Monday, December 31, 2007

Dissident gay Catholic conference in Southwark

Action: letters, please, to Archbishop MacDonald of Southwark. Quest is an organisation dedicated to denying the teaching of the Church: so much so that it has been excluded from the Catholic Directory since 1998 (their own account of the saga can be read here). It is outrageous that the Archdiocese of Southwark should be allowing one of its priests to be Chaplain to the conference, and to celebrate Mass for them. It is also scandalous that Fr Michael Seed, a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster, should be a speaker at the conference, and that Digby Stuart College, part of the University of Roehampton, which is a Catholic foundation with a chapel, should be serving as the venue for this conference. A Quest event in the Liverpool University Catholic Chaplaincy was canceled at the insistance of Bishop Kelly.

Archbishop Kevin MacDonald
Archbishop's House
150 St George's Road

Private Secretary to the Archbishop
020 7928 0687
Monsignor William Saunders

The conference details are all here; in case they take them down, they are pasted below.

Quest's dissent from Church teaching can be seen clearly in their official rejection of the Vatican's 2005 statement on admitting homosexuals to seminaries, here; their attack on Archbishop Vincent Nichols' stand on the Sexual Orientation Regulations here;

Relevant here is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 'The Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person', 1986: (See here for the full text.)

17: 'All support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and the to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous...'

Quest Annual Conference 2008
Digby Stuart College, Roehampton University: Friday 18th - Sunday 20th July
“What it means to say ‘I am a Catholic’”

It’s 35 years since Quest was founded in 1973, so why not join us for this special celebration?
Dr Tina Beattie will be making a welcome return following her impressive talk at the 2005 conference in Liverpool. She will also be on home soil as she is Reader in Theology and Religious Studies at Roehampton University. Among her books and articles is “God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate”, an analysis of Christian writings on Mary and Eve in the early Church and in recent Roman Catholic theology.
Fr Michael Seed SA has been the Ecumenical Officer for the Archdiocese of Westminster since 1988. A convert, he entered the Franciscan order The Friars of Atonement in 1979 and was ordained in 1986. His publications include “Gift of Assurance”, “Letters from the Heart” and “Will I see you in Heaven?” He has recently published his biography, “Nobody’s Child”.
Peter Stanford will be our after dinner speaker. Peter is a former editor of the Catholic Herald and author of a number of books including, “Catholics and Sex” and “Why I am still A Catholic.” He is a frequent contributor to the Tablet, the Guardian and the New Statesman.
Our chaplain will be Fr Alan McLean, a parish priest of the archdiocese of Southwark in which Roehampton is situated. Fr Alan celebrated the Linkline Silver Jubilee Mass in November 2006.

Digby Stuart College is situated within the main campus of Roehampton University in South West London. It is a short distance from Barnes station (with trains from Waterloo or Clapham Junction) and has Richmond Park on its doorstep. We will have accommodation in Lee House, a recent addition to the facilities, where all rooms are larger than average ensuite singles, and Newman House, which has semi ensuite facilities (shower and washbasin in room; toilets in corridor). Accommodation in Newman House is on the first floor and the only access is by stairs. Mass on Sunday is in the magnificent Chapel.


First Fridays and First Saturdays

A recomended New Year's Resolutions to all our readers!

The Nine First Friday and the Five First Saturday Devotions

Those involved in any form of Catholic Action, will be only too aware of the growing threats facing many of us who wish to remain faithful to traditional Catholic teaching and practice. Efficacious prayer is needed to accompany the action that all Catholics, by virtue of their baptism, are called to take in order to defend and promote our glorious Faith. Our Blessed Lord, in revelations to St Margaret Mary Alacoque at Paray-le-Monial in France, and Our Blessed Lady, in revelations to Blessed Jacinta, Blessed Francisco and Sr. Lucia at Fatima in Portugal, have given us the most efficacious means to overcome these threats, save our souls and win other souls for Christ - namely, the devotions of the Nine First Fridays in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Five First Saturdays in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sadly, even among traditional Catholics the prominence that should be given to these crucial devotions appears to be dwindling. This article is a plea to all Catholics to either start these devotions anew, or take them up again, and if at all possible, to practice them continuously.

The Nine First Fridays
Our Blessed Lord appeared to St Margaret Mary on many occasions. Four apparitions, known as the "Great Revelations" took place between 1673 and 1675. During these revelations, Our Blessed Lord requested the following:-
  • The institution of a Holy Hour in memory of His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (St Margaret Mary was asked to do this from 11pm to midnight on Thursday nights; a practice we could imitate).
  • A Communion of Reparation to be received on the First Friday of each month.
  • A Feast in honour of His Sacred Heart, to be kept on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.
  • Consecration to His Sacred Heart.
Our Blessed Lord gave twelve promises to St Margaret Mary for souls who would practice devotion to His Sacred Heart:-
  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their homes.
  3. I will console them in all their afflictions.
  4. I will be their secure refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
  5. I shall bestow abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and ocean of infinite mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall rise rapidly to a high degree of perfection.
  9. I will bless every place where an image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honoured.
  10. I will give to priests the power to touch the hardest hearts.
  11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Communion on the First Friday of every month, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance, and that they shall not die without receiving the Sacraments, and that My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last moment.
A concrete way in which to practise this devotion, can be found in the book "The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" by Fr John Croiset SJ (TAN books ISBN 0-89555-334-1). The sleeve notes from the book state the following:- "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not "just another book on the Sacred Heart devotion", but it can be truly said to be the book on this devotion. Written by the spiritual director of St Margaret Mary (1647-1690), the book comes from the pen of a man intimately familiar with every aspect of the revelations given by Our Lord to this famous saint; thus, the book is actually the "key" to understanding the importance and the centrality of the Sacred Heart devotion for our lives as true Catholics . . . Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was actually commissioned by Our Lord Himself through St Margaret Mary, and as the author neared completion of it, the Saint told him that Our Lord said it was so completely in accord with His wishes that it would never be necessary to make any change in it. Later she revealed to Fr Croiset that it was Our Lord Himself who had inspired him with the ideas in this book and that it was so pleasing to Him that "none other but Himself could have arranged everything so much to His wishes".

The First Five Saturdays
The following is taken from Sister Lucia's memoirs (she is writing in the third person). The events took place at her convent in Pontevedra, Spain:-
"On December 10th 1925 the Most Holy Virgin appeared to her (Sr Lucia) and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was a child. The Most Holy Virgin rested Her hand on her (Sr Lucia's) shoulder, and as She did so, She showed her a heart encircled with thorns, which She was holding in Her other hand. At the same time, the Child said; "Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no-one to make an act of reparation to remove them." Then the Most Holy Virgin said; Look, My Daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me, and announce that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the First Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me."
A couple of years later, on November 1st 1927, Sr Lucia wrote a letter to Dona Maria Filomena Morais de Miranda, highlighting the importance of the First Saturday devotion and clarifying a couple of points. Here are some excerpts from that letter:-
"I don’t know if you already know about the reparatory devotion of the five Saturdays to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As it is still recent, I would like to inspire you to practice it, because it is requested by Our Dear Heavenly Mother and Jesus has manifested a desire that it be practiced. Also, it seems to me that you would be fortunate, dear godmother, not only to know it and to give Jesus the consolation of practicing it, but also to make it known and embraced by many other persons. It consists in this: During five months on the first Saturday, to receive Jesus in Communion, recite a Rosary, keep Our Lady company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, and make a confession. This confession can be made a few days earlier, and if in this previous confession you have forgotten the intention (of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary) one can offer the following confession for this intention, provided that on the first Saturday one receives Holy Communion in the state of grace, with the intention of repairing for offenses against the Most Holy Virgin, and which afflict Her Immaculate Heart. It seems to me, my dear godmother, that we are fortunate to be able to give Our Dear Heavenly Mother this proof of love, for we know that She desires it to be offered to Her. As for myself, I avow that I am never so happy as when first Saturday arrives. Isn’t it true that our greatest happiness is to belong entirely to Jesus and Mary and to love Them, and Them alone, without reserve? We see this so clearly in the lives of the saints . . . They were happy because they loved, and we, my dear godmother, we must seek to love as they did, not only to enjoy Jesus, which is the least important - because if we do not enjoy Him here below, we will enjoy Him up above - but to give Jesus and Mary the consolation of being loved . . . . and that in exchange for this love They might be able to save many souls . . ." (emphases mine).

