Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reenage pregnancies and abortions


From SPUC: At least 20 girls aged under 16 in Britain get pregnant every day and most abort the child. The government has spent millions of pounds on trying to cut teenage pregnancy yet its own figures show no decrease. Professor David Paton, an economist at Nottingham University Business School, noted that the abortion rate among under 16s had increased in recent years. Areas which the government had commended for providing birth control to children had some of the worst teenage pregnancy rates. Family Focus called for: "... realistic education and empower[ing] youngsters to know how dangerous and foolish underage sex is." [Telegraph, 31 December] The government said it would halve under-18 pregnancies between 1998 and 2010. In 2004 it missed its target for that year. A children's ministry spokesperson said: "[I]t is vital for young people to be armed with the information that will lead them to make good choices in resisting pressure to engage in sexual activity." [Daily Express, 31 December]


Graglia against Feminism: 22

A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.

From Domestic Tranquility, p311.

..the cultural views of our affluent opinion-makers who jettisoned traditional bourgeois morality have contributed to the demoralisation and impoverishment of our underclass. When these affluent opinion-makers traduced traditional marriage and morality and lived together without marrying and then they destigmatized illegitimacy and defended single-motherhood, their own children may have paid the price in psychiatrists' offices and in posh drug rehabilitation programs for the wealthy that became a growth industry. But when the underclass mirrored the abandonment of traditional morality, the price their children have paid was to remain mired in poverty and crime.

[a woman's] choices must always be informed by the warning of studies showing that "a child living with one or more substitute parents was about one hundred times more likely to be fatally abused than a child living with natural parents" and that children under ten were between "thiry and forty times more likely to suffer abuse if living with a stepparent and a natural parent than if living with two natural parents."


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 21

A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.

From Domestic Tranquility, p280.

A free market economy requires the energy and initiative of an individualist who is an entrepreneur who takes responsibility for his actions, is willing to take charge and take chances and has the courage to make his own decisions, acting if necessary, without the security of peer group approval. We once fearlessly described this person as "a real man" ... it is precisely these qualities...that make men less suited to work in a bureaucratic environment.
   It is male individuality, exuberance, and aggressiveness that must be most stringently curbed and disciplined to meet the requirements of bureaucratic success. Bureaucracies are more hospitable to the effete, androgynous make who fits the feminist mold of manhood.

   It is our traditional bourgeois families, say the Bergers, that are "the one great obstacle against an all-embracing bureaucratization of life", the one means of producing "autonomous, independent-minded individuals" fit for an entrepreneurial rather than a welfare-bureaucratic society. Confirmation of their analysis comes from the many studies of the children who were raised under communal conditions in the Israeli kibbutz system and developed personalities and value systems that "are emphatically collectivist and conformist".


Monday, December 29, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 20

A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.

From Domestic Tranquility, p244.

...prostitutes, who in earlier times provided "normal", "ordinary" sex, have been replaced in that market by ordinary women whose services are relatively costless. ... Some indication of the degree to which ordinary women have replaced prostitutes appears from the situation in Paris, where about 20,000 persons now serve as prostitutes, and many of these are men. In 1890, when the population was one fifth of its present size, Paris was served by 100,000 prostitutes.
  Thus have young women been convinced to play the whore for their male peers. In the United States today, an adolescent high school male can find at the desk next to him a young girl equipped by their high school clinic with the latest birth control device ready to provide him with the sexual services that, in an earlier time, he would have received, if at all, from a prostitute. The "soaring pregnancy and abortion statistics on many campuses across the country" that Thomas Sowell has deplored confirm the condition of sexual servitude to which our sexual revolution consigned the best educated segment of our female population. And just as liberated female sexual revolutionaries replaced prostitutes by creating a competing market of free sex, it should not be surprising if they shared the prostitute's dearth of sexual pleasure.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 19

A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.

From Domestic Tranquility, p237.

...the provision of affection and physical pleasure for both husband and wife were part of the marital relationship... There has been no time in the history of civilisation when this cultural knowledge completely lost, though it may sometimes have been obscured. And even then as in the Victorian era, the obscurity was more apparent than real.
   No grounds exist that would justify feminism's appropriation of the sexual revolution as a means to acquaint women with the possibility of sexual fulfillment or to resurrect women's sexual passion.
   Rather, the attempt [by feminism] to imitate stereotypical male sexual activity - sex without the magic and mystery of romance - entailed sexual relationships in which nothing counted but the orgasm. At the same time, the casualness of these couplings was inconsistent with female ... satisfaction...


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Graglia against Feminism, 18

A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.

From Domestic Tranquility, pp198f.

As Richard Posner accurately observes, the "freer women are sexually, the less interest men have in marriage." Sexual permissiveness and readily available abortion are, therefore, always contrary to the interests of women who would choose to devote themselves to home and family rather than market production. This was initially no matter for regret by women who subscribed to the feminist teaching that marriage and children were simply impediments to their career goals. An increasing number of these women, however came to realize that careers cannot replace marriage and family. For some, this insight came too late...


Friday, December 26, 2008

Teenage girls forget to take the Pill

Briefing. This fact is the reason the government is so keen on 'long term' contraception, such as injections and coils, despite the health risks associated with them - and the fact that the coil is unambiguously a abortifacient.

From SPUC: The UK family doctors' body says prescription-free birth control pills will not cut teenage pregnancy because girls forget to take them. Dr Sarah Jarvis, women's health spokeswoman for the Royal College of General Practitioners, recommends implants and coils instead. [BBC, 24 December] Hormonal birth control, including pills, implants and coils, can cause early abortion.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pope opposes militant homosexuals' 'gender theory'

Briefing: this is the theory that gender roles - including parental responsibilities and sexual roles - are matters of convention, and can be changed. It is promoted by militant homosexual groups to justify gay sex, gay marriage, gay adoption and the attack on the family. Note the absurd but threatening reaction of the spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (see our dossier on its 'Catholic' caucus): if you criticise our ideology, we will accuse you of violent homophobia. (The LGCM has already described the Pope as a homophobe) In a follow-up article, the BBC is also able to quite Mark Dowd, until recently Chair of Quest, the dissident 'Catholic' Gay group, now at the environmentalist group 'Operation Noah', as saying the comments betrayed "a lack of openness to the complexity of creation".

The Holy Father also called for an end to the depiction of World Youth Day as a kind of 'rock festival'.

From the BBC: Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
He explained that defending God's creation was not limited to saving the environment, but also about protecting man from self-destruction. The Pope was delivering his end-of-year address to senior Vatican staff.

His words, later released to the media, emphasised his rejection of gender theory.
Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurred the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race.

Gender theory
Gender theory explores sexual orientation, the roles assigned by society to individuals according to their gender, and how people perceive their biological identity. Gay and transsexual groups, particularly in the United States, promote it as a key to understanding and tolerance, but the Pope disagreed.

When the Roman Catholic Church defends God's Creation, "it does not only defend the earth, water and the air... but (it) also protects man from his own destruction," he said. "Rainforests deserve, yes, our protection, but the human being ... does not deserve it less," the pontiff said.
It is not "out-of-date metaphysics" to "speak of human nature as 'man' or woman'", he told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican's sumptuous Clementine Hall. "We need something like human ecology, meant in the right way." The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage. It teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are.

Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of Britain's Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, described the Pope's remarks as "totally irresponsible and unacceptable". "When you have religious leaders like that making that sort of statement then followers feel they are justified in behaving in an aggressive and violent way," she said. 

'Rock festival'
The pope uses his traditional end-of-year speech to offer his Christmas greetings and say a few words about what he considers the important issues of the day. This year, Pope Benedict also deplored the tendency to depict the Catholic church's World Youth Day, which he attended in Sydney earlier this year, as mere spectacle. He stressed that the event should not be considered a "variant of modern youth culture, as a kind of ecclesiastical rock festival with the Pope as the star," but as the fruition of a "long exterior and interior path".


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

UN battle over 'gender identity' discrimination


From C-Fam: By Piero A. Tozzi

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) Two dueling declarations were presented today at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on the controversial subject of “sexual orientation and gender identity.” The first, submitted by the French-led European Union (EU) and signed onto by roughly 65 nations, called upon member states to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected non-discrimination categories and “to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties.”

