Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rights of the Dying Disabled

Background briefing. Most of us will be disabled one day - prior to death - and this is an important development.

From LifeSite News: The newly approved United Nations 'Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities' which has been adopted by the General Assembly forbids nations which sign on to it from denying 'food and fluids' to disabled persons.

Article 25 of the Convention, which deals with health, directs (in sub-section f) nations to 'Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.'

Commenting on the development, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition told that 'To cause death by dehydration by denying food and fluids to a person based on their disability or cognitive ability, such as Terri Schiavo, is to kill them by euthanasia.'

In March 2005 Schivo died of dehydration and starvation after being intentionally denied food and fluids for 13 days. Autopsy results revealed she could have lived at least another ten years if she had continued to receive food and fluids.

Schadenberg said the section was 'the most important' of the Convention 'because if it is recognized it will act by protecting people with disabilities, who are not otherwise dying, from being killed by dehydration.' Schadenberg noted that such deaths are a form of euthanasia.

'To kill a person by dehydration is the ultimate affront to the equality and dignity of the human person who is so devalued that they are even denied the most basic necessity, food and fluid,' he said.

'Quality of life concerns can never justify euthanasia of persons with disabilities, whether by action or omission,' he explained. 'These deaths are often motivated by eugenic and economic considerations and they are sold to the general public based on a philosophy of end-of-life choice.'

Concluding, Schadenberg said, 'Article 25 (f) must be heeded by all governments as a way of ensuring true equality and freedom for all people with disabilities, especially the cognitively disabled.' See the full Convention online at [LifeSiteNews]


Friday, December 29, 2006

Stepney Graveyard Bulldozed by Archdiocese of Westminster

Background briefing. This unedifying story has been reported in the Catholic press (including The Tablet) and in the secular press, including the Evening Standard and Private Eye.

Summary of Private Eye story: the Catholic Parish of St Mary and St Michael, Commercial Road (Stepney), in he Archdiocese of Westminster, had a graveyard given to it in 1851. The Archdiocese has appropriated this land for part of a new school, despite vehement protests from parishoners and others. The parish priest, Fr Francis van Son, tried to prevent the builders coming onto the site, and was arrested for aggravated trespass; the police later recognised that this was wrongful arrest, as he had the right to be there.

Parishoners formed a limited company to fight the Archdiocese in court, and lost in the High Court. (English law, unlike canon law, regards the property of parishes as being at the disposal of dioceses.) The Archdiocese threatened to pursue them personally for its legal costs, and forced them to sign a 'gagging order'. Fr van Son has been forced to retire.

Readers may remember the recent case of the Diocese of Lancaster, whose appropriations of parish funds - legal under British accounting rules, but contrary to Church law - has led the Apostolic Nuncio to demand a strict accounting from every diocese in England and Wales. See here for the Catholic World Report on that story, and here for Bishop O'Donoghue's pastoral letter on the subject; see here for some commentary.
Hat-tip to Domenico Bettinelli.


UN Gives Accreditation to Pro-Paedophilia NGO

Update: it has been confirmed that the UK was among the countries voting in favour of these accreditations. (Hat-tip to C-Fam).

Background briefing.
The normalisation of paedophilia is is the next item on the agenda for radical homosexual groups: be warned.

From the 'Friday Fax' (C-Fam):Radical Homosexual Groups Approved by UN with Bush Support, by Bradford Short

The U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) recently granted official status to three gay-rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs): the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD) and the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA). ECOSOC granted the consultative status to the gay-rights NGOs despite the fact that the UNCommittee on Non-Governmental Organizations recommended against it, and the fact that one of the groups had clear links to pro-pedophilia organizations in the past.

ILGA is probably the most infamous of the groups granted ECOSOC consultative status last week. A “global federation of organizations and individuals seeking to” advance gay rights, ILGA, was repeatedly rejected forofficial UN status many times in the past several years for its connection to a child-sex group called the the North American Man/Boy Love Association
(NAMBLA). NAMBLA is probably the leading pro-pedophilia group in the United States. ILGA is said to have expelled NAMBLA but, according to UN delegations, refused to condemn adult-child sex. ILGA said “these groups had joined ILGA at an earlier stage of ILGA’s development, at a time when ILGA did not have in place administrative procedures to scrutinize the constitutions and policies of groups seeking membership.” This claim, at least until last week, gave UN delegations pause since the name "North American Man Boy Love Association makes it fairly clear the group promotes homosexual sex between men and children.

Another approved group, the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians considers itself to be an organization that takes a “conservative” approach to gay-rights advocacy in Denmark. That is, its support for gay “marriage,” for gay adoption, and for laws that would force churches to bless gay unions, all are “conservative” endeavors because in doing these things Danish homosexuals do not “want to change the world,” they “just want to be in
it on equal terms.” The Association does understand, however, the concerns of “subversive” Danish homosexuals, who want to prevent the “extensive heterofication of [Danish] society” that they say is happening because gays are pursuing “conservative” ends, such as marriage. In this way does the Association understand itself as a moderate gay-rights group.

LSVD includes member divisions such as “LSVD fresh,” which is supposed to be a support group “for youngsters” who are gay.

Twenty-three nations on the Council voted for the groups’ accreditation, while sixteen voted against it, and ten abstained. Among those voting in favor of the gay-rights groups was the United States, which has recently been voting in favor of groups that advance the homosexual agenda at the UN. One UN permanent representative told the Friday Fax that, “while the Bush
Administration has been solid on life issues, it seems irrational to me that they insist on favoring gay groups that clearly seek to undermine marriage and the family.”

See UN report here.


Babies saved in Scotland

Background briefing. The initiative of the late Cardinal Winning of Glasgow (who died in 2001; picture left) to provide support for women with 'crisis pregnancies' is nearly ten years old. The support is provided by the Sisters for the Gospel of Life, and has now helped 2,102 mothers, saving many babies from abortion.

See here for a very positive article in the Scotsman; here for the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative.

Hat-tip to the Hermeneutic of Continuity.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Mystery of Christmas

After the insults heaped on Our Lady by the film 'The Nativity Story', we came across this description of the Birth of the Saviour in Abbot Gueranger's 'The Liturgical Year', in the section on Midnight Mass:

'Midnight comes. The Holy Virgin has been longing for this happy moment. Her heart is suddenly overwhelmed with a delight which is new even to her. She falls into an ecstasy of love. As her Child will one day, by His almighty power, rise through the unmoved barrier of His Sepulchre; so now, as a sunbeam gleaming through purest crystal, He is born, and lies on the ground before her. With arms outstretched to embrace her, and smiling upon her: this is her first sight of her Son, who is also the Son of the Eternal Father! She adores - takes Him into her arms - presses Him to her heart - swathes His infant limbs - and lays Him down in the manger.'

A Happy and Holy Christmas to all!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dorries' Termination of Pregnancy Bill

Background briefing: If Dorries gets the opportunity to present her flawed bill again, we will need to lobby MPs.

Dorries vows to try again. From SPUC: British MP has said that she plans to renew her call to reduce the time limit for abortions. Nadine Dorries, a Conservative, is to publish a new version of her bill which seeks to reduce the timescale from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. She said that her especial aim was to reduce the number of "barbaric" abortions involving lethal injections. The bill also calls for a one-week "cooling off" period between a request for am abortion and it being performed to allow time for counselling.

Previous update: the earlier bill was defeated. From SPUC: Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP, presented a 10-minute rule bill today in the House of Commons to amend the law on abortion. The bill, which under Commons procedure stood no chance of becoming law, was defeated by 187 votes to 108. Mrs Dorries said her bill aimed to lower the time limit for abortion from 24 to 21 weeks - but it would not have affected the upper limit for disabled babies and some others, which is birth. Most late abortions are on grounds of disability. The bill proposed a 10 day "cooling off" period, following which women would be fast-tracked for abortion. Ms Dorries affirms that she is in favour of the so-called woman's right to choose on abortion. [SPUC]

Original appeal from SPUC. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) is seriously concerned about a proposed new abortion bill announced by Mrs Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP.

