Friday, May 30, 2008

Graglia against Feminism: 11

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

From Domestic Tranquility, p152.
...a woman's one-sided economic dependency is the most serious flaw in her traditional role. It constitutes a risk that was once--and again could be--ameliorated by divorce laws that, unlike our present no-fault laws, are designed to protect home-makers and their children. With the disingenuity that pervades their arguments, contemporary feminists now indict no-fault divorce laws for causing women's insecurity within marriage, citing the risk of divorce as the reason women must abandon their traditional role in favor of career pursuits. Yet enactment of these very laws was probably the single most important tool the women's movement employed to destroy the viability of women's traditional role by eroding the institutional supports that had insulated women from the hazards of of their marital economic dependency.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

CWN/WWS: Dossier

Catholic Women’s Network (a.k.a. Women Word Spirit)

The Catholic Women’s Network (CWN) was founded in 1984 by radical dissenting feminists, including members of an older dissident organisation, the St. Joan’s International Alliance (SJIA). The inaugural meeting was held at St. Mary’s Teacher Training College, Twickenham, and the key speaker was the American radical feminist Rosemary Radford Reuther. The CWN started off by appointing its own ‘Core Group’, the feminist equivalent of an executive committee. Early members of the Core Group included Jenny Bond, who was personal assistant to Mgr. Vincent Nichols, then General Secretary to the Bishop’s Conference (now Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham). Four years after its inception CWN became a constituent member of the umbrella organisation for Catholic women’s groups known as the National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW), which is also an official advisory body to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

In 1987 Jenny Bond, along with others, approached the Bishop’s Conference to see if it would agree to a ‘Woman’s Committee’ being officially attached to the Conference. This action eventually led to the admission of both the SJIA and the CWN to the NBCW. Both dissenting groups were formally admitted in 1988 although at the time, CWN had not even finalised its constitution. Indeed, its constitution was still not ready in November 1989 although member organisations of the NBCW are required to have a proper constitution. To this day the bishops have never given any explanation as to why these two openly dissident groups were allowed to circumvent the rules of one of their official advisory bodies, or why favour was shown to such groups. Members of the CWN wasted no time in infiltrating the upper echelons of the NBCW in order to further their radical agenda. To this day there is a disproportionate number of known CWN members/supporters in senior positions in the NBCW, and also in the editorship of its quarterly newspaper, called “Catholic Omnibus”.

The CWN began to be listed as a Catholic Society “with ecclesiastical approval”, in the 1990 Catholic Directory. Up until very recently, it has remained in the National Catholic Directory, in spite of its open dissent from Catholic teaching. One reason it has continued to be listed in the Directory for so many years is by dishonestly stating in its entry that it “acknowledges and accepts the authentic teaching of the Church”, which it clearly doesn’t. Although missing from the 2007 Directory due to an administrative error, and it was also not listed in the 2008 Directory for reasons unknown, it could well return, so vigilance is needed. CWN is still listed in several diocesan directories.

In 1991, the results of an NBCW consultation were published as a booklet entitled “Do Not Be Afraid”. It was presented to the Bishops’ Conference, who decided, in response, to establish what came to be known as the national ‘Joint Dialogue Group’ (JDG). Originally, it was to have six members chosen by the Bishops’ Conference and six chosen by the NBCW. It was quickly agreed, however, that all twelve would be joint appointments, acceptable to both parties. Needless to say, the JDG was full of known CWN members and supporters.

