Monday, December 14, 2009

Euthanasia: the pro-life response?

Bishops concede 'compassion' as a reason not to prosecute in assisted suicide cases

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales want you to respond to the consultation by the Director of Public Prosecutions on assisted suicide. The DPP's proposed guidelines include a list of 'factors' for and against prosecuting those who help others commit suicide. The Bishops official response points out that being a close relative, contrary to the DPP, should NOT give you a right to immunity from prosecution if you persuade granny to end it all and help her on her way.

But their response (pdf, p 12) concedes that being motivated by 'compassion' is a factor against prosecution - along with more straightforward factors such as that of making only a small contribution to the death.

Is the fact a murderer genuinly beleives his victim is better off dead really a reason not to prosecute him?

If the murderer thought that the victim was better off dead because he was a member of the wrong religion or race this would be an aggravating factor in the crime under the present law of the UK. Yet if he thinks so because the victim is disabled, this apparently mitigates the offence, and may lead to a decision not to prosecute.

Again, the fact that a person is ill, in pain, or dying, gives those around him a duty to look after him. But according to the DPP, and even according to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, it gives everyone a ready-made excuse to help him on his way.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Issue of The Flock

Available here.

More on the 'Gay' Masses in Soho;

Book Reviews,

A Catechetical Summer School in Scotland.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Iveriegh replies

Austin Ivereigh has emailed a correction which we are happy to carry: he condemns Michael Moore's pro-abortion views. We are glad to hear it. It is after all entirely characteristic of The Guardian to tamper with people's words with a view to creating divisions in the Catholic world.

From Austin Ivereigh


This is the email I sent to John Smeaton of SPUC and asked him to publish it under his post. He has ignored me. Let’s see if you have the guts and integrity to publish it.


In my piece for the Guardian which John Smeaton refers to, I never call Moore a “committed Catholic”. Those words were added by the editor in the standfirst. What I say in the piece is that Moore goes to Mass each Sunday. When I questioned whether this was true in a post for America magazine (read it here ) I received an emphatic message from his office which led me to apologise for questioning the fact (my apology is here ). As for failing to mention that Leo XIII in the same year as Rerum Novarum spoke out against abortion, mea culpa– but I don’t see anything worth apologising for. I have a strong record of speaking out against abortion, and I deplore Moore’s failure to do so.

Austen Ivereigh

Journalist and Commentator

5 Cumberland St, London SW1V 4LS


Homeschooling consultation: last call

Everything you need is below, courtesy of Christian Concern for our Nation.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families published a consultation on home schooling. Please respond in order to preserve the freedoms of those parents who wish to educate their children at home. The closing date is Monday, 19th October 2009.

Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children receive a “suitable” education. The Government wants to usurp the role of parents and impose more governmental control, thus intruding upon families who choose to educate their children at home. Both the Bible and the law recognise it is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children, not that of the Government. Education is compulsory, but school is not. Parents can choose either to send their children to school, or to educate them at home. The Badman Report reviewed elective home education. In our opinion, the Badman Report makes disproportionate and unreasonable recommendations for compulsory registration and invasive monitoring of those families who choose to educate at home.

The point of most concern to all parents, especially Christian ones, is the proposal that those who choose to educate at home will have Government officials interview a child alone—without even a parent being present.

To read the Badman Report, the Consultation, or to respond on line, click here. Please note that the Government have produced a full response to the Badman Report very recently. To read the press release or the Government’s response, both dated 9th October 2009, clickhere.

To read our response click here.

To watch the YouTube Response by Education Otherwise to the Report on the Review of Elective Home Education, please click here.

Send your response headed “Home Education—Registration and Monitoring Proposals Consultation Response” by e-mail

There is no need to answer all of the questions in this Consultation unless you wish to do so; you could instead send two or three points by e-mail.

Please say that you reject all of Graham Badman’s recommendations and ask the Government to abandon them. We would also suggest you make some of the following points, in your own words:

Interviewing Children Alone

  • It is a violation of parental responsibility and rights to interview a child alone. Even the police do not do so. Under no circumstances should this proposal be allowed.

