The 50th edition! Available to download here.
Fatima and the Five First Saturdays p1
Profile of the founding team of Catholic Truth p3
'Fr McHaggis' on the never-ending series of sexual scandals among the Scottish clergy p4
The Scottish Bishops 2006 accounts p7
The Immaculate Conception p10
The Editor in conversation with her Guardian Angel p12
Fr McHaggis on the work of Catholic Truth Scotland: The lay people who began Catholic Truth had for years previously been writing to the bishops and the clergy, and in some cases even to the Roman Curia, to make their worries known in relation to a wide range of issues, only to be fobbed off with poopooing platitudes or, in most cases, to meet with no response at all.
Hence the newsletter, born of the conviction , as expressed in Canon 212, §3 of the Code of Canon Law, that the laity ‘have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful...’
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The 50th edition! Available to download here.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Action: please lobby your MP.
From SPUC: The first main debate ("Second Reading") and vote in the House of Commons
on the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill is now imminent. It may be as early as Monday 12 May.
The immediate priority is to ask MPs to vote against the Bill at Second Reading. The HFE Bill is the most serious legislative threat to early human life since the 1990 embryology law. We must also alert others to the nature of the Bill to help swell opposition to it.
We have produced a striking new leaflet for mass distribution - see http://www.spuc.org.uk/hfeleaflet.pdf Previous leaflets have been very effective in alerting people to the Bill - but we need to do more. Please do all you can to help circulate this leaflet now. It can be distributed door-to-door, outside churches and on the street. The leaflet urges people to write to or telephone their MP, and offers copies of our latest briefing
for those who want to know more - see http://www.spuc.org.uk/hfebriefing3.pdf Leaflets and briefings can be ordered by emailing
Liz Foody at SPUC email@example.com or by telephone
020 7091 7091 or by fax 020 7820 3131 or by post to SPUC, 3 Whitacre Mews,
Stannary Street, London SE11 4AB.
Visit http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps for how you can contact your MP to urge him/her to vote against the HFE bill.
In recent weeks the HFE Bill has been in the news a number of times:
* Several religious leaders have strongly criticised the Bill.
* The Prime Minister has supported the creation of human-animal embryos to produce stem cells.
* A group of medical research charities has supported the Bill.
* The chairman of the National Stem Cell Network has said that embryo
stem cells offer no guarantee of treating any diseases at all.
For more information, visit SPUC's HFE bill campaign page at
Yours sincerely in defence of life,
Monday, April 28, 2008
From CFNews: The Holy See is asking for measures to keep the production of biofuels from bringing about increased food prices to the point of threatening starvation in many countries. Monsignor Renato Volante, the permanent observer of the Holy See at the Rome-based UN Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), participated in the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Brasilia, Brazil, April 17-18. Monsignor Volante proposed that the production of biofuels should not bring about a decrease in the production of agricultural products destined for the food market.
Biofuels are energy sources produced from a variety of different plants or plant products. Many developed countries have begun subsidizing the production of biofuels, which has resulted in decreased production of typical plant foods.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged today a coordinated effort to face the steeply rising price of food, which he said has developed into a 'real global crisis.' He said some 100 million of the world's poor now need aid to be able to buy food. Riots have broken out in some countries, such as Haiti, over the increased prices.
A member of the UN World Food Program called the phenomenon a 'silent tsunami.'
Monsignor Volante acknowledged that the use of agricultural products in the production of biofuels 'can represent an opportunity for the protection of the environment and biodiversity.'
Nevertheless, he said this tendency is 'indicated today as the primary cause for the unprecedented increase of prices compared to a decade ago, as well as a rapid change in the use of agricultural terrain submitted to intense cultivation that weakens it.'
'All of this has a worldwide impact,' Monsignor Volante added, 'which, though it presents certain advantages for agricultural producers, in fact is causing negative consequences to the poverty levels in areas dependent upon the importation of food and to the conservation of land.'
The Holy See representative called on states to consider options, keeping in mind the 'essential objective' of protecting and ensuring the right to food.
It is not an option, he said, to 'diminish the quantity of agricultural products that must be introduced into the food market or of keeping them reserved for emergencies that could come to pass, in favor of other ends, even if acceptable ones, that do not satisfy a fundamental right, such as the right to food.'
Briefing: the only difference between 'Call to Action' in the US and groups like 'Catholics for a Changing Church' and 'Word Women Spirit' in the UK is that Call to Action is better funded.
From CFNews: 'Irreconcilable with the Catholic Faith' Call to Action, the dissident Catholic group described by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re as 'causing damage to the Church of Christ,' this week began a three-day regional conference in San Jose, California. Call to Action dissents from Church teaching on, among other things, homosexuality, women's ordination, priestly celibacy, and contraception.
The '10th Annual West Coast Regional Call to Action Conference,' with the theme 'Rebuild My Church - Responding Creatively to Injustice,' is being held at the Wyndham Hotel. It is was scheduled to conclude today, Sunday, April 27. According to a program announcement, the conference was to feature various dissidents from Church teaching, including several so-called 'women priests.'
Victoria Rue, Juanita Cordero, Kathleen Kunster and Jane Via - who claim to be 'women priests' -- are scheduled to conduct a workshop entitled 'Women Priests at the Grassroots.'
Fr. Brian Joyce, pastor of Christ the King parish in Pleasant Hill (Oakland diocese), is another of several scheduled speakers. His talk will cover 'Concrete Examples for Rebuilding a Parish -- How the vision of Vatican II can be explored and implemented in today's parish using sound theory and concrete examples.' Fr. Joyce became notorious in 2002 when someone videotaped a 'Clown Mass' he was celebrating at his parish. (The video has since been posted on YouTube and can be viewed here.)
Rob Grant, described in the program announcement as 'a driving force in the Bay Area liturgical scene,' will lead a workshop on 'Why the Church has a Problem with Progressives.' The program announcement describes the workshop this way: 'Why on earth would an otherwise intelligent institution be so wary of concepts as seemingly benign as women priests? Inclusive language? Collaborative leadership? Knowing the paradigms, assumptions and fears from which a person or a group operates is the first step to conversation and true engagement.'
Listed as 'keynotes' are Fr. John Dear, who, says the program announcement, is 'a Jesuit priest, peace activist, lecturer, and writer of approximately twenty books on nonviolence. In the course of his civil disobedience against war, he has been arrested more than 75 times;' retired Bishop Remi De Roo, who, as a result of his participation in Vatican II 'came to see how creative and life-giving these internal ecclesial tensions could become and grew to welcome the healthy diversity that is innate to authentic catholicity;' and Leo Keegan, who 'has been working in area of liturgical renewal for over 25 years as consultant for parish, diocesan and National Conferences specializing in initiation rites, liturgical arts and ministry formation.'
In March 1996, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz excommunicated all Catholics in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, who were members of Call to Action (along with members or supporters of Catholics for a Free Choice, Planned Parenthood, the Hemlock Society, the Freemasons, and the Society of St. Pius X). Call to Action's Nebraska chapter appealed their excommunication to the Vatican.
In December 2006, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, wrote to Bishop Bruskewitz that the Vatican was upholding his decision. 'The activities of 'Call to Action' in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint,' wrote Cardinal Re. 'Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith.' [CalCatholic] 1443.7
Briefing: an alarming development. But historically 'liberals' have frquently used force to impose their agenda.
From CFNews: A terrorist group calling itself the Insurrectionist Federation has reportedly taken credit for the recent bombing of the University of the Andes in reprisal for a decision of the Chilean Supreme Court prohibiting the distribution of the abortifacient 'morning after pill'. The bomb detonated in a university bathroom on April 23. Although no one was hurt, ACI Prensa reports that the bathroom suffered severe damage, contrary to media reports that the device was just a 'noise bomb'.
'They say it's just a 'noise bomb' but in reality the bathroom was destroyed and if anyone had been there they would have been killed or injured,' a university source told ACI Prensa. The report, which originated with Chile's Radio Cooperativa, was based on an email message sent to Chilean authorities. 'Credit for the attack has been claimed in relation to the debate which has existed in our society regarding methods of avoiding contraceptives,' said Xavier Armendáriz, a federal prosecutor, in an interview with Radio Cooperativa. The Chilean Supreme Court struck down the government's policy as unconstitutional, because it violates the right to life guaranteed in the nation's charter document.The attack was carried out against the University of the Andes because one of the court's judges has an affiliation with the institution, according to ACI Prensa. [LifeSiteNews]
Action: please pray to St Pio, known in his life as 'Padre Pio' and the greatest miracle-worker of the 20th Century, for the conversion of this country.
