Saturday, December 31, 2016

Personal New Year's Message

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11

Dear friends,

Another year has passed. Usually, during the last days of every year, most people contemplate what happened in the past year and try to envision and plan their next steps. Last year, in my New Year's message, I wrote that "2015 was a year filled with fear and uncertainty." When I composed last year's message, it was a few weeks after Brussels was locked down because of fears of a terrorist attack. Unfortunately, this became a reality when a double bomb attack took place Brussels on the 22nd of March, followed by other terrorist attacks in Nice and more recently in Berlin. Moreover, the humanitarian tragedies that came as a result of conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East, were also prevalent this year and they are expected to continue to shock and cause us distress in 2017. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Even after different manipulative efforts, the Parliamentary Assembly says a clear NO to surrogacy

On Tuesday the 11th of October, the last debates and votes on a controversial recommendation on surrogacy took place in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). This recommendation was based on a rejected resolution that asked for a legal framework for the so-called “not-for profit surrogacy”. Interestingly, the first report was rejected in its entirety by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development (SOC) of PACE last March, forcing the rapporteur to draft another report. However, the resolution of the new report was also rejected in a Committee meeting last September. Strangely enough, a recommendation that was based on the rejected resolution was adopted. This was a mistaken decision. This became evident by the fact that before the plenary debate, the SOC voted with a large majority two amendments (24 against 16 for the first amendment and 27 against 16 for the second) to this controversial recommendation that ask for a complete European ban on surrogacy. The rejections of both the first report as well as the resolution of the second report and the clear amendments on the controversial recommendation clearly showed what the majority of the SOC does NOT want: to create a legal framework on surrogacy! The SOC finally asked to have a European ban on surrogacy! This article tells about what has happened in order to show the manipulative tactics that have been used to try to get a very controversial report being passed. Fortunately, they have not succeeded

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

THE PRO-ABORTION LOBBY SHOWS ITS TRUE FACE But... what should be our answer?

The issue of abortion came again in the forefront recently. In the Polish Parliament, there was a debate on a Bill for a stricter ban on abortion. Of course, the pro-abortionists used this opportunity to criticize this effort and to frame the people who want to protect the life of the unborn. Interestingly, they are also openly proclaiming that abortion is an EU competence neglecting the legal limitations of the EU. One week before, another meeting was organized in the European Parliament by the S&D Group where they discussed about what to do with doctors or midwifes who can not perform abortions because of their conscience. The freedom to choose does not seem to be valid for doctors with another worldview. 

That's why they are pushing them to act against their conscience. The pro-abortionists or the so-called, "freedom to choose" movement showed its real face going against freedom and against democratic restraints. They believe that other opinions or views should be restrained legally and people should be pushed to act against their conscience even if other solutions are possible. Why? Because the pro-abortionists do not like to have space for people with another worldview. Therefore I would propose them to change the latest logo of the pro-abortionists movements with the title "All of Us" into "All for us" which probably would fit much better with their aims. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

10th EU Anti Trafficking Day. A Call for Action

The 18th of October is the 10th EU Anti Trafficking day. This day is an opportunity to reflect on our anti-trafficking policies and a call for more targeted action. Last Tuesday, as General Secretary of the European Parliament Working Group on Human Dignity, I was involved in organizing an event on Human Dignity with the title "Combating Human Trafficking”. It was a very fruitful meeting that showed that there is substantial interest across political groups in the European Parliament on this issue. The event was hosted by MEPs Bastiaan Belder (ECR, Chair of the Steering Committe of the Working Group) and Diane Dodds (NA). Keynote speakers were: Lord Maurice Morrow (Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly) who tabled the latest law on prostitution in Northern Ireland based on criminalizing the client, Maria Vassiliadou, (EU anti-trafficking coordinator) and Frits Rouvoet (Director of Brightfame Foundation) who helps prostitutes in Amsterdam to leave prostitution. Besides, other MEPs of the working group contributed actively to this meeting. All participants agreed that efforts must be stepped up on a national and EU - level in order to stop this modern slavery. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Turkish invasion in Syria is a serious threat for the security in Europe

ECPM MEP Branislav Skripek (ECR) organized a press conference yesterday in the European Parliament that focused on developments in Syria after the Turkish invasion. Speakers besides Mr. Skripek were: Saleh Muslim vice-president from the Kurdish Party in Syria and David Vergili from the European Syriac Union. You can read the full press release here.





