Friday, June 29, 2007

Masses for Gay activists, update

Action, please: protest to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor about what is happening in his diocese: :

The organisers of the special Masses for gay Catholics in Warwick Street make little attempt to hide their dissent from Church teaching, and their use of these Masses to promote that dissent. They are not making it easier for homosexuals to live in accord with Catholic teaching, but more difficult: that is the ultimate objection to what they are doing.

Now they are promoting the annual Gay Pride march (leaflets for it are handed out with thhe hymn-books), a celebration of a hedonistic and immoral lifestyle which no faithful Catholic would want to be associated with.

“The Roman Catholic Caucus banner will be paraded from Baker Street to Westminster. If you wish to join the parade, please look out for the banner, ‘Proudly LGBT & Proudly Catholic’.

“We are now the proud possessors of some stunning T-shirts with the slogan ‘Nobody knows I'm Catholic!’ These are available at £10 each and come in three sizes – medium, large, and extra.

“The Catholic parish of Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho, and the Soho Masses Pastoral Council welcome everyone to Mass on Sunday 1 July at 5.00 pm.”

Hat-tip to Damian Thompson's blog. Note that the 'Roman Catholic Caucus' and the 'Soho Masses Pastoral Council' are both fronts for the same group of dissenting gay activists.

There are protests outside the Warwick Street church where the 'Gay' Masses take place: from the Soho Masses Pastoral Council website:

"The Soho Masses Pastoral Council, as the group responsible for the practical arrangements of the Soho Masses, regrets the actions of other Catholics disassociating themselves from, and protesting at the celebration of regular liturgies welcoming LGBT Catholics, parents, families and friends, as part of the Diocese of Westminster's overall pastoral strategy.

On Palm Sunday, 1 April 2007, between 20-25 people gathered outside the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory, Warwick Street, praying and singing noisily, thus intruding into the dignified celebration of the liturgy within the church. On the 18 March and 1 April, intimidatory and offensive interventions were made inside the church by a representative of the protesters, during a time intended for spontaneous prayer within the liturgy itself.

As a result, the SMPC has decided to suspend, for the time being, the opportunity for such spontaneous prayer, so as to prevent a time for personal prayer being abused, or those taking part experiencing a sense of spiritual violation.

We therefore invite members of this worshipping community to e-mail or write in with particular prayer requests or intentions, in advance of the 1st & 3rd Sunday 5.00 pm Masses. A selection of the prayers received will be used in the verbal bidding prayers, and all will be included in a Book of Prayer to be laid at the altar at this moment in the liturgy."

The 'intimidatory and offensive interventions' were simply a protester, sitting quietly at the back, accepting the invitation to add a bidding prayer by asking the congregation to pray that no sacrilegious communions take place.

For more on these Masses see earlier posts here and here.


HFEA condemned for illegally obtained search warrants

Briefing. An insight into the murky world of IVF.

From SPUC: A British court has ruled that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) unlawfully obtained warrants to search an IVF clinic. HFEA officials and police searched one of the clinics of Mohamed Taranissi, a controversial but successful fertility doctor, on the eve of a documentary on the subject produced by the BBC. The HFEA is in a year-long argument with Mr Taranissi over the renewing of his clinics' licences. The court ruled that Angela McNab, HFEA chief executive, provided inadequate information to obtain the warrant. The HFEA will have to pay an estimated £1.3m in costs. [Guardian, 29 June]


Thursday, June 28, 2007

SPUC: not the right moment for pro-life ammendments

Briefing: SPUC's political calculations should be taken seriously.

From SPUC: SPUC fears that Mr Alan Johnson MP, the new UK health secretary, will support wider provision of abortion and other anti-life practices. Soon after becoming a member of parliament in 1997, Mr Johnson signed two parliamentary motions, one defending an alleged "woman's right to choose" abortion and another condemning "restrictive abortion laws". In 2000, Mr Johnson voted in favour of destructive stem cell research on cloned embryonic children. In 2004, Mr Johnson voted against pro-life amendments to the Mental Capacity Act, which enshrined in statute law euthanasia by omission. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "We fear that, if abortion is introduced into the debate when the government's draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill comes before parliament, the government will give at least tacit support to amendments to extend abortion provision. Whether or not the government grants a free vote to backbench MPs, past parliamentary experience proves that signals of the government's opinion heavily influences the way backbench MPs vote. Pro-life parliamentarians should therefore not attempt to open up the
abortion law on the floor of Parliament whilst a government-backed pro-abortion majority holds sway, lest there be a repeat of the 1990 defeat of the pro-life lobby." [SPUC, 28 June]


Petition to give unborn children rights

Action: please sign the petition. The legal recognition of unborn children, and legal redress against their being killed or injured, is very patchy in English law and elsewhere. After a number of US states adopted laws which explicitly protect the unborn, the 'Unborn Victims of Violence Act' was passed at federal level; calls for similar laws have been made in Canada. This movement should be encouraged.