From CFNews: An estimated 15,000 people attended Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, as the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina were exposed for public veneration. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the Mass in the church that Padre Pio made famous. The body of the Capuchin friar, who died in 1968, was then placed on display in a glass coffin. Padre Pio gained worldwide fame during his lifetime as a confessor and a stigmatist. Thousands of pilgrims flocked to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet him and ask favors, recognizing his reputation as a miracle worker. He remains one of the most popular saints of the 20th century; about 300,000 people attended his canonization in June 2002. His body was exhumed on March 3, and discovered to be in excellent condition. Embalmers have since prepared the remains for public viewing. Already 750,000 people have made reservations to venerate St. Pio's remains through the remainder of this year.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.
From Domestic Tranquility p121.
[The feminist] Friedan's precise complaint was that despite their availability, women did not want careers. Nothing more clearly exposes the pretence that feminism's goal was limited merely to allowing women to make free choices than its unremitting disparaging and disadvantaging of the housewife. As one feminist baldly put it when discussing social security, the law should not make it psychologically comfortable to be a housewife because this will impede feminist goals. Whatever subsequent apologists might argue to mitigate feminism's excesses, status degradation has been the purpose of its attack. Far from being the enemy, it was men that feminists admired--at least in the public sphere. The enemy is the housewife...
Descriptions of housewives by feminists (pp121-122):
Gloria Steinem: 'housekeepers, or dependent creatures who are still children.' 'parasites'.
Helen Gurley Brown: 'a parasite, a dependent, a scrounger, a sponger, ...a bum'.
Nena and George O'Neill: her 'horizons are inevitably limited by her relegation to domestic duties' which 'programs her for mediocrity and dulls her brain.'
Friday, April 25, 2008
Briefing. This is very good news; see the earlier posts here.
From the Catholic Herald, in part: St Walburge's, in Preston, a Grade II listed early Victorian Catholic church, is to receive £160,000 from Lottery funds to help with maintenance and repairs.
The church, listed as one of the 10 most endangered buildings in the country, was earmarked for closure last summer as a result of the Diocese of Lancaster's financial crisis. St Wlaburge's was opened in 1854.
Briefing. Here's the the un-censored version; the words he had to change come in at about 2.30 minutes. The BBC's refusal to acknowledge that some Muslim groups are NOT 'moderate' is pretty unbelievable, but is typical. Many of the Muslims they interview for 'the Muslim view' on current affairs programmes, for example, are regarded by their fellow Muslims as inhabiting the lunatic fringe. This isn't good for moderate Muslims or anyone else.
From Christian Concern for our Nation: A LONDON Mayoral candidate is taking the BBC and ITV to the High Court for ‘censoring’ his Party Election Broadcasts in the run up to the May 1 elections.
The Christian Choice candidate, Alan Craig, has instructed the Christian Legal Centre to file papers this morning at the Royal Courts of Justice after BBC and ITV officials instructed him to remove parts of his Party Election Broadcast which was aired on Wednesday evening (23 April ).
Alan Craig, a long-standing campaigner against the ‘Mega’ Mosque, due to be built in Newham close to the site of the Olympic Games, originally described the organisation behind it, Tablighi Jamaat, as ‘separatist’. However, BBC and ITV officials responsible for supervising the Broadcasts instructed him to moderate his language and change this factual description of the Islamic organisation if he wanted it aired. Alan Craig claims not only ‘political interference’ by the broadcasters, but says such action breeches his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of speech.
Under pressure Alan Craig changed the word to “controversial”. Then late in the
day ITV insisted that the agreed word “controversial” should be applied to the
mosque plans not to the Islamic group. But Alan Craig’s objections to the
mega-mosque have consistently been related to the nature of the Islamic group
behind the project; the plans have not yet even been published!
Alan Craig said: “BBC and ITV officials, none of whom were lawyers to our
knowledge, clearly instructed us to ‘tone down’ our views and change the sense
if we wanted the Party Election Broadcast. The legal language of ‘libel’ was
mentioned by the BBC, and in the case of ITV, we were forced to go back to the
studios at the last minute to record a censored version of the Party Election
“I am advised that libel is a defamation of an individual, and no-where in the
broadcast do we defame individuals. My comments are reasonable and moderate
and do not contradict the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. The BBC and ITV are
not entitled to limit free speech and I look forward to the judge ordering them
both to broadcast my original message.”
The Christian Legal Centre commented: “Providing that the content of an election
broadcast is within the law, the BBC and ITV should enable the electorate to
hear the unedited views of candidates and allow them to make up their own minds
as to whether they agree or not.”
The Christian Legal Centre will be calling for a Judicial Review of the BBC’s
and ITV’s decision, and ask the judge to order, as a matter of urgency, the
unedited Party Election Broadcast on both channels.
ORIGINAL PEB TEXT FROM ALAN CRAIG:-
“You may know about plans by a separatist Islamic group to build Europe's
biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it's a bad idea
that will bring division and I'm glad moderate Muslims support my stance in
BBC didn't like "separatist" (said it was libellous) or "moderate" (which
implied that the unnamed Tablighi Jamaat were extremist).
BBC EDITED TEXT READ:-
“You may know about plans by a controversial Islamic group to build Europe's
biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it's a bad idea
that will bring division and I'm glad Muslim leaders support my stance in
ITV: ITV objected to even this text. They insisted that "controversial" should
apply to the plans not to the Islamic group, and that Alan Craig should insert
"some" before Muslim leaders.
FINAL ITV EDITED TEXT READ:-
“You may know about controversial plans by an Islamic group to build Europe's
biggest mosque next to the Olympics site in West Ham. I think it's a bad idea
that will bring division and I'm glad some Muslims leaders support my stance in
The original intended Party Election Broadcast can be seen on YouTube. The final
and broadcast Party Election Broadcast (post BBC and ITV intervention) can be
seen on the BBC's website for the next 7 days.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Action: this initiative should be supported. See this site. The plan is for a million or more Rosaries to be said on 3rd May between 9 and 10 am US Eastern Time, which is 2-6pm British Summer Time.
From CFNews: The May 3rd One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies prayer event, initiated by the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization, has received a much welcomed letter of support from Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican City. In the letter, dated March 31st, 2008, Cardinal Arinze states: 'I write you to support your Organization's project that one million or more people participate in the May 3, 2008 ' One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies ' prayer event.'
The One Million Rosaries initiative is hopes to see a million participants pray the Rosary on Saturday, May 3rd for an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn babies. Participants will be praying the Rosary within the same sixty-minute time span (9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time Zone; 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Central Time Zone; etc.).
Registering for the May 3rd prayer event is easy and quick, and it can be done by visiting this site which also lists ways one may promote the event.
Two widely-known Catholics in the United States have also sent words of support for the May 3rd pro-life prayer event. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke (Archdiocese of St. Louis) stated: 'I encourage the faithful to seek the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe...by praying the Rosary for the protection of unborn life through the campaign of the St. Michael the Archangel Organization.' Mother Assumpta, Prioress General of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, offered her support, saying, 'I ... encourage everyone to join wholeheartedly in the One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies prayer event.'
Patrick Benedict, President of the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization and a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in the Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee, remains hopeful the one million mark will be reached: 'I very much appreciate the support of Cardinal Arinze, Archbishop Burke, and Mother Assumpta. For the May 3rd prayer event, I do hope at least one million pro-lifers will unite in praying the Rosary. This will give glory to God; it will honor the Blessed Virgin Mary; and, it will be an act of love bestowed upon our unborn brothers and sisters.
'More than 50 million unborn babies have been surgically killed in the U.S.A. and an untold number have been killed non-surgically. The question is not, 'Do the unborn babies need a major Rosary prayer event?' The real question is, 'Are there at least one million people willing to pray the Rosary for them?''
