Monday, March 31, 2008

Condoms in Africa: a counter-attack

Human Life International creates waves in Africa with a counter-campaign on condoms: the truth! See the full story here.


Salford diocese gives platform to dissident

Local action as appropriate.

From CFNews: The Salford Diocesan website is advertising an April 5th meeting at which Julian Filowchowski will be the guest speaker at a public meeting of the Archbishop Romero Anniversary Justice and Peace Celebration organised by the Faith and Justice group.

Background alert : In Opening Up, edited by Filochowski and Peter Stanford -- published to mark the 60th birthday of Filowchowski's 'partner' Martin Pendergast -- there were a number of articles dissenting from the teaching of the magisterium, particularly on the question of homosexuality. In June 2006, at a 'liturgy' in London to celebrate the registration of their civil partnership, the following reflection was delivered by Father McDonagh. The occasion was 'a prophetic one, at least a partial realization of a dream, leading us further along the road to being honourably Catholic . . . in their being so honourably gay they have enabled us to be a little more honourably Catholic.'


Marriage being 'killed off' by Government


From CFNews: While the number of single, divorced or widowed people in Britain rose in 2006, the number marrying fell, producing the lowest marriage rates since records began in 1862. Part of the picture is a rise in the average age at which people marry-- up by almost five years for men since 1991, to 36.4 years, and just over 4.5 years for women, to 33.5. The average age at first marriage is now 31.8 years for men and 29.7 years for women, according to the Office for National Statistics. Marriage advocates lay much of the blame at the government's door.

The Civitas think-tank says politicians won't talk about marriage in case they offend single people. The Centre for Policy Studies' Jill Kirby says that by not supporting marriage financially and removing the terms 'marriage' and 'spouse' from many official documents, the government is 'effectively overseeing the death of marriage by killing it off'. Recent research by the Christian charity CARE found that three out of four families would be better off living apart than sharing a home under the current benefits system. For a family with one child and the wife at home, the premium would be almost £100 a week. Campaigners also point to causes such as the 'me' society, big divorce settlements in favour of women, and the fact that many young people have witnessed parental divorce. The cost of a home also makes many people put property acquisition ahead of a wedding ceremony.


Minister attacks Church over hybrids bill

Briefing. Alan Johnson is making attacking the Catholic Church a habit. Remember his attack on Church schools over 'homophobic bullying'.

From CFNews: The Health Secretary, Alan Johnson has launched an attack on leaders of the Church for their interventions in the row about embryo research. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph he said the Church had 'misrepresented' the HFE Bill and had explained the science of human-animal embryos in terms which he believed were 'profoundly wrong' and 'hperbolic'.. He said last week's decision to allow MPs a free vote against the most controversial sections of the proposed Bill was not a victory for the Church, but said that if votes were lost, it would be a defeat for scientific research.

In the same newspaper, Christopher Booker reminded readers, that was has been missing from the coverage of this story is any sense of how the Government has been hamstrung by surrendering its powers to the EU. 'Gordon Brown's Government has to risk so much political capital on the Bill . . . because it is bound by obligations under the 'Lisbon Process', which aims to make 'the European bio-technology sector's world leader, regulated by Brusssels'.

Meanwhile, its has been announced that Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of Scotland's Catholic Church, who attacked the Government's controversial embryology laws has agreed to meet scientists involved in stem cell research. The Cardinal, who sparked a storm when he described plans to create human-animal embryos for research as 'monstrous', said he would be 'only too happy' to attend such a meeting. He also called for religious heads from other faiths to be involved, and urged the setting up of an body to advise the Government on complex ethical issues. Scientists and politicians welcomed the Cardinal's offer to discuss the issue, and Labour MP for Livingston Jim Devine suggested meeting on April 22. [Sunday Telegraph, Scotland on Sunday] 1435.13


Council of Europe's pro-abortion stand


From SPUC: SPUC has called on its supporters Europe-wide to contact the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly members to reject a report which demands the promotion of abortion everywhere in Europe, and compulsory sex educationa. The report will be considered during a plenary session next month (April). [SPUC director's blog, 18 March] The council has 47 member-states and is distinct from the EU.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

International campaign for 'Gay Pride' marches

Briefing. It is time for Catholics to take to the streets too. Why is the Rosary Crusade of Reparation in London, for example, relatively small (1,600)? In this conflict of values, we must stand up and be counted. Between them, the London and Brighton 'Pride' marches were reported to have totaled 400,000 people. There are far more Catholics than militant gays in the UK.

From CFNews: Only two cities in Europe have refused to participate in a campaign by Europe's leading homosexual lobby group to force the leaders of Europe's cities to allow the homosexual 'Gay Pride' demonstrations. But neither of the cities' leaders made any objections to the goals or activities of the homosexual activist movement. On the contrary, one said that his city wished 'every success' to the campaign.

The mayors of Riga and Tallinn, the capitals of Latvia and Estonia respectively, have politely declined to participate in a campaign launched by the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe (ILGA) to attempt to force the leaders of various European cities to hold 'Gay Pride' demonstrations.

The Gay Pride events have been one of the key tools around the world for normalizing homosexuality in public opinion and are widely supported by city authorities, businesses and non-governmental organisations in the countries where they are allowed.

The campaign is a response to the refusal by the former Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski, to allow the demonstration that has in other countries been characterized by public nudity and lewd displays of simulated sex acts. Strongly Catholic Poland has been under heavy pressure from the European Union for its refusal to comply with the dictates of the homosexual political movement.

ILGA-Europe's letter to the mayors read, 'ILGA-Europe is seriously concerned that despite a wide international and European condemnation of bans on pride events and other public demonstrations by LGBT [lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered] people and their supporters, some Mayors and local authorities in Europe continue to discriminate and ban or restrict the rights of freedom of assembly and expression for LGBT people. That is why we are appealing to all Mayors of European cities. We sincerely hope that you will support our campaign and sign it.'

J?nis Birks, Mayor of Riga, wrote to the group saying that while he wished 'every success' to the campaign, the decision whether to participate in Gay Pride festivals should be left up to the competence of individual cities.

Edgar Savisaar, the Mayor of Tallinn, wrote that the issue is one of broad social interest and has forwarded the group's appeal to Tallinn City Council's education and culture commission. Tarmo Lausing, chairman of education and culture commission, said that the appeal was unnecessary. 'The commission felt that signing a petition like this would mean accepting what is not true and we would admit things which aren't true,' explained Lausing.

'This doesn't mean though that we don't consider protecting the rights of sexual minorities important. Tallinn definitely protects the rights of all minorities living here today and tomorrow.'

Mayor Birks wrote, 'The Riga City Council truly supports your initiative, greatly appreciates the actions of the campaign and all the possible positive effects generated by the project.' He added that the Riga City Council is 'very open to deepening and broadening our partnership in concrete initiatives in the years to come'.

Mayors and city councillors who have signed the agreement include those of Nicosia in Cyprus, Amsterdam, Winterthur in Switzerland, London, Stockholm, Cologne, Barcelona, Venice, Vienna, Bologna, Manchester, Copenhagen, Budapest, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Paris, Zürich, Berlin, Dublin and Luxembourg.


Muslims oppose hybrids bill


From CFNews:

Dr A. Majid Katme(IMA) emails : 'British Muslims fully support the Catholic Leaders, Ministers and MPs in their opposition to the (Human Fertilisation & Embryology Bill), the worst Bill in the history of Britain, they will continue with their letter campaign to the MPs in order to oppose this inhumane, destructive and immoral bill . . . Signed by:

-Islamic Medical Association(IMA)
-Muslim Doctors Association(MDA)
-Islamic Medical Ethics Forum(IMEF)
-Union of Muslim Organisations(UMO)


Hybrids bill: no free vote, but abstentions allowed

Update: Brown caves in: free vote allowed. See the BBC.

