Monday, July 28, 2008

Free Speech in Canada, RIP: The Silencing of Fr. de Valk

http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2008-0630-vree-free_speech_in_canada.htm

 

 

Free Speech in Canada, RIP

 

The Silencing of Fr. de Valk

 


Pete Vere

REMNANT COLUMNIST, State

 

The Silencing of St. Paul

(When will they ever learn!)

(www.RemnantNewspaper.com) The Catholic Church is facing persecution in Canada. Christians who assert traditional moral principles are being targeted by homosexualist activists before the country’s “human rights” tribunals. Stating that marriage is exclusive to one man and one woman can now be considered a hate crime in Canada. One of the government’s main targets is Fr. Alphonse de Valk, an elderly Basilian priest who was instrumental in founding Canada’s pro-life movement.

News of the persecution may shock some American readers. Three years ago, Canada’s most well-known author of Catholic-themed fiction, Michael O’Brien, published an essay warning of the impending homosexualist persecution of Christians in Canada. Mr. O’Brien was subsequently ridiculed by certain Catholic writers on the south side of the Canada-U.S. border. One or two were traditionalist, but most of the scorn and ridicule came from a certain magazine publisher in northern California. This individual dismissed Mr. O’Brien as “hysterical” and his prediction as a figment of Mr. O’Brien’s imagination for fiction. Today, northern California is close to where Canada was five years ago in terms of homosexualist activism. And Canada is close to the hedonistic totalitarianism prophesied by Mr. O’Brien.

Thus many Catholics from Canada – myself included – were touched recently when Michael Matt reached across the traditionalist divide, shed some much-needed light on Fr. de Valk’s situation, and offered Father both prayers and support on behalf of The Remnant. It was a brave decision on the part of Mr. Matt. For years now, his cousin Al Matt and The Wanderer have been mocked as “alarmist” and “extremist” for allowing me and other Canadian writers to shine some light on Canada’s human rights tribunals. Mr. Michael Matt can expect no differently. Having personally called The Remnant editor to thank him for this kindness, we discussed some of the background to Fr. de Valk’s situation and the need for Catholics to rally to Father’s defense. He then graciously invited me to share with The Remnant’s readership an ‘inside the igloo’ perspective of Canada’s human rights tribunals.

Fr. de Valk is the editor of Catholic Insight. This monthly journal promotes the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and the family, speaking out strongly against contraception, divorce, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and other acts of immorality that have gained widespread acceptance in our day. During the political debate over so-called “same-sex marriage,” Father published several articles upholding marriage as God created it – both under the Natural Law, and as a sacrament. These articles quoted extensively from the Bible, papal encyclicals, and other sources of Catholic Tradition. The articles also quoted studies from reputable medical doctors and psychologists.

This is the “hate crime” for which Father is being investigated by Canada’s human rights commissions. Once the complaint is investigated, the commission will likely haul Father before one of Canada’s human rights tribunals. Technically, the tribunals operate at an arm’s length distance from the commissions, which take on a new role as legal prosecution for the complainant. In practicality, no accused has ever beaten the rap when brought before the tribunal by the commission.

The reasons for this are many. The human rights tribunals are quasi-judicial in nature, which allows them to circumvent or ignore traditional legal protections for the accused. For example, the complainant need not show up or testify at the hearing – thus depriving the accused with the opportunity to face his accuser. The complainant (or his lawyers if he fails to show up, as happened recently in a British Columbia hearing) can introduce new evidence at any time during the tribunal hearing; the evidence need not be disclosed in advance. This is a gross violation of Natural Justice which dictates that every accused has the right to know the case against him.

By now the blood-pressure of Christopher A. Ferrara – The Remnant’s in-house legal eagle – must be skyrocketing. I would advise Mr. Ferrara and any other lawyers among The Remnant’s readership to skip the next paragraph. It details even worse violations of Natural Justice.

The state pays the legal costs of the complainant, whereas the accused is responsible for his own legal fees. Not that a good legal defense really makes a difference anyway – the commissions have a 100 percent conviction rate when bringing a Christian before Canada’s human rights tribunals. In fact, they have a 100 percent conviction rate with every case they bring before the tribunal. Thus Father, who has already spent $20,000 on his legal defense, will be forced to appear before a tribunal of politically-correct government appointees who make up the rules as they go along. He is not even entitled to a public defender because the tribunals are not real courts, but quasi-judicial tribunals.