From CFNews: The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the Birmingham Mail reports. John Henry Newman was born in 1801. As an Anglican priest, he led the Oxford Movement that sought to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots. His conversion to Catholicism in 1845 rocked Victorian England. After becoming an Oratorian priest, he was involved in the establishment of the Birmingham Oratory. He died in 1890 and is buried at the oratory country house Rednall Hill. The Catholic Church has accepted as miraculous the cure of an American deacon's crippling spinal disorder. The deacon, Jack Sullivan of Marshfield, Massachusetts, prayed for John Henry Newman's intercession. At his beatification ceremony later this year, John Henry Newman will receive the title 'Blessed.' He will need one more recognized miracle to be canonized. The case of a 17-year-old New Hampshire boy who survived serious head injuries from a car crash is being investigated as a possible second miracle.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Briefing. The Government's policy is not to give mothers 'choice', but to corral them into paid work as soon as possible after their children are born. This is not what the overwhelming majority of mothers want, and study after study has shown that it is bad for the children. The Policy Exchange points out that a simple reallocation of Government money, from tax credits to child benefit, would give mothers the choice the Government claims to want them to have. Non-wage earners can't benefit from non-transferable tax credits: this is obviously a way to encourage mothers to start earning.
Hat-tip to Full Time Mothers. From the Telegraph, in part: Mothers should be paid to stay at home and raise their children, according to a report released today. The review found that most women wanted to work either part-time or not at all while their children were under five, but were prevented from doing so because state help for families had been channelled into tax credits.
The Policy Exchange think-tank is calling on the Government to scrap the current system of tax credits and grants in favour of a universal child care allowance - worth £60 per young child per week - that parents could keep or spend on a care provider. Maria Miller, the shadow family minister, will help to promote the report. She said: "Support for families in the first three years is still a neglected area of policy. Great strides have been made in some areas but many women are still feeling they have got really little choice in how they structure their family's life."
The report, entitled Little Britons, claims that billions of pounds of taxpayers' money has been wasted on formal child care when parents would prefer to care for their offspring at home.
Full story here.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Briefing. The 'Gay Catholic' groups in the United States are pretty unhappy about the Pope's reaffirmation of the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. His visit has occasioned a flurry of press releases from 'New Ways Ministry', one such group, one of which, listing his interventions on the issue as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and as Pope, is actually quite useful, if you discount the childish editorialising.
From New Ways Ministry:
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI on Lesbian/Gay Issues
October 1986: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.
--introduces the term “objective disorder” to describe a homosexual orientation. Immediately this term causes much confusion because it sounds as though the
--describes homosexual activity as “intrinsic moral evil.”
--claims that Church teaching transcends scientific knowledge: “The Church is thus in a position to learn from scientific discovery but also to transcend the horizons of science and to be confident that her more global vision does greater justice to the rich reality of the human person in his spiritual and physical dimensions, created by God and heir, by grace, to eternal life.”
--while condemning violence against lesbian/gay people, the document als o blames supporters of gay/lesbian rights for that violence, and claims that violence can be understood and rationalized: “when [pro-gay] civil legislations is introduced to protect behaviour to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.”
--blames gay/lesbian people for the HIV/AIDS crisis, and labels their advocates as dangerous to public health: “Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved.”
--warns bishops not to allow Church facilities to be used by groups that do not subscribe to the church’s teaching on sexual activity: “All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church. . . . Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups. . .”
July 1992: CDF issues Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons.
--Sent privately to the bishops, the document became public when New Ways Ministry, after receiving a copy of the text from an anonymous source, released it to the press. The Washington Post carried the first story on July 17, 1992.
--instructs bishops to be more circumspect in their support of civil rights legislation for lesbian/gay people: “Such initiatives, even where they seem more directed toward support of basic civil rights than condonement of homosexual activity or a homosexual lifestyle, may in fact have a negative impact on the family and society.”
--instructs bishops that discrimination is not unjust “in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teacher or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.”
--compares restricting the rights of lesbian/gay people with restricting the rights of “contagious or mentally ill persons, in order to protect the common good.”
June 1998: The CDF approves a revised version of the
--the elimination of a recommendation to pastors to “Use the words ‘homosexual,’ ‘gay,’ ‘lesbian,’ in honest and accurate ways, especially from the pulpit,” to encourage discussion of lesbian/gay issues, which was part of the original text.
--a description of sexual orientation as “a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality,” instead of as “a fundamental dimension of one’s personality,” as the
July 13, 1999: Notification of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith Regarding Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent
--The CDF prohibits two of the pioneers of lesbian/gay ministry “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons…”
August 2003: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.
This document reiterates the
--Heterosexual marriage would be devalued by same-sex marriage: “Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.”
--Permitting adoption of children by same-sex marriage “would actually mean doing violence to these children…” by harming their development.
--Catholic law-makers (and all Catholics) have a moral obligation to oppose same-sex unions: “…where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.” “If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way.”
November 2005: Congregation for Catholic Education, Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders
After being “tabled” by John Paul II, this document, which discourages bishops and seminaries from accepting gay men to study and ordination, is approved by Benedict XVI:
“…the Church, while profoundly respecting the person in question, cannot admit to the seminary
or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or
January 1, 2008: Papal Message on World Day of Prayer for Peace
Benedict XVI uses his new year’s message to note that “everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman… constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace."
Action: users of the Irish Chaplaincy and the Irish in general should protest to the Irish bishops, who made the appointment, and the Irish Embassy, which has a role in funding the post through The Irish Government Emigrant Services Programme (AKA Dion): please visit this page on their site where you can leave comments. We are told that the Pope’s views on social justice are “hardly credible” in view of the Church’s historic record of violence, torture and theft. We learn that the Catholic clergy teach that “men are superior to women” because they are more in the image of Christ. Pope John Paul II is also criticised. According to Fr Tissa Balasuriya, the author of the relevant essay, both John Paul and Benedict lived their lives “in a world dominated by white racism” and therefore could not understand the developing world. ...
Philomena Cullen, now Director, is a well-known dissenter from Church teaching.
Hat-tip to Catholic Rights. Cullen sprang to fame as the editor of 'Catholic Social Justice', a collection of essays by dissident Catholics, which not only criticised Catholic teaching but launched personal attacks on Pope Benedict, among other things as a racist.
From our post on this book:
From Holy Smoke (Damian Thompson) (see his full post here, and more quotations from the book here): Benedict is accused of taking an ideological position in favour of “the capitalist system and colonialism”.
See the post on this by Fr Finigan, who points out another of the authors was condemned by the CDF in 1997: "In publishing this Notification, the Congregation is obliged also to declare that Fr. Balasuriya has deviated from the integrity of the truth of the Catholic faith and, therefore, cannot be considered a Catholic theologian; moreover, he has incurred excommunication latae sententiae (can. 1364, ß1)."
We are told that the Pope’s views on social justice are “hardly credible” in view of the Church’s historic record of violence, torture and theft. We learn that the Catholic clergy teach that “men are superior to women” because they are more in the image of Christ.
Pope John Paul II is also criticised. According to Fr Tissa Balasuriya, the author of the relevant essay, both John Paul and Benedict lived their lives “in a world dominated by white racism” and therefore could not understand the developing world. ...
Friday, April 18, 2008
Briefing and comment: Blair tried to explain his notion of 'faith' in a lecture, which only served to confirm that for him Catholicism has no moral content. He celebrated with Stonewall when the Sexual Orientation Regulations was passed.
From CFNews: Tony Blair's office has replied to SPUC Director John Smeaton's letter in which he asked Mr Blair if, in the light of his reception into the Catholic church, he would tell us if he now repudiates:
* voting for abortion up to birth three times
* personally endorsing his government policy of supplying abortion and birth control drugs and devices to schoolgirls as young as 11 without parental knowledge or consent
* his government's commitment to the promotion of abortion on demand as a universal fundamental human right
* personally championing destructive experiments on human embryos
* his government introducing legislation which has led to a law which allows, and in certain circumstances requires, doctors to starve and dehydrate to death vulnerable patients;
John Smeaton writes : 'He has refused, point blank, to comment on, still less to repudiate, these positions.
Here is the reply in italics, interspersed with my comments on it:
9th April 2008
Dear Mr Smeaton
Thank you for writing about the important issue of pro-life.
Mr Blair recognises that this is a subject of great concern to many people around the world and on which a variety of deeply held convictions are held.
This kind of statement from a public figure all too often prefaces a letter which does not answer the questions raised.
