Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blair: no tax breaks for married parents

Background briefing: the problem is not so much that married parents lack special tax breaks, but that the fiscal system actually discourages stable relationships. What could be a more obviously stupid and immoral policy? Robert Whelan's comment in the Telegraph makes the point (for his article in full, see here; for Blair's statement, see here):

Our fiscal system actually discourages low-income parents from either forming or declaring a partnership, either married or cohabiting. It makes sense, if you depend on benefits for all or much of your income, to keep relationships "off the books". Tax credits, for example, are the same for two-parent and single-parent families, in spite of the fact that there is another adult to support in a two-parent household.

Housing policy also favours single parents. Social housing is allocated on the basis of "housing need" and single parents are more likely to tick the boxes that take you to the top of the list, such as low income and health problems.

In other areas of family policy, such as adoption, child support and access arrangements, married and single parents are treated in the same way. So why bother to make a public and legal declaration of your commitment, when it will give you no advantage?


Gummer: "I happen to disagree with my Church."

Background briefing: John Gummer MP, a fairly recent convert to Catholicism, most famous for trying to demonstrate the safety of British beef by feeding his small daughter a burger in front of the press corps while Minister for Agriculture, recently wrote a feature article in the Catholic Herald about how he would propose in Parliament the abolition of a collection of obscure and archaic restrictions on Catholics, such as the Act of Succession requiring members of the Royal Family to renounce their claim to the throne should they marry a Catholic (as Nicholas Windsor recently did). In the context of the SORs crisis this stunt seemed to us irrelevant to the point of absurdity. However, Gummer took the opportunity of his '10 minute rule bill' to declare his dissent from Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

Thanks, John, glad to know you're on our side!

Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity.


John Allen criticises UK press coverage of religion

Background briefing: Allen is a widely respected journalist based in the US, and he cites numerous examples of outrageous inacuracy based, he says, on ignorance rather than malice. While there is certainly a lot of ignorance, it would be unwise to ignore the hostility to religion which dominates Britain's 'chattering classes'. Allen's interesting article is here. Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

US: nursing homes must offer euthanasia or close

Background briefing: with the closure of Catholic adoption agencies, the US was ahead of us in Britain. This is the shape of things to come with Catholic nursing homes.

From SPUC: A bill that would allow assisted suicide in California could force
Catholic nursing homes to close, a bioethicist has warned. Wesley J.
Smith, an author and lawyer, warned that under the law, Catholic nursing
homes will face the choice of shutting down or permitting assisted suicide
on site, as the only loophole in the proposed law is for acute care
hospitals. [LifeSiteNews, 26 February]


Palliative Care Bill

Background briefing. If it gets to the Commons we'll be asking supporters to lobby in favour of this. Hat-tip to Care Not Killing.

Ilora, Baroness Finlay's Palliative Care Bill, which seeks to make good quality palliative care more widely accessible in England and Wales, had an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords on Friday 23 February. The bill will now proceed to a Committee of the Whole House and thence to a Third Reading. If it passes a Third Reading, then it will proceed to the House of Commons, but only if it is granted time by the Government.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Retirement of Frances Kissling, President of 'Catholic for a Free Choice'

Background briefing: worth especial note in C-Fam's report. (1) Pro-abortion organisations tend to be sustained by large donations from liberal Charitable Trusts in the US; in the UK it is more likely to be Government grants. By contrast, Pro-Life organisations tend to be sustained by a mass membership. (2) Kissling's organisation has been condemned repeatedly by the US Bishops' Conference. (3) Kissling's campaign to eject the Holy See from the United Nations has been a spectacular failure.

Comment: Overall, the attempt to claim that 'not all Catholics are pro-life' has made very little impact, despite the considerable resources brought to the project. CFFC is part of a network of groups (see the 'links' pages on their websites) advocating dissent from the teaching and discipline of the Church on matters of sexuality and the ordination of women, none of whom have gathered any noticeable support from Catholics in the pews.

From C-Fam: (By Samantha Singson) After 25 years as president of Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), long-time abortion advocate and one time abortion clinic owner Frances Kissling is stepping down from her post after failing to achieve her most important goals. Kissling has been an outspoken opponent of Catholic Church teachings on contraception, abortion, gay rights and stem cell research, but has failed to change any of them. By far her largest defeat was the effort to oust the Holy See from its status at the United Nations.

While publicly insisting that she is still a Catholic in good standing and painting CFFC as a Catholic organization, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has twice condemned the organization and in May 2000 issued a statement that CFFC does not speak with an “authentic Catholic voice” and that the group’s activity is directed to rejection and distortion of Catholic teaching about the respect and protection due to defenseless unborn human life."

Under Kissling’s tenure as president, CFFC became best known for the “See Change” campaign to challenge the sovereign diplomatic status of the Holy See at the United Nations. The “See Change” campaign was launched in 1999 to advocate that the Holy See be thrown out of its official “Observer” seat and downgraded to a non-government organization like CFFC.

