Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Abortion and breast cancer: evidence of a link

Briefing. The article says "Pregnancy causes breast cells to grow and divide. An abortion interrupts this process, leaving large number of undifferentiated cells which are especially susceptible to cancer." It is interesting to note also the well-established negative link between breast cancer and breast-feeding (ie breast feeding makes cancer less likely).

From CFNews: Patrick Carroll's Research and the ABC Link Debate, by Colin Mason

Rates of breast cancer are skyrocketing in countries which have legalized abortion. But this suggestion--that abortion causes breast cancer--causes radical feminists, who are otherwise greatly concerned about breast cancer--to go into spasms of denial. This is why it is vitally important to the pro-life cause that the ABC link be investigated rationally, documented carefully, and presented convincingly. British statistician Patrick Carroll, who is Director of Research at Britain's Pension and Population Research Institute, has done just that in his new study, "Assessing the Damage," which was just published on October 25th of this year.

Some years ago, Carroll recognized that the U.K., because of the all-pervasive British Medical System and the public funding of abortions, has some of the most complete data on abortion, breast cancer, and other illnesses available anywhere. He used this data, which spans the 40 years since the legalization of abortion in 1967, to see if it showed any connection between abortion and suiicide, mental illness, and breast cancer in each of the U.K.'s four regions: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. He also looked at other medical sequalae of abortion, such as the level of mental illness and subsequent suicide rates.

According to official figures, the modal age for abortions in England is 20,
while the modal age for live births is 30. Women are marrying later, if at
all, and the proportion of pregnancies among unmarried women continues to
grow. Many of these women seek abortions. Of the 180,000 abortion in 2006,
100,000 were performed on women who had no prior abortions, while 80,000
were performed on women who have at least one prior abortion.

Carroll's study shows, as one might suspect, that mental illness is more
common following first-time abortion. As the number of first-time abortions
grows, so has antidepressant use. Thirty-one million prescriptions were
written in England in 2006, a nearly 10 million increase over the
21.3million written in 2001.

Most importantly, however, his study clarifies why there has been a radical
upswing in the incidence of British breast cancer since the legalization of
abortion. Rates of breast cancer have risen by an incredible 80 per cent
since the late seventies.

Carroll begins by noting that upper class women are more likely to
develop breast cancer and more likely to have abortions. "The social
gradient for female breast cancer is unlike that of other cancers with upper
class women having a higher rate of incidence than those from lower social
classes," Carroll writes. "As in other countries this is termed a negative
or reverse social gradient for female breast cancer . . British official
publications report on the social gradient but do not explain it in terms of
known risk factors."

This reverse social gradient for breast cancer is far too steep to be
explained by the fact that upper-class women are having children later in
life, when the risk for breast cancer is more severe. Rather, Carroll
explains, "upper class and upwardly mobile women are more likely to choose
abortion when they are pregnant and this helps to explain this otherwise
inexplicable social gradient. Upper class women tend to postpone
childbearing and have a later age at first birth. Abortions before full-term
pregnancies are the more carcinogenic nulliparous [first-time] abortions."

The results? After a judicious parsing of the data, Carroll concludes:
"Breast cancer can be considered a long term sequel to abortion."

Although the causes of breast cancer are not completely understood, it is
commonly accepted that hormonal changes play a large role. Pregnancy causes
breast cells to grow and divide. An abortion interrupts this process,
leaving large number of undifferentiated cells which are especially
susceptible to cancer.

The media in the U.K., not surprisingly, have not been kind to Carroll's
study and the British medical establishment has yet to comment. What can
they say, after all? The data on abortions and breast cancer come from the
government itself, and are not subject to "recall bias," or any of the other
shortcomings that normally afflict survey data. The argument is clear and

While Carroll ends by calling for further study, he also makes it clear that
he thinks the facts speak for themselves. "The correlation [between breast
cancer and abortion] is much higher than for other known risk factors such
as Childlessness, Age at First Birth and Fertility," he says. He goes on to
point out that "Modelling using abortion and birth rates as explanatory
variables has been used to make forecasts for eight countries for the future
incidence of female breast cancer."

When you can not only explain the past, but offer predictions of the future,
you are in possession of a very powerful theory indeed. We have long been
convinced at PRI that the abortion breast cancer link is fact. Carroll's
work should help convince all those who are not blinded by the ideology of

*Colin Mason is the Director for Media Production at PRI.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Last chance to stop hybrid embryos

Action: please lobby the Lords

From SPUC: The last chance for the House of Lords to stop the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology bill is currently scheduled for Monday 4 February. Peers will
be debating the use of human embryos in experiments. The Bill seeks, among
other things, to:

* extend the creation of embryonic children in the laboratory ('test-tube
* allow embryonic children to be abused and killed for a wider range of
research purposes
* permit the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos.
Over recent weeks, the Government and supporters of embryo research have
blocked all substantial efforts to lessen the evils of the Bill during its
passage through the Lords. Although it is unlikely that pro-life Lords will
defeat the Bill, a strong vote against it now will help and encourage MPs
to oppose the Bill when it goes to the House of Commons - probably in
mid-February. Many people wrote to the Lords in November asking them to
oppose the bill at second reading - this had great impact and helped
encourage pro-life peers in their opposition to the bill.

Please write to one or more Lords as soon as possible, urging them to move
for a vote against the Bill. You can contact peers from our page of
parliamentarians' email addresses:http://www.spuc.org.uk/lobbying/email/

You are free to write to any Lord(s) you wish. Please write to one or more
- as many as you can. The most important thing is to contact them soon, and
to urge them to vote against the bill at third reading.


MPs take aim at Bishop of Lancaster

Update: praise for Bishop O'Donaghue from the Vatican: he groundbreaking education document 'Fit for Mission', produced by the Bishop of Lancaster has received further praise from the Vatican. The document had previously been praised by the Congregation for Clergy. It has now also been singled out by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, as a "reliable resource for renewing the vitality of Catholic education in today's society". The cardinal commended Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue on behalf of the congregation for his "initiative and work done to strengthen the values inherent in the Catholic school". Cardinal Grocholewski highlighted the publication's "comprehensive" use of documents from the Holy See to support the Catholic ethos in schools on a diocesan level. The implementation of the Fit for Mission? Schools programme will be developed throughout Lancaster over the course of this year. The diocese's education centre will facilitate and co-ordinate further consultation and implementation of the action plan among primary and secondary schools, and colleges. The consultation will culminate in a diocesan conference in November 2008 to discuss the progress of the initiative over the year. Bishop O'Donoghue, currently on a pastoral visit to India at the invitation of the Syro-Malabar community, said: "I am absolutely delighted with the letter from Cardinal Grocholewski. "It is so encouraging to learn that Fit for Mission? Schools has been commended by the Congregation that has authority over all Catholic schools and colleges throughout the world." He added: "I see it as yet another sign that our efforts at Lancaster are moving in the right direction. "We are honestly trying to make our schools and parishes fit for mission - striving to communicate the Gospel with a freshness and energy to young and old." [Gabriel Communications]

Briefing 07/01/08. This quotation is very interesting:

The Observer quotes MP Barry Sheerman: 'A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be useful to call representatives of the Catholic church in front of the committee to find out what is going on,' he said. 'It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked. It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers' money after all.'