However the Foundation inevitably has to focus on a limited number of issues, especially as it develops its thinking and builds up its resources.
I didn't write to Mr Blair's Foundation or to Mr Blair about his Foundation. I wrote to Mr Blair, at his office, to ask him whether he repudiates his anti-life record in parliament and government.
It plans to concentrate initially on the following four areas: how the different faiths might work more closely together to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals;
I did ask Mr Blair about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically how the Labour government under his premiership (and under his successor) interprets the MDGs to include a right to abortion. Why can't Mr Blair comment on that aspect of the MDGs, if the MDGs is one of the focuses of his Foundation?
educational projects, especially producing good material for school children here and abroad; an annual course at Yale University on faith and globalisation, with links to other institutions;
Can Mr Blair tell us whether this educational material and his course will teach students that almost all world religions not only recognise the intrinsic value and sanctity of human life but condemn, in general, abortion and euthanasia?
and support for The Co-Exist Foundation's plans to establish Abraham House, a meeting place for the Abrahamic faiths in central London. This means that, at the moment, the Foundation will not be able to address the issue of pro-life, weighty though it is.
Again, I didn't ask the Foundation to address pro-life issues - I asked Mr Blair to address them.
Nor, I am afraid, will Mr Blair be able to enter into correspondence on his personal beliefs on this or indeed other issues.
I did not ask Mr Blair to enter into correspondence on his personal beliefs. I asked him, a public figure, about his public record on matters of current public policy - under which hundreds of thousands of unborn British people, and unborn people in developing countries, are killed every year. As I have mentioned before, as a Catholic myself, I do not believe that public figures can be allowed to protect themselves from public scrutiny simply by being received into the Catholic Church.
I am very sorry to have to send you what you will probably find a disappointing reply
Yes, no reply at all is pretty disappointing.
but I hope that the above explains the reasons for it.
The letter singularly fails to explain the reasons for such a non-reply. [SPUC]
Local action as appropriate. The Challenge Team is a response to the anti-Catholic sex education that is nearly always found in Catholic schools, let alone non-Catholic ones. They discuss relationships, the importance of committment, and the value of chastity. This is not ideal: it embeds the notion of whole-class (not one-to-one) discussions on highly personal matters, and also the taking over of this aspect of education from parents. However, it is the only way for an orthodox organisation to reach children in schools and in the context of the actual situation in most schools they can do a lot of good. They are a resource Catholic parents should know about and get into their schools.
From CFNews: Sue Relf of the Challenge Team emails this report : 'Challenge Team has had another astonishing year. Two terms of touring have taken place - seven weeks in October and November and eight weeks from January to March. Ashburnham Place in Sussex hosts us for our training and preparation week. Twice we arrived at Ashburnham - in September and in January ten days or so before the first school was booked - with girls ready to tour this time, but no boys signed up. Both times we prayed (we had been praying and scouring the country for months) and both times young men joined the teams in time. The young adult team members were exceptional once again. Clare Horberry and Becca Sullivan (both 18) were joined in the autumn by Andrew Palmer (18) and Paul Thomas (23) and in January by Martin Yates (29). (This team was only three in number, but produced a very good presentation.)
They visited Manchester, Liverpool and area, the Isle of Man, Scotland, Bristol, Bath and area in the autumn term and East and West Sussex, Hants and the Isle of Wight, Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham, Ipswich, St Neots (Cambs), Stafford, Oxon, Hereford, Glos, Cheddar and finally Croydon and London, in the spring term.
In all they visited 90 schools and 7 youth groups, making a total of 142 presentations to over 17,500 teenagers. Of the schools, 33 schools were visited for the first time and the remaining 57 were return visits. 98% of the schools that fed back have asked for a visit either next year or the year after. Nearly 30 kind and hospitable families gave hospitality as the team travelled from place to place. The number of pupils in schools up and down the UK that have now witnessed a presentation since the beginning of 2004 has now reached 60,500. Twenty seven volunteer team members have been recruited. Local organisers have been a key factor in the opening up of new schools in new areas and in organising local hospitality.
We are now getting used to brilliant feedback. One pupil wrote in an email: 'I recently had an assembly by the 'Challenge Team' at my school and I really found it inspirational. I really respect you people for doing what you are doing, how you respect your virginity and seem to cherish it. As a teenager currently in a world where it is the single goal to 'get laid' as it is commonly said. For a while I too was among the crowd of people who sought solely after the prospect of sex, until I heard what you had to say. It really changed my view on sex, virginity, marriage and even girls! I really thank you for this, and as much as I doubt that it will be possible for me to keep my virginity until my day of marriage mainly because of the sheer colossal amount of pressure on me to lose it, I do hope that I can follow in your footsteps as much as teen-agely possible.'
Others emailed: 'You did a presentation in my school just the other day which was very informative and made me think a lot.'
'I watched your presentation at school. It seemed to make sense.'
'I think everyone should learn about these things.'
Teachers said: 'We felt it was good to explain to the students that there is an alternative lifestyle choice; students found it 'funny' and 'enjoyable'.
'Very worthwhile presentation. All students were engaged. The presenters held an excellent rapport with the group and involved many without embarrassing anyone.'
'As usual a well presented and challenging hour full of energy. We look forward to next year.'
'Very impressed. Put over an unpopular message in an engaging and thought provoking way. It made a lot of the students think and ask questions.'
We had an added problem this year as none of the presenters were drivers. However, we managed to recruit 12 individuals at different times who passed the team around! We purchased a vehicle, a Ford Galaxy, in January 07. This has been a great success.
A donation from a Trust of £25,000 per year has enabled Challenge Team to employ two part time administrators, one based in Manchester and one in Eastbourne. Tracy and Shirley organise the tours. Debs Fidler has been employed as Team Leader since September 06. She has made a great difference to the quality of the presentation as she travels with the team in the early stages and coaches them and encourages them en route.
The tours in the autumn term 08 and spring 09 have been plotted. The dates are as follows:
29th Sept to 24th October (4 weeks) - Manchester and the north west
3rd November - Isle of Man
10th November - Scotland
17th November - Bath and Bristol, Torquay
24th November - Shaftesbury and Dorset
19th January - East and West Sussex
26th January - Isle of Wight, Hants
2nd February - Oxford, Brimingham, Worcs, Hereford, Staffs
9th February - Notts
23rd February - Leics
2nd March - Ipswich, Cambs
9th March - Kent, London and Croydon
16th March - London and Croydon
The numbers of schools requesting bookings has grown steadily, so that we are reaching one team's capacity. From September 09 we are planning for enough growth to have a northern team and a southern team, both touring simultaneously for two terms.
Our next task is to recruit new team members for September. Two young women (aged 18 and 19) have signed up. We are seeking male young volunteers for the adventure of a lifetime! The travelling and touring makes Challenge Team a tough assignment, but every volunteer has said what a life changing experience it has been for them and how worthwhile they have found it.
Information about the gap year opportunity is on our website and can be printed off. www.challengeteamuk.org. Challenge Team is also seeking new local organisers who are able to approach schools in their areas and help with accommodation while the team is in the district. Brochures are available from the office: firstname.lastname@example.org. The next round of invitations to schools to make advance bookings are already going out.
It is amazing what a small bunch of 'little' people can do with limited resources when they put their minds to it. Challenge Team has been a real team effort. So many people give their time and resources - a huge debt of thanks is owed.
Exciting times are ahead!
Briefing. Some sanity in evidence in the preparations for the papal liturgies.
From CFNews: Pope Benedict XVI has declined to wear vestments displaying Australian national symbols during his appearance at World Youth Day in Sydney, The Australian reports.
The Pope has turned down proposed vestments that would display the Southern Cross, the constellation that is visible in the sky of the southern hemisphere and featured on the Australian flag. The chasubles would also have depicted 'Marjorie's Bird,' a design symbolizing the hopes of Australian aboriginal natives. The Pontiff reportedly insisted that liturgical vestments should show only Christian symbols.
Jim Hanna, a spokesman for World Youth Day organizers in Sydney, denied reports that the Pope's insistence on the Church liturgical norms has given rise to tensions among Australian clerics. 'I have seen no evidence of controversy brewing about the liturgy,' he told The Australian.
Briefing. A pity they missed the opportunity to fight the law in the courts.