Some Catholic Labour MPs who oppose the UK government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill may have rejected an offer to let them to abstain from voting and, instead, they want to vote against the measure. Mr Greg Pope, MP for Hyndburn, said "I have had hundreds of letters from constituents about human-animal hybrids. The idea that I turn round to them and say the chief whip has given me the day off from voting will cut no ice at all." [Telegraph, 8 March, and Daily Mail, 10 March] Mr Gordon Brown, prime minister, has stated that the bill is Government business, and any individual with a particular issue should discuss it with the chief whip.

Action 08/03/08: keep on lobbying your MPs. They must vote AGAINST this appalling bill.

From SPUC: MPs from the UK's Labour party will be allowed to abstain over their government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill. Mr Geoff Hoon MP, Labour chief whip, said MPs would be allowed to absent themselves rather than vote for the bill. He also argued that support for the medical research promoted by the bill was matter of conscience too. [Yorkshire Post, 7 March] More than 100 academics have called for a free vote. Signatories to a letter to the Times include Professor David Albert Jones, professor of bioethics at St Mary's University College, Middlesex, and Professor John Finnis, professor of law and legal philosophy at Oxford University. [Times, 7 March] SPUC is urging supporters and pro-life MPs to focus on opposing the unethical content of the bill. The question of allowing abstention or free votes is a fine point and should not obscure the wholly immoral nature of the bill.


CAUK in the press

Comment: the Telegraph says the Catholic Church is finding its voice in the debate about ethical issues, and cites Catholic Action UK as an example of a new breed of lobbying groups. It is interesting that they can't think of any other examples: CAUK is not exactly a major organisation. What has happened in recent years is the advent of the Catholic blogs in stimulating and coordinating protests, and the CAUK is proud to be part of that movement.

From the Telegraph: The Roman Catholic Church has led the ethical opposition to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill since its inception - and, in doing so, has rediscovered its status as one of the country's most powerful political lobbying groups.

In recent years, Catholic-based pressure groups have grown in stature and express increasingly strong views about issues that run counter to their doctrine.

Catholic Action UK, which was set up in the summer of 2006 to "facilitate protests by faithful Catholics against attacks on the Church and morality in the United Kingdom", has helped quash the Government's attempts to admit 25 per cent non-Catholic pupils into Catholic schools and a euthanasia Bill.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 6

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

From Domestic Tranquility pp84-85
When Charlotte Perkins Gilman derided the housewife as an economic parasite in 1898, most women probably remained blissfully unaware of her assault. Feminist derision, moreover, was refuted by President Theodore Roosevelt himself, declaring that a wife and mother "is not a parasite on society": "She is society. She is the one indispensable component part of society." Extolling the duties of a husband as the breadwinner and a wife as housewife and mother, Roosevelt observed that the man's work is not "as hard or as responsible as the work of a woman who is bringing up a family of small children": "This does not mean inequality of function, but it does mean that normally there must be dissimilarity of function. On the whole, I think the duty of the woman the more important, the more difficult, and the more honorable of the two; on the whole, I respect the woman who does her duty even more than I respect the man who does his." But when accusations of parasitism were resurrected in the 1960s and hurled against homemakers, there was no refuge from the salvos. Unless one altogether avoided contemporary books, magazines, newspapers, television, theater, and movies, escape from feminism's assault was impossible.


Monday, March 24, 2008

GMC: Catholic doctors must cooperate with abortion

Briefing: despite the many excellent responses to their earlier consultation, the GMC have reaffirmed in their guidlines that doctors opposed to abortion must cooperate in it: they must ensure that anyone wanting an abortion gets it, fast. Such cooperation is gravely morally wrong.

The GMC's guidlines do not have the force of law, but they will be referred to in any legal case on the matter. The key paragraphs are these (adressed to doctors):

  1. Patients may ask you to perform, advise on, or refer them for a treatment or procedure which is not prohibited by law or statutory code of practice in the country where you work, but to which you have a conscientious objection7. In such cases you must tell patients of their right to see another doctor with whom they can discuss their situation and ensure that they have sufficient information8 to exercise that right. In deciding whether the patient has sufficient information, you must explore with the patient what information they might already have, or need.

  2. In the circumstances described in paragraph 21, if the patient cannot readily make their own arrangements to see another doctor you must ensure that arrangements are made, without delay, for another doctor to take over their care. You must not obstruct patients from accessing services or leave them with nowhere to turn. Whatever your personal beliefs may be about the procedure in question, you must be respectful of the patient’s dignity and views.

  3. You must be open with patients - both in person and in printed materials such as practice leaflets - about any treatments or procedures which you choose not to provide or arrange because of a conscientious objection, but which are not otherwise prohibited.

  4. If your post involves arranging treatment or carrying out procedures to which you have a conscientious objection, you should explain your concerns to your employer or contracting body. You should explore constructively with them how to resolve the difficulty without compromising patient care, and without placing an unreasonable burden on colleagues.

  5. You have an overriding duty to provide care for patients who are in need of medical treatment, whatever the cause of that medical need. It is not acceptable to seek to opt out of treating a particular patient or group of patients because of your personal beliefs or views about them.
Full document 'Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice' here.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pope receives Muslim into the Church

Action: prayers, please, for Magdi Allam, received into the Catholic Church by the Holy Father during the Easter Vigil. This is clearly a big statement by the Pope about the Church's mission to convert all nations. The courageous Mr Allam needs our prayers.

Hat-tip to Damian Thompson, who has more commentary.

Mr Allam speaks: His Holiness has sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too prudent in the conversion of Muslims, abstaining from proselytizing in majority Muslim countries and keeping quiet about the reality of converts in Christian countries. Out of fear. The fear of not being able to protect converts in the face of their being condemned to death for apostasy and fear of reprisals against Christians living in Islamic countries. Well, today Benedict XVI, with his witness, tells us that we must overcome fear and not be afraid to affirm the truth of Jesus even with Muslims.


Christ is risen!

A happy Easter to all our readers!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cardinal O'Brien attacks 'monstrous' hybrids bill

Briefing. See Telegraph article.

Comment: H-T to Damian Thompson, who suggests that Gordon Brown is becoming the most anti-Catholic PM since Victorian times. Thompson is only interested in a narrow range of issues, which explains this odd judgment. Blair's legacy will take some beating, and Brown's worst policies are inherited from Blair: the SORs and closure of Catholic adoption agencies, euthanasia, easier abortion, sex education, the removal of religion as a charitable object, ignoring the plight of Catholics and other Christians in Iraq and China, etc. etc..


The scourge of family breakdown


From CFNews: The nuclear family

Hilary White writes : Britain has lost 'one of the most fundamental and universal features of human society', the idea of the nuclear family where children have a profound connection to their fathers, Melanie Philips told us this week in her column in the Daily Mail.

Philips was writing about Shannon Matthews, whose story occupied the attention of Britain's tabloid readers when she went missing after school in February. Nine year-old Shannon was found last week and police are investigating what happened. But the family's situation, in which Shannon's mother, Karen, has had seven children by five different men, has caught the attention of some who say that it is indicative of something terribly wrong... they just can't quite put their finger on exactly what.

At the same time, Britain is awash in gang violence, binge drinking, drug abuse, sex-trafficking, and nearly universal indifference to civic life. The media is full of speculation as to the cause of dozens of apparently random acts of violence, including murders, perpetrated by Britain's 'feral youth.'

But Melanie Philips has embarrassed them all by pointing out the blindingly obvious, the rampaging elephant in Britain's sitting room, when she pointed to an extraordinary statement from Karen Matthews. Several media reports on the case said that Karen Matthews believes that nine year-old Shannon and her ten year-old brother are 'twins,' because they are the children of the same father.

* * *

The author of 'Londonistan' and a columnist and blogger for the Spectator, wrote of Britain's 'underclass composed of whole communities where committed fathers are so rare that any child who actually has one risks being bullied.'