This is aimed at Bishop O'Donoghue's call for properly Catholic schools. We have explained before the absurdity of the state complaining that Catholic schools use government money: the deal was to make the huge network of Catholic schools free at the point of delivery with government funds to extend free education. The schools are owned by the Church, and the Church continues to subsidise them, and it's a bit late for the state to complain about it.

But the real point here is that Sheerman and his friends want to enforce doctrinaire secularism in all schools before the Muslims get state schools of their own. He is not really worried about Catholic fundamentalists. He's desperate not to distinguish between one religion and another, so he's kicking the Church to ward off Islam.

The whole Observer article is here. More on the very positive reaction to Bishop O'Donoghue's initiative from Fr Finigan here.


EU is anti-family, say European Catholic bishops


From C-Fam: By Maciej Golubiewski
A report just released by the European bishops calls on the European Union (EU) to focus on what they consider to be the real needs of families in Europe and further calls on the EU to respect national marriage laws of the member states. The report by the Commission of the European Bishops’ Conference (COMECE) entitled “Proposal for a Strategy of the European Union for the Support of Couples and Marriage” focuses on two fundamental problems that present “high emotional, social and financial costs to European society:” the continuing increase in divorce rates and the difficulty faced by young Europeans who decide to raise children.

The report says that in the field of matrimonial matters, “[national]
diversity has to be respected and family law is and must remain the sole
competence of member states.” The bishops found that some legislative proposals
of the European Commission for increased cross-border legal cooperation come
close to encroaching on the exclusive right of member states to make their own
family policy. Moreover, EU policy in the areas of employment, social
protection and poverty reduction ignore the importance of marriage altogether,
they said.

In the area of employment and social protection, the bishops make the case
that “loving and stable couples are a social capital for all Europeans” and are
“founts of mutual trust in society” as well as “the preferable instance for
bringing up children” and charge the EU with ignoring this. They call for EU
assistance in sharing European best practices regarding divorce prevention
programs such as communication training for high-risk couples, especially those
dealing with pressures of dual employment and separation due to increased
geographic mobility.

The bishops also took issue with the EU’s assumption that a dual-income
family is “a new social norm” among European citizens, arguing that some dual
earning households exist primarily for financial constraints. For that reason,
they said, EU should support and not discriminate single-earner families.
Staying at home to care for one’s children is “an important and welcome
contribution to the well-being of all citizens of the European Union,”
according to the report, which cites studies showing family break up as an
important cause of poverty.

As for cross-border legal cooperation in family matters, the bishops warn
that the EU’s legislative proposals exceed EU mandates by recognizing de facto
unions and registered partnerships. This could prematurely “entail common
recognition of such unions in a situation where member states do not provide
recognition for the legal aspects of such unions” and dangerously undermine the
importance of marriage as endowing parents with social and legal
responsibilities which otherwise do not exist, they said.

David Fieldsend, from the Brussels-based CARE Europe, said, “The Bishops’
paper is a timely and well-researched contribution to the debate that is at
last being aired at the EU on family matters. For too long talk of the family
has been taboo while all sorts of fringe agendas were embraced with enthusiasm.
Now the demographic crisis has forced the EU’s leaders to sit up and take


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Families penalised by the tax system

Briefing. This isn't the first study to state this obvious fact, and it probably won't be the last.

From EVNews.: The Daily Telegraph reports today that married couples in Britian with one partner earning are paying a much higher proportion of tax than families in other western nations, according to a new report to be released on Tuesday by Christian Action, Research and Education (Care). According to the Telegraph the study will reveal that couples with one earning parent, two children and average annual earnings of £30,800, pay 40 per cent more tax in the UK than in other major industrialised nations. Using data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Care has found that the tax burden on a one-earner married couple with two children earning 75 per cent of the average wage has trebled since the 1960s.

"Among highly developed economies, the UK is almost alone in operating a tax system that ignores spousal obligations," Care said.

Click here for article

(Source: The Daily Telegraph, 21/01/08)


Monday, January 21, 2008

Progressio/CIIR: Dossier

Formerly the 'Catholic Institute for International Relations', 'Progressio' takes its name from Paul VI's 1967 encyclical , Populorum Progressio. (It seems to be less keen on the same Pope's more famous 1968 encylcical, Humanae Vitae.) The shift from an explicitly Catholic name to one which can be defended as making an obscure Catholic reference is characteristic of many organisations which were founded to be Catholic, but are no longer. The website does not claim that Progressio is a Catholic organisation, but that 'Progressio combines a heritage of radical Catholicism and secular thought' It clearly wishes to milk its Catholic association to influence the Catholic Church: it works with self-described, but dissident, 'Catholic' groups; it discusses Catholic teaching, etc.. It is even listed in the national Catholic Directory of England and Wales, implying some degree of complaisance on the part of the bishops. It would like to have it both ways.

Progressio's approach, rather like Catholics for a Free Choice, is to present exactly the same agenda as a host of liberal organisations, but in some sense from 'within' the Church, thus undermining the Church's stand against many elements in that agenda. Also like the CFFC, it gets almost all of its money (£4.3m last year) not from Catholic groups or individuals, or indeed any individuals, but from the Government (64%) and a roll-call of liberal development agencies, including the abortion supporting Comic Relief. Someone should tell the few Catholics involved, like the Franciscan Priory of Woodford Green, where their money is going.

The undermining of the Church's teaching takes the form not so much of CFFC-style public denunciations, but of attempts to persuade Catholic leaders, especially bishops, and sponsoring dissent by Catholic priests and theologians. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, an advocate of condoms, spoke at their 2002 AGM. Among their publications is a dissenting tract on AIDS by two 'Christian theologians' (see here); a tract on feminist theology by the notorious Catholic dissident Tina Beattie; and a defence of
the 'liberation theology' movement condemned by the Vatican.

In its practical work Progressio supports 'sexual and reproductive rights', a euphemism for abortion and contraception, as well as supporting other organisations which do the same. It's 'partners' do the same, some staking allegiance to liberation theology.

