organization was done too quickly and without proper discussion before voting took place.

“Our legislators did not do their job,” Harrington told CBS 2. “If the process had been different, we don’t know if the legislation would have passed.”

After the gay marriage law passed on June 24, DiMarzio was among New York’s eight Catholic bishops who issued a statement expressing fear that “both marriage and the family will be undermined” by the new legislation.

The gay marriage law will take effect July 24.

http://tinyurl.com/67xzmcg

Catholic Church Denies Legal Responsibility For Abuse

A hearing into whether the church has the same legal obligations towards priests as employers towards employees, could have massive ramifications.

The Roman Catholic Church is taking the unprecedented step of arguing in court that is is not responsible for sexual abuse committed by its priests, arguing that the relationship between a Catholic priest and the bishop of the local diocese is not an employment relationship and therefore the diocese does not have vicarious liability.

There have been thousands of accusations around the world of abuse by priests but the majority of legal cases have been settled out of court or withdrawn.

This is thought to be the first time that the Church has gone to court to defend itself against accusations specificially relating to liability.

The three day hearing, started last Tuesday, is part of a wider civil action being brought by a woman known only as Miss JGE.

She claims to have been sexually abused while living in a children’s home run an order of nuns, the English Province of Our Lady of Charity.

She alleges that she was sexually abused by a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, Father Baldwin, who died in 2006.

The claim in that case, due to start in December, will be that the nuns were negligent and in breach of duty, and that the diocese was vicariously liable for the abuse because Father Baldwin was a Catholic priest engaged within the work of the Portsmouth diocese.

However the hearing this week will not deal with the allegations of abuse at all, but will centre on the ‘corporate responsibility’ of the church in abuse cases.

If the claim is upheld, the church will be found legally responsible for the sexual abuse committed by their priests.

The solicitor representing Miss JGE, Tracey Emmott, said: “The most astonishing point to me to emerge from this tragic and sordid case is that the Catholic church is claiming that it isn’t legally responsible for the behaviour of its own priest.

“We need to show that while Father Baldwin wasn’t strictly an employee of the church, he was acting on the bishop’s behalf and that the bishop clearly had a degree of control over his activities.”

Ms Emmott said that the consequences of the Catholic Church winning the point was that they would be able to avoid compensating all victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The Catholic Church and the Portsmouth Diocese said they would not comment until the end of the hearing.

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Order accuses Father Corapi of sexual, financial wrongdoing, falsehoods

Father John A. Corapi was involved in “years of cohabitation” with a former prostitute, repeated abuse of alcohol and drugs and “serious violation” of his promise of poverty, according to a fact-finding team appointed by his religious order.

Father Corapi, who recently announced he would leave the priesthood because he could not get a “fair hearing” on misconduct allegations against him, has been ordered by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity to return to live at the order’s regional headquarters in Robstown, Texas, and to dismiss a lawsuit against the woman whose accusations prompted the investigation.

“Catholics should understand that (the order) does not consider Father John Corapi as fit for ministry,” said a July 5 news release from Father Gerard Sheehan, regional priest servant for the order, commonly known as SOLT.

Although Father Corapi’s ministry “has inspired thousands of faithful Catholics,” the news release said, he is “now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations.”

“It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight,” it added.

There was no immediate response to the announcement from Father Corapi.

The order said its three-member fact-finding team had gathered information “from Father Corapi’s emails, various witnesses and public sources” and had concluded that the priest:

— “Did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute.”

— “Repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs.”

— “Has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana.”

— “Holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of this society.”

Although he did not name them, Father Sheehan said the fact-finding team was made up of a priest specializing in canon law, a psychiatrist and a lawyer, each of whom has a national reputation and “substantial experience in ecclesiastical processes related to priest disciplinary issues.”

Two of the three were members of religious orders, and the third was a layperson. Two were men and one was a woman, he said.

As the team was carrying out its work, Father Corapi filed a civil suit against his principal accuser and then offered $100,000 for her silence, the news release said. Other key witnesses who “may have negotiated contracts … that precluded them from speaking” with the team declined to answer its questions or provide documents, it said.

When the fact-finding team asked Father Corapi to dismiss the lawsuit and release individuals from their contractual obligations to remain silent, “he refused to do so and, through his canonical advocate, stated, ‘It is not possible for Father Corapi to answer the commission’s questions at this time,'” the news release added.

Father Corapi, 64, announced June 17 — two days before the 20th anniversary of his priestly ordination — in a YouTube video and blog posting that he would leave the priesthood.

“For 20 years I did my best to guard and feed the sheep,” he said in the blog posting. “Now, based on a totally unsubstantiated, undocumented allegation from a demonstrably troubled person I was thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. I accept that. Perhaps I deserve that.”