Sister Lucia was asked by her confessor, Father Gonçalves, why Our Lady had asked for five First Saturdays, and not any other number. It was Sr Lucia's habit to make a holy hour from eleven in the evening to midnight, especially on Thursday evenings, according to the requests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Paray-le-Monial. On the night of May 29-30, 1930, she put Fr Gonçalves' question to Our Blessed Lord and received the following answer:-

"My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

  1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.
  2. Blasphemies against Her Perpetual Virginity.
  3. Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize Her as the Mother of men.
  4. The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children indifference or scorn, or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother.
  5. The offenses of those who outrage Her directly in Her holy images.

An excellent little booklet giving more information about Fatima and the First Saturdays is “The Rosary and the Crisis of Faith – Fatima and World Peace” by Msgr Joseph Cirrincione and Thomas A Nelson (TAN books ISBN 0-89555-306-6)

See here for more on Devotion to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Tony Blair received into the Church

Briefing: we can only reiterate the words of Ann Widdecombe quoted in the Telegraph:

"Well I think the crucial thing to remember is at the point you are received (into the Catholic church) you have to say individually and out loud 'I believe everything the church teaches to be revealed truth'," she told Sky News.

"And that means if you previously had any problems with church teaching, as Tony Blair obviously did over abortion, as he did again over Sunday would have to say you changed your mind.

"And I think people will want to know that he did go through that process, because otherwise it will seem as if the church did make an exception for somebody just because of who he is."

If this is a real conversion, that is wonderful beyond words. Blair was the most anti-Catholic PM in living memory. The Catholic community is due some clarification.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Damian Thompson's summary of the year

Briefing: the bishops of England and Wales look pretty bad when one reads Damian Thompson's list of their failures to support the Pope's initiatives (the Motus Proprio and his encyclicals) and their support for a book attacking the Pope, since March when he started his blog. To this we might add the support given by a number of bishops to militant homosexual groups which not only demand that the Church's immutable teaching be changed to suit them, but describe the Pope himself as a 'homophobe': and allowing the Association of Catholic Women to be driven out of the bishops' own consultative body, the National Board of Catholic Women.

But to balance Thompson's list here is a list of good things bishops have done in 2007.

Bishop Roche of Leeds condemns abuse of the Holy Name by the media.

Scottish Bishops as a body plan legal challenge to the Sexual Orientation Regulations on behalf of their adoption agencies.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor makes an urgent appeal against the Sexual Orientation Regulations.


Scottish bishops as a body issue strongly-worded attack on the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

Bishop Devine of Motherwell calls on Scottish Labour to support Christian values.

Bishop Hollis of Portsmouth condemns the abuse of 'general absolution' and the giving of communion to non-Catholics.

Bishop Tartaglia speaks out against the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham calls for lobbying of MPs to stop or modify the Sexual Orientation Regulations. For this he is pilloried by Stonewall as a runner up 'bigot of the year.'


Scottish bishops as a body call on Catholic voters to examine the pro-life credentials of candidates in elections.

the Bishops of England and Wales as a body reiterate the Church's teaching that human embryos should be treated with the respect due to human persons, against the proposed 'hybrids' bill and embryo experimentation.

Archbishop Smith of Cardiff says pro-abortion politicians should not receive communion.

Scottish bishops, as a body, call for a delay to the 'hybrid embryo' bill.

Bishop O'Donaghue of Lancaster rules out any compromise between Catholic adoption agencies and the SORs: rather than hand chidren over to homosexual couples, or hand them over to another body to do that, they will close.

Bishops of England and Wales as a body call on schools to withdraw support from the now pro-abortion Amnesty International.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor tells the rebel management of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth that if the hospital won't be Catholic, it will be sold off and the proceeds used for Catholic purposes. The management finally backs down and accepts a new code of ethics.

Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham sticks his head above the parapet (again) to criticise the Government plan to allow two lesbians both to be described officially as 'mother' to a child.

Bishop O'Donaghue of Lancaster calls on Catholic schools to be truly Catholic, and lists the ways this must be done.

We don't want to give the impression that the Bishops have done nothing not open to criticism. But criticism must be made on the basis of the complete picture. Just as we say 'No to Pollyanna', we reject the view that the bishops never do anything right. In 2008 they have had their backs to the wall on a series of issues: euthanasia, the SORs and the adoption agencies, the hybrids bill, Amnesty International and abortion, and the growing threat to Catholic charities. Their response has not been perfect, but they are at least opposing the persecution of the Church and the destruction of the vestiges of legally enshrined Christian values. These issues will continue and they will get worse; we can only expect the bishops to carry on, and improve, on such issues if Catholics commend and support them.

What the bishops have failed to do is to put the Church in these islands into a position in which it can gather the strength to oppose these laws and begin to reconvert the country. The first and most important thing, the thing that only they can do, is to get rid of the openly dissident people who run pretty well everything the bishops are directly in charge of, from 'gay' Masses to the seminaries. Only when they do this will things start to improve: there will be more, and better trained, priests, and the Church won't constantly be attacked and undermined from within. The bishops seem to be fond of this ghastly crowd of professional dissidents, whose only qualifications seem to be membership of an 'in-group' with the same tedious attitudes of liberal dissent from Church teaching.

Please pray for the bishops.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Royal College of Obs & Gyny criticises Government


From SPUC: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has criticised a scheme announced by the UK Department of Health to distribute birth control pills without prescription. Dr Christine Robinson, vice-president of the RCOG's Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, warned that the move could restrict choice as pharmacists will not be able to offer methods such as the coil, and that there could be
safety concerns since an assessment of the possible risks of using the pill requires medical equipment and knowledge of the patient's medical history.


Westmister's 'Gay' Masses: new Parish Priest

Briefing: the Archdiocese of Westminster has issued a press release:

Date: 18th December 2007

Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory

In recent years, a number of homosexual Catholics, together with their parents, families and friends, have expressed their desire for pastoral care from the Diocese of Westminster. Since March 2007, this has been provided by the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory in Warwick Street, in the heart of Soho.

Recently, there has been a review of the provision that has been provided and, as a result, Mgr. Seamus O’Boyle has been appointed Parish Priest. He will be responsible for ensuring that all pastoral provision is given with due catechesis and formation according to the mind of the Church. The parish will continue to be sensitive to the pastoral needs of homosexual Catholics.

Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory parish provides a welcome to all and every Mass celebrated at the Church has always, and will continue to be open to all.

