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News in Brief.

False prophets:

1. Svend Robinson

LONDON, ON--King's College, a Catholic College at the University of Western Ontario, continues to invite prominent speakers with anti-Catholic views to address its students. Some years ago its "social justice centre" invited Marion Boyd, Ontario's former NDP Attorney General, a pro-abortion feminist and champion of "gay" laws, to lecture at one of its symposiums. Protests to the college and its chancellor, the Bishop of London, were to no avail.

In the following year the same college organization invited Judy Rebick, former Morgentaler spokeswoman and then president of NAC, the anti-life and anti-Catholic National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Again, protests were set aside.

This year King's College asked "gay" Member of Parliament Svend Robinson to speak. Catholics who care about truth once more mounted a protest. On the 21st of March, 29 people turned up at the college for a peaceful but determined picket against this latest false prophet. Ostensibly there as part of a student activist symposium on "challenging power and poverty," the NDP member for Burnaby, B.C. used the occasion to lobby for the "rights" of homosexuals. The picket was organized by longtime pro-life activist Jake MacKenzie after his earlier appeal to Bishop John Sherlock of London to stop the event met with no success. "Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked" (Ps 1:1).

2. Gregory Baum

Toronto-- On May 6, 1996, at Toronto University's Catholic Newman Centre, Gregory Baum, 74, Catholic dissenter of nineteen sixties and seventies fame, delivered a lecture on his experience during the Second Vatican Council before a small audience of older people. Well before the event people wrote or telphoned the Centre questioning why this man had been invited.

Much to the astonishment and annoyance of Newman's director, Father Tom Rosica, on the day of the lecture a group of two dozen protesters appeared, handing out flyers which documented how Professor Baum, an excommunicated priest, had done the Church much harm in the past. Their point: he should never have been invited to speak at a Catholic institution.

"That's pure madness in those flyers," Toronto's Catholic Register (May 27) reported Fr. Rosica as saying. The director called the police, ostensibly to "restrain" the picketers, but when the former showed up in strength in response to the alarm call they found the protesters perfectly peaceful and left them to their business.

Fr. Rosica also claimed that the Archdiocese had expressed no objection. And indeed, the Toronto archdiocesan Chancellor of spiritual affairs, Fr. John Murphy, was reported by the Catholic Register as saying that "banning" Baum would be inappropriate on a university campus "where this type of exchange is normal." Earlier in the year, on January 17, Baum also spoke at Regis College, the Jesuits' Toronto theologate. That, too, had been protested in vain.


To "ban" a speaker is one thing but to invite a false prophet is another. What is at issue here is not the banning but the invitation. Professor Baum also gave a lecture at the University's Department of Philosophy and no picketers appeared there. Why then at the Newman Centre? Because Newman, as a Catholic Centre, ought not to invite people who habitually contradict Church teaching. When it does do so, Catholics may reasonably assume that those who extend the invitation share the speaker's contested views or do not consider them harmful. The picketers on the other hand follow St. Paul's advice: "We proclaim the truth openly and command ourselves to every man's conscience before God" (2 Cor 4:2).

Who is Gregory Baum?

Baum recently retired as Religious Studies professor at Montreal's McGill University. He attended the Council (1962-1965) as a "peritus" (expert) on ecumenism, then a new approach to relations among different faiths.

Refusing to restrict himself to this area, the recent Jewish convert from agnosticism soon began to contradict Catholic teachings, chiefly in moral theology. He played an international role in preempting the Pope's and the Church's study of the moral status of artificial contraception by encouraging people not to wait in using it; and when its use was condemned, by contradicting Pope Paul V (On Human Life, 1968). (This and other matters were described in detail by Msgr. Vincent Foy in the above- mentioned flyers.)

By the end of the sixties Baum switched to the study of sociology and from then on measured Church practice and doctrine by human standards. The St. Michael's College professor became an idol of the Toronto media, who treated him as the Catholic oracle in Canada. He appealed to them mostly because of his dissent from Catholic moral teaching, first on contraception, then on homosexuality.