Tomorrow mid-afternoon (Tuesday 31st October) Mrs Dorries will introduce a 10 Minute Rule Bill to amend the Abortion Act. This is a device to give the subject public attention.

1. Mrs Dorries misleadingly claims to be seeking a reduction in the upper time limit for abortion "from 24 to 21 weeks".

The abortion law was changed by Parliament in 1990 to permit abortion up to birth of disabled babies and for some other babies. Mrs Dorries's bill will mean abandoning disabled babies, who will still be allowed to be killed up to birth if her bill is passed. The 24 week limit which appears
in the Abortion Act only applies to abortions done, effectively, on social grounds.

2. Mrs Dorries wants to fast-track all abortions - even those over 21 weeks.

In a letter to MPs (18th October 2006), she says that her "bill will call for...a swifter accelerated process between the final consenting decision to the termination itself, so that women are not left waiting for long having made the decision to terminate..." In the same letter, she says: "I
would be interested to hear if you, like me, have had women at your surgery who have either been refused an abortion by doctors who oppose abortion, or who have had to wait for significant lengths of time after making the decision to have a termination." Mrs Dorries's bill would, therefore, put even more pressure on doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion.

3. Mrs Dorries's bill would contain a ten-day cooling-off period between a woman's first appointment and the abortion.

SPUC is seeking clarification on the details of this proposed period. Its presence in the bill does not make the other parts of the bill acceptable. In fact, its presence is justified by Mrs Dorries on the basis of a woman's choice and, thereafter, a woman's alleged right to access an abortion
quickly once that choice has been finally made. She says on her website: "It is vitally important that the principle of informed consent is established before any woman makes the decision to terminate a pregnancy. However, should the decision be to terminate, once this cooling off period has finished, my Bill would ensure that a woman could be fast tracked for a termination." (Our emphasis)

4. The pro-abortion lobby has a substantial majority in the House of Commons.

The pro-abortion majority in the House of Commons means that there will be ample opportunity for Mrs Dorries's bill to be made worse by amendments, and bringing about another pro-life catastrophe, as happened in 1990 when Parliament voted for abortion up to birth. Already, leading Parliamentarians, under the guise of discussion about late abortions, are
calling for changes to the law to allow even wider access to abortion.

5. Mrs Dorries says "I fully endorse the woman's right to choose" (press statement, 11th October)

Mrs Dorries claims that she is concerned to reduce the number of abortions. However, in reality her bill may mean that even greater efforts will be made to kill the unborn.

Please telephone your MP (on 020 7219 3000), expressing their concerns, and asking him/her to oppose Nadine Dorries's Bill. If you are unsure who your MP is, please visit If you want further information, please contact Anthony Ozimic by email at or by telephone 020 7222 5845


Saturday, December 16, 2006

'The Nativity Story' film condemned

Background briefing: this film is disrespectful in several ways to the Blessed Virgin Mary. See 'LifeSiteNews' for a thorough review of the film, here.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Blogger Beta

We have now converted this site to 'Blogger Beta'. This means (among other things) that all posts (including old ones) have 'labels' at the bottom. If you click on one of these, you will get all the posts which have that label. This is a good way of finding related items on the site.

The Blogger 'Search this site' box at the top of the page now also works much better.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Morning After Pill given out in advance

Background briefing.

From CFNews. Women and young girls are being offered the chance to stock up on 'morning after' pills at £10 a time by Britain's leading abortion provider.

The charity BPAS says keeping the pills at home will stop more women from getting pregnant after unprotected sex, despite studies showing advance supplies do not reduce the abortion rate. It said it would be prepared to sell pills to schoolgirls under the age of consent. The move sparked outrage last night with critics saying it would encourage women to use the powerful drug as contraception without thinking about the consequences. There will also be concerns about storing such powerful pills in bathroom cabinets where children could get hold of them. The new campaign is the first to openly promote the commercial sale of emergency contraception in advance. Pharmacists are permitted to sell the pill only to women who have already risked pregnancy - at around £26 a time - although GPs and family planning doctors may give prescriptions in advance to patients.


Haringey Council threatens Christian charity

Background briefing.

From CFNews. Gosia Shannon, the organiser of a Family Centre for Eastern European migrants who have settled in London, was told last month by Haringey Council that unless the Centre agreed to renounce all expression of Christianity from the voluntary services they provided, they would lose the vital funding they received from the local authority. In one of the letters from the Council, it was said 'We expect all our services to be inclusive and without religious content, so I was concerned to learn that Gosia leads the singing of songs about loving Jesus in every session. I asked Gosia to leave this song out in future but she is still refusing to do so.' This response came after the Family Centre sought to change its name from 'The Polish Drop-In Centre' to 'The Polish and Eastern European Christian Family Centre'.

Reacting to the use of the word 'Christian' in the name of the organisation, Haringey Council explained that this could damage the funding that was currently provided. Gosia, motivated by her Christian faith, set up the voluntary centre, including mother and toddler groups, in order to help and meet the needs of Eastern European migrants as they sought to integrate and settle into life in London. Andrea Minichiello Williams, Public Policy Officer at the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship comments 'The scenario highlights one of the main threats posed by the Government's controversial Sexual Orientation Regulations. If the Regulations come into force unamended, they will require all local authorities to withdraw funding from Christian voluntary organisations, if those organisations wish to espouse the Biblical position on sex outside of heterosexual marriage' Gosia's family centre had sought to explain to Council officials that 'we welcome gay people but will not promote gay values' Thomas Cordrey, Public Policy Analyst at the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, commented 'The dedicated voluntary work done by thousands of Christians across Britain is jeopardised by these Regulations. The losers will be the most vulnerable, lonely and isolated people in society who currently benefit from Christian voluntary work. If the Government press ahead with these Regulations, no Christian organisation in receipt of public funding will be able to refuse to promote or assist homosexual practice.' Mr Cordrey continued 'The issue is broader than sexual orientation. These Regulations deny the ability of Christian organisations to hold to basic truths in the Bible that we should not promote or assist conduct which God says is wrong. Christians must continue to insist that the Government alter their stance so that Christian organisations can continue to receive public funding for the work they do, as well as adhere to the Bible's teaching'. [Lawyers Christian Fellowship]

As the shadows of legislation such as the Sexual Orientation Regulations begin to fall upon us, CF NEWS asked for a comment from Haringey Council on whether public prayer is a consideration when giving a judgement on funding, but is still waiting for a response.


Christian Institute Legal Defence Fund

Background briefing.

From CFNews. The Christian Institute has set up a Legal Defence Fund with the aim of funding the costs of legal action and the associated campaign work in cases of national importance for religious liberty. There are a growing number of cases where Christian freedom is being restricted by official bodies, often acting completely outside the law. Parliament and the courts have laid down many precious rights and freedoms in the UK. These freedoms need to be used.

The first case which will be supported by the Fund is the legal action by Joe and Helen Roberts against their local police force and council. When the couple telephoned the Council to complain about its gay rights policy, the Council asked the police to intervene. Two police officers visited Joe and Helen to 'educate' them about their Christian beliefs on homosexuality. The police have accepted that the Roberts committed no crime - and have not even stated which crime they were investigating when they interrogated the Roberts. Yet they still maintain they had the right to interrogate them about their beliefs. The Council accepts that its procedures were wrong. Yet they still say they did nothing wrong in calling in the police to tackle Joe and Helen about their beliefs. The actions of the authorities have even been condemned by prominent supporters of homnosexual rights, but still the police and the Council think their actions were lawful. Joe and Helen Roberts are suing Lancashire Police and Wyre Borough Council in the High Court. They are taking legal action to stop the police and the Council from ever doing the same thing again to someone else.