Nearly sixty nations, principally from the Islamic world, sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, presented an alternate statement which warned against the attempt to create “new rights” or “new standards” by “misinterpreting” the non-discrimination clauses of long-established human rights instruments. The alternate declaration condemned “all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatization, prejudice, intolerance and discrimination and violence directed against peoples, communities and individuals on any ground whatsoever, wherever they occur,” while defending the ability sovereign nations to enact laws that meet the “just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare.”

The counter statement emphasized the danger of introducing terms “that have no legal foundations in any international human rights instrument,” such as “sexual orientation,” which “where never articulated nor agreed by the general membership.”

After the dueling statements were read in the GA’s morning session, a high level panel discussion on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” chaired by a representative from the International Lesbian and Gay Association, weighed the effect of the French-led declaration and considered next steps. Rama Yade, France’s Junior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights who announced in September that her country would push the sexual orientation declaration at the UN, was among the participants. Other supporters included the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

Though both declarations were non-binding and neither was voted upon, homosexual rights activists were quick to portray the French/EU declaration as a victory. Speaking at the high level discussion, Dutch homosexual activist and parliamentarian Boris Dittrich called the declaration a “historical event” and a “step forward in the decriminalization of sodomy laws.” Yade echoed this, stating that the “final objective was universal decriminalization,” and vowed that the French/EU declaration was “just a starting point and not an ending point.”

Critics anticipate that the non-binding declaration will reappear in a more permanent form, perhaps as a General Assembly resolution to be voted upon. They also see the French/EU declaration as implicitly advancing radical social policy goals contained in the Yogyakarta Principles, a non-binding statement pushed by certain members of UN treaty compliance committees and civil society. EU government sources told the Friday Fax that a reference to the Yogyakarta Principles in an earlier draft was deleted in order to maintain consensus.

The United States was to issue a statement deploring violence based on sexual orientation. A constituency had emerged within the State Department in favor of the French/EU proposal, but intervention by pro-family advocates ensured that the United States did not sign on to it.

Russia, Belarus, and the Holy See made separate statements critical of the French-EU initiative, independent of those nations that signed onto the alternate declaration.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Vatican: no MAP for rape victims

Briefing. The question of giving the Morning After Pill to rape victims is complicated by the claim that it can prevent ovulation. Depending on the rape victim's cycle, the claim is that it could be used licitly not to cause an abortion or prevent implantation, but to prevent conception in the first place. (Preventing conception resulting from rape is legitimate, since the act of sex was not consented to. What is forbidden is intending an act of sex which is contracepted.)

The ruling of Dignitas Personae addresses one particular aspect of this debate - whether it might be legitimate to prevent implantion: 'no', because it is an early form of abortion - and Bishop Sgreccia appears to be ruling out the MAP entirely. We agree with Bishop Sgreccia: since the action of the MAP is usually abortion (if there is any possibility of conception taking place), not only is it highly risky taking it after rape if one regards avoiding causing an abortion as a priority, but it causes scandal for a Catholic institution to hand them out even in restricted circumstances. In fact the situation for Catholic hospitals in the USA is that they are being asked to hand them out without restrictions.

From SPUC: Some Catholic hospitals in America provide morning-after pills to women who say they have been raped. The practice reportedly happens in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Washington state and Wisconsin. Dignitas Personae says that seeking to prevent a human embryo's implantation, which the pills can do, is generally the same as intending to perform an abortion. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, former head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has told LifeSiteNews that there are no exceptions to the ban on morning-after pills. [LifeSiteNews, 17 December] NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts asked for such pills at 70 hospitals in the state and were refused by two Catholic institutions. This is reportedly against local law which requires all hospitals to provide morning-after pills to women who allege rape. [CWNews on EWTN, 16 December]


Channel 4 unrepentant about morning Sex Ed show


From the Daily Mail: Channel 4 has been hit with a string of complaints over a 'disgusting' sex education series screened at a time when young children could be watching.

KNTV Sex, described by the channel as the 'alternative guide to sex education,' goes out at 11am on weekdays. Aimed at 14 to 19-year-olds, it covers issues such as masturbation, sexually-transmitted diseases, fetishes, bisexuality and homosexuality.

It was among the most controversial programmes on Channel 4 last month, attracting 100 complaints from viewers. One said: 'I cannot believe that C4 would put such a disturbing programme on the air at 11am. The programme is not teaching anything except that sex is something amazing that you should do - it's absolutely disgusting.'

John Beyer of TV pressure group Mediawatch UK said: 'I think there are questions of compliance and how this show works with the broadcasting codes and the protection of children. Ofcom needs to look at this.

'The trouble is that Channel 4 just do what they want to do.'

Norman Wells of Family and Youth Concern said: 'Once again Channel 4 is seeking to push back the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable material for daytime television. The last thing children and young people need is another TV series that trivialises and cheapens sex and divorces it from any moral context.'

The complaints come not long after a row over another pre-watershed sex education series on Channel 4.

The Sex Education Show, which was screened at 8pm, sparked more than 200 complaints and led to accusations that the broadcaster was 'peddling obscenity' before the 9pm watershed.

KNTV Sex combines animation and comedy clips taken from TV shows.

It is presented by the animated characters Kierky and Nietzsche, two teenagers from the fictional country of Slabovia, which is described as the 'last communist state in Europe'.

Topics covered on the show include Operation Penis and 'amazing sex facts'.

A Channel 4 spokesman said last night it 'takes a new approach to dealing with important issues around sex and relationships education for a teenage audience'.

He added: 'This series is based on information and advice from both sexual health charities and teachers. There is no explicit imagery and the content is suitable for the morning schedule.' [Mail]


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ray Bourgeous excommunicated for support of women's ordination

Briefing. This is important because it shows that the discipline of the Church is still being exercised, and the claim that women can and should be ordained is regarded as extremely serious. Since numerous dissident 'Catholic' groups in the UK support the ordination of women, many with varying degrees of clerical support, this is very relevant.

From CW News: An American priest has evidently been excommunicated because of his active support for the ordination of women, and his participation in ceremonies simulating ordination. Father Ray Bourgeois received a warning from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in December, informing him that if he did not recant his position supporting women's ordination within 30 days he would face excommunication; the Maryknoll priest replied that he would not change his stand. The Maryknoll Society has now confirmed that the Congregation has contacted that its leaders 'did receive a confidential communiqué from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and forwarded the contents of that communiqué to Father Bourgeois.' Although the Society refused to discuss the contents of that message, citing confidentiality, a spokesman confirmed to the National Catholic Register that since the 30-day period had passed, it was logical to assume that the sentence of excommunication had been imposed. [CWNews]


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Don't fund formerly Catholic adoption agencies

Action: watch out in Clifton, Southwark, Arundel and Brighton and Portsmouth: they will be asking for your money at the back of church for adoption agencies that no longer follow the teaching of the Church. As Cardinal O'Brien said, the adoption of children by homosexuals makes them "guinea pigs in some distorted social experiment" (see here). But the bishops in these dioceses actually want you to fund this experiment. Letters from locals to the bishops and the CDF would be good to.

From the Catholic Herald (via CFNews): Parishioners' money to fund lost adoption agencies. Four dioceses are planning to hold collections to raise money for former Catholic adoption agencies which have cut ties with the Church to comply with new homosexual rights laws, it emerged this week.

The dioceses of Southwark, Arundel and Brighton and Portsmouth will continue to support the Cabrini Children's Society, formerly their joint Catholic Children's Society, despite having cut ties with it earlier this year.

Clifton diocese will also seek to support its adoption agency in spite of a split with the Church.

The adoption agencies severed ties so they could conform to the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) which will come into effect on New Year's Day. The law requires the agencies to assess same-sex couples as adopters or foster parents.

The bishops resigned as trustees and relinquished control of the society earlier this year.

The Cabrini Children's Society is listed in the 2009 Catholic Directory and also appears under the diocesan collections section of Southwark's directory for the next year. Both the Lenten alms collection and the crib collection at Christmas will go to the society, which is described as "a regional social care agency".

The directory says "the society relies almost entirely on the generosity of our Catholic supporters for voluntary income".

Clarifying the diocesan position, the directory said that no Catholic funds would be used for adoption work.

Canon Martin Lee, the Southwark diocesan financial secretary, said: "The bishops decided that they would put the interest of the children first before all other considerations, so rather than close down the children's society they wanted it to continue to provide services to children with disabilities, in schools and for people with other needs which we want to see continued.

