Sunday, August 31, 2008

FFM Parishes: O'Donaghue on being Catholic, 3

Another of our extracts from 'Fit for Mission? - Parishes' by Bishop O'Donaghue of Lancaster. Click on the 'label' FFM Parishes to see others. See the 'Fit for Mission?' website and download the full document. The previous title in the series, 'Fit for Mission? - Schools' is downloadable here (pdf). This generated a Facebook support group.

From section 7.2.5, p35.

Where this hedonistic, consumerist mentality is present it reduces the liturgy to a form of entertainment. This shifts the priority of worship away from the adoration of God, to revolve around the personal likes and dislikes of the clergy and congregation.
I am sure many of you are familiar with the symptoms of this dysfunction in the life of the Church:
• The priest reduced to being almost an entertainer whose desire is to keep the interest of his
• Members of the congregation who need constant novelty and stimulation;
• Laity who ‘shop around’ from one parish to the next until they find the ‘service’ that meets their particular tastes in liturgy.

All of these symptoms are manifestations of a deeper malady, which is a lack of true faith. Such shallow faith trivialises the liturgy to the proportions of man’s whims and caprices.


CES wants Sex Ed in Catholic Primary Schools

Briefing: it is not just wild-eyed secularists who are demanding sex education at ever-younger ages: now the Catholic Education Service wants it too. Actually, we should say 'The wild-eyed secularists demanding sex ed at ever younger ages include the CES.' This is absolutely abominable.

The Tablet tells us: 'The Catholic Education Service has said that sexual-health education cannot be restricted to secondary-school pupils. Responding to calls from MPs for sex education for children as young as four, the CES said the decision over how and when the subject should be taught should be left up to governing bodies." ('In Brief')

Compare the Church's teaching (The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality):
78. It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II's words as "the years of innocence" from about five years of age until puberty — the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in the boy or girl's body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex. During those years, before any physical sexual development is evident, it is normal for the child's interests to turn to other aspects of life. The rudimentary instinctive sexuality of very small children has disappeared. Boys and girls of this age are not particularly interested in sexual problems, and they prefer to associate with children of their own sex. So as not to disturb this important natural phase of growth, parents will recognize that prudent formation in chaste love during this period should be indirect, in preparation for puberty, when direct information will be necessary.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Catholic Education Service 'Welcomes' abortion provision in Catholic Schools

Action: please spread the word. John Smeaton, National Director of SPUC, is building up a campaign on this topic and will be publishing more information on his blog at time goes on. This is the first tranche: The Catholic Education Service, the official agency of the Bishops of England and Wales, tells us, in their own document “The Connexions Service working in Catholic schools in England”,

“The Connexions Service is making an increasing impact on young people in Catholic schools and colleges. It is a service to be welcomed.”

Yes, dear reader, this is the government 'service' which hands out 'relationship advice' promoting under-age promiscuity and then deals with the consequences by giving out the morning after pill and taking children as young as 12 to have abortions without notifying parents. It is 'to be welcomed' in Catholic schools.

If anyone thought that Catholic schools in some way protected children from the worst of the culture of death, you have no excuse any longer. Parents must find out what their own school is doing: are Connexions clinics or personnel allowed in your school? Don't wait to find out that you've lost a grandchild. Or perhaps not find out.

And anyone hoping that Archbishop Vincent Nichols may be a nice 'conservative' Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, take note: Archbishop Nichols is Chairman of the Catholic Education Service.

See John Smeaton's post.


Scottish bishops criticise Government policy

Briefing: this is an excellent statement, and as Damian Thompson says, puts the bishops of England and Wales to shame. It focuses on family policy and the homosexual adoption issue: on both of which the Bishops of England and Wales have apparently nothing to say, as a group. Their failure to agree to a statement over the latter is remarked on by Bishop O'Donaghue in his recent 'Fit For Mission? - Parishes' booklet. The Scottish bishops point out that children can only be helped through families: an obvious point which has been lost on Labour, in its ideologically driven attack on the family.

From the Scottish Catholic Observer (in part): Scotland’s bishops have accused Gordon Brown’s Government of planning to undermine families.

The Bishop’s Conference, responding to the draft legislative programme for the coming Parliamentary session, attacked both the government’s lack of support for families and its attempts to impose its ideological beliefs on society.

“Catholic adoption agencies are now to be indifferent as to whether a child is to be placed with a married couple of a homosexual cohabiting couple; this is gravely wrong,” the bishops say.

The Scottish hierarchy has now called on the government to do more for families and rethink its legislation, including the forthcoming Equality Bill.

The bishops made the call in a joint response to the legislative programme, which will be unveiled in the Queen’s speech at the opening of the next session of Parliament.

“We highlight the importance of the human family as the building block of society. Centuries of experience and learning testify to the importance of supporting family life for the well-being of society,” the bishops say in their response.

There is a duty on the government to give positive benefits to married parents, according to the Scottish hierarchy. The trend of ignoring the family when attempting to help children is “gravely deleterious,” the bishops say. “Policies must help encourage family stability.”

Only in this way, say the bishops, can child poverty be reduced and educational achievement increased.

See the full article.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Tories promise tax perks for married couples

Briefing: this is still undefined, but is likely to be very limited. The Telegraph suggests the 'restoration of the Married Couple's Tax Allowance' may be on the cards. Party members and others should be demanding a transferable tax allowance: so the tax allowances of a full-time mother are not wasted. Anything short of this is a tax on the traditional family: they will pay more tax for the same income than a two-income family. This is grossly unjust.

See the Telegraph article.


New book on the eugenicist roots of the anti-life movement


From SPUC: A new book describes the eugenicist roots of the campaign for abortion.
Ann Farmer's By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign describes plans to limit breeding by lower social classes and to eliminate the disabled. Abortion promoters have exaggerated the number of clandestine abortions, and birth control policies have caused demographic and economic problems. [Mr Leon Menzies Racionzer on John Smeaton's blog, 28 August]


Ecumaniac memorial in Oxford

Briefing: in June this bizarre, ugly, and morally distasteful plaque was unveiled in the University Church in Oxford, to the 'martyrs of the Reformation both Catholic and Protestant'.

Of the 22 names, 15 are Catholics executed by Protestant monarchs, five are Protestants executed by Queen Mary Tudor, one, William Laud, was a 'high' Anglican executed by 'low' church Protestants, and the last, Stephen College, was a 'low' church Protestant executed by 'high' church ones.

It is sufficient to demonstrate the absurdity of this memorial to say that three of the Catholics are not martyrs: Bowldry, Joyes and Webbe were executed for their part in an uprising in protest against the imposition of Cranmer's Prayer Book in 1549. While this uprising may have been justifiable, those who take up the sword are not martyrs. All the other Catholics have been beatified as martyrs; Cuthbert Mayne, Edmund Campion and Ralph Sherwin have been canonised.

But it is profoundly distasteful to place on the same memorial people who would not wish to share one. The first five names were people executed, directly or indirectly, by Cranmer. John Story was Cranmer's prosecutor at the trial which led to Cranmer's own execution; having escaped to the Spanish Netherlands under Queen Elizabeth, he was kidnapped and brought back to be executed in England. To make Cranmer's victims, and Cranmer's prosecutor, share a plaque with Cranmer, is grotesque.

It is particularly shameful that Catholics were involved in the plaque: it was unveiled by Lord Patten, the first Catholic Chancellor of the University since the Reformation. Ironically, special permission had to be sought from the University since the plaque included 'heretics'. Which ones, one wonders...

For a Catholic to be involved in such a project is wrong, since - apart from the question of good taste - it is clearly a statement of religious indifferentism, a view which has been repeatedly condemned by the Church. If one can describe people of diametrically opposed views as 'martyrs', this clearly implies that one set of views is as good as the other. A proposition, of course, which the men listed here would have violently rejected: another reason against the plaque.