Other cases

Brian Herbert was one of nine firemen who had refused on moral grounds to take part in a 'gay pride' march in Glasgow. The firemen, from Cowcaddens fire station in Glasgow, had also become aware of a 'kiss-a-fireman' competition being run by a local homosexual bar and expected to be harassed. Their employer, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service, disciplined the men for not attending the 'gay pride' march. Herbert, Red Watch manager at Cowcaddens fire station in Glasgow, was demoted with a £5,000 yearly pay cut. The Christian Institute paid a barrister to help Mr Herbert appeal against his employer's decision. His rank and pay were successfully restored.

In 2004 the Christian Union of Hull University was threatened with expulsion from the Student Union because it would not allow unbelievers to run the UCCF CU. The Christian Institute helped the CU get legal advice and instruct a solicitor. Through its solicitor it informed the Student Council that its decision not to ratify the CU constitution was unlawful. There was a clear breach of the 1986 Education (No 2) Act which guarantees freedom of speech on campus, as well as European Convention rights on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Student Council backed down and ratified the CU's constitution.

In 2002 a church in South Wales, Maesteg Christian Centre, was threatened with legal action by a transsexual. The church had refused to allow the man to use the ladies' lavatory or attend ladies' meetings. The Centre realised that if the transsexual succeeded in using the law to get his way, not only would they suffer but other churches would face the same threat too. With the help of a barrister and The Christian Institute, the church applied to the court to strike out the legal action. The judge agreed there was no law to support the transsexual's case and it was thrown out of court.

Author and Christian campaigner, Stephen Green, was arrested and committed for trial for handing out gospel tracts at a 'gay pride' event. The police said he was arrested because of the Bible verses in the tracts. The Christian Institute asked supporters to pray and write to the Crown Prosecution Service. The case was dropped.

The Anglican Bishop of Chester was investigated by the Cheshire constabulary in November 2003 after he told his local newspaper about research showing that some homosexuals re-orientated to heterosexuality. The police passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided not to prosecute.

Swedish Pastor Ake Green was sentenced to one month in jail after giving a sermon in which he said homosexuality was a 'deep cancerous tumour' in society. However the Supreme Court of Sweden acquitted him on appeal. The UK homosexual lobby is demanding a 'homophobic hatred' law here.

In 2004 Phillip Jensen, Dean of St. Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney, was speaking
at Cambridge University Christian Union putting forward 'a traditional biblical view on homosexuality'. He was reported to the police for making comments 'likely to incite homophobic violence'.

Harry Hammond, street preacher from Bournemouth, was convicted by magistrates of a public order offence because he held a sign saying homosexuality was immoral.

The Christian Institute website is at


Monday, December 11, 2006

Parliamentary Committee calls for Population Control

Background briefing: if this becomes Government policy, we will call for lobbying. The findings of the Committee derive from ideology rather than facts; many of the most fast-growing economies have fast-growing populations (such as Morocco); the growth of many other developing countries is threatened by falling birth rates (such as Korea); aggessive population control measures in China and India, including forced abortions and sterilisations, have led to appalling social consequences, including serious gender imbalances in the population. The fact that at a certain stage of development fertility tends to drop spontaneously (due to later marriages, for example) lends spurious support for the Committee's key claim, quoted: "No country has ever raised itself out of poverty without stabilising population growth." This obviously proves nothing.

From SPUC: A British parliamentary group has concluded that the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are "difficult or impossible to meet" without curbing population growth. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health will publish a report later this month claiming that high birth rates result in poorer infant nutrition, higher risk of death in pregnancy and childbirth and less chance of receiving education, as well as impacting on the environment. Richard Ottaway, MP, the group's vice-chairman, recommended increased sexual education for women and easy access to birth control. He said: "No country has ever raised itself out of poverty without stabilising population growth. And the MDGs are going to be difficult or impossible to attain without a levelling out of population growth in developing countries...We have the solution; it's not that difficult. The question is, will we go for it?" [BBC News, 8 December]


High Court authorises murder of PVS sufferer

Background briefing: the only possible intention in removing food and water here is to cause death; until recently that would have placed this action under the legal definition of murder.

From SPUC: A High Court judge has ruled that doctors may withhold life-sustaining care, including food and water, from a woman in the so-called persistent vegetative state (PVS). The patient in a British hospital was recently given the drug zolpidem, but her condition showed no improvement. [Guardian, 6 December] A spokesman for SPUC pointed out that PVS was not a terminal illness and says "It is precisely because this woman is not dying that the court has been asked to authorise her intentional killing - euthanasia by omission." [SPUC, 6 December]


Child benefit for the unborn

Background briefing. Another example of 'joined up government': these babies can in many cases legally be killed, but now their existence and importance is to be acknowledged by the benefits system.

From SPUC: From April 2009, mothers in Britain will receive child benefit (a state allowance) from the 29th week of pregnancy, instead of from the baby's birth, as at present. The changes, worth up to £200, were announced by the chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister) in his pre-budget report. The change is designed to encourage healthy eating . [BBC, 6 December]


Hagia Sophia Petition

Current status: please sign, here.

Following the Pope's visit to Turkey, and in light of Turkey's aspiration to join the European Union, please sign this petition to have Hagia Sophia, the great church of Constantinople built by the Emperor Justinian, returned to Christian worship. This petition is to be presented to the European Union, which is urged to make this gesture a condition of membership for Turkey.

Roman Catholic participation in this petition is a fitting gesture towards the Greek Orthodox in Turkey, and especially to Patriarch Bartholomeos, who welcomed the Holy Father so graciously.

The petition organiser's home page has more information about the church and the campaign.

Hat-tip to Catholic Church Conservation.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Government plans legalisation of human-animal hybrids

Update: from Comment on Reproductive Ethics:
Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics has made the following
comment on this issue:-

The proposals in relationship to the creation of animal/human hybrid embryos are particularly worrying because licence applications have been with the HFEA since the beginning of November and we believe the responses will now be rushed through and will be in favour.

The Government will propose that the creation of hybrid and chimera embryos in vitro should not be allowed, but the law will contain a power enabling regulators to set our circumstances in which the creation of hybrid and chimera embryos may be allowed under licence, for research purposes only.

Currently there are two licence applications to use animal eggs, fused with human tissue, for research purposes (King's College (Dr Stephen Minger and Newcastle University (Dr Lyle Armstrong). Prof Wilmut is also expected to make application as well. On the HFEA website it is stated that they will reach a decision on these applications in January. It goes without saying the the current Govt is very keen to lead the world in stem cell research, and these proposals are meant to further that ambition.

A recent precedent. Recently the HFEA stated in a public consultation document on egg donation, that they had issued a licence for egg-sharing for research, even though they had not concluded their public consultation on the issue at stake. They argued that they have to consider applications when they are received and cannot delay response simply because they are engaged in a public consultation on the matter. In this instance they also added that 'If, after due consideration, the Authority decides that egg sharing for research is not
appropriate, it will be possible for the Licence Committee to review their decision for the egg sharing licence based on the new policy'. A classic piece of HFEA absurdity.

I believe they will use the same rationale to grant in January the licences applied.

Current status: protests, please, to the HFEA, MPs and the Minster responsible, Caroline Flint:

The Government is proposing, in a document leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, to make sweeping changes to the laws governing in vitro fertilisation. The requirement for couples seeking fertility treatment to include a 'father' (let alone be married) is to be scrapped; permissions will also be available for researchers to create hybrids of humans and animals, using (for example) the nucleus of a human cell and the ovum of an animal.

These appalling proposals must be opposed urgently.

For the Sunday Telegraph report, see here.


Iain Duncan Smith: homosexual adoptions 'irrelevant'

Current status: protests, please. Iain Duncan Smith, head of the Conservative Party's 'Social Justice Policy Unity', while saying many good things about the need to support conventional families, evaded questions about the appropriateness of homosexuals adopting children, claiming that the small number of homosexuals mad the question 'irrelevant'. His refusal to endorse homosexual adoption may annoy liberals, but his refusal to condemn it is a dereliction of his duty as a Catholic politician.