'Where sex is reduced to an animal activity devoid of love or human dignity, and boys impregnate two, three, four girls with scarcely a second thought. Where successive generations of women have never known what it is to be loved and cherished by both their parents throughout their childhood.'

Karen Matthews' description of her two children born a year apart to the same father as 'twins' is one of many small indicators, like the thin scratchings on a seismograph, that indicate a social and cultural calamity unprecedented in British history.

Half of England's marriages end in divorce, a third in Scotland and this issue is almost never addressed in Parliament. The BBC tells us that London is not only the most expensive city in the world to live in, it is the divorce capital of the world with a growing industry of 'divorce tourism'. There were more than 150,000 divorces in the UK last year.

But even more alarming is that most people who want to live together simply no longer bother with the formality of a wedding. In 1950, there were 336,000 first marriages; in 2000, there were 180,000 first marriages, a percentage change of - 46 per cent.

Melanie Philips writes that the children of the post-marriage world 'are simply abandoned in a twilight world where the words 'family' or 'relatives' lose all meaning, as the transient men passing through their mothers' lives leave them with an ever-lengthening trail of 'step-fathers' or 'uncles' who have no biological connection with them whatsoever.'

Her remarks resonated with me personally, since I remember the first rumblings of this cataclysmic cultural quake and lived through the Divorce Wave. I am not sure if the history of this cultural cataclysm, that has started to be studied and written about only recently, adequately takes into account the incredible speed with which the change came.

* * *

I have always enjoyed disaster movies about the end of the world. Remember that 1998 made-for-tv film, Deep Impact, in which an asteroid hits the earth and most of the continental land masses are engulfed with a gigantic tidal wave? When I think of the social shift from marriage and family life to...well, whatever we have now, I think of that scene in the film in which the intrepid girl-reporter stands on the beach with her father watching helplessly as a thousand foot high wall of water rushes at them at hundreds of miles an hour.

It is no wonder that nothing was done about it, or even written about it, until it was too late.

I know that a lot of Catholics say that the legalization of contraception was the start, but I really think the civilizational apocalypse started when we decided it was not necessary for married people to remain married. Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, of course, decided that things in Canada would move along more smoothly if he got all the bits and pieces of the apocalypse into one year and so we had the Divorce Act of 1968 immediately followed by the Omnibus Bill legalising abortion, in case anyone was left in any doubt as to what easy no-fault divorce was meant to lead to.

I was two and three when the Acts were passed. By the time I was in school a few years later, the wave from that quake was only beginning to build offshore, but it picked up speed and strength astonishingly quickly.

In the early part of the Divorce Wave, when I was starting school, most of the other kids lived with both married parents. When I was in early elementary school, the first generation of hippies had yet to break up with their first sets of 'partners'. Even at the experimental hippie free school I was sent to in 1974, I was pretty much the only kid in school who had weekly scheduled 'visits' with daddy.

In those days the partner turn-over rate was a lot slower. 'Relationships' lasted years, sometimes as many as four or five, and marriage was still fairly common. This lasted until we, the first generation, made it to about the fifth grade. It would be another ten years at least before these vestigial conventions were abandoned and the partner turn-over was reduced to the few months or weeks we enjoy now.

Three years later, by the time I started junior high school ('middle school'; grades 8-10) I knew almost no one whose parents were still together and the partner turn-over had increased to the point where most of the mothers and all of the fathers were on 'partner' number three or four.

I recall that we, the early generation of the children of divorce, were broadly pitied and were offered groups at the Y with titles like 'The Divorced Kids Group' where the kids could come and 'share' how they felt about their universe coming abruptly to a halt and the lights going out.

But after that early blip of attention, there was little said about the social malaise until in the 1980s articles began to appear in the women's magazines about the kids who, for some reason, just couldn't be bothered about anything. Generation X, the children of the hippies, the slacker generation who were in a state of near catatonic apathy and hopelessness, had no plans, had no hopes, no aspirations and were filled with cynicism and loathing for everything their parents cared about.

It was about this time that the suicide statistics started to be really alarming for kids born after 1965. This was the generation of Kurt Cobain, born a year before me and fifty miles away, the lead singer of the Seattle 'Grunge' band Nirvana, who personified this generation's rage and despair, and whose suicide would be his last angry gesture.

Melanie describes an entire generation, now branching into three or four, who simply made no plans for the future, who knew that everything their elders said to them was a lie, who learned from their parents' fecklessness that no other human being could be trusted, unless it was to trust them to be self-serving and callous.

I find it refreshing and surprising that the connections between the Divorce Cataclysm and the 'youth crime' problem are finally being made out loud, albeit four decades too late.

Read Melanie Philips' article, Reaping the Whirlwind, here.


Planned Parenthood racist

Briefing. PP like the whole eugenics, contraception, abortion and sex-ed movement was born in the 1920s and 1930s in order to reduce the population of the 'poor' and 'inferior races'. Many of the founders of the movement, such as Sanger, the founder of PP, are on record as racists and Nazi sympathisers. Popular disgust at the Nazi experience put the whole movement onto the back foot for 20 years, but with some changed names ('The Eugenics Society' -> 'The Galton Society" etc.) they survived and now they are back peddling the same wares.

In the context of American political correctness (PP is supposed to be a 'liberal', left-leaning organisation) and sensitivity to race this video is astonishing.


Huge numbers of repeat abortions in the UK

Briefing. The Daily Mail says it all: 1,300 women have had at least FIVE abortions. Abortion is being used as a form of contraception. The Government line is that more contraception is needed, but this is clearly absurd. Few women indeed lack either knowledge about or access to contraception. Rather, these conceptions are taking place either as a result of contraceptive failure, or an unwillingness to use contraception. Why bother with contraception if you can have an abortion? No reason: if you believe what the Government says about how safe and wonderful it is.

H-T to Fr Tim Finnigan, who has more background and commentary.

From CFNews: Thirty teenagers weekly have repeat abortion Nearly 30 teenage girls a week are visiting hospitals and clinics for a second or even third abortion, official figures disclose. Information released by the Department of Health shows that 193,737 women had abortions in 2006 and 17,173 were under 18. Of the teenagers, 1,341 were recorded as having their second termination. It was the third procedure for 82 of them. The figures led to claims that some women were using abortion as an alternative form of contraception. It will intensify the debate about terminations just as MPs prepare to vote on tightening up abortion laws. Mark Pritchard, the pro-life Conservative MP who obtained the figures in a parliamentary answer, said access to abortion must be more tightly regulated. 'These are shocking and disturbing figures and the Government must put in place a task force to investigate why multiple and repeat abortions are taking place in such large numbers,' he said. Pro-life MPs from both the Labour and Tory benches are said to be preparing amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would lower the abortion time limit from its current level of 24 weeks.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 5

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

From Domestic Tranquility p72.
When the mother in a two-parent family chooses to work, economic necessity (as opposed to advantage) is more likely to be the rationalizattion than the explanation for her decision. Feminism's effort to bring about the demise of the full-time housewife requiered diminishing the guilt felt by working mothers. thus began the constant effort to depict a two-income family as economically necessary when in most instances one income would provide the necessities of life--food, housing, and clothing. That the best-educated and highest-paid women are the ones who return to work the soonest after birth makes clear that something other than economic necessity has impelled women to abandon child care in favor of the workplace.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 4

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

From Domestic Tranquility p53.
It was... the "professionalization of parenthood" that made parents distrust their own child-rearing abilities and competence to deal with family problems and to accept that their capabilities were inferior to those of experts in the professional child-rearing establishment. ... Through these ideas, the helping professions not only undermined the confidence of "amateur" parents but also encouraged and justified the surrogate child-rearing that is a precondition of mothers' entry into the work force. ... Assuming that it matters very much what happens in a child's daily life, there is no cogent basis for favoring surrogate care. None but a limited number of the very best child care establishments (or the very best nannies) do, in fact, provide care which even remotely resembles care by professionals educated in the latest child-rearing techniques. But even if this were not the case, the happiness and well-being of infants and young children depend very little on any specific knowledge or technique employed by a caregiver. They depend far more on responsiveness to need as undivided as possible and on a continuing, loving interaction with a person to whom this child is uniquely precious. In the eyes of such a person, what this child does is happening for the first time. And this child knows that what he does is incomparably important because this person thinks it so. Those of us who reject surrogate care for our children doubt that such a response to our child is likely to come from any worker in a day care center or from an average nanny. It is a response that cannot be taught; and rarely can it be bought.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Bishop O'Donaghue before the Sanhedrin

Updated. See Bishop O'Donaghue defend his document before the committee on video here (he speaks 1hr 22 mins in, 1hr 49, 2hr 3 and 2hr 8); the transcript is here. He doesn't do terribly well. The bishops could do with some media-handling tuition. But please send messages of support to his chaplain:

Briefing. Join his Facebook support group!

