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Brazil’s military archbishop distances himself from Lenten campaign over gender ideology

February 17, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Brasilia, Brazil, Feb 17, 2021 / 03:52 pm (CNA).- The head of Brazil’s military ordinariate has told the nation’s bishops’ conference he will not use material from this year’s ecumenical Lenten campaign because it contains gender ideology concepts.

“The evangelization of the faithful at any time, but especially in a special time such as Catholic Lent, is not a place for dialogue on themes that are polemical and contrary to the authentic doctrine of our Church,” Archbishop Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimarães of the Military Ordinariate of Brazil wrote Feb. 8.

“Interreligious dialogue is necessary and opportune when, respecting various expressions of faith, it is carried out in the competent sees,” Archbishop Guimarães added in his letter to Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte, president of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil.

The military archbishop stressed that “it is the responsibility of the diocesan bishops, as authentic teachers and guardians of the deposit of faith, to guarantee the orthodoxy of the faith that is preached to the faithful in their diocese.”

“This mission, the object of solemn oath on the part of each one of us before our episcopal ordination, commits my conscience as bishop and I will never be able to renounce it.”

“For this reason, I inform you that in the Military Archdiocese of Brazil, during Lent this year, we will follow the theological-liturgical guidelines proper to the Lenten season and will not use any of the materials officially produced for this year’s Fraternity Campaign,” Archbishop Guimarães stated.

He added that “our military chaplains are being given guidelines, in case they wish to address the Fraternity Campaign, to use only Pope Francis’ Fratelli tutti.”

“Also the percentage of the collection allocated to this episcopal conference – and distributed to other entities promoting the campaign – will not be sent and, of course, really and effectively, it will be used to help the poor, through the social work recognized by the Military Ordinary. Regarding this use, it will be my responsibility to present the accounts respectively to the presidency” Archbishop Guimarães concluded.

The Fraternity Campaign is a prominent Catholic fundraiser celebrated in Brazil during Lent; every five years it is carried out in conjunction with mainline ecclesial communities.

This year’s campaign is entitled “Fraternity and dialogue: commitment of love”, and the motto is a phrase from the Letter from Paul to the Ephesians: “Christ is our peace: he who made one of both peoples.”

Controversy over this year’s campaign arose because the material for parish meditations during Lent includes a text that says: “another social group that suffers the consequences of systemic politics and violence and the creation of enemies is the LGBTQ+ population.”

It provides information on alleged violence against gay people sourced from the “Grupo Gay da Bahía,” a homosexual lobby group, and claims that “193 LGBTQ+ were murdered in 2017.”
“These homicides are the effects of hate speech, religious fundamentalism, voices against the recognition of the rights of LGBTQ+ populations and other persecuted and vulnerable groups,” the text says.

The presidency of the Brazilian bishops’ conference issued a statement Feb. 9 explaining that the materials for the Fraternity Campaign were prepared by the National Council of Christian Churches, and “therefore, it is not a text in the style of what would happen if it were prepared by the CNBB commission, since we have two different theological understandings, although around the same ideal of serving Jesus Christ.”

The bishops’ statement referenced numbers 67 and 68 of the Fraternity Campaign text and quoted the 2003 Pontifical Council for the Family’s “Lexicon on ambiguous and debatable terms regarding family life and ethical questions” that gender “must obey the natural order already predisposed by the body.”

The Brazilian bishops state that the money will not be spent in projects that are inconsistent with Catholic teachings.

“From the beginning of the 2021 Fraternity Campaign, we have informed the NCC about the difficulty and even the impossibility of working together in the structure of the Fraternity Campaign, unlike previous ecumenical campaigns. On this point, based on the last campaigns, that of 2016, this presidency (of the CNBB) has already expressed the difficulties and, in a spirit of communion and co-responsibility, will discuss the matter in a future meeting and the conclusion will be reported immediately,” concludes the bishops’ statement.


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News Briefs

Belize’s far-reaching gender bill runs aground, and critics warn of international ‘gender ideology’ pressure

October 18, 2020 CNA Daily News 3

Denver Newsroom, Oct 18, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).-  

A bill purporting to secure equality and anti-discrimination in Belize was withdrawn last month, after Bishop Lawrence Nicasio and other Catholic leaders raised objections to the bill’s treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Nicasio said the bill risked creating a “new colonialism” where international experts are allowed to change the country’s laws, culture and values.