See Sunday Telegraph article here. For Cardinal O'Brien's clear condemnation of homosexual adoption, see here.

Readers may remember Duncan Smith's ambivalence about Catholicism when he was leader: calling himself an 'Anglo Catholic', and receiving communion in an Anglican service (for both stories, see here). Like many Catholic politicians, he seems to be Catholic only when it suits him.

Contact Duncan Smith through his website here.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pornography: a US Bishop's advice

Background briefing: Bishop Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, Virginia, has issued a Pastoral Letter on pornography which is worth at least quoting.

The full text is here.

Quotation: "Where the pornographic mentality has invaded even mainstream media - and certainly, what is now offered on cable and even broadcast television increasingly approaches pornographic content, citizens must demand that public officials whose service is to regulate such media take immediate and effective action. Contrary to the self-serving defense of some media outlets, such actions are not censorship, but rather the demand for an end to the exploitation of persons and the degradation of public morality."

Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity and CFNews.


Friday, December 08, 2006

EU Aid for Abortion: debate in Strasbourg

EU Development Finance Instrument (Mitchell Report)

There will be a debate and vote in the European Parliament next Tuesday in Strasbourg at Second Reading on a new legal instrument to regulate overseas aid expenditure. The original text of this legislation proposed by the European Commission and accepted by the European Parliament at First Reading did not contain any reference to the controversial terms 'reproductive health' and 'reproductive rights' which are interpreted by many, including the World Health Organisation, as including abortion. However, the text which has now come back to the European Parliament from the Council of Ministers includes both these terms.

The Rapporteur for this legislation, Irish MEP Gay Mitchell, is conscientiously opposed to abortion and is concerned that common European funds, which include contributions from taxpayers in the Republic of Ireland and other countries where abortion is both illegal and
unconstitutional, should not be used to finance either the performance or promotion of abortions in Third World countries. We very much support him in this stand and staff from our Brussels office have been helping collect MEPs' signatures for amendments.

Please consider contacting your MEP/s (details available on ) to ask them to support the amendments (nos. 1, 2 & 3) tabled by Gay Mitchell and 62 colleagues in the vote on Wednesday to remove these controversial references from the text.

Please pray that these amendments would receive support from a broad group of MEPs and that the European Parliament would protect early human life. Please also pray for strength and wisdom for Gay Mitchell and his colleagues.

For MEPs, see here.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hospital patients and data protection

Background briefing: to combat a long-standing scandal, Scottish Bishops are petitioning the Scottish Executive and Westminster to allow hospital chaplains access to information about the desire of patients for the Sacraments.

From CFNews: Pressure from the Catholic Church could force the Government to look again at the way the Data Protection Act is used in practice, after the issue was raised with the Scottish Executive. A working party, under the control of Bishop Vincent Logan, has been looking into the issue for the better part of a year, concerned that many Catholic patients in hospitals up and down the country are being denied their Last Rites. Under the Act , patients' personal details are not allowed to be passed on to hospital chaplains without the patients' consent, meaning that many seriously injured or ill patient's, unable to physically give consent due to the seriousness of their injuries, could be denied the attentions of a priest during their hour of need. 'A change in the law is clearly needed as the current law clearly causes difficulties,' said Scottish Catholic Media Office Director Peter Kearney. 'At present using data protection rules, once the religion of a patient has been recorded it cant divulged to non employees. 'What we would like to see is an official list of religious representatives that could be given access to this information. ' Following the campaign from the Church, politicians in Scotland have now signed a petition demanding changes to the Data Protection Act, and are also encouraging politicians in Westminster to look again at the way the Data Protection Act is implemented in the nation's hospitals.


Threat to Catholic Schools in Northern Ireland

Current status: please support the Bishops in their opposition to the Government initiative.

From CFNews: The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have said that they cannot support proposals for a radical restructuring of the region's schools.
The bishops were responding to a report by Sir George Bain, who had been commissioned to propose a comprehensive policy for the schools of Northern Ireland. In that report, Bain pointed to the large number of schools without enough students to justify their expenses, and suggested a steamlining of the system that could lead to the closing of over 400 schools. In their December 6 statement, the bishops said that the proposals 'oppose a serious threat to the right of parents to choose a Catholic Education for their children'. The Bain plan would give a government panel the responsibility for determining which schools are closed or merged with others. That approach, the bishops said, would 'radically undermine a long-cherished Catholic education system which has been recognized for the strength of its distinctiveness and the richness of its tradition and diversity as contributing to the raising of school standards and the promotion of a culture of tolerance and understanding'

For the full text of the Irish Bishops' press release, see here.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Administration: we welcome comments on this blog, but there is a delay in their publication because they are moderated. We will not allow this site to be used for attacks on the Church and morality.

However, we would like to share with our loyal readers a portion of one comment which will not be published in full:

'Go rot in heaven.'

Thanks, 'Anonymous', we hope and pray you will too!


Rowan Williams in St Sabina, Rome

Current status: protests, please.

From the New Liturgical Movement blog: "There were many people who were very concerned with the celebration of an Anglican Eucharist in the Church of Santa Sabina in Rome at the conclusion of Dr. Williams visit -- particularly as there are two Anglican churches available to any Anglican cleric in Rome.

A suggestion has been made that people consider (respectfully) writing to Cardinal Bertone detailing their concern over the matter and expressing their hopes that it should not happen again, so as to prevent confusion and/or scandal amongst the faithful, as well as to encourage true ecumenical endeavour."

Cardinal Bertone may be reached at:

His Eminence
Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone
Secretary of State
00120 Vatican City State

See the NLM post for some comments on their post.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

SORs and the EU

Background briefing. Dr Slysz's letter is important: the EU origin of many contentious UK laws is ignored or covered up by the Government and even the 'euro-sceptic' press. However, the British Government still has a range of options in how to implement EU legislation, one of which is to risk the wrath of the Commission by ignoring it altogether. (Think of France's illegal, but perfectly effective, ban on British beef, and the 'Stability Pact'.) What tends to happen is that the Government uses EU initiatives to impose laws in Britain which go far beyond what EU law, strictly, requires. On the other hand, if member states go back to the Council of Ministers with the message that the implementation of the gender-equality law is politically impossible, then the EU will back down.

Dr Slysz, an historian, stood for the London Assembly for the UK Independence party; see his article on the EU published in Christian Order, here.

Letter to the Catholic Herald, December 1st, from Dr Gregory Slysz, in part: (The Government withdrew its Gay Rights ammendment to the Provision of Goods and Services Bill (2005)): 'However, after intense lobbying of the Government by gay rights groups and, crucially, after a stern warning by the European Union Commission that the Bill, as it stood, would be in breach of the EU's gender legislation, the Government was obliged to amend the Bill accordingly. As such, any hesitation by Ruth Kelly ... was mere posturing...
Maybe this development will finally convince those Catholics, lay and cleric alike, who hitherto have been unaware of the dangers of EU secularism, that the EU's "values" on so many key issues are incompatible with Christian teaching.
Yours faithfully, Gregory Slysz.'


Government leaders press the case for condoms

Background briefing. Blair and Brown polish their anti-Catholic credentials, with attacks on Church teaching and insistence on sex education.

From CFNews: Prime Minister Tony Blair urges church leaders to 'face up to reality' and drop a ban on condoms.
In an interview to mark World Aids Day, the Prime Minister said people should be able to use protection to save lives. Mr Blair, speaking to MTV, said: 'I think if all the churches and religious organisations were facing up to reality, it would be better. The danger is if we have a sort of blanket ban coming from religious hierarchy saying it's wrong to do it, then you discourage people from doing it in circumstances where they need to protect their own lives. The danger of them not doing so is that you get people who are sexually active and sometimes in circumstances where they may be forced into the sex trade, for example'. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has told The Independent that 'We must also improve sex education, promote safe sex and improve access to funding for proper protection against sexual infection. Although Aids funding has increased dramatically in recent years, it is a fact that funding for condoms has not kept pace with the need.'. The Government's Select Committee on International Development (Second Report): 'Questions of morality are not the issue: what is important is finding the most effective way to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS' (Emphasis added). Catechism of the Catholic Church : 'The innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to positive refusal to be open to life but also to falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.... The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Health problems for IVF babies

Background briefing. This is something everyone should know: babies conceived 'in vitro', contrary to the teaching of the Church, are significantly more prone to a host of health problems. Here is (yet more) evidence, from Australia.