For further information, please contact Eddie Tulasiewicz, Diocese of Westminster, Tel: 020 7798 9031

Comment: It is unclear what this means. Is this simply a change of Parish Priest for this church? Does that kind of routine matter merit a press release? There seems to be some response to criticism here: Mgr. O'Boyle will 'ensure' that the pastoral provision includes 'catechesis and formation according to the mind of the Church': suggesting that this was not happening before. Indeed, it is even possible to read the document as saying that the 'Gay' Masses will cease: all Masses will be open to everyone; the parish will be sensitive to the needs of homosexuals (presumably like every parish in the land). This is not how the Soho Masses Pastoral Council are seeing it; 'their' next Mass is scheduled for 6th Jan at 5pm.

It is to be hoped that Mgr. O'Boyle and the Archdiocese is at least trying to regain control of the situation, and prevent, for example, the celebrants, bidding prayers, Newsletters and 'books at the back of the church' being implicitly or explicitly hostile to Church teaching. Time will tell. But the whole project is to have Masses not for a particular sexual orientation, but of a particular political orientation: the militant gay activists campainging for a change to Church teaching on sexuality, who had been gathering in the Anglican church of St Anne in Soho for years, and organised itself as the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement/Soho Masses Pastoral Council. The flaw in this is acknowledged in the very document issued by the Archdiocese when it set them up in their present form:

In seeking to meet these pastoral needs there would be no attempt to create separate congregations and exclusive services out of step with the Church’s teaching.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'Catholics for a Free Choice' plan UK campaign


From CFNews: The following letter has been published in the Catholic Herald (Dec 14, 2007)

Sir - The YouGov poll claiming that 43 per cent of' Catholics' support abortion (Leading article, November 30) was conducted by Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) in mid-November. As we suspect. CFFC also funded it, and CFFC's Jon O'Brien recently presented the results to MPs at Westminster.

I attended the Marie Scopes Global Safe Abortion conference in London on October 23-24 and am therefore in conscience bound to contextualise and shed light upon this poll - as upon CFFC's wider promotion of its 'abortion rights' strategy. The poll forms what is the first of a longer onslaught being prepared against the Catholic Church by CFFC in Britain. It is a clear attempt to manipulate Catholic opinion and influence decision-makers.

During the conference Jon O'Brien spoke of his '10 commandments' for overcoming opposition to abortion rights. One of these is 'better advocacy is the antidote to the opposition'.

O'Brien also publicly commented that 'many Catholics use contraceptives, have abortions, support choice. Catholic voters are for choice ... public opinion says they support choice. This is important for policy makers; it is key to forming public policy. It happened in Portugal. It will happen in Ireland. Many bishops support condoms policy, not the pro- life policy, e.g Cardinal Martini, so, this is the beginning of change in the institutional Church.'

More importantly, I attended a presentation by Media Measurement, consisting of an analysis of abortion in the media between February and September, a so-called 'independent' study commissioned by Marie Stopes International. The presenter began by saying that in the eight-month period of the study, Cardinal O'Brien speaking out against abortion received 226 media 'hits', whereas CFFC's O'Brien received only five such 'hits'. The presenter commented that 'had the cardinal been launching a new product, it would have been a huge success because the UK's adult population had three opportunities per day in various media to hear the cardinal's comments'. The response of Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, to this was, 'Why would the cardinal have anything notable to say?', and 'We will have to quieten the cardinal!' Thus the poll also claimed that Catholics believe that 'Catholic bishops should stay out of abortion politics'.

My perspective is this: CFFC's poll and other attempts to keep 'abortion rights' in the British media is a purely reactive strategy - reactive to Catholic truth. I have also recently learnt that CFFC is rooting down in Britain in the medium term to advise abortion activists on influencing policy makers. Including MPs perhaps?

This means that right-believing Catholics must not only keep defending the truth of infallible Catholic teaching, but must be more proactive and media-savvy in doing so.

Another key fact I noted at the conference, which helps us to understand CFFC's strategy, is that abortion activists now speak of moving the debate in favour of abortion from one of 'reproductive choice' to one of 'reproductive justice'. They aim to make 'pro-choice' arguments redundant. Thus we may expect to hear arguments that pro-life groups countering abortion rights will be accused of denying women 'justice' and 'equality'.
Yours faithfully, (Name and address supplied) 1410.9


Incitement to religious hatred in Rock music

Briefing: I hope this gets picked up by other Catholic bloggers and it occurs to someone to take one of these nasty jokers to court. Would HMV sell CDs with the refrain 'Kill the Jew!', 'Kill the Muslim!' etc.? But isn't it nice? HMV are even offering a discount.

Here's YouTube video of the song played live.

From an email: According to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, 2006, Section 29 B (1): 'A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred'.

The following CD is available in major high street retailers such as HMV and Virgin (as well as via their websites here and here.

Deicide - 'Once Upon the Cross'

Included in the album is a 'song' called 'Kill the Christian'. The lyrics follow:

You are the one we despise
Day in day out your words compromise lives
I will love watching you die
Soon it will be and by your own demise

Buried in hypocrisy
Lacerate your faith in god
Morally diseased
On the cross of Calvary your body bashed, defeated, stabbed

Blessing as you hate
Loyal to your enemies
Monetary faith
As him you'll pay for the lies of your prophecy
Satan wants you dead

Kill the Christian, kill the Christian
Kill the Christian, kill the Christian
Kill the Christian, kill the Christian
Kill the Christian

Armies of darkness unite
Destroy their temples and churches with fire
Where in his world will you hide
Sentenced to death, the anointment of Christ

In due time your path leads to me
Put you out of your misery

The death of prediction
Kill the Christian

Kill the Christian...dead!

Surely this would qualify as material which is threatening and intended to stir up religious hatred? If you replaced the lyrics with 'Kill the Muslim' then this would be front page news and the record would undoubtedly be banned!

This is characteristic of the 'Death Metal' and 'Black Metal' records that are available all over the UK in supposedly family orientated stores.


'Pope a homophobe' say 'Christian' gay activists

Action: letters, please. This banner is from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement site; a longer version appeared on the site dedicated to their conference at which Martin Pendergast read out a statement condemning British church leaders for opposing the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

This incitement to hatred is not, of course, against any law, unlike the things which might be said about the people who created it. The list of conference sponsors and supporters, includes:

The Home Office, The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Russell Jones & Walker Solicitors, BT OpenReach, Amicus, Communication Workers Union (CWU), Reed Smith Richards Butler Attorneys; the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Tooks Chambers, The British Humanist Association, Student Christian Movement, Christian Socialist Movement, The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, Liberal Democrat Youth and Students, British Institute of Human Rights, Amnesty International.

Martin Pendergast is a founder of the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and its off-shoot, the Soho Masses Pastoral Council. Into the hands of these organisations the Archdiocese has apparently sub-contracted the pastoral care of homosexual Catholics, who are ministered to at special Masses in Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, with a special diet of dissenting priests and books and adverts for the events of the gay subculture such as the Gay Pride march. This outrage must cease: if you love your fellow Catholics regardless of sexuality, and don't want one section of them to be cordoned off and told a pack of lies about the teaching of the Church, write to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Cardinal Levada of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. These Masses must be stopped.

His Eminence William Cardinal Levada
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio,
11 00120 Vatican City State

His Eminence Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor
Archbishop's House
Francis Street


Friday, December 14, 2007

Tom Utley on Sex Education

Briefing: anyone still not sure how bad things have become should have a look at this on Catholic Mom of 10, and other posts there as well.

Tom Utley is a 'liberal' Catholic (in the Telegraph he couldn't see the difference between going to Midnight Mass and to the local Anglican church) but he's revolted by the sex ed pamphlets his son brings home from school.


EU countries condemned for failing to support large families

Briefing: an excellent report.