National Register

  • Annual registration of children will make no difference to safeguarding them. The current guidelines for local authorities already make it clear that safeguarding applies both to children who attend school and to those who are home-educated.

  • Compulsory annual registration and inspection visits by the Local Education Authority is not welcome, as in many cases it is precisely because of the education system having failed them, that parents have chosen to educate their children at home.

  • The suggestion of criminalising parents who educate at home for failure to register their children is totally inappropriate and disproportionate. It is the parent’s choice to send a child to school or to educate at home. It incorrectly implies that it is the Government who has the responsibility for education, not the parents.

  • No evidence has been provided of the need for a national register. The idea of registering children who are educated at home is akin to the Government imposing a licensing scheme on home education, when it is not the Government’s responsibility to do so.

Freedom of Choice

  • Christian parents may wish to educate their children according to Christian values and should be free to do so. Undergoing a state education may result in children learning more about other religions than about Christianity. The UK is subject to international legal obligations that require it to respect the right of parents to ensure their children’s education is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

  • The freedom to educate at home should not be taken from parents. The Government appears wrongly to be set on a course of eroding parents’ rights in this matter by compulsory means.

Misapplying Child Protection Systems to Home Education

  • The Badman Report and the recent DCSF press release of 9th October 2009, inappropriately apply child protection methodology to home education implying that home education can lead to child abuse. In doing this they have cast an unjustified and unfair shroud of suspicion over home educators.

  • Home educators have been tarred as "guilty" merely because they are home educators and are feeling the need to prove their "innocence" in relation to safeguarding issues. The DCSF needs to produce a measured response rather than allowing a small number of safeguarding cases to make “bad law”. Home educators have pointed out that the most dangerous and damaging abuse of children often takes place in children too young to go to school, where children have been withdrawn from school, or where they are already known to social services.

Expensive and Unnecessary

  • The proposals are both expensive and unnecessary, because there are already powers the local authority can use to make a School Attendance Order where it appears that a child is not receiving a “suitable” education.

Government Control

  • The Government should not seek to control or to intrude on family life.

  • The Badman Report states that, “Few would argue with the assertion that parents are the prime educator within or outside of a schooling system”. The Report then seeks totally to undermine that assertion in the recommendations made which will erode a parent’s freedom of choice over their own child’s education.

  • The proposals reverse the correct presumption of family freedom to educate one’s own children as a matter of parental duty rather than governmental duty. Thus, the Badman recommendations should be rejected as they are founded on this incorrect principle.

  • Children may be withdrawn from school because parents are dissatisfied with the school system for one reason or another and the last thing they would want is more Government intervention.

Unjustified Government Control

  • It is of real concern that the proposals include asking parents to provide the local authority with achievement and future attainment data. This question is indicative of the Government’s attempt to assert control over what the child is taught and is eroding the basic freedom of parents to educate their children at home.

  • The recent Government proposal to clarify what a “suitable” and “efficient” education means, threatens the freedom of parents to devise a tailored or flexible educational approach for their children in their own homes without one being dictated to them by the Government.

Procedural Concern

  • The Department for Children, Schools and Families (“DCSF”) published their Response to the Review of Elective Home Education in England on 9th October 2009, which creates uncertainty for respondents to this Consultation. Members of the public are bound to wonder whether their responses to the present Consultation are actually going to be taken into account in the formulation of policy on home education. The correct procedure should have been either to include the Government’s Response to the Badman Report in this Consultation, so that members of the public could comment on it, or to wait until all responses to the Consultation had been considered before producing a Response.