From SPUC: Babies born through IVF treatment in Australia are twice as likely to be stillborn or die within one month than babies conceived naturally, new figures have found. A report by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare shows that 155 babies died after being conceived through assisted reproduction in Australia and New Zealand in 2004. The findings coincide with a decision by Tony Abbott, the federal health minister, to ditch a proposal to limit funding for assisted reproductive technology treatment. [The West, 30 November]


Attack on Scottish Catholic Schools

Background briefing.

From CFNews: The leader of a Scottish teachers' union has condemned a longstanding policy that allows the Catholic Church to control the appointment of teachers for parochial schools. Peter Quigley, the president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said that the Catholic veto is inherently discriminatory, and 'restricts the majority of teacher from competing for posts in the denominational sector.' Scotland's 'denominational schools' were set up to educate the country's Catholic minority. Although the schools are under the government's control, existing legislation gives Church leaders the right to block appointment of teachers who are deemed unfit. In practice, the Church's veto power has very limited scope. In March of this year, a self-proclaimed atheist won a discrimination lawsuit after he was refused appointment to a post as guidance counselor at a denominational (Catholic) school in Glasgow.


Religiously motivated crime against Catholics in Scotland

Background briefing.

From CFNews: Anti-Catholic sectarian crime in Scotland has risen 50 percent, according to official figures released by the Scottish Executive. According to the statistics 440 Scots were convicted of religiously motivated assaults between January 2004 and June 2005. 'Sadly this document shows that Catholics in Scotland are still many times more likely to be subject of a sectarian attack than any other group,' said Cardinal Keith O'Brien. 'During the period of this study Catholics were five times more likely to be the victims. 'This is of great concern to me,' he added. The report also showed that of the 726 cases investigated 31 percent of the incidents had been directed against Scottish Protestants. Scottish Executive Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said that people found guilty of bigoted attacks would be named and shamed and 'publicly recorded as the disgrace they are.' 'The message is clear,' she added. 'Bigots and bullies have no place in modern Scotland and will be shamed.' [Universe]


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

UN: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Current status: please sign the petition, here, to ask the US Senate not to ratify this treaty, which gives power to one of the most anti-family and anti-life organs of the United Nations. The actions of the United States in this matter have implications for countries across the globe.

From Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute: The CEDAW Committee, before which signatory countries must appear every four years, regularly coerces and bullies nations into changing their laws far beyond the scope of the treaty itself.

CEDAW is silent on abortion yet many countries have been ordered by the CEDAW Committee to legalize abortion. CEDAW actually condemns prostitution, but countries have been directed by the Committee to legalize prostitution. The CEDAW Committee went so far as to criticize the country of Belarus for establishing Mother’s Day, what the Committee referred to as a “negative cultural stereotype.” The CEDAW Committee is hostile to organized religion. It ordered Libya to reinterpret the Koran to fall within Committee guidelines. It criticized Ireland for allowing the Church to participate in public policy discourse.
CEDAW may have been conceived with good intentions, but it has been hijacked by radicals bent on using it for dangerous social experiments that are harmful to our countries, our families, our mothers, wives and daughters.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Cherie Blair

Update: reports of Cherie being considered for this post have been (unofficially) denied by Downing St. It may be that the possibility has been shelved because of the public reaction, so 'thank you' to those who opposed it. Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity.

t Status: please lobby the Vatican. Cherie Booth (Blair), Britain's most notorious Catholic dissident, married to the Prime Minister responsible for the most anti-life and anti-Catholic legislation of recent history, is reported as being under consideration for appointment to the Pontifical Academcy for Social Sciences. (The picture shows her waving a condom at a stall at a Labour Party conference.) The report, from the Papa Ratzinger Forum, is not authoritative, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Joanna Bogle is encouraging protests by fax to the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith. The fax number is 0039-06-69883409.

Hat tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity and Joanna Bogle.

From the Papa Ratzinger report: 'Vatican sources said she may soon be sworn in as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences.
The academy is an independent entity within the Holy See and was established 12 years ago by John Paul II. New members are elected by current members from men and women on the basis of "the high level of their academic work and their moral profile" and are subsequently named directly by the Pope.'

For Cherie Booth's public dissent, see, notably, a Telegraph article on her views on women in the Church, here, her support for an International Planned Parenthood campaign, from the Catholic Herald (1st Aug 2003), as follows:
Cherie Blair, the wife of the UK Prime Minister and a prominent Catholic, has angered campaigners by lending her support to an IPPF initiative, Lust for Life. Mrs Blair hosted a private reception at 10 Downing Street for the Lust for Life campaign which hopes to raise £100,000 for the organisation. Nuala Scarisbrick of LIFE said: "There is no life in the IPPF's campaign, only death. She should know that. IPPF is behind China's one-child policy."


Friday, November 24, 2006

Scottish Sexual Health Strategy counterproductive

Local action as appropriate: Scottish residents should lobby their MSPs to get them to recognise reality. As always happens, the promotion of sexual activity to school children, in the name of education, results in increased sexual activity, sexually transmitted disease and pregnancies.

From SPUC: More than a year after the Scottish Executive launched a multi-million pound sexual health strategy, sexually transmitted infections are up by seven percent to more than 20,000, while teenage pregnancy rates remain high. Andy Kerr, the Scottish health minister insisted nevertheless that in the long term the strategy will change attitudes through more services and education initiatives. [Scotsman 22 November]


Mencap: lives of disabled infants should be respected

Background briefing. As the SPUC report notes, Mencap does not have a good record on protecting the disabled from eugenic abortion; it is to be hoped that the appearance of pro-life diabled-rights groups such as Not Dead Yet has stimulated a re-think.

From their press release: David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy said: "Withholding or withdrawing treatment purely based on a premature baby having a high risk of disability is unjustified. Disabled babies, and all disabled people, have a right to life and can thrive and live full lives with the right support."

From SPUC: The head of campaigns and policy at the UK charity Mencap has criticised the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report, which suggests that there should be a blanket ban on treating babies born at 22 weeks' gestation or under. He said: "We urge all decision-makers to value the lives of all our children, including disabled children, and continue to act in their best interests." [Independent 22 November] Alison Davis, national coordinator of No Less Human, SPUC's disability rights group, said: "This statement comes as a refreshing change in direction for Mencap, which has a long history of support for pre-natal testing and abortion of babies with learning disabilities.." The head of the Nuffield working party has spoken about how she came to make the recommendations. Professor Margaret Brazier recounted heart-rending stories she had heard. Because the procedures are invasive and painful and keep the babies isolated, when the chances of survival are said to be very small, she thinks it is kinder to leave them to die. [Sunday Times, 19 November]

For the post on the Nuffield Council report, see here.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Translation of 'Pro Multis'

Background briefing. Many people have found it baffling that the Latin phrase 'pro multis', in the words of consecration in Mass, have been translated into English as 'for all'. The Pope has now decreed that this must in furture be translated 'for many'. Since a general revision of the English translation is in the process of being approved, the Pope's action suggests a sense of urgency on this point. Local bishops have two years to make the change.

Thanks to Hermeneutic of Continuity, for the text of the letter and the cartoon.

[To their Eminences / Excellencies, Presidents of the National Episcopal Conferences]

Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum

Prot. N. 467/05/L

Rome, 17 October 2006

Your Eminence / Your Excellency,

In July 2005 this Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to all Presidents of Conferences of Bishops to ask their considered opinion regarding the translation into the various vernaculars of the expression pro multis in the formula for the consecration of the Precious Blood during the celebration of Holy Mass (ref. Prot. N. 467/05/L of 9 July 2005).