Thursday, June 23, 2016

Refugees deserve Human Dignity

Yesterday, as Secretary General of the European Parliament Working Group on Human Dignity, I helped to organize (together with the offices of MEPs Bas Belder and Luigi Morgano) and participated in an event of the Working Group with the title "Refugees and Human Dignity". It was a very successful event  that offered to all participants new insights on the situation of refugees in Europe. Seven Members of the European Parliament as well as representatives of different NGOs, Parliamentarian assistants and experts participated to this meeting. You can read below the official press release that was issued after the event.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Large international gathering to unite for Christian values and Ukraine

More than 550 participants joined the "international forum on Cooperation of politicans and civil society to protect Christian values”
 
Last week, After the 5th Ukrainian Prayer Breakfast, around 550 politicians, representatives of NGOs, and churches gathered together around the international forum on the "Cooperation of Politicians and Civil Society in the Promotion of Christian Values on the International Arena". The forum was organised by ECPM and the factional Parliamentary Group "for spirituality, morality and health for the Ukraine". Distinguished speakers and experts from all over the world, as well as local contributors discussed on the issue of the Promotion of Christian Values and the ways the collaboration between decision makers, academics and civil society can become more effective. On the final day of the conference, participants signed the "Declaration on the Establishment of a "European Christian Coalition". 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Dignity or Danger?

The issue of euthanasia is becoming more and more relevant in Europe today. As Secretary General of the Working Group for Human Dignity, on behalf of their members, I organized an event last month where all participants noted that the elderly and terminally ill should be treated with respect and human dignity. Unfortunately, in Belgium, euthanasia was also seen as a part of palliative care, focusing on the so-called "dignity to die". Also the country where I come from, the Netherlands, has become a "champion" for euthanasia, becoming the first country that legalized euthanasia. This article, which was written with the kind help of the De Nederlandse Patiëntenverening, the Italian Matchman News and my assistant Lefteris Kaloterakis, shows how this issue has evolved in the public discourse and how the practice of euthanasia threatens the life and human dignity of thousands of my compatriots.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A fruitful meeting with Italian students


On the 26th of April, I had the privilege to meet in the European Parliament in Brussels, students from the European University of Rome. The European University of Rome is a private, legally recognized, Catholic University which is part of a big network of universities widespread in many countries throughout the world. The University’s mission is to form in its students independent personalities that will be driven by Christian principles. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Elderly and Palliative Care in Europe

Last Wednesday, I participated in an event organised by the European Parliament Working Group on Human Dignity with the title "Elderly and Palliative Care", a Group in which I am honored to serve as a Secretary General. It was a very substantive and fruitful meeting. I am confident that the work of the Working Group will continue in a very successful manner. After the meeting, the following press release was issued.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Personal Message: Hope in the midst of despair

On the 22nd of March two bombs exploded at Zaventem Brussels National Airport and one bomb at the Maalbeek station. At this moment, more than 30 people have been killed and many are wounded. The terrible images of the blasts, the images of people running for their lives as well as terrifying eye witness accounts are all imprinted on our minds. 

My prayers and thoughts are with the families of the people killed in the explosions and with the wounded. But also with the people who were not wounded but are in a shock. May God’s healing hand be on them. In the European Parliament, people were crying. Some of them usually take the underground to Maalbeek which is the underground station closest to the Parliament. There was a pervasive feeling of anger and fear. People were asking questions: “Why did this happen?” and “why can people be so evil to each other?”

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Health and Social Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe says "NO" to surrogacy


On the 15th of March, a large demonstration took place in Paris against surrogacy. The protests took place at the entrance of the building where the Health and Social Affairs Committee (SOC) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) convened to discuss a controversial report on surrogacy. A crowd of a few hundreds of people had gathered outside the building where the meeting was taking place in Paris. Later, a few meters away, feminists from the feminist group Collectif pour le Respect de la Personne (CORP) also organized a demonstration that called the Council of Europe to say NO to all forms of surrogacy and to respect the rights of women and children. Lesbians carried a banner with the slogan “no surrogacy for heterosexuals, nor for homosexuals”.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New evidence of the conflict of interest of the rapporteur of the PACE report in surrogacy

Petra De Sutter collaborates directly with a commercial surrogacy clinic in India

On the 15th of March, the Social Affairs and Health Committee (SOC) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will convene again to vote and discuss on the Report: “Human rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy”. As we saw in a previous post on my blog, the author of this report, Mrs Petra De Sutter, a Belgian parliamentarian and the head of the Department for Reproductive Medicine at the University Hospital of Ghent (a country where surrogacy is legal) is campaigning for creating a legal framework on surrogacy for surrogacy activities she is conducting herself. Despite the fact that these facts have long ago been made public, Mrs De Sutter still remains the rapporteur for this report as an attempt to have a secret vote on the suspicion of conflict of interest failed to gather the necessary majority at SOC. 

New information that was revealed in a Huffington post published article, showed that the conflict of interest is even worse. On the website of  “Seeds of Innocence”, a clinic in India that practices commercial surrogacy (which is allowed in India), openly boasts about its collaboration with De Sutter. Mrs De Sutter was also present in the inauguration of this clinic where a memorandum of cooperation was signed with the University of Ghent. This newly revealed information confirms our earlier suspicions and raises serious doubts on Mrs De Sutter’s ability to act as an impartial rapporteur and the ethical integrity of the Council of Europe is more and more on stake.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Should surrogacy be banned?