From SPUC: A Catholic prelate was today challenged by a member of a parliamentary committee over his advice to Catholic schools not to support fund-raising appeals with an anti-life ethos. Ms Fiona McTaggart MP raised the matter with Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster, England, in the House of Commons children, schools and families committee. The bishop said it was not feasible to expect Catholics to support organisations if their leadership adopted policies contrary to basic Christian principles, even if those charities also did good work. The bishop emphasised that the values upheld by Catholic schools in his diocese were values shared by those of other faiths, such as Moslems, attending Catholic schools. The bishop recently issued guidance in a document called Fit for Mission? - Schools. [SPUC director's blog, 12 March] Mr Barry Sheerman MP, committee chairman, was previously quoted as saying: "Faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith." [Daily Mail, 11 March]

More from John Smeaton's blog: The Bishop was also criticised for saying in the document that schools in his diocese should see it as their prime duty to teach the Catholic faith and to evangelise. Committee members said they thought this meant non-Catholic pupils were to be proselytised. The Bishop denied this – pointing to the distinction between genuine evangelisation – proclaiming the truth to others – and proselytisation, which was characterised as coercive.

Barry Sheerman MP, the Committee Chairman, asked if Church leaders were not worried that it seemed that church schools had become adept at keeping out poor and needy children.

The Bishop said that Catholic schools [within the state ‘comprehensive school’ system] should not be selective, and said he would intervene if schools were found to have been selecting children on the basis of their social class. He maintained, however that admission quotas for different class or religious groups should not be imposed on schools.

On the question of interfaith schools, the committee chairman asked whether there had been a change in policy under Pope Benedict XVI (or, as Barry Sheerman impolitely put it: under the “present occupant of the Vatican”!) Bishop O’Donoghue said the policy had not changed as far as he was aware – not in his diocese.


Abortion linked to mental breakdowns


From CFNews: Women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions, a medical royal college has warned. The Royal College of Psychiatrists says women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counselled on the possible risk to their mental health. This overturns the consensus that has stood for decades that the risk to mental health of continuing with an unwanted pregnancy outweighs the risks of living with the possible regrets of having an abortion. MPs will shortly vote on a proposal to reduce the upper time limit for abortions 'for social reasons' from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, a move not backed by the government. A Sunday Times poll shows 59% of women would support such a reduction, with only 28% backing the status quo. Taken together, just under half (48%) of men and women want a reduction to 20 weeks, while 35% want to retain 24 weeks. Some MPs also want women to have a 'cooling off' period in which they would be made aware of the possible consequences of the abortion, including the impact on their mental health, before they could go ahead.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Film Classification Bill latest

Briefing: Julian Brazier MP is to be congratulated on the way his bill has raised awareness of the issues. In the nature of things a Private Members Bill is unlikely to become law. See the previous post here.

From Christian Concern for our Nation: More than 4½ hours of Parliamentary time were taken up with the second reading of this Bill on 29th February 2008, which is more than that allocated to some major Bills. The the second reading of the Bill took place on Friday 7th March 2008.

This Bill was introduced by Mr Julian Brazier MP over concerns about classification and guidelines for classification of videos, DVDs and computer games and the need for parliamentary accountability. The Bill aims to make the British Board of Film Classification more accountable to Parliament and the public. The Bill seeks to allow Parliamentary scrutiny of the senior appointments to the BBFC; to examine their guidelines and to set up an independent appeals body of 12 volunteers to review videos DVDS and computer games that are already in circulation or that are in the process of being classified. Such reviews will be triggered by an Early Day motion signed by at
least 50 MPs. Currently, it is only the industry itself that can appeal against a classification of a video, DVD or computer game and there is no way of allowing anyone else to do so.

The Bill seeks to address the growing concern in the country about the rising
tide of violence and the classification and portrayal of violence in videos,
DVDs and computer games.

Last year, the Conservative party made an unequivocal commitment to: “review the
regulatory framework relating to films and video games to ensure that violence
and misogyny are not directly promoted to young people. This should include the
role of the British Board of Film Classification”.

Media Watch UK, a campaigning organisation, commissioned an independent survey
by Communicate Research, an independent polling organisation. The research it
published on 28th February shows that 76 per cent of people support the tighter
regulation of violence in films and games, and on TV; that 68 per cent believe
such violence to be linked to actual violent crimes; and that 80 per cent
believe that the BBFC process for approving films should be transparent and
accountable to Parliament.

See, which details the poll

The Government Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, the Hon. Margaret Hodge,
indicated that the issues behind the Bill need to be addressed. She said that
the Government had already commissioned a review on this issue by Dr Tanya
Bryon, who is due to report this month. Tanya Byron is leading the Government's
inquiry into the effect of violent videos and internet porn on children. The
aim of the review is to ensure children can play video games and use the
internet safely. See

Please pray that this Bill will influence the Government to deal with issues of
concern about classification.

Full details of the Bill and debates can be found at:


Religious charities: new consultation

Action: please respond to the consultation: Charities commission information here; consultation proper here. To cut to the chase, you can simply email them to say that religious charities are ultimately concerned with the worship of God, not the mere propagation of a set of principles: otherwise they would be think-tanks or political parties. They are worthy of charitable status because the worship of God is a good, and the furthering of a good is a benefit to the public. If they deny this, they are taking up a theological position contrary to the great majority of the population of the country, and for which they have given no arguments.

From Christian Concern for our Nation: The Charities Act 2006 is an attempt by the Government to create a level playing field regarding the need for charities to prove public benefit. All charities, including those charities whose purposes concern advancing religion or education or the relief of poverty, are now required explicitly to show that their aims promote public benefit. Failing this, new and existing religious charities will no longer be considered to be charitable and will lose the tax and other benefits associated with being a charity. Previously these 3 types of charities were presumed to be of public benefit.

The Charity Commission's general guidance, ‘Charities and Public Benefit’ and ‘Summary Guidance for Charity Trustees’, published in January 2008, explains in general terms what the public benefit requirement means. But the Commission has now produced a specific Consultation for religious charities in their draft supplementary ‘Public Benefit and the Advancement of Religion’ guidance. The Consultation for this religious sub-sector guidance will close on 30th June 2008.

One of the issues that this Consultation will cover will be how to define
‘religion’. This dilemma has arisen as a result of the changes in the Charities
Act. The Charities Act states that ‘religion’ now includes a belief in more
than one god, and a religion which does not involve belief in a god. ‘God’ does
not start with a capital letter in any sentence of the Charities Act. This may
be seen as symbolic of the changes being made.

A previous decision by the Commission in a Church of Scientology case, having
considered the characteristics of a religion, concluded that the definition of
‘religion’ in English charity law was characterised by three aspects: firstly,
a belief in a supreme being, secondly, an expression of that belief through
worship and thirdly, that there must be an advancement of religion. Because of
this decision and the changes to include more than one god or no god, the
Consultation asks questions on the definition of ‘religion’. In our opinion, it
is vital that any redefinition of ‘religion’ maintains the three aspects
discussed in the Church of Scientology decision.