The replies received from the Bishops' Conferences were studied by the two Congregations and a report was made to the Holy Father. At his direction, this Congregation now writes to Your Eminence / Your Excellency in the following terms:

1. A text corresponding to the words pro multis, handed down by the Church, constitutes the formula that has been in use in the Roman Rite in Latin from the earliest centuries. In the past 30 years or so, some approved vernacular texts have carried the interpretive translation "for all", "per tutti", or equivalents.

2. There is no doubt whatsoever regarding the validity of Masses celebrated with the use of a duly approved formula containing a formula equivalent to "for all", as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has already declared (cf. Sacra Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Declaratio de sensu tribuendo adprobationi versionum formularum sacramentalium, 25 Ianuarii 1974, AAS 66 [1974], 661). Indeed, the formula "for all" would undoubtedly correspond to a correct interpretation of the Lord's intention expressed in the text. It is a dogma of faith that Christ died on the Cross for all men and women (cf. John 11:52; 2 Corinthians 5,14-15; Titus 2,11; 1 John 2,2).

3. There are, however, many arguments in favour of a more precise rendering of the traditional formula pro multis:
a. The Synoptic Gospels (Mt 26,28; Mk 14,24) make specific reference to "many" (πολλων = pollôn) for whom the Lord is offering the Sacrifice, and this wording has been emphasized by some biblical scholars in connection with the words of the prophet Isaiah (53, 11-12). It would have been entirely possible in the Gospel texts to have said "for all" (for example, cf. Luke 12,41); instead, the formula given in the institution narrative is "for many", and the words have been faithfully translated thus in most modern biblical versions.

b. The Roman Rite in Latin has always said pro multis and never pro omnibus in the consecration of the chalice.

c. The anaphoras of the various Oriental Rites, whether in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, the Slavic languages, etc., contain the verbal equivalent of the Latin pro multis in their respective languages.

d. "For many" is a faithful translation of pro multis, whereas "for all" is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis.

e. The expression "for many", while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one's willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the "many" to whom the text refers.

f. In line with the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, effort should be made to be more faithful to the Latin texts in the typical editions.
The Bishops' Conferences of those countries where the formula "for all" or its equivalent is currently in use are therefore requested to undertake the necessary catechesis for the faithful on this matter in the next one or two years to prepare them for the introduction of a precise vernacular translation of the formula pro multis (e.g, "for many", "per molti", etc.) in the next translation of the Roman Missal that the Bishops and the Holy See will approve for use in their country.

With the expression of my high esteem and respect, I remain, Your Eminence/Your Excellency,

Devotedly Yours in Christ,

Francis Card. Arinze, Prefect


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spanish late-term abortions spark call for EU rules

Background briefing. Further to the scandal of Spanish abortionists breaking their own law while helping foreigners evade their own; see the famous Telegraph investigation of 2004 here. EU-wide regulation does not seem likely to help, however.

From LifeSite News: Denmark wants the European Union to consider continent-wide abortion regulations. The call for an EU abortion law comes after a Danish DR1 TV channel documentary showing how an abortion center in Spain does abortions as late as eight months into pregnancy. The facility draws women from across Europe and came under fire in Malta for offering free abortions there even though the nation prohibits abortion. In the undercover investigation, a Danish journalist in her eight month of pregnancy was offered an abortion on her healthy unborn baby for a fee of 4,000 euros from Spanish abortion practitioner Carlos Morin, who heads the Clinica M.C. in Barcelona. Morin said he would inject a poison that would kill the baby and the woman would give birth to a stillborn child. According to the television report, between 50 and 75 Portuguese and French women a week have late abortions at the facility. The deputy director of the Catalan health ministry Lluis Torralba told the Portugal News that his regional health department is collecting information about the Clinica M.C. abortion business and is looking into the matter to see if it is violating Spain's abortion laws. Danish politicians are shocked by the television report. [LifeSiteNews] [CFNews]


Nuffield Council on Bioethics

Background Briefing. Reader can peruse this book-length report here (see the link to the pdf; note the 'Executive Summary' at the beginning). Two key conclusions: rejection of action deliberately to end life (Section 2.37); but (Section 2.11) in some cases life-sustaining treatment of a disabled infant would merely prolong 'intolerable' suffering. The latter could be interpreted in a sense compatible with Catholic teaching (as when treatment is 'useless', in the light of the good it does the patient), but where it is question of prolonging the life a disabled person for perhaps decades (since this is a newly born baby), it seems to be the application of a deeply worrying attitude that disabled lives are not worth living. The complexity of the issue explains the different reactions, below, from the Anglican/Roman Catholic bishops, 'No Less Human (SPUC)', and 'Care Not Killing'.

Comment from Bishops

The following joint comment by Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, and Most Rev. Peter Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff, has been issued on behalf of the Church of England House of Bishops and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales on the publication of the Nuffield Council's report 'Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: Ethical issues'. 'We warmly welcome the clear recommendation from the Nuffield Council today that 'the active ending of life of newborn babies should not be allowed, no matter how serious their condition. ' This reaffirms the validity of existing law prohibiting euthanasia, and upholds the vital and fundamental moral principle that the deliberate taking of innocent human life is always gravely wrong. There is a clear distinction between interventions which are deliberately aimed at killing, and decisions to withhold or withdraw medical treatment when it is judged to be futile or unduly burdensome. In our joint submission in 2004 to the Select Committee of the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill the Church of England House of Bishops and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: 'Doctors do not have an overriding obligation to prolong life by all available means. Treatment for a dying patient should be 'proportionate' to the therapeutic effect to be expected, and should not be disproportionately painful, intrusive, risky, or costly, in the circumstances. Treatment may therefore be withheld or withdrawn, though such decisions should be guided by the principle that a pattern of care should never be adopted with the intention, purpose or aim of terminating the life or bringing about the death of a patient. Death, if it ensues, will have resulted from the underlying condition which required medical intervention, not as a direct consequence of the decision to withhold or withdraw treatment. ' (para 18) 20 In applying this principle we believe that every case should be judged on its merits and like the British Medical Association, we would have concerns about any blanket recommendation regarding the treatment of babies born before 22 weeks. Decisions regarding treatment should always be made on an individual basis having regard to all the circumstances of the case. We will wish to study the detail of the Nuffield Council's report but welcome the extremely important recommendation opposing any action aimed at the active ending of life of newborn babies. [CCN]

Comment from No Less Human:
Alison Davis of the 'No Less Human', SPUC's disability rights group, has commented on the Nuffield report: 'The Nuffield Council seems to have decided that severe disability is a fate worse than death, and a good enough reason not to treat a premature baby. The Council thus ignores the inherent right to life of all babies, disabled or not, as well as the right to treatment on an individual basis according to clinical need. It is nothing short of eugenics to decide that because a baby has, or will have, a disability, or because the chance of survival is low treatment should be denied. It is a denial of basic human rights, and a form of fatal discrimination on grounds of disability. Disabled people view this as an encouragement of the attitude that we are better off dead, and that it represents a further step towards active killing of disabled newborns. ' [SPUC]

Comment from Care Not Killing

Bioethics Comittee says 'No' to infant euthanasia
In its report published today (Critical Care Decisions in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine: Ethical Issues) the Nuffield Council on Bioethics concludes that active steps to end the life of newborn babies should not be allowed, no matter how serious their condition. The professional obligation of doctors, says the report, is to preserve life where they can. The Council states that among the problems of allowing euthanasia for seriously ill newborns is that it would be very difficult to identify an upper age limit beyond which the practice would be permitted.

The report also endorses current medical practice and law which allow decisions to be made either to withhold or to withdraw treatment in cases where treatment would be futile or cause intolerable suffering for no benefit. And, equally important to endorsing current law and medical ethics in this area, the Council calls for palliative care to be given to newborns who are not to be treated, so that they can die peacefully and in comfort instead of simply being left to die suffering the symptoms of their illness. (The rest of this report is here.)