Please also click here to sign the petition to reject the Badman recommendations and retain the freedom for parents to educate at home.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Plenty of food for the World's Population: UN official

From Lifesitenews: The head of the United Nations' food agency has said that population
control is not necessary to combat food shortages. Dr. Jacques Diouf told a
synod of African bishops meeting in Rome this week that "On the earth,
there is a sufficient number of financial means, effective technologies,
natural and human resources to eliminate hunger in the world once and for
all." [, 13 October] Dr Diouf's position
is in marked contrast to the calls for population control frequently made
elsewhere in the UN system.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Rosary Crusade Saturday

The 25th Annual National Rosary Crusade of Reparation
Saturday 10th October 2009

“You have seen Hell where the Souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the World Devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say is done, many Souls will be saved and there will be peace”
Our Lady’s Words to Lucia 13th July 1917

Assemble by 1.45 pm outside Westminster Cathedral (Ambrosden Avenue)

Nearest Underground: Victoria

Procession to Brompton Oratory, Brompton Road, London SW7

Nearest Underground: South Kensington

Patron: His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Led by: Mgr. Emmanuel-Marie de St Jean, Abbot of Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse, France

Consecration to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary

Procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to Brompton Oratory praying the Rosary en- route Holy Mass is offered for benefactors every month

Scapular Enrolment

Solemn Pontifical Benediction

End about 5.00 pm (Anticipated Mass of Sunday at 6.00 pm)

Spiritual Director: the Revd Ronald Creighton-Jobe

For Information Contact:
Francis Carey (01494) 729223 – Mathias Menezes (020) 8764 0262
or by post 27 First Avenue, Amersham, Bucks., HP7 9BL


Monday, August 31, 2009

Dissident theologians and pro-abortion politicians

The Kennedy clan is the most prominent Catholic family in the highly dynastic world of US politics, and it is firmly pro-abortion. How did this come about? The promise of money and allies from the abortion lobby was underpinned by a group of dissident Catholic theologians who actually had a formal meeting in 1964 to coach family members in the sophistical distinctions they could make to rationalise their position. What they advocated appears to have been basically the familiar claim that a politician can be 'personally opposed' to abortion but as a matter of policy various considerations, from the need to maintain public order to the 'distress' of a woman who might be refused abortion, can justify voting to make abortion easier in every possible way - as if the state's duty to defend the lives of the innocent could be set aside so easily.

From Fr Z, with his emphases and comments in red (see his post):
The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book "The Birth of Bioethics" (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion. [Get that? There was a workshop for them to help them get around the teaching of the Church.]

Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that [AGAIN… pay attention…] "distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue." It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians "might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order."

One conclusion to draw from this is that these networks of dissent which this blog has sought to highlight have their importance and can do real damage. Simply by providing 'cover' for dissenting positions they can render inneffective the Church's opposition to some of the greatest evils of the day.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Archbishop Chaput responds to The Tablet

Business as usual in The Tablet last week - claiming that abortion is just 'Catholic' issue and that therefore Catholics should not let it get in the way when they decide what political policies to support (er, right!). This is a central tenat of the implicitly or explicitly pro-abortion dissident network of 'Catholic' organisations which feed off the Church and neutralise her public teaching. On this occasion The Tablet was addressing not a UK issue but an American one, so Archbishop Chaput pf Denver has posted a reply. (H-t Damian Thompson) In part:

Last week a British Catholic journal, in an editorial titled “US bishops must back Obama,” claimed that America’s bishops “have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue - making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion - rather than the more general principle of the common good.”
It went on to say that if US Catholic leaders would get over their parochial preoccupations, “they could play a central role in salvaging Mr Obama’s health-care programme.”
The editorial has value for several reasons. First, it proves once again that people don’t need to actually live in the United States to have unhelpful and badly informed opinions about our domestic issues. Second, some of the same pious voices that once criticized US Catholics for supporting a previous president now sound very much like acolytes of a new president. Third, abortion is not, and has never been, a “specifically Catholic issue,” and the editors know it. And fourth, the growing misuse of Catholic “common ground” and “common good” language in the current health-care debate can only stem from one of two sources: ignorance or cynicism.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Muslim question: segregation and secularisation

Those who strive to be Politically Correct have been tearing each other apart over the demands of Muslims to adhere to their own customs. Special sex-segregated sessions at public swimming pools with vastly stricter dress codes have been established by many left-wing local authorities, and have attracted criticism from other lefties. A Labour minister walked out of a Muslim wedding when he discovered men and women had separate rooms, and has been practically accused of racism by a Labour peer. Sharia courts have been recognised as legitimate forums for arbitration by the Government, to the dismay of those who think they are sexist.