The Consultation explains that an alternative to ‘supreme being’ that has been
suggested is “a divine or transcendental being, entity or principle”. The
Consultation then poses the question as to the most appropriate terminology for
the Commission to use to describe the object or focus of religion.

Originally, charity law was founded on a traditional Christian belief in one
God. That requirement has been gradually eroded by the exceptions that have
been allowed. As Christians, we need to act now to ensure that the concept of
religion is not further secularised or diluted.

The LCF/CCFON is encouraging church leaders and trustees of Christian
organisations to respond to the Consultation on the religious sub-sector draft
supplementary ‘Public Benefit and the Advancement of Religion’ guidance to
demonstrate the depth of concern amongst Christian charities. It is crucial
that this Consultation receives a huge response, as amongst other important
issues, the very concept of ‘religion’ in charity law will be defined. This
definition will then be used to consider which charities are ‘charities’
according to the criterion of the ‘advancement of religion’.

It is of concern to note that the Commission has suggested that this particular
Consultation may also be of interest to trustees advancing non-religious belief
systems. In our opinion, this is neither necessary nor appropriate, as the
Commission intends to have separate sub-sector guidance for such charities. If
responses from those charities with non-religious beliefs are used to determine
the definition of religion this may result in even further secularisation or
dilution of the concept.

The LCF will be organising a Conference day on the Bill, looking at how to
respond to the Bill, examining the Consultation and will in due course provide
a link to our response which we hope will inform and assist you.

The link to the Consultation on draft supplementary guidance on Public Benefit
and the Advancement of Religion can be found at:


Friday, March 14, 2008

Catholic churches should not accept donations from abortionists


From SPUC: The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family has confirmed that churches should not accept donations from pharmaceutical companies which promote abortion. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo sent such a message in a letter to Rt Rev Gabriel Reyes, Bishop of Antipolo, the Philippines. Accepting such funds confused the faithful by appearing to condone illicit practices. There was no need to accept money from questionable sources.


Bishop Devine attacks gay lobby

Action: please support Bishop Devine. Talk of 'conspiracy' makes him sound like a crack-pot, but it is undeniable that the gay lobby have been and are engaged in a concerted campaign against Christian morality, and the sooner this was acknowledged the better. He'll be receiving sack-fulls of hate-mail; please email your support through
Bishop Devine's speech was part of the Gonzaga Lectures series. Sadly, an earlier lecture in the same series was used as a bully pulpit to attack the Church, by a well-known dissenting priest, Fr Monaghan.

From Catholic World News, in part: In a campus lecture on March 11 he said that homosexual activists have worked steadily to change public attitudes, while Christians have failed to uphold their principles. "The opposition know exactly what they're doing," the bishop said. "We don't." Pressure for social change, Bishop Devine said, "was bound to result in state-sponsored morality at war with Christian values." Exhorting Christians to join in the cultural battle, he said: "We must resist being corrupted by secularism." (First report in full here.)

The bishop reportedly said: "The homosexual lobby has been extremely effective in aligning itself with minority groups. It is ever-present at the service each year for the Holocaust memorial, as if to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution. We neglect the gay movement at our peril." He added that there was a "huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy" taking place, which the Catholic community had missed.

Bishop Devine's comments have been condemned by gay rights groups and Holocaust survivor organisations. However, yesterday Bishop Devine remained firm in the face of the criticism. "These groups are defending their position, I am defending mine," he said.

"The homosexual lobby has identified itself with people who have gone through dreadful persecution - the impression is that they have been equally persecuted.

"It is all about a lifestyle alien to the Christian tradition. There is a giant conspiracy against Christian values, an agenda here. I stand by what I said."

Lothians MSP George Foulkes has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament over the bishop's "unfortunate, outdated and unchristian remarks". The motion calls on the Parliament to "tackle prejudice in all its forms" and acknowledge the right of the gay community to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. (Follow-up report in full here.)


Secretary to the CDF: the Church's mission is the conversion of non-Catholics

Briefing: Archbishop Amato's remarks are salutary in the wake of some confusion caused by the new 'Good Friday' prayers issued by the Pope for the usus antiquior liturgy. The claim that non-Catholics should remain in their errors, since they will be saved by their own religions acting as channels of grace, is contrary to Church teaching, and anyway doesn't make sense. It is never right to tell a person to continue to believe what one knows is false.

From an email: Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Vatican in an interview in the Italian daily Avvenire has emphasised the importance of Catholic Mission. He quoted the text from the Council (Ad Gentes 7) which states

All must be incorporated into Him by baptism, and into the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself explicit terms affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism (cf.Mk.16:16; Jn.3:5) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism (cf.Mk.16:16; Jn.3:5) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church….

He was interviewed at the Salesian University, Rome by Gianni Cardinale (Amato: non c’e Chiesa senza missione, March 8, 2008, Saturday p. 21,Catholica). The Archbishop was asked questions on the document on Evangelization issued by the CDF last year.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

UNICEF and Save the Children anti life

Briefing: Catholics cannot support UNICEF (the Vatican has refused to fund it through its UN dues) or Save the Children.

From CFNews: 'For years UNICEF spokesmen denied promoting contraception or abortion,' wrote Winifride Prestwich in UNICEF: Guilty As Charged. She said records prove that 'step by step over a 30-year period UNICEF has tied itself to the population controllers and to the anti-life, anti-family attitudes of such organizations as the International Planned Parenthood Federation.'

A study released by the International Organizations Research Group (IORG) documented UNICEF's ties to abortion and radical feminism. UNICEF: Women or Children First? showed that UNICEF has helped write many documents that call for increased access to abortion and the legalization of the deadly act worldwide.

IORG discovered that UNICEF has funded a program run by the militantly pro-abortion Population Council, which holds the U.S. patent for the abortion pill, RU-486. UNICEF has also supported a South African group that targets adolescents with a pro-abortion message.

It is now official UNICEF policy to 'Promote and expand access to sexual and reproductive health services, including access to condoms,' the IORG report stated. A high-ranking UNICEF official even called for his group to 'make condoms available and accessible for everybody, everywhere and at all times. Abstinence is simply not a realistic option for most young people in the world today.'

The evidence that UNICEF has actively promoted the Culture of Death is overwhelming and indisputable:

* In 1987, UNICEF officially endorsed 'good quality abortion services' at the International Conference on Better Health for Women and Children in Nairobi, Kenya.

* In 1993, UNICEF raised its contribution to the United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA) open support for Communist China's 'one-child family' policy from $2 million to $5 million.

* In 1997, the Vatican cut funding to UNICEF after the group co-sponsored a manual that endorsed emergency birth control. (Emergency birth control can cause an early abortion.) UNICEF also refused to provide a detailed accounting of its population control and pro-abortion programs.

* On October 26, 2002, the Calgary Herald reported that UNICEF has been straying from its mission for many years. The article, titled 'UNICEF's Other Agendas,' included an interview with Mary Kassian, author of The Feminist Gospel. 'Hundreds of thousands of children are still dying of TB or malaria, or because they don't have clean water. And the UN is giving them IUDs...I chose long ago not to support UNICEF and to support those good causes through other agencies that aren't tainted.'

Save the Children has a working relationship with what it calls 'prominent international organizations.' Several of these groups are actively pro-abortion, including Better World Fund, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Action International, and the U.S. Committee for UNICEF.

In 2001, Save the Children worked with Planned Parenthood, the Population Action Council, and the pro-abortion Audubon Society on its five-year 'Planet Campaign.' Funded by the rabidly pro-abortion/population control David and Lucile Packard and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, the purpose of the campaign was to 'raise awareness of the connections between international family planning and the health of children, women and the environment.' The Planet Campaign used television and print advertising, community outreach, special events, and other activities to spread its message. Save the Children said the campaign's website provided 'an international forum for discussion of, and action on, women's reproductive health - including family planning - in various countries and diverse cultures around the world.'