From CFam: (NEW YORK — C-FAM) At a meeting of the European Parliament this week, the
European Large Families Confederation (ELFAC) warned that the long-term economic well-being of large families is “seriously compromised” by current EU family policies. Stating that “large families are the only key to the demographic future of Europe,” ELFAC argued that the EU’s current policy towards the demographic crisis in Europe ignores the fact that almost a third of European women aged 20-34 years would like to have three or more children
while the birth rates in many EU countries continues to drop alarmingly.

ELFAC argues that the EU’s family focus is on the “average” woman, which
creates inequalities for large families since these policies are based on a
family size of fewer than three children. Large families are treated as only
marginally important for the well-being of the whole society and family life is
devalued to the level of a “hobby.” Instead, the EU focuses on programs such
as promoting reconciliation of work and family life, while ignoring the fact
that policy should also be geared to women who choose to stay at home and care
for their children, which is not recognized as “work” in any of the policy

This situation of deprivation, which stops many women from having more
children, is evident by the scant attention paid to those families who against
all odds decided to have more children according to ELFAC. The group points to
such failures of policy as no value-added tax exemptions on obligatory products
for children (e.g. car seats), very low tax deductions for children, lowering
of child allowances after a child reaches three years of age, and taxation
schemes that penalize married and widowed parents.

Recent data on the ideal family size in Europe show that the fertility rate
of 2.1, which is needed for keeping the population at a replacement level, can
be achieved if more policy effort is spent simply on helping these women
achieve their goal. Currently, not a single EU country has the desired
fertility level and six countries are experiencing dangerously low fertility
rates under 1.4.

Calling for a meaningful change in the social attitudes towards the family,
ELFAC advocates that a policy priority should be first to acknowledge that
close to a third of European women do not seem to have “a right” to have more
than two children, and that helping these women will singlehandedly solve the
demographic problem in Europe. ELFAC’s report ends with a call to the EU and
national government authorities to improve their family policies “so that the
minority of women that want to have three or more children are free to have,
raise and educate them.” It also includes a pledge to provide the EU
institutions of up to five experts specializing in the needs of large families.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Royal Mail Christmas Stamps

Briefing: ignore the stupid emails going round about having to request the lovely religious Christmas stamps available this year, but get enough for next year as well! they only come out bi-anually. Next year we'll be back to snowmen drawn by five-year-olds.

From CFNews: Christians in the Anglican Diocese of Lichfield are being urged not to be taken in by a hoax email claiming the Royal Mail have instructed staff not to sell religious-themed Christmas stamps. The email warning comes in a number of different versions. Some claim the instruction has been issued so that the Royal Mail can say there is no demand for religious-themed stamps. Others claim it is not to offend the 'militant secularist lobby' and others claim it is not to offend 'people of other faiths'. The emails urge recipients to forward them to everybody in their address book. Now the Diocese of Lichfield has issued its own warning urging people to 'stamp out' the myth. Spokesman Gavin Drake said: "This warning is simply not true. "No such instruction has been issued by the Royal Mail. In fact, the Royal Mail has printed 300 million Christmas stamps and they won't want any left over in the New Year.

While it would be nice if the Royal Mail would produce religious themed Christmas stamps each year - as the General Synod unanimously requested in July 2004 - the Royal Mail do issue religious-themed Christmas stamps bi-annually. In their accompanying literature about this year's theme there is unquestionable Christian content - including a summary of the discovery by archaeologists of the Lichfield Angel, part of the original 8th Century Shrine of Saint Chad, discovered during an excavation of the nave of Lichfield Cathedral. Rather than be ashamed of our nation's Christian heritage, the Royal Mail appear to be celebrating it and in the spring will release a set of stamps celebrating these islands' great cathedrals - in which Lichfield will take pride of place on the first class stamp," he added. In a warning on the diocese's website - - Mr Drake urges people who receive the circular emails not to forward them but to inform the sender that this is a hoax. [Lichfield Mercury]


Failure of catechesis in Northern Ireland

Briefing: it seems likely a similar survey on the British mainland would reveal ignorance just as bad as that found both sides of the border in Ireland. Bishop O'Donaghue of Lancaster's insistence on proper catechesis in Catholic schools is timely.

From CFNews: A new study has uncovered a surprising lack of religious knowledge among both Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Contradicting the impression that residents of Northern Ireland are generally more religious than their neighbours in the Irish republic, a survey by the Millward Brown Ulster firm found that the level of religious knowledge is roughly the same on both sides of the border. The survey-- the first of its kind in the region -- found that Catholics in Northern Ireland show the same level of religious knowledge as those in the south. Among Protestants, however, the residents of Northern Ireland are less knowledgeable. Overall, only 42% of the poll respondents knew that there are 4 Gospels, and just 54% could name the persons of the Trinity. The survey uncovered a striking decline in religious knowledge among younger respondents.

On each question and most others, Catholics scored substantially higher results. Only 21% of those aged 16- 24 knew the number of the Gospels, and only 33% could identify the persons of the Trinity. Commenting on the poll figures, Stephen Cave of the Evangelical Alliance of Northern Ireland said: 'Overall the figures are not good but the drop in knowledge, almost halved within a generation, indicates that the Christian faith is becoming less meaningful to those under 25 years of age.' His colleague Sean Mullen of the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland added: 'The notion that Christianity can be transmitted through the culture from one generation to the next is clearly no longer valid.' The survey was conducted by Millward Brown Ulster for the Iona Institute, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, and the Evangelical Alliance of Northern Ireland. Click here for full results.


Charity Commission in Wonderland

Briefing: following the recent change in the law removing religion as a charitable object, the Charity Commission has been holding consultative meetings with representatives from religious charities. All well and good. But in the strange world where the Commission exists, the only religions which count are non-Chritian ones. Readers of the Catholic Herald may remember the letter from the Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission (22nd June) responding to reports that the new law will be bad for Catholic charities: she clearly believed that the best response was ridicule and sarcasm, while reiterating the policies which created the problem without apology or explanation. 'The Act wasn't created as a cunning ploy to cull religious charities from the Register.' Oh, so that's ok then.

From Christian Concern for Our Nation: The Charity Commission have announced the launch of a dedicated new ‘Faith and Social Cohesion Unit’ to provide support and expert advice to faith-based charities. The unit’s stated aims are to strengthen the governance of faith-based charities, identify and support organisations that could be but are not currently registered as charities and improve the regulator's and society's understanding of faith-based charities and the contribution they make.

The Commission announced that they will be “building on the findings of a two year programme of workshops with representatives from over 800 faith-based organisations across 11 different faiths. Events were held with Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities as well as special meetings with the UK's smaller faiths such as Baha'i and Zoroastrianism, and a special multi-faith event for women only.” It is of great concern to note that over the last 2 years no specific mention at all is made of any consultations with Christian
organisations or faith groups apart from in the development of a model governing document for independent evangelical churches in 2004. It is hoped that in all future events and in the composition of the Faith Advisory group the Commission will seek to re-address this balance and correctly represent Christians, bearing in mind that in the last national census about 72% of the population stated their religion as Christian.

Details about the Unit on the Commission website show events with feedback from
Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu Charities with no mention of
Christianity. It is stated that “The Unit will initially work primarily with
Muslim charities and communities. A Project Board including representatives of
the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) has been established to
direct the Unit’s work and to provide specialist advice”.