The journal of the CWN is called “Network”. This is where most of the evidence of CWN’s dissent has been gleaned over the years. The CORE group of CWN, which regularly reviews the aims, purposes and approaches of the organisation, issued an open letter to CWN members on page 10 of the December 2003 issue of Network. This open letter contains explicit admissions that CWN:
a) is not Catholic:
“Core meetings – these again show a difference over the past few years in the amount of time and attention given to specific RC Church matters, while Core itself currently has some members not from Catholic backgrounds, or who are detached from the organisation of the RC Church . . .”
“We have members along a wide continuum, from women active in the Catholic Church, those active in other churches or not active in any formal church, and others who are ‘post-denominational’ . . .”
“Many others say that they are deterred by the word ‘catholic’, even though we explain that the term is used in a wide sense . . .”
b) does not have Catholic aims:
“These show a wide range of justice and peace issues, ‘saying yes to God’ women’s liturgies, Taoism and Buddhism, mediation, theology for the 21st Century, writing our funerals. The groups around the country report on action from NBCW, vigils outside Cathedrals, activities in diocesan organisations, deaneries and parishes. . . . ”
“Other predominantly Catholic interests include the activities of We Are Church and Catholic Women’s Ordination . . .”
“We know that CWN has members along a wide continuum from those very active in parishes and local ministries, committed to study and working to change the church from within, and also those whose origin was Catholic but who now place themselves on the margin and either campaign for change from outside or seek to build alternative ways of pursuing spirituality, theology, ministry and liturgy . . .”
c) has nonetheless been very successful in infiltrating and taking control of the NBCW and influencing the Bishops of England and Wales:
“Our main and important Catholic contribution is through the National Board of Catholic Women . . .”
“CWN has made a major contribution in the specifically Catholic world, particularly through our membership of the NBCW and its relationship with the hierarchy . . .”

Although CWN claims to “acknowledge and accept the authentic teaching of the Church” the following three things can be cited as absolute proof of its dissent:-

1) Despite its claim not to be pro-abortion, CWN, as an organisation, co-signed a pro-abortion/contraception document by the group “Catholics for a Free Choice, titled “A Faith-Filled Commitment to Development Includes a Commitment to Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health”, (see http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/news/pr/2005/documents/mdgreligiousenglish.pdf )

2) CWN, as an organisation, made an open declaration supporting the aims of Women’s Ordination Worldwide, which was published in the CWN journal Network in September 2001. This declaration stated:- “Women’s Ordination Worldwide, International Conference, Dublin, June 2001. From: Catholic Women’s Network. ‘Catholic Women’s Network believes that the gospel speaks about freedom from oppression and calls women to full participation in all aspects of life and the church as a matter of justice. We strongly endorse the aims of the world-wide movement for the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church, and of the recent conference in Dublin, for a renewal of priesthood within transformed and inclusive structures, where women’s gifts are welcomed and accepted. We believe that it is totally wrong to attempt to ban serious debate, reflection and research of this issue. We commend the vision of those who initiated the conference and are grateful that it has re-energised us all to work more vigorously for the above aims. Catholic Women’s Network


3) CWN/WWS’s “starter pack”, issued in June 2006, states on page 1 that the title WWS is “a more inclusive and descriptive name which also recognises that the membership has always included many women from other denominations or none”. It goes on to say that CWN was founded in 1984 and went through a process of “‘denouncing’ aspects of church which inhibit women’s participation and ‘announcing’ a new vision of how church could be”. The group also “identified strategies for bringing about change . . . in our church institutions”. On page 2 it states that “WWS feels that the contribution women can make as responsible Christians, gifted in the spirit, to the RC Church is often ignored; in particular women are excluded from the ordained ministry and thereby from the leadership in the church . . .” On page 5 of the pack, WWS proudly shows its networking links with other dissenting groups, even giving website/e-mail addresses so that they can be contacted – in other words, helping to spread and promote dissent. WWS’s networking group list contains all the usual pro-abortion/contraception, pro-homosexual and pro-women’s ordination groups, which CWN have long promoted and supported:-

• Association for Inclusive Language

• Catholics for a Changing Church

• Catholic Womens’ Ordination / Women’s Ordination Worldwide

• Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

• Living Spirituality Network

• European Network – Church on the Move

• Catholics for a Free Choice

(see http://www.womenwordspirit.org/otherwebs/index.html for this starter pack. This webpage also contains the WWS documents “How to plan women’s liturgies/rituals” and “Create your own mandalas” )
There is clearly enough evidence here to show that CWN/WWS does not “acknowledge and accept the authentic teaching of the Church” so it is high time that our hierarchy stopped assisting them.