"There are also the many Catholic families which have contributed to the society and have adopted children and who use the services it provides who have an interest in keeping the society alive."

Canon Lee said he would continue to sit on the advisory committee of the agency and be able to safeguard funds for non-adoption services.

The Clifton Children's Society, formerly the Catholic Children's Society, also continues to be advertised in churches around the diocese after Bishop Declan Lang and Mgr Gabriel Leyden resigned as trustees in 2006. Although the agency had cut ties with the diocese when the SORs were passed two years ago, the diocese has continued including it in the diocesan directory.

A spokesman for the diocese said: "Clifton Children's Society remains a separate charity to the Clifton diocese. The society continues to function with the paramount best interests of children at its core. The bishop has had no role on the board of trustees of the Clifton Children's Society for several years."

The cases are likely to cause anger among some Catholics who object to the Church surrendering control of the adoption agencies and then continuing to fund them.

According to the religious discrimination lawyer Neil Addison, a diocese can legally collect for any charity as long as it does not wrongly suggest that it is collecting for a Catholic charity.

Mr Addison has been critical of the apparent willingness of some agencies to break from the Church. He has argued that there is a legal route which would allow the agencies to remain Catholic and conform with the law. He has also questioned the legality of such agencies using funds donated for Catholic purposes. [Catholic Herald]


Friday, December 19, 2008

Cherie at the Angelicum

Briefing. Don't read this before breakfast - it is nauseating.

From LifeSiteNews: On Friday morning, at a lecture at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome, Cherie Blair (shown, left, offering a condom to press photographer) said that as a lifetime practising Catholic, 'it would be rather strange if I didn't adhere to the teachings of the Church' and that although she may have 'difficulties' with the Church's teaching on artificial contraception she upholds the principle of the right to life.

She admitted, 'I am on the record as having had difficulties with accepting the current [Catholic] teaching of responsible parenthood,' but added, 'there is a real danger in this debate if we ally contraception and abortion as the same and the Church needs to engage in this issue properly.'

Despite asserting her adherence to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, however, pro-life leaders pointed out that neither in her speech nor in the brief question and answer session following did Mrs. Blair repudiate or explain her support for the UK's leading abortionist organisation, the Family Planning Association. Neither did she explain her support for International Planned Parenthood or the UN's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a leader in the movement to legalise abortion around the world.

On her website, Mrs. Blair writes, '(CEDAW) is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. Reproductive rights' is a euphemism in wide use in the U.N. that includes abortion on demand.

Gwen Landolt, National vice-President of REAL Women of Canada and a frequent key particticipant in UN and other International life and family initiatives, was dismayed on hearing of the very positive reception Mrs. Blair received at the Angelicum.

Landolt told LifeSiteNews, 'That indicates how little respect they (Angelicum conference attendees) have for the integrity of the pro-life and pro-family cause if they can find Mrs. Blair as someone to adulate or admire.' Landolt explained that Blair 'does not practice her faith. She backs Planned Parenthood, she's pro-abortion, she believes in contraception. Those violate fundamentals of the Catholic faith.'

Blair, a human rights lawyer and the wife of the UK's former Prime Minister Tony Blair, himself a strong advocate of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, claimed that the assertion by pro-life advocates of her dissent from Catholic teaching on contraception and abortion are merely an inexplicable 'misunderstanding' maliciously generated by 'misleading' articles on the internet.

John Smeaton, the director of the UK's Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said, 'We fear that the conference may well have been stage-managed so that Mrs. Blair did not have to explain her track-record of endorsing pro-abortion organisations, enabling her and others to bubble-wrap her dissent from Catholic teaching.'

Her comments came at the end of her speech in which she criticised the Catholic Church for what she characterised as its failure throughout its history, until the 20th century, to become involved with the development of wider recognition of human rights. She said that women in the Church are under-represented in leadership roles, asking rhetorically what the Church would be like if 'half of all Curia posts' were filled by women.

She was unambiguously defended by Fr. Bruce Williams, a professor of moral theology at the Angelicum, who, speaking from the floor, said he believed that Mrs. Blair is in conformity with Catholic teaching. 'It was crystal clear to me at least,' Fr. Williams said, 'that you see abortion as morally repugnant and that you are in line with the teaching of the Church.'

Fr. Williams' went on, saying that the reason he was paying 'special attention' to her remarks on human life, was that 'the way you came across was decisively contrary to the way you have been pictured recently by a number of websites that describe you as pro-abortion and anti-family and which protested against our university giving you a platform.

'What you have just said inclines me all the more to think that those accusations were at the very best rash, if not outright calumnious, and I regret that you were subjected to that.'

Blair professed her innocence of being pro-abortion and praised the Angelicum for going ahead with her appearance, despite conference organisers having received hundreds of messages asking that it be cancelled. Her appreciative audience of nuns, seminarians, lay students and faculty laughed and applauded when she concluded, 'I'm very pleased that this university was confident enough in the Catholic message not to be put off by assertions about me. I'm not Miss Perfect, that's for sure, but I really don't think I have horns and a tail.'


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bishop Conry rejects the teaching of the Church

Comment: in a staggering interview with the Catholic Herald, Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton lays out his stall.

-Talking to young people about sin and salvation is a bad idea because they don't understand it (and whose fault is that?)

-Frequent confession is a bad idea because people doing it don't instantly shed their habitual sins (so how should they tackle habitual sin?)

-A group asking for the traditional Mass must be a 'sizeable group in a parish', and should not go regularly to a Sunday traditional Mass (in flagrant contradiction to the authoritative interpretations of the Motu Proprio by Rome - and indeed the plain meaning of the text)

-The teaching of Humanae Vitae on contraception is not infallible.

Developing the last point, Bishop Konry tells us that the only infallible statement in Catholic teaching is the creed (he doesn't say which one). This is the clearest contradiction of Church teaching in the interview: it dismisses the power of General Councils of the Church to teach infallibly (when they issue 'anathemas', condemned statements), as well as the infallibility of the Pope, exercised for example in proclaiming the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the Assumption of Our Lady in 1955. See the Catholic Encyclopedia on Inffallibity.

The whole thing is breathtaking. Here are some gems:

On preaching the gospel to young people:
"You can't talk to young people about salvation. What's salvation? What does salvation mean? My eternal soul? You can only talk to young people in young people's language, really. And if you're going to talk to them about salvation, the first thing they will understand is saving the planet."

On the Traditional Mass:
"I've had two requests, one from a guy in Horsham who said 'can we have the 1962 Latin Mass in Horsham?' And I said according to the terms of Summorum pontificum you can't because first of all it can't become a regular Sunday Mass, and there must be a request from a 'stable group of people'.
"Well, we can't translate the Latin accurately, 'stable' means a sizeable group in a parish, it doesn't mean you get 50 people from all over Surrey to come together in Redhill and say 'we're a stable group in Redhill' - no. It's not the site, it's where they come from. You can't come to gather at a place and say 'we're a stable group'."

...the Pope will say: 'Have it, but not as part of your standard Sunday repertoire.'"

On confession:
Is it a good idea to go to Confession regularly? "No, because my own experience when we had Confession every day at St Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham was that regular penitents came back with exactly the same words week after week. So there you would say, actually, there is no conversion taking place."

On Humanae Vitae:
But is the teaching itself wrong? "It could be. It's not an infallible teaching. Clearly the basic Creed formula, what the Church teaches about the sacraments is infallible but there's only been one strictly infallible statement."

So in a sense it's a matter of opinion? "Well, it's... It is."

See some comments on the liturgical aspects of the interview from Fr Z here.


Damian Thompson: how not to blog

Comment: last week Damian Thompson published some leaked, confidential documents relating to internal discussions in the Latin Mass Society, and supplied commentary on them which turned out to be erroneous. Yesterday he quoted from a leaked early draft of a report about Muslim schools by the thinktank Civitas, including items which were removed from the final draft, which Civitas had to ask him to take off the blog. 

What these two posts have in common is that, first, they have clearly damaged the source of his information (the LMS and Civitas), but, second, Thompson is supposed to support the aims of these organisations. He is always banging on about the Traditional Mass and the dangers posed by the growth of the Muslim community and its institutions. While it is understandable - if perhaps not legal - for bloggers to quote damaging leaks from organisations they do not like, Thompson appears to be equally happy to do it to organisations which are are on his side. This isn't so much irresponsible as just nuts.