The strategy of the Left in Britain has been to encourage massive immigration, without any effort at integration, for two reasons. First, immigrants tend to vote for the left, partly out of gratitude for the policy on immigration (which they naturally wish to see continued) and partly because of the economic circumstances in which they find themselves when they have settled in. Second, the whole process undermines the British and Christian values which the left hates. Even if the immigrants are Christians themselves, the social disruption large-scale immigration causes undermines the sense of solidarity around shared values and understandings which are appealed to by popular socially conservative politicians. Socialism, for example, has historically been opposed by appeals to family values, historic local loyalties, religious values, patriotism and the like, appeals which are most fruitful when made to a cohesive electorate with shared values and traditions. Such appeals are becoming harder and harder to make.

However, immigration from Muslim countries is beginning to create sizable subcultures with a degree of coherence of their own. The values and shared traditions of these groups are powerful and are even more radically opposed to the left's agenda than those of traditional British society. In some respects they are similar to Christian values, and in some respects they differ, and even oppose, Christian values. The big picture, however, is that they oppose the left's agenda of secularisation: of pushing religious values out of public view.

So Muslims have been allies with Christians in opposing the secularisation even of Christian festivals like Christmas: they know if secularism rules the day, their own aspirations will be crushed. But a traditional Christian state would not tolerate unlimited Muslim self-assertion - exemplified by the 'mega mosque' plan - any more than a secular one. So should Christians ally with secularists to oppose Muslim demands, or ally with Muslims to oppose secularist ones?

At this point Christians, and Catholics in particular, should be made to realise how they have been backed into a corner. Secularism and Islam are both self-confident creeds. 'Live and let live' is only a short-term compromise where they are concerned. Christians have allowed the process of secularisation to take place under the wholly mistaken impression that it creates a 'level playing field' for 'reasonable' religious views to co-exist. This is totally false: it cannot be true that Christianity should not have a leading role in public life, as the secularists argue, unless Christianity is false. To deal with the current situation Christians should take a leaf out of the book of both secularists and Muslims, and act as if they believe what they profess to believe is actually true: if it is true it has implications for how society should be run.

70% of the UK population professes some kind of Christian belief. Christian leaders should stop kidding them that their values can be preserved in a 'private sphere'. If they campaigned for Christian values to inform public policy at every level, there would be many practical compromises to make along the way, but at least they would be meeting their opponents in debate, and not simply hiding under the bedcovers.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Catholic political party?

It seems that following the demise of the Pro-Life Party as a political party, a new party was formed which would be specifically Catholic. The Pro-Life Party never won any seats but it got some good publicity for life issues at election times, and won a battle with the BBC over an election broadcast. To have the BBC accused of exercising 'censorship' in a court ruling was an important acheivment.

This new party, 'Resurgence', has been going since 2004; the fact that it's only now that a couple of blogs have put a notice about it is surprising. Their documents are a strange mixture of the sensible, the slightly obsessive and the plain barmy. In the last category is the suggestion that they will ban party whips in the House of Commons. First, how? Second, why? In the places where party discipline is weak the efforts of politicians to endear themselves to their voters lead not to high principles, but to pandering to special interests. Just look at the USA. And a party which does not aspire to exercise control over what its MPs do doesn't deserve anyone's vote.

