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French court allows dating website to continue promoting affairs

February 14, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Paris, France, Feb 14, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).-  

A complaint brought by a Catholic group against a dating site that promotes extramarital affairs was thrown out by a French court last week.


The suit was dismissed after a Paris court determined that the National Confederation of Catholic Family Associations could not file the complaint, since infidelity complaints can only be filed within a private marital relationship, and because an affair does not always constitute a civil violation, according to reports from the AP.


The website, Gleeden, advertises itself as “The first extramarital dating site made by women,” with a logo featuring a half-eaten apple referencing the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Launched in 2009, the website claims to be a world leader in coordinating extramarital affairs, with a million users in France and 2.4 million throughout the world.


Catholic Family Associations first filed a legal complaint against the site’s U.S. based publisher, Black Divine, in a Paris court in February 2015. The group said the advertisements for the site were crude and immoral and constituted a breach of an article in French civil code.


While adultery was decriminalized in France in 1975, article 212 of the French Civil Code states, “Married partners owe each other the duty of respect, fidelity, help and assistance.” Many family lawyers believed the suit would succeed for this reason.


Despite France’s secularism and typical laissez faire attitude towards sexual mores, Gleeden scandalized many with the release of its public advertisements in 2015, highlighting a cultural divide within the country. Several towns and bus companies opted to remove the advertisements after receiving numerous complaints.


“There are plenty of other websites out there which promote sexual contact between individuals, but what makes Gleeden different is that its very business model is based on marital infidelity,” Jean-Marie Andres, president of the Association of Catholic Families, told the BBC in 2015.


“It states quite openly that its purpose is to offer married women opportunities to have sex outside the marriage,” she said.


“But here in France, people and parliament are all in agreement that marriage is a public commitment. It’s in the law. What we are trying to do with our suit is show that the civil code – the law – has meaning.”


Gleeden argued in the case that it was merely facilitating affairs, and that the demand for them already existed.


A spokesperson for Catholic Family Associations told the AP that the group had not yet decided whether it would appeal the decision.


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Pope lauds ‘courageous’ witness of abuse victim who forgave

February 14, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2017 / 02:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his preface for a book written by a survivor of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis once again lamented the “monstrosity” of the act, calling the author, Daniel Pittet, courageous for his willingness to forgive his abuser and to share his story with the world.

“For those who have been victims of a pedophile it is difficult to talk about what they have been through and describe the trauma that still persist after many years,” the Pope said in the preface, published earlier this month.

Because of this, “Daniel Pittet’s testimony is necessary, treasured and courageous.”

In his 240-page book, titled “I Forgive You, Father: Surviving a Broken Childhood,” Pittet shares the story of his difficult childhood, during which he and his siblings were shuffled around different foster homes after their parents’ separation before eventually meeting the friar who would abuse him.

At the age of nine, Pittet was lured by a Capuchin friar into the convent attached to his parish, where he would from that day be raped on a weekly basis for four years, with those around him in denial.

Pittet’s book details not only the tragic suffering he endured, but also the long path he has taken to forgiveness, culminating in the civil and ecclesial recognition of his abusers’ crimes, and his own ability to move forward in building a family and a professional career.

Not only is the book unique for the author of its preface, but it ends with an interview conducted with the friar who abused Pittet, marking one of the rare occasions when a pedophile speaks publicly.

In his preface, Pope Francis thanked Pitett for sharing his story, “because testimony like his breaks down the wall of silence that covered scandals and suffering, shedding light on a terrible dark area in the life of the Church.”

These types of testimonies, he said, “open the way to a just mending and to the grace of reconciliation, helping pedophiles to become aware of the terrible consequences of their actions.”

Francis said he had originally met Pittet at the Vatican during the Year for Consecrated Life in 2015, and that the author had wanted to give heavy promotion to a book called “To Love is to Give Everything,” which was a collection of the testimonies of priests, religious and consecrated men and women.

At the time, “I could not have imagined that this enthusiastic and passionate Christian man had been the victim of abuse by a priest,” Francis said, adding that “yet this is what he told me, and his suffering struck me very much.”

In hearing Pittet’s story, the Pope said he saw once again both “the tremendous damage caused by sexual abuse” and the “long and painful journey that awaits the victims.”

“I am happy that others can read his testimony today and discover how far evil can enter the heart of a servant of the Church,” he said, asking how a priest committed to serving Christ and his Church can “cause so much harm.”

“How can someone who devoted their life to lead children to God, end up instead to devour them in what I called ‘a diabolical sacrifice’ that destroys both the victim and the life of the Church?”