“I think that it was an important battle and that if the bill had passed, it would have had dire consequences for the future of Belize,” Father John Robinson, SOLT, told CNA Oct. 13. “However, I am under no delusion that the war has been won. There is a push in education at all levels to accept the new gender theory and to normalize and promote the LGBT lifestyle.  I am sure that there will be similar proposals in the future.”

“It is important to realize that the Equal Opportunities Bill is only one part of a larger movement of social engineering that is largely promoted and funded by foreign entities,” said Robinson, who has lived in Belize since 1994 and is chairman of Belize’s Guadalupe Media.

“These groups have historically sought to bring about their agenda through education and law.”

Bishop Nicasio, of Belize City and Belmopan, had said the bill was “rushed” despite its great consequences for the country, and warned that it “ореnѕ thе dооr fоr Unіtеd Nаtіоnѕ Соmmіttееѕ аnd ‘ехреrtѕ,’ whо dо nоt lіvе іn Веlіzе аnd dо nоt undеrѕtаnd our vаluеѕ аnd сulturе, tо dісtаtе thе tеrmѕ оf оur lаwѕ.”

“Тhіѕ would bе а nеw соlоnіаlіѕm,” the bishop said in a Sept. 15 letter.

Several international NGO backed the legislation, as part of a global push to change laws in British Commonwealth countries.

In January the Belize government’s press office said the Equal Opportunities Bill was needed “to address and prevent discrimination, stigma, and violence.”

The bill aimed to regulate “specific conduct in areas of public life” regarding employment, education, access to premises or accommodation, provision of goods and services, travel, public services.”

It would have also established an Equal Opportunities Commission, a non-judicial body that would “work with stakeholders to address inequality, resolve disputes, conduct research and education, and develop guidelines to assist the government, businesses and the community in identifying and eliminating systemic discrimination.”

The commission would have been funded by the National Assembly but could also seek funds from domestic, regional and international sources, provided that the funding be disclosed.

Also called for by the bill was an Equal Opportunities Tribunal, a judicial body funded only by the Belize government. An appointed judge of the Supreme Court would compose the tribunal. The tribunal has the power to make declarations, awards and judgment on cases. It would “provide for broad-ranging remedies” and resolve claims not settled before the commission.

Bishop Nicasio, whose diocese encompasses the entire country of 383,000 people, voiced his desire “to end unjust discrimination and all injustice” and pledged cooperation to work towards these ends, but he said the Catholic Church could not support the bill for several reasons.

The bill could infringe on parents’ rights, and, given the power of law to form consciences and opinions, the bill would “do much to confuse the youth of Belize regarding the sacredness of sexuality.” Sexuality is “a way toward holy matrimonial union and the conception of children,” he said.

The view of human nature behind the bill also drew criticism from the bishop, who said “the novelty of the anthropology” in it was another reason not to support it. The bill recognizes “intersex” as a sex in addition to male and female.
 
“The bill introduces the notion that humanity has three sexes instead of two, the notion that subjective gender identity is more important than one’s God-given biological sex and would impose on Belizeans the task of ‘gender mainstreaming’.”
 
It would give “unparalleled power” to an Equal Opportunities Commission and an Equal Opportunities Tribunal. In the name of fighting discrimination, it could endanger freedom of conscience and religion. While the bill made some exceptions for religious organizations, there were none for “individual believers with deeply-held, Bible-formed beliefs.” He warned the bill could create a “pendulum effect” and enable discrimination against these individuals.

For Fr. Robinson, the bill itself was “not a surprise.” He saw it as “only one manifestation of an ongoing social engineering experiment.”

“However, the extreme nature of the proposals was surprising, especially the creation of an entirely independent judicial branch with the rank of a supreme court and the power invested in the Commission/Tribunal with no real checks or balances.”

After the bill failed to advance, Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow told reporters Sept. 16 that the cabinet was “very upset” not to proceed with it and felt it was a good, necessary, and “overdue” bill, PlusTV Belize reported. He said the Belize constitution provides equal opportunity and the bill would have provided an “umbrella of protection”.