From SPUC: Michael Dwyer of Birmingham, father of two young daughters, whose seven
months pregnant partner Sarah Hunt was knocked down and killed by a car has launched an online petition to get "justice for Connor", his unborn son. He hopes to achieve a new law which would allow killers of unborn children to be prosecuted. [Birmingham Mail 26 June] Laws against homicide do not protect the child in the womb unless the child is born alive and subsequently dies from injuries sustained.

See the Birmingham Post story here.


C of E Bishops criticise removal of child's interest in having a father

Briefing. This is the same issue as arose with the Sexual Orientation Regulations, when it was made illegal to take account of an orphan's interest in having two, married, heterosexaul parents. The Anglican bishops fail, however, to grasp the significance of creating human-animal hybrids.

From SPUC: The Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council has challenged an apparent Government change of mind on a child's need for a father in a submission to the Parliamentary joint committee on the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. On the question of children born by IVF the Council said that removing the requirement to take account of "the need of that child for a father" in the draft Bill "would send an entirely erroneous signal about the significance of fathers, especially at a time when many children and families are suffering because of lack of attention and care from
absent fathers." The submission gave a cautious acceptance to the proposal to produce hybrid embryos for research into so-called serious diseases. [Christian Today 26 June]


RC Bishops: hybrid embryos should have human rights

Briefing. Note that, as with the Church's position on abortion (see Evangelium Vitae 60), the difficult philosophical question of the exact ontological status of different possible embryos is set aside. What the Church teaches, and what all men of good will should recognise by the light of reason, is that these embryos ought to be accorded the same respect as is given to human persons.

From SPUC: The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have said that human-animal hybrid embryos conceived in the laboratory should be regarded as human and their genetic mothers should be able to raise them as their own children if they want to. In a submission to the parliamentary committee on the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, the bishops opposed the creation of an embryo solely for research, but were anxious to limit the destruction of such life once it had been brought into existence. They went on to say that most of the procedures covered by the Bill "should not be licensed under any circumstances" principally on the grounds that they violated human rights. [Daily Telegraph 27 June]


BMA votes for easier abortion


From SPUC: A doctors' representative body has voted in favour of a reduction in the number of physicians needed to approve abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The British Medical Association approved a call for just one doctor to need to sign the form instead of two as at present. The association's annual conference in Devon, England, rejected a proposal that midwives and nurses should do abortions. [BBC, 27 June] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "The call for abortion to be made more freely available in early pregnancy is inept. This would lead to even greater pressure on women, with less opportunity for them to reflect before making a decision, and therefore will lead to greater numbers of abortions. Most people agree that there are too many abortions already. We call on the government, the medical profession and all those concerned to reverse the current policies which encourage abortions." SPUC was concerned about the procedural propriety of the BMA's vote. Mrs Christine Hudson of SPUC's south-west region, who lobbied delegates at the BMA meeting, said: "Why were the pro-abortion motions prioritised, and other motions that raise questions about abortion safety, conscientious objection and discriminatory abortion of disabled babies sidelined?" [SPUC, 27 June]


Gordon Brown's anti-life record

Briefing. See also a previous posts here.

From SPUC: SPUC has warned that Mr Gordon Brown's new British government may be as
anti-life as that of Mr Tony Blair, his predecessor as prime minister. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "Mr Brown has voted consistently in favour of abortion. In 1990, he voted with the pro-abortion lobby no fewer than 16 times - three times for abortion up to birth, including for disabled babies; twice for abortion on demand in early pregnancy; once to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland; once for selective foeticide in multiple pregnancies; once to facilitate RU486; once to suppress information about abortions on disabled babies; and seven times for other pro-abortion positions. He also voted five times to promote destructive embryo experimentation. More recently, Mr Brown launched the International Finance Facility to raise money for the Millennium Development Goals, goals which the Labour government interprets as including a universal human right to abortion on demand." Mr Blair endorsed government policy of supplying abortion and birth control drugs and devices to schoolgirls as young as 11 without parental knowledge or consent. His government introduced legislation which has led to the Mental Capacity Act which allows, and in certain circumstances requires, doctors to starve and dehydrate vulnerable patients to death. Mr Blair, as prime minister, personally championed destructive experiments on human embryos. In 1990, he voted for abortion up to birth three times during parliamentary debates on what became the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. [SPUC, 27 June]


Monday, June 25, 2007

Threat to RE in Catholic Schools

Briefing. Ofsted reports that RE in non-Catholic schools is poorly taught. Their policy recommendation is that RE content should be determined by the National Curriculum, which would catch Church schools in its net. Ofsted's view of RE seems to be primarily as a tool of social engineering, to increase 'social cohesion', which seems to involve teaching Christian children about the bad things Christians have done and the good things non-Christians have done, to foster 'understanding' in the wake of Islamic terrorism. This fatuous approach may have the result that imparting knowledge of the Faith in Catholic schools very difficult.