Further information on CWN / WWS and other dissenting feminist individuals and groups can be found in Patricia Phillips’ articles on the http://www.catholic-feminism.co.uk/ website.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

HFEA to rule on theology?

Briefing: Lisa Jardine fancies herself as a theologian. What she has missed is that the debate about ensoulment which was carried on in antiquity and the middle ages was never thought to bring the wrongness of abortion into question. The Catechism of the Catholic Church carefully refrains from making the wrongness of killing the unborn depend on any metaphysical claims about the unborn: it must be treated as person, regardless of the state of our knowledge about it.

CCC: 2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

This is a common mistake of critics of the Church. St Augustine would have been horrified at Prof. Jardine's job, as the renewal of the worst excesses of paganism.

From SPUC: The Catholic church has changed its teaching on when human life starts, according to the head of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Professor Lisa Jardine, an historian, cites St Augustine of Hippo as teaching that humanity started when a child was first felt to be moving, and implies that other Christian and Abrahamic faiths draw the line at 14 days. She writes: "only 21st-century Catholicism has this problem" and hopes the church will change its policy. [Guardian, 28 May] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC said: "The Catholic church and its leading authorities, from the earliest times to today, have always forbidden the destruction of the fruits of conception. Differences of opinion among theologians before the mid-19th century related not to embryo destruction (which was always forbidden by the church), but at which stage of development the embryo possessed a soul and whether lighter or harsher penalties should be applied for embryo destruction before and after the soul's presence. Theologians of the Middle Ages could only use the science available to them at the time, derived from Aristotle, which suggested that the embryo was not sufficiently developed enough to possess a soul until some weeks after conception. It was only in the mid-19th century and advances in embryology that scientists could be sure about the physical evidence of how human life begins - at fertilisation. The Catholic church therefore changed, not its teaching on the wrongness of embryo destruction, but its penalties for embryo destruction, to be equal from fertilisation onwards."

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Abortion and party politics

Comment. Further to a flurry of speculation about what a Conservative government might do, John Smeaton points out that the law on life issues got a lot worse when they were last in power, and the present leader and health spokeman are both pro-abortion. The only thing to do at the General Election is to consider very carefully the pro-life credentials of candidates in your constiuency, across the parties, as Helen Watt of the Linacre Centre says (Catholic News Agency report). As always, don't be fooled by protestations of 'personal opposition' to abortion and the like: what we need are MPs who recognise that the unborn need legal protection just like everyone else.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Christian Registrar persecuted for refusing to officiate at civil partnerships

Update: here's a report of the tribunal.

From LifeSite via CFNews: Elizabeth Thatcher, a Christian council registrar from Kent in south east England, told the London Employment Tribunal that since the introduction of civil ceremonies for registered same-sex partnerships in December 2005, a 'climate of fear' has grown among Christians working as marriage registrars. Christian lay registrars are said to be 'terrified' that the homosexualist agenda will force them to either give up their jobs or violate their religious beliefs. Thatcher said of a colleague, 'She told me that she was terrified about herself or her authority being identified because she could be vilified or the authority put under pressure to remove her'.

'I have heard of one Christian who has had to resign, but I know of others who have been accommodated,' she told the tribunal. The case being heard by the London Tribunal was called a 'landmark' by the Daily Telegraph over whether employees can be required to act against their consciences. It was brought by Lillian Ladele, 47, and a Christian registrar, against Islington council in north London. Ladele says she was bullied and shunned and accused of 'homophobia' for her refusal to carry out the civil partnerships. Miss. Ladele told the Tribunal, 'I hold the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that this is the God-ordained place for sexual relations.'

She told the BBC, 'I am not seeking to obstruct people forming civil partnerships. I believe that forcing someone to work contrary to her conscience is not right.' 'I feel unable to facilitate directly the formation of a union that I sincerely believe is contrary to God's law.' The council is required to provide a registrar for civil partnership ceremonies, but it has the right to choose who does them and in the past, Miss. Ladele had made accommodation with other registrars to avoid having to perform the ceremonies for homosexual partners. To date, no homosexual partners have been denied a ceremony from the Islington council.

A spokesman for the Christian Institute, the group covering costs for Ladele's case, said the case is a clear matter of religious discrimination. 'Other occupations allow conscientious objections,' said Mike Judge. 'No homosexual couple is being denied their right to marriage, because other registrars are performing them.' Judge said the issue of the meaning of marriage is a contested issue, with different opinions among many Londoners. 'But I don't think that Lillian should be facing the sack just because she has that one particular point of view.' 'And that's what is at issue here. She is being disciplined and threatened with the sack because she's a Christian,' he said.


Briefing, 21/05/08. This important case is in the courts right now; we'll see what happens. The Vatican has explicitly said that Catholic registrars must refuse to officiate at civil partnership ('gay marriages'):
In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. (n.5)
There have been many cases of conscientious objection in Spain and elsewhere. This seems to be the first from the UK.

From EVNews: The Daily Mail and the Christian Institute report that a Christian registrar, Lillian Ladele, is presenting her case to an employment tribunal after her Council employers refused to grant her a conscience exemption from registering same-sex unions.

Lillian Ladele, 47, claims council bosses bullied her after she told them of her religious objections to same-sex civil partnerships.

Miss Ladele, who currently works for Islington Council, has been a registrar for nearly 16 years. Before the Civil Partnerships Act came into effect in 2005 she asked to be excused from registering civil partnerships between same-sex couples because to do so would conflict with her religious beliefs.

She has subsequently been disciplined by her employers, and other colleagues have been allowed to choose not to work with her because of her beliefs.

Miss Ladele says that although the law requires local authorities to provide a civil partnership service, the requirement does not extend to individual registrars.

Her case will be heard by an employment tribunal beginning on Tuesday, 20 May, and is expected to last four days. Miss Ladele's lawyers will argue to the tribunal that by forcing her to take part in forming civil partnerships against her conscience, Islington Council are infringing equality laws.

She told the hearing in central London that colleagues denied her rights as a Christian and grew increasingly 'hostile' towards her over her refusal to marry couples of the same sex.

"I hold the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that this is the God-ordained place for sexual relations,'"she said.

"A civil partnership is marriage in all but name."

"Regardless of my feelings for the participants, I feel unable to directly facilitate the formation of a union that I sincerely believe is contrary to God's law.

"My beliefs do not mean I wish people who are homosexual to receive detrimental treatment. The council knows that if I am required to choose between my conscience and their desire that all registrars must undertake civil partnership duties, then I will have to honour my faith and face unemployment."

Miss Ladele, from Islington, is having her legal fees paid by the Christian Institute.

Click here for Daily Mail article

Click here for Christian Institute article

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Abortion and 'Justice and Peace'

Briefing.

From CFNews: The following letter was published in yesterday's Daily Telegraph under the heading 'Abortion ethics'.

'Sir - It is encouraging that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor "has vowed to keep fighting to reduce the number of abortions" (Comment, May 23).

However, during the past week, I visited the website of every Roman Catholic diocese in England and Wales, to see what its Justice and Peace Commission was saying about the Embryology Bill and abortion. Not one mentioned the Bill nor had a word to say about abortion.

Eric Hester, Bolton, Lancashire

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British embassies to promote homosexuality

Briefing.

From LifeSite via CFNews: The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has announced that its embassies will now be collaborating with local homosexual activist organisations in other countries to promote acceptance of homosexuality overseas. The goal, officials said, is to join forces with these groups in attempting to force other countries to implement the full homosexualist political agenda of equating homosexuality with natural relations between men and women.

Meg Munn, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, admitted that the British government would be working to overturn the laws of sovereign states. She said, 'Working with human rights activists, international institutions and non-governmental organisations and like minded governments the Foreign Office is targeting states where same sex relations are illegal, to raise our concerns and encourage them to change their laws.'