Father Corapi had been highly visible for several years as a speaker and preacher, including a program on the Eternal Word Television Network. EWTN took his show off its schedule shortly after his suspension, saying it would not knowingly put on the air a priest whose faculties had been suspended.

The SOLT news release said Father Sheehan would not be available for further comment because of the order’s general chapter July 5-23.

http://tinyurl.com/5rjxfc3

Dutch bishop investigated for alleged abuse in Kenya

The Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office in Arnhem is investigating whether there is enough evidence to prosecute Bishop Cornelius Schilder for the sexual abuse of an underage boy in Kenya 18 years ago, a spokesperson has confirmed to Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Bishop Schilder, now living near the Dutch village of Oosterbeek, has been interrogated by the police, according to an insider. On Monday his lawyer told RNW that Schilder denies all allegations against him.

The Dutch Public Prosecutor launched an investigation after a report surfaced earlier this year through the Deetman Commission, which is researching abuse in the Dutch Catholic Church.

Complicated

The Commission refused to comment directly on the matter, but confirmed that it submits serious complaints to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The police officially logged the accusation following a request to investigate from the Public Prosecutor.

Spokesperson Ellen Prummel confirmed that the Arnhem Public Prosecutor’s vice squad is considering whether or not the case “truly indicates a criminal offence, and if there are enough leads to warrant further investigation”.

Prummel could not confirm how long this will take. The fact that the victim is living in Kenya and has not notified the police in the Netherlands makes it a “complicated case.” It is also unclear whether the abuse happened too long ago to be prosecuted under Dutch law.

‘Passed on’

The accuser, 32-year-old Michael ole Uka, claims he was abused for years by various foreign priests in Kenya. He came forward in 2005 and informed the church authorities of his allegations when he suffered such severe injuries from abuse that he required urgent medical treatment.

The treatment was paid for by the Mill Hill Missionaries, the congregation to which the accused priests and Dutch bishop belong. Uka also received financial compensation and further aid.

The congregation expatriated an Irish priest involved in the abuse. Mill Hill has relieved the priest of his duties but is still waiting for a Vatican decision to laicise him.

Uka says the abuse started when he was seven years old.

Several members of the clergy allegedly ‘passed him on’ to each other.

The abusers paid Uka’s school fees, which made him feel obliged to permit the abuse, although he says: “I knew it was wrong what they were doing.”

In addition to Schilder, Uka says he was also abused by another Dutch priest who has since passed away.

“He gave me a coffee, showed me my room and started touching me immediately” says Uka, describing his first encounter with Cornelius Schilder.

Touch him

Uka told of his apparent ordeal in a documentary shown on Irish television last month and says the bishop began abusing him in 1993 when he was 14 years old.

At the time, Schilder was a priest in the Kenyan diocese of Ngong.

In 2003, he was promoted to bishop in Ngong.

“He asked me whether this other priest had touched me as well, and I said yes. Then he told me to touch him too and do the same things I had done to the other priest. At the time I thought all priests did these kinds of things.”

The documentary on the Irish RTE network also quoted the father superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries, Anthony Chantry.

According to Chantry, the case has not been reported to the Kenyan police because homosexuality is still a crime in Kenya.

Serious conversation

Mill Hill earlier told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that a congregation official in Kenya had discussed the accusations with both the bishop and the victim.

It was then decided to ask the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Kenya and the Papal Nuncio, the Ambassador to the Vatican in Nairobi, to conduct an ecclesiastical investigation.

Both declined to take action.

After repeated failed requests by the Mill Hill Missionaries, the Vatican finally intervened three years later, according to an insider.

In August 2009 the Dutch bishop was summoned to Rome for a “very serious conversation”.

He did not return to Kenya but went into immediate retirement in a Mill Hill home in the Dutch town of Oosterbeek.

False and inappropriate

Rome’s official line is that Bishop Schilder has health problems.

Since 2009 he has no longer been allowed to carry out the duties of a bishop and as a priest he has been placed under supervision of Mill Hill.

This makes him the first Dutch bishop to be punished by the Vatican for sexual abuse of a minor.

As Michael ole Uka sees it, justice has not been done. His life has been ruined, “while the bishop enjoys his pension in Europe”.

Bishop Schilder denies the accusation and has until now been unwilling to speak to the media.

On Monday, however, he told RNW via his lawyer that “Michael ole Uka’s accusation of sexual abuse is false.”

Bishop Schilder also added that he “considers it inappropriate to issue a statement as long as an investigation is ongoing.”

He says he regrets that the media have publicised the matter before investigations are completed.

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