From CFNews: The Bishop of Nottingham has sent a letter to his priests announcing that the Diocese is severing ties with its Catholic Children's Society, which will no longer be called 'Catholic' and will in fact merge with the local Anglican children's society and have a different name. There will be no church fundraising for it. He cited the Sexual Orientation Regulations as his reason. Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More, pray for us.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Update: The THT now promotes the most disgusting and dangerous sexual practices imaginable on its website. Claiming to make these marginally less likely to cause AIDs infection, they are in fact endorsing the sub-culture which is spreading them, and the AIDs they carry, more widely. This is one embarassment which the Oratory School has wisely avoided. Full story here.
Original post 12/11/07: Local action as appropriate: anyone connected with the school should register their support for the headmaster, David McFadden. The Terrence Higgins Trust openly supports the immoral lifestyle which increases the risk of AIDs infection, a strange position for an AIDs charity. They actively promote contraception and abortion. The Oratory School apparently offered to support them through a charity concert without giving it much thought; having thought about it, they have made the courageous decision to endure the censure of the liberal media by pulling out. The actor Simon Callow, a patron of both the THT and the Oratory Schola, has threatened to resign from the latter. Good riddance, we say.
The Oratory Schola's website still carries the announcement that they support the Terrence Higgins Trust; they also reveal, without embarrassment, that they sang for the odiously anti-Catholic film 'The Golden Compass'. Let us hope that the new Headmaster's attitude means this kind of thing won't happen again.
From The Guardian, in part: Yesterday, the Terrence Higgins Trust said it was "very disappointed" that the London Oratory School had axed it as the nominated charity for the concert, which is due to take place on December 1. The event will feature the school's internationally acclaimed choir, the Schola, and prominent soloists.
However, in a letter sent to parents and seen by the Guardian, headmaster David McFadden explained there were concerns "regarding the distribution of proceeds to an organisation whose aims and practices conflicted with the teachings and viewpoint of the Catholic church.
Full story here.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Briefing. The Family Courts, who meet in secret, are a major scandal and allow these appalling practices to continue. The idea that, in non-extreme cases, local authority social workers can do better for children than their natural parents is another attack on the family.
From CFNews: A council has admitted receiving Government money under a controversial 'adoption target' scheme that rewards the removal of children from their parents. Hammersmith and Fulham council, in west London, was paid £500,000 as a reward for placing more than 100 children for adoption in three years. The council is the first to acknowledge publicly a payout under the target scheme. It said that its social workers had 'pulled out all the stops' and 'cut down on the amount of bureaucracy' to boost the numbers. They exceeded their goal of 101 adoptions, securing 106 by this month's deadline. In almost every case, the birth parents fought to keep their children but were defeated in the family courts. advertisement A spokesman for the Tory-controlled council said: 'Nearly all of these children were adopted compulsorily through the courts. In each of these cases the courts decided that adoption was the right thing for the child.'
The councillor in charge of the campaign, Antony Lillis, said that the children had had the 'least promising' start in life, and were more likely to 'go on to achieve economic well-being' with their new adoptive parents. Campaigners said that some babies might have been taken unnecessarily from birth parents of limited means. John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of Justice for Families, said: 'I am concerned that Hammersmith and Fulham may have removed children to hit its target.'
The council announced its success in a press release headed 'Adoption target met'. Its disclosure appeared to contradict the claims of Kevin Brennan, the children's minister, who seemed to deny the existence of adoption targets when he said earlier this year: 'The only national adoption targets, which ended in 2006, were on the number of adoptions of children who were already in care and waiting to be placed for adoption, and on the speeding up of this. There was never a financial incentive for local authorities to meet these national targets.' [Sunday Telegraph]
From CFNews: In her column in this week's Catholic Herald, Mary Kenny warns parents that they should beware of Ed Balls, the Minister for Children, Schools and Families, who has chosen to attack faith schools. Mr Balls has claimed that dozens of faith schools ask for cash contributions 'upfront' when 'selecting' pupils: that they research the background of pupils in order to covertly 'select' them: and that they go to all sorts of nefarious lengths to break the admissions code. His claims have been widely discredited, and even he has admitted that his data was 'unverified'. It turns out that a handful of Jewish schools and one Anglican school in the London area told parents that some contributions would be needed for religious classes which were not covered by the school budget. But the inaccuracy of his information is not really the point.
The point is that Mt Balls, and his parliamentarian wife, Yvette Cooper, are of the New Labour genre quite determined to destroy faith schools, under any pretext. This is not because faith schools fail - or turn children into the candidates for Time magazine's indictment - but for quite the contrary reasons: because they so often succeed in educational terms. Because they uphold discipline and moral values. And because parents will go to almost any lengths to get their children into these schools. Every educationalist involved in religious-based education should beware of this man. Every parent should be made aware of what his intentions are. A strong defence against Mr Balls's daft and destructive ideas will certainly be required. After all, he doesn't care if he goes down in history as the Minister who made British youth worse: so long as he achieves his desired object to control and destroy' [Catholic Herald]
Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, has carried out a 'near criminal' attack on high-performing faith schools, according to a leading Labour MP. Frank Field, the former welfare minister, said Gordon Brown's closest colleague was 'ranting' and using the row to position himself for Labour's 'next leadership contest'. His attack, in an article in today's The Sunday Telegraph, comes as Mr Brown's government faces Labour revolts on the abolition of the 10p tax rate and plans to 'privatise' welfare policy. Mr Field takes Mr Balls to task for his comments after many faith schools were found to be breaking admissions rules, including asking parents for financial donations. Mr Balls said the schools' activities were 'unacceptable'. Mr Field writes: 'Ed Balls's recent attack on faith schools [was] not simply incomprehensible, but near criminal. The PM … must rein him in. A rant against faith schools may be good for positioning a candidate for the next leadership contest but it is deeply damaging to a government that is trying to prevent itself being confined to a political life-support machine.' Mr Balls, widely seen as the Prime Minister's right-hand man, has come under attacks which are viewed by many MPs as coded assaults on Mr Brown. [Sunday Telegraph]
Briefing. The personal reality of Satan is frequently denied. We ignore him at our peril.
From CFNews: The first question Father Amorth addressed in the report is if the devil exists: 'I respond with the words of John Paul II, who was once asked this question: 'Your Holiness, I find many bishop who don't believe in the devil.' And John Paul II responded: 'One who doesn't believe in the devil doesn't believe in the Gospel.' 'The devil is an angel, and therefore, a pure spirit created good by God and who perverted himself because he rebelled against God. Therefore, he maintains all the characteristics proper of a pure spirit, such as a very large intelligence, immensely bigger than ours.'
The devil is pleased by the way he is generally represented -- with wings and a tail, horns, as a bat, etc. -- because these images make him seem ridiculous and help people to believe that he does not exist, the exorcist reported. Father Amorth suggested that diabolic problems be separated from psychiatric ones; and to do so an exorcist is needed in every diocese to help in discernment. 'Normally when a person experiences these conflicts and problems, the first thing he does is see a doctor and psychiatrist,' he said. 'It is very difficult to distinguish the devil's action from a psychological problem. The person goes to a psychiatrist and after years of therapy obtains no result. 'Then he begins to suspect that the problem is not a natural one and goes to a conjurer from whom he obtains even greater harm.
This is what normally happens. At this point, it is possible that someone more experienced in these matters suggests an exorcist.' The exorcist confirmed that Satan's great foe is the Virgin Mary. He explained: 'On one occasion an exorcist friend of mine asked the devil what most hurts him about Our Lady, what most annoys him. He responded, 'That she is the purest of all creatures and that I am the filthiest; that she is the most obedient of all creatures and that I am the most rebellious; that she is the one who committed no sin and thus always conquers me.'' Father Amorth affirmed that on some occasions, God forces the Prince of Lies to tell the truth, however, the devil's main struggle is to make man fall into sin.
'To lead man towards evil is to make him fall into sin; this is the devil's preferred activity and we are all subject to it from our birth until our death.' According to Father Amorth, Mary is a key figure in the fight against the devil's tricks, especially since she herself was tempted: 'Mariology is my field and I have often been asked if Mary was tempted by the devil. Definitely. When? From her birth until her death. But she always triumphed.'
From Christian Concern for our Nation: The Christian Legal Centre and Comment on Reproductive Ethics filed papers yesterday at the High Court seeking Judicial Review over the recent decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to grant licences to Newcastle University and King’s College London (Jan 9, 2008) to begin research into degenerative diseases using animal-human hybrids. Last week Newcastle University claimed to have created the first animal-human embryo.
The legal challenge has been filed on two grounds: that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 does not allow licensing of animal-human hybrid embryos, and in fact contains a prohibition on the creation of such embryos. Claimants therefore believe no licence can be granted by the HFEA and the HFEA acted beyond its powers. Secondly, even if the HFEA did have the power to grant a licence, the HFE Act 1990 provides that no licence can be granted unless (1) it appears to the HFEA that the licence for research is necessary or desirable for one of a number of specified purposes and (2) that the HFEA is satisfied that any proposed use of embryos is necessary for the purposes of the research.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Barrister and Director of the Christian Legal
Centre which is bringing the action, together with Comment on Reproductive
Ethics said: “We believe the HFEA acted unlawfully in granting licences
permitting the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos. When the 1990 HFE Act
was passed it was quite clear that Parliament envisaged the embryo as human and
“The decisions to grant the licences were not justified in law in that the
proposed scientific techniques have been rendered ‘unnecessary’ and
‘undesirable’ by new technical advances; the proposed techniques do not work
and raise new scientific problems that will prevent any meaningful research
work. Most importantly, the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos is the
subject matter of a Bill before Parliament and the ethics, utility and limits
of such embryo research is presently the subject of Parliamentary debate. The
HFEA has pre-empted and usurped the will of Parliament.
“We also believe that the HFEA failed to take into account relevant factors,
namely bio-safety issues and/or the impact on the human genome of animal egg
The creation of animal-human hybrids is an attack on the innate dignity of what
it means to be human.
The Christian Legal Centre and Comment on Reproductive Ethics hopes that the
Court will revoke the licenses granted by the HFEA to Newcastle University and
King’s College London and order that no further experimentation is carried out.
Parliament will decide on this issue in the near future. Furthermore, the
thrust of science suggests this line of experimentation will not yield
Mrs Williams added: “It is also necessary for the Court to comment on the fact
that the 1990 Act said licences can only be granted when deemed necessary or
desirable. This is a legal and proper standard designed to safeguard and
protect the embryo. When other alternatives to such controversial research
already exist, then it cannot be claimed that such new research is either
necessary or desirable.”
From CFNews: A Catholic bishop in Scotland has compared China to Nazi Germany. Rt Rev Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, was speaking in the context of pro-Tibet protests during the Beijing Olympic flame's tour of Britain, The Wishaw Press reports. He said that the Chinese régime forced women to have abortions and to be sterilised in Tibet as well as in its own country. Bishop Devine called for worldwide peaceful demonstrations against 'the biggest police state in the world'.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
A continuing series; see here for the introduction, and here for more on feminism in the Catholic Church in the UK.
From Domestic Tranquility p93.
...Painting a picture of the male role's superiority because of the excitement, inherent interest, and intellectual rewards of the workplace, contemporary feminism challenged homemakers to substitute glamorous market production for dull and dreary domesticity. Answering this challenge, however, requires homemakers to articulate what they would leave unsaid, because to state how one feels about one's role as wife and mother may seem to impugn those who have chosen differently. The woman who chooses to exchange the marketplace for the home does so because to her all market work is fungible and can be done equally well by someone else; what she does at home with her child is unique. In fact, if not in theory, during the time that someone else assumes the mother's role, the mother-child relationship ceases to exist. ...The world will be mediated to the child by the surrogate who performs the mother's role...
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Briefing. The attack on physical chastisment is another attack on parents' rigths and the family. Do these social workers really prefer psychological pain to the physical kind as a way of disciplining small children? Or do they think they should not be disciplined at all, until they get sent to prison?
From Christian Concern for our Nation:A TAUNTON couple is being prevented from fostering children because they, along with the vast majority of parents in the UK, believe in occasionally smacking their ‘birth-child’ as a last resort, if judged in the best interest of the child.
David and Heather Bowen who have been married for 11 years, have a nine-year-old daughter. A second child, Jonathan, died with a rare condition called Thanatophoric Dysplasia three years ago, shortly after birth. Despite trying to conceive further children, the couple have been unsuccessful and decided to apply to foster.
Their application initially proceeded very well and they were approved by the social worker and her line manager, it was only when it came before the fostering panel in December 07 that the Council decided that it had a big problem with the use of physical chastisement. To David and Heather’s surprise the social worker’s line manager then changed her mind and issued a further
report to the panel not recommending the Bowens and ultimately the panel rejected their application.
David, a Chartered Surveyor said: “We began an application to become foster carers which lasted 14 months and were recommended by our social worker and her line manager in November 2007 – but the panel deferred making a recommendation and told the social worker to meet with us again. Within six weeks of this recommendation the social worker’s line manager overturned her previous decision.
“I am a parent Governor at a local school, my wife works for the school PTA, has
been a special needs careers advisor and now works in the school and we both
assist with children’s work at our local Church – based upon the evidence
presented to the Council, we cannot understand why we are unsuitable and it
seems that we have been excluded on the basis that we physically chastise our
birth child, in accordance with our beliefs and UK law”
The issue at stake was the Bowen’s view of physical chastisement. David added:
“To put this in perspective, our birth daughter is only chastised physically as
a last resort amongst a whole range of other forms of behaviour management
strategies which include rewards and sanctions. We have been made by the
Council to feel that we are bad parents and yet we do nothing that hundreds of
thousands of parents across the UK do as loving and responsible parents.” On
March 6 the panel met again and refused to accept the Bowens as Foster Carers.
Heather added: “As the outcome sank in we began to grieve again – feeling a
tremendous sense of loss that we would not be allowed to complete our family
and provide a loving to home to a child in need. It was very upsetting for us,
we learnt of the outcome in the reception area at County Hall, given the bad
news by social workers on their way out and we were given no opportunity to
question the panel. As we walked away from the Council offices empty handed, it
reminded us of the loss we experienced some three years ago when we left
hospital without our son, Jonathan.
“We are very grateful that we have a beautiful daughter and our faith gives us
much strength. However, we have to question why we were turned down. We do
understand the sensitivities surrounding Looked after Children and agreed from
the outset that we would not physically chastise a looked after child. If the
Council will not accept applicants that physically chastise their birth
children then it should make this clear from the outset. We cannot understand
how the Council can reach this conclusion when it has no policy to say that
parents will not be accepted if they physically chastise their birth children
and all the evidence in our form F application pointed to us being very good
The Bowens believe Somerset County Council is out of step with the vast majority
of parents throughout the UK, the electorate within the County, faith groups
and English law.
David added: “We are very concerned that the broader implication for parents
throughout the UK is that if Councils are permitted to reject parents, for
fostering or adoption, on the basis that they physically chastise ‘birth’
children, then tens of thousands of damaged children will be denied access to
perfectly good homes and parents. Surely this is not putting children first.”
The Bowens have lodged an appeal with the Council are consulting the Christian
Legal Centre in connection with filing for a Judicial Review on the issue.
From SPUC: A member of the European Parliament is campaigning against gender-based abortion worldwide. Mr Nirj Deva, Conservative MEP for south-east England, says that such abortions have contributed to the global deficit on 60 million women reported by the United Nations. He wants the parliament to be told the gender of each child whose abortion it funds. [LifeNews, 2 April]
Briefing. To say this is cheeky, given the government's relentless attacks on the Church, is the understatement of the year. But it is true that the bishops seem naive about the EU.
From CFNews: David Milliband, the Foreign Secretary, has used the Catholic bishops to help push through the controversial EU Lisbon Treaty without a popular vote, it was claimed this week. He told Parliament that a number of charities supported the treaty, including 'the commission of bishops' - by which he meant the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), to which the bishops of England and Wales belong. Edward Leigh, MP, has accused Mr Miliband of compromising the bishops' impartiality. 'For a Foreign Secretary to drag the bishops into a debate about a contentious treaty is ludicrous, let alone using them to support not having a referendum. This is underhand politics.'
COMECE supports most of the Lisbon Treaty but has no official policy on the referendum. Its members are Catholic bishops who monitor and advise the EU, but are independent of it. However, once the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, COMECE will have 'a fixed and official relationship with the EU', its spokeswoman said this week. As a result, say Eurosceptics, Europe's Catholic bishops will have been drawn into the machinery of the European Union. The impartiality of the bishops of England and Wales on the subject of the EU has been called into question in the past, when the bishops were accused by critics of lending their support to the European Constitution.