Why does he do it? Presumably for the sake of readership numbers. In other words, he is acting like the worst kind of tabloid journalist: going for sensational stories with no regard either for accuracy or the consequences of his actions.

This blog has picked up a great many stories from 'Holy Smoke', and we have probably contributed to those readership numbers. We hope that his many readers will nevertheless understand the reality: Damian Thompson is not a crusading journalist exposing the truth, but an egomaniac whose desire for publicity sometimes leads him to uncover things which should be uncovered - but equally, sometimes damages the very causes he espouses.

This is a lesson which should be learnt by all Catholic bloggers: think before you post!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blair: it would have been a 'palaver' to convert while PM

Briefing: it has proved too much of a 'palaver' for Tony Blair to convert at all - even though he went through the ceremony of reception into the Church.

From the BBC: Tony Blair has been explaining his decision to delay converting to Roman Catholicism until after he had resigned as prime minister.
He said it would have been a "palaver" if he had acted while in office.
In a BBC interview, Mr Blair denied suggestions he had delayed the decision out of fear it would be harder to be prime minister as a Roman Catholic.

See the full story here.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Condoms for children

Briefing: a 'dog bites man' story but it still shocks people. What's happening in your school? Wake up!

From the Daily Mail: Teenagers as young as 13 are being offered free condoms at school without their parents' knowledge.

All 'non-faith' secondary schools in Manchester have agreed to let their nurses hand out contraceptives and give advice about sex.

And the service could 'in principle' be offered to children aged 11 and 12 - although council sources say any evidence that children of that age engaging in sexual activity would trigger an investigation.

See the full story.


Archduke Henri of Luxembourg loses his veto

Briefing. What a contrast with our own Queen!

From The Independant, in part: The people of Luxembourg stripped their beloved monarch of his political powers today after he tried to veto a bill that allows for the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Grand Duke Henri, ceremonial ruler of Luxembourg's 470,000 inhabitants, provoked an unprecedented crisis in the sedate territory two weeks ago when he refused to sign the law, apparently for reasons of conscience.

Henri is a devout Catholic. The hereditary monarch's powers are largely nominal but, under the Grand Duchy's constitution, no new legislation can come into force without royal assent. Until a fortnight ago, no member of the dynasty had ever challenged the parliamentary process.

See the full story here.

A constitutional amendment approved by parliament yesterday limits the monarch to announcing decisions of parliament, in effect, muzzling the Grand Duke but the move has provoked a debate about the monarchy's future.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

HFEA challenged for illegal actions

Update: the case against the HFEA has been thrown out: see here.

Briefing (09/09/08)

From CFNews: On the 8th of April 2008, the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) filed papers seeking judicial review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) decision to grant licences to Newcastle University and King's College London to use animal-human hybrids.

The legal challenge is on two grounds. First, CLC and CORE are arguing that the HFEA acted beyond its powers when it granted the licences because the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 does not permit licenses for the creation of animal human hybrids. Secondly, the 1990 HFE Act provides that licences cannot be granted unless the HFEA is satisfied that the research is necessary or desirable for one of a number of specified purposes and the HFEA is satisfied that any proposed use of embryos is necessary for the purposes of the research.

The CLC and CORE are arguing that the proposed techniques are unnecessary and undesirable as a result of technical advances and that the proposed techniques do not work and raise new scientific problems which will make the research meaningless.

There is no legal internal process either in the 1990 Act or in the new Bill for interested persons to object to or appeal against the grant of a license and ask for reconsideration. In view of this lack of public accountability, the only way of challenging the HFEA's decisions is by way of judicial review.

The CLC and CORE have to be granted leave to proceed to a judicial review hearing. They are also applying for a protected costs order so that the court can decide whether to impose a limit on costs paid to the HFEA, if the challenge is unsuccessful. Please pray. [Christian Legal Centre]


Saturday, December 13, 2008

New bio-ethics document from the CDF

Briefing: The Vatican has issued an important new document on the ethics of IVF, freezing embryos and so forth: Dignitas Personae. Read about it on John Smeaton's blog here. Anyone thought that the Church was about to change her teaching on IVF will be very disapointed. The 'adoption' of embryos is also condemned - this is a practice which did not exist when the last major document on this topic, Donum Vitae, was published back in 1986.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Prayer for life

Action: please join in prayer to end abortion. The Good Counsel Network is showing how it is done: they have a chapel of their own and have Masses said regularly for their counsellors and the mothers and babies they are trying to help.

See John Smeaton for more.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cherie Blair at the Angelicuim: update

Briefing. The protests have had an effect: the authorities will hesistate to invite such a speaker again, and Mrs Blair's views have become much more widely known.

From Lifesitenews: Despite heavy criticism the invitation still stands for Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and a prominent pro-abortion public figure, to speak at a conference on women's rights at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome.

Sr. Helen Alford, the conference's organiser, has issued a form response defending the choice to invite Blair to many of the hundreds who have contacted her expressing their dismay at the invitation, saying, 'By inviting Mrs. Blair, we, as a faculty of social sciences, are following the example of the Pope's own social sciences institute, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.' Sr. Alford noted that this body had invited Mrs. Blair to speak to its 2006 plenary assembly.

She added that after Blair's speech, 'as a spontaneous act of kindness,' Pope Benedict XVI received her in a private audience. 'She was invited to speak in an academic capacity and was received by the Pope on that basis. Obviously, in doing so, neither the Vatican as a whole, nor the Pope personally, was in any way endorsing a pro-abortion point of view, and neither are we.'

Since broke the story last week, the uproar in the Catholic world over the invitation has attracted the attention of British secular media outlets including the Daily Mail and the BBC. Sr. Alford told the Mail on Sunday that she was surprised at the response but that there was 'no question' of cancelling the engagement. 'We have received more than 200 complaints saying Mrs. Blair is not living out the teachings of the Catholic Church, despite saying she is a Catholic.

'There is no question of the talk being cancelled but I never expected such a backlash.'

Sr. Alford did not return calls or emails from by deadline. But her response, sent to the Eternal Word Television Network in the US, among others, has only added further fuel to the fire.

Joanna Bogle, London-based Catholic writer and broadcaster, criticized the University's decision, saying, 'There is no reason whatever why Mrs. Blair should speak at a Pontifical University. The Church can draw on many excellent women speakers with superb credentials to tackle issues concerning women's rights and freedoms - it is absurd to invite instead some one who passionately supports organisations promoting abortion.'

'She (Blair) honoured the 75th anniversary celebrations of Britain's Family Planning Association [FPA] … as the special celebrity guest,' observed Bogle, 'cutting the celebration cake and being photographed brandishing a condom.'

Bogle pointed out that neither the FPA nor Planned Parenthood do any other work than promote abortion and contraception, 'so she wasn't helping them with other projects.'

'They don't make quilts or serve tea to the poor, or teach mathematics or help Auntie with the housework ... they promote abortion and contraception: that's what they were established to do, and that's what they do, and when Mrs Blair raises funds for them she knows that what the funds are for.'

Many have taken exception to Sr. Alford having used as an excuse the action of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, saying that the Vatican's was an error that should not be reproduced by a Pontifical University.

John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, wrote, 'It was not justified of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to have invited Mrs Blair to speak in 2006, nor is it justified of the Angelicum today.'

'Let us suppose,' said Smeaton, 'that, in the 1930s a lawyer had hosted, celebrated and endorsed organisations which promoted, performed and/or demanded the killing of Jews. Would it have been right for Catholic universities and academies to have invited such a lawyer to be a featured speaker?

'There is no moral difference between the killing of Jews and the killing of unborn children. Whatever the views of the Angelicum, the Angelicum's invitation to Mrs Blair to be a featured speaker implies that the killing of unborn children is less morally significant than the racist killings of born people.'

As for Blair having been received 'as an act of kindness' by Pope Benedict, many commenters and bloggers have pointed out that at the time, 2006, Mrs. Blair was the wife of one of the most important leaders of the western world. Smeaton wrote, 'Whom the Pope meets in audience is an entirely separate matter. Everyone knows that any Pope must meet a wide range of prominent public figures in order to carry out effectively his pastoral ministry and diplomatic role.'