It promotes the implementation of CEDAW (see this Word document), the UN treaty which uses the notion of 'women's rights' to force Catholic countries to legalise abortion.

On condoms and AIDS, they have this to say:

CIIR and the teaching of Catholic Church

  • In cases of a pandemic such as HIV/AIDS the issue is about life or death. Any moral analysis has to go beyond personal sexual relations and understand the wider context of the life and death challenges and the unjust power relations between men and women.
  • The Church insists that pastoral care and support of people with HIV/AIDS must be done without judgement or prejudice. Of course, CIIR supports this.
  • CIIR notes that sexual responsibility, fidelity and chastity are values in Church teaching which are important elements in a holistic approach to tackling HIV. Respect within relationships and mutual responsibility both contribute to greater equality, assisting in reducing HIV infection.
  • The concern about church teaching on condom use has moved the focus of the debate away from these underpinning values and fails to recognise power and gender inequalities.
  • CIIR recognises that in certain circumstances the use of condoms is a life-saving option. An informed use of condoms should not be discounted.
  • We, like many others, do not consider this position to be counter to Church teaching. There is a plurality of views from church leaders and thinkers about the role of condoms and CIIR welcomes the debate. Examples include:
  1. Church teaching includes an acceptance of a secondary effect (for instance in the use of the contraceptive pill to regulate menstrual cycles although also having a contraceptive effect is acceptable).
  2. Church teaching includes the concept of the lesser of two evils (in this instance death/condom use).
The two arguments at the end can be answered briefly:

1. Contraceptive devices used for non-contraceptive uses may be permissible, but:
a) The condom-pushers in developing countries simply hand them out as useful for both ends.

b) The promotion of condom-use promotes the social acceptability of contraception.

c) The promotion of condom-use promotes the very sexual immorality which spreads AIDS.

d) Most importantly, it would be insane as well as immoral for a possibly infected person to use a condom simply to prevent infection, because they are not 100% effective (estimates vary between 75-95% for their prevention transfer of the virus between partners: used regularly, this is effectively an effectiveness of zero).
As Monsignor Michel Schooyans of the Pontifical Academy for Life and also Social Sciences said in an interview in June 2006. "...one can ask oneself if it is truly an act of love for an HIV-positive to have relations with a healthy person. Like a sufferer from tuberculosis, from pulmonary plague orcholera, an HIV-positive knows that he can infect his partner. So if one really loves someone, one is going to avoid his running the risk of death. And it is well known that condoms are not reliable, that the percentage of ruptures is sometimes fairly high.
In morality the principle of the lesser evil is very simple. It consists of saying that when one is confronted by two inevitable evils, one must choose the lesser of these two evils. It is almost a question of good sense. As an example, let us revert to the case of condoms. To have relations with an HIV-positive and trying to protect oneself with condoms, is not something inevitable. There is always the freedom to have or not have this type of relations." (Interview by Arianne Rollier Rome June 2006)

2. Contraception is intrinsically evil, which means that it is not possible to use a 'lesser of two evils' argument. A Catholic may choose to amputate a leg to save a life; he may not choose to murder (or suggest that others murder) the innocent to save any number of lives: amputation is not intrinsically evil, murder is.

Paul VI addressed this very argument when he stated the Church's teaching in Humanae Vitae 14:

Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good," it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

The wider question is whether promoting condoms, rather than abstinence, in countries with an AIDS problem actually helps. In The Spectator (p.28.14th May 2007). Dr. James McEvoy of Yale University Chemistry Dept, refers to the recent review of the subject conducted for the (not notably conservative) UNaids programme. This report concludes that: "the public health benefit of condom promotion remains unestablished. In countries like Uganda that have curbed generalized epidemics, reducing the numbers of individuals' sex partners appears to have been more important than promoting the use of condoms." McEvoy concludes that 'the Catholic Church's recommendations in Africa, however irritating they might be for many Europeans, are therefore medically correct.'


Romans support the Pope

Briefing: the people of Rome made a magnificent statement of support for the Pope following the action by militant students and professors at La Sapienza University which led to his cancelling a speaking engagement. Between 100,000 and 200,000 turned out for his Angelus address in St Peter's Square, spilling over into the surrounding streets.

Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Human Rights used against Christianity


From CFNews: The Catholic Families & Human Rights Institute reports from New York that a prestigious human rights journal has just published an in depth article exposing how the promotion of abortion on demand by so called human rights 'experts' is destroying the very concept and credibility of human rights in Europe.

Samantha Singson writes : 'In the latest issue of the International Journal of Human Rights, Jakob Cornides of the European Commission finds that nations have naively 'handed over too much power to self-styled 'human rights experts'' which is seriously damaging, perhaps even destroying, the credibility of the concept of human rights. In his in-depth article entitled 'Human Rights Pitted Against Man,' Cornides carefully analyzes two recent examples of how European bureaucracies are overstepping their mandates and pushing a pro-abortion ideology using language, supposition and selectivity to usher in a right to abortion by 'the backdoor.'

Proponents of a right to abortion relied on 'obfuscating and denying reality, inventing and distorting reality' and the manipulation of human rights language precisely because it is so unlikely that a new treaty recognizing abortion as a fundamental human right could ever be adopted, Cornides argues. 'Instead of saying that they want to impose new laws (like abortion on demand) on society, they pretend that international law obliges them to do so, and that the new laws they are making represent the true and original sense of the relevant Conventions,' he explains.

Cornides examines in detail the case in which the European Parliament and Commission called on the unelected advisory body Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights to interject during bilateral negotiations between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See. The Network criticized a provision in the draft agreement whereby medical providers could opt out of performing abortions as a matter of conscience. In an opinion rendered in December 2005, the Network argued that allowing a conscientious objection clause violates international obligations such as the right for individuals to access healthcare. The result, according to Cornides, is that 'it is no longer those practicing abortion who are under suspicion of violating human rights, but those not willing to partake in the act.'

In another case, the European Court of Human Rights found Poland guilty of violating Alicja Tysiac's right to respect for private life when medical experts denied her request for an abortion, finding insufficient basis for her claim that the pregnancy might exacerbate her preexisting eye condition. The Court did not find that the decision of the doctors to sanction the abortion was unlawful, but that Poland did not have procedures in place to overturn it.

Cornides calls into question the competency and legitimacy of the European bureaucracy to intervene in the human rights domain. He points out that the Network, composed in 2002 by the European Union, does not even have the authority to monitor any specific measures adopted by an EU member state when the issue falls outside the scope of the EU Treaty.

