Thursday, November 29, 2007

Damian Thompson calls for letters to Rome

Action: since he is calling for a campaign, we should support him. He calls for letters complaining about the misinterpretation of the Motu Proprio by the Bishops of England and Wales; Catholics of many other countries, including Scotland, are in the same situation.

Readers of Rorate Caeli will know about some very serious problems in taly.

Thompson's post and explanation is here.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Illegal abortions in the UK

Briefing: this investigation blows a hole in the biggest argument for legal abortion: that it makes illegal abortions disapeer. It seems it does not.

From CFNews: Illegal abortions are still taking place in the UK, a BBC undercover investigation has discovered. Abortion has been legal in Britain for 40 years - under certain conditions a woman can terminate a pregnancy up to 24 weeks. But the BBC has discovered pills for getting rid of unwanted pregnancies are readily available on the black market. The BBC Radio 5 Live Report followed up on internet chat room messages left by women asking for abortion advice. 'Special herbs' There was online discussion about special Chinese herbs being sold in East London. A BBC undercover reporter posing as an illegal immigrant visited several Chinese herbal shops, saying she was 6 weeks pregnant. The third one she went into, the Shanghai Herbal and Acupuncture Centre on Kingsland Road in east London, offered to help her. It was clear from the start that the staff - Dr Shen and Dr Wang - knew what they were doing was wrong. 'You come in this shop, you are lucky. Do you understand. My boss does't like me to do this treatment, my boss thinks it is a risk. So my boss doesn't know. You understand?' the reporter was told.

They first sold her a herbal remedy for £40 - a mixture to drink three times a day to start a miscarriage. Risky A Manchester doctor told the programme that his team regularly came across patients with extensive bleeding after taking herbs. The Chinese herbalists also advised the undercover reporter to buy another 'special tablet' in case the herbs didn't work. 'If you see the bleeding, come out, that's fine, some people don't. I need to call another company, from China, [they will] deliver it to here, you understand?' Our reporter paid £100 for this pill which turned out to be the abortion drug RU486, which is illegal to sell without prescription. Community health workers told us the issue of illegal abortion affects many women from young British teenagers who do not trust their doctor, through to people who are here illegally and are frightened of being found out.

Another reason women seek out illegal terminations is cost. Backstreet Abortion is not free on the NHS for every woman. If someone's home country doesn't have a reciprocal NHS agreement, or you are here illegally - then you face paying between £500 and £1,500. In addition to herbs, the 5 Live Report found other ways of getting hold of abortion drugs, like one called misoprostol or Cytotec. Our reporter met a Polish man called Robert in a West London cafĂ©. She said she was eight weeks pregnant and wanted an abortion and as Robert handed over the pills he told her how he got hold of them. 'It comes either from Fiji islands or Turkey. The ones I have now are from Turkey, they are sent to Poland and then I have a courier who brings them from Poland to here'.

He told our undercover reporter that this was not just a one-off transaction, boasting that he had smuggled this drug in many times before. One side effect of taking abortion drugs is extensive bleeding, that if unsupervised can be dangerous. But Robert was keen to point out that the drugs would be untraceable. 'If something happened and you had to go to hospital, the doctor will think that everything happened naturally.' The BBC reporter paid £30 for 14 tablets. This man had acted entirely illegally - not only had he peddled prescription drugs, he had broken the abortion law again by aiding an abortion without a licence. However, Robert hung-up the phone when the Radio 5 Live called him to put this accusation to him. Our investigation suggests illegal abortion activity may be widespread. A health worker in east London health worker told us she was routinely asked to get abortion drugs without prescription. A Department of Health spokeswoman said: 'We have no evidence that illegal abortions are being performed.' [BBC Radio 5]


Poll: UK Catholics not solid against abortion

Briefing: John Smeaton, Chairman of SPUC, points out that 'The CFFC/YouGov poll was not a poll of practising Catholics and therefore the claims made by CFFC on the back of this poll have no credibility.' Presumably it is a poll of 'self identifying' Catholics; it retains some interest as a picture of people who think they are Catholics--but evidently are not.

From CFNews: A poll of adults in the UK has shown 43% of Catholics agreed that it should be legal for a woman to have an abortion when she has an unwanted pregnancy with only 27% disagreeing. A further 20% said they neither disagreed or agreed. The survey also found that 42% of Catholics agreed with the view that the Catholic bishops concentrated too much of their attention on abortion when there were other issues that also required their attention.

The YouGov poll of 1,983 adults in the UK was conducted online earlier this month for the US-based group Catholics for Choice, which is to brief MPs on its findings. The poll found the highest level of support for abortion among the general population with 63% of all respondents agreeing it should be legal for a woman to have an abortion when she has an unwanted pregnancy. This figure fell to 58% of people who identified themselves as Protestant. The survey findings come as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was debated in the House of Lords earlier this week. Both pro-Life and pro-choice groups are expected to attempt to use the Bill to change the law on abortion.

Scottish Catholic leader Cardinal Keith O'Brien and the leader of Catholics in England and Wales Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, issued a letter last month saying the 200,000 abortions a year in England and Wales were a source of 'distress and profound anguish'.

President of Catholics for Choice Jon O'Brien said: 'The poll results demonstrate to us an important point that is often ignored or glossed over in discussions about the law on abortion - namely, that British people, of all faiths and none, trust women and families to make their own decisions when it comes to the choice to terminate a pregnancy or bring a child into the world.'


Irish water down EU support for abortion in Africa

Briefing: well done to the Irish. This kind of thing comes up all the time in the EU.

From CFNews: Delegates to the European Union from Ireland have been successful in forcing it to moderate its support for an African plan that promotes abortion continent-wide. The African Union approved the pro-abortion Maputo Plan of Action, a non-binding resolution, in January and pro-life advocates have opposed it ever since. Several African nations signed up to support the Maputo plan, which is seen as a move towards population control that could promote abortions and even forced abortions or sterilizations like those seen in China. It urges African countries to 'enact policies and legal frameworks to reduce incidence of unsafe abortion' and to 'prepare and implement national plans of action to reduce incidence of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion.' According to a Catholic World News report, the Irish delegation to the European Union questioned support for the plan at a meeting of European foreign ministers. The Ireland lawmakers said an EU motion to support it would violate previous EU policy against officially endorsing abortion in other nations. CWN reports that a MEPs reached a compromise agreement where the EU would support the plan only 'within the context of EU policies.'


Bishop Conry: MP 'an opinion'

Briefing: presumably the responsible authorities in Rome already know about this, or soon will, and it is for them to act.

Comment: Damian Thompson is calling for Bishop Kieran Conry to resign, for writing to a member of his flock as follows:

“I would stand by all that I said, but I would reject the suggestion that [my comments] imply in any way a rejection of the Holy Father’s Petrine role and authority. But the matter is not one of doctrine or morals, and the Holy Father has expressed an opinion about the appropriateness of the so-called ‘Tridentine Rite’, in contrast, it must be pointed out, to the opinion of his predecessors, with whom, presumably, he disagrees. He has the same right.”

The implication of his letter is that, while he accepts the teaching of the Church on Faith and Morals, he rejects the authority of the Law of the Church: the Motu Proprio is a legal act, as he well knows, not a prudential opinion. Coming from a bishop, this is pretty amazing. On the other hand, in refusing to accept the new legal realities created by the MP, Bishop Conry is in good company: if he should resign, so should Bishop Roche, Archbishop Conti and Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. This is not going to happen. The next move in this game will be the promised explanatory document from Rome, and at some point soon the resolution by Rome of complaints: let's see what happens then.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth: Victory

Action: congratulations to the Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, especially from anyone who has written before on this subject, would be nice. This is a major victory for him and for the Church in England and Wales.

From The Telegraph, in part: A fashionable Roman Catholic hospital has agreed a code of ethics barring its doctors from referring abortions or providing contraceptives, The Daily Telegraph has learned. The board of the private St John and St Elizabeth Hospital voted to implement the new code earlier this month after intense pressure from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Britain's senior Catholic leader.

The north London hospital may now face financial difficulties because it could have to abandon plans to lease part of its site to GPs who would be obliged by their NHS contracts to offer contraceptive services. According to insiders, the decision by the board may also prompt the resignation of staff who have opposed the adoption of the code.

Comment: The Board of Management has finally agreed to the new Code of Ethics proposed by the Cardinal and the other Trustees. The departure of the anti-life contingent on the staff, anticipated by the Daily Telegraph, would be very welcome. See the full Telegraph story here.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

EU Parliament condemns persecution of Christians

Briefing: a positive development.

From CFNews: The European Union has approved a resolution condemning the persecution of Christians in some parts of the world. According the SIR news agency, Mario Mauro, vice president of the European Parliament and sponsor of the measure, said, 'Religious freedom is the test for other freedoms and rights, and the persecution of Christians throughout the world is one of the greatest challenges to human dignity.' The measure, which has the support of the Socialist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and others, condemns all acts of violence against Christian communities especially in Africa and Asia, and it calls on the countries in question 'to provide the necessary guarantees for religious freedom and the security of Christian communities.'

In addition to mentioning several cases of persecution of Christians in Pakistan, Gaza, Turkey, China, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq and Syria, the measure 'deplores the kidnapping of Father Giancarlo Gossi in the Philippines, strongly condemns the murder of journalist Hrant Dink and of Father Andrea Santoro in Turkey, as well as underscores the problems of freedom of expression in China and repression in Vietnam. 'Thanks to today's vote-which had only two votes against and one abstention-the European Commission will have to take steps to develop and plan for cooperation and aid to be given on the condition that the principle of respect for true religious freedom is respected,' Mauro said. Lastly, the resolution also emphasized 'the importance of dialogue between religions in order to promote peace and understanding between people, and calls on religious leaders to fight 'against extremisms and to promote mutual respect,' Mauro stated.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Amnesty International: Bishops of England and Wales call on schools to withdraw support

Local action as appropriate: anyone involved in Catholic schools should make sure the Bishops wishes, which implement those of the Vatican, are fulfilled.

From SPUC: The head of Amnesty International in the UK has supported the organisation's new policy on abortion. In an interview for the Guardian newspaper, Ms Kate Allen dismissed the opposition of the Catholic Church as nonsensical, and revealed that only 222 out of a quarter of a million British members had resigned their membership, while 105 had increased their donations. [Guardian, 19 November] The Catholic bishops of Englandand Wales have written to all Catholic primary and secondary schools and sixth form colleges saying that they should no longer have ties with Amnesty and should not raise money for it. Catholics are urged to continue to work for justice by putting into practice the social teaching of the Catholic Church by supporting other organisations.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sex abuse: another conviction

Prayers, please, for the victims and the priest: a priest from the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for abuse between 1975 and 1982, of two boys aged between 11 and 15.

Hat-tip to a Catholic blogger who would prefer to remain anonymous; here is the BBC.


Monday, November 19, 2007

More on the Motu Proprio

Briefing: it is beginning to look as though this could be the Pope's chosen ground for a major battle with the bishops. Let us recap:

Pope John-Paul II was seriously concerned about liturgical abuses, which undermine the belief of Catholics. It is no surprise that many nominal Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament when they see how it is treated by priests and 'lay ministers'. He issued a series of documents (such as 'On the Unordained Faithful' and 'Redeptris Sacramentum') condemning abuses and reiterating the law of the Church, but these were not just quietly ignored: English bishops explicitly said that they were not going to enforce them. 'They don't apply in England' was the mantra. (More on abuses from Catholic Rights here.)

Benedict XVI saw the failure of this strategy and is even more concerned about the liturgy than J-P II. The Motu Proprio is, among other things, an attempt to stimulate a renewal of the liturgy, of both the 1962 missal and of the 'New' Mass, by giving new encouragement and legal rights to ordinary priests and laity. He is appealing over the heads of the bishops to the conservative forces which have become increasingly strong at parish level.

The MP does this by reiterating the historical continuity of the Church. Abuses usually spring out of an idea that rituals prescribed by law (only the priest distributing communion, for example) reflect a liturgical theology that has been overtaken by Vatican II and subsequent developments. By saying that the pre-Vatican II liturgy has never been forbidden, and that it continues to reflect the Church's timeless teaching, the MP holes this idea below the waterline. What is more, because the 1962 Missal is essentially unchanged for countless centuries, it expresses to the onlooker what the Church has always, constantly, and everywhere taught, the way she always worshiped, the attitude she always took to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. No one experiencing that liturgy can be in any doubt about what is the unchanging bedrock of Catholic belief. So the fact the Traditional Mass will be said, and experienced by ordinary Catholics even if only occasionally, should give a kind of ballast to thinking about liturgy and theology, which in time should make the outrageous abuses we have all become familiar with unthinkable - as they once were.

The importance of the MP for the Pope's strategy for renewal cannot be overstated. He knows from experience how little is achieved by exhortation. This is a way of giving power to his allies in the Church, and taking power away from his enemies - from the enemies of authentic Catholic doctrine and practice. It does this by giving every priest in the Latin Church the right to say the Traditional Mass, without needing the permission of bishops or superiors. It is this, of course, which has attracted the opposition of English and Scottish bishops.

The Pope is not going to let them do to the MP what they did to John-Paul II's instructions on abuses. He is in a stronger position because the MP does not need bishops to do anything: the key to its operation is simply that priests should not be hauled over the coals for saying the Traditional Mass by their bishops. If they are, they have the right to appeal to Rome. The bishops have adopted the strategy of claiming that the MP leaves them the right to veto Traditional Masses, which they had before, and Archbishop Ranjith is not allowing this misunderstanding to take root. He has now said:

You hear in certain countries or dioceses that there have been issued by bishops rules which practically countermand or distort the intention of the Pope. Such behaviour is not consonant with the dignity and nobility of the vocation of a pastor of the Church.

New clarification on the meaning of the MP is expected from Rome; in the meantime, prominent canon lawyer Monsignor Gordon Read has this to say in the Newsletter of the Canon Law Society:

What is meant by ‘stable group’? the Latin reads ‘coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium continenter exsistit’. ‘Coetus’ means ‘group’ implying at least three people. The word order implies that ‘continenter’ qualifies ‘exsistit’ rather than ‘adhaerentium’. What does it mean? If the author had intended ‘stable’ in the canonical sense he would have used ‘stabilis’. The term does not, then, appear to mean a formal group with established membership. On the other hand it would go beyond the wording to require such a group to have existed continuously since 1970. What it specifies is an identifiable group with some kind of continuing existence, as distinct from a one-off request from an ad hoc group.

Hat-tip to Damian Thompson.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Call to defend adoption agencies in court


From CFNews: New homosexual 'rights' laws that threaten the closure of more than a dozen Catholic adoption agencies could face a court challenge from a group of lawyers who claim the regulations arc illegal. The Thomas More Centre, a charity set up by Catholic and Anglican lay people, maintains that while there is a wealth of evidence to show that children flourish in families built around a married mother and father, there is none to show that they would equally prosper in the care of gay couples.

The Centre hopes to bring a test case against the Government to reverse the law introduced in April under the Equality Act 2006. Liverpool-based barrister Neil Addison, a founder member, said: If a Catholic adoption agency wanted to continue as it is and say that its policies were in the best interests of the child we would be willing, if we could get the financial backing, to support it in a test case. We think that if you pursue a case to court quite often the decision is not as bad as the original Government policy. There are lots of adoption agencies. Why should they not be able to make their own decisions about what is the best interests of the child? Why is the Government imposing a monolithic view that they must abide by nothing more than an experiment? What is being done in the name of nondiscrimination is actually interfering with people's freedom of choice. We have to understand that freedom of choice is important if we are to develop as a society. To be blunt about it. I drink that diversity officials are the fascists of our age. Political correctness is a new form of fascism and it's imposing a world view on people:'

Catholic agencies in the dioceses of Nottingham, Northampton and Cardiff are currently looking at the possibility of becoming secular charities so that they can carry on their adoption work. But in July one agency -- the Leeds- based Catholic Care -- voted to pull out of adoption altogether, ending a service which places some 20 children with new families each year. Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster also announced in the summer that the Catholic Caring Services, an adoption agency which places children with new families in Lancashire and Cumbria, will probably follow suit rather than abide by the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

This week the bishop said that he would give the Thomas More Centre his full support. 'I think test cases ought to be brought. There should be a test case' He said that the paramountcy principle - which holds that the best interests of the child must be the overriding concern - should apply to a child's right to have a married mother and father. 'I think what legislators are doing is trying to make gay relationships equivalent to marriage,' he said. It emerged lass week that the Government is struggling to fund new homes for many of the 4,000 children in care. Official figures have revealed a 13 percent fall in the number of children adopted, in spite of a target to increase adoptions by 50 per cent.


'Therapeutic cloning' a dead end: official


From CFNews: Prof. Ian Wilmot, the scientist who created Dolly the sheep, a breakthrough that provoked headlines around the world a decade ago, is to abandon the cloning technique he pioneered to create her. His decision to turn his back on 'therapeutic cloning', just days after US researchers announced a breakthrough in the cloning of primates, will send shockwaves through the scientific establishment. He has decided not to pursue a licence to clone human embryos, which he was awarded just two years ago, as part of a drive to find new treatments for the devastating degenerative condition, Motor Neuron disease.

Prof Wilmut, who works at Edinburgh University, believes a rival method pioneered in Japan has better potential for making human embryonic cells which can be used to grow a patient's own cells and tissues for a vast range of treatments, from treating strokes to heart attacks and Parkinson's, and will be less controversial than the Dolly method, known as 'nuclear transfer.' His announcement could mark the beginning of the end for therapeutic cloning, on which tens of millions of pounds have been spent worldwide over the past decade. 'I decided a few weeks ago not to pursue nuclear transfer,' Prof Wilmut said. His inspiration comes from the research by Prof Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University, which suggests a way to create human embryo stem cells without the need for human eggs. And without the need to create and destroy human cloned embryos, which is bitterly opposed by the pro life movement.

See a Sunday Telegraph article here.


Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor honours Desmond Tutu


From CFNews: 'We say the expression of love in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship is more than just the physical but includes touching, embracing, kissing, maybe the genital act. The totality of this makes each of us grow to become giving, increasingly god-like and compassionate. If it is so for the heterosexual, what earthly reason have we to say that it is not the case with the homosexual …' (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor last week gave an award to Archbishop Tutu at Westminster Cathedral, to celebrate his work as a Christian leader — and as a theologian.

See here for more details of the award.


Ushaw course to de-Catholicise foreign priests

Briefing: it sounds absurd, but what other interpretation can be put on the course description on the website of the Bishops of England and Wales? It seems to have gone now, but here's a quotation preserved by Fr Ray Blake:

Students will look at issues affecting the Church in England and Wales in the third millennium – power, authority, the role of women, lay/diaconal ministry, ecumenism and much more. This is important preparation for future pastoral work and liturgical celebrations.

Fr Blake
I get a little worried when with special pleading for England and Wales, ever since Cardinal Hume said that the document "On the Unordained Faithful" did not apply in England and Wales. There is something unhealthy about the way in which the Church in England and Wales cuts itself off from mainstream Catholic culture especially when talking about power and authority. I have always assumed being a "good priest" in England was the same as being a good priest anywhere else.

It gets better. An article in the Anglican Journal quotes the President of Ushaw,
Monsignor Terence Patrick Drainey, as follows:

Some foreign priests working in Britain tend to be too dogmatic about the church’s moral rightness on just about everything, ... That’s not how we do things here. This course shows how we deal with a whole range of issues affecting Catholics, including the role of women, divorce, the lay ministry and homosexuality.

The course was the 'brainchild' of Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth. And guess who is to be the new Bishop of Middlesbrough? Monsignor Terence Patrick Drainey.

Hat-tip to Fr Ray Blake and Rorate Caeli.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Satanists deface church in Yorkshire

Briefing. The village church is Anglican.

From CFNews: In Yorkshire, vandals have left a Scissett church with a huge repair bill after covering the building with anti-Christian graffiti. White painted slogans reading 'Lucifer is rising', 'the Anti-Christ is coming', and a range of swear words have been daubed on the outer stone walls of St Augustine's Church on Busker Lane. Signs linked with the Devil, including pentagrams and the number 666, were also included in the graffiti, which covered the walls, pathways, the church steps and vestry door and some of the stained glass windows. The graffiti is thought to have been written overnight on Friday and was discovered by a shocked resident who was passing through the churchyard early on Saturday morning. Churchgoers had to face the offensive messages when attending the Remembrance Day service on Sunday.

Churchwarden Sandra Firth said people were shocked and disgusted by the graffiti and fear it could cost large amounts of money to remove. She said: 'It is just awful and very upsetting, especially as people had to see it on Remembrance Sunday. The church is absolutely covered and the words are quite nasty. It is going to be hard to shift.' Mrs Firth said she is hoping people will come forward with information about the culprit. She said: 'We have had graffiti before but we have never had it as bad as this. 'We used to have kids doing graffiti with marker pens but nothing like this. It seems very specific. I can't understand why anyone would want to go out on a cold night and do this.'

Full story in the Huddersfield Examiner here.


Pro-Life GP threatened


From CFNews: A pro-life doctor in England is coming under fire for having the temerity to suggest to women considering an abortion that they should rethink their decision in light of the medical and mental health problems they cause. Now British officials who monitor doctors are investigating her practice. Dr. Tammie Downes, a family physician, says at least eight women are grateful to her after she told them they should reconsider their abortion decisions. They have given birth to children they adore. However, Downes is under investigation by the General Medical Council for potentially violating the nation's guidelines on handling abortion

According to the Daily Mail, Dr. Downes could be removed from the official registered of licensed physicians and lose her job if the GMC decides to discipline her fully. Ironically, the complaint GMC has against Downes doesn't come from a former patient, but came after a May interview she granted to the Daily Mail in which she described how she urged women considering an abortion to keep their baby instead. Downes told the newspaper she never tries to strong-arm anyone into a decision against having an abortion. 'I give them the facts and allow them space to think through the decision that they are making,' she said. 'It has to be the mother's choice. I have no right to make that choice for them. But I do think it is my duty as a doctor to help a woman make that choice.'

Downes, who has been a medical doctor for 12 years, added, 'People talk about being pro-choice as being pro-abortion, but I like to think I am pro an informed choice, which many women don't always make.' The physician is also coming under fire from Dr. Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP who has drawn scorn from pro-life groups for his extreme pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia views. 'By her own admission this doctor tries to persuade patients to go in one direction only and boasts of her 'success' in a national newspaper,' Harris told the Daily Mail. Harris is said to be ready to lead a fight in the British parliament to expand legalized abortion in England by allowing nurses to do abortions unsupervised by physicians.


Homophobic hatred' law: details


From Christian Concern for our Nation: The Government has published its proposed 'homophobic hatred' law. Parts of the law are modelled on the religious hatred law but there is no specific free speech protection.

Only 'threatening' words or behaviour will be covered by the Government's
current wording, not those which are 'insulting' or 'abusive' (both very broad

In addition, a prosecutor must prove that a person intended to stir up hatred on
grounds of sexual orientation, rather than having been 'likely to' stir up
hatred. This mirrors the religious hatred law.

Some of the concerns about free speech appear to have registered with Government
ministers. Thank you for your letter writing and your prayers.

However, The Christian Institute and the Lawyers Christian Fellowship (LCF) are
concerned that the free speech protection which is present in the religious
hatred offence is not included in the 'homophobic hatred' law.

While the Human Rights Act offers some protection for free speech and religious
liberty, the lack of a specific protection in the offence sends out the signal
that free speech is more important when debating religion than when debating
homosexual practice.

The Christian Institute and LCF remain opposed to the principle of a 'homophobic
hatred' law. Existing offences are sufficient to protect homosexuals from any
violence or harassment. A 'homophobic hatred' law, in any form, could be used
as a pretext for challenging the free speech and religious liberty of

The offence, which has been published today, could yet be amended by MPs or
Peers. The final wording of the offence could therefore be better, or worse, by
the time it is passed by Parliament. So there is still a long way to go.

Please continue to pray for the protection of free speech and religious liberty.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Fool's Reproach

Briefing. The militant 'gay' organisation Stonewall prefers bullying to reasoned argument, so each year it has an awards ceremony with - among other things - an award for 'Bigot of the Year'. Here are the nominees, from their site:

Archbishop of Birmingham - spoke out against new goods and services protections for gay people, threatening to close welfare services and adoption agencies unless the Government agreed to sweeping exemptions.

Jeremy Clarkson - Top Gear presenter and journalist, refused to apologise after being reprimanded by BBC bosses for derogatory gay jibes on primetime TV.

Bishop of Hereford - withdrew a job offer to a youth worker because he was gay, after subjecting him to a series of humiliating personal questions.

Patricia McKeever - secretive editor of the Catholic Truth website and newsletter. Co-ordinates a relentless campaign to 'name and shame' gay Catholic priests, and has been widely condemned for conducting a 'witch-hunt'.

Ian Paisley Jnr - minister in the new Northern Ireland Executive. Said he was 'repulsed' by lesbian and gay people - has since refused to apologise.

Note the lumping together of Jeremy Clarkson and Ian Paisley Jnr, who apparently are giving vent to unattractive views on whole classes of people, with the other three, who are Stonewall's ideological opponents. Stonewall would like to think they are just the same; this idea must be resisted. The power of Stonewall's publicity machine can be gauged by the list of sponsors scrolling across the bottom of their web page. Do all these banks really want to be associated with Stonewall's mud-slinging?

Congratulation to Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham for raising his head above the parapet in the debate about SORs. He was pipped to the award, however, by the Anglican Bishop of Hereford.

It's typical of Stonewall to refer to the Patricia McKeever as 'widely condemned', when what this actually means is a single article in The Times the inaccuracy of which has now been acknowledged, following a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

'Listen to the fool's reproach: it is a kingly title.' William Blake.

Hat-tip to Catholic Truth Scotland.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catholic Truth Scotland: November Newsletter available

Download here (pdf).

The full story of the Traditional Mass at St Walburge's, Preston; Scottish bishops turn a blind eye to Civil Partnerships blessed in a chapel they co-own; 'gay' Masses organised by the notorious dissident Quest group in Edinburgh and Glasgow.


Eldery starve in English hospitals


From SPUC: New government figures have shown that 375 elderly people in the English
Midlands starved to death in the last 10 years, many of them residents of nursing homes and hospitals. In 2006 four out of 10 elderly people admitted to hospitals were malnourished. The Department of Health stressed it was doing all it could to prevent the deaths of elderly patients, and it recently launched the Nutrition Action Plan. [Sunday Mercury, 12 November]


Monday, November 12, 2007

Human Fertilisation & Embryology Bill

Urgent action: please write to peers urging them to vote against the Bill. The bill will allow the production of human-animal hybrids (see our briefing), among other things. See SPUC's leaflet here, which lists the best peers to lobby and how to do so. For their email addresses see here.

The government's new embryo research bill has now been formally announced, and it is due to have its critical '2nd Reading' (the first chance for a vote on the bill) in the House of Lords next Monday week, 19 NOVEMBER. The recent changes to the earlier draft bill have made it worse in a number of ways - but the core of the bill is still the same.


Secondly, as we do not have time to print a flyer centrally, I would also ask you, please, to duplicate this flyer locally and distribute it as widely as possible - THIS WEEKEND AND EARLY NEXT WEEK. BY NEXT WEEKEND IT WILL BE TOO LATE FOR PEOPLE TO WRITE TO LORDS BEFORE THE VOTE. Therefore, please:

We are of course acutely conscious of the fact that this bill may also be a vehicle for amending the abortion law. The recent select committee report (29th October), strongly promoted amendments that will worsen the law, confirming the worst predictions of what will happen if the bill, and the amendments, go ahead.


Hollis calls for decriminalisation of prostitution

Briefing: this is an area of legitimate debate among Catholics. St Augustine of Hippo famously defended legal prostitution, saying 'suppress prostitution and capricious lusts will overwhelm society.' However, as a matter of prudential judgement we agree with Fr Tim Finnigan: legalising immoral and exploitative activities nearly always makes things worse.

Prostitution has an odd legal status: rather like suicide, it is legal, but it is not legal to do anything to promote it. It is legal to take money for sex, but not to pimp or own a brothel.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pro-abortion MPs have snouts in the trough


From CF News: Members of the British government may face an investigation after a complaint that they did not declare donations they received from pro-abortion campaigners. Mrs Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for mid-Bedfordshire, lodged the complaint against 12 Labour ministers and members of parliament who reportedly received grants from Emily's List, a body that assists women to enter politics on condition that they agree to support the pro-abortion cause.


Cardinal Murphy O'Connor defies the Pope over the MP

Local action as appropriate: this may simply be ignoring the Cardinal's letter in practice.

The Cardinal demands that he be kept informed of all celebrations of the Traditional Mass, the other sacraments, and even the private recitation of the 1961 Breviary. Further, he claims that public Masses is only permissible 'under the guidance of the bishop', and that the judgement of pastoral need and a priest's ability to say the Mass belongs to the bishop. This is an attempt to retain a veto over the Traditional Mass, which the Holy Father's Motu Proprio deliberately and explicitly removes. These judgements are the preserve of the 'pastor'; bishops can no longer forbid priests from saying the Mass privately or, where there is any number of persons desiring it, as part of the public Masses offered in the parish. See Fr Z (who quotes the Cardinal's letter in full) and Damian Thompson.

We may not have to wait long for a follow-up document from Rome, to clarify matters.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Archbishop Ranjith condemns liturgical abuses.

Briefing: complaints to Rome about liturgical abuses and the attempts by bishops to deny the faithful their right to ask for the Traditional Mass are heeded. While he concedes that a succession of documents from Rome condemning abuses have been ignored, Archbishop Ranjith, Sectretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has this to say:

The Holy Mass is sacrifice, gift, mystery, independently of the celebrating priest. It is important, fundamental even, that the priest be put aside: the protagonist of the Mass is Christ. I do not understand, thus, the Eucharistic celebrations transformed in shows with dances, songs, and applause, as it frequently happens with the Novus Ordo.

And about opposition to the Motu Proprio:

There have been positive reactions and, it is useless to deny it, criticisms and opposition , even from theologians, liturgists, priests, Bishops, and even Cardinals. I frankly do not understand these rifts, and, why not [say it], rebellion towards the Pope. I invite all, particularly the Shepherds, to obey the Pope, who is the Successor of Peter. The Bishops, in particular, have sworn fidelity to the Pontiff: may they be coherent and faithful to their commitment.

For more, see Rorate Caeli.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Pope Benedict speaks on Pharmacists and the MAP

Briefing. Pharmacists cannot simply hand over abortion drugs with a clear conscience.

From SPUC:Pope Benedict has said that pharmacists have a right to use conscientious objection to avoid dispensing abortifacient or euthanasia-inducing drugs. Speaking to participants at the International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists in Rome, he told them they should inform patients of the ethical implications of using these drugs.

For more see here.


Christians can't be foster parents

Update: good news.
From CF News: Vince and Pauline Matherick, the Christian couple from Chard, Somerset, who last week were at the centre of national media attention when Somerset Social Services ordered them to sign up to a new Equalities Promise saying they would have to agree to facilitate and promote a homosexual lifestyle have won the right to have their personal convictions and conscientious objections recognised. The couple met on Wednesday with Social Services leaders and secured an agreement to this effect. The Mathericks hope now to continue to foster children as before. Mr and Mrs Matherick are represented by Paul Diamond (Counsel) and Michael Philips (Solicitor). Andrea Williams of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship comments, 'This is a significant step forward for Christian freedoms in that the Council has agreed not to force Mr and Mrs Matherick to act against their Christian beliefs. This should be of enormous encouragement to all Christians who want to take up the important role of caring for vulnerable children.'


From Christian Concern for Our Nation, 25/10/07: Committed Christian couple, Vince and Pauline Matherick, have been told they will not be reregistered as foster carers following their refusal to sign an Equality policy which forbids discrimination on the grounds of homosexuality. Mr Matherick, a 65 year old minster at South Chard Christian Church and his wife, Pauline, have been fostering since 2001 and have looked after 28 children. Earlier this year they were asked to agree to a new Equality policy which would require them to say that homosexual relationships were equal to heterosexual marriages if asked by a child about such relationships.

Mr Matherick explained that he and his wife had never discriminated against anybody, but that they would not teach children about the practice of homosexuality because the Bible condemns any kind of sexual practice outside of a marriage relationship.


MPs' committee on abortion: make it easier

Briefing. The idea that this represents an opportunity for a tightening of the law is out of touch with reality.

From CFNews: A report by UK MPs recommends that the requirement for two doctors to authorise an abortion should be abolished, while the 24-week upper time limit [which applies only to abortions for the weakest grounds] should not be reduced. The committee for science and technology also advocates that nurses and midwives should be allowed to perform early abortions. Two members of the committee, Dr Bob Spink and Ms Nadine Dorries, a former gynaecological nurse, will table a minority report based on evidence the committee reportedly ignored. Their report will call for a number of measures to tighten the present law. [Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, criticised the majority report on several grounds and called on pro-life MPs to vote against the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill.] A number of pro-life doctors who gave evidence to the committee were asked to declare their affiliations to campaigning groups. A committee member suggested that their initial failure to do so indicated an attempt to skew the evidence, while another accused doctors of giving evidence on areas outside their own expertise. A letter to the Times claimed that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists gave selective evidence on foetal pain to the committee. In their letter, the seven signatories, including three consultant obstetricians, pointed out that the RCOG failed to take into account the work of Professor Anand, a world authority on the management of neonatal pain. [Ms Donna Nicholson, spokeswoman for SPUC Scotland, has written an article defending the rights of the unborn, and pointing out that access to abortion has not improved the lot of women as promised. The Royal College of Nursing has published on its website an official response to the Science and Technology Committee's report which concurs with all its main recommendations. The RCN states 'There is no other medical or surgical procedure which requires the consent of a medical practitioner or the signature of two doctors before it is carried out.' SPUC comments: 'The RCN has been criticised for failing to consult widely with its members before promoting nurses as abortion practitioners. The latest statement seems absurd in its implication that doctors have no say in what medical treatment their patients receive.'


GMC: doctors not to inform parents of minor's abortions


From CFNews: The General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates doctors in the UK, has advised doctors that they need not, and in most cases should not, tell the parents of girls between 13 and16 if they have abortions, treatment for sexual infections, or birth control. Doctors are advised to try to persuade children between the ages of 13 and 16 to inform their parents, but have been told not to tell parents unless the child gives them permission. Family groups Christian Voice and Family and Youth Concern condemned the new guidelines. One of their spokesman said the guidance seems geared to bring GMC advice into line with the 2003 Sexual Offences Act and the 2004 Children's Act, which critics regard as seeking to normalise sexual activity for 13 year-olds.


Children to get two lesbian 'mothers'


From CFNews. The concept of a two-mother family is to be enshrined in British law for the first time. The Human Tissues and Embryos Bill, to be announced in the Queen's Speech next week, will give both women in a lesbian relationship the legal status of parents when one of them gives birth following fertility treatment. Experts say this marks a historic change in how a family is legally defined. The change was condemned by family campaigners as a 'dangerous social experiment' but supporters said it was 'logical and just'.

The Bill lays down that where two women are in a relationship and one has fertility treatment in order to conceive then the partner should be treated as the other 'parent' even if they are not in a civil partnership. In those circumstances no man - such as the sperm donor - can be treated as a father, the Bill says, to avoid a child having three legal parents.

The change reflects the fact that in a heterosexual couple when the woman is inseminated with donor sperm the man is treated as the father even though he has no biological link to the resulting child. Male homosexual couples who have children via surrogate mothers or by adoption are not covered by the new legislation.

The Bill says that where there is reference to the father of a child such as on birth certificates this is to be read as reference to the female parent who did not give birth. It will also say for the first time that babies born through fertility treatment do not need to have a father figure and parents will be banned from choosing the sex of their child.

Campaigners said there was no substitute for a family unit in which children are brought up with input from both mother and father. Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said it was a dangerous social experiment. 'Men and women are not interchangeable and fathers are not an optional extra.' Dr Anthony Cole, the chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance, said: 'It doesn't seem right for the child not to have a father. There's strong evidence that children, particularly boys, need a male influence in their lives.' Bishops are concerned over the issue. The Anglican Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said in August, 'Is it right for the state to construct a system to bring children into this world without making provision for their having a father? The Bill should be looking at how it can champion the role of fathers in the context of fertility treatment more effectively.' Susan Freeborn, a barrister specialising in child law, said the change would cause problems when civil partnerships break down. 'The mother of a child has always had unique status in the past but now there will be two. It will be difficult then to determine which of the 'mothers' is the most important.' Ruth Hunt, of the homosexual 'rights' charity Stonewall, said: 'This recognises that lots of gay people have children and make very good parents.' If passed, the Bill will also allow children born from donor sperm or eggs to have limited access to information about other children from the same donor.


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