Francis noted that some victims of abuse have committed suicide. “These deaths weigh on my heart, on my conscience and that of the whole Church,” he said, and, addressing their families, said “I offer my feelings of love and pain and humbly, I ask forgiveness.”

Clerical sex abuse “is an absolute monstrosity, a horrible sin, radically against everything that Christ has taught us,” the Pope said, and pointed to his June 4, 2016, motu proprio “Like a loving mother.”

In the document, in which the Pope deemed that negligence on the part of a bishop in handling cases of abuse is enough to oust him from office, it was stressed that the Church “must take care and protect with special love the weak and the helpless” with the tenderness of a mother.

“We have stated that it is our duty to be extremely strict with the priests who betray their mission, and with their hierarchy, bishops or cardinals, who might protect them, as has happened in the past,” Francis saod.

However, the Pope noted that despite the various trials Pittet endured as a child, he also “met another face of the Church, and this allowed him to not lose hope in men and in God.”

“(Pittet) tells us of the power of prayer that he has never abandoned, and that has comforted him in the darkest hours,” he said, pointing to the fact that the author chose to meet his “tormentor” 44 years later, wanting “to look into the eyes of the man who has hurt him in the depths of his soul.”

Instead of condemning the friar, Pittet “lent him his hand,” Francis said, noting that “the wounded child is now a standing man, fragile but standing.”

Pointing to a line written by Pittet in the book, the Pope said he was impressed by the author’s declaration that “many people fail to understand the fact that I do not hate him. I have forgiven him and I built my life on that forgiveness.”

Francis closed his preface saying that he prays for Pittet and “for all those who, like him, were wounded in their innocence, may God lift them and heal them, and give us all his forgiveness and mercy.”


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Portland responds with love after Latino Catholics harassed during Mass

February 9, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Portland, Ore., Feb 9, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A week after Hispanic Catholics experienced racial harassment and taunts from a group of men during a Spanish Mass, the local community in Portland, Oregon sprang into action to show their support for the churchgoers.


Despite the chill and the rain, an estimated 200-300 people created a human barrier on Sunday, Feb. 5, protecting parishioners of St. Peter Catholic Church from possible harassment.


It was a different scene than what had greeted parishioners the week before, when a group of about eight men dressed as hunters shouted racial and sexual slurs at parishioners during Spanish Mass, and taunted the congregation for being made up of many immigrants, according to the Catholic Sentinel. The group of men was nowhere to be seen the following week.


The harassment came at an already tense time for the parish because of new federal immigration policy proposals. Pastor Fr. Raul Marquez, a native of Colombia who has been pastor at St. Peter’s for 5 years, said he had never seen anything like it.


“All that Sunday I felt upset and didn’t understand,” he told the Sentinel.


But the next Sunday came as a pleasant surprise. News of the previous attacks had spread on social media through two videos of the incident, and local community members banded together, with one post reading: “ATTN WHITE PEOPLE – USE YOUR WHITE BODY TO INTERRUPT RACISM!”  It urged people to place themselves “between violent bigots and people of color” to form a “strong human chain to stand as a buffer between Latino worshippers and those who hate them.”


And it worked. Catholics, Christians and non-believers showed up in force to provide support, complete with welcoming signs in both English and Spanish and a table of coffee and sweets.


Local priest Father Ron Millican from nearby Our Lady of Sorrows parish and Rev. Elizabeth Larson from St Mark Lutheran Church came to show their support for Fr. Marquez, as well as Matt Cato, director of the Archdiocese of Portland’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace.


Archbishop Alexander Sample expressed his support to St. Peter’s through a letter to the parish, saying that he was saddened by the harassment and offering his prayers for healing.


“Please be assured that I, as your Archbishop and shepherd, stand firmly with you in the face of such ignorant and hateful words. You are our brothers and sisters, and as members of the same family of faith, we must hold fast to our unity in Christ,” he said.


He added that the incident was not isolated and that the same group had been harassing other churches in the area. The men were reportedly part of a Portland-based group called “Bible Believers”—hard-right street preachers who appear at protests against President Donald Trump.


“Be assured of my love and prayers for all of you. May Our Lady embrace you all in her mantle of love and protection,” Archbishop Sample concluded.


Brenda Ramirez, a 21 year-old parishioner, told the Portland Tribune that she was shocked to hear about the attack at her church, but was happy with the large showing of support from the local community.


“It’s just beautiful. This is what America is — not racism or hate. This is what it should be.”

Where have civility and respect for one another gone?Can we please stop demonizing those with whom we (even vehemently) disagree?

— Archbishop Sample (@ArchbishpSample) February 4, 2017