Cornides concludes that abortion is merely one area where genuine human rights are manipulated by bureaucracies overstepping their mandates, and warns that similar dynamics are found in the abuse of human rights to advance broad homosexual rights, euthanasia, and cloning.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

'Will Your Grandchildren Be Catholic?'

Briefing: a long article in the current Catholic Herald notes the launch of a booklet by Daphne MacLeod, former headteacher and chairman of Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice, on the corruption of Catholic catechesis in Catholic schools.

The booklet doesn't seem to be available online but you can contact PEEP about it here and read a version of it here.

From the Catholic Herald (in part): ...teachers are forced to use poor textbooks that are approved by the diocese because if they do not they are branded "troublemakers" or even sacked. Diocesan advisers write the textbooks and are also responsible for inspecting schools so they can fail them if the approved textbooks are not used, Mrs MacLeod argued. She said these failed to teach the faith and accused the bishops of England and Wales of "completely abdicating their responsibilities in this area."
"It is no exaggeration to say modern catechetics is destroying the Catholic Church in this country", she said. ...
"The Catechism was dead on arrival in this country as it was in many others... The ceaseless flow of expensive RE schemes either ignored it completely or paid mere lip-service to it," she said.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Hybrids bill: ammendment fails; HFEA already licencing hybrids

From SPUC: An attempt to ban the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos failed last
night when the House of Lords rejected Lord Alton's amendment to the
British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill by 268
votes to 96. The bill allows research on hybrid embryos for 14 days after
their creation. The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of
Winchester spoke in favour of the amendment, as did Lord Tebbit. [BBC, 15
January] The group Christians Concerned for Our Nation held a
demonstration outside parliament during the debate. In his blog, SPUC's
John Smeaton today writes: "It's now all the more important that
pro-lifers contact Peers to urge them to vote against the Bill at third
reading which could be as early as the 28th of this month." [SPUC Director
blog, 16 January]

From Christian Concern for Our Nation: HFEA grant licences for human-animal hybrid embryos The fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, have taken the controversial step of granting licences to two research centres to create human-animal hybrid embryos. The democratically elected House of Commons have not yet voted on whether or not such research should be legal, and are expected to do so in the coming weeks. The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and Comment on Reproductive
Ethics (CORE) are considering whether to bring a legal challenge against the


James Macmillan: no more grovelling to secularism

Briefing: a very good article in this week's Catholic Herald by the composer James Macmillan. Big hat-tip to the New Liturgical Movement.

"It is not just in the liturgical sphere that we see a new impatience with the comfy laxness of the previous generation. For many years successful professional Christians have sought to ingratiate themselves with their liberal secular associates by playing down the parts of the Church’s teaching that caused most offence. Nevertheless there was more at stake here than just their incorporation into trendy sophisticated company.

Secular liberals have gladly gobbled up all these concessions and now want more – the complete obliteration of religion from public life. In the process liberal Christians have lost the respect of their secular peers. They gave no indication of intellectual rigour or ethical integrity in their eagerness to ditch bits and pieces of the faith. Their faith has been caught in a cruel light – their Christianity is bland, sentimental and anaemic.

History will look back unkindly on the generation of Vatican II Catholics who were handed such a precious pentecostal gift of grace – a unique opportunity to purify the Church, only to squander it disastrously. They bent over backwards to accommodate the zeitgeist, rather than open a generational heart to the Heilige Geist...

We can begin with the liturgy. Nothing signals the weakened state of the modern Church more than the contemporary practice of Catholic liturgy in hundreds of churches throughout the land. A breath of fresh air is wafting through St Peter’s, and in his own gentle way Pope Benedict is inviting the universal Church to taste the beauties and spiritual sustenance of true Catholic worship. I am convinced that from the liturgy everything else will flow."

Full article here (but only this week).


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Catholics for a Free Choice: Dossier

Catholics for a Free Choice, a pro-abortion group, is part of a tightly networked group of organisations promoting abortion around the world; they recently took part in an international pro-abortion conference in London. The role of CFFC in this group is to undermine the opposition of the Catholic Church to abortion, by suggesting that the Church is not united on the issue, may be about to change her teaching, and so on.

The pro-contraception campaign by leading liberal theologians in the late 1960s and 1970s shows that when internal dissent reaches a certain pitch (and determined leadership from the Pope is lacking), bishops can lose the will to keep pushing an issue. If every time they open their mouths on an issue, they are attacked by 'Catholics' holding prestigious positions in 'Catholic' universities, household name 'Catholic' politicians etc., understandably they become reluctant to do so, and the Church's teaching disappears from public debates. This is what the CFFC would like to achieve with abortion; happily, however, their strategy has been an almost complete failure, thanks to the fact that the extreme pro-abortion position they advocate is far beyond what even the most 'liberal' Catholic theologian or politician could subscribe to, with a very few exceptions. Liberal Catholic politicians, for example, continue to claim 'personal' opposition to abortion ('every abortion is a tragedy, but I don't think the state should make it illegal': this seem to be the position of Ruth Kelly); they know that to support abortion on demand, and to say that abortion is actually a 'good thing', simply puts them outside the Church in public perception (as well as reality). Everyone knows the Church is 'against abortion', even if they know nothing else about her. CFFC has the unusual distinction of being formally condemned by the US Bishops' Conference (May 2000); the Catholic Bishops of Brazil have just followed suit (March 2008).

Another spectacular failure was the CFFC's 'see change' campaign, intended to oust the Vatican from the United Nations. This failed to gain any traction in the international community.

CFFC remains dangerous, however. The media can always go to them for a 'Catholic' voice to counter the pronouncements of Church spokesmen, which lessens the perceived force of the Church's teaching. The CFFC constantly claims that 'ordinary' Catholics are not opposed to abortion, and that the Church's teaching is imposed from above by a clericalist, male, hierarchy out of touch with the real world. And their enormous resources, from the liberal charitable trusts in the United States which support all the pro-abortion groups, give them the ability to make a media impact, and sponsor court cases, out of proportion with their level of support. These resources also seem to attract the usually rather amateurish Catholic dissident groups; many Catholic feminist websites link to CFFC, as does 'We Are Church'. In this way CFFC helps to create a network of mutually supporting dissident groups (most of whom are single-issue crackpots, however).

They are planning a UK campaign. They are determined to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, and to prevent the Scottish Parliament gaining control over abortion in Scotland. They want to neutralise pro-life voices like that of Cardinal O'Brien of Edinburgh, and distract attention from successful Catholic pro-life initiatives like the the late Cardinal Winning's, run by the Sisters of the Gospel of Life.

The arguments they use. (See also our comments on a recent press release.)
1) Abortion is supported by the laity, but opposed by an oppressive male hierarchy.
Answer: the pro-life movement is lay-led and has often felt frustrated by the lack of support from the hierarchy. Often bishops prefer a quiet life. Practicing Catholics are overwhelmingly against abortion.