The use of the National Curriculum to promote goal of social policy at the expense of education is exposed systematically in a new book from the think-tank Civitas, reviewed on the Hermeneutic of Continuity here.

From the Catholic Herald (in part): Oona Stannard, chief executive of the Catholic Education Service, said she would be 'concerned' if the Government followed Ofsted's recommendation and introduced a national curriculum for RE.
She told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme that the CES would fight to "preserve the rights of our bishops under canon law to determine our [RE] syllabus."


Pro-Life Petition to BMA

Action: please sign the petition. It has been created by a number of doctors concerned at the attempts by the BMA Ethics committee to press for even easier abortion, without proper consultation with BMA members. It is being publicised by the Christian Medical Fellowship and Christian Concern for our Nation.

From CMF: An online petition has just been posted this afternoon calling on the British Medical Association at its annual meeting next Wednesday to reject the recommendations of its Medical Ethics Committee, which is calling for abortion on demand in the first trimester, and to conduct a properly evidence-based review that involves full consultation with its members and all frontline doctors.

Can I encourage you to sign it and to encourage others to do the same?

Lots more information on the background here.

Peter Saunders
General Secretary
Christian Medical Fellowship


Saturday, June 23, 2007

On-line consultation on Hyrids etc.

Action, please!  Please register your views on the website.

From SPUC: The UK parliamentary Joint Committee on the Draft Human Tissue and Embryos
Bill is running an online consultation on four questions relating to the bill, here.

If this does not work on your computer, please try here.

SPUC's submission to the committee is on the web as a PDF, here.


Minister welcomes rise in early abortions

Briefing. This has long been the object of Government policy, as Caroline Flint explains. It raises the serious question of whether attempts by pro-lifers to lower the abortion age-limit are misconceived. Yes, they might get some support in Parliament, but in the context of a drive to make abortions available as quickly as possible, this is not going to save any unborn children. More to the point might be an attempt to give women seeking abortion counselling and simply accurate information, and allow them time to think about their options: as the Winterton Bill sought to do.

From SPUC: A British health minister, Caroline Flint, has welcomed the increase in early abortions and the use of the morning-after pill. She said "We welcome the fact that a higher percentage of abortions are taking place at an early stage ... we have invested £8 million to improve early access [to abortion]..." She admitted the government needed to do more to reduce the number of so-called unwanted pregnancies and called for an improvement in access to contraception. [Times 19 June] Yesterday we reported on how recorded abortions in England and Wales last year exceeded 200,000 for the first time.


Tony Blair to become a Catholic?

Briefing. This bizarre story refuses to die. Apart from strangely vacuous news reports (such as the one below), Blair has been visiting the English College in Rome, from where so many English and Welsh priests returned to their native land to be martyred for the faith in the great persecution - a persecution Blair has devoted so much time and energy to reviving. Is it possible that, having voted for every anti-life and anti-family measure put before Parliament, closed down the Catholic adoption agencies, criminalised the teaching of the Catholic faith in schools, and removed charitable status from large numbers of Catholic charities, he's going to enter the Church? We'd love to see him change his ways, but that doesn't seem to be part of the idea. Interestingly, his meeting with the Pope was officially described in terms of a 'frank exchange': a serious disagreement.

From SPUC: It is reported that Mr Tony Blair, the British prime minister who is about to step down from the premiership, is to convert to Catholicism. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented: "I'm sure that many Catholics, including SPUC members, keenly hope and pray for Mr Blair's repentance and conversion to the Catholic Church's view that human life is to be protected by law from the time of conception. Mr Blair voted three times to permit abortion up to birth before he became prime minister. As PM he has promoted the practice of secret abortions for schoolgirls without their parents being informed; he has encouraged use of the morning-after pill, which the manufacturers say may cause early abortions. He has championed destructive research on human embryos in the laboratory. Last year his government launched an appeal for a global fund to promote abortion for the poorest people around the world. SPUC as an organisation has no religious or political affiliation. For many years we have called on the prime minister to repudiate his anti-life position, and we continue to do so. We would be very concerned at the impact on Muslims and their commitment to the pro-life cause if Mr Blair became a Muslim. We have similar concern for the impact on Christians if Mr Blair joins the Catholic church without publicly repudiating his publicly professed pro-abortion and pro-IVF positions."


British Medical Journal rejects infanticide


From Care Not Killing (Newsletter): In a recent British Medical Journal commissioned editorial, professor of paediatrics Kate Costeloe reviewed the situation in the Netherlands, where neonatal euthanasia is occurring, before going on to consider the situation in the UK. She referred to the Nuffield Council of Bioethics' November 2006 paper, Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine, and stated that its position – rejecting neonatal euthanasia even when life is intolerable - was received with relief by most UK paediatricians.

Professor Costeloe considered the reasons why UK doctors are resistant to accepting active killing as a therapeutic option: the slippery slope argument; the negative impact of the psychology of professional staff; and the pressure parents may feel to accept euthanasia 'so that they do not become a burden on medical and social services'. She went on to discuss how difficult it is to judge another human being's quality of life, and described how indicators of severe disability in very preterm babies are not foolproof. She then emphasised the experience many neonatal nurses have in assessing babies' palliative care needs.

Her conclusion: 'the availabilty of active euthanasia as a therapeutic option would undermine this progress [of transparency of clinical decision making, with parents increasingly involved] and would be a step backwards'.

Professor Costeloe's recommendations give further support to the Nuffield Council's clear rejection of neonatal euthanasia.


UK MEP exposes EU abortion agenda


From CFam: British (South East, Conservative) Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nirj Deva has slammed a new EU report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Speaking in the European Parliament this week, Deva acknowledged the need for a progress report for achieving the largely non-controversial MDGs of reducing poverty and disease, and increasing access to education. Where Deva diverged from the report, which was later passed by the European Parliament, was the attempt by the authors to “insert a covert agenda of abortion promotion” within the text.

The introduction to the “MDGs at the Midway Point” report states that
“saving women's lives means ensuring that they have universal to access to
sexual reproductive health care and family planning” and that the EU “should
continue to lead the way on sexual and reproductive health rights by
maintaining levels of funding for the full range of (sexual and reproductive
health and rights) services.”

Deva took issue with two paragraphs of the report and urged his fellow
parliamentarians to vote against them. Paragraph 41 of the report urges the EU
“to continue to be the vanguard of efforts to support sexual and reproductive
health rights” and links maternal mortality, low contraceptive prevalence and
high rates of unsafe abortion in sub-Saharan Africa. Paragraph 42 of the report
states the UN intends to adopt a new global target on “universal access to
sexual and reproductive health.”

UN experts point out several problems with the two controversial
paragraphs. First, the term “sexual and reproductive health rights” has never
been included in any negotiated UN document. Even so, they point out that such
“rights” language related to "reproductive health" has been misinterpreted by
UN committees to include abortion. Second, according to a 2004 report issued by
the pro-abortion UN Population Fund (UNFPA) the most important means of
reducing maternal mortality is not access to contraceptives and legal abortion
but the presence of skilled birth attendants and access to emergency obstetric

Paragraph 41, which says the UN is about to adopt a new global goal on
reproductive health, contradicts the repeated assertions of UN radicals like
UNFPA chief Thoraya Obaid that such a goal already exists. Contrary to Obaid’s
statements, no such target currently exists and delegations such as the United
States have spoken out in the General Assembly against any new targets,
particularly in regards to reproductive health. Moreover, against the content
of the new EU resolution, the UN General Assembly has no plans to initiate a
new global goal in this area.

Speaking to the Friday Fax, Mr. Deva said, “This report in the European
Parliament has very little to do with 'a woman's right to choose', and a lot to
do with controlling population figures in the third world within what the
'West' feels is a manageable amount. It is clear that certain UN-backed and
EU-backed non-governmental organizations which are heavily promoting abortion
in the third world are more interested in culling people than in reducing the
relatively far smaller figure of deaths through unsafe and illegal abortions."


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Allah to be glorified in Westminster Cathedral

Update 20/06/07: see report on the protest from Hermeneutic of Contintuity, and a review of the Church's law on concerts in churches.

Upadate 19/06/07: Fr Finnigan outlines protest plans.

Update 15/06/07: Protests planned
. The premier performance of Taverner's Holy Names will be on Tuesday 19th June, 7.30 in the evening, and protests are planned by Catholics whose complaints to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor have been ignored. Telegraph report here. Unlike the Telegraph news report, which refers to 'the Muslim deity Allah', the Catholic commentator Christopher Howse argues that 'Allah' is simply the Arabic word for 'God', but he also reveals the philosophical thinking behind Taverner's work, which is itself contrary to Catholic teaching:

"Sir John Tavener has, in recent years, taken up the ideas of René Guéon and Frithjof Schuon. Both thinkers argued that there is a perennial philosophy behind the major religions in the esoteric understanding of their teachings. Guéon, as far as I understand it, made esoteric traditions more compatible with the truthfulness of Christian doctrine.

But such esoteric universalism can be deeply suspect to many Muslims, not to mention quite a few Christians."

(See his article here.) For Catholics this is the heresy of 'Indifferentism', condemned notably in Gregory XVI's encyclical Mirari Vos.

Update 09/06/07: Correspondance in the Catholic Herald:
As well as a letter deploring the proposal from Mrs Daphne MacLeod (Chairman of Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice), there is an interesting letter from Dr Joseph Seferta: (in part):

'The name "Allah" may be roughly equivalent to our name for "God" and most of the attributes (eg "the Powerful", "the Compassionate", etc.) may be harmless. There are some, however, such as "al Mudill ("the Debaseer") "al-Khafid" ("the Humiliator") and "al-Muntaqim" ("the Avenger") that do not quite resonate with our Christian view of God.

More disturbingly, these names are not simply recited while fingering the beads, but are also used in Islamic prayer and worship.

Moreover, the important name "al-Ahad" ("the One") reflects a Koranic monotheism that is vehermently anti-Christian and anti-Trinitarian. We read, for example, in the Koran (112:1 & 3): "Say: He is Allah, the One... He begeteth not nor was begotten." my view singing the 99 names of Allah in a Catholic cathedral is not only pointless but also marks a dangerous precedent."

Joseph Seferta, a Chaldean originally from Iraq, is a retired teacher of religion and a member of the Commission for Inter-faith Dialogue of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

See also a post on Damian Thompson's blog on The Telegraph website (Thompson is the Editor in Chief of the Catholic Herald and a columnist for The Telegraph).

For the record 24/05/07:
Private Eye reports that Westminter's Catholic Cathedral will be the venue for a new choral work, which sets to music the 99 names of Allah in the Koran. The piece is by John Taverner, and was commissioned by the Prince of Wales. Private Eye comments that what seems intended to be a gesture of good will towards the Muslim community has apparently not involved any Muslims in its organisation. For more commentary see the Hermeneutic of Continuity.

Any comments on the appropriateness of this can be directed to the Cathedral Administrator, Mgr Mark Langham, either here or through his blog.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Doctors' Right of Conscience petition

Action: please sign the petition. Although the law is not quite clear on this point, it is highly likely that a doctor invoking the existing 'conscience' clause in the Abortion Act to refuse to refer a patient to another doctor for an abortion, would lose his case. The guidlines of the British Medical Association and the General Medical Counsel, and the NHS General Practioners' contract of employment, all assume that conscientious objections can be made only to participation in the abortion procedure itself. But if it is wrong to perform an abortion (an intrinsically and gravely evil act), it is also wrong to send a patient seeking an abortion to a doctor who will perform it (proximate material cooperation in an intrinsically and gravely evil act). The right of doctors not to be involved in abortion and other immoral procedures must be extended explicitly to referral.

The petition description: In the USA many states have passed laws that protect doctors from adverse consequences that might arise as a result of refusing to participate in medical services that would be contrary to their consciences. For example the Illinois Healthcare Worker Right of Conscience Act protects healthcare providers from all liability or discrimination that might occur as a result of “his or her refusal to perform, assist, counsel, suggest, recommend, refer or participate in any way in any particular form of healthcare service which is contrary to the conscience of such physician or healthcare personnel.” In the UK we are currently under legal obligation to refer patients to colleagues whom we must know will provide the service to which we have an objection through conscience: This situation is unacceptable. In view of increasing pressure from abortion and euthanasia organisations; doctors, nurses and ancillary health care personnel in the UK urgently need to be protected likewise by a law similar to the Illinois Healthcare Worker Right of Conscience Act.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Roman Chief Rabbi supports Church on same-sex unions


From CFNews: A Jewish leader has unexpectedly entered the fray in support of the Catholic Church's position against the legal recognition of homosexual unions. The proposal is being considered under the more generic and less alarming terminology of 'de facto couples.' In a long article just published in the Jewish monthly Shalom, Riccardo Di Segni, Rome's chief rabbi, called the legal recognition of homosexual couples 'unacceptable' and rebuked the other Italian Jewish leaders for their 'strange silence on this hotly debated issue.' He urged the Jewish community to speak out against the Italian government's plans to give certain rights to cohabiting heterosexual and same-sex couples under a bill known as DICO. He noted that this silence was in strong contrast to the Catholic Church's active condemnation of the DICO bill and said there were 'good reasons to break it.' The bill, which has yet to win parliamentary approval, has in fact come under repeated attacks from the Catholic Church. which has expressed particular alarm over its extension to homosexual partners. 'Society is about to make a decision which, according to our traditions, abundantly exceeds permitted limits and it is our duty to oppose these decisions and not remain indifferent,' Di Segni said. Under the terms of the DICO bill, cohabiting couples would be able to register their union, obtaining certain financial and inheritance rights and 'next of kin' rights if their loved one is physically or mentally incapacitated or in a hospital. [The Wanderer]


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Abstinence programmes work: official


Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity.

One of the largest and most comprehensive studies of teen sex education, conducted by Dr. Stan Weed of the Institute for Research and Evaluation in Salt Lake City, shows why abstinence is the most successful method of preventing physical and emotional complications resulting from pre-marital sexual activity. The study followed the education and behavior of over 400,000 adolescents in 30 different states for 15 years. [...]
Read the Full text of the original study


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Royal College of Gynacologists won't let a disabled person into its offices

Briefing: if the disabled person in question wasn't pro-life, we'd never hear the end of the media fuss.

From SPUC: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has today
refused to let a wheelchair-user present a petition on the infanticide of disabled babies. Officials told Alison Davis, leader of the No Less Human disability rights group, that she could not come in because she would need someone to push her wheelchair, and the RCOG would only let one person into its London headquarters. Alison Davis said: "It would be comical if it weren't also tragic that the RCOG, which has asked for a debate on the killing of babies with disabilities such as spina bifida, won't let me, a disabled person, hand over our petition which has some 28,000 signatures. Neither I nor my carer is a threat to anyone." Ms Davis has spina bifida.
No Less Human has decided that, because of the RCOG's refusal to admit Ms Davis, the petition will not be presented today. The group is determined that Ms Davis should nevertheless present the petition to the RCOG in person. [SPUC, 13 June]


Friday, June 08, 2007

Doctors: abortion bad for women

Briefing. Also on this isse, see an excellent Times article on the link between abortion and premature births here.

From CFNews: Doctors in England testifying before the British House of Commons said abortion is a serious risk to a woman's mental health and can make her six times more likely to consider committing suicide. The doctors cited medical studies backing up their assertions as they commented on a bill to make the information available to women. Dr. Trevor Stammers, who practices at St. George's University of London and teaches medicine there, said he supported the measure to make women aware of the risks and dangers associated with abortion. He said that in 26 years of medical practice, all of which come after Britain legalized abortion in 1967, he has seen numerous women come to him with physical or mental health problems resulting from their abortion. 'The most recent research has shown very clearly that abortion presents a serious risk to the long-term mental health of women and why it is therefore important to know which women are being offered abortion on mental health grounds,' he told lawmakers, according to a report in the Evening Standard newspaper. Dr. Robert Balfour, a consultant gynaecologist, agreed with the analysis and pointed to a study of 5,000 women in Finland conducted between 1987 and 2000 showing that those who had an abortion after an unplanned pregnancy were six times more likely to commit suicide than women who carried their baby to term. The newspaper reported him saying that evidence for mental health problems following an abortion is apparent in his hometown in South Wales. Balfour indicated that there were more psychiatric admissions and suicides among women who had abortions than those who gave birth.


Archbishop Smith: no communion for pro-abortion politicians


From CFNews: Politicians who vote in favour of abortion should not take Communion, the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff said this week, adding his voice to that of the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland. Archbishop Peter Smith said he would not bar them from taking Communion, but he would expect the politician involved not to seek it. His comments are the latest in a row begun by the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who this week, questioned the right of pro-abortion MPs to take Communion. Speaking in a sermon marking 40 years since the Abortion Act, Cardinal O'Brien was reported in the media as saying the politicans should not expect to remain full church members. He went on to liken the abortion rate north of the border to 'two Dunblane massacres a day'. The Welsh prelate backed the Cardinal's words, telling BBC radio that it reflected the general teaching of the Church. 'The church's law is quite clear,' said Archbishop Smith. 'A priest or bishop is not permitted to refuse Communion unless it is quite clear that the person has been excommunicated or there is a very public rejection of church teaching.'

But he went on: 'The pastoral reality is, as the Pope has said recently in Mexico, that if a Catholic politician manifestly, clearly goes against the Church's teaching, then they ought to remove themselves from receiving Communion, because it would be a cause of great scandal.' Pro-abortionists and some MPs have said politicians should be left to decide on such sensitive ethical issues as abortion without being placed under pressure or threats from religious leaders. The leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has emphasised his opposition to abortion, although in more measured terms than his Scottish counterpart. He said: 'I would urge all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the Church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity.'


German Cardinals condemn intercommunion

Briefing. What the Cardinals say is equally applicable in the UK.

From CFNews: As German Lutherans open a conference in Cologne, two of the country's top Catholic prelates have reiterated the teaching of the Church opposing intercommunion with Protestants. Cardinals Karl Lehmann and Joachim Meisner explained that sharing in the Eucharist-- a practice that has become widespread in Germany-- is contrary to the teaching of the Church. While expressing their support for ecumenical work, the cardinals said that sharing in Communion signifies a full accord in faith, which in reality does not exist. Cardinal Lehmann, in an interview with Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung said that Catholics and Lutherans should work toward the realization of full unity, at which point intercommunion would be a natural consequence of shared belief and worship. Until that point is reached, he said, sharing in Communion should be regarded as 'immature fruit' of ecumenism


Winterton: Bill for couselling for women seeking abortion

Update: the Winterton bill has been defeated, 182 vs 107. Not a bad showing for a 'Ten Minute Rule' Bill, and perhaps a marker for the future. Among the votes in favour were William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith, past Conservative leaders, Simon Hughes, LibDem, Frank Field, Lab, two MPs from the SNP (Angus McNeill and Mike Weir) and one from the DUP (Sammy Wilson). Overwhelmingly, however, the 'Ayes' were Conservative and the 'Noes' Labour. John Gummer, David Cameron, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown all had better things to do than vote. Briefing and full voting record from Christian Concern for our Nation.

Action please 11/05/07:
lobby your MP; see side-bar for email addresses. Although the bill is unlikely to be passed, highlighting the counselling issue is very worthwhile. Hat-tip to the Pro-Life Alliance.

From the Pro-Life Alliance: ABORTION BILL
June 5th, 2007
Write to your MP without delay urging support!

Ann Winterton MP – supported by Labour, Lib-Dem and Conservative MPs - will be introducing a Bill on Tuesday, June 5th as a first step in curbing the present abortion law. The aim is to ensure that women receive proper counselling warning them of possible dangers to their physical and mental health, informing them of alternative help available, and providing them with a delay of seven days before making a final decision. The Bill will also require doctors to state on the notification forms whether the abortion was carried out on physical OR on mental grounds (instead of clubbing the two together as at present and thus obscuring the real reasons for the abortion).

Please write to your MP at the House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. Or you can telephone him/her at 020 7219 3000.
Ask for your MP (by name) or his/her secretary. Give your name and address to show that you are a constituent. Urge the MP to attend the debate on Tuesday, June 5th and to vote in support of the Bill. They may need time to cancel other possible engagements – so, please write to your MP as soon as you receive this. The more letters MPs receive the more they will be made aware of the Bill and the more support we will receive.

For further information, please contact ProLife Alliance at 020 7581 6939 or email Postal address P O Box 13395, London, SW3 6XE


Monday, June 04, 2007

Nurseries bad for young children

Briefing: these scientific findings can no longer be ignored: except by the Government, which wants to corral mothers into the work-place, and their babies into creches. Until the work done by mothers at home is given its proper valuation, children will continue to suffer. (Beverly Hughes: 'Don't confuse me with facts!') Government incentives have ensured 97% of three-year-olds are in nurseries.

From the Telegraph (in part): Last year, research by Prof Michael Lamb, of Cambridge University, found that nurseries caused distress to young children.

He found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol doubled in youngsters during the first nine days of child care without their mothers present and continued to be much higher among children five months after starting nursery compared with those who stayed at home. However, Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, said: "We know that high quality early learning makes a real difference to children's development with lasting effects throughout primary school. I'm delighted that so many parents are taking up this offer - they are giving their children the best start and helping them in the long term by boosting their communication, language and social skills."

For the full story, see here.


Religious Charities: consultation

Action please: please point out to the Charity Commission that teaching people about Christ is a genuinely charitable aim which doesn't need any ulterior justification. Knowledge of Christ is held by the UK's 70% Christian majority to benefit the recipient: end of story. Similarly with prayer: most people in the UK think that prayer is a good, and therefore a proper charitable object, like knowledge, artistic excellence or natural beauty. There will always be disputes about whether particular charities are wasting their time and money; Christian charities have to justify themselves to their donors like everyone else. Christians are not suggesting that non-Christian religious charities be stripped of their charitable status, so leave us all alone!