FFM Parishes: O'Donaghue on being Catholic, 2

A second extract from 'Fit for Mission? - Parishes' by Bishop O'Donaghue of Lancaster. Click on the 'label' FFM Parishes to see others. See the 'Fit for Mission?' website and download the full document. The previous title in the series, 'Fit for Mission? - Schools' is downloadable here (pdf). This generated a Facebook support group.

From section 4.5, p23
In my ministry as priest and bishop, I have come across the following attitudes that fail to understand the Catholic vision of sacramental life:
• Catholics who say they don’t need to participate at Mass on Sunday because they can just as well, or even better, pray at home.
• Catholics who protest that they don’t need to go to confession because they can gain God’s forgiveness in the privacy of their sitting room.
• Catholics who say a positive consequence of the decline in vocations to the priesthood is that soon we’ll be able to have parishes just run by lay people, at long last rid of clericalism!

Such attitudes betray a failure to grasp the Catholic understanding that sacraments – the only objective way of encountering Christ – can only be received, in ordinary circumstances, from a Catholic ordained minister, or in the case of marriage in the presence of an ordained minister.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pro-life information to women considering abortion could be banned

Briefing. A bizarre proposal unlikely to make it into law, but pro-abortionists are very angry about pro-life counselling and this is another attempt to remove choice from women with crisis pregnancies.

From LifeSiteNews: People in Britain who persuade women to change their minds about having an abortion could go to prison. An amendment to the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill would make it an offence to give information that caused "the average pregnant woman to take a decision in relation to the termination of her pregnancy she would not have taken otherwise." SPUC thinks the move could be a reaction to its Abortion - Your Right to Know, a leaflet distributed in family doctors' surgeries. The proposed measure would cover material which, like SPUC's leaflet, was
totally factual. [LifeSiteNews, 26 August]


FFM Parishes: O'Donaghue on being Catholic

The first of our extracts from 'Fit for Mission? - Parishes' by Bishop O'Donaghue of Lancaster. Click on the 'label' FFM Parishes to see others. See the 'Fit for Mission?' website and download the full document. The previous title in the series, 'Fit for Mission? - Schools' is downloadable here (pdf). This generated a Facebook support group. Fr Tim Finnigan comments on it here.

From section 4, p20 (of the A4 edition):
Those who ignore their responsibility to God and neighbour forget they are Catholic.
Those who deliberately miss Sunday Mass forget they are Catholic.
Those who never pray forget they are Catholic.
Those who deny they are sinners and avoid confession forget they are Catholic.
Those who live oblivious to the suffering of the poor forget they are Catholic.
Those who dissent from the authority of the Church forget they are Catholic.
Those who use contraception, IVF and embryonic stem cell research forget they are Catholic.
Those who use pornography forget they are Catholic.
Those who have sex outside of marriage forget they are Catholic.
Those who commit homosexual acts forget they are Catholic.
Those who exploit their power and position forget they are Catholic.
Those who cheat on benefits or taxes forget they are Catholic.
Those employers who exploit their workforce forget they are Catholic.
Those who have racist, sexist or homophobic attitudes forget they are Catholic.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Church closures speed up

Briefing: coming to a church near you...

From CFNews: Up to half of Catholic parishes in some areas will be left without any services as a result of a radical nationwide reorganisation by dioceses.

Some of the churches already earmarked for closure have congregations of as many as 200 people, and worshippers have accused the Church of 'putting cash before Christianity'.

The most vociferous protests so far have been triggered by plans drawn up by the Rt Rev Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, to shut down seven churches in his diocese this month as part of a large scale closure programme.

Worshippers have appealed to MPs and heritage bodies to step into the row, written to the Charity Commissioners to argue that the diocese has neglected its duties as trustees of the churches, and last week served the bishop with legal papers claiming his behaviour breaches canon law.

Some of the protesters - including women in their 80s - have even chained themselves to the church railings in protest at the closures, which they claim will devastate the communities.

The closure of churches in the Wakefield and Pontefract deanery will mean that 12 have been lost in the past year, which amounts to a tenth of the whole diocese.

Worshippers have accused the bishop of 'acting like a dictator' in failing to respond to any of their letters, which proposed solutions to the problem and expressed concern over the damage that the action would have on communities.

Dozens of them travelled to the Bishop's residence last week with letters asking them to listen to their case and sent a petition delivering a vote of no confidence in him.

Many of the protesters have attended Mass at the churches for decades and have been baptised or married there.

Maureen Walsh, who has worshipped at Holy Family church Chequerfield for 44 years, said: 'We have been shattered by this. People were crying last Sunday realising that we will no longer be able to come here.'

A Polish priest has offered to take over from the current incumbent, who is due to retire this year, to enable the church to continue, but the proposal has been rejected by the bishop.

Anne Dyer, chair of governors at Holy Family and St Michael's Primary school, said that the closure of the church will affect everyone in the area from the children to their grandparents. Pupils sent Bishop Roche letters asking him to change his mind. Mrs Dyer said that the bishop has acted 'as if he is ruling in the dark ages' in the way that he has ignored their pleas.

'This area is crying out to be supported, but we feel that he has treated us like peasants rather than listening to what we have to say,' she added.

A few miles away, at St John the Evangelist Church, in Allerton Bywater, large banners hung on the outside walls make clear the congregation's displeasure. Malcolm Brumwell accused the bishop of breaking church law in his treatment of the parish and had denied worshippers access to a traditional Mass and removing the priest without offering him a new parish.

He said that a legal challenge has been issued to Bishop Roche, which he must send to Rome for a decision. It would set a precedent for bishops' freedom to close churches if it is found that he has acted inappropriately.

A letter has been sent to the Charity Commission by Our Lady of Lourdes church in Ackworth, which has nearly 200 worshippers.

It says that the diocese 'has failed to act in the interests of the charity and its beneficiaries (the parishioners and clergy)'.

Bishop Roche has argued that congregations of less than 200 people are no longer viable and that the churches are being closed because there are not enough priests to serve the parishes. Catholic churches in north-west England are under particular pressure, with a severe shortage of priests and a sharp fall in attendances at Mass. In the diocese of Liverpool, the number of priests has almost halved in the past decade, from 240 in 1998 to 166. The diocese of Lancaster is forecast to lose half of its 108 parishes in the next 10 years, a move which would see dozens of churches closed.

Campaigners in Leeds diocese hope that their efforts will bring them a last minute reprieve, but a spokesman for the bishop said that the fate of the churches could not be changed.

'Closing these churches is the last thing that the bishop wants to do, but he had no choice,' said John Brady, the bishop's press secretary. Mr Brady said that the closures were part of a 'rolling programme' that had already seen another seven churches shut down in the last 18 months. [Sunday Telegraph] 1476.16


Monday, August 25, 2008

Royal Mail honours Marie Stopes

Action: complaints, please, to the Royal Mail Chief Executive Adam Crozier: Marie Stopes was a vicious opponent of the family and an apologist for racist eugenics, compulsory sterilisation, and the killing of the disabled; she took part in a Nazi-organised eugenics conference. Don't take our word for it, look at her Wikipedia entry. One-sided articles about her are common, however: see the BBC.

"Utopia could be reached in my life time had I the power to issue inviolable edicts... I would legislate compulsory sterilization of the insane, feebleminded ... revolutionaries ... half castes." from The Control of Parenthood. 1920

As late as 1942, she wrote"Catholics, Prussians/ The Jews and the Russians/ all are a curse/ or something worse..."

She sent a copy of a book of love poems to 'Dear Herr Hitler' in 1939. See here for more.