2) The Church is about to change her stance on abortion; after all it is inconsistent to allow women to have treatment for cancer which endangers the life of a foetus, and not allow abortion.
Answer: pro-abortion dissent within the Church is extremely rare, as noted: it is a lunatic fringe. The Church's position on life-saving treatment of pregnant women which endangers the life of the foetus is long-standing (it was expressed with great clarity in the 19th Century), consistent (this is not action with the intention to kill the foetus) and is not about to change. The unchanging teaching on abortion was restated infallibly by Pope John-Paul II in Evangelium Vitae 62 (1995):

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine-I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

3) The Church is obsessed with abortion and sex-related issues. She is failing to get her 'positive' teaching across.
Answer: CFFC is far more obsessed with abortion than the Church. The link they make with sexual morality is interesting. Abortion is necessary, in their view, to guarantee women's immunity from the consequences of an immoral lifestyle; in the Church's view, abortion is simply the killing of the innocent. The killing of millions of unborn babies every year is a major issue of justice, and warrants the attention the Church accords it.

4) Abortion is necessary as a form of public health provision; it should be provided in Northern Ireland as everywhere.
Answer: it is not part of health care to kill infants in the womb. The proposition makes no sense.

5) Without 'safe, legal' abortion, there is simply backstreet abortion.
Answer: either backstreet abortion is extremely safe, or legalisation vastly increases the number of abortions. Pro-abortionists can't have it both ways; the statistics for abortion-related deaths and complications before and after legalisation don't support it.

6) Abortion is necessary for women's rights, equality, justice.
Answer: abortion hurts women.

CFFC's weaknesses.
All pro-abortionists hate initiatives to give women genuine choice: telling them the facts, offering them counselling, telling them about alternatives to abortion, and giving them material support to keep their babies, like Cardinal Winning's initiative. This exposes the hypocrisy at the centre of the 'pro-choice' argument. They don't want choice: they want abortion. They want abortion because of their commitments to eugenics (against the disabled and against the poor), to population control, and to a militant feminist rejection of family life.

CFFC in particular has to maintain the impossible fiction that its leaders and supporters are 'Catholic' (few, if any, go to Mass; they have no grass-roots membership to speak of), while simultaneously claiming that the Catholic Church is a force for evil in the world, ought to be ejected from the UN, from her role in education and health care, etc. etc.. This really doesn't make sense. What parts of Catholicism do these people support?

In reality, CFFC is simply a tool of the international pro-abortion movement. It gets neither money nor membership from Catholics. Their success in spreading confusion and embarrassment about the Church's position depends on Catholics and especially the media taking them at face value.
To counter them, they must above all be exposed. More information can be found in this book.


Opting out of the NHS database

Update: Comment. From a Catholic point of view, the information the Government is gathering will make it easier to do put a 'black mark' on anyone who fails to toe the line: homeschoolers; people who object to sex education; women who refuse advised eugenic or social abortions, or who decline to go back on the Pill immediately after childbirth; anyone objecting to euthanasia; etc.. All this information will be in front of every single NHS employee who has contact with you; it is bound to be made available to social services, the benefits office, the school system and the tax man. Any group the government doesn't like can then be persecuted in a hundred subtle ways. Object to a nuclear power station? Perhaps you knee operation will be delayed. Who is going to stop this happening?

Briefing 10/01/08: the NHS database project is extremely alarming from the point of view of privacy and its liability to error. It will be accessible to all the million-plus NHS employees and also academic and commercial researchers; it will include details of every interaction you have had with the NHS and your name, address, age etc.. It is possible to opt out, but only by writing to your GP. See here for more information; below is a form letter you can write to your GP.

Exercising right to opt out

Dear Drs. ...,

As you are probably aware, the Government is intending to ask you to transfer the electronic medical records of your patients onto a national database called the “Spine”. They intend you to do this without first seeking the consent of your patients. It is BMA policy that patients should give their individual consent prior to their information being transferred on to the national database.

There are substantial concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of information transferred onto the national database, not least because promised software security safeguards called “sealed envelopes” will not be in place and because the patient’s instructions with regard to who may access the records can be overridden. We do not believe that such a large database, with so many staff users, can be regarded as secure.

We would be grateful if you would ensure that none of our records or those of our children, [names] held by you are entered onto the national system. Would you please also file or scan a copy of this letter in our records and also record our dissent by entering the “Read code” - ‘93C3. - Refused consent for upload to national shared electronic record.’ into our computer record. We are aware of the implications of this request and will notify you should we reconsider.

This request is itself confidential. Please do not divulge our decision, in an identifiable manner, to anyone other than to clinicians who are providing care to me and who might otherwise place information about us on the national care records service.

Further information for GPs is available online at www.TheBigOptOut.org/for_GPs

Accordingly, the following seven patients at your surgery should be regarded as opting out of the Spine: [names]. We would be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this request and inform us of any action taken.

Yours sincerely,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The new face of anti-Catholic hatred

Action: complaints to the BBC. The Pope has had to cancel a lecture to La Sapienza university in Rome because of protests by a small group of professors. The ostensive reason for the protest were remarks the Pope made in an earlier talk about Galileo which the professors did not bother to read properly and which the BBC, true to form, report out of context; just like the Regensburg speech, the Pope is being condemned for quoting another person's view which he goes on to criticise himself. The protest was clearly joined quickly by students with a militant 'gay' agenda, responding to the Church's stand on civil partnerships.

Hat-tip to practically everyone in the Catholic blogosphere. See Fr Z on the Italian politics, Fr Finnigan on the BBC. Joanna Bogle wants us to write to La Sapienza; we suggest you also complain to the BBC. Here is their report; here is their complaints form.

The picture on the right is reminiscent of the anti-Papal foamings of our home-grown militant gay activists, see left, which we noted here: Martin Pendergast, organiser of the 'gay' Masses in Westminster with the Cardinal's permission, apparently also thinks the Pope is a homophobe, despite the papal flag flying on his website. We would expect Sapienza-type protests if the Pope visited the UK.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

'Building Schools for the Future': another attack on morality

Briefing. The vast sums being spent on schools is a golden opportunity for central and local Government to remodel the education system to its liking: closing Catholic schools, demanding that even greater efforts be made to enforce its mad theory of education, and requiring sexual health (ie contraception and abortion) clinics in schools.