A spokesman for the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education told that there has been quite an 'uproar' over the issue and that, although the Cardinal Prefect and his secretary declined to comment, his office had received many communications about it from concerned Catholics.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Data on late abortions withheld by the Government

Briefing: they are deeply embarassed about the number of abortions for footling, correctable 'disabilities' such as cleft palettes and club feet, following the publicity such cases gained thanks to Joanna Jepson.

From the Sunday Telegraph, via CFNews: Ministers fight to keep late abortions secret. Late abortions of "less than perfect" foetuses are the subject of a secrecy row with the Government.

It centres on mothers who opt for termination because their unborn babies have been diagnosed with conditions such as club foot and cleft palate. Doctors say such conditions can usually be corrected by surgery.

The Information Commissioner has ordered the release of the figures, but the Department of Health is resisting, claiming that disclosing the data could lead to women who have late abortions being identified.

While abortion is only legal in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy if carried out on social grounds, "Ground E" of the 1967 Abortion Act makes it legal to abort a foetus which has a serious risk of physical or mental abnormality, right up to birth. There are continuing concerns that the law is being flouted to weed out "less than perfect" babies.

Health chiefs stopped publishing full abortion data three years ago after a public outcry over the termination of a foetus with a cleft palate at 28 weeks' gestation. The legality of this late abortion, carried out in 2001, was challenged by a Church of England curate, Joanna Jepson, who was born with a congenital jaw defect.
In 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring any charges against the NHS consultant, who publicly confirmed that he carried out the procedure, and another doctor.

Ministers were sufficiently worried by the prospect of further complaints - which they argued would invade the privacy of doctors carrying out terminations and women having abortions - to strictly limit the publication of the figures.

From 2005, official abortion statistics were "suppressed" if fewer than 10 cases were carried out. This in effect meant that abortion details on babies with club feet, webbed fingers and toes, or cleft lips and palates, disappeared from public view.

The last year for which data were fully available, 2002, showed that five foetuses were aborted because they had deformed feet, and a sixth because of a cleft lip and palate. In 2000 and 2001, nine foetuses were aborted because of cleft lip and palate, while a further two were aborted for cleft lip alone.

During 2007, a total of 1,900 abortions were carried out under Ground E and of these, 648 were late abortions, after 20 weeks. A total of 125 foetuses were aborted for musculoskeletal disorders, which may include club feet, with 13 of these cases over 24 weeks gestation.

Figures on cleft lip and palate were combined with deformities of the eye, ear, face, neck and skin to reach a total of 88 abortions in these categories. No further breakdown was given. A number of these foetuses were aborted after 24 weeks but the figure is suppressed.

Information about the number of abortions carried out for cleft lip and palate, and club feet was requested by the Pro-Life Alliance using the Freedom of Information Act.

When the DoH refused to release the figures, the case was referred to the Information Commissioner, who ruled in favour of the campaigners.
The DoH's appeal against the commissioner's decision will be heard by the Information Tribunal, at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £40,000.

Ministers have been accused of "heavy handed" tactics by seeking to bar the Pro-Life Alliance from attending the tribunal, using a legal procedure designed to curb the rights of terrorist suspects.

A DoH spokesman said last night: "It is not the case that counsel for the Department implied that allowing the ProLife Alliance to attend raised issues were on a par with a terrorist threat to national security. No such suggestion was made. This hearing concerns data from which individuals might be identified. The purpose of the tribunal is to adjudicate on whether this data should or should not be released to the Pro Life Alliance. Giving access to the data to the Pro Life Alliance during the course of the hearing defeats the purpose of the hearing itself.

"In order to help the Tribunal understand the highly sensitive nature of the information in this case we wish to be able to make free and frank disclosure of the data which the Pro Life Alliance have been seeking to be published. However, we consider it crucial that there is no public disclosure of this information in advance of a decision from the Tribunal. For this reason the Department of Health has requested that all or part of the hearing is heard in private." [Sunday Telegraph]


Monday, December 08, 2008

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor: soft religious persecution in the UK


From the Sunday Telegraph, via CFNews: Britain has become an "unfriendly" place for religious people to live, according to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who claims that the rise of secularism has led to a liberal society, hostile to Christian morals and values, in which religious belief is viewed as "a private eccentricity" and the voice of faith groups is marginalised.

The cardinal warns that Britain shows signs of degenerating into a country free of morals, because of its rejection of traditional values and its new emphasis on the rights of the individual.

There are now "serious tensions" between Christians and secularist society, he says, in which atheists are becoming more "vocal and aggressive".

Writing in a book on multiculturalism, to be published tomorrow, the Cardinal argues that immigrants have a duty to adjust to British life, but expresses concern that they are faced with a culture that is increasingly repressive and intolerant. He says that while the country has become more diverse and pluralistic, the Christian values which have shaped its identity should not be abandoned.

The book, called Faith in the Nation, is published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), with the backing of the Prime Minister. In it the cardinal says: "Religious belief of any kind tends now to be treated more as a private eccentricity than as the central and formative element in British society that it is.

"Although the tone of public discussion is sceptical or dismissive rather than antireligious, atheism has become more vocal and aggressive."

Britain's most senior Catholic leader says that the "unfriendly climate for people of all faiths" has united the country's three major faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. However, he claims that Catholicism has borne the brunt of "liberal hostility" in its battles to fight for values it considers to be "fundamental pillars of a rightly ordered society".

"The vocal minority who argue that religion has no role in modern British society portray Catholic teaching on the family as prejudiced and intolerant to those pursuing alternatives," he says.

In particular, the cardinal highlights the Church's opposition to liberal laws on abortion and homosexuality, its defence of faith schools and its support for marriage.

He led the Church's unsuccessful attempt to block the controversial embryo Bill, which allows for saviour siblings and babies to be born without fathers.

The campaign raised questions over the role of religion in influencing public policy, but the cardinal argues that moves to silence the faith communities must be resisted.

"There is a current dislike of absolutes in any area of human activity, including morality," he says.

"The intolerance of liberal sceptics can be as repressive as the intolerance of religious believers. Catholics are not alone in watching with dismay as the liberal society shows signs of degenerating into the libertine society."

He blames the culture of individual rights, encouraged by the Human Rights Act, as responsible for creating a society that claims to be tolerant, but in fact denies the rights of religious groups to act according to their conscience and beliefs.

"British society champions tolerance and freedom, but that freedom is dependent on responsibility," he says.

"A simplistic belief that right or wrong is an individualistic construct denies our responsibilities to neighbour and wider society."

In the book, the cardinal says that the need for defining limits of tolerance is particularly clear in the debate over multiculturalism.

Guy Lodge, senior fellow at the IPPR and the book's co-editor, said: "Though many members of religious groups would not agree that they are subject to unfair or arbitrary discrimination because of their beliefs, there is some evidence that faith communities feel increasingly estranged from certain aspects of British culture."

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: "Secularists and atheists are finding it necessary to express their views more vocally because of the increasing demands made by Christians and minority faiths. The position of bishops and the Vatican on moral issues such as abortion and contraception is at odds with the views of people in the pews and in the country as a whole. We support the right of everyone to express their religion and their views in public but we have a problem with religion having a privileged place, as it does with bishops in the House of Lords."

In the book the cardinal says: "Immigrant groups have an obligation to understand, respect and adjust to the ethos of the society they are opting to join. Our society has a corresponding obligation to encourage and help them to do so."

Earlier this year, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested it was inevitable that Islamic sharia law would be adopted in this country. [Sunday Telegraph]  


Sunday, December 07, 2008

EnCourage speaks out on 'welcoming homosexuals'

Briefing: the EnCourage Trust is a support group for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction - one which actually uses the teaching of the Church as the basis for its work.

Further to CF NEWS report 1501.15 (Bishops encouraging priests to put up posters advertising 'support services' for homosexuals), this is a copy of a letter sent to the National Marriage and Family Life Project Office of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales by EnCourage London ('Our mission is to provide friendly and informal support based on traditional Roman Catholic principles to people of any Faith who struggle with homosexuality. Our purpose is to offer friendship and support; we are not in any way involved in the matter of sexual reorientation').

'I am writing to you as the co-ordinator of EnCourage in London.

First of all, I would like to offer you an article attached to this email by Father Paul Check, who is the director of Courage, on the issue of same-sex-attraction.

