Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Comments from St. Mary's Academy alumni. The fruit of a Catholic education?

 Here are a couple of very telling responses from past student of St. Mary's Academy. 
 We need to pray for the Archbishop and true Catholic teaching for very vulnerable girls.


"I’ve scanned through the bigotry and trolling below and I didn’t see many comments from actual alumnae of St. Mary’s so I wanted to chime in. The news from today for some didn’t seem shocking, those on the outside looking in but for me, and countless other women this news came as a gut wrenching punch to the abdomen and not because we should’ve seen it coming and were naïve to it but because we didn’t see it coming because it’s NOT the SMA we know and truly love! My time at St. Mary’s (1995-1998) were quite literally the years the solid ground work to my foundation as the woman I am today were built. It’s a school founded on the principles of diversity and social justice. Most have nightmare stories about high school but the experience I had at St. Mary’s provided me with not only the opportunity to exist in a space more diverse than I had ever known, but also to expand my horizons on what this world truly is. The curriculum was vast, challenging and utterly rewarding.

The teachers were top notch and pushed us to become the women they know we could be whether they were gay or straight and WE HAD GAY TEACHERS, they may not have been out but they most certainly were gay.

It didn’t just teach the principles of Catholicism. It’s because of St. Mary’s the seeds of other spiritual practices were planted into my sponge of a brain… we learned about The Tao, Confucius, Shamanism, Hinduism and Buddhism. I consider my education in world religions, from a Catholic school, the initial seeds to my desire and then actual action of moving to India for a few years to study yoga, meditation and dive into the worlds of Hinduism and Buddhism and a culture nothing like my own. St. Mary’s sparked that in me…

St. Mary's was a place where I finally felt like I found a place I fit in into this world, not the religious aspect, which I still don’t subscribe to, but with the vast spectrum of amazing woman who graced their halls.

As I read the OBP article my dear high school buddy sent me tears flowed... not just for the teacher who has been wronged, not just for realizing my own alma mater would take advantage of their rights and allow their beliefs based on hate to fuel their actions, not just for ALL THE GAY teachers who HAVE taught at the school (there were at least 2 I can name off hand who taught while I attended '95-'98) but for all the girls just coming into their place in this world and their own sexuality who attend the school now or may in the future.

I didn't know I was gay when I was in high school but looking back now, it was painfully clear I was. It was the first time in my life I was around women, strong, wonderful, intelligent, witty, amazingly inspiring women who were openly gay. It was the first time I was around women who may not have been open about their sexuality but it was clear what their preference was and it's obvious now why they didn't come out.

When I think back through my own journey, which seems to never end, of coming
more into my true, authentic self, I think about those women and the impact
they had on me. This teacher wouldn't have just been able to provide the
support for the role hired but could have also been a shining inspiration for
the girls she interacted with.


Christina Friedhoff stated in her statement to everyone, "We all recognize that now more than ever, we need to come together as a community so that St. Mary’s will continue to be a safe
place for all young women.”

The only thing I can think the girls need to be kept safe from now is the hatred in the hearts of their
leadership. The fact that finger pointing, the blame game, denial statements and spin is rampant right now saddens me deeply and it makes me feel like we’ll never know the actual truth
behind what happened behind closed doors.

What HAS become clear though, through this time is that those looking in from the outside at the overall SMA experience will never know what it truly is/was to be an SMA woman. What I’ve been able to see today, because of this incident, is countless women across the generational divide, banding together not in support of the school’s/ archdioceses/catholic church’s decision, but in
support of each other, in support of the strength, confidence, passion,diversity, feminist principles and acceptance we’ve all seen, felt, experienced and embraced because of this school.

I’m proud to stand with all of them and fight for the school we know SMA IS, HAS
been and CAN BE for all past, present and future strong women. This decision… while it may have been SMA Administration making it (or whomever anyone wants to blame), is not the soul
and heart beat of what St. Mary’s Academy truly is."


 "Girls make out in the halls and cuddle. Apparently that makes them supporters."

St. Mary's Academy in Portland may face lawsuit over Catholic values plus Willamette Week take.


Job offer withdrawn from woman who plans same sex marriage
St. Mary's Academy photo
St. Mary's Academy pulled a job offer from a woman who planned same-sex marriage, and may face a lawsuit.

St. Mary's Academy photo
St. Mary's Academy pulled a job offer from a woman who planned same-sex marriage, and may face a lawsuit.