Yet if Father refuses to go along with this marsupial madness, he can be charged with contempt of court and face real jail time. All because he upheld Church teaching on something that nobody even questioned a generation ago, namely, that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

This is happening today in a country where 80 percent of the population lives within 200 miles of the American border, and where just under half of the total population is nominally Catholic. This is why orthodox Catholics in the (once-) Great White North are setting aside differences over liturgy and the Second Vatican Council. If the state can silence Fr. de Valk from preaching what the Church has always taught concerning marriage, then how long before the state silences Ecclesia Dei, FSSP, SSPX and conservative Novus Ordo priests from the pulpit? Cultural Marxists and secular hedonists make no distinction among those recognize Christ as King.

Moreover, the government does not restrict its persecution to Catholics. The commissions also have a 100 percent conviction rate against evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants. So grave is the danger that even hardened Calvinist preachers and staunchly anti-Catholic Orangemen are speaking out in defense of Fr. de Valk – a celibate papist who proudly wears his Roman collar. And likewise, we Catholics are speaking out in defense of Protestant ministers who find themselves hauled before the commissions and tribunals.

One such individual is Pastor Stephen Boissoin, an evangelical Protestant youth minister who was recently censured by the tribunals and whose situation is being closely monitored by Fr. de Valk’s supporters. Mr. Boissoin is probably the test case for Fr. de Valk. The tribunals will likely use the decision in Mr. Boissoin’s case as a precedent upon which to try and silence Fr. de Valk.

The Protestant minister was hauled before the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal over a letter he wrote to the Red Deer Advocate in 2002. The local newspaper published the letter during the height of Canada’s debate over so-called same-sex marriage. Admittedly Mr. Boissoin’s tone was somewhat intemperate, but keep in mind that fundamentalists lack Sacred Tradition and the grace of the Sacraments. Thus their theological vocabulary and grasp of Biblical nuance is not as developed as that of a Traditional Catholic priest who has been schooled in St. Thomas Aquinas.

Using some strongly-worded language, Mr. Boissoin denounced efforts to undermine marriage, society’s most fundamental building block. He also denounced homosexualist activism in his community’s public schools among children as young as six. He compared this activism to pimping, pedophilia and drug dealing. He accused homosexual activists of declaring war on the family. Some might cringe at his wording, however, Mr. Boissoin was running a youth ministry that helped teenaged prostitutes and drug addicts get off the street. The tribunal rendered its decision on May 30 of this year – six years after the incident. The decision ordered Mr. Boissoin to pay the complaint $5,000 fine in addition to $2,000 in court costs.

The monetary damages were ordered despite the tribunal’s acknowledgment that the complainant was “not a direct victim” of Mr. Boissoin’s letter. Should Mr. Boissoin refuse to pay the fine, he could end up in jail. He has said he would rather go to jail than abide by the ruling.

Yet the fine is the least troubling aspect of the decision. The tribunal judge claimed her decision was not to be a punishment but “a remedy [...] to ameliorate the effects of the discrimination insofar as is possible and to denunciate the actions which were the subject of the complaint with a view to educate a hopefully prevent actions of this nature in future.”

In other words, the tribunal is not satisfied with punishing Mr. Boissoin for adhering to his traditional Christian beliefs concerning marriage. The Protestant minister must also be forced to embrace whole-heartedly homosexualist activism.

From here the tribunal decision becomes even more troublesome. Again I advise American lawyers reading this to sit down and check their blood pressure before finishing this paragraph. The tribunal ordered Mr. Boissoin to issue a written apology to the complainant, and submit it to the Red Deer Advocate for publication. This is an act of persecution and humiliation reminiscent of the Russian troikas. It is an act of persecution because it orders Mr. Boissoin to renounce a tenet of his Christian moral beliefs. And it is an act of humiliation because it goes well beyond the mandate of Canada’s real courts. Not even Paul Bernardo – Canada’s most notorious child rapist and murderer – was forced to apologize to his victims’ families.

But it gets worse. The tribunal prohibited Mr. Boissoin for life from making any “disparaging” comments about homosexuality. Given the low threshold for the term “disparaging,” namely anything an apologist for sexual hedonism might find offensive, how can Mr. Boissoin even touch the subject without violating the tribunal judgment? Thus the state is attempting to silence Mr. Boissoin from communicating what the Natural Law teaches about marriage.