From the Catholic Herald: A £45 billion scheme to rebuild and refurbish every secondary school in England is being used by local governments to close down Catholic schools.
Headteachers claim that the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme has been hijacked by officials who are hostile to Catholic education. Each local authority submits plans to the Government to re-shape education in the area before being awarded millions of pounds to spend on school buildings. These plans are expected to be “transformational” and in some cases they involve the closure of popular and highly successful Catholic schools. (Full article here, until Friday.)

From Campaign for Real Education: To get its funding, the local authority will 'Establish an Academy' and 'Promote Federations, Trusts or Trust-like arrangements'. It will deliver 'personalised learning' and ensure 'effective integration of education and other services' (ie clinics offering free condoms in schools). Plus 'a movement towards project-based, rather than discipline-based [ie subject-based] learning'. (Full report here.)


Friday, January 11, 2008

Challenge to Blasphemy law

Update: vote not held; government promises to review the law. The vote on whether to abolish the blasphemy law did not take place as Evan Harris MP, who tabled the clause, withdrew it. He did this because the Government stated it would consult with the Church of England on the matter and would be bringing forward legislation in due course. Although this means that for the time being the blasphemy law remains in place, it seems the Government do intend to abolish the law in the near future, after consultation with the Church of England.

There is much disagreement, even within the church, about the best response to the blasphemy laws. We believe it should be kept because Christianity has historically and constitutionally been the basis and bedrock of our nation and our laws. In respecting Christian principles this nation has been a society of freedom, fairness and true tolerance and justice. Freedom of speech is preserved in that the law does not prevent strident criticism or even attack of Christianity, but it does set in place certain standards of decency and respectful discourse with regard to how we talk about and portray God and Jesus. We believe that if the UK purposefully renounces God in this way there may be spiritual repercussions for society, with a further slip away from moral principle.

Briefing 09/01/08: we received this too late for action, but it is of interest. It is important to note, as Stephen Green does below, that the existing, traditional blasphemy laws do not purport to protect the sensitivities of human beings but to maintain respect for God, Our Lord, and the Bible. This is an idea that the secularists simply cannot understand.

From Christian Voice: Dr Evan Harris MP, an 'Honorary Associate' of the National Secular Society, is moving an amendment to the Criminal Justce and Immigration Bill tomorrow to abolish the laws against blasphemy and blasphemous libel. It is Amendment 143 to the Bill. We published all MP's email addresses in the November Christian Voice newsletter. If you cannot find it a poor imitation is on the Parliament website here.

Today a letter was published in the Daily Telegraph from more than a dozen campaigning atheists and, depressingly, two retired bishops, supporting Dr Harris. Richard Harries, the pro-gay, pro-divorce ex-bishop of Oxford I can understand, but *George Carey's *support of
the blasphemers is inexplicable. If I found myself in the company of those who detest everything I hold dear, I should ask if I was in the right club. See here.

*My Petition *to the House of Lords to appeal against the decision of the Divisional Court not to allow a prosecution in respect of Jerry Springer the Opera was lodged at the House last week, on 3rd January. This email gives me the opportunity to ask you to *pray for us to find
favour with the Appeals Committee*, who will decide whether or not we can appeal to the highest court in our land. May it please God to allow that appeal to go ahead.

Unsurprisingly, the author and director of Jerry Springer the Opera was
among the signatories of the Telegraph letter as were Philip Pullman and
Richard Dawkins. The attachment discloses the 'credentials' of the

*Firstly*, you may like to tell your MP that it is wrong to say, as
the Telegraph letter does, that the blasphemy law 'purports to protect
beliefs'. 'His Dark Materials' and 'The God Delusion' have been
published, both criticising Christian beliefs, without falling foul
of it. In fact, the blasphemy law seeks primarily to maintain simple
respect for Almighty God, Jesus Christ and the Bible.

It is always the person of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the target of
blaspheming poets, playwrights and artists. This was true in the Gay
News poem (the most recent successful prosecution for blasphemy) it was
true in Jerry Springer the Opera, which is still in the courts, and it
is true in the latest case, Terence Koh's statue currently on display in

*Secondly*, it is not the law against blasphemy which damages social
cohesion as the signatories contend, it is the lack of any civilised
standards of decency, restraint, respect and consideration in the world
of the arts. What the Telegraph's correspondents call 'freedom of
expression' the rest of us too often have to describe as obscene,
blasphemous, offensive, inhuman, pornographic, degrading or just plain

*Thirdly, *it is true that the law against blasphemy discriminates in
favour of Christianity. That is because historically, culturally and
constitutionally, the United Kingdom is a Christian country, as
Professor Dawkins himself conceded only last month.
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7136682.stm - but he's wrong to
say the pressure to de-Christianise is coming from other faiths not
secularists. The truth is the precise opposite.) There can be no
expectation from the followers of other faiths that their religions will
be protected. The attempt to prosecute Salman Rushdie under the
blasphemy laws failed, inevitably and rightly so.

That being said, the existence of the blasphemy law should engender a
proper *respect for the sacred *and so provide an umbrella of protection
for the deeply-held religious beliefs of others. Respect for others
comes, as Jesus Christ (Luke 18:2) said in His parable of the unjust
judge, from respect for God. God may not need the protection of such a
law, but the social fabric of our society clearly does. And the
recognition that God 'can take care of Himself' should fill us with holy
fear, not the desire to humiliate His name.

*Lastly*, the Law Commission cited by the correspondents is not an
impartial commentator, and nor is the blasphemy law in breach of human
rights law. The European Court of Human Rights has actually held the
complete opposite in the Wingrove and Preminger cases. As to whether
anyone will be convicted, I suggest we wait and see.

As the *Bishop of Rochester *said at the weekend, we need to affirm the
Christian roots of British society. It is precisely the spiritual
weakness of secularism with its multiculturalist (for which read
anti-Christian) philosophy which has opened the door to Muslim ambition
to turn this country, slowly but relentlessly, into an Islamic state.
Only Christianity has the spiritual muscle to resist such a force, but
we need to start standing up for Christianity, for God, Jesus Christ and
the Bible, before it becomes illegal to do so.

Yours in His mighty name*,*

*Stephen Green, *National Director, Christian Voice


Ammendment to Homophobic Hatred Bill

Update: From CCfoN: Last night the House of Commons voted on whether to accept an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which would ensure that freedom of speech and freedom of religion were protected. The Bill introduces a new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, but the proposed amendment was designed to give extra protection to freedom of speech. The amendment would give extra reassurance to Christians that the teaching of biblical views on marriage, sexuality and relationships would not be prevented.

Sadly, the vote was lost and therefore the amendment failed. However, 169 MPs voted in favour of the amendment, which shows it does have considerable support, despite being unsuccessful on this occasion. The Bill must still make its way through the House of Lords, and it was in the Lords that the Religious Hatred Act was first amended to protect freedom of speech in this way. Please continue to pray for this Bill as we anticipate its next stage.