St. Mary’s Academy in Portland may face a lawsuit filed by a woman whose job offer was withdrawn after she told school officials she planned to marry another woman. “Like other Catholic schools, St. Mary’s Academy is grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church and asks faculty and staff to support those values,” says a statement from the school. “St. Mary’s understands that others may hold different values, and we respect the right of individuals in society to do so.”

St. Mary’s attempted to resolve the situation with the applicant, who was not named in the statement. But, the school said, “we have been unable to find an amicable resolution.”
The school, sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, says it is part of a faith community that is obligated to follow current Catholic teachings regarding same-sex marriage in its employment practices.

“At St. Mary’s we strive to live out the values of the Gospel while struggling with the complexities of today’s world,” the statement says.

“This is a very challenging time for our school, our staff, our founders the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and our board of directors,” says Christina Friedhoff, St. Mary's Academy president,. “St. Mary’s is known for its diversity, inclusive spirit, progressive education and developing dynamic, women leaders. As a Catholic school, we recognize that in meeting our obligation to honor the current teachings of the Catholic Church related to employment and same sex marriage, we strive to find grace and healing within our community. St. Mary’s remains committed to diversity and social justice and nurtures the Catholic identity, practice, culture and mission on which we were founded.”

Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample has voiced support for the school and the Holy Names Sisters in their effort to uphold teachings of the Catholic Church.

“We expect that given certain reassurances by the federal government in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling making ‘same-sex unions’ the law of the land, our religious liberty would be protected in this case as well as any future cases of this sort,” the archbishop said in a statement.

On a public Facebook page, some St. Mary’s alumnae expressed anger at their school and threatened to withdraw donations.



From Willamette Week.  August 26th.
 
"Brown’s dismissal places St. Mary’s in the center of a national fight about when religious organizations can claim they’re exempt from anti-discrimination laws. It also threatens to open rifts at a Catholic high school where lesbian students are welcome, but LGBT faculty must remain in the closet. 
 
“Some of my dearest colleagues in social justice came out of St. Mary’s,” says Jeanna Frazzini, co-director of Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group. “When folks at the school hear about what’s happening, they’ll be concerned—and they’ll want to see significant changes.” 

St. Mary’s initially embraced Brown. 

Principal Kelli Clark welcomed Brown to the school staff in May. Clark added a handwritten note to the letter: “Lauren—you are going to have so much fun here!” 

St. Mary’s sent her a contract in July. On July 22, Brown received an email from an administrator, asking her to complete a biography. “Tell us about your spouse,” says the email Brown showed WW. “Tell us about your children. Talk to us about YOU! It’s your choice as to what you would like to share!” 

The next day, Brown says, Clark called to encourage Brown to consider applying for an even more prominent job, director of admissions. 

Brown says she asked Clark in that phone call what she should say in her biography, since she has a girlfriend. Brown also asked: Would she be allowed to bring her girlfriend to school events? What if she got married? She says Clark told her that was uncharted territory, but that Clark would support her. 

Brown says Clark called back July 30 with a different message: “It may not work out.” 

Brown met with Clark and Friedhoff at St. Mary’s on Aug. 4. She says the meeting lasted more than three hours, with both women pressuring her to sign a separation agreement that offered her six months’ salary in return for a promise not to sue the school or talk about why she lost the job. 

The agreement, which Brown showed to WW, included a script for Brown to follow. “Brown may post on her social media pages the following statement to describe her separation from St. Mary’s: ‘Friends, I want to let you all know I will no longer be at St. Mary’s in the fall. Please message me if you know of any jobs available. {3’” 

(The two characters at the end of the statement were intended by the school to read as a heart emoticon, Brown says.) 

The agreement also said Brown could give the following reply if people asked why she had been dismissed: “I learned that my intent to enter into a same-sex marriage is in conflict with the teachings of the Catholic church.”

St. Mary’s attorney Scott Seidman says Brown asked for these statements. Brown says they were written by school officials. 

When Brown pushed back, the school increased its offer to a full year’s salary, $41,538, plus benefits. 

Brown left the meeting without signing. She called Gloria Trainor, a friend she has since hired as her attorney. Brown says she hasn’t decided whether to sue St. Mary’s. 

Friedhoff says St. Mary’s continues to value diversity.

“This is not an easy situation,” she says. “As with all matters of faith, we strive to live out the values of the Gospel while struggling with the complexities of today’s world.”