In 2004, the bishops' conference released a statement which said that Europe 'requires not just democratic and accountable institutions but also a moral vision'. It said: 'A constitutional treaty that helps secure these, and enjoys popular legitimacy, is vital if enlargement is to be a success.' The bishops' adviser on foreign affairs, Fr Frank Turner, said: 'A constitution is better than no constitution'. Fr Turner insisted that the statement was impartial but the bishops were nevertheless criticised by Eurosceptics. Pope Benedict XVI sharply criticised the European Union on its 50th anniversary last year for leaving out any mention of Europe's Christian heritage in its anniversary declaration. He said: 'If on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome the governments of the union want to get closer to their citizens, how can they exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity, in which the vast majority of its people continue to identify? Does not this unique form of apostasy of itself, even before God, lead it [Europe] to doubt its very identity?'
In an editorial the Catholic Herald says: 'Edward Leigh, the Catholic Conservative MP, is right to suspect that the Bishops of England and Wales have been dragged by the Foreign Secretary into a complex area of policy in which they have no special expertise.. The bishops must be careful . . . We ask merely for scrupulous impartiality from our bishops'. [Catholic Herald]
Briefing. Why are Catholic parents not acting strongly enough, or being taken seriously enough?
From CFNews: Two Bristol schools hurriedly withdrew two books designed to imbue children with tolerance toward same-sex relationships after complaints by Muslim parents, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday. The books, which target audiences as young as four or five years old, are King & King, a fairy tale about a young monarch who marries a prince instead of a princess, and a book entitled And Tango Makes Three about two male penguins who fall in love at the New York zoo.
Easton Primary School and Bannerman Road Community School, both in Bristol, removed the books as well as a DVD designed to teach children about families and includes gay and lesbian 'families.' The move was made following complaints by 90 parents, aided by the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society. Members of the society claimed parents were upset at the lack of parental consultation over the books. 'The main issue was there was a total lack of consultation with parents,' said Farooq Siddique, community development officer for the society and a governor at Bannerman Road school. 'The schools refused to deal with the parents, and were completely authoritarian. The agenda was to reduce homophobic bullying and all the parents said they were not against that side of it, but families were saying to us 'our child is coming home and talking about same-sex relationships, when we haven't even talked about heterosexual relationships with them yet.''
Although the Bristol City Council withdrew the books, it was careful to defend its prerogative to indoctrinate children as a means of preventing 'homophobic harassment'. 'All Bristol schools have a legal duty to report and deal with homophobic harassment as part of the curriculum since April 2007,' said Julia Walton, spokesperson for the education department of the Bristol City Council. 'As part of this, schools can choose to seek specialist advice and training on topics such as homophobia.' The Bristol City Council seems to have been very concerned about maintaining good relations with the Muslim community.
The two schools are 60 to 70 percent Muslim, according to Siddique's estimate. 'In Islam homosexual relationships are not acceptable, as they are not in Christianity and many other religions but the main issue is that they didn't bother to consult with parents,' said Siddique. 'The issue should have been, how do we stop bullying in general, and teaching about homosexuality can be a part of that. This was completely one-sided. Homosexuality is not a priority to parents but academic achievement is. This just makes parents think 'What the heck is my child being taught at school?'' Walton said that the Bristol City Council will be working with clerics, among others, to resolve the situation. 'Bristol City Council has temporarily withdrawn the use of materials that can be used to explain homophobia to children to ensure that both Bannerman Road and Easton primary schools can meet their legal responsibilities and operate safely,' said Walton.
'We are now liasing with community forums in the city, local clerics, teachers' unions, the Institute of Community Cohesion and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure that the topic can be addressed in an inclusive manner in the curriculum.' The schools' reaction to complaints has been phenomenal compared to reactions from complaints by Christians over the same books in 2007. The Joint Committee on Human Rights, composed of members of Parliament and the House of Lords, issued a report in February 2007 recommending that religious schools be forced to modify their religious teaching to comply with the sexual orientation regulations.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive for the British homosexual rights group Stonewall, expressed concern over the negative reaction of parents to the pro-homosexual books. 'The small number of parents who make a fuss will cause children to think there is something wrong,' he said. [LifeSiteNews]
Briefing. NB Stonewall are really very nasty indeed. The ridiculed Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham as a shortlisted candidate for 'bigot of the year' for his opposition to SORs. If Nichols becomes Cardinal, perhaps Blair will be less welcome in Westminster.
From CFNews: Stonewall's tenth star-studded Equality Dinner saw actors rub shoulders with ministers at the Dorchester Hotel on Thursday night. The event, sponsored by UBS for the third year, raised £320,000 for Stonewall's campaigning work. A sizeable chunk of the funds raised came in thanks to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - the same Tony Blair who was received into the Catholic Church only a few months ago by top English prelate Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor.
The opportunity to have tea with Tony Blair secured a bid of £20,000 in an auction held at the dinner.
Incidentally Blair was the keynote speaker at last year's Stonewall fundraiser. During his speech Blair thanked the gathered attendees for their help in passing his legislation to permit homosexual civil unions. Blair said that of all the pro-homosexual legislation passed in recent years, the civil partnership law gave him more than just pride, 'it actually brought real joy.' The first same-sex civil union caused him to give 'a little sort of skip,' he said, it was 'just so alive, and I was so struck by it.'
Another piece of legislation passed under Blair, the Sexual Orientation Legislation, affects the Catholic Church directly. In addition to Christian schools being forbidden from teaching against homosexuality, adoption agencies, Catholic included, must permit adoption of children by homosexual couples. Blair ignored warnings from a UK Catholic bishop that Catholic adoption agencies would have to close if such legislation were passed. And guess which agency was most concerned with ensuring that the Catholic Church could not maintain its freedom of conscience on adoptions? You guessed it - Stonewall.
LifeSiteNews.com warned, prior to Blair's reception into the Catholic Church - as did other faithful Catholics - that should Blair be accepted into the Church without repenting of his pro-abortion and pro-homosexual past it would cause scandal. Those warnings were ignored. In a press release issued the day after Blair's December 21st reception into the Church at a private ceremony in the chapel at Cardinal O'Connor's personal residence, the Cardinal said he was 'very glad' to welcome Blair into the Church. John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) commented on the matter saying, 'During his premiership, Tony Blair became one of the world's most significant architects of the culture of death - promoting abortion, experiments on human embryos, including on cloned human embryos, and euthanasia by neglect.' To respectfully contact the Archdiocese of Westminster email : Abhreception@rcdow.org.uk [LifeSiteNews]
Briefing. But look! We're quoted by Life Site News! Their story was picked up by CFNews.
From CFNews: Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, told an audience at Westminster Cathedral in London this week, 'If you are someone 'of faith' it is the focal point of belief in your life. There is no conceivable way that it wouldn't affect your politics.'
Blair was the first of the high profile lecturers at this year's Cardinal's Lectures at the cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Blair's speech at the cathedral is meant to herald the opening of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the goals of which are to 'promote respect, friendship and understanding between the major religious faiths'. But Blair's efforts to promote religion as a positive force in the world, has met with open derision from Christians in Britain who watched for ten years as he and his government 'plunged Britain into an ethical abyss.'
Blair said that there is a trend in British society, reflected around the world, that religious belief is at best a private matter, or one relegated to extremists. But he intends to argue, he said, that 'religious faith is a good thing in itself, that so far from being a reactionary force, it has a major part to play in shaping the values which guide the modern world, and can and should be a force for progress.' 'But it has to be rescued on the one hand from the extremist and exclusionary tendency within religion today; and on the other from the danger that religious faith is seen as an interesting part of history and tradition but with nothing to say about the contemporary human condition,' he continued. Blair's expressions of respect for religious belief have rung hollow for Christians and pro-life advocates who spent the years of his premiership fighting the steady stream of intensely anti-life and anti-Christian policies from Blair's Labour government. A stream that continues under his successor, Gordon Brown.