The focus on primarily Muslim charities ignores the faith based Christian
charities and this is an important omission which needs re-addressing,
particularly as the new Faith Advisory group will play an important role in
advising the Commission on policy and issues affecting all faith based
charities, including Christianity.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Exeter Christian Union: victory


From Christian Concern for Our Nation: XETER University’s Christian Union won a crucial vote on Friday 7th December 2007 in their highly-publicised human rights battle with the campus Students’ Guild and University authorities. On 7th December 2007, their prolonged battle with the University took a substantial step forward when the CU won a democratic student vote at an Emergency General Meeting of the Students’ Guild at which the CU were invited by the Guild to present a motion allowing them to
require all officers and members of the CU to sign a statement of belief.

On January 5th 2007, Ben Martin, a member of the Christian Union, filed papers
at the High Court following the suspension of the 50-year-old Christian Union
(CU) from the official list of student societies on campus, and the freezing of
its Student Union bank account. The CU had also been banned from free use of
Students’ Guild premises, and from advertising events within Guild facilities,
because the Students’ Guild claimed the CU constitution and activities did not
conform to its Equal Opportunities standards.

Following detailed negotiations between the CU, the Guild and the University,
and between the National Union of Students and the Universities and Colleges
Christian Unions (UCCF), and under the threat of High Court action, the CU have
now secured:-

An active Student Union bank account;
Re-listing on the Guild’s official list of societies; and
Permission to use and advertise CU events on Guild/campus premises.

At 12-noon on Friday 7th December, the Student body voted by 122 to 47 that the
relationship between the CU and Student Guild should reflect proposed new
guidelines on religious societies as agreed between the National Union of
Students and UCCF, which would allow the CU to ask officers and members to sign
up to the aims and beliefs of the society, whilst all meetings and events
remain open to all students at Exeter University.

Commenting on the vote, Ben Martin, who has since left the university, said:
“This continues to be a long and hard fight for the rights of Christian
students to assemble and form as a group of fellow believers under a lawful
constitution. We support the rights of any student on campus to assemble and
discuss/debate any topic with fellow students in what is a free society. This
all began 18 months ago when one student, after 50 years of the CU being on
campus, complained that he did not feel able to sign up to our statement of
belief. We pray now the Guild will ratify the vote as is right and proper and
we will be able to put this all behind us”

Ross Tranter, current CU president added: “The whole CU is pleased with this
vote and we hope now that the Guild will ratify the vote so that we may move
forward from this matter. We are simply looking forward to getting on with our
academic studies and to developing the work of the CU as a well-established,
successful and fully recognised society on campus. We hope the Guild will
recognise this important vote and not force us to proceed with legal action”

Andrea Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre, commented “This vote is
an important step forward towards a resolution in this case. It is a victory
for common sense, and a signal to the Guild on how students feel about a truly
diverse and equal agenda where freedom of religion and freedom of association
can be fully respected and integrated on campus. Christian students in Exeter
are showing courage and leadership beyond their years and fighting for these
great principles of a truly free and democratic society. Universities are the
places where the leaders of tomorrow are shaped and moulded, and it is
heartening to see Christian students claiming these important principles as
their own for the benefit of freedom for all.”

‘The Legal Rights of Student Christian Unions’, by Julian Rivers is a paper that
rebuts Mark Shaw QC’s Adjudication between the Christian Union and the Student


Sex Ed: more of the same on its way


From SPUC: SPUC has described aspects of the government's new schools strategy as "another ratcheting-up of the targeting of young people to be victims of the culture of death." Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, said: "The Children's Plan promises a review of best practice in sex education. Every review since 1990 has led to calls for 'more of the same' policy - sex education and wider provision of sex facilities (abortion, contraception, sex advice) to children and teenagers. The government's reviewers and advisors are not only committed to the promotion of explicit sex
information and abortion services. Many of them are actually providers of such services - funded by the government - like Brook, and the abortion service BPAS." SPUC also accused Mr Ed Balls, the minister responsible, of presenting misleading data on teenage pregnancy, which has actually increased in recent years. [SPUC, 12 December] Mr Ed Balls MP, secretary of state for children, schools and families, published his department's Children's Plan yesterday.


Joanna Jepson: gory pro-life pictures are counterproductive

Comment: before this disappears from the Catholic Herald website, here is The Rev. Joanna Jepson's article, on a topic of great importance to to the Pro-Life cause. Jepson sprang to fame for attempting a legal challenge to abortions for minor, correctable defects such as cleft palettes in 2003. On the question of using gruesome pictures of aborted babies for the pro-life cause, we are in complete agreement with her: "Pro-lifers don’t disagree with abortion because of what it looks like but because of what it does." To suggest otherwise trivialises the pro-life case and turns the audience off. We hope that this article signals an end to the strange support the Catholic Herald has been giving to the UK Life League, the most active exponent of the 'shock tactic' approach in the UK.

From the Catholic Herald, in part: I recently saw a photograph of an aborted baby’s head – or perhaps I should stick to the technical term ‘foetus’ and not mislead people with emotive language – held by forceps over a jar. Perhaps you know the one I mean. Apparently it has been well circulated on the international pro-life scene since it was taken in 1987.

Next to the head are some vital statistics which claim that the gestational age is somewhere in the third trimester, which would explain why she (also documented is that this tiny one was female) has so much hair. However, medical opinion suggests that, given the size of the forceps compared to the head it is extremely unlikely this is the head of a third trimester baby. Now I’m not a doctor or a scientist but, ignoring my clerical collar, I’m probably representative of the kind of young woman that those folk at Foundation for Life were aiming to reach with the sickening postcard of this tiny dismembered head.

The image undoubtedly tells a story about the gruesome reality of abortion but these kinds of pictures and associated websites also tell another story – about the people who promulgate them. Tracing this particular postcard back to its organisation I came across an American website called Abortion Truth. At first glance its homepage appeared more like some homemade teenage Dracula-fest website.

The page is animated, so that blood appears to be pouring down the page and features anomalous ghoulish chains. The “abortion truth”, it seems, just isn’t bad enough without naïve horror graphics. The site presents not only disturbing pictures of abortion remains, but an equally discomforting idea of what pro-lifers are like.

These shock tactics suggest some anti-abortion campaigners are more interested in exploiting the gore than engaging in a debate on a moral, scientific or medical level. The fact is that the argument against abortion doesn’t rest on the distressing aftermath of the procedure. Pro-lifers don’t disagree with abortion because of what it looks like but because of what it does. Terminating human life is morally abhorrent. If we follow the arguments put forward by those who parade shock photos of 24-week old aborted remains then what are people to conclude? That abortion at seven weeks is OK because it doesn’t look as bad?

Reliance on these photographs risks undermining the attempt to win over public opinion – not just because of the potentially disreputable association it creates around anti-abortion campaigners. It is only part of the argument and it is naive to think that the issue can be solved by producing ever more gruesome evidence of late abortions in order to shock and frighten women. It is like trying to answer someone’s question in a different language: the message simply won’t get through.

In an increasingly visual culture photographs are necessary but it is vital that they are used with an appropriate moral and medical purpose within the debate. They need to ensure recognition of a reality that would otherwise be too easy to hide under clinical terminology, rather than functioning as an indiscriminate broadcast which pays little heed to the particularities of the current debate. Thrusting a pamphlet displaying a series of dismembered baby’s body parts into people’s hands as they walk down the high street is more likely to rankle than recruit a new campaigner to the cause. Why? Because being invaded with these kind of photographs leaves us with a sense that we have been exploited. It is easy for the undecided to perceive hysteria in the random and gratuitous broadcast of bloody images – the man featured in the programme “My Foetus” who drives his lorry around with photos of aborted babies emblazoned on every side springs to mind.