He claimed it was a misconception that the legislation would be “rushed” since there would be time for views to be voiced in committee. Barrow insisted that there had been “widespread” consultations.

The Anglican Bishop of Belize, Phillip Wright, in his role heading the Belize Council of Churches, had told the prime minister the council could not support the bill as it was written. The Roman Catholic Church in Belize is also a member of the council.

Backers of the bill were planning to proceed in the face of expected opposition from evangelical Christians, but opposition from other churches was too much, according to Barrow.

“We’re not going to go against all the churches, the evangelicals plus the Belize Council of Churches,” said the prime minister. According to Barrow, Wright seemed to suggest that further work could have resulted in an agreement.

The U.K.-based Human Dignity Trust, an LGBT advocacy group, aided with the drafting of the Belize bill. In an April 17 announcement, the trust said the Belize bill was “the first of their kind for the Caribbean region.” The trust “supported the process of public consultations on the proposed legislation” and translated the legal documents into “digestible explanatory materials for everyday Belizeans.”

The trust is a member of the Equality and Justice Alliance, a consortium of three NGOs which received about $7.25 million from the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 2018 for a two-year program. This program aimed to engage Commonwealth leaders, governments and civil society leaders “to advance equality and equal protection before the law in order to secure the rights of all Commonwealth citizens, regardless of gender, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.”

Besides the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office and others, the trust is presently funded by the Canadian government’s diplomatic department Global Affairs Canada; the Tides Foundation’s Equality Without Borders Fund; the Open Society Foundations; and the Sigrid Rausing Trust, among others.

The Human Dignity Trust worked with the Belize National AIDS Commission and Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children “in order to create an enabling environment for the introduction of this progressive legislation.”

Its specific efforts included a “public education campaign” on television, radio, a website and social media. Its public service announcements were “designed to break down stigma and encourage respect and tolerance for LGBT people, women and girls and people with disability,” the trust said.

Belize First Lady Kim Simplis Barrow, wife of Prime Minister Barrow, served as Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children through Oct. 1. She has praised the Human Dignity Trust’s work on the Equal Opportunity Bill.

While critics of Belize’s bill see it as a form of ideological colonialism, some backers of this international effort claim they were making amends for the colonial legacy of the British Empire. Then-Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to the Joint Forums of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018, voicing “deep regret” that Britain had instituted “discriminatory laws,” including the criminalization of same-sex sexual relations, in its Commonwealth territories.

“It has been a great honor to be entrusted by the British government to provide technical support for law reform that has the power to transform millions of people’s lives across the Commonwealth,” Téa Braun, director of the Human Dignity Trust, said in April 2020. “We have been overwhelmed by the commitment of government officials in Belize, Mauritius and St Vincent and the Grenadines to rid their law books of discriminatory laws and enact protective legislation, and assisting them has been a privilege.”

The National Evangelical Association of Belize’s Sept. 9 criticism of the bill appeared to counter claims that there was sufficient consultation in the bill’s drafting. The first announcement of the consultations took place four days before the consultations. The 75-page first draft of the bill was released the same day as the first consultation.

The group said the proposed human rights commission’s ability to investigate someone without a formal complaint would allow “special interest activism in targeting organizations, schools or businesses.” The bill’s definition of “gender identity” has never appeared in Belize law before and would be that of LGBT activists. “Intersex” would also be a term new to Belize law.

The evangelical critics objected that similar anti-discrimination laws have been used in other countries to “arrest pastors, silence those who speak up about their values, sue cake bakers for not doing same sex wedding cakes.” The bill’s religious freedom protections are “severely deficient.”
 
Because the law aimed to protect “lawful sexual activity” from “discrimination,” a school that fired a teacher for sexual relations with a student age 16 or over would have faced a discrimination complaint if the bill had become law.
 
The critics also faulted the law’s ambiguity in banning “unintended,” “undirect,” “unaware,” and “partial” discrimination. The tribunal system established an “alternate independent judicial path” that undermines protections like presumption of innocence and provision of legal representation, they sad.
 
Robinson told CNA that advocates who campaigned to remove Belize’s little-enforced anti-sodomy law used success there to press for further changes.
 