Action 18/12/07: lobby your MP

From Christian Concern for Our Nation: Incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexuality

MPs have tabled an amendment to the proposed incitement to homophobic hatred law. The amendment reads:

“Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion of, criticism of or expressions of antipathy towards, conduct relating to a particular sexual orientation, or urging persons of a particular sexual orientation to refrain from or modify conduct relating to that orientation.”

This amendment is an attempt to ensure that freedom of speech is protected, so that Christians can continue to promote and protect a biblical stance on marriage, sexuality and relationships. This amendment is similar to the amendment which was passed as part of the incitement to religious hatred law.

The amendment has been signed by a cross-party group of MPs, consisting of Jim Dobbin, Ann Widdecombe, Alan Beith, David Taylor, Philip Hollobone and Colin Breed. It is in reaction to both Christians and others who are concerned about the effect this proposed law would have on freedom of speech.

The amendment is expected to be voted upon on Wednesday 9th January. We would encourage you in the meantime to write to your MP urging them to attend and support this amendment.

Our submission on the proposed law here.

If you don’t know who your MP is, you can find out by using either of these links: here and here.


Fr Ronald Rolheiser: make it up as you go along

Briefing: the latest edition of the Catholic Truth Scotland Newsletter (here) has two pieces on Fr Ronald Rolheiser, the Texan priest who writes the same column for dozens of Catholic newspapers around the world each week. Although this is usually presented not as controversial theological speculation, but spiritual advice, Fr Rolheiser seems to think he can make up his theology as he goes along. His column appears in both the Catholic Herald and the Scottish Catholic Observer; a recent one also made an appearance on the website of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales (although it has now gone). This really must stop.

CTS focused on a column he wrote on praying for the dead, which can be seen on his own website here. Here's an indicative extract:
By praying for the dead, we share with them the pain of adjusting to a new life. Part of that pain of adjustment (which classically Roman Catholics have called “purgatory”) is the pain of letting go of this life. In our prayers for the dead, we offer them our presence and love, as they adjust to a new life. Purgatory is not a geography, a place distinct from heaven, but the pain that
comes from being in heaven, without having fully let go of earth.
It seems almost beside the point to say that this contradicts the infallible teaching of Trent several times over. The fact is that Fr Rolheiser doesn't seem to make contact with Catholic theology at all. It is a scandal that this is being presented as authentic Catholic theology.


Catholic Truth Scotland: Jan Newsletter available

Download it here.

Inside: the Church in Scotland is a year late in filing its accounts to the Scottish Charities Regulator; the cost of 'ecumenical' initiatives (and the ecumenical chapel, supported by the Catholic Bishops, where you can get a blessing for a civil partnership); the novel theology of Fr Ronald Rolheiser (see next post).


OpenEye petition on 'Early Years' policy

Action: please sign the petition. This is one of the maddest things this government has done, a comprehensive attack on parental discretion over the education of their children. Realising that their family policy has destroyed the environment (a stable family) in which children flourish for a large section of the population, the Government is imposing a draconian regime of 'targets' and 'milestones' which every child in the country will be assessed against, the 'Early Years' programme, from birth to aged five years. See here for more details.

Petition text: 'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to commission an urgent independent review of the compulsory Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) policy framework, and to reduce the status of its learning and development requirements to 'professional guidelines'.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

UN agency: promotion of contraception our key aim


From SPUC: In a newly released report, the UN's population agency (UNFPA) has stated that its primary focus is the promotion of contraception, especially among the young. UNFPA also intends to put pressure on governments to spend more money on reproductive health services, and to promote the increased use, and quality, of contraceptive services. Despite claiming to be abortion-neutral, the organisation has been accused of supporting forced abortions in China. [Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 3 January]


Tuesday, January 08, 2008


The Soho Masses Pastoral Council was founded by members of the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian Gay Christian Movement.

The Lesbian Gay Christian Movement also has caucuses for other denominations, and campaigns against traditional Christian morality; here, for example, they are trying to claim that genital sexuality outside marriage is not forbidden in the Bible. Among their links they include organisations which are part of the self-described gay sub-culture, which ceaselessly promote an immoral lifestyle, such as the Gay Times. In other words, there is no question of this group comprising Christians who happen to be gay; it comprises people committed to an immoral lifestyle who want to rewrite Christian morality to suit themselves. Their recent conference accused a variety of Christian leaders, including the Pope, of homophobia.

The new website of the RCCLGCM includes this on its homepage:
The LGCM Statement of Conviction
It is the conviction of members of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement that human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God, gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Therefore it is their conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.

They RC Caucus was asked by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor to remove 'Catholic' from its name, but declined to do so. Wanting to use an alternative vehicle to negotiate for permission for special Masses, Martin Pendergast set up the Soho Masses Pastoral Council; the people involved in the two organistations, however, are largely the same, and Pendergast remains a leading light in both the SMPC and the LGCM, recently condemning the stance of Catholic bishops on the Sexual Orientation Regulations at the LGCM conference. Pendergast, a former Carmelite priest, is also notorious for his 'civil partnership' with the former head of CAFOD, Julian Filochowski; Filochowski dedicated a collection of essays attacking Church teaching to him (see here).

The SMPC organised Masses in an Anglican church, St Anne's, for years, inviting sympathetic priests to celebrate Mass and preach. Although these Masses did not have the permission of the Archdiocese of Westminster, no action was ever taken against the priests involved. After many complaints, and the involvement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Levada, in Feb 2007 Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor gave the SMPC the use of a Catholic church, Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, suggesting he was mindful of complaints and was taking control of the situation. The same suggestion was made when he changed the parish priest. But although Anglican women ministers no longer preach, and bidding prayers for those who have recently contracted civil partnerships are no longer said (they are still to be seen here), the Masses are still used as a platform to undermine the teaching of the Church, in four ways.

First, only priests sympathetic to the SMPC agenda are invited to say Mass and preach. They never mention the Church's teaching on sexuality, but rather emphasise their sympathies with the SMPC.
Second, the fact that the SMPC 'organises' the Masses gives credibility, within the Church, to them as an organisation, to their leaders, and to their wider views.
Third, their bookstall at the back of the Church and their Newsletter, handed out with the hymnbooks, contradict the teaching of the Church.
Fourth, they promote events and organisations of the gay subculture which promote an immoral lifesyle, such as the LondonPride march (see picture above), of which the RCCLGCM and SMPC were both official participants (for another example see here). Their joint stall at the march, manned by Martin Pendergast, was also the stall of a third dissenting 'gay Catholic' group, 'Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support'. Pendergast helped write an article attacking Church teaching on condoms in his capacity of Sectretary to Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support', here. (For the 2008 event, see here.)