At the moment the debate in the United Kingdom is focused on gestational age limits for abortion. Twelve weeks, 20 weeks, 24 weeks, birth: it is easy for numbers of weeks to be bandied around without the public being any the wiser about what this looks like in terms of physical development. This is the question that is being asked in the public domain and abortion photographs are an important and rational expression of the scientific and medical facts. Used judiciously, as a response to the moral discomfort over late abortion, photographs can tell the truth.

Moreover, in the case of Professor Stuart Campbell’s 3D ultrasound images, the photographs partly led to moral questions over late abortion being raised in the first place. Possibly because there was no underlying sense of a shock-tactic agenda these photographs have become a powerful force in changing public opinion about abortion. Perhaps it is their joyful beauty and the wonder they evoke, but their subsequent use within a Philips advertising campaign further shows how the truth speaks for itself.
The pro-life movement has no need to resort to hideous and gratuitously shocking images to make its point. That’s because the argument is not about how bloody or baby-like the unborn is when it is sucked from the womb, it is the fact that we as a country sanction the practice of killing a mother’s offspring within her womb at all.

The Rev Joanna Jepson is vicar of St Peter’s, in Fulham, west London


Monday, December 10, 2007

Association of Catholic Women withdraws from National Board of Catholic Women

Briefing. The following exchange of letters is on the ACW's website here (scroll down).

Comment: The ACW tries to be genuinely Catholic in thinking and action, and was founded to offer a counter-weight to the Catholic women's groups which had either become imbued with militant feminism, or had simply become ineffective. The fact that this organisation has felt frozen out of the National Board of Catholic Women, the official interface between Catholic women's groups and the Bishops' Conference, is indicative of the nature of the NBCW, which has been comprehensively taken over by the kind of feminist activist who sees Catholic teaching as an irrelevance, at best. The NBCW's attitude will continue to make itself felt in episcopal approval for half-baked attempts as inclusive language in the liturgy (condemned by the Vatican), the use of hordes of women 'EMHC's (condemned by the Vatican), an apologetic attitude towards the all-male diaconate and priesthood etc. etc..

Letter to ACW from the President of NBCW, Mrs Yogi Sutton

12 January 2007

Dear Madam

I write to you as President of the ACW at the unanimous request of members present at the NBCW Board meeting on 30 September 2006.

Under ‘any other business', an article written by a member of the ACW was brought to the Board's attention. As the article appeared following her attendance at the last NBCW Board meeting, I would like confirmation from you, on behalf of the ACW, that your
organisation supports the function of the NBCW as a Consultative Body of the Bishops Conference.

If you write in the affirmative, I feel it appropriate to remind you that your subscription has not been paid for two years. Membership of NBCW is £40 per year and an invoice was sent to your Treasurer in 2005 and 2006. As a member you are entitled to send one
representative to the NBCW Board meetings. I would be grateful if you would send your subscription immediately or we will assume that your membership has lapsed.

I also ask you to confirm the name of your one representative to the NBCW Board.

I look forward to receiving your written response prior to the next NBCW meeting on the 10 March 2007, so that we may address the position of the ACW within the NBCW Board.

Yours in Christ

Mrs Y Sutton

The President
National Board of Catholic Women

11 June 2007 - Reply to Mrs Yogi Sutton

Dear Mrs Sutton

Thank you for your letter of 12 January 2007, a copy of which I have only just received. It is very unfortunate that it must have gone astray - possibly with other letters.

We do, of course, support the function of the NBCW, as a Consultative Body of the Bishops Conference. We feel that it is immensely important for the Bishops to be informed of the specific and often local concerns of Catholic women in the sphere of support for marriage and family life, the education of children in both faith and morals, in the well-being of women in employment outside the home, as well as migrant and enslaved women and others.

Our various representatives at the Board and I have all felt, however, that in practice we have had no opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the work of the Board and therefore the Steering Committee of the Association of Catholic Women decided unanimously with regret, that we would not renew our membership.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Josephine Robinson


Review of Phillip Pulman

Latest update: the film bombs with the critics and at the box office. Shades of Jerry Springer: Christianophobic bile is not enough in the entertainment industry. H-T to Fr Finnigan and 'American Papist'.

Update 06/12/07:
the Pullman film has gained the approval of the US Bishops' Conference. This says a lot about that Conference, alas; but read this (hat-tip to Fr Ray Blake; quote taken from Bonfire of the Vanities):

The film is based on the works of author Phil Pullman, who has written a series of entertaining stories called "His Dark Materials." In his own words: "‘I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,’ says Pullman. ‘Mr. Lewis [C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia] would think I was doing the devil's work’" (from the Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2001). And, "I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak…. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God" (from the Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 13, 2003). Now that he is getting criticism, Mr. Pullman is telling a very different story.
Original post (15/10/07): Local action as appropriate: it is staggering that Pullman's books keep appearing in 'Christian' schools, public libraries and on the BBC. It is hard to imagine a similar attack on any other religion being tolerated in this way.

From CFNews (from The Wanderer): He is Britain's second-most popular author of books marketed to young people. He has won the Carnegie medal, received strong reviews from The New York Times and other major daily newspapers, and the book I am reviewing has been declared an American Library Association Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. Hollywood has just finished a film adaptation to this same book, and the previews are already being marketed to children and fans of the fantasy genre as on the same level as Tolkien.

Far from it. Philip Pullman and his literature are evil. Not ordinary evil like coarse language and embellishing one's resume, but evil on a level that surpasses the actions of Henry Morgentaler - Canada's most infamous abortionist. For what Morgentaler does to the bodies of little children. Pullman does to their souls. His books attack God and the Church, encouraging atheism as the alternative. Perhaps this is why Rowan Williams is the only major Christian leader to embrace Pullman's work: as Anglican archbishop of Canterbury. Williams heads the first Protestant institution to accept divorce, contraception, and abortion.

Having forewarned the reader, here are the specific titles that I forced myself to read. The first is The Golden Compass (previously title Northern Lights), which is now being turned into a movie starring Nicole Kidman. The next two books are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Together, these three books are known as the His Dark Materials trilogy.

I really did not want to read any of these books. However, they are popping up all over on book lists aimed at young people. Thus during the Harry Potter debate, more than one parent asked me whether Pullman's works were as blasphemous as being claimed, or whether this was simply a matter of differing interpretations.

From the start it was clear that Pullman really does not like the Church. He portrays it as oppressive and power hungry. Lest the reader wonder which Church is being targeted for Pullman's contempt, the Church in Pullman's alternate universe boasts a college of cardinals, a college of bishops, priests, nuns, and a Magisterium.

Secondly, Pullman does not appear to like children either. This probably explains why he would exert so much energy trying to lure children away from their belief in God. After all, if you don't believe something exists, why take the time needed to write three novels disproving something in which you profess no belief? Thus the children in Pullman's world are kidnapped, drugged, murdered. mutilated, abandoned, used for occult scientific experiments, and severed from their souls as part of a ritual to open up gateways between worlds. Most of these actions take place at the hands of Church officials, with the Church's official blessing. Pullman is detailed enough in many cases to leave little to the imagination.

Yet none of the aforementioned is as objectionable (and as obscene) as the blasphemy central to the story's plot. Pullman describes God as a liar and a mere creature. The story claims our Lord was a mere angel who evolved from dust. This supposed angel then lied to all the angels who followed by claiming to be their creator. To avoid any confusion as to the God of which Pullman speaks, the author borrows all of God the Father's names and titles from Holy Scripture.

Had I not forced myself to read these books. I never would have believed that blasphemy now constitutes award-winning children's literature. Pullman is proof that our culture deserves a millstone and another flood. How dare Hollywood and the publishing industry insult God in such a manner. How dare they corrupt our children and prey upon unsuspecting Christian parents by comparing Pullman to Tolkien.