“I am very grateful to those who vigorously opposed this bill and who sounded the alarm,” the priest said. “I found it very concerning that many Catholics were oblivious to the harm that this bill would have done to Belize and (that there) was reluctance in the Church to take action.  I am grateful especially to the Evangelical churches who were largely responsible for opposing and helping to defeat this bill.”

Another point of controversy in the country is the Ministry of Education’s “Belizean Studies” program in non-denominational secondary schools.
 
“This program has been rejected by the denominational schools because of its relativism, its subtle Marxism and its gender theory which promotes an anthropology that is in direct conflict with a Christian anthropology,” Robinson said.
 
In 2012 controversy focused on a Health and Family Life Education manual promoted by the U.S. Peace Corps through the Ministry of Education. Before its distribution through all primary schools in Belize, evangelical and Catholic critics objected to what Robinson characterized as “highly inappropriate sexual content” and its promotion of “sexual indulgence.” Objections from critics halted the program.

The United Nations is another area where Belizean leaders are encouraged to advance LGBT causes like the equal opportunity bill.

LGBT issues in Belize were a topic at a Nov. 12, 2018 review of Belize’s human rights record conducted by a working group of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. At that meeting several countries pressed Belize to pass anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and some sought the legalization of abortion.
 
The Belize delegation said some recommendations were aligned with the government’s priorities. The delegation also voiced support for sex education and HIV prevention programs developed by UNESCO.

 


[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Dominican Republic families demonstrate against gender ideology in education

July 9, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jul 9, 2019 / 01:58 pm (CNA).- Families in the Dominican Republic joined together July 4 for a national civic demonstration to protest a new Department of Education norm that establishes policies based on gender ideology.

The demonstration, held simultaneously at 10:00 a.m. in Santo Domingo and Santiago, was called by the “Don’t Mess with My Children” movement to demand the repeal of departmental order 33-2019, approved May 22, 2019.

The new Department of Education norm “establishes as a priority the design and implementation of gender policy” in “the different levels, systems and subsystems in Pre-University Education, in their planes, programs, projects, teaching strategies and administrative activities.”

In a news release addressed to the media, organizers said that thousands attended the demonstrations, including families, schools, parents’ associations and Christian institutions who wanted “to warn about the systematic and organized penetration of gender ideology in the Dominican Republic.”

They charged that “this current has permeated many of the government’s institutions, where they hold talks with titles of tolerance, equality and inclusion that look very attractive, but deep down are loaded with gender ideology.”

“Clear evidence is the Department of Education’s manifesto with the initiative they launched to achieve a perspective on gender in teaching,” they said.

The news release noted that “the term gender was first defined by the Department with the announcement of OD33-2019 as a social construct different than sex, which is the philosophical premise of gender ideology.”

They also called for the repeal of the norm, saying that it has “the clear intention of initiating pre-university students in gender ideology indoctrination.”

Bishop Víctor Masalles of Baní voiced on Twitter his “complete support for the civic demonstration by parents concerned that their children not be indoctrinated in a background of gender ideology.”

“A valid concern that we must support,” he said July 4.

On May 28, the Dominican Bishops’ Conference released a statement opposing the Education Department’s new norm.

“We consider it noxious that the gender policy is included in the design of the curriculum,” they said.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Catholic schools should affirm the person, not gender ideology, scholars advise

April 11, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Denver, Colo., Apr 11, 2019 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- Amid questions at some Catholic schools about how to approach problems related to LGBT identity, philosophy professors told CNA that Catholic schools must remain true to their mission of helping parents to raise their children in the faith.

“At the end of the day, the philosophy underlying transgenderism is radically opposed to Christian anthropology,” Dr. Theresa Farnan, a professor of philosophy at St. Paul Seminary, the minor seminary of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, told CNA.

Part of the mission of Catholic schools, she said, is to help students develop self-mastery, to grow in virtue, to understand that the body has meaning and significance, and to understand that a person’s happiness lies with their relationship with God, their creator.

In contrast, Farnan said, transgenderism involves a rejection of a person’s God-given body.

“Transgenderism involves a child with a healthy body rejecting that body,” she said.

“There is no way that a school can facilitate or support a gender transition without violating its mission and identity…we need to be very clear about this,” Farnan said.

In addition, Farnan advised that a Catholic school should not use “preferred pronouns,” as this will signal to other students that a gender transition has in fact taken place.