Save the Children has stated that 'family planning' has been a 'critical component' of its work for nearly 20 years. The group quoted a UNICEF document which stated that 'family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.' Save the Children noted that the report identified 'access to family planning' as a 'key factor contributing to maternal and child survival and well-being.'

'It is laudable that the people involved with 'American Idol' want to help the poor,' said LDI President Douglas R. Scott, Jr. 'But it is tragic that they would choose to do so through groups like UNICEF and Save the Children. These groups have far too much deadly baggage.' Of course, what many people do not know, because 'American Idol' has not chosen to mention it, is that Simon Cowell is the chief executive officer of International Save the Children. This is surely why Save the Children was selected as a recipient charity.

''American Idol' should stop using the contestants to raise money for groups when they are keeping the activities of these charities a secret,' Scott said. ''American Idol' should practice full disclosure and give those contestants who may wish to decline participation in 'Idol Gives Back' the opportunity to do so without repercussions.'

'If you believe the plight of preborn children is as important as the plight of the poor, do not participate in 'Idol Gives Back'' Scott urged. 'We are caring people who want to do our part to help those less fortunate, but we will do so through organizations that do not view the killing of human beings as a 'solution' to poverty and other adult-created problems.'


'Gay/Paedophilia' hate crime amendment fails


From CFNews: A bill that was being examined in the House of Lords that proposes to make it a crime to draw any connection between homosexuality and paedophilia, has been ruled unnecessary and dropped. An amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill sought to create a new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. The amendment was withdrawn after the Lords decided that current provisions of the hate crimes laws are sufficient.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, concluded, 'When an allegation is considered to be threatening and with intent to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, the existing rules would support a conviction that this renders the amendment unnecessary.' Earl Ferrers described the amendment as, 'rather alarming'. He said, 'I find it frightening because you will end up with people being too frightened to say anything. To accept the amendment would be a retrograde step.' Lord Monson said, 'Is it not the case that as many boys as girls are victims of paedophiles, if not more so, and yet the overwhelming majority of those who perpetrate paedophile crimes are men?'

'Does this not suggest that there is a tendency among paedophiles towards homosexuality, compared with the proportion in the population as a whole?' Defending the amendment, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Thomas of Gresford told the House, 'We are concerned about the suggestion very frequently made by the British National Party and others that homosexuality and paedophilia are directly connected and that a person who is homosexual has a propensity to be a paedophile.'

Most of the research into homosexual behavior, however, shows a strong connection in the homosexual subculture with homosexual activity and paedophilia, as a simple glance through the personal classified advertisements in most homosexual magazines can show. A short search through the Google internet search engine using the words, 'gay', 'sex' and 'boys' reveals 2,900,000 hits with at least the first 550 websites being homosexual pornography featuring men having sex with young men, adolescents and boys. A pro-gay website reporting on the connection between homosexuality and youth suicide, quoted studies that show that the preference of gay men for younger men and boys is a commonly accepted part of the homosexual 'lifestyle' and is particularly accepted in Britain and Europe.

Pierre J. Tremblay, a researcher and author of The Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Factor in the Youth Suicide Problem, wrote a paper titled, 'A Highly Neglected Issue: Boys Who Have Sex With Men'. Tremblay wrote that the fact that many homosexual males start their sexual experiences as under age teens having encounters with older men, 'is not a fact of life that 'politically correct' gay / lesbian community leaders have wanted to be known and some of them (maybe many) have worked to make sure such knowledge remains generally unknown (often by denials), or that it is not talked about (via censorship).'

Tremblay writes, 'Some of their tactics to maintain this silence has also been quite vicious, even toward researchers who have dared to speak on this subject...' A representative of Stonewall, Britain's foremost homosexual activist organization, told the gay website, PinkNews, that the group has 'no problem with people talking openly of their temperate religious views', but he declined to specify what religious views the organization would accept as 'temperate'. Ben Summerskill, head of Stonewall, said, 'Some of the language used in the debate in the Lords gives us a stark reminder of kind of the kind of homophobia that we still face.'


Government smears Church schools


From CFNews: Ministers faced demands last night to retract 'outrageously inaccurate' claims that faith schools were demanding money for places. A leading head teacher said the accusations were 'a disgrace' and a 'smokescreen'. Religious leaders said they lacked foundation and a council criticised for breaching admissions rules condemned the handling of the allegations. It followed claims by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) suggesting that some schools in three areas expected financial contributions. Parents were asked to set up termly standing orders for hundreds of pounds - a move branded a 'scandal'. It emerged that just four schools may have been charging, fuelling claims that the disclosure was a distraction from figures showing that one in five parents failed to get children into their first choice secondary school.

The DCSF investigated the admissions policies of 570 schools in Barnet, north-west London, Manchester and Northamptonshire. Of these, 119 were suspected of flouting the code, which bans covert selection. Mike Griffiths, the head of Northampton School for Boys, said: '[Ministers] put in place a new code and promised parents that it would increase their chances of getting their first choice of school. Parents are angry - rightly so. The reaction of ministers has been to blame schools and to imply that if only we had all followed their code, the world would be a happier place. This is a disgrace. Parents should not have their confidence in the system undermined by inaccurate accusations.' The schools which are said to have been charging are all believed to be Jewish primaries in Barnet. The Telegraph understands that one levied a £50 admission fee while three others sought voluntary contributions towards security and Jewish studies, a subject not funded by the taxpayer.

Mike Freer, the leader of Tory Barnet council, said: 'This is a cheap tactic by a failing Government. We had a letter on Monday giving us 10 days to report back about some schools they had concerns about. But the ink was barely dry when [Mr Balls] was all over the TV saying it was a scandal - rather than waiting to find out the facts.' The Anglican Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Stephen Venner, said he only knew of one school that had asked for money in the past. But the cash was needed for a fund to fight its closure. Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, admitted the findings were based on 'unverified desk research'. He insisted that the names of the offending schools would not be released for at least two weeks. 'The department has written to the three local authorities and to the governing bodies of all voluntary aided and foundation schools who appear not to have complied with the law, asking them to verify what we have found. Once verified, we will present the detailed information.'


Jesuit 'obedience'

Comment: the Jesuits have reaffirmed their obedience to the Pope. They take a special vow of obedience to the Pope, which is supposed to emphasise this obedience, and history shows many examples of Jesuits being faithful to this in the most difficult circumstances. This has been less evident in recent times, and Pope Benedict asked them to reaffirm it.

What, however, do they mean by 'obedience'? Fr Z has the answer:

On the traditional obedience of the order, Father Carlo Casalone, the Jesuit superior in Italy, explained that it is always accompanied by “many commonplaces” and is interpreted “in militaristic terms.”

“In reality, obedience understood as uncritical obedience to the will of another is not a virtue,” he observed, emphasizing that in reality it is a matter of “seeking the will of God together with another person, that is, seeking the good to be done.”

This is quite mad.
'Seeking the will of God together with another' is not 'obedience', or if it is it robs the term of all meaning. It is simply a discussion about what to do. What happens at the end of the discussion, if there remains disagreement, and one discussant has an obligation of obedience to the other? Fr Casolone is silent. But it is at this point that obedience comes into play, and, yes, it looks awfully like 'obedience to the will of another', and it is indeed a military virtue, appropriate to a soldier of Christ, as all confirmed Catholics are.

Are there limits to obedience? Of course. When the commander exceeds his authority, fails to promulgate the command in the proper way, or commands something immoral. A mere disagreement about the best course of action does not justify non-obedience: that would make it impossible for an army, or a state, or the Church, to coordinate the great numbers of people under its authority in any coherent policy. Fr Casolone does not seem to understand this. We are entitled to our opinions, when it is a matter of prudence rather than doctrine, but we are still obliged to obey.

Contrast two cases. The Jesuits submitted to some very harsh Papal commands in the 17th and 18th Centuries, culminating in their own suppression as a religious order in 1773. This command was unjust, in the sense that they did not deserve to be suppressed. But the political situation was such that the Pope felt that this was necessary for the good of the Church. He may have been wrong, but the Jesuits obeyed, showing that the Pope at least had the capacity to carry out a coherent policy to respond to the pressing problems of the day.