No child should be permitted near these books. I also don't recommend them to parents. unless absolutely necessary to protect their children from the books' dark influence. An example is a father who discovers his child reading these books as part of a school list. He should probably have some firsthand experience with the book before confronting the school and attempting to undo any harm done to his child. Yet then he should only read these books after much prayer and careful consultation with his spiritual director. And for goodness' sake, don't let your children see the movie.

Having now read the books. I can attest that Pullman's work is as diabolical as other Christian critics warn. Don't buy the books, don't let your children bring the books home, and don't see the movie. For Philip Pullman is the pied piper of the Devil.


Martin Pendergast and the SORs

Action: please protest to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and to Rome. The Sexual Orientation Regulations, now in force, aroused sustained and reasoned opposition not just from independent Catholic commentators but from the Pope himself and the Bishops of England and Wales and Scotland, notably by Cardinal Muphy-O'Connor and Cardinal O'Brien, the Archbishop of Birmingham and the Bishop of Lancaster. It in this context the homosexual activist par excellence who is deeply embedded in the Bishops' Conference 'establishment', Martin Pendergast, read out a joint statement for a gay conference which included the following:

We reject the activities of certain religious leaders, seeking exemptions from equality legislation, and attempts to base this on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, such a right being for all, not just for some. We deplore the internalised homophobia within religious institutions that fails to confront prejudice and hate.

(Full text here; Pendergast's voice reading it out here.)

Pendergast is standing for election within the 'Soho Masses Pastoral Council' and this is his description:

Martin Pendergast - seconded by Joe Stanley - lives in East London and has been involved with these Masses since April 1999. He coordinates music and liturgy in a local parish and offers these skills in planning Soho Masses liturgies. He has extensive experience of LGBT networks, as well as working with Church structures in pastoral planning at local, national, and international levels. He’s been an SMPC member since 2005, in the role of Secretary.

You bet he's 'worked with Church structures'! His 'civil partner' was head of CAFOD, and he was the key figure in setting these Mases up: Masses not for homosexuals seeking to live according to the Church's teaching, but for those who embrace an immoral lifestyle. This point is reiterated with every dissident priest invited to preach and every newsletter item promoting events of the militant gay sub-culture, such as the Gay Pride March in which the SMPC was an official participant.

Will the Bishops, whose opposition to the SORs we applaud, ever understand that their friend Pendergast wants to do nothing but stab them in the back?


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Conference in Glasgow

Catholic Truth Scotland is hosting a conference in Glasgow:

The Crisis in the Church: Facing the Truth.

The Conference will be held on 17 May, 2008

in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Congress Road, Glasgow 9.30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

The keynote speaker will be Mrs Daphne MacLeod of Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice,
whose talk is entitled 'What Happened to Catholic Schools?"

See here for more information.


Feminist Dissidents: latest

Briefing: the latest Patricia Phillips article, 'The Feminist Threat to the Church: Part VIII' is this month published in Christian Order (November 2007) and is available on the Catholic Feminism website, where the earlier articles in the series can be found.

The article gives complete proof of the dissent from Catholic teaching of 'Women Word Spirit' (formerly 'Catholic Women's Network') and the eagerness of Bishop Vincent Malone, episcopal liaison with the National Board of Catholic Women, to turn a blind eye to this in order to list them once again in 2008 edition of the national Catholic Director. It is also listed in the 2007 Diocesan Directories of Brentwood, Cardiff and Westminster.

WWS vigorously supports the campaign for the ordination of women, supporting vigils for this cause in Westminster and Edinburgh. It also enthusiastically promotes the full range of tedious liberal complaints against Church teaching, and the groups that make them, notably 'Catholics for a Free Choice' (pro abortion and contraception) and dissident homosexuals. The idea that WWS is sincere in claiming that it 'acknowledges and accepts the authentic teaching of the Church' is laughable, but apparently this claim is enough for Bishop Malone.

The WWS website's links to other groups is sufficient demonstration of this, but the Phillips article gives further evidence from its newsletter, officers, and activities. What does Bishop Malone need to see? The group's point in its self description is that they

believe that the gospel speaks about freedom from oppression and calls women to full participation in all aspects of life and the church as a matter of justice.

Everyone should be well informed and on their guard against this insidious group which dominates the Bishops' Conference agency, The National Board of Catholic Women. This is an outrageous injustice to Catholic women and indeed the whole Church.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Colleen Hammond

Briefing: further to the Catholic Herald's interview with Colleen Hammond, we preserve below the text (which will disapear from their website tomorrow, following their mad website policy). Colleen Hammond's book and blogs (here and here) are the most intelligent things you are likely to find on the difficult question of female attire, since Hammond is not only capable of lucid prose, but has a serious knowledge of clothing and fashion.