“It doesn’t mean you don’t support the student, but you need to say to the student: we love you, we want to have you here as a student, but understand we can’t support this.”

At public schools in particular, Farnan said, kids are absorbing the message that some people are born in the wrong body, and some people can change from being a boy to being a girl.

“For a school to buy into that, or to in any way endorse it, is something that is very harmful to everyone’s faith,” Farnan said.

In 2010 and 2011, Benedict XVI described transgender ideology as “an erroneous view of the person” that would have long-term implications.

Pope Francis addresses the problem in Amoris laetitia and Laudato si’, Farnan pointed out, and has expressed dismay about the teaching of gender theory to children.

In the long run, Farnan said, a Catholic school facilitating or supporting a gender transition isn’t compassionate for the child, partly because they are agreeing to a radically life-altering process that doesn’t resolve underlying problems, such as mental illness.

“It’s damaging to the other students in the school but also for that student, because you’re affirming something that runs contrary to reality, and involves affirming the child in rejecting the givenness of their creation,” she said.

The medical process by which a transgender person “transitions” is often referred to as “gender-affirming” therapy.

Both Farnan and Dr. Susan Selner-Wright, who holds the Archbishop Chaput Chair in Philosophy at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, offered an alternative, Catholic view of “affirmation.”

“For us, ‘affirming’ the person – and I hesitate to even use that word, since it’s been so co-opted…but understanding that people want to show compassion and love to the person, the best way to show compassion and love toward the person is helping them to realize that their dignity lies in their relationship to God,” Farnan said.

“The difference lies in a different understanding of the dignity of the person. So for us as Catholics, your dignity comes from the fact that you are a created child of God. And God loves you so much that he created you as an embodied person.”

Selner-Wright had a similar insight.

“For a Catholic, what it means to ‘affirm’ someone is to affirm them in their dignity as a person created in the image and likeness of God, and we are completely for that,” Selner-Wright said.

“But what the other side wants to do is say: no, to affirm someone you not only have to affirm them in their person, you have to affirm everything that they think about themselves and everything that they do…no good parent thinks that that is what affirmation is.”

Selner-Wright commented on a recent case in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas that made national news, in which a Catholic school denied admission to a child of a same-sex couple.

The school had deferred to the archdiocese for guidance, which advised against the students’ enrollment.

“Our schools exist to pass on the Catholic faith. Incorporated into our academic instruction and spiritual formation, at every grade level, are the teachings of the Catholic Church,” a statement from the archdiocese read.

“It is important for children to experience consistency between what they are taught in school and what they see lived at home. Therefore, we ask that parents understand and be willing to support those teachings in their homes,” the statement continued.

It added that “the Church respects that some may disagree with essential elements of our moral teaching. We do not feel it is respectful of such individuals, nor is it fair, loving or compassionate to place their children in an educational environment where the values of the parents and the core principles of the school conflict. For these reasons, the Archdiocese has advised against the admission into our Catholic schools of children of same sex unions.”

Selner-Wright commented: “Because we have a tradition of welcome and openness, there are a lot of other people who are not Catholic using our Catholic schools, and that’s great.”

“But people have to remember that the purpose of Catholic schools is to assist Catholic parents, who are the primary teachers of their children, in executing the parents’ duties.”

Their recommendations are not “one size fits all,” and there are some situations in which a child could be admitted, Selner-Wright emphasized.

For example, there could be a situation in which a single parent – who experiences same-sex attraction but is trying to live a chaste life – wants to enroll their child in a Catholic shool. The attraction itself isn’t the issue, Selner-Wright said, as long as the parent is not living in a way that generates a contradiction between what the child learns in school and what they learn at home.

Similarly, if a child enrolling in a Catholic school claims to be in the “wrong body,” Selner-Wright said, but the parents are faithful Catholics who are not on board with it, then the school could be a good place for the child and it may even be “a corporal work of mercy” to enroll them, she said.

A very different scenario, she said, would be one where the parents are fully on board with the child’s transition.

“I think it’s important for the Catholic Church to be that voice of reason,” Farnan commented.

“The Catholic Church has always been clear, unequivocally clear, about the sanctity of human life, and I think right now, given the statements of our Popes…I think our Church is providing that voice of clarity that is much needed in this debate.”

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