Secondly, I do not believe that your leaflet manifests an authentically Catholic understanding of the human person by characterising people who experience same-sex-attraction as being gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation.

Your leaflet is very disappointing.

EnCourage London.

The attached article reads as follows.

Courage and the Cross: The Problem of Same Sex Attraction

The Pauline year has given the Church the opportunity to meditate on the life and work of one her greatest saints. The fruits of St. Paul's apostolic labors are evident enough. But what made this man such a useful instrument in God's hands? What was the reason for his holiness? In answer, may I propose an episode recorded by St. Paul himself near the close of his second letter to the Corinthians. He reports that he was bothered by a "thorn", and that he begged the Lord three times to remove it. We do not know what this thorn was, and it really does not matter. Yet from the urgency of his prayer, we can surmise that this matter was gravely disturbing to Paul. Perhaps he believed that he could be a more effective apostle without it.

"Neither are your ways my ways," the Lord told the prophet Isaiah (55:8). Now, Jesus further specifies these words from the old covenant to Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). I believe that we find the secret of St. Paul's sanctity here in this passage. In the midst of his suffering, St. Paul discovers more of the wisdom and providence of God. Embracing Christ's admonishment, St. Paul then writes compelling words of strength and consolation: "When I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:10). There was no other path to holiness for the apostle, nor will there be for any of us.

Cardinal Newman said that we will always learn far more about the Cross of
Christ by bearing it after Him, rather than by glowing accounts of it. Jesus's
bride, the Church, knows this well in her being and through the lived
experience of her members. As the Cross united heaven and earth, so does it
unite human hearts to the pierced and wounded Sacred Heart. With a mother's
love, the Church offers the grace, mercy, and peace of her crucified and risen
Savior to a fallen and struggling world through her sacraments, her teaching,
and her apostolates. One such is Courage Apostolate.

Courage was founded in New York City almost thirty years ago to assist men and
woman who are afflicted with the thorn of same sex attraction (SSA).
"Encourage" is a ministry to their families. Today these ministries are
international and are endorsed by the Holy See. Members of Courage strive to
achieve not only external chastity according to the teachings of the Catholic
Church, but also interior chastity, or "chastity of the heart", as its founder,
Father John Harvey, OSFS, often says.

Prayer, Mass and Confession, Christian fellowship, and service to others are the
means to the goal. In addition, the spiritual fatherhood of the priest chaplain
of a local Courage chapter can help to address a "father wound", particularly
in the heart of a man. The apostolate seeks to foster chaste friendships among
its members. Above all, Courage desires to help men and women with SSA to
become saints, by aiding them to find God's grace in and through their human

Of course, much of the world does not regard the condition of homosexuality as a
weakness, let alone a cross or a way to holiness. Emotions and confusion make a
conversation about this topic difficult, even painful. We must also say that
rash judgment and severity are not the tone of the Gospel. The attitude for all
of the Master's disciples when approaching this question can be found in St.
Paul's example in 2 Corinthians 12. Humility, a docile spirit, and a
willingness to trust in God's providence dispose the heart to find strength in
weakness and to address charitably those burdened by the weakness. In trying to
follow the example of the Lord, Courage always desires to think in terms of
individual people and their needs, as opposed to the idea of homosexuality as a
cultural issue. St. Paul would call this putting on "the mind of Christ" (I Cor

The problem of same sex attraction is often vexing to those who struggle with
it, and it is not easily vanquished. Shame, loneliness, and a sense of
hopelessness are the enemies. With abundant charity, the Catechism of the
Catholic Church acknowledges that those who have homosexual tendencies are
many, and that this inclination "constitutes for most of them a trial" (par
2358). Often people with SSA also struggle with sexual addiction, drug or
alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety or other mental illness. This remains true
even in the places where sexual promiscuity is widely tolerated.

Men and women with SSA-perhaps up to 40% of them-may very likely have been the
victims of sexual abuse as a child. (This is good to keep in mind if a young
person claims to be "gay".) In many cases, they will say that as far back as
they can remember, they have "always felt different", or that they "did not
choose this". But St. Paul offers a way forward: "We know that in everything
God works for good with those who love Him" (Rom 8:28). In everything . . . in
every thorn.

Let's continue with some history, a definition of terms, and the origins of SSA
before turning to the question of morality. North Carolina State English
Professor R. V. Young points out that not until the late nineteenth century is
the word "homosexuality" accepted as a term of language intended to describe
the permanent condition of a fixed group of people, namely, "homosexuals". In
the language of the Greeks and Romans and in that of Sacred Scripture, the
vocabulary used was drawn instead from the action or the behavior. Young
suggests that this novelty allows the proponents of the sexual revolution to
control the terms of social discourse. While it is certainly true that we are
transformed by our actions, we can also agree that someone's identity cannot be
collapsed into his or her sexual appetite.

The word "homosexual" when used as a noun is ambiguous and so not helpful in
discussion. Does it refer to an involuntary attraction, to a chosen behavior,
or to a set of convictions? Furthermore, the psychological sciences indicate
that there is a wide spectrum of those who are attracted to members of the same
sex, in terms of the intensity of the sexual attraction. The Courage apostolate
then, prompted by Christian charity and sound anthropology, uses the
terminology "men and women with same sex attraction".

Where does same sex attraction come from? First, no scientific evidence
establishes the existence of a "gay gene". If there were a genetic explanation,
then in those cases where one identical twin has same sex attraction, so would
the other. As it happens, the simultaneous occurrence of SSA in such twins (who
have identical genes) is very low, perhaps as low as 10%. Beyond that, the many
well-documented cases of change in sexual attraction would also tend to
disprove a genetic (and therefore fixed) cause of SSA. Finally, as author and
researcher Dale O'Leary has remarked, same sex activity is always sterile, and
so it cannot be considered a neutral variance within the human population.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church properly states that SSA is "objectively
disordered" (par 2358). These words can at once be jarring and liberating. They
are jarring because they can be heard as a moral judgment of the person (which
they are not), as opposed to an assessment of the inclination as measured
against human nature. The desire to lie is objectively disordered, as are
desires to steal, to cheat, and to fornicate. When acted upon, these
inclinations will always be contrary to the good of the person as recognizable
by the prima gratia, the natural moral law, which is imprinted in the mind and
heart of everyone (cf. Rom 2:15). The words from the Catechism are liberating
precisely for this reason. Something inside the person with SSA tells him or
her that this desire does not accord with nature, and the voice of the Church
confirms his or her instinct.

So we return to the question of the origin or source of the problem. Same sex
attraction is a developmental disorder that is both treatable and preventable.
It indicates an incomplete character development likely based on the
convergence of several factors: temperament, environment, experience, and free
will. In other words, we are born male or female, but we learn and grow into
our masculinity or femininity through family and friends, acquaintances, and
other aspects of our personal and social history. What matters in every case is
how the person responds to these factors.

Some circumstances do recur when the profiles of many people with SSA are
studied: a broken or turbulent home, the child's alienation from the same sex
parent (e.g., the boy from his father) or even the perception of an
estrangement, a child's failure to integrate with same sex peers (especially
true for boys), and sexual trauma. What this means is that SSA is not first a
sexual problem, but a symptom or component of an antecedent problem, i.e., a
gender identity deficit, and traceable in large part to how someone reacts to
the foregoing situations. Something that should have happened in the
development of the child did not happen. In particular, the natural desire for
healthy relationships with persons of the same sex is frustrated or
unfulfilled. When this is coupled with other factors, particularly a sensitive
temperament, that desire may become eroticized.

So feelings of SSA or "being different", no matter how far back they are
perceived to be, do not constitute proof that someone was "born that way".

An awareness of these things helps us to identify children who could be "at
risk" and vulnerable to emotional hurt. Because the incidence of men with same
sex attraction is probably at least twice that of women with SSA, the
relationship between fathers and sons will always deserve special
consideration. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi from the National Association for Research &
Therapy of Homosexuality speaks of the absence of "shared delight" in the
childhood and adolescence of men with SSA, the mutual and regular enjoyment of
some activity or experience between a boy and his father that is otherwise part
of normal childhood. For example, many men with SSA lack hand-eye coordination
and as a result were spurned or the subject of jokes by their fathers or the
neighborhood boys because they could not play certain sports easily. Quite
simply, if a boy cannot throw a football very well, there are many other things
that he and his dad can do and enjoy together . . . but the initiative must be
the father's.