Baum's 1974 article on homosexuality in the U.S. Catholic weekly Commonweal (February 15)was used as a handout by homosexual activists throughout North America for almost two decades. In it he argued, first, the theme developed earlier by others that the biblical references condemning sodomy were really references to lack of hospitality; and, secondly, that Catholic teaching would change and endorse homosexuality within a few years.

Father Baum was excommunicated automatically under the existing (1917) Code of Canon Law for sinning grievously by abandoning his vocation and "attempting" to get married while still a functioning priest.

A few months ago, in April 1996, Professor Baum confirmed that his views have changed little when he publicly encouraged Federal Justice Minister Allan Rock to go ahead with Bill C-33, adding "sexual orientation" to the Canadian Human Rights Act, despite the Church's opposition and rejection of the measure.

3. Anthony Padovano

Saskatoon, SK--In its summer schedule for July 1996, Queen's House Retreat and Renewal Centre in Saskatoon included a public lecture by Anthony Padovano ("The Roman System, the Catholic Church and personal conscience") plus his four-day workshop ("From Christ to here: Church history and theology"). In an earlier visit there in December, 1995, he conducted an Advent workshop.

Once more one must ask: why is this man invited to give Catholic retreats? Padovano is a former priest from Chicago and heads the anti- Vatican group of such priests, Corpus. In 1995 he spoke in Montreal, where he likened the Catholic Church to the former totalitarian Soviet Union (see C.I., Nov '95, p. 12).

In May of 1996 he was the keynote speaker for the "Concerned Canadians" group (CCCC) of dissenters in Toronto who, for the second year in a row, quite properly, were refused permission to meet on Catholic school premises. Our contributing editor, Kathline Nitsch, reports as follows:

The Church according to Padovano

From the Acts of the Apostles we discover that the Church is "not born out of obedience to the directives of Jesus Christ," but the experience and intuition of the disciples who were left with "nothing to guide them except for their memories, parables and their gatherings together." Matthew 16:18, where Jesus tells Peter he is the Rock on which he will build his Church, is "not central" and we're free to ignore it.

The institution of the first seven deacons demonstrates that the early Church was a democracy, allowing the election of its ministers by the community.

In Acts 10, the "movement of the Church into the Gentile world" was Peter's decision alone, based on his vision. He justifies his baptism of Cornelius to the Jerusalem Council by appealing, "not to Jesus, but to the Spirit," which had made clear to him that he "must not call anyone unclean." Next to this climactic decision, the decision to ordain married priests or women is "Lilliputian," and the Church's refusal a sign of "evangelical paralysis."

In the community of the Spirit, "it wasn't necessary to be male, from the right tribe or educated" to be a minister, since it was the Spirit who would "tell them who their ministers should be." St. Paul's list of gifts in 1 Cor. 12 and Romans 12 teaches us, says Padovano, that the idea of one of those ministers having "ascendancy over another or validating the others was unknown.... Validation came from the community," not the bishops.

In the light of this passage, it's an offence against God to pray for vocations, since we're really only praying for "male celibates, not vocations across the spectrum." A ministerial crisis occurs only "when you stop looking at the community" and "artificialize" the idea of vocation.

How did the early Church lose its innocence? It ended when Constantine legalized the Church and transferred many pagan temples to the Christians. Until about 313, Christians celebrated Eucharist in each other's homes around a table. With the acquisition of the "basilicas," intimacy was lost and the congregation became estranged from the people "up there on the dais." Liturgy became theatre, the role of the people being to look on passively. At this point the Church and clergy became identified as holy and everyone else as secular.

Padovano's July 7 lecture in Saskatoon was reported and summarized in Saskatchewan's Catholic weekly Prairie Messenger as a serious contribution to Catholic thought well worth the readers' attention ("We need to recover sense of church as community," July 22, '96).

Its main points: the Church is "about a person and a relationship," not about a "Roman system [which] never becomes the Church"; the Roman system is centralized power and rigidly enforced law, hangovers from the Roman Empire; the reign of God is within each person and "needs no validation by a hierarchy"; Jesus had no interest in the institutional Church: it is not the Church but the faith that is indestructible; with the "Roman system" one loses one's conscience and the Church as community; and, finally, leaving the Church may be necessary to save your conscience.