When it was rumoured last summer that Blair was seeking to be received into the Catholic Church, the editors of the Catholic news site, Catholic Action UK, were incredulous: 'Is it possible that, having voted for every anti-life and anti-family measure put before Parliament, closed down the Catholic adoption agencies, criminalised the teaching of the Catholic faith in schools, and removed charitable status from large numbers of Catholic charities, he's going to enter the Church?'
John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), wrote in February 2007, at the time Blair said he would be stepping down as Prime Minister, 'In general, there is virtually no area of pro-life or pro-family ethical concern which has not been made worse by the Blair government'. The website of the Cardinal's Lectures, says, 'In office as Prime Minster of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 he transformed Britain's public services through investment and reform.' There are few Christians or pro-life and pro-family activists in Britain who would disagree. Blair was one of the world's most powerful supporters and collaborators in the work of the homosexualist political movement to abolish the traditional legal protections for natural marriage, work which also had the effect of suppressing freedom of expression for religious people in the UK. He personally voted three times to permit abortion up to birth before becoming Prime Minister.
As PM he promoted the practice of secret abortions for schoolgirls without their parents being informed; he has encouraged use of the abortifacient morning-after pill for young women; he championed destructive research on human embryos in the laboratory. His government was complicit in the population control movement, most notably in its support for China's brutal One-Child policy. When rumours were circulating in June 2007 that Blair was to be received into the Church, Smeaton wrote that although SPUC is not affiliated with any religion, 'We would be very concerned at the impact on Muslims and their commitment to the pro-life cause if Mr Blair became a Muslim. We have similar concern for the impact on Christians if Mr. Blair joins the Catholic church without publicly repudiating his publicly professed pro-abortion and pro-IVF positions.'
Many British Catholics expressed shock and dismay in December last year when the Cardinal of Westminster, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, did in fact receive Blair into the Catholic Church without clarifying whether he had repented any of his very public rejections of Catholic teaching. Since Blair's reception in December, no further comments have been forthcoming from the Cardinal's office in the face of what was described by many Catholics, particularly those who spent years labouring in the pro-life movement against Blair's anti-life projects, as a 'scandal' and a 'slap in the face'. Meanwhile, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has told the Guardian that Britain's secularising trend is contrary to the British national identity. 'People are looking for a common good in this country. A very large number of people are saying, 'What is it that binds British people together?'' the cardinal said. 'There is no other heritage than the Judaeo-Christian heritage in this country.' He warned that abandoning that heritage for a 'totally secular view of life' would lead the nation down 'a very dangerous path'. [LifeSiteNews]
Commenting on Blair's speech at Westminster Cathedral, Father Tim Finigan writes in his blog 'Blair is keen that 'faith' in general should be respected as a force for 'progress.' We could ask with Chesterton 'progress towards what?' People of faiths should not be exclusive or 'extremist', they should be 'open' and not 'closed.' He praises Karen Armstrong's 'remarkable' book that talks about the evolution of religious thought from 'earliest times' when it was irrational and unforgiving, to 'modern times' when faiths share common values and purpose.
Therefore he is setting up a Foundation which will pursue the Millennium Development Goals, and publish information about the different faiths in various media. The Foundation will help those of any faith who stand for peaceful co-existence but 'reject the extremist and divisive notion that faiths are in fundamental struggle against each other.' It will promote the idea of faith itself as 'something dynamic, modern and full of present relevance.' Irrelevance is represented by 'stark dogmatism and empty ritualism.' Whether there can be beautiful dogmas or grace-filled rituals is left unsaid.
Reading the lecture, I was struck by how cogently this globalistic pan-religious niceness ignores the real questions over which people of faith disagree with one another and, more, with the humanists whom Blair seems also to want on board the global faith fest. The questions that he raises have been addressed brilliantly by Cardinal Ratzinger in 'Truth and Tolerance' but as far as this lecture is concerned, that book might as well never have been written.
To give an example of how the lecture blithely ignores the practical detail related to the high sounding principles it wafts before us, consider these two passages:
'Faith corrects, in a necessary and vital way, the tendency humankind has to relativism. It says there are absolutes - like the inalienable worth and dignity of every human being - that can never be sacrificed'.
- except in the case of the abortion up to birth of disabled babies?
'Faith is a living and growing belief, not stuck in one time in history, but moving with time, with reason, with knowledge, informed by scientific and technological discovery not in antithesis to it, as well as directing those discoveries toward humane ends'.
- such as destructive research on human embryos?
In the peroration, there is an interesting point which I would like to highlight since I believe that it neatly demonstrates that Blair fails to address a crucial problem for faith in Britain today. He says:
'If people of different faiths can co-exist happily, in mutual respect and solidarity, so can our world'.
The assumption seems to be that it is people of faith who are the problem. If only people of faith could sink their differences and live in peace, it seems, then all would be find and dandy. In the Britain that has emerged from decades of increasingly secularist government, (not particularly impeded in any way by Tony Blair) the far more disturbing spectre is that of the secularists who are militant, extremist, closed, exclusive etc. (put in the other nasty-denoting words of your choice). The vaunted global mutual respect and solidarity will not survive long in the areas where their writ runs. 1437.12
From CFNews: The highest court in the European Union has ruled that insurance companies may not retain the traditional definition of natural marriage and must recognise same-sex unions as equivalent to marriage in granting spousal pensions. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has ruled in favour of German homosexual, Tadao Maruko, who complained that an insurer had rejected his claim to €6,400 of his dead civil partner's pension.
In Germany, gay and lesbian couples can legally register their partnerings and have health insurance, inheritance and limited adoption rights but not the tax advantages. The ECJ said that refusal to grant a survivor's pension to registered homosexual partners constitutes direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
Tadao Maruko sued the insurance company Versorgungswerk der deutschen Bühnen and the Bavarian Administrative Court Munich referred the case to the ECJ. The company maintained that such pension survivor benefits were only to be granted to married spouses.
The ruling follows a trend in European legislation and court decisions that uphold the concept that there should be no legal distinction made between homosexual liaisons and natural marriages.
Defenders of the natural family have said that the changes in law throughout countries of the formerly Christian west have come as a series of dominoes that have fallen as a natural logical result of the nearly universal liberalisation of divorce and abortion laws in the west since the 1960's and 70's.
From CFNews: Over the past few weeks, the Geneva based Human Rights Council debated many issues, including the elimination of violence against women and the rights of the child. This culminated with a decision to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences for a period of 3 years. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography was also extended.
On March 20th, a resolution on the Rights of the Child was bought to the floor. Many elements of the resolution are concerning to pro-life/ pro-family advocates. For example, the resolution, under the umbrella of the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of Health, includes a call for governments to '(…) pay particular attention to …reproductive and sexual health.' Although many of the other concerns listed are legitimate and should be preoccupations for the international community, the reference to the need for 'sexual and reproductive health' (often used by U.N. agencies to mean family planning and abortion) undermines the promotion of the real health needs of children and adolescents.
Furthermore, the resolution also calls on state parties to provide children affected by HIV/AIDS with 'access to voluntary and confidential testing, reproductive health care and education, access to pharmaceutical products and medical technologies.'
Patrick Buckley, from the Society of Protection for the Unborn Children expressed concerns about the language quoted above saying that 'clearly this language while primarily dealing with the HIV/ AIDS issue could also be interpreted as providing children with access to sex education together with access to contraception and abortion without parental knowledge or consent.'
Such language contributes to the notion that children's rights supersede parental rights. There is an inherent contradiction within the resolution. The document states that 'reaffirming the importance of the family as a basic unit of society and that such should be strengthened; (…) all the institutions of society should respect children's rights and secure their well-being and render appropriate assistance to parents, families, legal guardians and other caregivers.'
Acknowledging the importance of the family is a positive step. However, parental rights are trumped and disrespected in many official U.N. documents which do not serve to ensure children's well- being.
Update: Further to our recent alert urging you to help block the Council of Europe
endorsing abortion Europe-wide, we are happy to be able to provide you
with two in-depth briefings to help you when writing to members of the
Council's Parliamentary Assembly. The first briefing, produced by SPUC, is
entitled Abortion law and the Council of Europe and can be downloaded as a
PDF at http://www.spuc.org.uk/pace1.pdf The second briefing, produced by
the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI), is entitled Response to
draft report on abortion by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe's Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men and can be
downloaded as an PDF at http://www.spuc.org.uk/response.pdf Both of these
briefings plus our original alert can be found on our Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe campaign page