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Muslims attack secularisation of Christmas

Current status: Local action as necessary. Readers may like to quote this when confronting officialdom. The existence of non-Christian religious groups in the UK is being used as an excuse for many anti-Christian policies, but it is a bad one. For some commentary on the Christmas stamp issue, see here.

From the Telegraph: Leave Christmas alone, say Muslims
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

Muslim leaders joined their Christian counterparts yesterday to launch a powerful attack on politicians and town halls that play down Christmas.

They warned that attempts to remove religion from the festival were fuelling Right-wing extremism.

A number of town halls have tried to excise references to Christianity from Christmas, in one case by renaming their municipal celebrations "Winterval". They have often justified their actions by saying Britain is now a multi-faith society and they are anxious to avoid offending minority groups. But the Muslim leaders said they honoured Christmas and that local authorities were playing into the hands of extremists who were able to blame Muslim communities for undermining Britain's Christian culture.

The unprecedented broadside was delivered by the Christian Muslim Forum, which was launched this year by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, with the support of Tony Blair. The forum's reaction reflects growing anger among Christians and other faiths about the efforts of secularists to push religion to the margins of public life. In 1998 Birmingham renamed its celebrations "Winterval", and in 2001 Luton described its Christmas lights as "luminos", taken from Harry Potter. Last week, the Church of England criticised Royal Mail for issuing Christmas stamps with no Christian theme.

The forum, which draws half its membership from senior members of the Muslim community, said in a statement that "as Muslims and Christians together" it was "wholeheartedly committed" to the religious recognition of Christian festivals." Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus and we wish this significant part of the Christian heritage of this country to remain an acknowledged part of national life." The desire to secularise religious festivals is offensive to both of our communities." The statement, signed by the forum's chairman, the Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Rev David Gillett, and its vice-chairman, Dr Ataullah Siddiqui, urged society to promote religious freedom. "Those who use the fact of religious pluralism as an excuse to de-Christianise British society unthinkingly become recruiting agents for the extreme Right. They provoke antagonism towards Muslims and others by foisting on them an anti-Christian agenda they do not hold."

Bishop Gillett said in a separate article that it was strange that so many public bodies were nervous or dismissive about Christmas when 72 per cent of Britons described themselves as Christian in the 2001 Census.Any repetition by councils to rename Christmas so as not to offend other faith communities will "backfire badly" on the Muslim community, he said. "Sadly it is they who get the blame — and for something they are not saying."


Monday, November 13, 2006

Edward Atkinson: MPs intervene

Background briefing. The inhuman treatment of the pro-life activist Edward Atkinson continues; 21 Members of Parliament have signed the 'early day motion' below to protest about this. Atkinson has now served his prison sentence for sending pictures of aborted babies to staff at a hospital where abortions take place, and the hospital is still rerusing to treat him. For a report of the original story, see here. For a supportive comment in The Times, see here.

House of Commons Early Day Motion 2677. Refusal of Hospital Treatment to Mr Edward Atkinson 09.10.2006. Llwyd, Eifyn. 21 signatures.
That this House notes that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, withdrew all non-life-threatening treatment from 74-year-old pensioner, Edward Atkinson, when he was discharged from prison having served 21 days of a 28-day sentence; notes that his offence was sending pictures of aborted infants to hospital staff; further notes that the pictures were described as indecent or grossly offensive but stresses that, alougth the pictures are extremely disturbing, nobody has denied their accuracy; further notes that this explains in great part the growing NHS problem of young doctors refusing to carry out abortions so that hospitals are compelled to refer cases to clinics where the NHS finances the operations; notes, furthermore, that Mr Atkinson regarded the exercise as educational and at no time came into contact with or spoke to any member of the hospital staff nor did he address them abusively in letters sent with the photographs; notes, moreover, that he has never been accused of threatening behaviour and therefore cannot he accused of physical or verbal abuse of staff; further notes that, unless the behaviour of criminals is deemed to be a threat to hospital staff, they are always provided with appropriate medical and hospital care and they are not banned from such when discharged from prison having served their sentences; and calls on the Government to require the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to provide Mr Atkinson with hospital care as necessary, including the hip replacemen operation he needs and continued care for diabetes at the hospital clinic from which he is now banned. [Hansard] [Thanks to CFNews]

Among the siganatories were: Mr Elfyn Llwyd, Tim Farron, David Simpson, Mr Nigel Evans, Bob Spink, Mr David Amess, Mr Mike Hancock, Mr David Drew, Sir Nicholas Winterton, Hywel Williams, John Hemming, Helen Goodman


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Glastonbury and Youth 2000

Background briefing. Newspaper reports need to be corrected.

Reports of Catholics abusing pagans in Glastonbury, at a Youth2000 event, have been absurdly exaggerated. See here for an eye-witness report; see here for a statement from Youth2000; see here for a report from The Guardian: and here's the opening sentence, which illustrates that paper's attitude:
'In scenes reminiscent of medieval witchhunts, Catholic pilgrims in Glastonbury have attacked pagans and threatened to "cleanse" them from the town.'

The persecution of Catholics by pagans, on the other hand, is a story they don't want to know about. The Catholic Herald quotes the local parish priest, Fr Kevin Knox-Lecky, as saying, while condemning the alleged actions of Catholics, 'I have frequently found evidence of rites performed on my church steps.'

Neo-pagan and Satanic attempts to desecrate holy places and even the Blessed Sacrament are a constant, growing and totally unreported feature of modern Britain.


ebay sells relics

Current status: complaints, please, to ebay.

Contrary to its own rules forbidding the sale of body parts, ebay is refusing to stop the sale of relics of the saints, including those clearly described as bones of the saints.

See here for a news story. In April 2005, ebay was forced to ban the sale of consecrated hosts, after an international campaign by Catholics; see here for that story.

A campaign against ebay has been launched by 'International Crusade for Holy Relics'; their site includes a pdf on the issue.

Please complain to:
Meg Whitman, President and CEO, eBay Inc., 2145 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, California 95125
Phone: 1.800.322.9266

The eBay Community Watch Team , eBay Customer Support


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Catholic Education Service

Current status: please ask the CES whether they tell schools to follow Church teaching on sex education, as given in 'The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality'. See end of post.

The Catholic Education Service, with its Chief Excecutive, Oona Stannard, and Chairman, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, are quoted at length in this week's Catholic press expressing their gratitude for the lobbying by ordinary Catholics, which has forced a government U-turn on the Education and Inspection Bill (see here). Catholic Action UK is proud to have played some small part in this victory, over the government's attempt to undermine the Catholic ethos of our schools.

This is a good moment to assess the wider threats to Catholic schools, especially state schools, and the response which the Catholic Education Service, and the bishops of England and Wales behind it, are making. The threats come in two broad areas:

1) Attempts to prevent Catholic schools selecting their pupils;
2) Attempts to prevent Catholic schools teaching the Faith.

1. Attack on selectivity

The Education and Inspection Bill is simply the most recent attempt by the Labour Government to undermine Catholic schools' freedom in selecting their pupils. A school which has no power over who attends has, obviously, lost control of its destiny, and the very notion of a Church school implies that it is intended for a certain group of people: the members of that church. While frequently praising the 'ethos' of Catholic schools, late last year Government ministers made a concerted effort to undermine it by banning interviewing by schools, as a basis for admissions decisions. Without interviews, the only way schools can judge whether a family is Catholic is by looking at a pile of identical letters from parish priests, which affirm that the family has attended Mass--a process which is inherently open to abuse. (See here for a parish priest's perspective.)

The response of the Catholic Education Service? They agreed voluntarily to adopt the ban. When the bishops were questioned over their failure to consult Catholic teachers and parents, they replied that they had consulted the CES. The Oratory School in London, one of the best-known Catholic state schools, successfully resisted the voluntary ban, and was criticised for this by the CES. Later, the ban was made law, and the CES welcomed this development.

It is not clear why the CES and the bishops decided to make a stand on the proposed quota system, which in itself is much less serious an attack on schools' freedom than the banning of interviews. It is to be hoped that they have realised, from the experience of successfully opposing the Joffe Bill, that with the help of the laity they can make the Government see sense. They must be encouraged in this new approach.

A letter to the Catholic Herald (10 Nov), from Fred Bull, says (in part): 'While I welcome the CES's change of stance, from pandering to the prejudices of uninformed parliamentarians and policy-makers to direct opposition, an apology to Catholic parents would have been a more appropriate response from Ms Stannard in the present circumstances. Had CES not shown a willingness to compromise on schools admissions in the first place, it is debatable whether politicians such as Alan Johnson and Lord Baker would have attempted the incursion os statutory quotas.
'May I suggest that Ms Stannard and the CES's change of heart is the fastest and most invisible U-turn in the history of Catholic education in this country. If politicians have the courage and humility to publicly admit they got it wrong, is it unreasonable to expect the director of the CES to do the same?'

Another aspect of the interviewing story is the irritation expressed by the CES and bishops at Catholic schools' independence. In the late 1980s Cardinal Hume tried to merge all the Sixth-forms of West London Catholic schools into a new Sixth Form College. This move was bitterly opposed by teachers and parents, who in general far prefer schools with sixth forms. Hume's plan was successfully resisted by the Oratory School and Cardinal Vaughan School, who had two of the most successful sixth forms, using legislation introduced by the Conservatives giving schools greater freedom. (The story is told briefly in Hume's obituary, here.) However, the policy of siphoning off sixth forms to separate colleges remains the CES's policy, and this continues to cause problems with the foundation of new Catholic schools in London.

2. Attack on the teaching of the Faith

The CES has been the vehicle for the bishops' criticism of various aspects of the Government's sex education programme, and the establishment of abortion-referral services in schools (for example, here). These initiatives are, in general, not imposed on Catholic schools compulsorily; it is up to the schools, and the CES, to what extend Catholic schools follow Government guidelines. It is becoming clear, however, that not only are some Catholic schools failing to resist explicit sex education for pre-pubescent children, in direct contravention of Church teaching, but that the teaching materials provided by the CES itself are gravely deficient. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has uncovered the most appalling type of sex education in one Catholic school (see here
: see section Child Abuse in the Classroom); at another, the promotion of contraceptives was exposed by the UK Life League (see here).

This should come as no surprise to those who have followed the debate about catechesis in Catholic schools. The history of this topic is long and complicated, but the bishops and the CES have promoted a succession of extremely deficient text-books for religious education. For a critique of 'Weaving the Web' and its successor, 'Icons', see here. For a long article on the subject by Daphne MacLeod, see here. Pope John-Paul II's commissioning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Benedict XVI's publication of the Compendium of the Catechism, were designed to promote a better approach, but have so far had little effect.

Action: the most urgent issue today is sex education. Please write to Vincent Nichols and Oona Stanard to ask them whether Catholic schools are encouraged and required to follow the teaching of the Church in this regard, as laid down by the document 'The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality'.

The teaching, in a nutshell:

- Explicit sexual information must not be given to pre-pubescant children (unless to correct errors picked up from other sources).
- Later education must be conducted one-to-one, by a parent of the same sex as the child, unless it is absolutely necessary for another person to fulfill this function.

The full text is here. Key quotes can be found at the end of this post here. Cardinal O'Brien rightly described Scottish Sex Education as 'child abuse'; see here.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols can be contacted through
Fr Martin Pratt, Archbishop’s Secretary, Archbishop’s House, 8 Shadwell Street, Birmingham B4 6EY

Oona Stannard can be contacted at
Catholic Education Service of England and Wales, 39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Infanticide of disabled babies

Background briefing. From SPUC.

Update: letters to the newspapers. From SPUC: The Guardian newspaper, UK, has published two letters defending the right to life of handicapped babies, against the suggestion by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that they should be killed at birth. [Guardian 9 November] The Daily Telegraph published four letters, including two from members of No Less Human, criticising the suggestion made by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that euthanasia should be made available for new-born disabled babies. There were none supporting it. [Telegraph 8 November]

Original story:

The Life organisation has expressed dismay at the suggestion by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that active and intentional euthanasia may be a valid option for some disabled newborns. Matthew O'Gorman, a spokesman for Life, said "it is extremely worrying to find that doctors are advocating using killing as a treatment option ... We fear if this proposal becomes a reality that many parents will find themselves under intolerable pressure to consent to the deliberate killing of their own children... Real compassion means killing pain, not patients..." [Inspire Magazine November 2006]

For the Sunday Times article, see here.

The Royal College has responded to the Sunday Times article, in part: "The views that have been expressed in the Sunday Times are not conclusive but point to the wider debate and must be considered in the context presented. The RCOG and its members are committed to the wellbeing of mothers and their newborns and strive to help all premature babies with a good prospect of survival." For their statement, see here.


Human/animal hybrids

Background briefing. From SPUC.,

Two groups of UK scientists have applied for permission to create embryos by inserting human DNA into the ova (egg cells) of farm animals. Dr Stephen Minger of King's College London leads one team, the other is led by Dr Lyle Armstrong in Newcastle upon Tyne. Dr Minger claim that this approach may be "more appropriate" than using hard-to-get human ova, because that would require hundreds of attempts to produce the stem cell lines they aim to generate. The Telegraph notes that cross-species fertilisation has long been permitted as an infertility test to assess the capability of sub-fertile sperm to penetrate eggs. [Sky News 7 November] [Daily Telegraph 7 November]

See the Telegraph story here.

SPUC Comment: The unprincipled strategy for gaining acceptance of this proposal is the existing use of cross-species fertilisation. An initial, apparently narrow, exception is widened out to a much broader practice.


Royal wedding at the Vatican

Background briefing. A matter of some significance for the British royal family, which has not historically been friendly to the Catholic Church. Prayers, please, for the happy couple.

For the first time in 400 years, a member of the British royal family will marry in a religious ceremony at the Vatican and the Queen has expressed her approval. Lord Nicholas Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, will marry British-born Croatian Princess Paola Doimi de Frankopan Nov. 4 in the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, in the Vatican. Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hope of Westminster, who like Lord Nicholas is an Anglican convert to Catholicism, will preside at the wedding ceremony. Queen Elizabeth is reportedly 'delighted' by the marriage and has granted the couple permission to marry at the Vatican. The 36-year-old royal was received into the Roman Catholic Church in a private ceremony in 2001. His fiancée is also Roman Catholic. Lord Nicholas's mother was the first member of the British Royal Family in modern times to convert to Catholicism in 1994.

By converting to Catholicism, Lord Nicholas has permanently forfeited his right of succession to the British throne. The Act of Settlement bars past or present Roman Catholics, those who marry Roman Catholics, as well as their children, from succession to the throne. Lord Nicholas met his fiancé at a New York party in 2001. They announced their engagement on Sept. 26, 2006 and married in a civil ceremony on Oct. 19. Queen Elizabeth said she would attend a reception for the couple at St James' Palace in January. Prince Charles, who is the groom's godfather, will also attend the reception along with other members of the royal family. The prince, however, will be unable to attend the church ceremony as he will be returning from an official visit to Pakistan at the time, a spokesperson told The Universe. His trip was arranged many months ago. [CFNews]
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Background briefing.

The retailer Tesco Direct has withdrawn a 'pole-dancing' kit that promises to 'unleash the sex kitten inside' from the toys and games section of its website, after protests from family groups. The company will continue to sell the Peekaboo kit as a 'fitness accessory' for adults. Pole-dancing originated in strip clubs. [CFNews; Sydney Morning Herald]

See the Daily Mail story here.

Readers may remember the scandal caused by Tesco selling the 'morning after pill' at its outlets. See a Daily Mail story here.


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