From CFNews: Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph: '...Worse is the 50p stamp, which celebrates the absurd Marie Stopes, under the banner of 'family planning'. It is hard to think the postage stamp committee was fully aware of the craziness of Miss Stopes's life and ideas. She believed that coal fires gave off beneficial rays and so she would sit naked before the fire, a practice she enjoined on the nation.

She 'imagined conspiracies everywhere' according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 'even in the court order to destroy her beloved chow, Wuffles, for attacking other dogs'.

As for family planning, when her only son Harry announced his engagement to the daughter of the inventor Barnes Wallis, Marie Stopes reacted furiously, claiming that because the girl was short-sighted and had to wear spectacles, she must suffer from a hereditary defect.

It is clear that the woman of real distinction on these stamps is one whose name is not printed on them, but whose head appears on every British stamp for use on the Royal Mail'


Sunday, August 24, 2008

US priests refuse to give communion to kneeling communicants

Briefing. We've never heard of this happening in the UK, since the bishops here have not - as the US bishops have - directed that receiving communion standing should be 'the norm'. But it is worth knowing that even if a Bishops' Conference should decide this, let alone a parish priest, a Catholic retains the right to receive communion kneeling.

Fr Zuhlsdorf discusses this (see his full post), and the matter turns on a passage in Redemptionis Sacramentum, Section 91: it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

The same goes for receiving on the tongue. Incidentally, at the Traditional Mass (usus antiquior), communion MUST be received kneeling and on the tongue (although naturally priests will not always wish to enforce this on the spot).

Interestingly, since actions speak louder than words, the Holy Father has instituted a practice by which he ONLY administers communion to communicants kneeling and on the tongue. He clearly wants to re-establish this as the normal and preferred form of receiving communion.

Finally, it is important for priests to note that Redemptoris Sacramentum Section 92 adds: If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Times: pro-abortion bias


From John Smeanton (see his full post): Yesterday, a full-page, public-opinion-forming, spread of reportage and commentary, headlined "Abortion does not harm mental health, says study" presented an American Psychological Association review as significant, authoritative research into the effects of abortion. The fact that this study has been shown (see my post yesterday), on the basis of good evidence, to be fundamentally flawed, is completely ignored. To add insult to injury, Nigel Hawkes writes dismissively in a short commentary piece : "Anti-abortionists would like us to believe that women who have abortions suffer lifelong regrets ... The bulk of the best available evidence suggests that a single abortion does not carry psychological hazards greater than does a single pregnancy ... " - again completely ignoring evidence to the contrary.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Bishop Crispian says no to Polish Mass

Local action as appropriate: the Poles should be supported. This is not just about the texts of the Mass, of course: the whole set up, with a priest to preach, chat, hear confessions, prepare the faithful for the sacraments etc. in their own language is at stake. Catholics don't find it easy in the cliquely modern Church to move from one country to another without harm to their spiritual lives; many Poles lapse when they settle in England. Hollis seems determined to make it impossible.

Hollis is afflicted with a modern ideology of the Church as 'community', and seems to set this above the good of souls. But the Code of Canon Law tells us that Catholic are no longer under any obligation to go to their geographical parish church to fulfill their Sunday obligation (Can. 1248), and furthermore it tells us that the 'salvation of souls is the supreme law' (Can. 1752).

See also:
Can. 518 As a general rule a parish is to be territorial, that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory. When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established determined by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the Christian faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason.

Hat-tip from Damian Thompson:
The Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Crispian Hollis, has told Poles in his diocese that they cannot have weekly Polish-language Masses in their local church because it will stop them "integrating". They are deeply upset, and rightly so.

As my colleague Mark Greaves reports in the Catholic Herald, Poles at St Swithun's, Southsea, have been holding a weekly Mass since a Polish priest arrived in June. They asked Bishop Hollis's permission for a permanent arrangement, expecting an enthusiastic response.

Hollis's answer was that a weekly Polish service "would not help in the important work of integration within the local Catholic community" – ie, no, you can't have your Mass (but, now you're here, could you take a look at this broken boiler?).

Jaroslaw Dzwonkowski, a member of the congregation, told the Herald: "Asking for a weekly Mass is something basic and now we have to fight for it. Our religious life here is very basic – it's really the bare minimum. Many people in Poland go to church on a daily basis."

Read his full post.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Scots Bishops accept cervical cancer vaccine

Briefing. This is an example of the leverage the Scottish bishops can sometimes exercise over the devolved government.

From CFNews: A vaccine against cervical cancer will be given to schoolgirls without them receiving any safe sex advice as a result of a controversial deal struck between the Catholic Church and health officials, Scotland on Sunday has revealed.

From next month, 12 and 13-year-old girls at all schools in the country will start receiving the jab in a bid to cut deaths from cervical cancer caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which can be passed on during sex.

The Catholic Church originally raised objections to the jab on the grounds it could encourage promiscuity, but has made a U-turn after reaching an agreement with health and education bosses.

The deal means girls getting the HPV jab will not receive any accompanying advice on the need to use condoms to protect themselves from other sexually transmitted diseases.

Health campaigners and parents' groups last night reacted angrily to the deal, warning that the sexual health of thousands of young Scottish women was being put at risk to avoid a moral backlash from the Catholic Church.

Many sexual health experts believe it is essential to give out safe sex advice alongside the jab to make it clear they will remain at risk from other STIs including HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. More than half of the 5,000 female chlamydia patients in Scotland last year were under the age of 20.

The vaccine has been shown in trials to be highly effective in stopping cervical cancer caused by HPV if given to girls before they start sexual activity. Such cancers account for about 70% of cases of cervical cancer, which claims about 100 lives in Scotland every year.

When the decision to give the jab was announced by ministers in August 2006, a spokesman for Cardinal Keith O'Brien warned it could be seen by pre-teenage girls as a 'green light' for sexual activity.

The programme is due to start next month and schools are set to send out consent forms for the scheme from the beginning of September.

The Catholic Church has now decided it will back the programme, with the jabs being available in its own schools. Spokesman Ronnie Convery revealed: 'We have been in fruitful discussion with the health and education authorities, and we are satisfied that the programme to be rolled out across the country now is a responsible and ethically appropriate one.'

Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) Michael McGrath added: 'We wanted to make sure any support materials were appropriate in the Catholic schools, and we didn't want HPV and cervical cancer to be linked with artificial contraception. The factual information about the vaccine and cervical cancer are still there, but it doesn't promote particular kinds of sexual behaviour. We had discussions about it, we looked at various forms of words and came to an agreement. It took some months.'

Scotland on Sunday has examined the leaflets going out to schoolgirls who receive the jab and there is no mention of using condoms to protect against other STIs.

A spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association (FPA) said it was a missed opportunity. Chief executive of the FPA Julie Bentley said: 'The HPV vaccination will only protect young women from two strains of HPV leading to cervical cancer. It is critically important that young people understand the need to use condoms to protect them from other STIs.'

Scotland Patients' Association chairwoman Margaret Watt said: 'This message should be highlighted and underlined - please remember this injection doesn't protect you from sexually transmitted diseases or becoming pregnant.'

Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet, said parents would be annoyed by the omission. She said: 'The moral position is being imposed upon them. It seems a bit archaic to let the Catholic Church decide on this.'

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: 'The HPV vaccine is about saving lives and protecting future generations of young girls from cervical cancer.

'Scottish Government officials consulted with many stakeholders and undertook research with parents and girls to ensure the right level of information was included in the leaflet. The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to promoting safer sex, and we are taking forward our sexual health strategy 'Respect and Responsibility'.' [Scotsman online]


New research on large families

Action: please pass it on! Civitas, a thinktank, publishes a brilliant rebuttal of the arguments against large families in its latest newsletter, by the television journalist (and father of five) Colin Brazier. Download the Civitas Review here (pdf); read and comment on a Telegraph report here, and read Cassandra Jardine's review feature article here.