A short review of the ethical and human rights issues related to surrogacy

Introduction 

On the 2nd and the 3rd of May the organization ‘Men having Babies’ (MHB) organized a controversial meeting in Brussels. MHB is an LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual and Intersex) friendly organization that wants to enable gay couples to have children. Of course this is naturally impossible, so they use the services of surrogate mothers who carry the child of one of the men. Simply by browsing on their website you can see that for a bit more than 100000 US dollars you can proceed with 'obtaining' your own child. Usually these processes take place in developing countries like India.


Lately, many groups and movements (especially those that are LGBTI related) are pushing for a legal framework that allows and facilitates surrogacy. For example, the rapporteur on a report on surrogacy by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE); someone who supposedly has to investigate the ethical and human rights issues related to surrogacy, is a transgender person who is involved in cross-border surrogacy in Belgium and is currently involved in commercial surrogacy in India.[1]

In the meantime, the majority of the European Parliament condemns all forms of surrogacy in two reports on human rights. Christian politicians do agree to ban commercial surrogacy, but are divided on the issue of 'altruistic' surrogacy (where the mother agrees to gestate a child for intended parents without being compensated monetarily in any way).


 Read here the article

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill call for the protection of the right to life


The Heads of the Catholic Church and of the Russian Orthodox church met in Cuba and in a 30-point declaration reaffirmed their commitment to Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

The declaration makes direct reference among others to three areas of mutual concern. First, it expresses concern about “threats to the inalienable right to life, to the family, to the marriage”. They also condemn the spread of euthanasia practices that cause people to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general. Finally, they proclaim their opposition to certain aspects of the use of Biomedical reproduction technology which is presented on a manipulation of human life.

Bellow you can see the full article written by the "Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues"

Thursday, February 4, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Overwheling majority in the European Parliament voted for protection of religious minorities against the genocide of Daesh (ISIS)


On Thursday 4 February 2016, the European Parliament adopted the Resolution on systematic mass murder by ISIS condemning the ongoing atrocities in the Middle East as genocide. It stresses that the “so-called ‘ISIS/Da’esh’ commits genocide against Christians and Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities.” By unequivocally recognizing the systematic persecution as genocide, the European Parliament urges the international community to act to stop the killing.

The resolution “urges the members of the UN Security Council to support a referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court in order to investigate violations committed in Iraq and Syria by the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’ against Christians, Yazidis and religious and ethnic minorities”.
”Determined action at the UN on this genocide is long overdue. We hope that the clear language that members from all political groups agreed upon in this resolution will accelerate these important next steps and help to save lives.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly condemned the criminal acts of DAESH as genocide and calls for action

What will the EU do? Important vote tomorrow in the European Parliament

 

Last week, in a resolution adopted at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe the abhorrent acts perpetrated by the Islamic State in Syria were strongly condemned and characterized as genocide and Member States were called to act in order to prevent such acts. 

Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote a similar resolution and hopefully will do the same. Religious minorities in the Middle East are in serious peril. For example, a hearing that was organised last week in the European Parliament showed that Christians are one of the primary targets of ISIS and that there are serious threats to their freedom and well-being around the world. Therefore, the fight against religious persecution should become one of EUs top priorities.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Parents have the right to raise their children according to their religious beliefs

A Hearing in the Council of Europe underlines the importance of parental rights in Education


Last Tuesday I had the privilege to participate in a roundtable discussion organised by ECPM and the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) with the title: “The Rights of the Parents and Children belonging to Religious Minorities”. This Hearing was organised on the occasion of the discussion in the Council of Europe of a motion for a resolution on the "Protection of the rights of parents and children belonging to religious minorities". Other participants were MPs Ben-Oni Ardelean, Valeriu Ghilețchi, Jeffrey Donaldson, Titus Corlețean, Ronan Mullen and Grégor Puppinck. Bellow you can find the full text of my contribution. I would like to especially thank Jett Weigand-Timmer for the background information she provided.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Written declaration on "dignity to die" collapsed because of lack of support

"Last week, a written declaration that aimed to focus on the "dignity to die" (which is a term used mostly to promote assisted suicide) considerably failed to get the needed majority at the European Parliament. While they need a majority for this declaration, they only got 95 out of 751 votes. It is encouraging to see that because of a total lack of support, this initiative collapsed. Read more here in the press release of  the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE).

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Battle against Surrogacy continues in the New Year

Possible conflict of interest of the Rapporteur on Surrogacy in the Council of Europe; Majority of the European Parliament condemns the practice of Surrogacy 

This January will be a month of significant developments in the field of Surrogacy centred around the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The Health and Social Affairs Committee of PACE is currently debating a report on “Human Rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy”

The report was scheduled to be discussed in committee last November. However, the debate was postponed since serious questions were raised by Committee Members about the possible conflict of interests which could involve the Rapporteur, Dr De Sutter, due to her professional activity as head of the Department for Reproductive Medicine at the University Hospital of Ghent. 

This matter will be discussed again in the next meeting of the Health and Social Affairs Committee that will take place during the next PACE Session in Strasbourg (25-29 January). My hope is that the PACE lawmakers will take into account the huge ethical implications of both commercial and non – commercial surrogacy in line with the recently adopted Human Rights report in the European Parliament where all forms of surrogacy is condemned.