One may ask again, why is somebody who spouts this rubbish invited to give lectures and Catholic retreats? One must assume again that the retreat director holds similar views as, apparently, does the editor of the PM (Fr. Andrew Britz) who refers to the article approvingly in his accompanying editorial.

4. Hedy Fry

Claire Heron, national president of the Catholic Women's League has invited Hedy Fry, M.D., 55, Liberal MP for Vancouver Centre, to speak at its national convention in Toronto August 20. Born in Trinidad and educated at St. Joseph's Convent, Dr. Fry did her medical training in Dublin, Ireland. Formerly the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health, she is currently Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and for the Status of Women.

Fry fully supports the Canadian government's international agenda for women's empowerment, gender equality, and reproductive "rights." She is pro-abortion, supports Prime Minister Chretien's initiative to legalize euthanasia (with "safeguards," of course), and sees the advancement of gay and lesbian rights as paramount to her position as a woman of colour.

The invitation was revealed when Dr. Fry told Liberal stalwarts in Toronto she would be available to meet with them.

Mrs. Heron, of Victoria, B.C., when asked why she would invite this anti-life MP said, "It's time to start building bridges." But CWL members who heard about it were upset and angry. On August 8th, the appointment had been cancelled because of "scheduling problems."

Bishops' conference donates to NAC

Ottawa--On May 15 the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops donated $2,000 to NAC, the radical feminist lobby in Ottawa, for its "Women's March" to Parliament Hill for the "Eradication of Poverty."

"The CCCB supports NAC's seven demands," General Secretary Father Doug Crosby wrote, and "we hope that many Catholics will participate in the March." Please apply the $2,000 only to promoting participation, he told NAC. He then added: "We hope that March organizers acknowledge, as we do, the reality that when building coalitions there must be respect for differences of opinions on matters not related to the central concern."

NAC, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, is vehemently "pro-choice," that is, pro-abortion, pro-lesbian, pro-suicide, pro-whatever-lifestyle-one-chooses. Recently it has become racist as well, with retired president Sunera Thobani, 38, declaring that white women are unsuited to lead the lobby group. (A black woman was elected who promised "much more" radical action.)

From its very beginning NAC's history has been one of public anti-Christianity, starting with its first president Doris Anderson, long-time editor of Chatelaine, the country's most influential women's magazine. She and her associates spearheaded the adoption of the permissive society throughout the sixties and seventies.

Thobani's immediate predecessor, Judy Rebick--who today has her own CBC TV show--was spokeswoman for Morgentaler's Toronto abortuary in the 1980s. She is a hard-nosed atheist. Again, in 1993, NAC supported the Report on Women (Status of Women Council) with its anti-Christian and anti-religious resolutions, a fact glossed over at the time by CCCB staff in their response to the Report (see "Catholics and the Panel on Violence," C.I., Dec. 1993).


Fr. Crosby is wrong on several counts. First he states that in "coalition-building" one shouldn't bring up matters "not related to the central concern." But that depends on the coalition partner. In the case of NAC, a "coalition" is both wrong and a waste of time. Its anti-Catholicism is not accidental but part of its philosophy. Giving them $2,000 smacks more of a bribe than a donation.

Secondly, he is naive in thinking that a sum of money can be reserved for special aspects. It all goes into a general pot used to strengthen NAC.

He is also wrong in thinking that an organization with such a corrupt ideology as NAC can be sound on poverty

There used to be people who believed Henry VIII to be a good king, though they admitted he was a wretched husband. Most people today, however, are convinced Henry was a bad king not least because he was a wretched husband. They do not believe that private immorality can be separated from public action. So it is with NAC.

The lobby's anti-life, anti-family ideology has also given it a distorted view on poverty, out of touch both with economic reality and the common good. Those who want to reduce Canada's debt are looked upon as demons who are said to willingly and eagerly harass the poor. The state is treated as omnipotent, as called upon to "eradicate poverty." NAC calls for a minimum wage ($7.85) that economists say will worsen unemployment. It continues to insist on national daycare, when daycare is no solution at all. Moreover, the country can't afford its $6 billion start-up cost.