Small parties can serve a useful purpose. They can draw attention to neglected issues; they can educate the public and build networks; they can act as think tanks and lobby groups. Resurgance needs to think about what it can acheive, in the short and medium term, and what it shouldn't be bothering about. Detailed and unimaginative plans for vehicle tax reform are beside the point. Giving substance to Catholic social teaching and the pro-life agenda, setting them in the context of the current legislative situation, and preparing good publicity materials on them would actually be useful. The people currently in this field are nearly all either Catholics pretending not to be (the pro-life groups, some conservative thinktanks) or non-Catholics pretending to be Catholics (groups like the dissident 'justice and peace' brigade listed on this blog). How about some real Catholics who admit they are Catholics?

And how about some public events, guys?

Their list of links exposes the narrowness of their network. They clearly haven't thought at all about the Catholic organisations who might be sympathetic to their cause. Instead they link to the non-Catholic extremist pro-life group UK Life League with its homepage covered in grisly pictures of dead babies (for a critique, see here). What does that say about Resurgence?

Thanks, Paul Kennedy, General Secretary, but you'll have to try again.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Marriage Care caught out again

Archbishop Nichols is the President of Marriage Care. When is he going to do something about it?

Shortly after Marriage Care's Director, Terry Prendergast, gave a talk to a dissident Catholic gay group about how homosexual unions should be recognised by the Church and allowed to adopt children, it has been revealed that Marriage Care's sex education materials are completely amoral.

No surprise there: we pointed this out long ago. But the Catholic Herald had run a story on it, which is good news.

Here it is, in part: The manual, called Foundations for a Good Life, is designed to help to teach pupils at Key Stage 3 and 4 - the last two years of secondary school - and college students about relationships, marriage, the family and sexuality.

The final two modules are aimed at young people over the age of 16 and deals with methods of contraception.

There is no discussion of the morality of the methods with the focus on function and effectiveness. The manual hails condoms as 98 per cent effective in avoiding pregnancy, and the Pill, the coil and hormonal injections as 99 per cent effective, but says that NFP methods are far less reliable.

"If you have a regular menstrual cycle, it [NFP] is 80 to 98 per cent effective, but can be lower if your cycle is irregular," the manual says. "NFP is not often suggested for teenagers who might not be considering committed relationships as yet." The manual was criticised by NFP teachers who insisted that their methods were nearly 100 per cent effective.

The point about the effectiveness of NFT is a side-issue, if a predictable one. The real issue here is that the Marriage Care course, just like the 'All That I Am' course from Birmingham and all the other sex education courses being pushed at children, makes a virtue of the fact that it gives information totally inappropriate to the teaching of children in a whole-class context, and does so without any ethical context. The decision about when and how to have sex is a matter of preserving sexual health - the Church's teaching doesn't come into it.

It is also interesting to note that the claims in these materials for the effectiveness of condoms derive from fantasy - or (in the technical jargon) from 'perfect use'. Use of condoms by teenagers is obviously far from perfect, and effectiveness rates are vastly lower.

...a major study on contraceptive failure reported that in single woman under 18 years of age, using the birth control pill to prevent pregnancy, the first year failure rate was 11%!3 The failure rate of condoms is also seriously higher in the adolescent age group. For example, an article in the journal, Family Planning Perspectives, quotes an annual Practical failure rate of 18.4 percent in teenage girls under 18 years of age who are using condoms to prevent pregnancy. According to these figures, over half of the teenage users will be pregnant within three years. The authors further qualify this failure rate by stating that "these rates are understated because of the substantial under-reporting of abortion among single women; if abortion reporting was complete, failure rates would be 1.4 times as high as they appear here..."4


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sex Ed video from the Archdiocese of Birmingham

Warning: contains nudity.

See Catholic and Loving It for more commentary. If you don't want your 9-year old to see material like this, don't send him or her to a Catholic school where Archbishop Nichols' ideas on sex education have influence.

Don't say you haven't been warned. Wake up!

