Monday, April 30, 2007

Botched abortions become infanticide

Briefing. Abortion is hard to distinguish from infanticide in practice as well as in theory. The practice described below is deliberate infanticide by neglect.

From CFNews: A new study from Britain involving an analysis of 20 years of data covering 10 hospitals finds that one baby in 30 survives an abortion attempt. The survey sheds more light on how many abortions are unsuccessful and the kind of care medical facilities should offer babies who survive botched abortions. Many of the babies who survived the failed abortions were born at 20-24 weeks into the pregnancy at West Midlands hospitals. That's just before and right at the point of viability. The study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that some of the babies survived but others lived only for a few hours after the failed abortion. About 190,000 abortions take place in England annually involving about a quarter of all pregnancies and almost always involving a healthy baby. Abortions are allowed up to the 24th week of pregnancy there. This particular study covered the outcomes of 3,189 abortions done between 1994 and 2005 specifically because the baby had some sort of disability. Some 102 of the babies targeted by the abortions were not killed in the abortion procedure. Julia Millington of the pro-life group Alive and Kicking Campaign told that the survival rates were likely seen in other placs in England. 'If 102 out of 3,189 babies aborted for reasons of impairment are born alive, then how many healthy babies must be surviving?' she said. 'It is difficult to comprehend the number of babies, throughout the country, left fighting for their lives,' Millington added, saying that hospitals should have policies to care for them. 'The survival instinct of these premature babies is very strong but without proper neonatal care they stand no chance at all.' [LifeNews]


BBC screens dissident Mass

Action, please: complaints to the BBC. Do we pay the licence fee for them to spend all their time attacking the Church? You can listen to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast here.

From CFNews: The BBC is to broadcast a service from a San Francisco church which has been an 'inspiration' to 'homosexual and lesbian Catholics' around the world. The specially recorded prayer service from the Catholic Parish of the Most Holy Redeemer, in San Francisco's Castro district will go out on Sunday morning, 29 April, on BBC Radio 4. The parish claims to offer a 'spiritual home' to all, including 'those who are straight, gay and lesbian', and is based in the heart of San Francisco's heavily homosexual Castro neighbourhood. In the service to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Fr. Donal Godfrey SJ of the University of San Francisco will preside. James Alison, author of 'Is it ethical to be Catholic? - Queer perspectives', will be preaching. 'It is the style of ministry and liturgy at places such as MHR that influenced many of us familiar with these parishes, and so inspired us to develop the kind of parish-set ministry with LGBT Catholics that we now celebrate in Central London' said a statement from the Roman Catholic caucus of the lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in the UK. The service was recorded by the BBC in October, [Ekklesia]


Sex Education from 6 in Kent?


From CFNews: Members of Kent County Council have called for sex education in its schools to start earlier, in primary schools. Reference was made to Holland, where it is claimed sex education starts at six. [Kent Messenger, SPUC]


BBC attacks the Traditional Mass

Briefing: it is pretty surprising that the BBC should take an interest in the Pope's forthcoming 'motu proprio' liberalising the Traditional Mass, but on closer inspection their interest is limited to a single prayer in the Good Friday Liturgy, for the benefit of the Jews, which is used as evidence of the Church's anti-semitic history. You couldn't make it up.

For the BBC story see here; for commentary see here.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Scottish Bishops: call for voters to examine politicians on pro-life issues


From SPUC. A letter by the Catholic bishops of Scotland has been read out in 500 parishes, encouraging people to question election candidates about their views on moral issues including abortion, euthanasia and embryo research. [BBC, 15 April] The letter stated: "We invite you to look beyond the superficially attractive and fashionable to recognize those policies and values which are most in tune with the dignity of the human person and with the common good of our society." [Zenit, 15 April]


St John & St Elizabeth Hosptital: new ethics code to go to Trustees

Briefing: the saga continues; see here for the previous episode.

From SPUC: A prestigious London Catholic hospital is to ban abortion-referral and the provision of contraception and IVF after a campaign to restore its Catholic identity. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor ordered the ethical code of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth to be revised after it emerged that doctors were providing the morning after pill and referring women for abortions. The new code is expected to be agreed by the hospital board next month and has been welcomed by the Restituta Group who campaigned to put an end to practices that contravene Church teaching. [Daily Mail, 16 April]


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Catholic MPs' poor showing

Briefing. This private-member's bill, to keep parents informed of their children's use of contraception and abortion, was never likely to pass, but it is worth noting the appalling attitude of Catholic MPs.