And worse still. The tribunal can have Mr. Boissoin charged with contempt of court if he criticizes the tribunal, the decision or the complainant and his witnesses for having lodged the complaint. The decision states Boissoin is “prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about [the complainant] or [the complainant’s] witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint..”

This sets another dangerous precedent. Mr. Boissoin is prohibited from speaking out against his experience before a government tribunal. It is not just the activists who have become a protected class in the persecution of Christians, but their protectors within the government bureaucracy. The silencing is total. Technically Mr. Boissoin could be charged for praying that God enlightens and converts the hearts of his persecutors, which Mr. Boissoin tells me he does at least once a week. And should I find myself back in my homeland, I technically could be charged as Mr. Boissoin’s accomplice for having drawn attention to his plight through The Wanderer and The Remnant.

A precedent has been set with Mr. Boissoin upon which to silence Fr. de Valk, except that no precedent has been set. Were Mr. Ferrara to interject on behalf The Remnant’s readership in the legal profession, I imagine he would say: “That’s impossible! Either stare decisis applies and the case sets a precedent, or the case does not set a precedent. It cannot, at the same time, do both.” Logic would be on Mr. Ferrara’s side, as would centuries of Anglo-American legal tradition. But Canada’s human rights tribunals do not operate according to logic or English legal tradition.

Both Mr. Ferrara and I are veterans of the legal battles over Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Mr. Ferrara played the greater role, devoting his efforts to the legal fight to save Terri’s life. My legal involvement was far more modest in comparison – I was asked on a couple of occasions to draft a canonical brief demanding respect for Terri’s pastoral and canonical right to the sacraments. Yet both of us were aware of the “Terri principle” when fighting Terri’s legal battles. The courts interpreted the law favorably when it helped Michael Schiavo, but unfavorably if a favorable interpretation would help Terri.

A similar principle appears whenever the commissions and tribunals pursue a complaint against Christians. Experts in civil law have told me that tribunal decisions, being quasi-judicial, do not establish legal precedent. However, many tribunal decisions cite other tribunal decisions when imposing a “remedy” upon the accused. Thus the tribunals follow precedent in practice, and their practice is to “remedy” against Christians. However, the tribunals tend to ignore precedents that establish constitutional and legal protections for the accused.

Here are a handful of examples off the top of my head: A Knights of Columbus Hall was fined $2,000 plus damages for declining to rent their hall for a same-sex marriage; Evangelical Protestant printer Scott Brockie was fined $5,000 for declining to print homosexual-themed stationary; Mayor Diane Haskett was fined $10,000 plus interest for declining to declare a gay pride day for the City of London; Christian Horizons, an Evangelical ministry that operates group homes for the mentally challenged, was fined $23,000 for dismissing a Lesbian employee despite having signed an employment contract whereby she agreed to live according to Christian moral standards. A few minutes on-line with Google will call up several other examples of sexual activists using the country’s human rights tribunals to persecute Christians.

Barring a miracle on the same proportion as Our Lady of Fatima’s miracle of the sun, the tribunal will use the Boissoin decision as a precedent to decide against Fr. de Valk. In the eyes of the commission, both are Christian clergy (The tribunals would probably condemn Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolicae curae as a hate document). Both publicly defend Christian moral teaching. And both have published articles critical of homosexual activism within the broader Canadian society.

So what can Fr. de Valk anticipate when he goes before Canada’s human rights tribunals? The answer is fourfold: 1) Thousands of dollars in fines; 2) An order to apologize to the homosexual activist who initiated the complaint against him; 3) An order to never again communicate the Church’s traditional teaching on moral issues – not only from the pulpit, but in the confessional as well; and 4) A prohibition from speaking out against the injustice of Canada’s “human rights” racket to which he was subjected.

Thank-you, Mr. Matt, for joining your cousin at The Wanderer in condemning this injustice. Thank-you for standing up for Fr. de Valk and the Church’s teaching concerning marriage. And  thank-you for exposing The Remnant’s readership to Canada’s quasi-judicial prosecution of Christians.

Please continue to keep Fr. de Valk and other persecuted Christians in prayer.