Now the Government are promoting masturbation for teenagers - yes you read that right. How long before the Catholic Education Service either catches up with that one or realises that the attempt to produce a 'Catholic' sex education is a hopeless one? Here's an image from a leaflet produced by the NHS in Sheffield.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Overpopulation myth

The myth of overpopulation has been exploded so many times it is astonishing that you find people still banging on about it. Here's a nice video.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Bishops respond to Marriage Care on homosexual 'marriage'

The most complete report on the bishops' reaction to the speech of Terry Prendergast, the Chairman of Marriage Care, rubbishing Catholic teaching on marriage, appeared in The Tablet. It reveals that Archbishop Nichols is actually the President of Marriage Care, and that Prendergast is an adviser to the Marriage and Family Life Committee (chaired by Bishop Hine) of the Bishops' Conference. In short, he and his organisation are intimately connected with the ecclesiastical bureaucracy, making it particularly difficult for the bishops to distance themselves from even his more outrageous views.

The Tablet (25/7/09) “The Church’s vision is that the crucially important quality of stability in family life needs gender complementarity and role modelling too,” said the bishops. They recognised that circumstances may mean that some of these dimensions were unavailable, creating the need for additional support, but added that “it is inconsistent with Catholic teaching to plan or promote a notion of family from which they are deliberately excluded”.

Mr Prendergast is an adviser on the Bishops’ Marriage and Family Life Committee, chaired by Bishop John Hine, who acknowledged this week that there were difficulties over Mr Prendergast’s observations. The concerns of both Archbishop Nichols and Bishop Hine were raised with the board of directors of Marriage Care at a meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Prendergast said that he felt he had been able to explain his position to the bishops. “My impression was that they were making every effort to understand the position of Marriage Care,” he said.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Liturgical abuses: Pottery Chalices

Taking a (sadly) rare break from engaging in pointless arguments with Catholic Traditionalists, James Preece has put a very interesting post about the attitude of Bishop Terrence Drainey of Middlesbrough to pottery chalices (and ciboria, pattens etc.). As he points out, they are forbidden - illicit, ruled out, contrary to the laws of the Church, you get it? - by Redemptoris Sacramentum.

Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate.

[Redemptionis Sacramentum 117]

But here they are, being used by the Bishop himself. Note the clingfilm over them. A nice touch that. Presumably it is felt to be necessary because these ghastly objects are liable to fall over.
James points out that Bishop Drainey has actually criticised a parish for using them, but continues to use them himself. As Our Lord said,"The teachers of the law (the scribes) and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So, you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach" (Matt. 23:2-3)


Friday, July 17, 2009

Marriage Care head on homosexual unions

There follows a press release about a conference organised by Quest, a homosexual 'Catholic' group which was ejected from the Catholic Directory many years ago for rejecting the Church's teaching on sexuality (see our dossier). Terry Prendergast is the Chief Executive of Marriage Care, an formerly Catholic organisation listed at great length in the Catholic Directory (under its former name, 'Catholic Marriage Care': see our dossier).

On Prendergast's jaw-dropping claim that there is 'no evidence' that children do better with both a mother and a father see here for details of a study and here for Ed West.

Pendergast has spoken and written several times of his support for homosexual marriage and the like, but this speech is particularly clear. It remains to be seen if Archbishop Nichols will take the opportunity either to bring Marriage Care to heal or cut the Church's links with it. Listing in the Directory is a formal endorsement, at least in general terms, by the Bishops of England and Wales, as their own guidelines make clear. 'Criteria for entry into the Catholic Directory' is available from this page of their website, as a pdf (here). It tells us that 'ecclesiastical recognition is given to organisations so that they may be publicly known as both Catholic and of national significance'. It goes on to specify as the first criterion for entry:

'A fundamental commitment to the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, particularly as expressed by the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.'

This is explained in more detail: 'The word 'fundamental' relates to the key objectives of the organisation as formally written and as corporately pursued. It is tolerant of some variety of emphasis in expression and in operation, but not of deviation from ultimate loyalty to the Church, nationally or internationally.'

Head of Marriage Care exhorts Church to re-think the family.