 Brown says she hopes by telling her story instead of taking the money, she’ll set an example for St. Mary’s students not to be ashamed of who they are. She also hopes her experience will open eyes to discrimination taking place in one of the nation’s most gay-friendly cities. 

“Portlanders need to know that it’s happening right here,” Brown says. “It’s not just in a small town in Pennsylvania, or Indiana or Texas. This is Portland.” 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Analysis: New Development Goals Do Not Create a Right to Abortion, But They Turn on the Money Spigot for Abortion

By and Stefano Gennarini, J.D. | August 20, 2015
Cambodian children and UN building

NEW YORK, August 21 (C-Fam) UN agencies and bureaucrats have been part of the global abortion industry for over two decades. But they have never had much ability to compel countries to change their abortion laws. Even though the new UN development goals contain no new language to support a right to abortion, the document nonetheless will open up additional avenues for abortion groups to pressure countries to change their laws.

The newly minted Sustainable Development Goals, the most important UN agreement involving social policy for over two decades, continue to place abortion squarely in UN policy under the guise of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. This is not new. But the new goals present grave new challenges to the pro-life cause.

The goals will be the mainstay of UN policy for the next 15 years. They follow the model of the UN Millennium Development Goals, widely viewed as having ramped up international aid and exerted unprecedented influence on national policies. They are anticipated to mobilize several trillion dollars, exponentially more money than any previous UN development scheme. All that money will not come without strings attached. We cannot be naïve.

Money has been and continues to be the principal game changer in the international pro-life battle.
Until now the pressure from the UN to change abortion laws has come from mostly unknown “experts” working in the UN system, and rogue UN officials. Because of the compromise struck at Cairo UN agencies that receive money from pro-abortion countries have repeatedly denied that they promote abortion, even though they do so both directly and indirectly with impunity.

With the new UN goals countries may face pressure to change their laws, as well as spend lascivious amounts of money on sexual and reproductive health—thereby benefitting abortion groups—in order to receive aid from wealthy pro-abortion countries as well as partner in new global initiatives with the private sector and philanthropists.

Countries’ ability to benefit from the new development scheme may be tied to their performance as measured by UN bureaucrats for whom illegal abortion is synonymous with unsafe abortion and for whom no amount of resources spent for UN style family planning is ever sufficient.

Proposed Indicators to measure progress on the new agenda from the UN system already include access to abortion services, and the ability of teenagers to access abortion without parental consent.
Despite these fresh threats to life, abortion groups that have spent billions of dollars to create an international right to abortion have not been able to gain any normative ground.

The new goals do not change the compromise struck at the 1994 Cairo conference on population and development, namely, that abortion is not an international right, and a subject to be dealt with exclusively in national law—a consensus that reflects how no UN treaty includes a right to abortion either expressly or by implication.

At the same time, abortion groups have become the beneficiaries of a bonanza of funding for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as a result of the same Cairo agreement. Their lobbying and increased influence at the national and international level, possibly more than any other factor over the past two decades, has ensured that the new UN development goals include more funds for their efforts to make abortion a human right.

This is a significant change from the Millennium Development Goals, agreed over a decade ago, which did not include abortion, focusing on maternal health instead. The new goals include two targets on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights instead, the trademark of abortion groups.

The terms made their way into the new goals last year at the eleventh hour, following underhanded negotiating tactics and arm-twisting, and possibly only because at the time, many governments thought the goals could still be changed. That was not to be.

When governments met again this year to discuss the new UN agenda for development they decided to stick to the goals as agreed last year, with few minor technical changes, and only negotiated a political document to launch the goals into existence at a global summit of world leaders this September.

The details of how the new UN scheme will be implemented are still being worked out and are not expected to be finalized until next Summer.

Wanted priest still in Philippines - Archbishop 'exasperated'





8/21/2015 1:13:00 PM
Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
Fr. Ysrael Bien blesses a student during a 2013 school Mass at St. Francis Parish in Sherwood.

Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
Fr. Ysrael Bien blesses a student during a 2013 school Mass at St. Francis Parish in Sherwood.
The Archbishop's letter
August 20, 2015

Dear Friends in Christ,


I was as shocked and stunned, as I’m sure many of you were, when I found out Tuesday (August 18) that Sherwood Police had issued an arrest warrant for Fr. Ysrael Bien. Until the news of the arrest warrant, the Archdiocese’s only information from the Sherwood Police was that there was an ongoing investigation. We only learned about the specific charges when the arrest warrant was issued. Subsequent news reports have added disturbing details.

