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.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Who links to me?

Who links to me?


Contact details for Bishops of England and Wales

In alphabetical order by diocese:

High Oaks,
Old Brighton Road North,
Pease Pottage,
West Sussex RH11 9AJ

BIRMINGHAM Archbishop Vincent Nichols,
Archbishop's House,
8 Shadwell Street,
Birmingham B4 6EY.

BRENTWOOD Bishop Thomas McMahon,
Bishop's House,
Essex CM4 9BU.

CARDIFF Archbishop Peter D.Smith,
Archbishop's House,
41-43 Cathedral Road,
Cardiff CF11 9HD.

CLIFTON Bishop Declan R.Lang,
St Ambrose,
North Road,
Leigh Woods,
Bristol BS8 3PW.

EAST ANGLIA Bishop Michael Evans,
The White House,
21 Upgate,
Norfolk NR14 7SH.

HALLAM Bishop John Rawsthorne,
75 Norfolk Road,
Sheffield S2 2SZ.

HEXHAM & NEWCASTLE Bishop Kevin Dunn,
Bishop's House,
800 West Road,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE5 2BJ

LANCASTER Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue,
Bishop's Apartment,
Cathedral House,
Balmoral Road,
Lancaster LA1 3BT.

LEEDS Bishop Arthur Roche,
Bishop's House,
13 North Grange Road,
Leeds LS6 2BR.

LIVERPOOL Archbishop Patrick Kelly,
Archbishop's House,
Carnatic Road,
Liverpool L18 8BY.

MENEVIA Bishop Mark Jabale OSB,
'Bryn Rhos',
79 Walter Road,
Swansea SA1 4PS.

MIDDLESBROUGH Bishop John Crowley,
16 Cambridge Road,
Middlesbrough TS5 5NN.

NORTHAMPTON Bishop Peter Doyle,
Bishop's House,
Marriott Street,
Northampton NN2 6AW

NOTTINGHAM Bishop Malcolm McMahon,
Bishop's House,
27 Cavendish Road East,
The Park,
Nottingham NG7 1BB.

PLYMOUTH Bishop Christopher Budd,
Bishop's House,
31 Wyndham. Street West,
Devon PL1 5RZ.

PORTSMOUTH Bishop Crispian Hollis,
Bishop's House,
Edinburgh Road,
Hants. PO1 3HG.

SALFORD Bishop Terence Brain,
Wardley Hall,
Manchester M28 2ND.

SHREWSBURY Bishop Brian Noble,
Laburnurn Cottage,
97 Barnston Road,
Barnston, Heswall,
Wirral CH61 1BW.

SOUTHWARK Archbishop Kevin McDonald,
Archbishop's House,
St George's Road,
London SE1 6HX.

WESTMINSTER Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop's House,
Ambrosden Avenue,
London SW1P 1QJ.
WREXHAM Bishop Edwin Regan,
Bishop's House, Sontley Road,
Wrexham. LL13 7EW


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bishop of Motherwell on Homosexual Adoption

Current status: encouragement to Bishop Devine, please.

Bishop Devine has written to the (Scottish) Herald (pub 23rd Oct), to protest at the proposal by the Scottish Executive to give homosexuals an equal right to adopt children. He wrote in part:

"Contrary to the preferred course of action of our political liaison officer and others, I refused to be silent in the public debate over the Adoption Bill. They feared there would be a serious risk of the executive reneging on its intimation to exempt the two Scottish Catholic adoption agencies from the requirements of the Adoption Bill, should the Church put the executive on the rack in the media. But I was not prepared to be party to this policy of appeasement." (Full letter here.)
Rt Rev Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell.

Devine's criticism of the the policy of the organs of the Scottish Bishops' Conference drew a rebuke from the Catholic Media Office, in a press release.

This is a good example of how Bishops' Conferences, and their bureaucracies, can make it harder for orthodox bishops to make a stand.

Contact Bishop Devine here:
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Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Current status: Local action where appropriate.

Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity:

Rome's decision not to extend the permission given to the United States bishops, to allow EMHCs to purify the sacred vessels after communion, is sufficient to outlaw the practice in England and Wales, where bishops have been permitting it.

Rome's decision: " In an Oct. 23 letter, Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked his fellow bishops to inform all pastors of the change, which was prompted by a letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The U.S. bishops had asked the Vatican to extend an indult -- or church permission -- in effect since 2002 allowing extraordinary ministers of holy Communion to help cleanse the Communion cups and plates when there were not enough priests or deacons to do so.

Bishop Skylstad, who heads the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., said Cardinal Arinze asked Pope Benedict about the matter during a June 9 audience, "and received a response in the negative." " See the full article (Catholic News Service) here.
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Civil Partnership of Pendergast and Filochowski

Background briefing. This story is not new (the infamous Mass took place in June 2001, and the civil partnership on the fifth anniversary of the Mass) but the participants and their friends, despite the row which greeted these events, seem determined to keep the matter in the public eye, with two new publications:

An article in 'The Furrow', October 2006, by Fr Enda McDonagh ('Honorably Catholic and Honorably Gay') reproduces Fr McDonagh's address at the Mass celebrated by Fr James O'Keefe to mark the 'friendship' of Pendergast and Filochowski.