Gay couples can lay equal claim to their married heterosexual counterparts when
bringing up children in stable relationships. That is one of the many
challenges laid down by Terry Prendergast, Chief Executive of Marriage Care, in
a speech to members of QUEST, the community of lesbian and gay Catholics at
their annual conference this weekend. His remarks come as a timely contribution
after many Catholic adoption agencies have, in recent months, had to agonise
about whether to fall into line with new legal arrangements which oblige such
bodies to make adoption available equally to same-sex as well as heterosexual

Mr Prendergast will address the gathering in Leicester with his wife, Kate, a
lecturer in social policy at Brunel University. The conference theme is:" We
Are Family: New Thinking for the Twenty First Century."

"Statistically, children do best in a family where the adult relationship is
steady, stable and loving, " he says. "Note that I stress adult, not married,
since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with
heterosexual couples, " he adds.

A dominant theme of his address centres on how the Church has often built up a
romantic image of a golden age of the nuclear family which, in truth, has not
really found expression in reality, often with unwelcome consequences for those
that "do not fit." These include single parent families, and also co-habiting
and same -sex families. He says that often "those individuals.want to live good
lives according to the precepts of the Gospels. They are an advert for the
Church, an advert that the Church often ignores, or consigns to the waste bin."

He says that in all relationships, the institutional aspects are less important
than the sacramental qualities, "the presence of God mediated through
commitment, consent and covenant. The move from the institutional to
companionship, choosing for love, has been marked, possibly more deeply, in
co-habiting and same-sex couples."

Inspired by Professor Margaret Farley's book, Just Love: A Framework for
Christian Ethics, Mr Prendergast lays out seven norms or criteria for
evaluating the richness of relationships and family:

Do no unjust harm,

Free consent,





Social justice.

Terry Prendergast is Chief Executive of Marriage Care, formerly CMAC, and has
been in that role since 2000. He was born in West Yorkshire and joined the
Montfort Fathers in 1967. He left the Montfortians in 1970, marrying Kate. He
trained as a social worker in 1975 and as a Psychotherapist in 1980, but has
been involved in management in the charitable sector since 1989. He has an MA
in Managing Change in Community, from Bradford University. He is concerned
about long-term relationships, their management and support, as well as the
development of their spiritual and sacramental aspects

For further comment, Terry Prendergast can be contacted on the following mobile
number: 07771 768631.

Kate Prendergast's address is entitled: "Chance, Choice and Caritas," and will
also feature as part of the conference proceedings . It is hoped a full
transcript of the paper will be available soon after the conference on the
Quest website at

Sit Stephen Wall, a former adviser to both Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and
Tony Blair, will be the after dinner speaker on the evening of Saturday July
18th. Sir Stephen has been a member of Quest since January 2008.

The 2009 Quest Conference will be the 27th in the organisation's history and
will take place between 6pm on Friday July 17th and 4pm Sunday 19th July at
John Foster Hall at the University of Leicester.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Government sexualisation initiative condemned

Fr Tim Finnigan has posted on the latest Government initiate: to promote masturbation by children. Yes, things have really got that bad. 'An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away', says the leaflet. This has now been roundly condemned by Peter Bradley, Deputy Director of Kidscape, a charity concerned with bullying, including the sexual bullying which, unsurprisingly, is on the rise in schools. His message:

In summary - parts of the leaflet provide young people with ridiculous, irresponsible advice that may lead young people on a potential sexual path of misery and harm. This is a frequent message adults tell us about on reflection in later, more mature years.

Here's part Fr Finnigan's post.

In January, Panorama ran a programme called "Kids behaving badly" on the subject of sexual assaults at school. In a Daily Mail report on the programme, Michelle Elliott of the charity Kidscape is quoted as saying:
Sexual bullying has become much more prevalent. On the Kidscape helpline we used to get maybe one or two calls a year. Now we are getting two or three a week. It’s probably the tip of the iceberg.
I wonder what Kidscape think of the latest initiative from NHS Sheffield which has prepared a leaflet for young people telling them that it is good to have an orgasm a day, and encouraging them to masturbate. (See the promotional article in "Children and Young People Now".) The booklet is, of course, strongly endorsed by the Family Planning Association and the Brook, whose spokesman extols the value of sex education before adolescence. (See also the report from the Christian Institute: Pupils told: regular sex is good for you.)

