Biographies of Selected Speakers at the World Congress of Families, Sydney 2013

Sydney, May 15-18, 2013

Here’s a preview of some of the Congress speakers who’ll be speaking to the conference theme of “Happy Families, Healthy Economy” in the coming days.

The Hon. John Anderson, AO 

Anderson will be speaking on the causes and costs of family breakdown. Decorated in the way of most Australian ex-politicians—the AO equals Order of Australia—Anderson was a consistent supporter of interventions that undermined both the secular state and women’s reproductive freedom during his six years as deputy prime minister. John’s “passion” for his Christian faith and Christian mission motivates him to act as patron, alongside George Pell, to WCF Sydney. He also supports the work of the Scripture Union, which deploys chaplains and religious instructors to public primary and secondary schools at taxpayer expense in order to fulfill their organizational aim of “mak[ing] God’s Good News known to children [and] young people” so “they may come to personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ … and become committed church members.” Casting his evangelical net beyond Australia’s shores, Anderson also chairs the Overseas Council Australia, which invests in strategic evangelical Bible colleges throughout the developing world.

Lynne Anderson 

Her talk, “Empower your marriage with natural family planning,” appears to be one of the offerings Mrs. Fowler had in mind when scripting her video plea to Australian mums and pops to attend the congress because there would be “practical ‘tips’ for “building a really strong marriage.”

Anderson is a member of the Education Committee of the Ovulation Method Research & Reference Centre of Australia (OMR&RCA), the top body for the training and accreditation of Billings Ovulation Method™ teachers. She has taught a class on Christian sexuality in the archdiocese of Melbourne for 25 years, and is chair of the OMR&RCA Christian Sexuality Committee.

Ignacio Arsuaga

Ignacio “Nacho” Arsuaga is the president of HazteOír, a Spanish group formed in 2001 to oppose abortion, defend a particular vision of the family and work for a conservative vision of religious liberty. HazteOir is against abortion in all cases, including rape, which it depicts as mainly a ploy used by feminists to advance their political agenda or an excuse used by women to get around abortion restrictions. He has pledged his organization’s intent to defend marriage from “groups perfectly organized to destroy the institution,” i.e., organizations working for marriage equality.

Maria del Pilar Calva Mercado

A medical doctor and bioethicist, Calva Mercado teaches at the Pontifical University of Mexico and the University of Dallas, a Catholic institution. A trained Natural Family Planning instructor, she was a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life (2002-2012). Calva Mercado purports that “science leads us to affirm that if [the embryo] was not human from conception, the beginning of its individual existence, it will never be human.” She uses this stance to justify her rejection of abortion, in vitro fertilization and emergency contraception.

Michael Cook

Cook’s biography says he likes bad puns, bushwalking and black coffee. He is the longtime editor of BioEdge, a newsletter about bioethics. He also writes a bioethics column for Australasian Science despite having no qualifications in the area, but rather a “PhD on an obscure corner of Australian literature.” Some sources list the “Australian journalist” Cook as a member of Opus Dei.

Karl Faase

Faase will moderate a Q & A panel on “Society’s role in building marriage and family life.” The Senior Pastor at Gymea Baptist Church, he is best known as an Australian Christian radio and television presenter and the co-founder and past executive director of the Australian Arrow Leadership Development Program. Based on the US program of the same name, both are based on the 1974 Christian Lausanne Covenant. Future Australian Christian leaders who attend Arrow agree with the Lausanne statement of faith. The statement proclaims Christ’s commission “to all mankind [sic]” and affirms the resolve of signatories to “make disciples of every nation.”

Ewa Kowalewska

Former President for the Forum of Polish Women and current head of Human Life International Europe, Ewa Kowalewska has fashioned a long career of making disturbing claims regarding prochoice activities and legally procured abortions. In 2007, after a woman who had been denied an abortion in Poland sought and won damages against the Polish government in the European Court of Human Rights, Kowalewska referred to the decision as “the greatest legal curiosum in court history of the European Council.” In a report compiled for HLI on abortion in Russia, Kowalewska made grotesque accusations about a provider from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, claiming that “doctors are paid off for misdiagnosing the miscarriage; nurses are bribed to falsify prenatal exams and convince mothers their child is either dead or handicapped.”

Steve Mosher

Since 1989, Steve Mosher has been the president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), a social think-tank whose academic merit can be judged by its creator, the anti-Semitic and homophobic founder of Human Life International, Fr. Paul Marx. While PRI’s alleged purpose is to “objectively present the truth about population-related issues,” Mosher has depicted those involved with international family planning as “killing machines.” He characterized the central cause of PRI as a series of “battles against the International Planned Parenthood Federation,” and has referred to the Global Fund for AIDS as the “Global Fund for Abortion, Prostitution and the Homosexual Agenda.” Though frequently billed as an anthropologist, a sociologist and an “expert,” Mosher’s bio fails to mention him holding a doctorate in any subject. He was expelled from a Stanford University PhD program after violating the anonymity of research subjects in China.

Duke Paul of Oldenberg

Duke Paul of Oldenberg is descended from German royalty and a member of the German TFP (Tradition, Family, Property)—an ultraconservative Catholic group that harkens back to medieval chivalry but has a vocal and unyielding opposition to abortion and LGBT rights. He is also a member of the Pro-Europa Christiana Federation, a Brussels-based antichoice group that disagrees with EU legislation such as the Charter of Fundamental rights, which it likens to a “denial of the nation’s Christian heritage as a source of inspiration for legislation.”

Patrick Parkinson 

Parkinson is a professor of law at the University of Sydney but somewhat bewilderingly will deliver a keynote on the “economic rationale for governments to invest in family stability.” The big question is whether the spat between him and Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, will be on display. Parkinson initially assisted the Catholic hierarchy in an investigation of the clergy sex abuse scandal. However, when Pell boasted of Parkinson’s approval, Parkinson publicly withdrew his support for the “Towards Healing” program. On ABC TV’s “Lateline” program, Parkinson explained his response was a matter of integrity because he believed “there was a gap between [the bishops’] rhetoric and actions” and that his own report into the matter had been “suppressed.” Most explosively, he claimed that the “cover-up of these matters continues to the present and people at the highest levels of the Catholic church nationally have been involved in that cover up.”

Cardinal George Pell

The only cardinal in Australia, Cardinal George Pell is the highest-ranking member of the country’s hierarchy. He has made controversial statements about the clergy sex abuse crisis, which he claims is not the biggest problem the church faces today, among them that he is the victim of a media “smear” campaign. Pell denied that the church has moved known abusers or otherwise responded inadequately to accusations. He has also been criticized for not acting as more of an ally to Bishop Bill Morris of Toowoomba, who was relieved of his duties following a Vatican intervention over his comments supporting women’s ordination. Pell has been vocal about his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.

Gregor Puppinck

The Director General of the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), Puppinck is a lawyer who has specialized in international and European law. The ECLJ concentrates on the European Court of Human Rights, where it works to oppose recognition of LGBT and reproductive rights, promotes an expansive definition of conscientious objection and addresses grievances regarding perceived and actual religious discrimination.

Fr. Jarosław Szymczak

A Polish priest with a doctorate in theology with a focus on marriage and the family, Fr. Szymczak is a member of the Faculty for Studies on the Family, a lecturer at Cardinal Stefan Wyszinski University, a marriage counselor and the chaplain for gynecologists from the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors. He lectures at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction. He is serving as the chaplain at the 2013 World Congress of Families.

Francisco Tatad

Tatad is a journalist, member of the ultraconservative Catholic group Opus Dei and the former Majority Leader in the Philippines Senate. He frequently spoke out against the Reproductive Health Bill, legislation to make contraception available to the poor that was passed in December 2012 after bitter opposition from the bishops and conservative Catholics. Tatad deemed the RH Bill “anti-Catholic,” “religious persecution pure and simple” because taxpayer support of contraception “savages an important doctrine of their faith.” He has a longstanding record of opposing family planning, abortion and LGBT rights as well as supporting a traditional view of the family. At one stage, he proposed a law that would require parliamentarians to resign if they were found to have a mistress. His wife, Fenny Tatad, is the executive director of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Bishops-Legislators Caucus.

For more on Catholics for Choice’s opposition work, please read Twenty Years of Taking Down the Opposition (page 21).

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