A new collection of essays, edited by one of the partners, has been published: 'Opening Up: speaking out in the Church ' (Eds Julian Filochowski and Peter Stanford DARTON, LONGMAN & TODD, £14.95) This has been reviewed in The Tablet, and seems to be a 'tribute' to Pendergast by his friends.

The Pendergast/Filochowski affair is important because of their prominence in Catholic circles (Filochowski was Director of CAFOD), and the support given to them by other prominent Catholics, notably the Dominican theologian Fr Timothy Ratcliffe (a contributor to the book) and Bishop Crowley (who attended the Mass, and would have celebrated it himself if public outcry had not prevented it). All of these figures seem determined to normalise the notion of homosexual partnerships in the Catholic Church, despite the very clear guidance of the magisterium on the matter. See the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 2003 document, Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions betwen homosexual persons.

"In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. (n.5)"

The issues surrounding these matters have been admirably discussed, with reference to further documentation, on the Hermeneutic of Continuity blog: here, here and here.

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Student Societies

Latest update: Exeter CU takes Exeter Students' Guild to court. See here.

Nadine Dorries MP puts forward an 'early day motion' in defence of the Christian Unions, as follows:

"This House notes the valuable work and support provided to students by Christian Unions on University and College campuses across the United Kingdom, notes the constructive dialogue that exists between the majority of Christian Union societies and Student Guilds/Associations on campuses across the country. This House believes that a tolerant society should respect the rights of Christian Unions to their beliefs, believes Christian Unions are entitled to the rights of freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom of association. This House believes the leadership of Christian Unions should not be imposed with people who do not share their core beliefs."

This currently has the signatures of 35 MPs.

Briefing. 'Christian Union' societies at British universities are often anti-Catholic. However, the persecution of these groups because of their views on sexuality is a worrying sign, and seems to be becoming widespread.

Update: Essex Christian Union threaten legal action against the Student Guild, see here.
Edinburgh gay and lesbian groups ban Edinburgh Christian Union's chastity course; see here.

Report from 'Christian Concern for Our Nation'. University Cases In May of this year, Exeter Christian Union was forced to change its name to the 'Evangelical Christian Union', following pressure from the Student's Union, known as the Guild of Students. It was contended that the Christian Union was demonstrating cultish exclusivity, and so should attract the label 'evangelical' to describe its literal interpretation of biblical teaching. Such literal teaching was essentially being deemed to attract a label suggesting fundamentalism. This development came after one student approached the Guild and stated that the Christian Union was not accepting of all Christians. The Christian Union had retained its name for some fifty years previous to this. A letter was subsequently written in the student newspaper. The Guild stated that another person must be found to 'second' a motion changing the name from 'CU' to 'ECU'. An Annual General Meeting was held later in May. Even at this stage, the Christian Union was not fully aware of the case against them. The motion was carried by 54/50, and the Guild approved the motion. The CU was the forced to change its name to the Evangelical Christian Union.

The Christian Union then sought to reverse this decision by requesting a University referendum. Before this referendum, a hastily drafted equal opportunities policy was put forward by the Guild, stating in effect that any discrimination based on sexuality would lead to expulsion from the students union and a withdrawal of funds. At the same time, various posters were put up throughout the University supporting the vote to stop the name change from the 'ECU' to the 'CU', these posters were ruthless, misinformed and insensitive. A University referendum was subsequently held in October. The motion to change the name from 'ECU' to 'CU' was successful, but the Guild refused to ratify it. It was argued that the University rules state that a quorum of 10 per cent of students must be present for a motion to be carried. When less than 10 per cent of students are present, the Guild have the casting vote. They subsequently ruled that the 'ECU' should remain the 'ECU'.

Since that referendum, the Christian Union has been suspended, their student union bank account has been frozen, and they are not permitted to use any rooms or facilities within the Guild's jurisdiction for events or advertising. The issue is particularly pressing as the CU have an evangelistic mission on campus in just three weeks. They must now look for alternative advertising methods and venues.

The Exeter University Student magazine article on this issue can be found on page 2 of the following link: ·

In Edinburgh, the Christian Union has attracted criticism for adopting the "Pure" Course. This course advocates biblical teaching on sex and relationships. It states that sex is only appropriate within the life-long commitment of marriage, and that sex outside that institution is a sin. This clearly includes sex in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships. The result has been that the Christian Union has been described as homophobic. Gay activists have attempted to have the course banned before its commencement on Mon 23rd October. Following a misleading and distorted article about "Pure" on the front page of the Student Association newspaper, Gay activists launched their own "Stop Pure" campaign, setting up an internet-based forum. The Chaplain of the University had initially supported the teaching of the "Pure" course, but has since refused to support the Christian Union.

For further information on Edinburgh Christian Union please visit the following website:

These Christian Unions are in the midst of a real battle to boldly proclaim biblical truth. Please pray that they will be bold and fearless in declaring God's word.


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