Several years after its launch, the CFFC campaign has gathered only 650 groups that agree with the initiative. In contrast, in only four months a campaign in support of the Holy See gathered the names of more than 4,000 groups including the largest Protestant and Muslim groups in the world [the campaign was launched and led by C-FAM]. In that year the US Congress came within one vote of unanimously endorsing the Holy See at the United Nations.

The “See Change” campaign ended in final and complete failure two years ago when the General Assembly unanimously confirmed the status of the Holy See. Aside from endorsing the Holy See’s permanent observer status, the GA extended new privileges to facilitate increased participation in GA activities.

Under Kissling’s direction the organization has raised millions of dollars from American foundations eager to counter the influence of the Catholic Church in the debate on abortion. Included in her donors have been the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Packard Foundation, and the Buffet Foundation. Kissling has never been able to build a large grass roots base, however. And since the defeat of the “See Change” campaign, CFFC’s activities at the UN have dwindled.

According to a New York Times reporter Kissling is thinking about writing a book, and is building a house in Uruguay [Kissling’s salary has been more than $250,000 per year for many years]. She will be succeeded by her long time assistant Jon O’Brien.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

HFEA to pay egg-donors £250

Background briefing.

From SPUC: SPUC has condemned yesterday's decision by the UK government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to allow women to be paid £250 in "expenses" for donating their eggs for use in embryo experimentation. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "For poorer women, this amount will be an incentive to donate their eggs, and it is unethical, dangerous and unnecessary. It is unethical because it is aimed at creating even more human lives in the laboratory, many of whom are killed outright or in dubious experiments. It is dangerous because the risks associated with the drugs given to stimulate the ovaries and the egg
harvesting process include renal failure, infertility, cancer and even death. It is unnecessary because successful ethical alternatives to embryo destruction exist." [SPUC, 21 February]


Bishop Tartaglia speaks out against SORs

Background briefing.

Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley says that something sinister is happening in the United Kingdom. In a pastoral letter the bishop has clarified Church teaching in face of the Equality Act 2006, which 'will force Catholic adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples and thereby go against the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church. For the first time in the modern era in this country, the Catholic Church is facing the prospect of being forced to act against her faith and against her convictions, or else face legal challenge and possible prosecution,' Bishop Tartaglia explained. 'This is a deeply disturbing turn of events and it is not yet clear what kind of precedent this may set for other areas of the pastoral and social activity of the Catholic Church,' he added. The prelate encourages the faithful to 'defend ourselves by all legitimate democratic means,' and write public officials to make the point that 'regulations deriving from equality legislation are unacceptable if they damage religious freedom and the right of conscience.' [Zenit]


Psychologists criticise sexualisation of children

Background briefing.

From CFNews:
A generation of very young girls is being psychologically damaged by inappropriate 'sexy' clothing, toys and images in the media that are corrupting childhood, leading psychologists warned this week. They say marketing takes unfair advantage of children's desire for affection and the need to conform, leading to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. The American Psychological Association's report says inappropriate marketing is leading to the sexualisation of children by a consumer society. Apart from clothing for five- and six-year-olds, with old-fashioned frilly frocks replaced by mini skirts, plunging necklines and sequined crop tops, the report specifically criticises 'Bratz dolls'. These outsell Barbie dolls in Britain by two to one and come dressed in miniskirts, fishnet stockings and feather boas. Disney's Little Mermaid or Pocahontas 'which have more cleavage, fewer clothes and are depicted as sexier than characters of yesteryear' are also picked out.

'The consequences of the sexualisation of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls' healthy development,' said Eileen Zurbriggen, the APA's task force chairman. 'As a society, we need to replace all these sexualised images with ones showing girls in positive settings. The goal should be to deliver messages to all adolescents - boys and girls - that lead to healthy sexual development.' Her comments were endorsed by Dr Jean Kilbourne, the co-author of a forthcoming book So Sexy, So Soon: The Sexualisation Of Childhood, who said clothing, toys and adverts were shaping a child's gender identity and values in the wrong way. She saw a direct link between what was happening and the rise in under-age sex. Dr Kilbourne told The Daily Telegraph:
'You see these clothes everywhere, tight T-shirts for little girls saying 'so many boys, so little time', that sort of thing. Parents think it is clever but they cease to think that when their child becomes sexually active at 12. Recently Asda was condemned for marketing black lacy underwear to nine-year-old girls. Sue Palmer, the education consultant and author of Toxic Childhood, said: 'The same mothers that dress their daughters up like tarts are probably the mothers going on demos against paedophiles. They don't make the connection between how they are dressing children and what they are so frightened of - paedophilia.' A Bratz spokesman quoted Dr Bryan Young, a psychologist at Exeter University, as saying 'parents may feel awkward but I don't think children see the dolls as sexy. They just think they're pretty'. [Telegraph]


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Threat to Homschooling

Action please: please sign the petition, here.