It is gravely troubling to find out that one of our priests has been charged with criminal misconduct. To our knowledge, the police have not identified anyone who may have been recorded on the hidden camera. Certainly anyone in the parish or school community who has any information to help investigators should contact Sherwood Police Detective Debbie Smith at 503-925-7117.
The Archdiocese and the parish owe a debt of gratitude to the young man and his family who discovered the hidden camera and were persistent in ensuring it was investigated by police. We are also grateful for the diligence of the Sherwood Police department.
When I placed Fr. Bien on administrative leave, he told me that he would be living with a priest friend in Portland. It was not until July 29 that officials at the Archdiocese first became aware that Fr. Bien was in the Philippines.

On August 6, I wrote to Fr. Bien and asked him to return to Portland as soon as possible to be present in Portland pending the resolution of the investigation in which he was involved. Fr. Bien declined my request, citing reasons of his own health and well-being should he return. In an August 13 follow-up letter, I urged Fr. Bien to reconsider his decision, directed him to return, and assured him that whatever would be helpful to his health and well-being would be made available to him here. To date Fr. Bien has not responded. Fr. Bien’s lengthy absence from the Archdiocese without my permission is violation of canon (church) law.

Police investigators placed no restrictions on Fr. Bien’s activities, nor did they ask for his passport so far as we know. In fact, the police made public statements that Fr. Bien was not a suspect.

I'm as exasperated as you are that Fr. Bien is not here to answer the very serious allegations he faces. I share your frustration that the nature of the investigation meant that the parish community and the Archdiocese had precious little information about its progress.
Some have asked whether Father Bien remains an active priest. The simple answer is no. When Fr. Bien was placed on administrative leave it meant he may not function in a ministerial role. Whether Fr. Bien returns to Oregon or not, a canonical proceeding will take place, the results of which will determine what his ultimate status will be with the Archdiocese and the Holy See.
We will continue to provide updates to the parish and school community when new information is available to us. In the meantime, I hold you in my prayers at this difficult time. The strength of the parish and its school is evident in the community’s willingness to address these unsettling circumstances openly. I appreciate your support of Fr. James Herrera, Principal Kim Fadden and the rest of the school and parish staff.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Alexander K. Sample
Archbishop of Portland in Oregon


Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel
Archbishop Alexander Sample on Thursday sent a two-page letter updating members of St. Francis Parish on the case of a priest being sought by Sherwood Police. In the letter, the archbishop said the Archdiocese of Portland and the parish in Sherwood owe “a debt of gratitude” to a teen boy who discovered a spy camera in a bathroom used by altar servers, and to the boy’s family, who diligently made sure police knew about the incident.
Records uncovered by the Oregonian showed that Father Ysrael Bien purchased the $295 camera, which was disguised as an electrical outlet.
Archbishop Sample says he was “shocked and stunned” when he heard the warrant had been issued. Until that time, police had told the archdiocese only that there was “an ongoing investigation.”
Father Bien, 34, has been charged with invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and initiating a false report — all misdemeanors.
Without telling anyone, Father Bien returned to his native Philippines in June and has stayed, despite repeated requests by Archbishop Sample that he return to Oregon.
When the archbishop placed the priest on administrative leave in June for failing to report the camera discovery promptly, Father Bien said he would be living with a priest friend at Holy Family Parish in Southeast Portland. The archdiocese did not become aware that Father Bien had left for the Philippines until July 29.
Legal authorities had put no restrictions on Father Bien’s movement and had made public statements that the priest was not a suspect, the archbishop said.

On Aug. 6, the archbishop wrote to Father Bien, asking him to return to be part of the pending investigation. The priest declined, saying for his health and well-being he would stay with family. In an Aug. 13 follow-up letter, Archbishop Sample said whatever the priest needed for health and well-being would be offered to him in Portland. So far, Father Bien has not responded.

The archbishop noted that the priest’s long absence without permission is a violation of church law.
“I’m as exasperated as you that Father Bien is not here to answer the very serious allegations he faces,” Archbishop Sample wrote. “I share your frustration that the nature of the investigation meant that the parish community and the Archdiocese had precious little information about its progress.”

While he is on administrative leave, Father Bien cannot function in a ministerial role, the archbishop wrote. Whether the priest returns to Oregon or not, a canonical proceeding will determine his status.
The archbishop said he will continue to provide updates to the parish and school community.