Large families are better for the children: they have better social skills, are healthier, and do better at school.
Large families are better for the environment: so obvious you'd have to be a fanatic not not realise - large families are per capita vastly more efficient users of resources than small families.

From Civitas: 'Another Child Matters: Bridging the Middle-Class Baby Gap. By Colin Brazier. - extracts
The decision to have more than two children represents a Rubicon many middle class parents cannot cross. With two children, returning to work – albeit with an expensive childcare bill and lost career momentum – remains an option. But three or more is typically beyond the reach of all but wealthier working parents. The result is two-fold. First, a new fashion for ostentatiously large families among the well-heeled.1 Second, a growing ‘baby-gap’ – between the number of children parents want and the number born – put at about 90,000 a year in Britain.2

On environmental objections to large families:
This analysis is bogus for two reasons. First, in Britain and Australia, birth rates are significantly below replacement levels. The citizens of both countries are guilt-free proxies for the demographic high achievers of the developing world.
Second, it is entirely plausible to argue that, far from being profligate, large families carefully husband resources. A four-person household uses half as much electricity, per capita, as a home for one.20 The number of men under 65 living alone has tripled since 1971.21 The environmental gains of declining fertility in the West are being more than offset by the lifestyle choice of solitary living.

The benefits of siblings:
[Some academics] argue that only-children are ‘less liked’ by their classmates30 and that any dysfunction might not abate with age. Only-children are more likely to change partners through divorce or separation than those with siblings.31 Teachers in one American study of 20,000 children32 found that a pupil’s membership of the awkward squad often hinged on sibship. Results, when controlled for economic circumstances, consistently showed that children from larger families got into fewer fights, made friends more quickly and kept more of them. The report’s authors say their data makes ‘a compelling case for the position that children hone social and interpersonal skills through sibling interactions at home, and that these skills then become useful outside the home’.

Repeated research has shown that allergic conditions like asthma, eczema and hay fever are related to sibship. Several have concluded that sharing a bedroom at an early age increases the number of infections caught from brothers or sisters and stimulates the immune system. The more siblings, the greater the resistnce. One of the biggest recent studies, involving half a million army conscripts, revealed that one in ten only- children developed asthma. In the largest families the figure was closer to one in 200.49 Against this backdrop, putting children into their own rooms looks less like a function or display of aggrandisement and more like immunological folly. Statistical evidence also links big families with a reduced risk of serious diseases including certain types of leukaemia, cancer and diabetes.

Benefits for parenting
The parents of large families come to recognise that not all their offspring can, or should be, top of the class. Conversely, they can afford to be more cavalier since they are likely to find at least one naturally-gifted scholar in their brood. As mother- of-four and author of the Parent Trap Maureen Freely wrote: ‘You might still be trying to live out your fantasies through them, but that still means fewer fantasies per child.’73


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Catholic MP3s: from Fr Z

In addition to the tremendous number of excellent MP3 talks available from Keep the Faith, including a large number of Bishop Fulton Sheen's (Sheen is likely to be beatified soon), and the MP3 available entirely free from Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice here, we'd like to draw attention to the wide range of free MP3s produced by Fr Zuhlsdorf (picture), the priest-blogger of 'What Does the Prayer Really Say?'. These are free, and include talks on controversial matters, sermons, and interviews: available here.

He also has a page of MP3s of liturgical prayers, said or sung in Latin, from the 1962 Missal. This is mainly a service for priests wishing to familiarise themselves with the pronunciation of the prayers, and also for laity who don't know the Traditional Mass and would like to become more familiar with it. The Passion of Matthew, from Palm Sunday, sung to the traditional chant melody, is extraordinarily moving. This is hardly a studio recording, but if you don't know it have a listen!

If you've got an MP3 player, who not use it for deepening your knowledge of the Faith? If you don't, you can probably listen to these from your computer.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bishop O'Donaghue's 'Fit for Mission? - Parishes': preview

Briefing: Following 'Fit for Mission? - Schools' Bishop O'Donaghue of Lancaster has penned a booklet addressing parishes. It comes out on August 27th but here is a preview from Damian Thompson: some very interesting remarks on the way the Bishops' Conference makes it harder for orthodox bishops to speak out on the issues of the day.

We'll be publishing extracts as soon as the document is officially released.

From Damian Thompson (see his full post): [O'Donaghue] attacks the way the Bishops' Conference bureaucracy divides major issues into "areas of responsibility" for particular bishops, leaving other bishops "reluctant ... to speak out on these issues, as if somehow they had handed over their competence in these areas to the responsible bishops and his particular committee".

And he adds: "I must register, too, my disappointment that our Bishops' Conference recently could not agree a collegial response to the Government's legislation on same-sex adoption."

The Conference's statements, says Bishop O'Donoghue, tend to be "flat and safe at a time when we need passionate and courageous public statements that dare to speak the full truth in love".


Sunday, August 17, 2008

SPUC: new 'Safe at School' leaflet

Action: please promote these.

From CFNews: A new leaflet has been developed to encourage parents to get to grips with what is happening in their children's schools. This is part of SPUC's campaign to raise awareness about what is happening in schools and to identify those people who will take action and start working for change within their own child's school.

The leaflet lists 17 questions to put to the school authorities - and provides a help-line on the issues the leaflet raises. Questions include: 'Are you aware of your child filling out questionnaires at school with leading questions on their knowledge of sexual matters and local availability of the morning-after pill?. . .Are you aware of websites advertising abortion facilitate and confidential advice which may be promoted at your child's school often on plastic cards which may also offer help on careers advice?. . .Are you aware that school governors have to consult with parents over sex education and that they have the power to veto anything they feel is detrimental to the child? . .'

The Safe at School campaign, run by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, is raising awareness about the ways in which children and young people at school are exposed to anti-life classroom materials and agencies through which they can get abortion referrals, abortion-inducing contraception and the morning-after pill. This includes faith schools (including Catholic schools).

Order the leaflets you need from [SPUC]


Sex ed for the mentally handicapped

Local action as appropriate.

From CFNews: Children with learning difficulties should be shown explicit images of intercourse as part of sex education, according to a radical new campaign by the Family Planning Association. The FPA's 'It's My Right' campaign has produced a CD-Rom to be used by special needs teachers and school nurses. It features explicit images of sex and masturbation. 'It's more explicit than mainstream sex-education,' said Audrey Simpson of the FPA. 'But you need to be quite explicit, otherwise you create confusion,' she claimed.

The scheme has been piloted in Northern Ireland by Mark Breslin who runs courses in sex education for schools and youth groups.

According to The Times Educational Supplement he believes many mainstream pupils would benefit from a similar approach.

The FPA recently called for parents to lose the right to take their children out of sex education classes and wants compulsory lessons to start at the age of four.

Critics say that decades of safer-sex policies have sidelined parents and contributed to the sexualisation of teenagers.

In recent years the promised reduction of teenage pregnancy rates have failed to meet Government targets. Meanwhile, levels of sexually transmitted diseases have risen amongst teens together with increased numbers of teen abortions. [Christian Institute]


Petition against church closures in Leeds

Please sign the petition: it is not an act of disloyalty to the bishop, but a cry for help to Rome. Bishop Roche's actions, in relation to a whole string of planned church closures (we reported a particularly outstanding case here) has been high-handed to an extraordinary degree. Announcing the plans to his own priests by DVD is shocking; refusing the answer the letters of the faithful, or even of their MPs, suggests that he is losing his grip on reality. In fact bishops are obliged, by the nature of their office, to listen to their flocks: they are his children, not his slaves.

See Damian Thompson's excellent commentary here. The text of the petition is this - click to go to the site to sign it here. (You do NOT have to make a donation to the website,!)

We are collecting signatures of ordinary people supporting the situation of the Parish of St John the Evangelist, Allerton Bywater before forwarding them to the Papal Nuncio & the Congregation for Clergy. This Petition states that:

We object to the planned closure and demolition of so many Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Leeds. We believe this plan to be detrimental to the wider community, and urge the authorities to think again. We have no confidence in the Bishop of Leeds, who is refusing to listen to the people.

We deeply regret that, despite our repeated requests, we were not given the opportunity to discuss our legitimate desires with Bishop Roche, and that he did not even do us the courtesy of replying to any of our Proposals or letters. Even letters from from local MP's Yvette Cooper & Colin Burgon have gone unanswered. As our spiritual father, his continuing silence is baffling and deeply hurtful. Our letters were courteous and respectful and were presented in accordance with Canon 212;2, and the express wish of the Second Vatican Council that 'the laity should disclose their needs and desires with that liberty and confidence which befits children of God and brothers of Christ' (LG 37). Lumen Gentium and the Catechism remind the Bishop that 'He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children'� (LG 27 # 2, CCC 896).

How can the bishop reconcile this situation with Canon 383;1: 'A diocesan bishop is to show himself concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to his care.' We have been abandoned, uncared-for, and ignored by our Bishop. We believe that he has signally failed in his duty of care for these parishes and has failed to observe his canonical obligations. We are deeply saddened and scandalised by events.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Lady of Good Success

From Fr Tim Finnigan: The feast of the Assumption seems a good day to promote devotion to Our Lady of Good Success. A reader kindly sent me the DVD, "Our Lady of Good Success: History, Miracles, Prophecies" produced by Pro Multis Media. In recent months, I have received several other items related to this devotion. There is a good website run by "Tradition in Action" which has a "Basic Questions" page by Dr Marian Therese Horvat who wrote the book "Our Lady of Good Success. Prophecies for our Times." Another dedicated website, Our Lady of Good Success has various articles and photos, from which the above is taken.
The first question any good Catholic will want to ask is "Is this devotion authorised?" The answer is unambiguously affirmative. It was approved in the 17th century by the local bishop and has been supported by his successors. Pope John Paul authorised a solemn public coronation of the statue.

Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635) at her convent in Quito, Ecuador. Her cause for canonisation was introduced by the local Bishop in 1986. It is particularly interesting that during the apparitions, Our Lady made a number of prophecies which have subsequently been fulfilled. She spoke particularly of the crisis in the Catholic Church during the 20th century. She also spoke, as at Fatima, of her subsequent "triumph" after a period of purification for the Church and the world. Our Lady told Mother Mariana that the devotion would become widespread in the late 20th century. Until then, it was virtually unknown outside Ecuador. There is a good article at Blessed Virgin Mary's Bower on the life of Mother Mariana.

The "good success" originally referred the happy development of Christ in the womb of Mary from conception to birth. It was extended to include our Lady's mediation and intercession in time of particular need. For our own time, it can be understood particularly to refer to Our Lady's motherly protection of the Church.

Our Lady of Good Success. Pray for us.


London Zoo: 'Gay Sunday'

Briefing. This is bizarre. The Evangelical group Christian Voice are calling for complaints and are organising a 'witness' in protest. It is certainly unjust to give a 20% discount on the basis of sexual orientation, and an indication of the Zoo's attitude in promoting the homosexual agenda: you have been warned. However, we don't want to go down the road of having apoplexy at every 'gay' event; we've got our work cut out opposing the sacrilege of the Warwick Street Masses.

From Christian Voice: London Zoo Gay Sunday 14th September 2008 They don't seem to be advertising it as much as last year, but London Zoo is giving homosexuals a discount again this year on 14th September by holding 'Gay Sunday' at this quintessential family venue (families will pay full price).

If the event is like last year, and the ZSL website suggests it will be:
The Zoo closes off the Mappin Terrace without telling the rest of the paying public, opens the Fellows' Lawn for a homosexual garden party.


Organ donation kills the donor

Action: do NOT allow your organs to be removed 'after death': they may well take them before death.

From LifeSiteNews, via SPUC: Some organ donors are not dead when their body parts are taken from them, according to bioethicists writing in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr Robert Truog of Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts, and Dr Franklin
Miller of the National Institutes of Health, Maryland, say that criteria for brain death and cardiac death are not supported by scientific literature. They write: "... although it may be perfectly ethical to remove vital organs for transplantation from patients who satisfy the diagnostic criteria of brain death, the reason it is ethical cannot be that we are convinced they are really dead." They write something similar
about cardiac death. Our source suggests the acknowledgement of the inadequacy of such criteria significantly undermines the ethics of organ donation. [LifeSiteNews, 14 August]


Friday, August 15, 2008

Callow and McKellen attack Bishop Devine

Briefing: a 'dog bites man' story if ever there was one. But here it is anyway.

From LifeSiteNews: Two prominent British homosexual actors have lashed out at a Catholic bishop for warning Catholic parents against the advance of the homosexualist movement. Sir Ian McKellen and Simon Callow denounced as 'arrogant' and 'unchristian' the efforts of Bishop Joseph Devine to warn a group of parents against the secularising aims of the homosexual movement.

McKellan, the actor who has used his fame, derived in part from his role as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films, to promote the homosexualist cause, said in a speech at a dinner for Stonewall, 'From the pulpit, homophobia is preached by some arrogant religious leaders who think their beliefs are superior to our inborn and, some would say, God-given nature.'

McKellan, a founding member of Stonewall, Britain's most successful homosexualist lobby group, referred to a lecture by Bishop Devine of the Motherwell diocese who infuriated homosexualist activists last March by openly acknowledging the existence of and danger to the Christian community of the 'gay lobby.'

Bishop Devine had particularly criticised the decision to make McKellan a Companion of Honour (CH) specifically for his work in 'equality', promoting the normalisation of homosexuality, as well as for his services to the dramatic arts. McKellan was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1979, and knighted in the 1991 New Year Honours for his outstanding work and contributions to the theatre.

McKellan's first public effort on behalf of the movement was his lobbying in 1988 against Section 28 of the Local Government Bill, which proposed to prohibit local authorities from 'promoting homosexuality as a kind of pretended family relationship.' Since then he has campaigned internationally, appearing in South Africa, the US and Singapore.

'The Bishop of Motherwell,' he told listeners at the Stonewall dinner, 'addressed his flock and told them how appalled he was that I had received an honour and that 100 years ago I would have been imprisoned like Oscar Wilde. He feels that the Roman Catholic Church is beleaguered in some way.'

Simon Callow is one of the most prominent gay actors in Britain and is listed 28th in the Independent's 2007 listing of the most influential gay men and women in the UK. He told the Sunday Times, 'The bishop is in my view a profoundly ignorant and stupid man in his views. If he finds it offensive that gay people want to celebrate those gay people who died in the Holocaust - which was a large number of people - then he's also profoundly unchristian.'

Speaking in Glasgow at a lecture titled 'Sectarianism and Secularism: Bugbears for the Catholic Church in Scotland', Bishop Devine had 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.'

Bishop Devine emphasised the danger to the Christian community of failing to recognise the power and organisation of the gay movement. 'I take it you're beginning to see that there is a huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy taking place which the Catholic community completely missed,' he said. 'It's a very small group of people, but very active and organised and extremely indulgent. The opposition know exactly what they're doing. We don't.'

Callow continued, 'I think they [the Catholic Church] are really shocked at how quickly the world has moved on, especially as it isn't the world they would like it to be, so they cite biblical incidents as being the word of God.' [LifeSiteNews]


Civil Partnerships celebrated at 'gay' Mass

Action: Please join the protest, from 4.45pm, outside Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, every first and third Sunday of the month.

From CFNews: Living in sin? 'Go, sin no more' Well, not too hasty now. What about an 'interactive time' of encouragement instead? In the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, you can join a half day of 'Relationships' -- with time to 'look at the stages' of your relationship -- with a group of 'professional people' who are leaders in this type of ministry. Meanwhile, at Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, where the Soho Masses take place, you may be given a leaflet with this note: 'On 3rd Sundays we name those who have requested our prayers as they enter civil partnerships. Please take a form from the information table if you wish names included or contact us.'


Cardinal Arinze: no to liturgical dance

Briefing: an intelligent and nuanced response to the question of liturgical dance from Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.


David Cameron in favour of abortion up to birth for the disabled

Briefing. It seems the disabled do not have the same rights, according to Mr Cameron, as everyone else.

From John Smeaton: The leader of the opposition in the UK parliament has confirmed that he supports abortion for disability up to birth. Asked about the issue by an SPUC supporter at a meeting in Cumbria, England, Mr David Cameron MP said: "[I]n the case of parents who have medical evidence that they may have a very disabled child, I would not want to change that." Mr Cameron has a six-year-old son with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia, and he said: "Ivan [has] brought incredible things to my life but it is an enormous challenge and I don't think it's right to ... tell other parents ... that actually doing something about it isn't an option." He wanted a free parliamentary
vote on such issues, and the time-limit for non-disabled abortion to be cut from 24 weeks to 20. Mr Gordon Brown MP, prime minister, also supports unlimited abortion of the disabled. [John Smeaton, 13 August]


Thursday, August 14, 2008

No more Y-H-W-Y

Briefing and comment: the 'Tetragram' is the combination of the four consonents
of God's Name, which was treated with enormous respect in the Old Testament, and is still so treated by Jews today. When it appears in the Bible it is never read aloud, being substituted by the word 'Adonai', 'Lord'. (This led to the confusion by which the nonesense word 'Jehovah' was invented: with the consonents of the Tetragram and the vowels of Adonai).

Sentitivity to the Holy Name was maintained in the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the classic vernacular translations of the bible, which render it 'LORD', indicated in printed bibles with capitals; you also see 'Lord GOD' where the Hebrew text had 'Lord Y-H-W-Y'. This convention was jettisoned by some modern translations, including the Catholic New Jerusalem Bible, which has never been approved for liturgical use. These inserted what the translators infer are the intended vowels.

In Pope Benedict's book 'Jesus of Nazareth' the practice of using the Holy Name in this way is condemned as not only impious but suggesting the the God of ancient Hebrews was just another Near Eastern deity, alongside Baal and so on. Now Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has confirmed that it should never be used in the liturgy.

Hat-tip to Fr Finigan, who has more commentary.

Last Friday, Bishop Serratelli, Chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship sent this letter from Cardinal Arinze and Archbishop Ranjith concerning the use of the Divine Name, signified in the sacred tetragrammaton. The key directives are as follows:

1. In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

2. For the translation of the Biblical text in modern languages, destined for liturgical usage of the Church, what is already prescribed by n. 41 of the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: "Lord", "Signore", "Seigneur", "Herr", "Señor", etc.

3. In translating, in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated "Lord" and the form God" is to be used for the tetragrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 15

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

From Domestic Tranquility, pp189-190
...Society must concede, say feminists, that the possibility of motherhood is no reason for viewing a young woman's remains in a body bad with any more horror than a young man's. But feminists are wrong. If a nation must wage war, a young man's death in combat fulfils his destiny as protector of a society the fundamental purpose of which is to reproduce itself and secure its children's safety and well-being. A young woman's death in combat can never fulfil, but only negate, her destiny as the bearer of those children. What a society is fighting for when it sends its citizens to war rests entirely in the body of a young woman with the potentiality of motherhood. ...because of the overarching importance to their movement of establishing sexual equivalence, feminists are willing to trivialize--even to treat as merely unpleasant--the sexual assaults on female war prisoners that are virtually certain to occur.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Pax Christi UK: dossier

Pax Christi is an international movement made up of autonomous local groups. It was founded in 1945 as an organisation of Catholics in Europe who wanted to promote reconciliation at the end of the Second World War. The UK organisation got going in the late 1950s. In the 1960s, with the notorious Fr Bruce Kent as its chaplain, it campainged against Britain's nuclear deterrent. In 1971 it merged with another Catholic peace group, 'PAX'.

Although it is listed in the 2008 Catholic Directory, and calls itself 'Pax Christi: International Catholic Movement for Peace', it does not actaully describe itself as Catholic. Rather:

Pax Christi, Peace of Christ, is a gospel-based lay-inspired, peacemaking movement. Founded in the Catholic Church, its membership is open to individuals, groups and organisations of all faiths who are in sympathy with its aims and values. It is affiliated to Pax Christi International. (here) - or alternatively Pax Christi is an international Christian peacemaking movement, based on the gospel and inspired by faith. (here)

Pax Christi remains an active part of the anti-nuclear weapons campain (there is a link to the CND on its website), and has also become closely involved with the 'anti-war movement' created by the Iraq war.

Pax Christi's Dissent from Church Teaching

There is very little talk on Pax Christi's excruciatingly badly-designed website about the doctrine of the 'just war', except that it needs to be 'updated'; rather, the central idea of Pax Christi appears to be that all war (and capital punishment) is wrong. Again and again we find this view quoted with approval, although it is not set up as the organisation's official position. The home page includes a power-point presentation entitled 'Peace begins with disarmament'. The Greenham Common women are quoted as saying that 'There has never been a just war' (pdf); a discussion of a Northern Ireland peace campaigner (pdf) reflects that
The whole idea of war, the so-called just war theory, the notion that Christians can arm themselves and kill their enemies and still follow Christ, has come into question in Ireland and in many other parts of the world.
A 2004 Newsletter (pdf) writer tells us that
I take courage from the words of Professor Rotblat who, in 1999, spoke of the "citizens of the world" who no longer perceive war to be a valid option as a route to justice and true peace.

This is all, however, contrary to the constant teaching of the Church, which is that self defence, defence of others, and war (and capital punishment) are in certain situations not only legitimate but on occasion obligatory. There are occasions when injustice can only be effectively opposed by violence, and on those occasions we do not turn our backs on those suffering injustice. The Bible contains many passages in which God endorses war, in the Old Testament; Our Lord does not regard the military profession as intrinsically immoral (Luke 3.14); St Paul reiterates the right of the state to kill (Romans 13.4); and the Catechism of the Catholic Church reiterates the 'Just War' doctrine (2309). Opposing a particular war is naturally legitimate for a Catholic, on the basis of a moral and political judgment, but it is wrong to rule out all war: to do so would be to condemn all the Catholics who have fought in wars, some of whom have been canonised: for example, the crusader king St Louis of France, St Joan of Arc, who opposed the English occupation of France, and St Ladislas of Hungary, who defended his country on the battlefield and was chosen to be commander in chief of the First Crusade.

Pax Christi as a political campaigning organisation

As a glance at its photo gallery makes clear, Pax Christi is a political campaigning organisation. It appears at rallies against nuclear weapons, the war in Iraq, and Israeli actions in Palestine. There is nothing illegitimage about political campaigning, but not only is the pacifistic tenor of the campaign is contrary to Catholic teaching, but such political questions as the legitimacy of the continuing occupation of Iraq are matters of legitimate disagreement for Catholics, and the Bishops of England and Wales have no business endorsing such an organisation by listing it in the Catholic Directory, let alone funding it through donations made on 'Peace Sunday'. These donations provided nearly £80,000 for their work in 2006 (out of a total income of £189,000) (pdf); the sum has grown considerably over recent years. (The next 'Peace Sunday' will be on January 19th 2009).

The fate of its one-time chaplain, Bruce Kent, is instructive: ordered by Cardinal Hume to keep out of politics, he left the priesthood. Politics had become more important to him than the priesthood. Lay Catholics may and indeed should take an interest in political matters, but they should not attempt to portray their political views as those of the Church, nor forget about the supernatural human vocation, and the importance of helping others to achieve it.

Pax Christi's bedfellows

Pax Christi's stance brings it into contact with some extremely un-Catholic organisations. Its links page is full of militant hard-left, anti-war and pacifist groups, most of whom are opposed to the Church's teaching on sexuality and the family.

Pax Christi is part of a network of dissident groups focused on so-called issues of 'justice and peace'. It is friendly to liberation theology, condemned in the 1980s by the Vatican, and links to Progressio. Pax Christi is well received by militant feminists, and gets good coverage in the 'Catholic Omnibus' (see our post here), the free newspaper run by the dissident feminists in charge of the National Board of Catholic Women. They are linked to by Progressio, Catholics for a Changing Church and a host of other dissenting groups.

The Damage Done by Pax Christi

Progressio and the feminists reject the Church's teaching on contraception and abortion, as set out in our dossiers on those groups (Progressio; Women Word Spirit). Pax Christi's role is a little more subtle. Throughout the Church, at parish and diocesan levels and at the Bishops' Conference, there are committees producing action plans for issues of 'Justice and Peace', in which Pax Christi plays an important part. Justice and peace are important aims for Catholics, but these groups are concerned with only a narrow set of issues, which are given a very specific political interpretation. The issues are poverty (in the UK and in the developing world), war and nuclear weapons, and perhaps green issues, and the approach to them is invariably left-leaning - generally supportive of the Labour party and government, criticising them only from the left. The practical and political impact of these committees is nugatory; their importance is as a distraction from the proclamation of the teaching of the Church on salvation, and political involvement on 'life' issues (abortion, euthanasia, stell cells etc.), and the family.

Thus the 'Justice and Peace' agenda is a continuation of the error of liberation theology, that the Church's main focus should be on the advancement of living standards rather than on the salvation of human souls. Furthermore, it is a deliberate displacement of political concern from issues on which the Church has teachings which require no controversial political judgments to apply to practical situations, namely on the life and family issues. The 'Justice and Peace' agenda gives the bishops and their lay hangers-on the feeling that they are deeply concerned and active on the important issues of the day, without straying from the comfort-zone of a Guardian-reader.

On the life and family issues, by contrast, bishops and Catholic intellectuals cannot bask in the glow of any left-leaning consensus. But there is no justice or peace while millions of babies are killed in the womb, the elderly are starved to death in hospital, and the family is undermined in every possible way by government policy.

How to Oppose Pax Christi

Just as the political judgments made by Pax Christi are not 'Catholic', so neither are the contrary political judgments. It is important not to fall into the error of opposing left-leaning politics in the Church with right-leaning politics. The problem within the Church, for Catholics as Catholics, is that Pax Christi is distorting Catholic teaching on war, and is presenting personal political views as somehow made necessary by Catholic teaching, when this is not the case.

They are doing this with money donated in good faith by Catholics who do not necessarily endorse these views: but even if they did, they should not be contributing to them at the back of church on a specially dedicated Sunday.

They are doing it in schools, with specially produced information packs, claiming to present a 'Catholic' view.

And they are doing it to the exclusion of the real political issues which Catholics as Catholics should be concerned about, the issues surrounding life and the family.

Pax Christi should be excluded from Catholic schools; parishes should refuse to give them space to spread their propaganda, and ask for money. They should be exposed as not even claiming to be a Catholic organisation.


'Catholic Omnibus': front page dissent

Action: faithful Catholics should remove this free paper from Churches wherever they see it. The front page of the current (August) issue (second paragraph) says this:

[in the Summer of the liturgical year] 'we begin to come to terms with the absence of the earthly body of Christ and get the measure of what 'This is my body' means in everyday terms. The body of Christ is discovered in the body of believers, in the other who believes and lives out a similar faith in Christ - or indeed whose articulation and mode of living is challengingly different from mine.'

But when 'This is My Body' is said in the liturgy the reference is to the Real Presence of Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, upon the Altar and in the Tabernacle. It should also be noted that 'challengingly different' 'modes of living' is a euphemism for modes of living condemned by the Church. The nun author (pictured: notice the habit) is a well-known dissenting theologian, Gemma Simmonds CJ, who is 'chaplain' to the once Catholic Heythrop College in London, despite the fact that, under canon law, chaplains must be priests.

Can. 564 A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a stable manner the pastoral care, at least in part, of some community or particular group of the Christian faithful, which is to be exercised according to the norm of universal and particular law.

Comment: The 'Catholic Omnibus' is a quarterly 12-page tabloid produced by the National Board of Catholic Women. The NBCW is an official consultative body of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It is dominated by the radical feminist and pro-abortion group 'Women Word Spirit' who seem to have been dropped from the Catholic Directory, after years of complaints from faithful Catholics. Their grip on the NBCW has not loosened, however, and last year the orthodox 'Association of Catholic Women' resigned their membership of the NBCW in protest.

Other features of the current issue: there are some photographs with captions, but no other text on the Pope and World Youth Day, the biggest story from the Universal Church this quarter. A huge amount of space is devoted to 'Green' issues, and none at all to the teaching of the Church, currently under intense attack, on the family and life issues. This is pretty surprising from a 'Catholic women's' publication. The report of the Health and Bioethics Committee of the NBCW focuses on the Government's innocuous proposals to make it easier for the dying to be cared for at home, and limits reference to the Hybrids bill to four lines. The formerly Catholic organisation 'Progressio', which campaigns for abortion and contracatpion, is promoted in a long article on p10, with a call for readers to support them at the end; the dissident pacifist group Pax Christi is given another long article (see our dossier). Most telling of all is the 'Justice and Peace' agenda which focuses on housing, poverty, and the developing world to the exclusion of the killing of the unborn and the destruction of the Catholic adoption agencies in our own country, and similar trends around the world.

Many of the writers are notorious dissidents. As we see from the first of Patricia Philip's 'Catholic Feminism' articles, here:
The Editor, Angela Perkins, was so enraged at a pro-life proposal at a NBCW meeting that she stood up to shout it down.
Her 'team' members are Verena Wright-Lovett and Freda Lambert: the first a member of the WWS and the second the author of a letter defending it in the Catholic Herald.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bishop Roche to close TLM parish

Action: prayers, please, for Fr Mark Lawler; residents of Leeds diocese should write to Bishop Roche and Rome.

Fr Mark Lawler, branded a 'troublemaker' for liking Latin and believing the faith, was put into a small, remote and dying parish to keep him out of the way. Now he has introduced Latin into the Novus Ordo Mass, and says it facing East (both things as envisaged by Vatican II), and has introduced the Traditional Mass as an extra Sunday Mass, in accordance with Summorum Pontificum, Bishop Roche is not only using his parish closure programme to close his church but will not be giving him any other parish.

So if the parish has to close because of the shortage of priests, why isn't Fr Lawler being given another parish? And if Fr Lawler is so pastorally disastrous, how has he managed to revive the parish, and why are his parishioners so united in his support?

One hundred parishioners have petitioned the Bishop against the closure, suggesting that the church be dedicated to the Traditional Mass (as the Pope has suggested, a sort of chaplaincy arrangement). Some chained themselves to the railings in protest. Not only does Bishop Roche not have the good manners to reply, but he didn't even tell his own priests about the closures: he gave them a DVD with the details!

There is no surprise about Bishop Roche's attitude to Pope Benedict's liturgical reforms, however: he issued a statement about Summorum Pontificum which flatly contradicted it.

Damian Thompson here and here; Fr Zulhsdorf here. There are some interesting comments on these posts from people with local knowledge.


Bishop of Shrewsbury criticised by Rome for plan to move parish to shared Anglican church

Local action as appropriate. The picture shows the Catholic church, SS Peter and Paul, which is under threat; for an earlier phase of the battle to save it see here. The Diocese has been spending the parish's money on the Anglican church they want to use: see here.

From the Catholic Herald: The Vatican has expressed "surprise" and "concern" at a plan by the Diocese of Shrewsbury to close one of its churches and arrange to have the parish Mass in a local Anglican church instead.

A letter from Mgr Giovanni Carrù, the under-secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, said the plan to close the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, on the Wirral coast, "appears to stand in direct contrast to the recent indication that there are no plans to close the church... which were communicated to this Dicastery by His Lordship [the Bishop of Shrewsbury]".

See the full story here.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Obscene statue of Jesus: police decline to investigate

Update: a private prosecution is to be made under public decency laws. See the Daily Mail here, which also has a partially pixilated photo of the statue. Please pray for the success of the legal action.

Briefing, 03/03/08

From Christian Concern for Our Nation: A Christian lady is challenging Northumbria police over their failure to investigate a statue of Jesus with an erection which was part of an exhibition displayed at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in January. Although the Baltic Centre admitted that they had several complaints about the work, they maintained that the exhibition was clearly marked as being potentially offensive and that visitors were given proper warnings about the images and sculptures on display. Emily has sent several letters to the police asking them to investigate whether an offence has been committed, asserting that the statue of Jesus is blasphemous and offensive under public order legislation. She awaits a response.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Desecration of the Blessed Sacrament and Communion in the Hand

Action: any readers concerned about the increasingly open attacks on the Blessed Sacrament has really got to grasp the nettle and stop receiving in the hand - if you still do. Priests should begin seriously discouraging the practice, which has only ever been allowed as an exception to the universal law of the Church.

Fr Zulhsdorf draws the obvious conclusion to the theft and repeated desecration of a consecrated host from the London Oratory, which we reported here.

Who goes forward for Communion is often hard to control

But there is something simple we can control.

No more Communion in the hand.

Not a fool-proof (and never was that term better applied) safeguard, but one that greatly reduces risk of profanation.

See his full post. Fr Zulhsdorf's podcast on the issue is here.

Here's Fr Finigan on Memoriale Domini, the 1969 document which permitted communion in the hand under certain conditions, while discouraging it strongly. It was permitted in England and Wales in 1976.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Harris booted off Ethics committee

Briefing: very good news.

From CFNews: Abortionist MP, Evan Harris, responsible for most of the 'anti-life' and liberalising amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was voted off the British Medical Association's Ethics Committee this week. This was a strategic and influential position for Evan Harris which he has now lost.

And from LifeNews: A new survey finds British doctors oppose legalizing assisted suicide by a two-to-one margin but pro-life groups are concerned that about one-third support the idea. The study, carried out by, an online discussion forum and professional network for medics, which represents 95 percent of doctors in the UK, has found 35 percent in favor of assisted suicide compared to 60 percent against the controversial move. The remainder said they were unsure.

The results of the survey suggest increasing support among doctors in favour of assisted suicide, a move many would inevitably become involved in if it were to be legalized, compared to just two years ago when the British Medical Association voted overwhelmingly against it. Tim Ringrose of said the results of the poll suggested many doctors felt there was a need to change the law. 'This is an interesting result because although the majority of doctors do not think the law should change, those who do form a significant minority,' the Scotsman quoted him, as saying. 'A lot of doctors, particularly GPs, feel they are in a catch-22 situation because if euthanasia were legalized they would be accused of influencing patients to do it. 'However some see the demand from patients to be given this choice,' he added. [LifeNews]


'Jesus was homosexual' slur retracted


From Christian Voice: The South Wales Echo has apologised for an article insulting the Bible and suggesting that Jesus Christ could have been homosexual. The apology was printed in the Echo last week, just two weeks after the original and on the same page. A website version of the article, by the out-of-touch Dan O'Neill, has also been taken down and internet search engines no longer refer to it. The apology came after Christians mounted a quick-fire protest against the article last week.

Members and supporters of Christian Voice gave out leaflets to those going in to work at Cardiff's leading firm of solicitors, Hugh James, who associated themselves with the web article. Following that, they occupied the Media Wales administration offices reception area just around the corner, singing hymns, before meeting with Simon Farrington, a senior managing editor at the Echo.

See the full Christian Voice press release.


Enthusiasm for working motherhood declines


Hat-tip to Full Time Mothers. From the Guardian, in part: In 1994, 51% of women in Britain and 52% of men said they believed family life would not suffer if a woman went to work. By 2002 those proportions had fallen to 46% of women and 42% of men. There was also a decline in the number of people thinking the best way for a woman to be independent is to have a job.

See the full story.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New translation of Mass texts approved

Briefing: there is still a lot more to be approved - for example, the collects for each Sunday and feast day which were recently rejected by the American bishops - but this is a big and much-delayed step forward for Pope Benedict's attempt to restore order to the liturgy.

From Catholic World News (via CFNews): The Vatican has given formal approval to a new English translation of the central prayers of the Mass for use in the United States.

In a June 23 letter of Bishop Arthur Serratelli, the chairman of the US bishops' liturgy committee, the Congregation for Divine Worship announces its 'recognitio' for the translation, which had already won the approval of the US bishops' conference, despite strong protests from some liberal prelates.

The new translation adheres more closely to the Latin of the 'Roman Missal'. Since the 2001 publication of 'Liturgiam Authenticam', the instruction on the proper translation of liturgical texts, the Vatican has pressed for more faithful translations of the official Latin texts.

Alluding gently to the fierce debates over English-language liturgical translations in the past decade, the Congregation for Divine Worship reports 'no little satisfaction in arriving at this juncture.' The letter from the Vatican is signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze and Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith, the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation.

The Vatican's binding approval covers only a portion of the entire 'Roman Missal'. The entire process of translating the 'Roman Missal' is expected to take at least until 2010. However, the prayers given the Vatican 'recognitio' are the most common texts for the Order of the Mass.

The Vatican approval comes just after the US bishops' conference voted against approval of another installment in the series of translations that will be required to complete the overall project.

The new translation is not to be used immediately, the Vatican letter indicates. Instead the US bishops are directed to begin 'pastoral preparation' for the changes in the language of the Mass. During this same period, the Congregation for Divine Worship notes, some musical settings for the text could be prepared.

Among the noteworthy changes that Catholics will notice when the new translation goes into effect are:

* At the Consecration, the priest will refer to Christ's blood which is 'poured out for you and for many'-- an accurate translation of 'pro multis' -- rather than 'for all' in the current translation.

* In the Nicene Creed the opening word, 'Credo', will be correctly translated as 'I believe' rather than 'we believe.'

* When the priest says, 'The Lord be with you,' the faithful respond, 'And with your spirit,' rather than simply, 'And also with you.'

* In the Eucharistic prayer, references to the Church will use the pronouns 'she' and 'her' rather than 'it.'

* In the 'Agnus Dei', the text cites the 'Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,' rather than using the singular word 'sin.'

* In the preferred form of the penitential rite, the faithful will acknowledge that they have sinned 'through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.'

Throughout the translation of the Offertory and Eucharistic Prayer, the traditional phrases of supplication are restored, and the Church is identified as 'holy'-- in each case, matching the Latin original of the 'Roman Missal'. [CWNews]

See also the Cornell Society.


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