The Department of Education has been engaged in prolonged consultation with Local Authorities about Homeschooling, but since the publication of draft guidlines in Feb 2005, the public and Homeschooling groups have been kept in the dark. Now the Government have announced that these guidlines will soon be issued, and also that new legislation is in preparation. The proposals suggest a much more rigorous regulatory regime is in prospect, which could easily be used to make homeschooling all but impossible, or alternatively could try to force homeschoolers to include the kind of things - such as sex education - they have chosen homeschooling in order to avoid.

This is a very serious threat to the right of parents to educate their children. In light of development in France and Germany, this threat should be taken extremely seriously. For more details, see 'Education Otherwise.'


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

John Smeaton interview

Background briefing. Smeaton is the National Director of SPUC, and has given an interesting interview on Zenit ('Daily Dispatch' 16th Feb 07: Tony Blair's Bioethical Legacy), the Catholic news agency. He decries the failure of the churches to teach clearly on pro-life issues, and to oppose explicit sex-education.

Anyone who still thinks Tony Blair has 'Christian' or even 'Catholic' sympathies should read Smeaton's summary of the Blair legacy:

Smeaton: Under Tony Blair's leadership, the government and parliament have plunged Britain into an ethical abyss, in which there is no right or wrong but simply administrative and technical questions to be resolved by the implementation of new anti-life evils.

Two of the first things Tony Blair did in office was to establish a strategy on teenage pregnancy and to revive proposals to change the law on end-of-life treatment.

The former involves supplying abortion and birth control drugs and devices to schoolgirls as young as 11 without parents' knowledge or consent; the latter has led to a law -- the Mental Capacity Act 2005 -- which allows, and in certain circumstances requires, doctors to starve and to dehydrate to death vulnerable patients.

The Blair government exports abortion-on-demand to the developing world under the guise of the Millennium Development Goals and it has increased funding for population control agencies -- such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Population Fund -- complicit in China's one-child policy.

Tony Blair has personally championed destructive experiments on cloned human embryos. In general, there is virtually no area of pro-life or pro-family ethical concern which has not been made worse by the Blair government.

In addition, the U.K. is a major influence within the European Union and in many other parts of the world in support of anti-life, anti-family policies.

Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Bishop Hollis: no general absolution; no communion to non-Catholics

Local expressions of support would be nice, (c/o the Diocesan Communications Officer: Hat-tip to the Hermeneutic of Continuity, where there is more commentary.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bishop of Motherwell challenge to Scottish Labour

Local action as appropriate: Scottish readers should voice their support to Bishop Devine - and weigh his words. Contact Bishop Devine here:

Fr CFNews: The Bishop of Motherwell has fired a warning shot across the bows of the Labour Party - just weeks before the Scottish Parliament elections get underway. The Rt Rev Joseph Devine has called on all of Lanarkshire's candidates 'to support and promote the Christian institutions of marriage and the traditional family.' This appeared to be a thinly-veiled reference to Labour's recent introduction of civil partnerships and adoption for same sex couples. Bishop Devine has continually criticised the policies and said his vote would go to a party which supported the traditional family unit.

His statement comes just a few weeks after Cambusnethan councillor Tom Selfridge quit the Labour Party to stand for the Scottish Christian Party in protest at Labour's policy towards civil partnership and same-sex adoption. The Bishop said it was now time to 'challenge' the government on their policy.

He said: 'Our governments in Holyrood and Westminster have signed up to the dangerous fiction that all lifestyles are equal and that all types of family are equally good in bringing up children. It is time to challenge this government to change the direction of their social and family policies and question the other political parties about social and family policy intentions. With the Scottish parliamentary elections looming, the political parties are thinking hard about their policies. Voters need to impress on them the need to promote family stability through strategies which incentivise and support marriage as well as a socially just, wide-ranging package of policies dealing with poverty reduction, deprivation and social exclusion. My vote will go to the party which commits itself to detailed, credible, and concrete policies that will place marriage, committed parenthood and the family at the heart of their social manifesto. And my public criticism will remain focussed on those who do not.'

Bishop Devine added: 'A year ago the Scottish Catholic bishops publicly condemned the government criticising their policies for diminishing the importance of family life and contribution to the general well-being of our society. Families matter because of almost every social problem that we face - soaring teenage pregnancies and abortions, teenage single mums, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, binge drinking, vandalism, violent behaviour and crime, the burgeoning of mental illness and sexually transmitted diseases among the young, educational failure, the breakdown in civility, increasing harassment and contempt for the elderly, the vulnerable and the weakest members of our communities - all come down, in part at least, to the dismemberment of the traditional family.' Added Bishop Devine: 'Nor can Conservative politicians take the high moral ground given their earlier opposition to measures aimed at tackling poverty such as the minimum wage, maternity leave and flexible working.'

See earlier post on Bishop Devine, here.


Cameron replies

Background briefing: we assume that everyone who has written to David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, about his refusal to oppose the Sexual Orintation Regulations has had, or will eventually get, a letter or PDF of his considered response. The only part of this worth reading is as follows:

'I have made it clear that I expect to support the Regulations. I beleive that this is the right approach because we should not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. While some colleagues want to vote against the Regulations en bloc because there is not a block exception for Catholic adoption agencies, I do not think this would be the right way forward. Let me explain why. Firstly, we would effectively be saying that we did not want the Regulations at all (because the vote would be a simple 'for or against'). Secondly, I strongly believe that in this country we should try, where possible, to ensure uniformity across the law. We should try to avoid carve-outs for different groups in our society, particularly those fulfilling public functions.'

Sorry, Dave, but this is not about discrimination and not about 'carve-outs': the SORs are incoherent and unjust for the reason explained patiently by Christians for over a year now, that they refuse to distinguish 'orientation' and behaviour. In the case of adoption, the SORs criminalise discrimination on the basis of suitability as adoptive parents. Are you telling us that this criminalisation is required by justice?

Politically conservative Catholics must now ask if the Conservative Party is worthy of their support.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Roman Archbishop praises Bill Gates' 'philanthropy'

Protests to the Pope ( and to Archbishop Cordes (, please: Archbishop Cordes made his remarks while presenting the Pope's Lenten Message, in his role as President of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum'.

"Global entrepeneurs, such as a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet, establish social foundations. ... As Christians, we note, not without satisfaction, that in social life the Biblical commandment of love for neighbor seems to be universally accepted."

The Archbishop is either ignorant of the aggressively pro-abortion nature of the Gates Foundation (to which Gates's friend Buffet has contributed enormous sums) or is deliberately undermining the teaching of the Church. The second seems impossible, but the first is quite incredible, given the nature of his job. The purpose of 'Cor Unum' is as follows (taken from the Vatican website):


COR UNUM expresses "the care of the Catholic Church for the needy, thereby encouraging human fellowship and making manifest the charity of Christ" (Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, art. 145).


  • To assist the Pope and be his instrument for carrying out special initiatives in the field of humanitarian actions when disasters occur, or in the field of integral human promotion;

  • To foster the catechesis of Charity and encourage the faithful to give a concrete witness to evangelical charity;

  • To encourage and coordinate the initiatives of Catholic Organizations through the exchange of information and by promoting fraternal cooperation in favour of integral human development.

For more commentary, see Rorate Caeli.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Harley St Abortion Clinics to be banned

Background briefing: the Howard de Walden Estate, which owns many of the properties in London's Harley Street, is establishing the policy that in future it will not grant leases to abortion clinics.

Comment: although this might appear an admirable attempt by the landlords to avoid material co-operation in evil, the ostestible motivation is simply to underpin the reputation of Harley St as a location for medical excellence by easing out practicioners doing boring, day-to-day procedures, such as abortion and cosmetic surgery. This being so, the only real interest here is the hysterical reaction of the pro-abortion groups. Their suggestion that the de Waldon Estate is motivated by a desire to 'impose' religious or moral views on others is less likely to be simple paranoia than something more calculated: an attempt to establish the principle that the provision of abortion is a sacrosanct part of medical practice. They want to make closing an abortionist as politically difficult as closing a clinic for sick children.

For the BBC story, see here.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Novena for Portugal's abortion referendum

Update: by 59% t0 40%, with a 44% turnout, the people of Portugal have voted in favour of abortion.

Rachel weeps, and will not be comforted, for her children are no more. Jeremiah 31:15

Original post
Prayers, please: see Rorate Caeli, which has launched this initiative. Novena starts Saturday 3rd February.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

HFEA encourages legalisation of hybrids

Background briefing.

From CFNews: Government plans to ban the creation of human-animal hybrids in the laboratory have been dealt a serious blow after the regulatory body on embryos backed the research. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has told MPs that it does not believe the innovative research, which could help patients with Alzheimer's disease, should be outlawed. MPs are calling on the Government to reverse its decision to ban the creation of hybrid embryos, which scientists believe could further research into incurable conditions such as motor neurone disease. The authority believes that research should be permitted as long as the embryos created in the laboratory are destroyed by the age of two weeks and are not used in human fertility treatments.


SORs and 'Signposting'

Update: now even The Tablet has agreed on the wrong-headedness of the 'signposting strategy':

'The Church's stand left many questions to be answered. Are homosexual acts a 'grave depravity', as the Vatican says, if within the context of a loving, monogamous relationship? And if so, why are the bishops so apparently relaxed about allowing referrals of such couples to other adoption agencies?'
Hat tip to CFNews and 'Diogenes'

Campaign update
: one of the things revealed by the SORs row is that Catholic adoption agencies have the policy of 'signposting', referring gay couples, who they will not help to adopt, to agencies which will give such help. This is not only gravely immoral, but has undermined the Catholic position in opposing the SORs, as reported in a previous post. The immorality of the policy has been pointed out by the three leading members of the Linacre Centre, an official Catholic medical ethics institute. The possibility of an extension of this policy being the basis of a new compromise, is reported by the Telegraph below. The idea would be that the Catholic agencies hand over the selection of adoptive parents to agencies entirely lacking in moral compass. This has already happened in San Francisco, and is an international scandal. If you have not done so, please protest to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor (

Letter to the Catholic Herald (in part):'Just at it is wrong for GPs--Catholic or not--to refer patients for the purpose of their getting an abortion or pro-abortion consultation, so too the question of complicity arises with referral for same-sex adoption. The pressures to refer are very real, but can referral truly be justified? If adoption by same-sex couples is wrong because it is unjust to the child, it is surely wrong not only to arrange such adoptions but to refer couples to other agencies so that they may arrange the adoptions instead.'
From Helen Watt, Luke Gormally and Anthony McCathy of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics.

From CFNews:
Catholic adoption agencies could team up with non-faith-based organisations to comply with a new ban on discriminating against homosexual couples, Tony Blair suggests. He told MPs it would be a 'tragedy' if Catholic adoption agencies stopped providing their service as a result of the Church's opposition to placing children with same sex couples, but said that Catholic agencies could enter 'consortiums' with other agencies, to provide a 'gateway' into adoption, after the two-year transitional period proposed by the Government. Mr Blair admitted that the issue was difficult', but if people were 'sensible' they could find a way through it.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Muslims support Church against SORs

Background briefing: a useful thing to know.

Press Release from the Muslim Council of Britain: The Muslim Council of Britain fully supports the principled stand taken by the leaders of the Catholic and Anglican churches on the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR). The right to practice one’s faith, or the freedom to have no belief, is a cornerstone of our society as is the right of all to live free from unfair discrimination and harassment.

The MCB whilst reiterating its support for anti-discrimination laws will naturally remain vigilant about the potential of any legislation to conflict with our belief. Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. The Sexual Orientation Regulations as we understand them do not promote homosexuality but would provide protection against discrimination and harassment on account of sexual orientation.

“As Muslims we are obliged to uphold the moral standards and codes of conduct dictated by our faith,” said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, MCB Secretary-General.

The MCB urges the government to review its position that Sexual Orientation Regulations can have no exemptions. This argument, we believe, is absurd and inconsistent with domestic as well as international legal precedents. Each anti discrimination legislation has exemptions.

The MCB maintains that the Regulations need to take full account of our multifaith, multicultural and multiethnic society and, wherever appropriate, make accommodation to accord with differing beliefs and values.


Cameron backs the Government on SORs

Protests, please, to David Cameron. His argument, expressed on Radio 4, was that if the Church was given an exception for its adoption agencies, then 'everyone would want one'. Who else, exactly, David? Anyway, the argument is irrelevant because he ought to be opposing not just the imposition of these regulations on Catholic adoption agencies, but the whole iniquitous law, which will make it illegal for a Catholic charity to choose not to employ people of immoral lifestyle, if that lifestyle happens to be homosexual; and illegal for Christian hoteliers to give a discount for married couples, but not for homosexuals in a civil partnership.

See here for the story in the Daily Mail.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Abortion threat in Northern Ireland

Current status: lobbying by NI residents, please, as described below.

From CFNews: Pro-life activists in Northern Ireland are warning against a 'backdoor' effort to legalize abortion there. The pro-life organization Precious Life has charged that draft guidelines on 'termination of pregnancy,' produced by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), go well beyond the scope of a court mandate calling for a review of abortion regulations. The DHSSPS document was drawn up without any input from pro-life physicians and activists, Precious Life charges. The guidelines, the group adds, include no measures designed to cut down the number of abortions or to encourage women to seek alternatives. The DHSSPS guidelines are open to public comment during an 8-week consultation period. After that time the department would produce leaflets, based on the policy guidelines, explaining how abortions can be obtained. Precious Life has urged residents of Northern Ireland to make their concerns known to health minister Paul Goggins before the consultation period ends on March 16. [CWNews]


Friday, February 02, 2007

French MP fined for homophobia

Background briefing: shades of things to come in the UK. See here.


Branson to found bank for umbilical cord stem cells

Action please: letters to The Times about their reporting:, copied to

Branson's initiative is good news. Advances in the understanding of stem cells have made it increasingly clear that the destruction of embryos is entirely unnecessary to get stem cells useful for research and medical uses. One of the best-known of these is the umbilical-cord blood of new-born babies.

What is not so welcome is the reporting in The Times that includes the sentence: 'Some anti-abortion groups believe that any use of stem cells will lead to human cloning.' This is simply a smear against the Pro-Life movement, and has absolutely no basis in fact. Pro-Life groups tend to have a much better grasp of the distinctions at issue than their opponents, let alone journalists! See Comment on Reproductive Ethics report.

From: Jana Tutkova
Sent: Thursday, 1 February, 2007 8:36:15 PM
Subject: Richard Branson's investment into adult stem cells

Dear Mr Robertson

I was very much pleased to learn from your article last Friday about Richard
Branson's today's launch of cord blood stem cell bank. However, I was shocked
by your twisted comment: "Some anti-abortion groups believe that any use of
stem cells will lead to human cloning"

No prolife group has ever claimed that but exactly on the contrary, prolife
groups have been very actively promoting the use of adult stem-cells in
particular from umbilical cord-blood.

I would like to ask you to correct your mistake for it's causing harm first of
all to your newspapers for spreading such a deception. Furthermore it's
defamatory to the citizens who demand legal protection of human life since
conception (as science proves that embryo is a separate human being with
her/his own genetic makeup) and therefore very much have been endorsing
life-saving adult stem cell therapies.

Please see which is featuring the newest DVD of National Geographics
on prenatal development of baby. I suggest that you look up the website which is listing number of conditions that can be
treated with adult stem cells - more than 70 - while none by embryonic stem
cells! No wonder Sir Branson's investment is not only ethically smart but will
make also profit.

The fact that he is choosing to invest in adult stem cells is another
significant indicator that any future therapies from embryonic stem cells are
only an illusion since private investors are not prepared to back it. No wonder
that fame-seeking scientists have to lobby for public funding to finance their
research which as well-intentioned as it might be does not respect human
dignity (in case of human-animal hybrids cloning for ESC), women's dignity (in
case of human cloning for ESC) and human life (in case in embryo research for

I wish that this email would be passed on Sir Branson who deserves to learn that
all prolife-minded people very much welcome his intiative.

Best wishes in your truth-seeking profession,

Jana Tutkova


NHS bans words 'mother', 'father', 'husband' and 'wife'

Current status: protests, please, to the Secretary of State, Patricia Hewitt, here. Although the absurdity of this is apt to leave one speechless, the only thing which will change officials' minds is the realisation that calling married couples 'partners', and refusing to acknowledge a child's mother and father as such, is itself deeply insulting.

From CFNews:
National Health Service staff are being told to stop calling parents 'mother' or 'father' to avoid offending homosexual patients. The terms 'husband', 'wife' and 'married' are also effectively outlawed under anti-homophobia rules being rolled out across the NHS. Instead, doctors, nurses and support staff are urged to use the words 'guardian' or 'carers' when referring to parents, in particular when speaking to children who are patients or visitors. The diktat, which also recommends using pictures of homosexual couples in health leaflets and posters, was produced by NHS Scotland in collaboration with the homosexual group Stonewall and was funded by the Scottish Executive. It calls on hospital bosses to 'ensure all staff have an understanding of and use language that is inclusive of same-sex relationships' and contains a warning that workers who flout the ban may face disciplinary action.

In bleak language reminiscent of Soviet Russia, the booklet states: 'Resources will be expended on conflict if there is resistance to required change. ' The 52-page booklet, 'Good LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] Practice In the NHS', states: 'the right way to communicate with lesbians, homosexual men, bisexuals and transgender people is an important part of delivering a modern health service for Scotland. Many remarks made by people that appear to be harmless or throw-away may assume only opposite-sex relationships are valid. This is demeaning for LGBT people and they may fear a negative reaction if the assumptions are challenged. ' The rulebook adds: 'LGBT people can and do have children - sexual orientation or gender identity has nothing to do with good parenting or good child care. When talking to children, consider using 'parents', 'carers' or 'guardians' rather than 'mother' or 'father'. ' The document also states: 'Posters with positive images of same-sex couples, alongside similar material depicting opposite-sex couples, should be displayed in all areas, eg, waiting areas, hospital wards'. The instructions are backed by Scotland's chief nursing officer, Paul Martin, who writes: 'I look forward to this guidance on Good LGBT Practice being taken on across all areas of the NHS. '


Smearing of Pius XII revealed

Background briefing: How Pius XII came to be seen as complicit with the Nazis has long been a mystery, given his public opposition to Nazism and his excellent relations with the Jewish community in Rome. Part of the explanation is the desire of Western liberals to vilify him; another has now come to light: a KGB plan to provide falsified documentation supporting the theory that Pius XII was a Nazi sympathiser.

From CFNews: A former high-ranking officer with the KGB claims that the Kremlin and the Russian intelligence agency in the 1960s were set on executing a smear campaign against the Catholic Church, and the main target was Pope Pius XII. In a recent issue of the National Review Online, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who eventually defected from the former Soviet bloc, recounts how the KGB and the Kremlin designed the deliberate campaign to portray the Pius XII 'as a cold-hearted Nazi sympathizer. In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a super-secret plan for destroying the Vatican's moral authority in Western Europe,' writes Pacepa. 'Eugenio Pacelli, by then Pope Pius XII, was selected as the KGB's main target, its incarnation of evil, because he had departed this world in 1958. 'Dead men cannot defend themselves' was the KGB's latest slogan. 'The code name for this operation against Pope Pius XII was 'Seat-12. '

The KGB used the fact that Archbishop Pacelli had served as the papal nuncio in Munich and Berlin when the Nazis were beginning their bid for power against him. 'The KGB wanted to depict him as an anti-Semite who had encouraged Hitler's Holocaust,' says Pacepa. To do this, the KGB wanted some original Vatican documents to 'slightly modify'. So they called in Pacepa, who was working for the Romanian intelligence service. Pacepa says he became the Romanian point man. He was authorized to falsely inform the Vatican that Romania was ready to restore its broken relations with the Holy See, in exchange for access to its archives - in order to find historical roots that would help the Romanian government publicly justify its change of heart toward the Holy See - and a one-billion-dollar, interest-free loan for 25 years. Between 1960 and 1962, the Romanian spy sent hundreds of archival documents connected in any way with Pope Pius XII to the KGB. Pacepa says none of the documents were incriminating in themselves, but they were sent to the KGB in any case.

The KGB used these documents to produce a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII, entitled 'The Deputy'. It eventually saw the stage in Germany in 1963, under the title 'The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy'. It proposed that Pius XII had supported Hitler and encouraged him to go ahead with the Jewish Holocaust. The German director claimed to have 40 pages of documentation attached to the script that would support the thesis of the play. The play ran in New York in 1964 and was translated into 20 languages. The play then led to a flurry of books and articles, some accusing and some defending the pontiff. 'Today, many people who have never heard of 'The Deputy' are sincerely convinced that Pius XII was a cold and evil man who hated the Jews and helped Hitler do away with them,' Pacepa writes in the National Review Online.

'As KGB chairman Yury Andropov, the unparalleled master of Soviet deception, used to tell me, people are more ready to believe smut than holiness. 'Pacepa says the truth has finally begun to emerge with the canonization process of Pius XII, which was opened by Pope John Paul II. 'Witnesses from all over the world have compellingly proved that Pius XII was an enemy, not a friend, of Hitler,' says Pacepa. He also refers to the book 'The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews From the Nazis', by David G. Dalin, which has compiled further proof of Archbishop Pacelli's friendship for the Jews. 'At the start of World War II, Pope Pius XII's first encyclical was so anti-Hitler that the Royal Air Force and the French air force dropped 88,000 copies of it over Germany,' he concludes. [CNA]


Scottish Bishops on SORs 'thought crime'

Background briefing: the Scottish bishops' spokesman in an outspoken attack on SORs, and the implications for other areas of life, and other faiths.

From CFNews: The Catholic Church in Scotland has furiously accused ministers of creating a 'thought crime' after Tony Blair refused to exempt Catholic adoption agencies from gay equality laws. In a significant escalation of the war of words between Church and state, the Catholic hierarchy said the government's decision to force faith-based agencies to consider same-sex couples as prospective adoptive parents would have a knock-on effect on religious people in other professions. The Prime Minister this week confirmed the government would not allow discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation from any organisation, particularly one in receipt of public funds. However, faith-based agencies have been given an 'adjustment' period of 20 months as the laws will not come in until the end of 2008. Until then, they must refer same-sex couples to another adoption agency.

However, a spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Media Office insisted this would affect more than just the two Catholic adoption agencies in Scotland. 'This is UK-wide regulation that will impact on anyone who provides goods and services, from the priest who refuses to hire the parish hall to a same-sex couple, to the editor of a Catholic newspaper who refuses to carry a Gay Pride advert, or a printer who refuses to print those adverts - they will all be criminalised by this Draconian measure. This is as close as you can get to a thought crime,' he said, in a reference to the George Orwell novel 1984.

'It isn't just Catholics - anyone whose faith means they do not believe there is a moral equivalence between single-sex couples and heterosexual couples will find themselves affected. There are also large numbers of people of no faith at all who happen to believe that there is no such moral equivalence who stand to be criminalised because of that belief.' The decision threatened to undermine Labour's bid to woo the Catholic vote ahead of the May election in Scotland. The Prime Minister himself gave credence to the sensitivity of the issue when he directly referred to Jack McConnell, the First Minister, who had been 'making sure the Scottish perspective' was heard. One Catholic source predicted that Balir's decision could cost Labour votes at the May election. Two fringe Christian parties are standing at the Holyrood elections, with particular focus on Glasgow. 'You could well see significant numbers of people tactically switching to reflect Christian views,' said the source. The source also warned that the Scottish National Party can expect no credit for its recent attempts to woo Catholics: 'All the main parties are broadly in the same position on this, so a lot of people will find that their opinions are not reflected by any of those parties.' But the First Minister said his priority all the way through had been to ensure children's lives could be improved.

'For me, adoption is all about improving the lives of children. My priority is to find a way that will allow faith-based adoption agencies in Scotland to continue finding new parents for some of our most vulnerable children,' Mr McConnell said. 'These are the points I made to the Prime Minister over the weekend. This is undoubtedly a difficult issue, but I think the Prime Minister's announcement is a step forward. Above all, I hope it enables faith-based agencies to continue the valuable work they do. We will keep in close contact with Scottish adoption agencies as these regulations are introduced.'

A source close to the First Minister played down the impact Westminster's decision would make on Labour in Scotland. However, Stephen Pound, a Catholic Labour back-bencher who holds a London seat, said the adoption row had become a 'massive issue' in the Scottish election. But Mr Blair said he believed ministers had found a 'way through' that prevented discrimination and protected children's interests, which all 'reasonable people' would be able to accept. 'There is no place in our society for discrimination. That's why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt, like any other couple. And that way there can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering public-funded services from regulations that prevent discrimination.'

Ruth Kelly, the Catholic Cabinet minister who most strongly argued for an exemption from the equality regulations, appears to have put her career before her faith by welcoming the Prime Minister's decision. Kelly, a supernumerary member of Opus Dei, had made her strong objections public, leading even sympathetic MPs to wonder if she would be forced to leave the government if her view did not prevail. Tony Blair initially sympathised with Ms Kelly, but angry reactions from ministers led by Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, forced him to overrule her. Ms Kelly has now made clear she would accept the Prime Minister's ruling and keep her job as Communities Secretary. 'We have had the debate and heard a range of views - many of them expressed with passion and conviction. As a result we now have a workable solution,' Ms Kelly said. 'Good government is about robust debate and finding solutions that meet our principles in a practical way. This is the right way forward. Today's announcement is a breakthrough that should be welcomed by everyone.' But the Catholic hierarchy's fury at the decision is likely to prove a strain for Ms Kelly. Despite her decision, her long-term political future is far from assured. Her Bolton constituency has been redrawn, making it far from safe for Labour at the next general election. [The Scotsman]


More on SORs

Background briefing: of note below: Ruth Kelly, supposedly a member of Opus Dei, clearly has no intention of following her conscience and resigning, rather than implement this iniquitous law. She hails the two-year transitional period as a 'breakthrough', although the only purpose this appears to serve is to delay the fall-out from the legislation until she and Tony Blair are in different jobs.
The observation by an unnamed cabinet minister that a more 'hard-line' position by the Church would be easier to defend, and that the Church has 'sold the pass', is also significant. If the Church recognises that homosexual couples are not suitable adoptive parents for children, then it is simply immoral to refer enquiries from such couples to adoption agencies where they may be given children to look after. Such compromises undermine the position the bishops are taking.

From CFNews: Tony Blair ruled out any exemption from the rules for churches on Monday night in an attempt to draw a line under a row believed to have caused bitter divisions within the Cabinet. In what he called a 'sensible compromise', the Prime Minister said faith-run agencies would be given nearly two years to adjust to the new rules - due to be voted on by MPs next month. Ruth Kelly, the Secretary for Communities, hailed that agreement as 'a breakthrough that should be welcomed by everyone'. Kelly, who will be responsible for implementing the anti-discrimination policy, had lobbied vigorously for an exemption for Catholic agencies-- leading some critics to say that she should be required to step down because she is committed to upholding the principles of Catholicism. But Kelly has said that she will carry out her duties under the new law. The 21-month period before full implementation of the policy, Kelly said, should give Church agencies 'time to adapt' to the anti-discrimination rules. It is not clear, however, how Catholic institutions could adapt their policies to allow adoptions by same-sex couples-- which the Vatican has described as a form of child abuse.

On Tuesday, January 23rd , the Newsnight programme on BBC carried an interview in which Jeremy Paxman spoke with Archbishop Vincent Nichols. In it the Archbishop clearly stated his opposition to Catholic agencies providing children to homosexual 'couples', admitted and defended the fact that Catholic adoption agencies had allowed single homosexuals to adopt children in their care, stated that Catholic adoption agencies referred homosexual couples to other agencies where their adoption application might be considered. Three days later Mary Ann Sieghart wrote about this interview in the Times.' Oddly, had the Catholic position been more hardline, it might have stood more of a chance. But once Vincent Nichols (admitted) that his agencies were happy to place children with single gay people, but not couples, his argument fell apart … The widespread view was that he couldn't have it both ways: either homosexuality was wrong or it wasn't. Equally, Catholic agencies are prepared to place children with cohabiting heterosexual couples, even though the Church disapproves of sex before marriage. As one Cabinet minister put it: 'If there was a religious principle at stake here, they sold the pass several years ago'. According to 'The Times', Vatican officials are said to be deeply concerned over the unfolding events. One Rome insider said that the Vatican regarded the refusal to grant an exemption a 'real manifestation of the dictatorship of relativism' that had been predicted by the Pope. May Mary Immaculate, Queen of our families -- our children's only protection -- pray for us. [Compiled from agency reports]


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