From CFNews: Of forty-four Catholic Labour MPs, only four voted with the pro-life lobby in support of the 'Contraception and Abortion (Parental Information) Bill'. Their votes were more than countered by five Catholic Labour MPs who voted against it. Many of the others - thirty-six - conveniently abstained.

The Bill - introduced under the Ten-Minute Rule procedure - required practitioners to inform parents or guardians before giving contraceptives or abortion to under-age girls (fifteen and below). The Bill was voted down - but pro-life MPs are determined to re-introduce it.

In a statement, Phyllis Bowman of Right To Life said: 'There is an abundance of evidence to show that parental involvement reduces very considerably conceptions, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers. The Bill would have helped to counter the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy - which it must be said has resulted in enormous increases in sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers. These have now reached epidemic proportions.

'Labour, however, were determined to defeat the Bill and it is a tragedy that so many Catholic MPs opted out. Labour Ushers could be heard calling on Labour MPs 'Vote against the Tory Bill... Vote against the Tory Bill...'

'The Ushers knew as well as we did that it was not a Tory Bill. Four of the sponsors were Labour MPs but, in the event, only six Labour MPs - six of the most courageous of our fighters - ignored colleagues and voted with the pro-life lobby. They were led by Jim Dobbin, an indefatigable fighter. In addition to the four Catholic Labour MPs - the pro-life lobby was supported by David Drew, an Anglican, and David Taylor.

'Labour sources told us that numbers of the Labour MPs passing through the 'No' lobby did not even seem to know what they were voting against.

'One of the most significant factors is that later 32 of those Labour Catholics, who abstained from voting on the Parental Information Bill. were there to vote in the Trident Debate.

'In all there are sixty eight Catholic MPs of whom almost two-thirds (44) are Labour - over three times as many MPs as have the Conservatives with fourteen - and not one of whom voted against the Bill.

'It is important to remember that some MPs would have had prior engagements and usually front-bench MPs do not vote on a Ten-Minute Rule Bill so it was reasonable that Catholic Members of the Government abstained. On the other hand it was noticeable that some of the leading Conservative Front Benchers supported the Bill, including William Hague and Liam Fox.

'One of the great problems is that since the death of Cardinal Heenan, the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales have never grasped the nettle so far as the political campaign against abortion is concerned - unlike the Scottish Bishops to whom most pro-lifers have always looked (and still look) for a lead.. The result is that many Labour Catholic MPs do not feel any real concern on the issue - particularly when they come under pressure from colleagues …,'

'This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act - and Catholics should pray that the Bishops will take on board the political importance of the abortion issue as well as supporting the caring aspects. The late Cardinal Winning always achieved both.'

'On the day the Bill was debated an Early Day Motion (EDM) was tabled which highlights the fact that in 2005 the numbers of under-age children (fifteen and below) rose to 7,462, clinics in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in England reported 2,221 cases of STDs in patients aged 13 - 15 years, figures that exclude those cases diagnosed by doctors and family planning clinics. Moreover, even the less dangerous forms of STDs can damage young people for life and leave girls infertile. In addition, it is important to note that in the UK 13 under-age girls were reported to have syphilis in 2005. The figures for UK conceptions, abortions and STDs in teenagers are by far the highest in Western Europe. In addition, UNICEF recently reported that nearly 40 per cent of underage children (15 and below) in the UK are sexually active - once again far higher than any other country in Western Europe …' {RTL]


Thursday, April 12, 2007

UN officials attack morality

Briefing: officials known as 'Special Rapporteurs' exist to look into specific areas of human rights, in the context of the UN Convention. These ones have clearly become obsessed with their own highly controversial agenda.

From C-Fam: At the recently concluded Human Rights Council (HRC) meetings in Geneva, several UN Special Rapporteurs presented annual reports that undercut religion as a defense against radical feminism, promote a radically expansive view of homosexual rights, and have the effect of discrediting national sovereignty.

Special Rapporteur Yakin Erturk who covers Violence Against Women said that in the coming year she would be placing special emphasis on sexual orientation. In this year's report Erturk calls for States Parties to the Convention on the Elimination Against Women to remove any reservation based on religion. Ertuk said any such reservation can only be viewed as "incompatible" with the Convention and contrary to the rights of women.

Erturk also told the Human Rights Council that abstinence-based programs for combating HIV/AIDS "reinforce ideologies of men’s control over women’s sexuality (however they may be culturally framed) and thereby contribute to the perpetuation of the root cause of many forms of violence against women.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Health Paul Hunt asked the HRC to call for the "right to health" a highly controversial and vague term into which is packed much of radical sexual policy. He said there are many ways to promote a right to health including "through the case law of bodies with responsibility for interpreting human rights.”

Hunt announced at a meeting during the Commission on the Status of Women in March that the majority of his reports “dealt with the sexual and reproductive health of girls.” He said one of the goals of his work as Rapporteur was to teach children about sex without talking about reproduction, asking, “If adults bury sexuality in the term ‘reproduction’, how will children understand? So I talk about sexual health rights.”

UN Special Rapporteur is a title given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations who bear a specific mandate from the former UN Commission on Human Rights to investigate, monitor and recommend solutions to human rights problems. Special Rapporteurs are called to be "of high moral character” and act with “integrity, independence and impartiality.” They have three year mandates which are renewable for three years.

The position was a source of controversy at the HRC meeting. Conservatives at the HRC meetings told the Friday Fax that there was interest among delegations to terminate the mandates of Rapporteurs who overstep or abuse their mandates to push personal agendas, and there was interest in doing away with some of the positions all together. They noted that 9 of the 37 Rapporteurs authored the “Yogyakarta Principles” which promote homosexual rights as international human rights, and also noted that three special Rapporteurs, including Paul Hunt, are members of the pro-abortion NGO Center for Reproductive Rights’ (CRR) Expert Litigation Committee.


Ofsted pushes Morning After Pill and Sex Education

Briefing: the schools inspectors, Ofsted, are still in denial about the link between sex education, access to 'emergency contraception', and underage sex,.

From SPUC: Inspectors of British schools have approved of schools which provide under-age girls with birth control drugs. A report from Ofsted, the education watchdog, called the provision of the morning after pill (MAP) a "valuable service" and rejected "abstinence-only" programmes, and claimed that there was no evidence that birth control lessons led to increased sexual activity. [Daily Mail, 11 April] The Ofsted report also warned that parents are failing to educate their children about sex. Miriam Rosen, Ofsted's director of education said: "No matter how difficult it may be, parents and teachers have to discuss sensitive issues with their children and pupils to help them make the right choices as they grow up." [Gazette, Hemel Hempstead, 11 April]


Tax Credit system undermining family stability

Briefing: further to our earlier post here.

From CFNews: Tax Credit System undermining Child Development. Research recently published by CARE shows that the current tax credit and wider benefits system is creating a financial incentive for couples on low to modest incomes with children, to live apart. Given that the social science research in the field makes it abundantly clear that child development interests are best served in the context of two parent families, the provision by the state of a fiscal incentive for a less effective child development environment seems very unfortunate. This policy appears particularly out of place given the fact that the government has made confronting antisocial behaviour a policy objective and has identified that one of the main reasons for failure in this area relates to the poor parenting experiences of disaffected youths especially during their early childhood years. There is an urgent need for a review of tax credits and the wider benefit system to ensure that they do not have the effect of discouraging two parent families.

`Families Compared', written by Don Draper, is a case study considering the impact of the tax credits and wider benefits system on 98 low to modest income families. It shows that in over 70% of cases the couple would be financially better-off - on average by £64 per week - if they lived apart, even when additional housing costs are taken into account. The research also shows that there is a substantial cost to the Treasury resulting from a couple's decision to live apart. whether this results in a family breakup or the couple deciding not to live together in the first place.

'Restructuring Tax Credits.' written by Don Draper and Leonard Beighton. looks at the problems considered in the case study on a general UK level, exploring possible solutions. Recognising that current projections suggest that in the near future more than 50% of children in poverty will live in 'in-work' two parent families, the paper argues that targeting increases in tax credits at 'in-work' two parent families in poverty will be crucial if the government is to find a credible way of making any progress towards its goal of halving child poverty by 2010 and if family life is not to be further undermined.

To obtain a copy of either paper please telephone 020 7227 4717 or visit [CARE]

Also from CFNews: Nearly one in four children in Britain now lives with only one parent, according to a new report on social trends. The number of such households increased from four million to 11 million between 1972 and 2005. A fifth of the children who saw their parents divorce in 2005 were 10 or less. And one in 10 families with dependent children now involves a step-parent. Although the population is growing, family sizes are shrinking. Households comprising a couple with dependent children have decreased from 52 per cent to 37 per cent. Among such families, those from a black ethnic background had the highest numbers of lone parents -- up to 50 per cent in some communities. But what children are missing in parent contact they are making up in technology. Around half of children aged 8 to 11 own a mobile phone. As for the adult population, more of them are living alone -- seven million in 2005 compared with three million in 1971. The largest increase in solo living is amongst those aged 25-44. ~[Telegraph]


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More misreporting by The Times

Complaints to The Times, please: this story is doing the rounds of the Catholic blogs. The Times Vatican correspondent, Richard Owen, reported on the Pope's Stations of the Cross in a bizarre, sensationalist way, suggesting that the sequence of meditations was entirely new (here: you can add your comments at the bottom). In fact, they were composed by Pope John Paul II and have been used several times; they now seem to be alternating with the traditional stations. See Hermeneutic of Continuity for more commentary.

Also in The Times, Matthew Parris goes on record with his unshakeable faith - faith that could not be shaken, even in theory, by scientific evidence, however convincing it might seem - that the late John Paul II's intercession has not been instrumental in a miraculous cure of a nun from Parkinson's Disease. Impressive as it is, this kind of faith does not ensure salvation...


Monday, April 09, 2007

Europe's demographic winter approaches

Briefing and comment: a lot has been written on this subject; here are some figures from the United Nations (Hat-tip to 'eurofacts'), comparing the working-age population (persons aged 15-64 inclusive) in 2005, with that projected for 2050:

Germany: 55.34m in 2005; will be 44.66m in 2050
France: 39.46m; will be 36.07m
Italy: 38.35m; will be 26.14m
UK: 39.44m; will be 40.56m
Bulgaria and Romania: 21m; will be 13m.

Comment: the worst affected are the central European countries which have recently joined the EU (the EU of 15 members is projected to shrink by 15%; the EU of 27 members is projected to shrink by 19%), and the Mediterranean, Catholic countries, Italy and Spain.

Can immigration reverse the trend? No: the social dislocation consequent on moving 64m people into the EU over this timescale, to maintain the working age population, is unimaginable. As soon as they arrive, the immigrants will in any case be placed under the same social and economic pressures as the existing population, and their fertility will decline.

Will there be a pensions crisis? Yes, but not permanently. The problem derives from the imbalance between the working population and the non-working population, and this can be corrected by raising retirement ages. European politicians will find the courage to do this when things get really bad.

Why is northern Europe less affected than Southern and Central Europe? Since women have been going out to work and maintaining careers, they have naturally found it harder to make time to have children. In Southern and Central Europe women are expected to look after their small children, so having a family at all means many years out of paid employment. In Northern Europe, great efforts have been made to enable mothers to carry on working: subsidised child-care, maternity leave etc..

Should Southern and Central Europe follow the Northern model? No: it is very bad for small children to spend a lot of time in creches.

Do women prefer having careers to being mothers? Not according to opinion polls. Large majorities of working women in the UK claim to want to leave full-time work; the average number of children women claim to want is much greater than the number they actually have.

Are fertility rates driven down by poverty? No. Fertility rates have fallen in the context of unprecedented prosperity in Europe; they tend to be much higher in poor countries. Historically, the trend to smaller families started with the richer parts of society, and has spread down; it did not start with the poorest, and spread up. High house prices certainly make life difficult for single-income families in the UK, but they don't explain the Europe-wide problem.

What on earth is going on? Although women say they want more children, they are not prepared to sacrifice their jobs to have them. This is a matter of social attitudes, reinforced by government policy. Women are told that they are not making a contribution to society by having children instead of a career; career achievements are regarded as admirable, but family ones are ignored; families are respected for their outward signs of prosperity, not their children; despite years of concern about fertility rates, large families experience criticism, ridicule and discrimination.

What can we do? We can press for changes to Government policy: an end to the discrimination against marriage in the tax and benefit system; a recognition of the value of bringing children into the world; a recognition of the role of parents as the primary educators of their children; please support the group 'Full Time Mothers' who work in this area. We must counter the negative social attitudes in every way we can, and support families. The fundamental problem is one of values, and can only be countered by the reconversion of Europe. For this we need to use the proper supernatural means, and above all the Rosary, as Leo XIII recommended in the context of this very issue.

Leo XIII recognised three trends undermining society (Laetitiae Sanctae, 1893):

4. There are three influences which appear to Us to have the chief place in effecting this downward movement of society. These are, first, a distaste for the simple and laborious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life.

He recommended the Rosary as a means of countering these trends: the Joyful Mysteries for the first, the Sorrowful for the second, and the Glorious for the third. What he writes on the first is worth quoting at length:

5. We deplore -- and those who judge of all things merely by the light and according to the standard of nature join with Us in deploring -- that society is threatened with a serious danger in the growing contempt of those homely duties and virtues which make up the beauty of humble life. To this cause we may trace in the home, the readiness of children to withdraw themselves from the natural obligation of obedience to the parents, and their impatience of any form of treatment which is not of the indulgent and effeminate kind. In the workman, it evinces itself in a tendency to desert his trade, to shrink from toil, to become discontented with his lot, to fix his gaze on things that are above him, and to look forward with unthinking hopefulness to some future equalization of property. We may observe the same temper permeating the masses in the eagerness to exchange the life of the rural districts for the excitements and pleasures of the town. Thus the equilibrium between the classes of the community is being destroyed, everything becomes unsettled, men's minds become a prey to jealousy and heart-burnings, rights are openly trampled under foot, and, finally, the people, betrayed in their expectations, attack public order, and place themselves in conflict with those who are charged to maintain it.

6. For evils such as these let us seek a remedy in the Rosary, which consists in a fixed order of prayer combined with devout meditation on the life of Christ and His Blessed Mother. Here, if the joyful mysteries be but clearly brought home to the minds of the people, an object lesson of the chief virtues is placed before their eyes. Each one will thus be able to see for himself how easy, how abundant, how sweetly attractive are the lessons to be found therein for the leading of an honest life. Let us take our stand in front of that earthly and divine home of holiness, the House of Nazareth. How much we have to learn from the daily life which was led within its walls! What an all-perfect model of domestic society! Here we behold simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love -- not of the false and fleeting kind -- but that which finds both its life and its charm in devotedness of service. Here is the patient industry which provides what is required for food and raiment; which does so "in the sweat of the brow," which is contented with little, and which seeks rather to diminish the number of its wants than to multiply the sources of its wealth. Better than all, we find there that supreme peace of mind and gladness of soul which never fail to accompany the possession of a tranquil conscience. These are precious examples of goodness, of modesty, of humility, of hard-working endurance, of kindness to others, of diligence in the small duties of daily life, and of other virtues, and once they have made their influence felt they gradually take root in the soul, and in course of time fail not to bring about a happy change of mind and conduct. Then will each one begin to feel his work to be no longer lowly and irksome, but grateful and lightsome, and clothed with a certain joyousness by his sense of duty in discharging it conscientiously. Then will gentler manners everywhere prevail; home-life will be loved and esteemed, and the relations of man with man will be hallowed by a larger infusion of respect and charity. And if this betterment should go forth from the individual to the family and to the communities, and thence to the people at large so that human life should be lifted up to this standard, no one will fail to feel how great and lasting indeed would be the gain which would be achieved for society.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Christ is risen!

A happy Easter to all our readers!


Friday, April 06, 2007

Anti-family manipulation of UN treaties exposed


From C-Fam: A newly published article by C-FAM’s Douglas Sylva and Susan Yoshihara in
National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly exposes the frequent manipulation of the United Nations human rights treaty monitoring system by social radicals to establish an international human right to abortion on demand.

Entitled “Rights by Stealth,” the article exposes a complex network of academics, NGOs and collaborators within the UN system who are working in tandem to perpetuate a pattern of misinterpretation of existing human rights to create a new right to abortion.

Sylva and Yoshihara assert that “rather than seeking to sway voters directly, they seek mastery of the complex and little-known inner working of the international human rights system.” The starting point, the authors argue is their claim that “‘reproductive and sexual health rights’ are necessary components of a host of already existing human rights.”

The study begins with a meeting that took place at Glen Cove, NY in 1996 wherein participants from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and select NGOs met to articulate a comprehensive strategy “to determine how the right to abortion-on-demand could be found in universally accepted norms such as the right to life.” Using primary sources from the meeting and other documents, the article shows how the strategy relies on secrecy, undermining national sovereignty, and never admitting publicly the fact that international law does not include a right to abortion.

According to the article, the treaty-monitoring bodies lie at the center of the strategy. By convincing participants in the system that the “treaties are not fixed as negotiated, but rather are living, mutable documents,” those pushing the agenda could attempt re-interpret existing human rights to include a right to abortion. Furthermore, Sylva and Yoshihara explain, these re-interpretations “would be guided not by representatives of governments, but by members of treaty bodies who are not answerable to governments.”

The article argues that the “stealth” strategy has unfolded to an alarming degree, citing numerous instances when treaty body experts have taken sovereign nations to task for having restrictions on access to abortion, despite the fact that none of the human rights treaties mentions abortion. It further argues that Latin America is a primary focus. Just last month the Human Rights Committee, the committee charged with overseeing compliance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), questioned Chile on its abortion laws.

According to the authors, the current situation seems untenable since it undermines the very human rights system that abortion proponents need to promote their agenda. Like the feminist-human rights movement in general, they note, the strategy is elitist. While well-funded by big foundations and NGOs, it enjoys very little grass roots support, and while it has succeeded in promoting a feminist agenda in rich countries, it has utterly failed to help poor women. The authors offer policy recommendations to help restore legitimacy to the human rights treaty system and “hope of achieving real progress for the women who are most in need of it.”


Mental Capacity Act comes into force

Briefing. Those with seriously ill friends and relations in hospital must be unstinting in their vigilance to protect them. Doctors face prosecution, under certain circumstances, for not killing their patients.

From CF News: Christian doctors have said they would rather go to jail than obey instruction to kill their patients. They are threatening to defy new 'backdoor euthanasia' laws that would force them to starve and dehydrate their patients to death. Some have said they would ignore the Mental Capacity Act which came into force last weekend. The Act allows terminally ill patients to instruct doctors that they wish to refuse food and fluid - classified as treatment - if their condition worsens. They cannot, however, request to be kept alive. The protests against the legislation suggest that a significant section of the medical profession has grave doubts about the shake-up and its impact on the desperately ill, according to the Daily Mail.

The Act will give legally binding force for the first time to advance directives - or 'living wills' - under which patients can set down their wish to refuse treatment if they become seriously or terminally ill. In a living will, a patient can tell doctors to withdraw treatment so that they die as a result. During the passage of the Bill through Parliament the Government insisted that the practice did not amount to euthanasia. But some doctors insist that if they deliberately withheld food and fluid from a person who would not otherwise die they would be complicit in 'euthanasia by omission' or assisting in a suicide. Doctors must get a second opinion before deciding to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration from a patient who is not close to death. There are also new provisions for patients to give 'lasting powers of attorney' to a friend or relative. This 'attorney' would be able to instruct doctors to let the patient die if they became incapacitated. Those refusing to obey the instructions would be open to prosecution for assault. Doctors or nurses could also be accused of 'wilfully neglecting' incapacitated patients and punished with up to five years in jail.

Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship, which represents 4,500 medics, said: 'I know a number of doctors who will not stand by and allow their patients to die and who will risk criminal prosecution.' He said the Act was dangerous to incapacitated patients who were not dying and added: 'Decisions about incapacitated patients are always more complex when there is money involved. Where there's a will there are relatives waiting.'

Dr Philip Howard, a London gastroenterology consultant and a Catholic, said that he would not withdraw or withhold nutrition and hydration even when it was specified in an advance decision. 'No patient should die as a result of dehydration and no patient should be allowed to die in a state of unrelieved thirst,' he insisted. 'It is my practice never to allow a patient to die of unremitting thirst.' Dr Howard added that a number of his colleagues had made clear 'deep concern that patients may be dehydrated at the end of their lives'.

Consultant psychiatrist and NACF member Dr Adrian Treloar said: 'If I am asked, will I kill a patient under the Mental Capacity Act? the answer is 'no'. People who make living wills or support the idea should ask themselves if they really want a doctor to stop treating them or would they rely on that doctor risking a jail sentence?' The British Medical Association has issued guidance to doctors confirming it remains their duty to provide basic care - whatever directions about refusal of treatment are contained in advance decisions. A spokesman said: 'Basic care will always be provided and that means providing water, or moistening the mouth where swallowing is not possible, unless the patient says they don't want to drink'. The timetable for putting the law into action means advance decisions will become legally binding from October, when patients will also be able to give life-and-daeth powers to relatives, lawyers or social workers appointed by them as a welfare attorney. [Catholic Herald]


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Teenage pregnancies at record levels


From SPUC: England and Wales have the highest teenage birth rate in western Europe, according to statistics revealed by the British government. The area with the most teenage pregnancies is reportedly the London borough of Redcar and Cleveland, which has a conception rate of 18.4 in 1,000. Professor David Paton, an economist at the Nottingham University Business School, said that he believed the government's attempt to reduce pregnancies by easy access to contraception and sex education could be counter-productive. He said: "The underlying social deprivation of an area, family breakdown rates and religion seems to have a greater effect on teenage pregnancy rates than more obvious policies such as sex education or providing access to family planning. The danger with this sort of approach is that it can lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviour among some young people." [Telegraph, 2 April]


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Amnesty International: abortion policy developments

Update (3/4/07): the results of Amnesty's earlier consultation of its members and supporters has been published. Highlights: respondents were asked
'Do you agree that AI should develop policy to enable research and action on ... abortion?'
Yes: 45.4%
No: 45.7%

'Should AI take the view that a woman's right to physical and mental integrity... includes her right to terminate her pregnancy within reasonable limitations...?'
Yes: 35.3%
No: 52.8%

Thanks to all taking part: Amnesty should realise that it's move to pro-abortion campaigning does not have the support of its members.

Background briefing 29/03/07.

From CFNews: The British section of Amnesty International has endorsed a policy in support of legalising abortion. The UK board pushed through the motion at a March 23-25 meeting in Edinburgh supporting the legalisation of abortion but then passed a second motion in favour remaining a neutral stance. The UK section now has to decide which motion Secretary-General Irene Khan will back at next month's meeting of the international section of the movement. The international branch currently holds a neutral position on abortion, but should it vote for a change in attitude it is feared that large numbers of Catholics could leave Amnesty. A statement from Amnesty International UK said: 'Abortion has been part of a discussion on sexual and reproductive rights which Amnesty International has been undertaking among its members in recent years within the wider context of sexual and reproductive rights and the organisation's Stop Violence Against Women campaign. 'Amnesty International would continue to take no position on the rights and wrongs of abortion, which it sees it as a matter of personal choice.' But Fiorella Nash, research officer for SPUC said: 'It is absurd for Amnesty International to claim that it would 'continue to take no position on the rights and wrongs of abortion' - would Amnesty say the same about the use of torture?'


'Homophobic bullying': a stick to beat Catholic schools

Briefing: you have been warned! Any school that presents or even refers to normal family life as if it were, well, normal, will be marked down as guilty of 'homophobic bullying' by Ofsted. Ofsted reports have proved to be an excellent form of 'soft coercion' on schools: their guidelines don't have the force of law, but they can make a school's life very difficult all the same. An example of 'homophobic bullying' helpfully provided by the regulatory body is 'assuming that a child's mother's partner is male.'

Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity; further details and discussion there.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis: red faces for the English translators

New update: the English version of the text on the Vatican website has been corrected! (Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity). Too late, of course, for all the people who read and quoted it when it first came out. The problems with the translation process at the Vatican needs to be addressed urgently, if the Pope is to communicate with his people. See Fr Zuhlsdorf on this.

Damian Thompson, editor in chief of the Catholic Herald, points to the lack of a press release on the exhortation as an indication of a certain lack of enthusiasm by 'the Left-wing apparatchiks at the Bishop's Conference': see here. And The Catholic Herald has lodged an official complaint against the 'Communications Office' of the Bishops of England and Wales: see here.

Background briefing:
dissent, and attempts to undermine the Holy Father's teaching, apparently extends even to the office in the Vatican entrusted with the translation of documents into English. Within hours of the publication of the Exhortation 'Sacramentum Caritatis', bloggers began to notice an extraordinary attempt to distort the Holy Father's meaning when he encourages the use of Latin in Masses for international gatherings. Where he said that it would be appropriate, or right, to use Latin in that context, the translators apparently prefer the English-speaking world to think he said merely that Latin 'could' be used.

For the full details, and commentary, see Diogenes of Catholic World Report.

Of note to Catholics in the UK: the Pope reaffirms the importance of having the tabernacle in a central and visible location, and the appropriateness of kneeling for the Consecration.


General absolution: the abuse that won't die

Local action as appropriate: an interesting post by Fr Tim Finnigan reminds us that General (as opposed to individual) Absolution, without individual confession of sins, is still widely used in England and Wales despite a succession of high-profile condemnations of it, most recently by Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth. Anyone confronted with this in a parish must remember that General Absolution is permitted by the Church only in emergency situations (typically: a group of soldiers going off to battle), and imposes an obligation on the penitent to go to individual confession as soon as possible afterwards.

While a penitent ignorant of the illegality of the practice, and who receives General Absolution in good faith, is not committing a sin in taking part, and may receive communion afterwards, the objective obligation to confess mortal sins in individual, auricular confession (ie the ordinary kind), has not been satisfied; nor has the obligation to go to confession at Easter time.

Read Fr Finnigan's post on the disastrous pastoral consequences of General Absolution; and see also his earlier post on the subject here.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

No to Pollyanna!

Comment: this blog has been criticised (we knew it would happen!) for reporting, without comment, one of the less admirable actions of a senior cleric. This was a public action, already widely reported elsewhere, and the cleric was happy both to do it and to defend it, but it seems some people would prefer it to be hidden from those, such as the readers of this blog, who might not think it was the right thing to do.

At this moment of crisis for the Catholic Church in the UK, should we hide our head in the sand, and pretend everything is just marvellous? Or that all our difficulties originate from outside the church, or from tiny bands of marginalised conservative-minded Catholics not sufficiently loyal to the hierarchy? Gabriel Communications points the way: their official policy, in publishing The Universe, The Catholic Times, and Catholic Life Magazine, is to be "100 per cent supportive of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy".

Can the hierarchy and clergy do no wrong? Can they not disagree among themselves? What if they disagree with the Pope?

On the left there is a picture of 'Pollyanna', a book written at the height of Victorian sentimentality, about a little girl whose self-deluding optimism and unrequited love for all and sundry melted the heart of the wicked aunt who, after the death of her parents, was bringing her up. Pollyanna's clinging to the belief that everything was wonderful actually made everything wonderful. This seems to be the hope of our critics, of Gabriel Communications, and of many in the Church who have held back from criticising, or even acknowledging, problems within the Church.

Is this policy likely to succeed? Is it a Catholic attitude? No, and no. Our policy is that of G.K. Chesterton, who wrote

I tell ye nought for your comfort,
Yea, nought for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet,
And the sea rages higher.

The alternative policy was aptly characterised by Jeremiah:
They have treated the wounds of my people lightly saying Peace, Peace when there is no Peace. Jeremiah 6:14.

In fact no one has done more to expose to reasoned discussion the crisis in the Church than the present Pope, in a stream of books written before his election. This has got to be done! In order to respond constructively to the present crisis in the Church and the state, Catholics have to know what is going on. We promise our readers that we won't hide the truth from them for fear of shattering their illusions or embarrassing those in authority. We like to publicise the good things bishops and others in the Church say and do, but we have to be ready to note the less good things as well.


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