How long will it be before feminists, child safeguarding agencies and ordinary parents begin to cotton on to the clear and present danger that this kind of explicit sex education presents to their children?


Friday, June 19, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI, the Reformer

Comment: Luke Coppen makes a good case for Benedict XVI being what commentators said before his election, a man who cracks down on abuses. The Holy Father is doing it in different places and on different subject with seriousness, but no fanfare - sometimes even with a degree of necessary secrecy. As Coppen points out, this means that his reforming zeal has gone largely unnoticed; it also fails to fit the stereotype of a liberal reformer which many commentators assume is the only kind.

We should qualify what we said about the foccacia episode in the diocese of Linz. It is not that the Pope is doing nothing about Linz - as noted below he's just had an emergency meeting with the Austrian bishops to talk about it, and other matters. Nevertheless he doesn't feel able to do what many frustrated faithful Catholics assume he should do, which is simply remove the bishop, because of the nebulous concept of 'collegiality' which descended like a miasma onto the Church after Vatican II. However, even that needs to be qualified, since he has removed an African archbishop who tolerated concibinage among his clergy. Since this is one of the problems in Linz, is sauce for the African goose going to be sauce for the Austrian gander?

Coppen's article is worth reading in full but here's the key passage:

The Maciel affair: In May 2006 Pope Benedict took the highly unusual step of ordering one of the world's best-known priests to retire to a life of prayer and penance. His decision followed a Vatican investigation into allegations that Fr Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement, was a sexual abuser who had fathered at least one child.

Investigating America's seminaries: Not long after his election Benedict XVI oversaw an apostolic visitation of seminaries in the United States. The investigation was inspired by the clerical sexual abuse crisis of 2002 and covered all schools of theology as well as college-level seminaries, houses of formation, and academic institutions that form future priests.

Scrutinising American female religious orders: The Pope has also ordered a wide-ranging investigation of American women religious. The apostolic visitation of institutes of women religious in the United States, which is currently underway, covers approximately 400 apostolic religious institutes of women and approximately 59,000 women religious. It is likely to lead to a shake-up of American female religious life.

Deposing the leader of an African Church: Earlier this month Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo of Bangui, the most senior Catholic cleric in the Central African Republic (CAR). The resignation followed a visit to the CAR by a papal emissary, Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, in March. It is widely thought that the Pope requested the archbishop's resignation because he tolerated priests keeping mistresses.

Calling for a thorough accounting of abuse in Ireland: Also this month Pope Benedict called for a profound examination of the state of the Irish Church following a damning report into "endemic" abuse in schools run by religious orders.

Crisis talks with the Austrian bishops: And this week Pope Benedict held an emergency meeting with the leaders of the Austrian Church. The gathering followed the appointment and subsequent resignation of Gerhard Wagner as auxiliary Bishop of Linz and reports that priests in senior positions in the diocese live with mistresses. The Pope reminded the bishops of "the urgency of going deeper in the faith and the integral fidelity to the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Church" - a coded message that the Austrian Church is in serious need of reform.

These events together show the determination with which Pope Benedict is confronting the gravest scandals in the Church today. They have all had considerable publicity, but nevertheless have not created the perception that Benedict XVI is a bold reformist pope.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This has rendered Damian Thompson speechless and it has had the same effect on us. But focaccia was used as the host at a Mass in Linz, Austria, and under the appearance of focaccia the Blessed Sacrament was paraded around in this 'monstrance'. That's assuming focaccia is valid matter, which it probably is; it is certainly illicit.

Hat-tip to Cathcon.

As the little film indicates, this is a scandal with global implications. The Pope has done nothing. There is no reason to imagine, things being as they are, that the Pope will do anything. This fact is the backdrop to the problems of the clerical abuse of power faithful Catholics face all over the world.


Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen