Latest update: important clarificaction of the law.
From CCfoN (in part): As was expected, the Tribunal reinforced the High Court’s position that there is no difference between sexual “orientation” and sexual “behaviour” in the eyes of the law. It did not matter that the Bishop was not discriminating because Mr Reaney was attracted to men, but because of Mr Reaney’s lifestyle as a sexually active homosexual. The Tribunal decided that on the face of it, Mr Reaney had been unlawfully discriminated against because he was a homosexual.
However, the Tribunal decided that although Mr Reaney was not applying for a job as a clergyman, the post of Diocesan Youth Officer did fall within the “very narrow” exception for which the Church of England could discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. This was a valuable decision for all churches – Stonewall had argued aggressively that churches should not be able to refuse to employ practising homosexuals in any jobs other than the clergy.
Churches that want to protect the integrity of their ministry should therefore be able to do so, providing the job they are recruiting for involves the employee being “closely associated with the promotion of the Church.” In such a case, it is likely they can ensure that the employee is not a practising homosexual.
However, specifically in relation to the Church of England, the Tribunal drew one key distinction between clergy and non-clergy posts, by saying that “we do not think it would be in accordance with the Issues [in Human Sexuality] statement to require [unmarried] lay persons to commit to celibacy.” Sadly, the equivocal position of the Church of England means that the courts have said that the most that Anglican churches can require of lay employees is that they are not in a practising homosexual relationship during the employment. Lay employees cannot be expected to be repentant about past homosexual behaviour, or to acknowledge that such behaviour was wrong. Of course, this position would change if the House of Bishops and General Synod were to revise the Issues on Human Sexuality statement and strengthen its requirements. Thankfully this part of the judgment does not apply to denominations outside of the Church of England.
(The full press release will appear soon here.)
Update 19/07/07: big hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity for the following, not included in the CCfoN press-release below (our emphasis):
The crucial legal point in this case was highlighted by the solicitor, Alison Downie of Bindman & Partners:
"In this landmark test case the tribunal found not only that he suffered direct discrimination but that if necessary they would have found indirect discrimination in the diocese imposing a requirement of celibacy for lay people in employment within the Church."
So it is now against the law for a Christian organisation to require that its employees undertake to abide by Christian teaching.
Briefing 18/07/07. It seems that John Reaney had had sexual relationships outside marriage, and although he was single at the time of the job interview, did not satisfy Bishop Priddis of his moral character. Priddis' subsequent decision not to employ him as a 'youth worker' has been declared an act of illegal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, under the SORs. This is exactly what we thought would happen, and is an extremely worrying result.
From Christian Concern for our Nation (and the BBC): “A gay man has won his case for unlawful discrimination after he was refused a youth official's job by a Church of England bishop.
The employment tribunal said John Reaney, 42, was discriminated against "on grounds of sexual orientation" by the Hereford diocesan board of finance. Mr Reaney, from Colwyn Bay, Conwy, said he was "delighted" at the decision.
The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, said he was "naturally disappointed" and may appeal.
During the tribunal in Cardiff in April, Mr Reaney said he was questioned by Bishop Priddis on his previous gay relationship during a two-hour meeting on 19 July 2006. It came after he was told he had emerged as the outstanding candidate for the job during an eight-man interview, the hearing heard. Mr Reaney, whose case was supported by Stonewall, also told the tribunal he was left "very embarrassed and extremely upset" following the meeting and said he felt like "a total waste of space".
During his evidence, Bishop Priddis said he had made clear to Mr Reaney that a person in a committed sexual relationship outside of marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would be turned down for the post.
But the tribunal found that the Bishop should only have considered the present lifestyle of Mr Reaney, who is single, and he should have not questioned his
Delivering the judgement, the tribunal said the case would now be listed for a remedy hearing. "The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual
orientation," said the judgement. Mr Reaney, who had already worked in two other Anglican dioceses, where he had been praised for his achievements, said he was delighted.
He said the case "demonstrated to many lesbian and gay Christians working for
God within the Church of England that they are entitled to fair and respectful
treatment". But speaking to a news conference in Hereford on Wednesday, the Bishop said: "I still think the decision I made was the right one." "I regret the polarisation of view which takes place when these things happen," he said, adding he had made the decision after a "great deal of prayer and contemplation".
Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said the verdict was "a triumph for 21st Century decency over 19th Century prejudice". "We're very happy for John," he said. "The tribunal has rightly made clear that the Church of England cannot
discriminate against gay people with impunity. No-one, not even a bishop, is
exempt from the law."
Under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, it is
illegal to discriminate against people as a result of their sexual orientation,
but the law does contain an exemption for organised religion.”
At first sight this judgment appears to be a serious affront to the freedom for churches to guarantee that their children and teenagers are being taught by people who are living according to the Bible’s clear teaching about sexual morality. The law is shifting rapidly so that where there is a ‘competition of rights’ it is the homosexual’s right that trumps the Christian’s right. This is a situation that needs to be reversed. At the very least, our law should recognise conscience exemptions for Christians so that they can live according to their faith. A fuller analysis of the situation will be made once we have received a copy of the judgment.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Latest update: important clarificaction of the law.
For information: the new website is worth a look. See here. Catholic Truth Scotland is involved in the difficult, dangerous and thankless work of challenging dissent in the Church in Scotland. Anyone who has seen the bizarre attack on the Editor in The Times (picked up by the Catholic Herald), can see a reply here.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Action: protests, please (see below for details). This is a long-running story. The 'Catholic Women's Network', renamed 'Women Word Spirit', openly campaigns for women's ordination and lends its support to a raft of predictable dissident causes in the Church (ordination of married men to the priesthood, abortion, civil partnerships, contraception, inclusive language, etc. etc.: see the links on their site for a sample). Despite this being documented for years, the Catholic Directory Panel, chaired by Bishop Malone, have year after year included this organisation in the list of Catholic organisations in the Directory, on the basis of a patently insincere claim by WWS that they accept the teaching of the Church. Full details in the most recent Patricia Phillips article, No 8, to be found under "Further Reading" on the 'Catholic Feminism' website; see the earlier ones for background
WWS missed out on the 2007 Directory due their own administrative incompetence, but there is every reason to think that they will be included in the 2008 Directory. Even more scandalously, they are included in the official body for 'women' set up by the Bishops' Conference (England and Wales), the National Board of Catholic Women.
Decisions on the Directory are made in August. Protests should go to:
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (Chairman of the Bishops' Conference),
Bishop Vincent Malone (Chairman of the Catholic Directory Panel)
Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool (National Board of Catholic Women liaison),
The Apostolic Nuncio (see sidebar)
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome (see sidebar).
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Protests, please, to Bishop O’Donoghue of Lancaster. This fine church, the pride of Catholic Lancashire, is of national significance.
From 'The Citizen' (Preston local paper), in part: Councillor Margaret McManus is spearheading the campaign. She condemned the proposals by the Lancaster Diocese, which could see 10 Preston churches close over the next decade.
The councillor, who represents Sharoe Green, has attended St Walburge's Church, Pedder Street, Ashton, for 30 years.
She said: "St Walburge's is the gem of the churches in Preston and we should be thinking about giving it cathedral status rather than closing it.
"It's a sin to close any church, this is our heritage. The people of Preston built and paid for these churches. "It isn't our fault that the diocese hasn't used their funds efficiently enough."For the full story see here.
Hat-tip to Holy Smoke (Damian Thompson), where more commentary can be found.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Briefing. Two stories about the Government's failed sex-education and family policies.
From SPUC: The British government is planning to give teenage mothers personal contraception counsellors to prevent them having more children. The strategy will be a joint venture between local councils and NHS primary care trusts which aims to provide each teenage mother with a counsellor who will advise on how to look after the children and also how to obtain and use contraception. Mr Norman Wells, from the Family Education Trust, said: "So long as the Government encourages teenage sexual activity by making contraception freely and confidentially available in school clinics and other settings, teenage pregnancy rates will remain high and sexually transmitted infection rates will continue to soar." [Telegraph, 20 July]
The number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is continuing to rise in Britain, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency. The rate of genital herpes has gone up by nine percent and chlamydia has gone up by four percent, while syphilis and gonorrhea have gone down by one percent. Overall there is a two percent rise in the diagnoses of STIs, with an especially high rate among young people and gay men. Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, said: "There is mixed news in these figures. Some infections now appear to
be slowing down. But there is no room for complacency. The picture for young people remains particularly worrying." [BBC, 20 July]
From SPUC: Children conceived by IVF treatment are almost twice as likely to suffer
poor health, according to British and Finnish researchers. A study published in Human Reproduction showed that, by the age of seven, children conceived by IVF had spent an average of 4.31 days in hospital, almost two days longer than children conceived naturally. Professor Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin from Imperial College London, who led the research, said: "There are two sides to the coin and we have to say that in most cases,
everything seems to go perfectly fine. But we have to give accurate information and inform the families there may be some risks - and even risks about which we don't yet know."
Briefing: local expressions of support would be good. The attempt by any diocese to use the 'arms-length' approach must be resisted for precisely the reason Bishop O'Donoghue gives: it would be proximate cooperation in a grave evil.
From CFNews: Firm stand by Lancashire bishop. Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster says he sees no way in which Catholic adoption agencies can survive under new equality laws. In a letter to priests and the Catholic Caring Services of his diocese, Bishop O'Donoghue said that the new Sexual Orientations Regulations (SORs), which could force adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples, cannot be squared with a Catholic conscience. "Having studied the options', he wrote, 'I cannot see how we can accept the legislation, even under duress." He rejected the possibility, currently being considered in some dioceses, of an "arms-length" solution, in which the Church would remove itself from direct involvement in its adoption agencies. "An arms-length approach ... seems to involve cooperation in something that we oppose," said the bishop. "Nor can I see a way of committing an initial Church contribution to setting up such an agency. I favour rejection, thus withdrawal from adoption and fostering from December 2008 if all else fails." In response to the letter a spokesman for the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said that the Church's position on adoption agencies had not changed and that Bishop O'Donoghue's letter represented "his own views". In his letter Bishop O'Donoghue urged the faithful to submit their comments to him on the matter.
[Bishop O'Donoghue's address is Bishop's Apartment, Cathedral House, Balmoral Road, Lancaster LA 1 3BT. Tel 01524 32231. Fax 01524 849296]
Briefing: the increasing interest of Evangelical Christian groups in issues surrounding embryo research is very good news.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Briefing: Notice the extraordinary reasoning here, which is typical of much of the debate. Many mothers have decided to opt out of the work place and look after their children full time. With a nod at the notion that this is ok because it is their 'choice', the rest of the article proceeds on the assumption that actually it a terribly bad thing, and something must be done about it. The proposal then is not to support mothers in their 'choice', by restoring the 'married person's tax allowance', for example, but to tax everyone, including single-income families, in order to provide more goodies for double-income families. Please, Justine Roberts, how is this supposed to make sense? Having two incomes is supposed to make you better off. You say that full-time mothers make a financial sacrifice. So why it is working mothers who need to be subsidised?
Hat-tip to Full Time Mothers.
From the Telegraph (in part): Unlike lots of our European neighbours who have adopted more family-friendly flexible working practices, in Britain most decent jobs still require 120 per cent from the people who do them, not the 50 per cent that is all that might be available.
Which is why, of course, there are lots of mums on Mumsnet who've chosen to lower their living standards and opt out of the workplace altogether.
Of course they wanted to, and recognised the importance of spending some time with their children and when the choice is either a 70-hour working week and a shedload of "bad mother"-related guilt, or being sidelined by their boss, they chose to spend even more time with their children than they originally bargained for.
But if the option to work part-time is the Holy Grail for mothers, and flexible part-time work is the Holy Grail with knobs on, we need to recognise that we must change the workplace culture to elevate the work-life balance at the expense of just work, and so that part-timers don't get sidelined.
And to do that we need to encourage dads to be involved, too, because, until they do, I strongly suspect it will be nigh on impossible to make that cultural shift.
So how do we go about changing the culture? The same league table that puts us at the bottom for child-rearing has the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland at the top.
These are places where the state supports the commitment of both parents to playing a hands-on role in their children's lives.
We could start by aping their commitment to parental, particularly paternal, leave. And we could also go some way to relieving the financial imperative for excessive working hours by building cheaper houses and making childcare more affordable - tax deductible would be the obvious place to start.
Yes, it would all cost a bit - maybe we'd be a bit less well off - but maybe the benefits in terms of happiness (for parents and children alike) would have a beneficial economic effect in the long term. Who knows?For the full article see here.
For our previous post on this issue, see here. For the problem of nursery care see here.
Update: the Government is backing down. For the earlier threats see below and here.
From SPUC: The United Kingdom government says it has no plans to change Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion law and would expect the province's assembly to take over legislation in this area. Mr Paul Goggins MP, a UK minister responsible for Northern Ireland, declared the policy in written answers to MPs' questions. [News Letter, 18 July] Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "Until the power to decide abortion legislation rests with the Assembly, pro-abortion MPs who do not represent anyone in Northern Ireland will be able to impose the Abortion Act on the people here. The pro-abortion position dominates the House of Commons. Any attempt to modify the Act is likely to result in many more abortions. Some MPs have declared their intention to push for the extension of the Act to Northern Ireland when the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill is debated later this year. If the violence of the Troubles is not to be replaced by the violence of abortion, it is vital that members of the public write to Gordon Brown urging him not to allow any liberalisation of the Abortion Act." [SPUC, 19 July]
From SPUC: A cross-party coalition of MPs is to push for changes to current abortion legislation to mark the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act in Britain. Moves to increase access to abortion include removing the need for two doctors to sign an abortion referral and the extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. Church leaders and politicians in Northern Ireland have condemned proposals by Westminster to impose
abortion on Northern Ireland and are expected to resist any change in the law. Fr Tim Bartlett, the secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Commission on Social Affairs in Northern Ireland, said: "We are opposed to these measures on two grounds. Firstly, there is the ethical opposition to abortion and our support for the right to life for the unborn child. Secondly, that the views of the democratically elected representatives of Northern Ireland be taken into account." [Observer, 10 June] Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland said: "The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland and their elected representatives are opposed to any liberalisation of their abortion laws. Despite this there is a very real threat that the pro-abortion lobby in Britain could succeed in having the Abortion Act imposed upon the Province. It is therefore vitally important that everyone, in Britain as well as in Northern Ireland, should write to their MPs and ask them to urge the government not to support any attempt to extend the Abortion Act but instead respect the position of the Northern Ireland Assembly on this issue. It would be an appalling tragedy if the violence of the Troubles was replaced by the violence of abortion."
Thursday, July 19, 2007
A recommended devotion. Watching the news, as this blog does, has become a rather dispiriting experience. At these times one must consider the spiritual means available to defend the Church, and the Universal Living Rosary is a notable example.
The aim of the Living Rosary is for all members to pray one decade of the rosary each day for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in honour of St Philomena. The UK co-ordinator is:-
UNIVERSAL LIVING ROSARY
7 Valentine Drive,
Any questions about the cult of St Philomena, through whom more authenticated modern miracles have been granted than perhaps any other saint, can be answered by Fr Tim Finnigan's two posts on her here and here, (he recommends the Universal Living Rosary here) and the excellent discussion of the historical questions on the site of the Italian shrine, here. In brief, the criticisms of the cult are based merely on lack of historical evidence, rather than any convincing contrary evidence. While it is true that, as with many ancient saints, historical evidence is not abundant, critics ignore the supernatural evidence in favour of the cult, which is extremely powerful. It is also simply false to say that the Church has forbidden her cult. The Vatican gave her shrine in Miami (affiliated to the SSPX) a first-class relic of St Philomena for public veneration in 1991, and another in 2004: hardly Rome's way of dealing with a false cult!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Action, please: please complete the HFEA consultation on hybrids, a key component of the Bill, listed on the side-bar, if you haven't done so.
From SPUC: Leaders of the Catholic Church in Scotland have written to the British prime minister, Mr Gordon Brown, calling on him to give longer time for consultation on the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. In their letter, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow highlight the proposal to remove the requirement to consider the child's need for a father before offering IVF treatment: "We believe that the state should not deny the child's need for a father nor ignore a wealth of social research findings upholding the notion that deliberately planning to have fatherless children is inimical to their long-term welfare." [Christian Today, 17 July, and Herald, 18 July]
A supplement to the our dossiers on the RCCGLCM/SMPC and Quest.
-It is natural for some people to be homosexual: God made them that way. He made nothing bad.
Answer: This suggests there is no original sin. God made us all, but because of Original Sin we all have a marked tendency to sin. People are tempted in different ways. That doesn't mean what they are tempted to do is not sinful.
-Sex is not only for procreation: the Church accepts it is for the building up of a relationship. Thus it should be permissible for gays in a relationship.
Answer: the role of sex in relationships is dependent on its role in procreation. The union of man and woman in sex is a union in an act potentially open to procreation: they become a single procreative principle. When procreation is excluded (by contraception, or in homosexual sex) then it loses the unitive role intended by God.
-The Church's teaching against sex between gays denies them the chance of living fulfilled lived.
Answer: sex is not necessary for living a fulfilled life.
-The bible's condmnations of sodomy do not have committed, loving relationships in mind. St Paul, for example, did not come into contact with such relationships.
Answer: this argument contradicts the idea that homosexuality, in its modern form, is 'natural'. If the biblical authors had no experience of loving homosexual relationships, if homosexuality was quite different in the ancient world, then modern homosexulity must be a cultural phenomenon. Be that as it may, St Paul (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10) condemns sex between men: it is perfectly clear, he knew exactly what he was talking about, and inspired by the Holy Spirit he said it has no part in the Christian life. Loving relationships are fine: sodomy is not.
-The Magisterium's condemnations of same-sex sexual activity are not infallible. Nor are the arguments convincing to us. So we are not bound in conscience by them.
The Magisterium is simply repeating what the Church has always taught. Since apostolic times - and before - this has been understood to be the moral law. When a claim is made over such a period of time, by so many authoritative sources, and with so little opposition, it is infallible by the 'ordinary Magisterium'. There is no need for a General Council to issue an anathema.
Furthermore, Catholics are not bound only the statements of the Magisterium they happen to find convincing. The point of teaching authority is that there is a presumption in favour of the truth of the teaching even if the hearer does not fully understand it.
-In its teaching, the Church condemns gays and lesbians. This is unjust.
Answer: this is the most insidious argument of all: the refusal to distinguish between the sin and the sinner, or even between people with homosexual inclinations and people who have homosexual sex. This conflation has even found its way into legislation. The Church has the task of making moral judgments, in the light of the teaching given to her by Jesus Christ, on actions, on states of character, and on individuals insofar as they do those actions and exhibit those states of character. The state of homosexuality is not a vice, since it is not acquired, as vices are, by voluntary actions, but as a tendency to a particular kind of bad action it is 'intrinsically disordered'.
The Church also has to judge what kind of people are appropriate for certain tasks: homosexual couples are not suitable candidates for adoption; homosexual men are not suitable candidates for ordination.
But people - unlike actions or inclinations - can be lost or saved, and it is the Church's task to call everyone to live a good life and accept the salvation offered to them by Christ, and available through the sacraments. Homosexuals are in no way excluded from this: the are God's children too. Those who love their homosesual neighbours will want them to be happy and grow in holiness, and not be swallowed up in the gay sub-culture which leads to misery. Quest and similar organisations want to bring this sub-culture into the Church.
Update: this judgement sounds like a farce. For the original story, see here.
From Christian Concern for our Nation: Independent Adjudicator Mark Shaw QC says Muslims should be able to head up the Christian Union at Exeter University
Ben Martin, the Christian student at the centre of the Exeter University Student Guild row over the Human Rights of members of the Christian Union, has today rejected the Independent Adjudication into the case as "unbalanced and selective". He will be seeking a Judicial Review in the High Court.
Mark Shaw QC, the independent adjudicator appointed by Exeter University Strongly criticised the Constitution of Exeter CU because it restricted the membership to Christians, despite the fact its meetings were open to everyone – of all faiths and none. He held it discriminatory that the CU should be run by Christians and held that the Guild policies in forcing the CU to be led by members open to other faiths was "laudable".
Last year, the Student Guild forced the Exeter Christian Union to change its name to Exeter 'Evangelical' Christian Union following one complaint (in a 50 year period) by a student. The Guild also froze the CUs bank account and wrote to them banning them from holding or advertising events on Guild premises.
On January 5, Ben Martin, a member of the Christian Union filed papers at the High Court asking for a Judicial Review of the Guild's actions under the Human Rights Act. He was subsequently informed that the University would require the CU to go through an informal internal adjudication procedure before any external procedure could be followed.
First, the University tried to impose a leading lawyer with strong connections to the National Union of Students on the CU as adjudicator. The process was then delayed to after Easter (a time when students are revising or sitting exams). Following complaints, the University brought in another barrister, this time a QC, Mark Shaw (there is no obligation to appoint a barrister, only an independent person of standing in the community).
Ben Martin said: "The university established an internal appeals process to resolve the dispute and the CU engaged with the process in full seeking a non judicial resolution of the dispute. Out of primarily public funds, the university and Guild had access to leading firms of solicitors and barristers (including QCs) whilst the CU were denied all such assistance.
"Mr Shaw determined that the process should be 'legal' rather than informal as is usually the case, and also decided that the process should deal with substantive and procedural issues of law. He also stated that the CU should be prepared to pay the costs of the university and Guild which could have been more than £50,000."
When the CU complained at the legalised process, asked for an informal process without lawyers and that they should not be subject to costs, Mr Shaw refused.
Mr Martin said: "Any criticism of this process by the CU resulted in a sharp response from Mr Shaw, together with claims that the CU was uncooperative. Only when the CU refused to continue with a process that could bankrupt them, was there a guarantee of no costs.
"Mr Shaw held that the Guild were 'laudable' in their aims, the University had no responsibility for the discrimination against Christians, and that the CU was wrong to require that those leading the CU should be Christians. That position, he said, could be held by anyone of any faith or none, provided they agree to the objectives of the CU!
"In paragraph 92 (4) of his adjudication, Mr Shaw even goes on to suggest that on the Exeter University campus, the 'Welsh Society should be open to Scottish members; the wine society open to teetotal members, the choral society should be open to non-singing members, and the cheerleading society should be open to male members ...'
"Quite frankly, reading this from a QC, you don't know whether to laugh or cry! I would advise any student who wants to use the 'informal' adjudication process to be prepared to face QCs and potential costs beyond their means.
"I fully co-operated with Mr Shaw and he has treated my fundamental rights of religious association and belief in a derisory fashion. Issues of religious association and freedom of speech are fundamental human rights and not ones on
which I, or the CU is prepared to compromise."
The CU at Exeter has always said that taking the matter to Court would be a last resort, but in light of the Independent Adjudication from Mr Shaw, the CU finds itself in a position where it has no other option by to instruct the Human Right's barrister Paul Diamond to instigate Judicial Review proceedings against the University and Guild.
Church documents relevant to the issues of the day.
CDF, 1986: On the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person
CDF, 1992: Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons.
Homosexuals in seminaries:
CDF, 2005: Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders
The Ordination of women:
Pope John-Paul II, 1994: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF. 1995: Response to a Dubium on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
CDF, 1995: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within The Family
CDF, 2000: Dominus Iesus
Pope Paul VI, 1968: Humanae Vitae
Abortion and Euthanasia:
Pope John-Paul II, 1995: Evangelium Vitae
Cloning, IVF and related issues:
CDF, 1987: Donum Vitae
Marriage and the Family:
-John-Paul II, 1981: Familiaris Consortio
-Pius XI, 1880: Casti Conubii
-Pope Benedict XVI (2007): Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (pdf from Rorate Caeli) (on the use of the 1962 Missal)
-Congregation for Divine Worship (latest edition, 2002): General Instruction of the Roman Missal
-Congregation for Divine Worship (2004): Redemptoris Sacramentum (against liturgical abuses)
-Issued jointly by 8 Sacred Congregations (1997): On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests (against liturgical abuses)
'Justice and Peace'
-Pope St Pius X, 1905: Il Fermo Proposito (on Catholic action associations in Italy)
-CDF, 2002: The Participation of Catholics in Political Life
Bible: Douai-Rheims; New Jerusalem Bible; Bible Gateway (50 versions available!)
Sources of Catholic Dogma, Denzinger (Church documents over the centuries)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992)
Roman Catechism (Catechism of the Council of Trent) (1566)
Code of Canon Law (1983)
Catholic Encyclopedia (1917)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Against abortion in Northern Ireland (11/3/09): in the context of proposed amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Click for the petition.
Pro-Life Petition to the UN (6 weeks from 30th Sept): to counter a petition from pro-abortionists to entrench abortion as a 'human right'. Click for the petition, post.
'Save Our Churches' (open ended): sponsored by the Daily Telegraph. Click for the petition, post.
Vote of No Confidence in Bishop Arther Roche (open ended): a protest against the church closure programme of the diocese of Leeds. Bishop Roche is refusing to meet parishoners or respond to letters. Click for the petition, post.
Government Consultation on abortion in Northern Ireland (22/9/08):
The Government is making yet another attempt to force abortion onto Northern Ireland, not for the first time scheduling a 'consultation' when the Assembly is not in session and many people are on holiday. Click for the consultation, post
ACW survey: should Catholic schools be Catholic? (open ended):
The Association of Catholic Women are preparing a submission to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on schools; please respond to their consultation to say that Catholic schools should be genuinely Catholic. Click for the consultation, post
'Alive and Kicking' against the hybrids bill (open ended): petition, post
Against 'Early Years Foundation' policy (18/9/08):
Against the insane government scheme to impose hundreds of 'targets' on infants and toddlers. Click for the petition, post
Against the persecution of Iraqi Christians (6/8/08): petition, post
Make St George's Day a public holiday (open ended): petition, post
Monday, July 16, 2007
The Holy See
Catholic Church, England and Wales: official website
Catholic Church, England and Wales: postal addresses
Catholic Church, Scotland: official website
Vatican Contact Details
We cannot vouch for the content of external sites, and may not agree with what they say. However, the selection here has been made carefully and is frequently updated, and we would like to hear comments and suggestions from our readers. Nearly all are UK-based, and include some less well-known groups that should be encouraged. In general, the Catholic sites and organisations listed here are those we beleive to be worthy of support; the non-Catholic ones are, at the least, extremely useful sources of information.
Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice: campaigning on dissent within the Church, and Catholic schools, in England and Wales. Quarterly newsletter 'The Flock' is available to download from their site.
Catholic Truth Scotland: campaigning on dissent within the Church, in Scotland. Bi-monthly newsletter is available to download from their site.
National Association of Catholic Families.
The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales Promotes the Roman Catholic Traditional liturgy.
Association of Catholic Women Orthodox membership and campaigning group; not to be confused with the dissident 'Women Word Spirit' (formerly the 'Catholic Women's Network').
The Encourage Trust (UK branch of US-based Courage) Orthodox support group for homosexuals; not to be confused with the dissident 'Quest' or 'RCCLGCM'.
The Good Counsel Network Pro-life counselling, practical help, and campaigning.
Catholic Unattached Directory UK based, for Catholic singles.
News and research
Catholic Family News Weekly bulletins collected from many sources, published by the National Association of Catholic Families.
To subscribe to their weekly email news bulletin, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholic Feminism Makes available a series of articles by Patricia Philips on Feminism within the Catholic Church, first published in Christian Order.
Catholic Media Coalition: US-based umbrella group for orthodox catholic media organisations, many them small campaigning groups specific to a US state.
Catholic Resources on the Internet very comprehensive, with guidance about the nature of the organisations, good and bad, to be found there; part of the Catholic Unattached Directory site.
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute Campaigning internationally on Family and Human Rights issues.
Linacre Centre London-based Catholic research centre for medical ethics.
Mary Meets Dolly 'A Catholic's Guide to Genetics, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology'
Pewsitter International Catholic news aggregation service
Care Not Killing Anti-Euthanasia umbrella group, important in the defeat of the Joffe Bill.
Alive and Kicking Campaign Anti-abortion umbrella group.
SPUC Society for the Protection of unborn Children. Undertakes political lobbying and education in the areas of abortion, euthanasia and sex education.
To subscribe to their daily email bulletins, see here.
British Victims of Abortion Support group
Not Dead Yet A very interesting group campaigning against euthanasia for disabled people.
CHASTE: Churches Alert to Sex Trafficing accross Europe Campaigning and practical help for the victims.
Family and Youth Concern Think-tank on Family policy, including Sex Education.
Civitas Think-tank on Civil Society, including Family policy.
Full Time Mothers Research and lobbying group supporting full-time mothers.
To subscribe to their email list, email them here.
Christian Concern for our Nation British Evangelical; particular concern with the erosion of freedom of speech and conscience.
The Christian Congress for Traditional Values (CCTV) similar to above.
MediaWatch-UK First founded in 1965 by Mary Whitehouse as the 'National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association'; concern with indecency etc. in the media; excellent coverage of the 'Jerry Springer' issue, see here.
Briefing: these stories have been doing the rounds for years. The interesting thing, as these scientists point out, is the determination of environmentalists to ignore the issue.
Hat-tip to Mary Meets Dolly, where the full story and more commentary can be found.
From Mary Meets Dolly, in part: When EPA-funded scientists at the University of Colorado studied fish in a pristine mountain stream known as Boulder Creek two years ago, they were shocked. Randomly netting 123 trout and other fish downstream from the city’s sewer plant, they found that 101 were female, 12 were male and 10 were strange “intersex” fish with male and female features. ... They studied the fish and decided the main culprits were estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city’s sewage system and then into the creek. ...
Harden said the growing knowledge of estrogen-polluted water may expose the cultural double-standards that protect birth control from the scrutiny given to other chemicals and drugs. “It’s going to start looking funny,” Harden said. “The radical environmentalist won’t eat a corn chip if the corn contacted a pesticide. But they view it a sacred right and obligation to consume synthetic chemicals that alter a woman’s natural biological functions, even if this practice threatens innocent aquatic life downstream.”
Sex Education in the Archdiocese of Birmingham
One of the great scandals of today is the flouting of the CDF's guidelines on sex education by Catholic schools, using text books and methods approved or even enforced by dioceses. The programme of the Archdiocese of Birmingham is examined because it is generally thought to be more 'Catholic' than other commonly used programmes, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols is also the Chairman of the nationwide Catholic Education Service. As well as failing to present Catholic teaching as more than one lifestyle option among many, the programme tramples upon the principles, set out by the CDF, that teaching about sexuality should be carried out by parents, unless this is absolutely impossible; that it should be one to one; that it should respond to the child's questions and needs, and not burden the child with information the child is not ready for; and that the 'age of innocence' before puberty should be respected. CDF, 1995: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within The Family
Opposition to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum
Pope Benedict XVI's approach to dealing with the crisis in the Church hinges upon liturgical renewal. He has written "I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today largely derives from the disintegration of the liturgy." (Milestones) As Vatican II said, the liturgy is the "summit and source" of the Christian life (Lumen Gentium, no. 11): even in purely natural terms, it is the almost only way in which most Catholic come into contact with the Church. If it fails to convey the faith, or a proper attitude of prayer, or reverence towards holy things, it will lead to lapsation. The repeated pleas of Paul VI and John-Paul II against liturgical abuses (see below) have been ignored, and Pope Benedict is approaching the matter in a different way: by reference to a longer view of Catholic liturgy, to include the liturgy before the reforms of Paul VI, he is trying to establish a 'hermeneutic of continuity' which exposes the shallowness of the arguments in favour of irreverent treatment of the Blessed Sacrament and so on. This policy requires the 'Traditional', 1962 Missal to come back into widespread use, enabling Catholics to see a type of Catholic liturgy unaffected by today's crisis. The bishops of England and Wales, however, seem in varying degrees not to want to cooperate with this project. It is obvious that if the Church becomes ungovernable in such matters, it will never escape its current difficulties. See the Motu Proprio here (pdf from Rorate Caeli).
Church-sharing with Protestants: in the link Bishop Noble of Shrewsbury is criticised for closing a parish church in order to initiate a sharing arrangement by the Congregation for Clergy. Such a thing could only be contemplated in the most dire circumstances, which clearly do not apply in the UK. There is neither a shortage of church buildings nor a shortage of money to maintain them: sharing a building does nothing, of course, to deal with the problem of the shortage of priests. Sharing a church building with non-Catholics raises insuperable practical problems: either it is a consecrated church, in which case non-Catholic services should not routinely be held in it, or it is not a consecrated church, in which case the Mass should not routinely be said in it; either the Blessed Sacrament will be hidden away, or it will be subject to the disrespect of unbelievers; the whole project is an invitation to religious indifferentism.
Bishop McMahon on clerical celibacy and women priests: of all the bishops of England and Wales, McMahon seems most prone to blurt out things he shouldn't to the press. He denies it afterwards, but it is a strange spectacle indeed.
Two major attempts to restrain liturgical abuses by Pope John-Paul II are the documents Redemptoris Sacramentum (2004) and On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests (1997). These left enforcement to local bishops, and the bishops took no notice at all: you will find the most blatant abuses in every Cathedral in the UK. Examples would be the routine use of Extraordinary Minsters of Holy Communion; the celebrant leaving the sanctuary to exchange the kiss of peace; the ignoring of rubrics (when to genuflect etc.) and the insertion of ex tempore formulas in place of the prescribed text. In the context of a gradually growing sense of liturgical propriety which is being fostered by Pope Benedict XVI, it is worthwhile to oppose the most serious abuses at a local level.
[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.
See Fr Zuhlsdorf's guide to complaining.
This is extremely serious, as the validity of the sacrament is at issue: when a priest gives a 'general absolution' to a group of faithful, without individual confession of sins, the absolution is INVALID unless the faithful consciously intend to go to individual confession as soon as possible (making the procedure pointless, in normal circumstances). General absolution is intended to cater for soldiers going into battle who do not have time for individual confession and may not live long enough to go later. It is an extremely serious matter for a priest to mislead the faithful about this.
Disrespect for the Precious Blood
It is by the pouring out of Christ's blood on the cross that our sins are forgiven . Devotion to the Precious Blood is therefore of great importance, and it is forbidden for priests to consecrate it in jugs and pour it from one receptacle to another: it would be much better not to offer the faithful communion under both kinds when numbers of communicants are large.
The washing of women's feet on Maundy Thursday
Part of an on-going campaign to bring women into the liturgy in a completely inappropriate way, the ultimate goal of which is the ordination of women to the priesthood. Since this is never going to happen (see John-Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994), the campaign is pointless as well as damaging to the symbolic coherence of the ceremonies.
A misguided practice depriving the faithful of an important and popular sacramental.
More liturgical abuses direct from Fr Zuhlsdorf:
Lay people (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) giving blessings to non-communicants
Blue Vestments in Advent
Unnecessary use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
Excellent summary of the Church's law on liturgical abuses from Catholic Answers.
First Fridays and First Saturdays devotions
Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Miraculous Medal
Assistance The Challenge Team (on Sex Education)
Catholic audio downloads:
Keep the Faith: on all manner of subjects, from eminent Catholic speakers including Fulton Sheen
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice: mainly catechetical
Carolyn Graglia: 'Domestic Tranquility' (against Feminism)
Catholic Feminism (against Feminism)
Will Your Grandchildren be Catholic? by Daphne McLeod: see here to order.
These organisations either claim to be Catholic or, having once been Catholic, still make a special claim to the attention of Catholics, to give a 'Catholic' view, etc.. All blatantly contradict the teaching of the Church, usually on sexual morality. In this they are not being clever or innovative, but are merely conforming to liberal views widespread outside the Church.
Why do they still want a 'Catholic' label? Often they benefit from Catholic connections in fundraising and recruiting volunteer staff. More importantly, they wish to undermine the fidelity of Catholics to the Church, and the Church's teaching itself.
They have been extremely successful in providing ammunition to the Church's opponents in the media whenever Church teaching is discussed, sowing prejudice and misinformation about that teaching and making it embarrassing for anyone to defend it. Nevertheless the Church has not ceased to put her teaching forward (on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, divorce etc.) and these groups are frequently embittered by this failure. Having no Catholic sense, they do not understand that the Church is prevented by the Holy Spirit from changing these teachings.
Click on the links to go to a more detailed analysis of each group.
The 'Justice and Peace' brigade.
Catholic Aid For Overseas Development (CAFOD) An official agency of the Bishops' Conference, contrary to its protestations, and to the repeated teaching of the Church, it promotes the use of condoms to combat AIDS. It also has a bizarre habit of employing people who reject the Church's teaching on sexuality in their private lives, or line their pockets at the taxpayer's expense: see a separate dossier here.
Progressio formerly Catholic Institute of International Relations (CIIR) It no longer calls itself 'Catholic' but still wants to milk its Catholic history to undermine Church teaching. It attacks the Church's position on the use of condoms against AIDS, and is also linked to groups which promote abortion.
Pax Christi, a political campaigning group opposing nuclear weapons, the war in Iraq etc., consistently misrepresenting the Church's teaching on war. Without claiming to be a Catholic organisation in its self-description, it is not only listed in the Catholic Directory but collects money on 'Peace Sunday' in parish churches. It is part of the 'Justice and Peace' establishment which produces much hot air on global poverty while ignoring abortion, euthanasia and the attack on the family.
The Sex and Marriage brigade
Marriage Care, formerly the 'Catholic Marriage Advisory Service', then 'Catholic Marriage Care'. It is no longer 'Catholic' in its self-description but it is still in the Catholic Directory. Once a worthy organisation dedicated to marriage counseling, now they want to help people in all 'relationships', and undermine the Church's teaching on the nature of marriage and homosexuality. They also promote sex education, of a kind completely at variance with the Church's guidelines.
Women Word Spirit (WWS), formerly Catholic Women's Network (CWN). Recently ejected from the Catholic Directory, it still has a stranglehold on the National Board of Catholic Women, an official consultative body of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and its quarterly newspaper 'Catholic Omnibus' (which is now to be published only as a download). As Feminists they ceaselessly campaign for women's ordination, and also support abortion. They are part of a network of dissenting groups on the issues of contraception, the liturgy, clerical celibacy, homosexuality, and the role of women in the Church.
Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (RCCLGCM)/ Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC)
Two very similar organisations seeking to undermine the Church's teaching on homosexuality. Although neither is listed in the national Catholic Directory (Quest was ejected in 1998 for refusing to 'clarify' its position on homosexual sex) they have considerable success at local level organising Masses and other events with the agreement of bishops and priests. At their events, and in their literature, there is a pervasive assumption that a homosexual couple's sexual relationship is perfectly ok, and that the Church's teaching to the contrary is 'fallible' and wrong. They are supported by a handful of dissident theologians. They campaign to guide or even be put in charge of the pastoral care of homosexual Catholics, a remarkable attempt by the wolf to apply for the shepherd's job.
The arguments used by apologists for these groups are examined here.
The Archbishop Romero Trust: an interesting over-lap between 'Justice and Peace' dissent (CAFOD, Progressio etal.) and the homosexual dissent. The Chair is Julian Filochowski, a former director of CAFOD, whose civil partner is Martin Pendergast, the leading figure in the RCCLGCM, SMPC and CAPS. So we find CAPS Masses promoting Romero (or Romero Masses promoting CAPS?) and both being promoted by the Justice and Peace establishment.
Catholics for a Changing Church formerly 'Catholic Renewal Movement'. A collection of ageing 'trendies' who dissent from the Church's teaching on an enormous range of issues: not only sexual morality but sacramental theology, the liturgy, authority in the Church, the ordination of women, etc. etc.. Many of their views on these other issues are present in the background of the single-issue groups, with many of which they have close links. An important part of a network of dissent.
Advent Group This is composed of former Catholic priests and religious, who, having abandoned their vows, now campaign to end celibacy for the clergy, and for their members to be reinstated in pastoral ministry, partly on the basis of views of the priesthood completely incompatible with Catholic teaching. Another part of the network of dissent.
The Anti-Life brigade
Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) This group was set up by and continues to be funded and promoted by pro-abortion campaigners to undermine the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion. Its leading members are not practicing Catholics, and it has few links even with dissident Catholic groups or theologians (though feminist-influenced groups tend to be committed to abortion, and link their websites to CFFC). The rhetoric of 'choice' is badly chosen, as they oppose the right of doctors to refuse to carry out abortions, and they oppose giving women with crisis pregnancies information or counselling which includes anything about alternatives to abortion.
All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPPLG)/ Passion for Life: The APPPLG is the officially recognised Parliamentary 'Group' campaigning, supposedly, against abortion, euthanasia and so on. Unsurprisingly, it is dominated by Catholic Members of Parliament. It has come as a shock to discover, on closer examination, that the individual views of officers of the APPPLG are not consistently pro-life, and that this ambivalence has found its way into their policy in Parliament, and in the campaign materials produced by a lobbying group, Passion for Life, which the APPPLG set up. Typically, officers of the APPPLG do not oppose legal abortion in principle: they tend to the view that there is simply 'too much abortion'. The Passion for Life campaign postcards, which were distributed in Catholic churches, included the slogan 'Abortion should be rare', an astonishing claim for a 'pro-life' group to make.
The APPPLG and Passion for life can be criticised on pro-life grounds; its members can also be criticised as Catholic politicians, who appear as such in the Catholic Directory, who are clearly dissenting from the teaching of the Church: see below.
Only the most prominent are listed here.
Claire Curtis-Thomas is 'not against abortion'.
Ann Widdecombe accepts IVF.
John Gummer supported the Civil Partnerships Act
Tony Blair is anti-Catholic in almost every possible way
Ruth Kelly refused to vote against the bill to allow human-animal hybrids
Udate: Lydia Playfoot has lost her court case against her school, which banned her from wearing her 'purity ring', while allowing non-Christians to 'manifest their beliefs' with headscarves and bracelets. Bizarrely, the judge refused to accept that Miss Playfoot's ring was a manifestation of a religious belief. As so often, officials believe they know enough about Christianity to reject claims like that of Miss Playfoot, whereas they would take the statement of a member of a non-Christian religion at face value. It seems public manifestations of the religion established by law in England and Wales can be banned at will, whereas manifestations of other religions are protected as a human right. For the full story, see Christian Concern for our Nation.
Briefing, 01/11/06. The 'Silver Ring Thing' campaign, started by evangelicals in the USA, aims to promote chastity among school children. Students make a commitment to chastity and wear a silver ring as a sign of this. The persecution of a West Sussex schoolgirl, Lydia Playfoot, for wearing one of these rings, seems to be another example of the growing official Christianophobia in the UK. Exceptions to school uniform rules will be made for any religion except Christianity.
Report from Christian Concern for Our Nation.
Lydia Playfoot case Lydia Playfoot is a 15 year old school girl and committed Christian. In June 2004, she began to wear a ring known as "The Silver Ring Thing." The ring was developed by American Christians, and is a sign of a promise to God of sexual abstinence until marriage. As such it is a direct manifestation of faith, and an understanding of biblical truth. Lydia was told to remove the ring as it breached health and safety requirements. However, Sikh girls in the school are permitted to wear traditional bangles. These bangles are not deemed to contravene health and safety rules. Lydia and her family have tried to amicably resolve the issue with the school, but the situation has reached an impasse, with Lydia being threatened with suspension and even expulsion. Lydia sought legal advice and is now filing a case based on a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights as incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. This Article states that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion...freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are necessary in a democratic society...." Lydia has shown a tremendous depth and commitment to her faith in fighting this case. Please pray for her family as they deal with media pressure, and that God's will be done, ultimately giving glory to Him.
For the Telegraph report, see here.
For the Daily Mail report, see here.
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Saturday, July 14, 2007
Briefing. This statement from the CDF simply reiterates the teaching of Dominus Iesus (another CDF document under Cardinal Ratzinger), that the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ. Jesus Christ founded a Church, and only one Church, and that Church, which is both divine and a visible human organisation, is the Roman Catholic Church we can see today. The precise status of the Orthodox and of Protestant sects requires some technical language, but there is no question that if you want to join the Church Christ founded, you must join the Catholic Church. It it not a matter of indifference, or personal inclination, what denomination you happen to belong to. Dissenters take note.
From the Catholic Herald, in part: Relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican communion threatened to reach a new low this week after the Vatican declared that Protestant denominations should be known simply as “ecclesial communities”.
A document authorised by Pope Benedict XVI said Protestant communions are not true churches and that their priests are not genuine ministers.
...It said that the Catholic Church was the “one true Church of Christ” and that although aspects of the truth of the Christian faith can be found in other churches they lacked “all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church”.
Update: 14/07/07 mediawatch-uk has initiated a new petition, that theoretical restrictions on violence and bad language on TV actually be enforced. Please sign it!
Their new book on the subject can be seen as a pdf here; their full publication list here.
From CNews: At the mediawatch-uk conference in April at Portcullis House, the organisation's director John Beyer made a hard-hitting speech in which he drew drew attention to some of the scandalous material finding its way on to television. He reminded those present of the letter published in the Daily Telegraph in September 2006 signed by 100 experts and academics warning that children are exposed 'via the electronic media to material that would have been considered unsuitable for children, even in the very recent past'.
Mr Beyer set his remarks at Portcullis House into the context of regulations, such as the EU Television Without Frontiers directive, which in Article 22 requires member states to take appropriate measures to ensure that television broadcasters ... do not include any programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral health of minors, in particular programmes that involve pornography or gratuitous violence. He went on to remind those present that Ofcom's Broadcasting Code states, in Clause 1.1, that 'material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of people under 18 must not be broadcast'. Mr Beyer said: 'Of course these are fine sounding words but over time they have been rendered meaningless, more so, by the rush to sweep away constraints in an era of light-touch' regulation. mediawatch-uk has campaigned for many years about television because it comes directly into the home, where there is normally a feeling of security and safety and where sensibilities are relaxed. For this reason it can have a huge influence on attitudes and behaviour as well, of course, as to properly inform, educate and entertain. We have consistently campaigned against glorified, fictional violence in programmes because, as our founder the late, great Mary Whitehouse CBE said more than 40 years ago, 'If you constantly portray violence as normal on the television screen it will help to create a violent society'. Of course we welcomed the clause (2.4) in the Ofcom's Broadcasting Code saying that 'programmes must not include material which ... condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour', but it is evident that it has 'been, and continues to be, ignored by broadcasters, and the regulator has made no real effort to enforce it.'
Dr Aric Sigman, author of the book 'Remotely Controlled' said that watching television is now the industrialised world's main pastime, taking up more of our time than any other single activity except work and sleep. According to the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board in January 2004, by the age of 75 the average Briton will have spent more than twelve years of their lives watching television. 'The average six-year-old will have already watched for more than one full year of their lives. When other screen time is included, the figure is far higher. Children aged 11 to 15 spend 55% of their waking lives, 53 hours a week, seven and a half hours a day watching TV and computers, an increase of 40% in a decade. More than half of three-year-olds now have a TV set in their bedrooms,' he said.
Dr Sigman warned: 'The biological sciences are fast becoming the new arena for examining the effects of society's favourite pastime. And in industrialised societies the findings are set to re-cast the role of the television screen as the greatest unacknowledged public health issue of our time. Research by the American Academy of Paediatrics shows that children who watched television at ages one to three had a significantly increased risk of developing attention problems by the time they were seven. For every hour of television a child watched per day there was a 9% increase in such problems.'
Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, outlined his involvement in coordinating their work with parents, teachers, police and industry to protect children whilst they are online. He informed the conference of the success that had been achieved by putting pictures of the most wanted known sex offenders on their website and how they had involved children and young people in tackling the problem of child abuse by producing a short movie on the subject. He supported the Government's education programme through the thinkuknow.co.uk website initiative and mentioned all CEOP's faculties including Harm Reduction, Intelligence, Operations, Partnerships and Child Protection and went on to outline all that they have learned and achieved. Dr Sigman's paper is available at: www.iob.org/downloads/1260.pdf Find out more about Mr Gamble's work at: www.ceop.gov.uk [mediawatch-uk]
For mediawatch-uk's press release, see here.
Discussion: this continues a discussion from 'Catholic Mom of 10'.
Hullo, Zeno, a latecomer to this discussion I don't think anyone has addressed your central point (at least to your satisfaction): why should the state allow itself to get involved financially with schools founded to promote a particular set of beliefs and values?
The historical answer: the state wanted to ensure free education for all, at a time when free or very low cost education was already being provided for the great majority by various charitable and church establishments. It would have been absurd to found new shcools and close all the old ones down, so they did a deal: the existing schools got state funding if they agreed not to charge the pupils. So this great array of grammar schools, charitable schools and church schools carried on teaching, you might say as subcontractors for the government. But they remained independent institutions, and when the government decided to prevent the Grammar Schools - some dating back to the 16th C - from selecting by academic criteria, in the 1960s, some left the 'maintained' sector, and became, once more, 'independent'. The exact terms of the agreement have varied over time, and perhaps they are different in England and Scotland, but the details aren't important.
So the Government still has this problem: they can't be too rough with the Church schools becasue they'll lose them. Those of us who think it was a Faustian bargain in the first place might regard that prospect with pleasure, and perhaps Zeno and I would agree on that. But the bargain had obvious advantages for both the state and the Churches at the time.
But that's not the fundamental thing. The matter of principle here is whether it makes sense for the Government to spend taxpayers' money on schools with a specific ethos. The main answer to that is that it is impossible to avoid doing so. There is no school with no 'ethos'; there are no value-free schools. Education itself is a value, and each subject has to be taught from some point of view or other. At the moment the government is tying to force the most dreary politically correct brainwashing on pupils: every Shakespeare play is an idictment of some kind of oppression; French is all about the evils of racism; Geography is loaded with critiques of capitalism and development theories. But while I'm sure we can agree that this ham-fisted stuff is contrary to values of the love of learning and truth which should be at the heart of education, as I say no presentation of Shakespeare, or Geography, or French history and culture, can avoid taking a view about values.
And that is the fundamental problem with the NSS agenda: it is incoherent. When the NSS's oponents say they don't want their children indoctrinated with secularism as a substitute religion, this is why: because a school which avoids religious values will be based on some kind of alternative values. It has to be. Simple as that.