By contrast, the great Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, accepted that the Pope had the legal right to impose his candidate as a canon of Lincoln Cathedral. But as the candidate has no intention of doing the work for which he was to be paid, he refused to confirm the appointment. The command, which amounted to a command to cooperation in the subversion of an ecclesiastical post, intended for the care of souls, to the purpose of cash generation, was immoral, and Grossteste was right. As he put it, "out of filial reverence and obedience I disobey, resist, and rebel".


Maundy Thursday: washing of women's feet NOT allowed

Local action as appropriate.

From Fr Z (see his whole post): 'the Latin rubrics for the foot washing rite has words viri selecti, “chosen men”. If you have been properly informed about this, to insist that “men” (viri) means “men and women” is really to lie. Homo or plural homines might be argued to be of both sexes, but absolutely not vir.

If you have been informed that vir means only "men" and that excludes boys or youths, then you were probably misinformed. Vir refers to a person’s sex, not his age. There are specific Latin words to indicate categories of age in males, such as puer, adolescens, iuvenis and senex. The word vir can tempt a strict interpretaion of "man" in the sense of "adult male", but that would be too strict. Also, while clearly the Apostles were men, not boys or youths, the point is that they were "male", not that they were this age or that age. The Apostles were present in the Upper Room because they were chosen by Christ to be priests. And there is only a juridical, not an ontological, limitation on the age a male can be ordained.

In any event, this whole debate has been cleared up more than once by the Holy See, especially in the 1988 document Paschales sollemnitatis of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. The rubrics of the 2002 Missale Romanum retain the viri selecti.

Legally, linguistically, and theologically the issue is clear.

No conference of bishops, individual bishop, or pastor has the authority to change this.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Holy water should NOT be removed from churches in Lent

Local action as appropriate.

From Fr Z (with his emphases) (his post here): Letter from the Congregation of Divine Worship, March 14, 2000
Dear Father:
This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.

This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.

2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).

Hoping that this resolves the question and with every good wish and kind regard, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Mons. Mario Marini [Now the Adjunct Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei]


Hybrids: new campaign and petition

Action: if you've not done so yet, lobby your MP. The Alive and Kicking umbrella group has all the information you need to do so, and a petition. Explore their website.


'New sins' media hoax

Briefing: the media seem interesting only in the shocking, so they try to turn everything into something scandalous. The papal astronomers move to bigger premises? Shock! Pope ejects astronomers from their building! Discussion on Luther planned? Shock! Pope to lift Luther's excommunication! It just goes on and on. The rule is: never believe anything about the Vatican until confirmed by Catholic news sources. Here's another example.

From Catholic World News: When he finished his interview with L'Osservatore Romano, Archishop Gianfranco Girotti probably thought that his main message had been an appeal to Catholics to use the sacrament of Confession. Little did he know that the English-language news media would play the interview as a newly revised list of sins.

Archbishop Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, spoke to the Vatican newspaper about "new forms of social sin" in our era. He mentioned such transgressions as destructive research on human embryos, degradation of the environment, and drug trafficking. Within hours, dozens of media sources were suggesting that the Vatican had radically revised the Ten Commandments, issuing a list of "new sins."

As usual, a British newspaper leapt to the forefront with the most sensational and misleading coverage. The Daily Telegraph made the preposterous claim that Archbishop Girotti's list replaced the traditional Catholic understanding of the seven deadly sins:

It replaces the list originally drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century, which included envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride.< href="">here.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Militant deaf people want deaf children

Briefing: a side issue in the hybrids bill, readers should be aware of this bizarre view.

From SPUC: A clause in the [Human Fertilisation & Embryology] bill has caused controversy among the deaf community, since it bans IVF patients from selecting deaf embryos for implantation and discarding hearing embryos, while permitting the reverse. [Observer, 9 March]

See the full story here.


Pro-Life success at the UN

Briefing: no thanks to our own wretched government or the EU.

From C-Fam: (NEW YORK — C-FAM) Final negotiations for the final document of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) ended as the sun rose on Saturday morning. Pro-life efforts helped keep the controversial term "sexual and reproductive health and rights" out of the main document. The term was also kept out of the other negotiated documents, one on female genital mutilation and another on HIV/AIDs.

Non-governmental lobbyists were kept out of the main negotiating room for the two-week conference so pro-life lobbyists kept a vigil outside the negotiating rooms until 4:30am on Saturday. Several delegations thanked the lobbyists for remaining at the UN throughout the night. One Latin American delegate even admitted to the group that delegates needed to be held accountable and know that their actions were being closely watched. One lobbyist told the Friday Fax that “It’s important for these delegates to see that there is a pro-life presence here. As long as they are working on documents that could affect unborn lives, we will be here to bear witness.”

Debate over the abortion issue waged throughout the CSW. Norway initially
proposed the inclusion of the controversial term “sexual and reproductive
health and rights” which has been defined by radical NGOs to include abortion.
To the surprise of many observers, the European Union (EU), a bloc which
normally speaks with one voice on social issues, announced that it would have a
common position on the Norwegian proposal.

The governments of Poland, Ireland, Malta, the United States, El Salvador,
Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Kiribati and the Holy See successfully managed to keep
“sexual and reproductive health and rights” out of the final version of the
text, despite the vociferous calls for its inclusion by the other EU member
states and a number of other states from Latin America and the Caribbean.

At one dramatic moment during negotiations on the HIV/AIDS resolution, a
delegation of EU negotiators swarmed into a negotiating room and demanded the
inclusion of the term. Their efforts were rebuffed.

Though “sexual and reproductive health and rights” did not make it into any
of the CSW documents, a problematic reference to the International Guidelines
on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights was included in a resolution on “Women, the Girl
Child and HIV/AIDS.” The Guidelines call for abortion-on-demand, the legal
recognition of same-sex unions and criminal penalties for any “vilification of
people who engage in same-sex relationships.” Though the government of Uganda
was assured by the facilitator of the meeting that the reference to the
document would be struck, the resolution was adopted by the CSW with the
reference still included.

Tensions between pro-life lobbyists and UN security continued to the end of
the conference. As the Friday Fax reported last week, UN security began
following and monitoring the activities of pro-life lobbyists. At one point, a
UN security guard upbraided pro-lifers for talking to delegates in the hallway
outside the conference room. A senior lobbyist went to UN security office and
asked to see the provision forbidding lobbying delegates in the hallway. The
security office could come up with nothing.

The CSW is expected to convene one final time this week to adopt the final
text and officially conclude the session.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Blair to teach on 'religious values'

Briefing: Blair has not responded to the questions about his new-found Catholic faith and his long-standing committment to the culture of death, but this may be more revealing.

From the BBC: Tony Blair is to teach students at Yale University in the US when he leads a seminar on faith and globalisation. The former prime minister has been appointed as a fellow at Yale and will begin teaching next year. The prestigious Connecticut university said the work was related to Mr Blair's Faith Foundation which will be launched later this year. Mr Blair's other appointments have included as a Middle East envoy and an adviser to investment bank JP Morgan.

Full story here.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 3

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

From Domestic Tranquility p49.
Educators and psychiatrists [in the 1950s and 1960s] believed they must "assume the burdens of parenthood, so poorly performed by most parents." ...The proliferation of their often conflicting advice, which itself varied with changes in psychiatric fashions, greatly eroded parents' confidence. ...
Any suggestion that women were frightened away from child-rearing by the awesome responsibility it entailed must now seem fatuous to a society that has largely accepted the feminist view that child-rearing--even of the youngest infants--is a task that requires few skills, presents no challenges, and can safely be left to the impersonal care of a day care centre. ...
The analyses of [sociologists] Lasch and Lopata are, nonetheless, completely accurate.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Poland and Malta defy EU pro-abortion policy at UN

Update: the stand against the putative 'EU position' taken by Poland and Malta has been joined by Ireland; the current (Slovenian) leader of the EU delegation has had to say that the EU has no common position. The attempts to insert the right to 'sexual and reproductive rights' into a document has also been resisted by El Salvador, Syria, the Holy See and Iran, as well as the United States. See the full story from CFam here.