What then does the $2,000 donation mean? If the CCCB staff agrees with NAC on poverty, then they are just as out of touch with the real needs of people as is NAC. Secondly, it is another example of sacrificing the Conference's role as moral leader in favour of building coalitions with dubious partners or seeking a false consensus. The latter is what happened during the sixteen annual meetings of Church leaders with Trudeau and members of the Cabinet during the years 1968-1984. The ecumenical delegation brought up every subject under the sun except one: abortion. Why was it left off the agenda year after year? Because the CCCB's coalition partners--the Anglicans, United Church, Lutherans, etc.--accept abortion. In deference to them, that is, out of human respect, the CCCB kept it off the agenda, helping to relegate it thereby to the status of a minor nuisance in Canada's public life.

Quebec feminists unmoved

Montreal--In May of this year, the radical feminist "Network for Women and Ministries in Quebec" published a new letter on women's ordination (reprinted in the July 7 edition of Catholic New Times without comment). Two years ago, the Network also published an Open Letter rejecting the Holy Father's May 1994 Declaration restricting ordination to men only.

Many of the Network's 2000 or more supporters are women--religious and lay--who hold Church positions in catechetics, religious education, seminaries, and faculties of theology (see C.I., Oct. 1994, pp. 12-16).

The latest feminist letter is no better than the earlier one. Catholic women throughout the world are in revolt against the Pope's decision, which was meant to sow confusion, it says. Furthermore, the papal declaration is not infallible, no matter what Cardinal Ratzinger may say. Rather, it is the result of hierarchical authoritarianism which denies dialogue and freedom of speech and, therefore, lacks credibility and authenticity.

The feminists encourage Quebec bishops to stand on their own feet and stop being Vatican puppets. Perhaps "the time has come to question the theological status of the authority of Roman congregations," it states. It continues: "Far from defying authority," such an attitude of opposition merely gives "concrete form to a dynamism which comes to them from the Holy Spirit."


One may and should feel sorry for the Quebec bishops, having to deal with such a large group of dissenters. They deserve our prayers. On the other hand, spokesmen for these same bishops have encouraged Church feminists for over two decades, placed them in important positions throughout Quebec, and instead of joining the Holy Father in the firm No on this and other matters, have consistently led them to believe that their chosen path of contradicting the Magisterium was honorable and pregnant with success. All that was needed was "more dialogue," they kept on saying.

Although the Pope called on bishops everywhere to remove dissident theologians from teaching positions in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis splendor, in Quebec the appeal has fallen on deaf ears. There seem to be so many of them that it may be necessary to wait until they retire or die. This would be a long watch.

The Newfoundland school battle

St. John's--The Senate did in July what the House of Commons on direction of Justice Minister Allan Rock had refused to do in June--hold hearings on Newfoundland's school issue. Since the hearings were televised on cable, viewers throughout Canada could hear and see the long line of lawyers, professors, experts, and everyday parents and teachers (in "walk-in" hearings), oppose or warn against eliminating the constitutional rights of parents. Alas, on June 18, the Senate Committee's six Liberals--Doris Anderson, P.E.I.; Landon Pearson, ON; Philippe Gigantes, PQ; Derek Lewis, St. John's, NF; Rosemarie Losier-Cool, N.B.; William Rompkey, Labrador, NF--voted down the five Conservatives--William Doody, St. John's, NF; Gerald Beaudoin, PQ; Michel Cogger, Lauzon, PQ; Duncan Jessiman, MB; Noel Kinsella, N.B.--in support of the proposed constitutional amendment (see July/Aug C.I., pp. 4-6). The Committee's report and possible amendments are to be voted upon when the Senate returns in September. So far then, the Prime Minister's wish to sweep this attack on parents' rights noiselessly into the dustbin of history has not succeeded.

Following the Committee's report, Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin introduced legislation on July 23 to dismantle the denominational school system. He also announced that the province's human rights code will be amended in the fall to add "sexual orientation", i.e., homosexual rights. This will affect the school curriculum.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Sep 1, 1996
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