From the Catholic Herald (by Ed West): There is a growing feeling on both sides of the Atlantic that immodesty has gone too far. The clothes of Versace, the music videos of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, and sexualised childhood toys like Bratz have created an atmosphere where any woman who covers up anything is deemed a frump.
Not so Colleen Hammond, a celebrated model and TV presenter who gave it all up to become a Catholic mother, author and campaigner for feminine clothing. Her book, Dressing With Dignity, was a best-selling attack on the fashion industry’s obsession with “hooker chic”, while her radio show is listened to by millions. From her home in Texas she has successively lobbied for the clothing industry to raise its standards, an example of how the little people can fight back.
“I get letters from manufacturers saying they have ‘hot and modest’ clothing. I’d go to these websites and they’d have these clothes promoted as modest, and I’d think, compared to what? A hooker? Yet when you look at Jewish, Catholic and Islamic standards, they’re pretty much all the same, so there is natural law.”
Colleen grew up in Detroit, in a Catholic family of English and Irish origin. Her first inkling of the changes that would cause her family to drift away from the Church was when the Latin Mass was abolished.
“As a five-year-old I remembered it distinctly, because I was proud of wearing that mantilla. I was very upset that they ripped it off my head. My mother took us from church to church after that, while our priest got married to the nun who was director of education, in the spirit of Vatican II!”
By the time she went to college Colleen was “iffy” about her faith, and no longer attending Mass, although she had a solid Catholic upbringing (“I can feel guilt. I think Catholic guilt is a good thing”). She had started modelling and acting at 14 – “how I paid for college”– and studied medicine. In her final year she was offered a television job and left university with a term to go.
A successful model and presenter for the Weather Channel, she was soon married, but her relationship went through difficulties: “We started to have problems, and at the root of it was the fact there was no spirituality in our life at all.” Husband Dennis was a non-Catholic. “I decided to get a divorce, and I had already seen an attorney when I found out I was pregnant. So I went to get an abortion.”
It was, in fact, the start of her journey home. She sat in the clinic wondering what she was doing, listening as they explained how the “tissue” would be removed. “I was a medical student, I knew at this point that it wasn’t just tissue, it was a baby,” she recalls. “I began to feel nauseated and put my head down to faint, and the lady next to me leaned over and asked if I was ok. When I said, ‘no, I have to get out of here’, she answered, ‘Me too, I’m coming with you’.”
To her shock, Colleen was now told she wasn’t pregnant after all: “I knew that was a miracle, because I had three blood tests done and I was pregnant.”
Outside in the waiting room Colleen told her husband to take her to the nearest church: “I had eight years of sins to confess, I fell down at the feet of this glorious priest and he heard my confession for two hours. At the end he was smiling and crying, and said ‘this is one of the happiest days of my life. Welcome home’. It was fantastic.” Colleen and Dennis have been married for 22 years now, with four children.
As for the woman beside her, she left the clinic without having an abortion: “I never saw her again; didn’t even know her name
“My husband was upset about the change in my life. He married this fun girl, and now he was married to this nun. I had new friends. Probably he might have been thinking about divorce. I offered all my Masses for my husband’s conversion, and less than a year later he came into the Church. Now he leads the family in the Rosary every evening, and makes sure we go to Confession twice a month. And considering he started out as a Viking.” She explains this is what might be called a “lad” in Britain.
Hammond calls mixed marriages “a huge obstacle” and advises anyone getting wed to seek the approval of their parents. She is a regular speaker and writer on issues such as marriage, parenting, and the family. But she is best known for her work promoting modest clothing, and her book Dressing With Dignity.
“Because I worked in fashion I wanted to look nice and follow the trends,” she says. “But I thought things were looking a bit too hooker-chic. I wanted to look fashionable and dignified, I was modelling and acting and I hadn’t had children yet. Femininity is not a weakness, but an unbelievable strength. I met the author and philosopher Alice von Hildebrand, we got talking on these issues of modesty, and I said you ought to write a book about this. She said, ‘No, you do it. No one will listen to a grey haired little old lady’.”
Colleen’s faith has been her guide throughout. “Pius XII said that you have the objective standards of modesty of the Church,” she explains. “Nothing tight, nothing clingy, make sure your knees and elbows are covered. And nothing more than a couple of inches below the collar bone.
“It’s an act of charity for a woman to follow the fashion trends, up to the point where those modesty guidelines exist. But some people want to prove how modest they are, and it shows a lack of humility. For some in Islam this is not an act of virtue but the subjection of women; it’s a control issue. When you go on the Tube in London, the first thing you notice is a woman in a burqa. So if people dress that way to prove how modest they are, that’s a lack of humility. If you’re going to wear a boob tube and miniskirt, or a hijab, you’re drawing undue attention to yourself. That’s why Pius XII said virtue falls in the middle course.
“A woman wants to be taken seriously for her mind, but sometimes all you can see is her body. As a woman I find myself looking. It’s almost like a train wreck, you watch this horrible accident and you can’t avert your eyes from the horror. It’s the same thing when you see women dressed so immodestly. And it’s not fair to our men to do this to them.”
Colleen’s next book deals with the subject of manners, something that is sadly lacking in the old country. “I really looked forward to going to England because I have always found that my family from England have a really strong sense of social grace and propriety,” she says. “Then I arrived and wondered what happened. I was shocked and disappointed by how rude people were. There seems to be a sense of me, me, me. Manners are an act of charity, they are Catholic virtues. You’re being mindful of others.”
She thinks of the woman who she met in the abortion clinic, and how their mutual pact saved that woman’s child and her faith. “This is what being Catholic is about; we help each other, we’re not in life to be on our own. We all have a personal relationship with Christ, of course, but we’re a family. That’s part of being charitable and not selfish. In that clinic we helped each other and it brought me back to the faith.”


Congregation for Clergy proposes Eucharistic Adoration for vocations

Action: please support this initiative. We cannot expect things to improve without the use of the proper spiritual means, and this is a perfect example. It is part of the reintroduction of traditional devotions under Benedict XVI which is of the utmost significance: in this case, Eucharistic Adoration is the best active defence of the full teaching on the Blessed Sacrament. In his new Encyclical Spe Salvi the Holy Father recommends the traditional practice of 'offering up' life's little - or large - frustrations and sufferings to God. Please, readers, offer up your sufferings for your own intentions and for the conversion of our country!

Hat-tip to Fr Finigan and to Rorate Caeli.


Incitement to Hatred Bill (homophobia): latest

Action: keep lobbying MPs and Party Leaders.

From Christian Concern for Our Nation: The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill was amended in last week’s committee stage to include an offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexuality. The wording of the amendment follows the wording of the existing law governing incitement to religious hatred. This means it only extends to words or behaviour which is threatening and where there is an intention to stir up hatred.

While we welcome the use of this wording, it is still our view that such a provision is unnecessary, as current criminal provisions adequately protect people from threatening and violent behaviour.

In addition, the new offence does not include a clause specifically protecting freedom of speech, as is present in the incitement to religious hatred provisions. This difference is hard to understand, as it seems greater protection is therefore being given to homosexual rights than to religious rights. Such a clause, stating that the new law will not affect peoples rights
to freedom of speech in similar terms to that enshrined in the religious hatred law is imperative to ensuring freedom of speech is protected for those seeking to speak about a biblical view of sex and relationships.

The Bill will continue to be debated in the House of Commons and can still be amended further to either delete this clause completely, or to add a clause protecting freedom of speech. Please continue to write to your MP and/or party leaders, pointing out that the new provision is unnecessary, and also that if it is included there must be further protection for freedom of speech, as is the case with religious hatred.

LCF Submission on the Government proposals are here.

Our previous emails on this issue


GPs to perform abortions with RU486

Action: please write to your GP, MP and the Health Minister. This is an important step in the 'normalisation' of abortion as a routine and minor medical procedure; whereas the psychological harm it does and the medical risks involed would demand it be done - even if there were no moral objections - in a properly controlled environment, with counselling and emergency services on hand.

From SPUC: It is reported in today's media that the government is trialling the use in doctors' surgeries of the abortion drug RU486. Currently RU486 is only given to women in hospitals and certain clinics. The government is conducting the trial at two undisclosed locations.

Please take action by writing or emailing your GP, opposing the government's trial and expressing your opposition to this proposal to bring abortion into GP practices:

* It ignores completely the rights of the unborn child

* it turns health facilities into abortion facilities

* it affects staff and patients, who will not want to be associated with an abortion centre

* like many abortion-related policies, this move trivialises or ignores a significant body of medical opinion and human experience which shows that abortion carries risks for women

* conveyor-belt abortion gives women less time to think and creates even more pressure on them before having an abortion

* it is an attack on conscientious objection, trying to wear down the medical profession's increasing resistance to abortion

* doctors must take a stand against this now. A recent survey found that 70% of PCTs said they would be prepared to threaten denying pharmacists a license if they refused to provide the morning-after pill (Levonelle) to under-16 year-olds without parental consent. [Express, 3 Dec] What is permitted today may become mandatory tomorrow.

Extend the influence of your message by sending a copy (with appropriate covering note) to your local MP.

MPs can be contacted either by writing to them:

* by post at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, or

* by email. If you know the name of your MP, you can find his/her email
address by surname via the links at If you
don't know the name of your MP, please visit here which you can also use to email your MP.

Please also copy your message to your local print and/or broadcast media. You should be able to find the websites of your local media by doing a word search via a search engine e.g. Google.

Please remember to copy any replies you receive to SPUC c/o Anthony Ozimic, SPUC Political Secretary, at or at SPUC, 5-6 St Matthew Street, Westminster, London SW1P 2JT.


Christina Odone silenced for pointing out persecution of Christians

Update: Christina Odone writes about it herself here. She argues that intolerance towards Christians could easily become intolerance towards other groups. How long before the hatred of religion shown by the British political elite is extended, as logic demands, towards Judaism and Islam?

(29/11/07): complaints to the Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Stuart Mole, please:

Comment: the supreme irony: an invitation to Christina Odone to speak at a 'carol service' in a 'political and controversial' way was withdrawn when it emerged she planned to talk about the way Chritians are silenced in the UK.

See the news report here; hat-tip to Damian Thompson.


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