Briefing 29/02/08. This is especially good news as many were expecting the new Polish government to be less pro-life than the last.

From C-Fam: The governments of Poland and Malta broke ranks with the European Union on the question of abortion this week. The dissention occurred at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which convened it's annual two-week meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Monday. The reaction of Poland and Malta happened after the EU tried to shift the meeting's agenda to include the right to abortion.

On Tuesday Radoslaw Mleczko, the Polish Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, told the gathering of UN Member States that Poland generally aligned itself with the EU but that any EU reference to sexual and reproductive health could not include abortion. On Thursday afternoon, the head of Malta's mission to the UN, Ambassador Saviour F. Borg said, "Malta would like to clarify its position with respect to the language relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the [EU] statement. Malta firmly continues to maintain that any position taken or recommendations made regarding women's empowerment and gender equality should not in any way create an obligation on any party to consider abortion as a legitimate form of reproductive health rights, services or commodities."

The split in the European Union is significant because the EU hardly ever splits on questions of social policy at the UN. Even countries that are generally anti-abortion go along with the more radical approach taken by the United Kingdom, France and Germany. They do this as an agreement that the EU will always work out their differences behind closed doors and present a united front at UN negotiations. This works to the advantage of the pro-abortion states since they outnumber the anti-abortion states. Moreover, an EU that is divided is one that can be defeated on social policy questions. In fact, the last time the EU split in any significant way was in the UN cloning debate which resulted in the UN calling for the ban of all forms of human cloning, an effort opposed by the UK, France, Germany and other left-wing European governments. It is unclear how meaningful this current split will be in the negotiations which will begin in earnest tomorrow.

Pro-life and pro-family issues were also woven into UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's opening remarks to the commission on Monday when he criticized the now widespread practice of choosing abortions based on the sex of the baby, an issue that was all but taken off the agenda at last year's CSW despite solid support from both civil society and numerous governmental delegations. In his speech to launch the new UN multi-year campaign to end violence against women, the Secretary-General stressed, "Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist. No country, no culture, no woman young or old is immune to this scourge."

The Secretary-General also highlighted the importance of families and children stating, "We know that violence against women compounds the enormous social and economic toll on families, communities, even whole nations. And we know that when we work to eradicate violence against women, we empower our greatest resource for development: mothers raising children."

Among the many pro-life and pro-family lobbyists attending the CSW is a large contingent of high school girls from Overbrook Academy in Rhode Island. Fourteen year old Elsa Corripio told the Friday Fax, "We want these delegates to know that there are many young people who believe in respecting life." Ana Paola Rangel, 15, added, "Maybe we can't change the world, but we know we can make a difference."

The CSW meeting continues through next week.


Ethical vaccines on the way

Briefing. Currently many vaccines, most famously the Rubella vaccine, are produced using tissue from aborted babies. Using such vaccines is a material cooperation in the evil of abortion, which can be justified if there is 'grave inconvenience' in avoiding such cooperation. Such cooperation, even if justified, places us under an obligation to seek alternatives, and Children of God for Life are to be congratulated on their successful campaign. There is absolutely no reason for the manufacturers to use this tissue; for them it simply a matter of convenience. Catholics will be obliged to use this alternative as soon as it becomes available. See the useful document from the Pontifical Academy for Life.

From CFNews: In a victory for pro-life families around the world, AVM Biotechnology LLC (AVM Biotech) have announced their decision to provide ethical alternatives in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and vaccine development. Dr Theresa Deisher, AVM Biotech Research and Development Director and founder stated, 'We will be working to bring commercially available, morally acceptable, vaccines to the US market and to use existing technology to produce new morally certified vaccines. Revenues from the vaccine business will also further the research, development and commercialization of morally certified therapeutics in other areas of medicine as well.'

The announcement was an answer to years of hard work and prayers for Children of God for Life, a pro-life organization that has battled to bring moral alternatives to aborted fetal vaccines to the US market for nearly a decade. 'There are no words sufficient to express our deepest gratitude to Dr Deisher and AVM Biotech', noted the group's Executive Director, Debi Vinnedge, who was also named to AVM Biotech's Advisory Board for vaccine development. While most vaccines and medicines are produced in an ethical manner, several are manufactured using cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue with no competing ethical products available. Vinnedge noted this has left concerned pro-life families in both a difficult and unjust position. 'For too long parents who want to protect their children without compromising their deeply held pro-life and religious beliefs have been coerced into an unnecessary and unjust moral dilemma,' she stated.

'No one should be forced to choose between these two fundamental human rights.' Both organizations hope that the news will spark members of Congress to move forward with their Fair Labeling and Informed Consent legislation, a bill that would require full disclosure from the pharmaceutical industry whenever aborted fetal or embryonic cell lines are used in medical products. 'Every consumer, whether pro-life in philosophy or not, has the right to know if human fetal cell contaminants are present in the drugs they receive', noted Dr Deisher. 'Consumers should be informed and empowered to make the best health care choices for themselves and their families. Surely, if we have the right to know what is in our fast food, we should also have the right to know what is in our medicine.' AVM Biotech intends to further assist in this effort by certifying that its therapeutic products are not discovered, screened, evaluated, produced, or tainted in any way by the use of electively aborted human fetal material, human embryonic material, or any other unethically obtained materials.

Dr Treloar, vice president of the National Association of Catholic Families, comments: 'Many parents really do object to their children being given a vaccine derived from a child who was killed, and at last a vaccine that many parents would find ethical will be a real step forward for their children'. [ education]


Bishops issue guide to Mental Capacity Act

Briefing. It can be downloaded as an A4 pdf or an A5 pdf; buy hard copy from the CTS here.

From CFNews: The new Mental Capacity Act affects the care of anyone who is unable to make decisions for themselves. These may be financial decisions, choices about where to live, or how someone is to be cared for. Healthcare decisions made when the end of life is approaching are the main focus of the 'Mental Capacity Act & Living Wills - A Practical Guide for Catholics', produced by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to provide a Catholic perspective on the new law. 'As Christians we believe that every human life is a gift from God and that to live that life fully we must love one another. Illness, whether mental or physical is a part of the human condition and most if not all of us will have to cope with it at some time in our lives. Ill health makes us aware of our human frailty, and calls for a response of love and care, recognising always that to be human is to be body, soul and spirit, and that we are ultimately called by God to follow Our Lord through death to the fullness of life with Him,' says the Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Reverend Peter Smith, Chair of the Department for Christian Citizenship and Responsibility, in his Opening Foreword.

This Guide seeks as practically as possible to answer many of the questions which you might have about this Act in relation to healthcare decisions, whether it concerns your own future, that of a friend or a member of your family who may be seriously ill, or whether you are a healthcare professional, he continues..Although (it) rightly focuses on the practical issues people face for Christians these of course find their true context within the Gospel message of hope. As Christians we are called to a vision of life and love beyond illness and death itself.' The Guide is in 'Question and Answer' form, and seeks to be as practical as possible in addressing some of the concerns which people may have, either regarding their own situation or that of a member of their family or religious community. It includes questions regarding the withdrawal of medical treatment at the end of life, the new powers in the Act to make advance decisions to refuse treatment (so-called 'Living-Wills'), and the duties of those appointed with lasting powers of attorney to take decisions of behalf of others.

A section of the Guide addresses issues for healthcare professionals. It has been written for use both within and beyond the Catholic Community and is available from the Catholic Truth Society, priced at £1.95. tel: 020 7640 0042 ISBN no. 978 1 86082 465 4 An on-line version is to be found here


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