The Church's condemnation of sex outside marriage does not need to spelt out (though see here). Two important documents on specific issues are these:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 'The Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person', 1986: (See here for the full text.) 17: 'All support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely.'

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 2003 document, Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions betwen homosexual persons.
"In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. (n.5)"

The wider picture is that these Masses are an encourgement to bishops around the country and beyond to hand over the 'pastoral care' of homosexual Catholics to people who reject the teaching of the Church most relevant to that care. The groups genuinely trying to help homosexual Catholics live according to the teaching of the Church, such as the Encourage Trust, are sidelined and ignored.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Hybrids bill: rally

Action: please join the rally if you can, and lobby MPs and Lords. See below for public meetings around the country. 15th January, rally outside the House of Lords in Old Palace Yard, SW1P 3JY at 2.00pm – 3.30pm

Embryo Bill Rally The House of Lords is meeting on 15th January for the first day of the Report stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to vote on the proposed amendments to the Bill. This Bill strikes at the very heart of our civilisation and questions what it means to be human - for more information about the Bill, please use the link below to read our update, House of Lords to vote on Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill amendments.

The issues the Lords will be voting on include:
The creation of animal-human hybrid embryos
Tissue typing to create ‘saviour siblings’
The ‘need for a father’ consideration in IVF treatment

This rally will be the first in a series of rallies called ‘Time To Stand’. We hope to hold rallies on each of the days that important votes are taken on issues that strike at the heart of God’s purposes for our society, in the Lords or the Commons. It is important that as many people as possible attend Parliament for the rallies on the days when votes are being taken on these
issues. We need to send the message that these issues cannot be swept under the carpet, and that the dignity of the human embryo, and the family are things that the public care deeply about and will have a massive future impact on the well being of the Nation.

Please put this date in your diary. It would be helpful for us to have an idea of numbers that are coming and we would be grateful if you would contact Simone Lamont at simone@ccfon.org or call 020 7407 6157 if you would like to attend.

Poster about the rally here.

Also: Public meetings, and a message from David, Lord Alton

Over the next few weeks there will be a series of public meetings which will be addressed by MPs such as Ann Widdecombe, Clare Curtis-Thomas, Geraldine Smith and Jim Dobbin. Organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group these meetings are supported by LIFE, Right To Life, CARE, Evangelical Alliance and the Catholic Bishops.

These meetings will take place in:

* Glasgow: The University Union, 2 University Avenue :- Wednesday 23rd January,
7.30pm * Southampton: Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of Southampton:-
Wednesday 30th January, 7.30pm * Belfast: - The Spires Centre, Belfast,
Thursday 31st January, 7.30pm * London: Central Hall Westminster, SW1:-
Wednesday 6th February, 7pm * Liverpool: The Liner Hotel, Lord Nelson Street:-
Tuesday12th February, 7.30pm * Coventry: Coventry Cathedral:-
Wednesday 13th February,7.30pm * Widnes: The Foundry, Lugsdale Road:-
Monday 18th February,7.30pm * Cardiff: The City Temple, Cowbridge Road East:-
Tuesday 4th March, 7.30pm

For further information tel. 01925 220999 or 0203 1760032 or email:
gill@epiphany.org.uk or ian.lucas@appplg.co.uk
It would be good to see big audiences and hopefully many other smaller meetings will be organised in the wake of these. It is vital that the public learn what is at stake in this Bill.

This battle is far from lost and we should not be cowed, and nor should MPs, by the argument that these are complex questions. When it comes to using yet more human embryos there are some very straight forward issues. In 2001, the Government's then Health Minister, Lord Hunt, said quite unequivocally that: "The 1990 Act already provides the answer to the question of what happens if and when research into adult cells overtakes research using embryos: embryonic research would have to stop because the use of embryos would no longer be
necessary for that research." It remains to be seen whether the Government will take its own advice on this matter, but I believe that this 'Hunt Test' must be incorporated into the
new Bill. MPs should be lobbied hard to do this.

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research have long argued that the use of embryos is essential to further progress in the field. Stem cells derived from embryos have long been said to be more flexible, with more potential for use in medical treatments in humans. This perhaps explains the constant pressure from specialists to authorise more and more research into embryos, culminating in the current proposals for animal-human hybrids. The argument that we should focus the majority of our time, energy and money on embryonic stem cell research has always been a tenuous one, but is now truly insupportable.

In December Professor Shinya Yamanaka in Japan, and Professor James Thomson in
America converted adult skin cells into cells that resemble embryonic stem
cells in their flexibility, rendering further experiments on human embryos in
order to derive patient matched stem cells completely unnecessary.

It would perhaps be counter-productive to rehearse the considerable ethical arguments against the use of embryos in this space. At this stage of the debate many minds are already made up. Suffice to say that you don't have to be 'religious' or 'Luddite' as opponents are sometimes caricatured - to be opposed to this technology. Yet even without the complex moral arguments, there are many reasons to prefer adult cells as a source of stem cells. Adult stem cells are providing real treatments for humans in the here and now over 70 at the last count and can now be used as an ethical source of cells that offer just as much promise for the medical technologies of the future as embryonic stem cells, with none of the special technical difficulties and immunological complications thrown up by the use of tiny human beings in laboratory experiments.

It seems bizarre then that the Government and parts of the medical establishment should persist so doggedly in their attempts to privilege unproductive, unproven and ethically unsound research with vast sums of taxpayers' money.

Don't take my word. This is what the Chief Medical Officer said on the issue
of human-animal hybrids:

'There was no clear scientific argument as to why you would want to do it, and, secondly, a feeling that this would be a step too far as far as the public are concerned. I think we do have a responsibility to ensure that we take the public with us in the other important areas of research that we want to do, and do not lose their confidence by moving forward with something which is much further out, as far as acceptability is concerned, and where the scientific arguments for wanting to do it are not particularly strong or convincing, or even existente.'

Since 1990 more than 2 million human embryos have been destroyed or experimented
upon . Surely it is time for a fresh start with adult stem cells: a technology that is ethical, practical and bringing real miracles to people's lives.

This Bill will arrive in the Commons at the end of this month. There is no time to lose in lobbying MPs.


Damian Thompson under threat


Too often it is the people trying to defend orthodoxy who come under attack from the hierarchy, not the people undermining it. The Cardinal tells enquirers in Rome that the Tablet can't be touched; it is independent! But now it seems he's putting pressure on the Chairman and trustees of the Catholic Herald to ditch Damian Thompson.

H-T to Fr Ray Blake.


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