From Christian Concern for our Nation: The Charities Act 2006 removed the legal presumption that charities established for the advancement of religion have purposes that are for the public benefit. ‘Public benefit’ is not defined in the Charities Act 2006 and it has specifically been left to the Charity Commission to consult on the matter. Christian charities will now have to prove their ‘public benefit’ to the Charity Commission. It is of concern that the Charity Commission has said it will interpret ‘public benefit’ in the light of ‘modern conditions’ and what this could mean for Christian charities that exist for evangelism or which promote traditional Christian teaching on family and life issues.

Although the Consultation period ends on 6th June we would still encourage you
to write to the Charity Commission with any concerns you may have as this will
demonstrate to them the depth of concern amongst Christian charities.

The address for the Charity Commission is Charity Commission Direct,
PO Box 1227, Liverpool, L69 3UG or email


Alan Johnson demands an end to moral teaching in Church schools

Protests, please, to Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, who wants to determine what theological claims may, and may not, be made by teachers employed in Church schools. If this were not astonishing enough, he is pressing the usual canard that that such schools teach that 'homosexuality', rather than sodomy, is a sin (how can a person be an action?), as justification for claiming that traditional moral teaching is discrimination on the basis of 'sexual orientation'. Just as in the 16th Century, it is proposed that the secular law should punish Catholics for believing what in many cases they don't believe anyway. Be warned, however, the distinction between person and action will be dismissed as irrelevant, since sodomy is held to be a homosexual's basic right, necessary to his 'sexual self-expression'.

Johnson is standing for the post of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party: readers with Labour MPs might like to ask their MP not to vote for an anti-Catholic bigot.

From The Telegraph (in part): Alan Johnson was facing a showdown with faith schools last night after insisting that they should stop describing homosexuality as a sin.

The Education Secretary said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday: "We have a society now where we allow civil partnerships, where we have legislation to prevent any discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and we are a far better society for that.

"I don't want this hounding of people on the basis of their sexual orientation."

Full story here.


Friday, June 01, 2007

IVF industry 'corrupt'


From SPUC: Lord Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial College, London,
has accused the IVF industry in the UK of being corrupt, and the regulatory Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority of failing to protect couples from exploitation. "One of the major problems facing us in healthcare is that IVF has become a massive commercial industry," he said. "It's very easy to exploit people by the fact that they're desperate and you've got the technology which they want, which may not work." [Guardian, 31 May]


Lecturers call for Sex Ed in Church schools

Briefing. Radical proposals from a lecturers' trade union is not of the highest significance, but in this case they are expressing a view widely held among the 'chattering classes': Church schools should not be allowed to teach morality, lest they offend anyone.

From CFNews: Schools should be banned from promoting traditional marriage in sex education lessons for fear of discriminating against gay and lesbian children, British academics claim. The biggest lecturers' union has criticised teachers who champion heterosexual wedlock for instilling "negative images" of same-sex relationships. Existing government guidance says that teachers should emphasise the importance of marriage to promote a stable family life. But the University and College Union said schools should prohibit any lessons which "negatively characterise" the identity and lifestyle of homosexual or bisexual teenagers. They also criticised new equality laws - intended to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation - insisting that faith schools are still allowed to teach that homosexuality is a sin. Addressing the UCU annual conference in Bournemouth yesterday, Alan Whitaker, a lecturer at Oxford Cherwell Valley College, said: "They [the new regulations] did nothing to stop the negative characterisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender lifestyles by teachers. The regulations actually say that there is nothing to stop teachers proclaiming the superiority of heterosexual marriage. The regulations say it's unlawful to characterise same-sex relationships as inferior. But to my mind it's rather difficult to see how you can do the one without implying you are doing the other."
Members of the 120,000-strong UCU passed a motion calling for a prohibition on teachers who negatively portray same-sex relationships, which they described as an "incitement to hatred". "If attitudes are to change that will come about as a result of education," said Mr Whitaker. "And that makes it vitally important that teachers do not instil negative images of same-sex relationships and transgender people in those that they teach." The Government's existing sex education guidance, published in 2000, highlights the "importance of marriage for family life", but under the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007, schools cannot discriminate against gay, bisexual or lesbian children or parents during the admissions process and in decisions over exclusion. They also cannot subject them to "any detriment" in lessons. Nevertheless, faith schools are still allowed to teach that the Bible describes homosexuality as a sin. Speaking last year, Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham and head of the Catholic Education Service, said the classroom must not be a "morally neutral" zone on issues like homosexuality. Stephen Desmond, from Thames Valley University, told the UCU conference: "We must never allow freedom of religion to be hijacked and used as a pretext to discriminate against gay and lesbian teenagers in schools."


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