At the same time, a mother who is overly involved in the life of her son,
especially if she demeans the father in the eyes of the boy or tries to make
her son into a surrogate husband, will likely do harm to the development of the
boy's masculinity. That the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual activity
(as distinguished from the inclination) is gravely immoral is widely known, but
perhaps not widely understood. Perhaps it can be explained this way. Moral
philosopher J. Budziszewski writes that as individuals, we are "blessedly
incomplete", which is another way of saying that we are made for others. In the
case of spousal or conjugal love, the union of man and woman in "one flesh"
begins with the complementarity of the sexes, namely, that man is made for
woman and woman for man.

This complementarity is physical, of course, but it is also emotional,
psychological, and spiritual. Through their self-giving union of minds, hearts,
souls and bodies, the spouses first transcend themselves, and then their love
becomes incarnate-or transcendent- in a child. This is nature's plan for
marriage and sexual love.

It is a short step from separating procreation from marriage to separating
sexual activity from marriage, and then another short step to separating sexual
activity from nature's design. The widespread rejection of the teaching of
Humanae Vitae, which simply expresses the natural order for sexual love,
explains the ambivalence of many Catholics toward the Church's teaching on
homosexual activity or same sex unions. Neither our genes nor our environment
makes us do anything, and therein lies reason for hope.

A frequent temptation to anger, for instance, does not mean that someone must
yield to or indulge that prompting. St. Paul assures us that "where sin
increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom 5:20). Grace, perseverance, love
and the help of a therapist with a sound Christian anthropology can transform
the hearts of those with SSA. When Jesus says that the "truth will make you
free" (Jn 8:31), He is not so much imparting a theological principle as
reminding us what it means to be human. We need humility to recognize truth,
and we need the virtue of courage to live it. Freedom, strengthened and
purified by grace, makes it possible for any of us to turn the wounds and
thorns of life into the path to joy.

Regrettably, many people think that all that the Catholic Church offers to men
and women with same sex attraction is the word "no". Like all good mothers, the
Church does say "no" to the self-destructive and counterfeit pleasure of sin,
out of a sense of love for her children. Yet that "no" is embedded in a larger
"yes", a yes to Him who is Love, and who gave Himself to the Father and to us
from the Cross. The Lord asked St. Paul to find strength in his weakness
through the power of the Cross. The Courage apostolate expresses that same
redemptive paradox to men and women with same sex attraction and urges them to
trust in what they see in the life of the Master and His apostle.

[Rev. Paul N. Check is a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT and the
incoming Executive Director of Courage, International. He earned an STB from
the Gregorian University and an STL from the Athenaeum of the Holy Cross, both
in Rome. The Courage website is]


Saturday, December 06, 2008

FPA drums up abortion custom in schools with DVD

Local action: find out what your school is doing!

From SPUC: A British abortion provider has made a DVD aimed at schoolchildren aged 14 and above. The Family Planning Association's film has nine case histories of women and men involved with abortion. The association wants pupils who watch the disk to know that older women, as well as teenagers, have abortions. [Times Educational Supplement, 28 November] The scenarios on the DVD try to portray abortion as a sensible, altruistic decision, and arguments against abortion are not mentioned. Pro-lifers are demonised and teenage commentators argue that churches should not moralise. None of the young people in a scripted discussion supports the pro-life position. Prenatal development is not mentioned and the risks of breast cancer and trauma are dismissed as myths. The DVD promotes private abortion facilities even though it is supposed to be an educational tool. [John Smeaton, 4 December]

See John Smeaton's comments in full.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Dossier on Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair’s record on pro-life, pro-family and Catholic issues

There is irrefutable factual evidence or otherwise credible circumstantial evidence that Mrs Blair has:

publicly patronised international and domestic pro-abortion organisations
publicly supported homosexuality
publicly dissented from the Church’s teaching on contraception
implied a denial of the indefectibility of the Church (an infallible truth of the Catholic faith)
implied support for a change in the Church’s teaching against the ordination of women
has attacked the Church’s record on women
engaged in pagan rituals
supported her husband’s anti-life/anti-family government

She has publicly patronised international and domestic pro-abortion organisations

Mrs Blair has given public and direct endorsement of the work to the world’s leading promoter and provider of abortion, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). In July 2003, Mrs Blair hosted a private reception at 10 Downing Street (the prime minister’s residence) for IPPF’s “Lust for Life” campaign to raise £100,000 for IPPF [Catholic Herald, 1 August 2003]

IPPF endorsed the failed campaign to remove the Holy See from the United Nations: here.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 1999, Mrs Blair “visited the exhibition stand of IPPF, Population Concern and Marie Stopes International.” (IPPF annual report, 1999)

At the annual Labour party conference in September 2005, Mrs Blair celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Family Planning Association (fpa), the UK branch of IPPF, helping to cut a special birthday cake. This is when Mrs Blair offered a condom to the cameraman.

FPA endorsed the failed campaign to remove the Holy See from the United Nations, 'See Change'.

Mrs Blair has endorsed CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), specifically mentioning CEDAW's affirmation of women's so-called 'reproductive rights', which is both a technical term and a euphemism for abortion on demand. The CEDAW convention and the committee which implements it are the vehicles for one of the most radical pro-abortion campaigns ever. On Cherie Blair's website , in the section About this site, Mrs Blair writes: "This website is dedicated to the issues that concern me, to helping improve the position of women throughout the world by sharing information and by safeguarding and promoting human rights. At the heart of the website is the Women of the World section." On a page in the Women of the World section, Mrs Blair says: "The [United Nations] Convention [on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ... is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women". The page ends by linking to the CEDAW committee, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CEDAW convention. The CEDAW committee is notorious among pro-lifers for using the CEDAW convention to bully countries into allowing abortion. Most recently, the CEDAW committee issued a report calling upon the UK government to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland.Elsewhere on her website, Mrs Blair lists Human Rights Watch as one of the charities she supports. It should be noted that Human Rights Watch is one of the most radically pro-abortion international NGOs (non-governmental organisations).

“Cherie Blair is known as a dissenter. Britain’s first lady, who is herself a human rights lawyer, has views of the Catholic faith — even on matters of life and death such as abortion — that are profoundly at odds with the Church.” [interview by Edward Pentin, “A Dissenter Speaks After Meeting Pope Benedict”, National Catholic Register, May 14-20, 2006 ]

She has publicly supported the militant homosexual agenda

In a lecture to students at Harvard university, Mrs Blair described the US Supreme Court’s striking-down of the Texas law against sodomy as “a model of judicial reasoning”. [Scotland on Sunday, 31 October 2004]

It was reported that Mrs Blair attended the 10th anniversary celebration of Stonewall, the UK’s leading homosexual rights organisation. The celebration featured a performance by Elton John, world-famous for his homosexual lifestyle, who has recently accused the Catholic Church of being responsible for the deaths of AIDS sufferers and said that he would “ban religion completely.” The performance featured homo-erotic dancers dressed as Boy Scouts, in an apparent implied promotion of paedophilia: see here.

The Sunday Times reported that Mrs Blair accepted an invitation to the gay wedding (same-sex civil partnership ceremony) of anti-life MEP Michael Cashman, one of the first such ceremonies conducted in the UK, legalised by her husband’s government [Sunday Times, 4th December 2005]

In a 1998 case before the European Court of Justice, Mrs Blair represented a lesbian who had taken legal action against South-West Trains who had refused to grant travel concessions to her lesbian partner: see here.

She has publicly dissented from the Church’s teaching on contraception

"Women still do not get due respect in the Church which is why, in the opinion of many people, it gets some things wrong like its teaching on contraception." Mrs Blair quoted in the Daily Telegraph, 6 June 2005.

In 2005, Mrs Blair contributed an essay to the book “Why I am still a Catholic?”, a collection of essays from notorious dissenters from Catholic teaching, including notorious homosexuals and persons who have contracted invalid marriages and have therefore been barred from receiving the Sacraments: “Of course, like many Catholics in this country”, she said, “I have doubts about some of the positions taken by the Church as an institution - for example, on contraception or the role of women. But I am not one of those who believes that the only response is to walk away because you have a different viewpoint. I have been taught that you should stay and try to change things.”

In her autobiography, Mrs Blair said her son Leo had been conceived because she have her “contraceptive equipment” with her: see here.

She has implied a denial of the indefectibility of the Church (an infallible truth of the Catholic faith)

“The Church is a pilgrim Church. It has not yet arrived at its destination. It is not perfect.” [Tyburn Lecture: A Catholic Perspective on Human Rights , published in The Tablet, 21st June 2003, pp. 4-7.]

She has implied support for a change in the Church’s teaching against the ordination of women

“[I do] not have a theologically considered view on the question of the ordination of women — ultimately that is a matter for the Holy Father and the magisterium rather than the faithful to decide.” - thereby implying that the Church’s teaching on the subject (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994) is not definitive. [interview by Edward Pentin, “A Dissenter Speaks After Meeting Pope Benedict”, National Catholic Register, May 14-20, 2006]

“It may be that the implications of the radical equality proclaimed in Galatians and Vatican II (and now set forth in the civil law of the European Convention on Human Rights) will in time come to change perceptions on the role of women within the Church.” [Tyburn Lecture: A Catholic Perspective on Human Rights , published in The Tablet, 21st June 2003, pp. 4-7.]

She has attacked the Church’s record on women

“In my pre-Vatican II childhood, women were seen but not heard in the Church.” [Tyburn Lecture: A Catholic Perspective on Human Rights , published in The Tablet, 21st June 2003, pp. 4-7.]

She has engaged in pagan rituals

It is widely reported that Mrs Blair has engaged in new-age pagan rituals (Feng Shui, crystals, re-birthing), under the influence of a former pornographic model. [The Observer, 8 December 2002 ]

She has supported her husband’s anti-life/anti-family government

When asked at a press conference the hypothetical question of whether he and Cherie Blair would have been happy to donate spare embryos generated as a result of fertility treatment, Tony Blair replied: "For the first time in all the press conferences I have done, I am completely stumped for an answer." He then described it as a "very personal question". [Daily Telegraph, 23 November 2000]

Her husband not only led the most anti-life and anti-family government in British history, but himself voted for and otherwise supported abortion, destructive embryo research, euthanasia, contraception, same-sex unions and related evils. See here.

Why is she still being invited to speak at Catholic insitutions? This must stop.


Vatican refuses to sign pro-abortion UN treaty


From SPUC: The Catholic church refused earlier this year to sign a United Nations document on disability because it did not defend the unborn. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican representative at the UN, said he had not approved the text because it did not oppose abortion or defend the rights of disabled unborn babies. The Holy See also objected to an assertion of a right to "sexual health and reproduction" because that can include abortion. [Times, 3 December] The UN is immoral according to the Dominican Republic's leading prelate. Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, said the UN had proclaimed life as the principal human right since its foundation, yet it also promoted abortion. There was no need to be grateful to the UN for anything. His fellow citizens should tell those who would bring immorality to the country to leave. [Catholic News Agency, 3 December]


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cherie Blair to speak at Catholic Univeristy in Rome

Briefing. Will the shame never end?

From One of the most important institutions of higher learning in the Catholic world will host Cherie Blair, the adamantly pro-abortion wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, later this month. The Social Sciences faculty of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, known popularly as the Angelicum, is hosting Mrs. Blair at a conference on women's rights on December 12.

Cherie Blair, known professionally as Cherie Booth QC, is a barrister and popular speaker; she is also one of the most prominent of those public figures in Britain who claim to be faithful Catholics but who have a long track-record of actively promoting anti-life and anti-family causes, in opposition to Catholic teaching.

The website of the Angelicum conference says, 'As well as fighting for human rights in her professional career, Cherie Blair is an active campaigner on equality and human rights issues.' Blair has publicly supported such radical pro-abortion organisations as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Family Planning Association (FPA) UK and Human Rights Watch.

This year, in a statement, Cherie Blair endorsed the United Nations' Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), calling it 'the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women.' The term 'reproductive rights' is one commonly used to mean abortion on demand by the international population control movement.

Anthony Ozimic, political secretary of the Society for the Protection for Unborn Children (SPUC), said, 'It is deplorable that an abortion-promoter like Mrs. Blair has been invited to speak, not just at a pontifical university in Rome, but a conference on women and rights.

'What about the rights of the countless unborn girls killed because of the pro-abortion groups Mrs. Blair has endorsed? What about the countless millions of women suffering from post-abortion trauma?'

In 2003, while her husband was Prime Minister of Britain, Cherie Blair hosted a reception for International Planned Parenthood. The reception was intended to assist the organization with the 'Lust for Life' fundraiser, the proceeds of which would go towards IPPF's work providing contraceptives and abortion around the world.

Ozimic continued, 'Organisations associated with the Catholic Church (or indeed any group, religious or secular, opposed to abortion) should not invite Mrs. Blair to their events. I urge people to contact the Angelicum immediately to protest against Mrs Blair's invitation and demand it be withdrawn.'

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, head of the Rome office of Human Life International, told, 'It is quite surprising that a public figure, who calls herself a Catholic, who is on public record of being in favour of abortion, should be allowed to talk at a Catholic university.

'In this case, you have one of the best known of the Pontifical universities, but the same applies to every Catholic university.' Msgr. Barreiro also said that Catholics, especially English Catholics, should express their 'concerns and perplexity' at this visit.

A development of the medieval Studium founded by St. Thomas Aquinas himself in the 13th century, the University of St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the major Roman pontifical universities and as such holds a place of prominence as a training centre for clergy from around the world. The 'Thomist' school of theology founded by St. Thomas is paramount in the Catholic Church and the Summa Theologica, the great work of the saint, is regarded by many as second only to the bible as a source of Catholic thought. The university is still staffed by members of the saint's order, the Order of Preachers, called the Dominicans. 


Petition to Bishops of England and Wales on Sex Ed

Action: please sign up: here. The bishops appear to be ignoring both the teaching of the Church and the views of the faithful on sex education, in going along with Government plans to make it compulsory. They appear to want Catholics to sleep-walk into a situation in which they cannot even withdraw their children from sex education, regardless of how bad it becomes in their schools. The sex education offered in Catholic schools, with the approval of the Catholic Education Service, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the CES Chairman, and the Bishops' Conference, is already completely contrary to the guidlines given us by the Pontifical Council for the Family: for full information see here.

According to these, sex ed should 

NEVER be given to pre-pubescent children

NEVER be given in a class-room context

NEVER be given by agents other than parents, unless the parents are 'incapable' of doing this.

Information about sex should be given in response to questions from the child to a person the child knows and trusts at a time appropriate to child's unique level of development, which only a person close to the child - usually the parents - will be able to assess.


Catholic Herald survey on adoption agencies

Please take a moment to complete the short survey: you can find it here.

Here's the message from the Catholic Herald:

Dear Friend,

The Catholic Herald invites you to have your say on the issue of Catholic adoption agencies. We are working with ComRes, a professional market research agency, to collect your opinions.

You may be aware that the law requiring Catholic adoption agencies to comply with standard non-discrimination policies (particularly with respect to homosexual couples seeking to adopt) is about to take effect.

The Catholic Herald has been reporting on this issue and would love to hear what Catholics from across the UK have to say about it.

If you are willing contribute your views, which I hope will be the case, please click HERE to complete the questionnaire, which should take no longer than three minutes.

There will also be the opportunity to join a new survey research panel of UK Christians maintained by ComRes called Cpanel. Please do give positive consideration to joining Cpanel, so that the voice of Catholics can be heard more clearly in the public square.

Thank you in advance for taking part. If you have any queries please contact Phil Martin on 02073401418.

Yours faithfully,

Luke Coppen
Catholic Herald 


Graglia against Feminism: 17

A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.

From Domestic Tranquility, p193.
...denial of female preciousness well serves feminist goals. If women think of themselves and their children as precious, they will not as easily leave their children in surrogates care, make sacrifices in their family life, and develop a hard competitive edge--all prerequisites of success in the very demanding and often high-aggression-level careers that the women's movement encouraged women to pursue in competition with men and childless women. It was to erode their feelings of preciousness--to bring them down from their pedestals, as it were, and make them fungible with males--that the movement encouraged them to adopt male sexual patterns, to view abortion as a necessary and acceptable component of their equality, and to declare themselves willing to be drafted and endure the horrors of combat service with the rapes, injuries, and deaths this service entails.


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