Barbara Follett, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Equalities Office, admitted that the passage of Britain's Equality Bill was not merely a matter of preventing 'discrimination' but of forcing acceptance, even in foreign countries. She said, 'The Bill is not just designed to prohibit people from doing things. Rather, we want public authorities actively to promote the values of fairness and opportunity for all and consider the needs of the whole community in everything they do.'

Follett listed the gains of the homosexualist movement in Britain including working in schools to denormalize natural heterosexual relations between men and women for schoolchildren as early as primary school.

The government's 'anti-homophobic bullying' programmes have been criticised as a means of silencing and marginalizing the voice of traditional Christianity in Britain. In particular, the recently passed Sexual Orientation Regulations have forced religious organisations to abandon their religious character and accept homosexuality as equivalent to natural sexual relations.

Follett particularly boasted of the Sexual Orientation Regulations that have significantly advanced the suppression of any opposition, particularly religious opposition, to the work of homosexual activists. She said, 'We have prohibited discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the workplace, and outlawed it outside the workplace. Last month we made similar protections available to people on grounds of their gender reassignment.'

In April 2007, shortly after the passage of the notorious Sexual Orientation Regulations that has forced the closure of a number of Catholic adoption agencies, George Broadhead, secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) said, 'For the sake of these children…should be protected from the promotion of bigotry in schools, the Catholic Church should be stripped of its educational establishments.'

Many Christian and Muslim countries are under constant pressure from international organisations, the European Union and the United Nations, as well as a host of homosexualist pressure groups to change their laws to fully accept the normalization of homosexuality as equal to natural marriage and relationships.

For more on the close connections between Labour and Stonewall:

UK Minister Pledges Government Collaboration with Gay Activists in Stopping 'Homophobic Bullying' in Schools here

British Catholic Schools Targeted For Refusing to Implement School 'anti-homophobic' Bullying Policies here

UK Secularists and Gays Demand Marginalization of Christians here

New U.K. PM Gordon Brown Promises Gays 'Crack-Down' on 'Homophobia' here

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Liturgical Abuses

Opposition to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum
Pope Benedict XVI's approach to dealing with the crisis in the Church hinges upon liturgical renewal. He has written "I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today largely derives from the disintegration of the liturgy." (Milestones) As Vatican II said, the liturgy is the "summit and source" of the Christian life (Lumen Gentium, no. 11): even in purely natural terms, it is the almost only way in which most Catholic come into contact with the Church. If it fails to convey the faith, or a proper attitude of prayer, or reverence towards holy things, it will lead to lapsation. The repeated pleas of Paul VI and John-Paul II against liturgical abuses (see below) have been ignored, and Pope Benedict is approaching the matter in a different way: by reference to a longer view of Catholic liturgy, to include the liturgy before the reforms of Paul VI, he is trying to establish a 'hermeneutic of continuity' which exposes the shallowness of the arguments in favour of irreverent treatment of the Blessed Sacrament and so on. This policy requires the 'Traditional', 1962 Missal to come back into widespread use, enabling Catholics to see a type of Catholic liturgy unaffected by today's crisis. The bishops of England and Wales, however, seem in varying degrees not to want to cooperate with this project. It is obvious that if the Church becomes ungovernable in such matters, it will never escape its current difficulties. See the Motu Proprio here (pdf from Rorate Caeli).


Church-sharing with Protestants: in the link Bishop Noble of Shrewsbury is criticised for closing a parish church in order to initiate a sharing arrangement by the Congregation for Clergy. Such a thing could only be contemplated in the most dire circumstances, which clearly do not apply in the UK. There is neither a shortage of church buildings nor a shortage of money to maintain them: sharing a building does nothing, of course, to deal with the problem of the shortage of priests. Sharing a church building with non-Catholics raises insuperable practical problems: either it is a consecrated church, in which case non-Catholic services should not routinely be held in it, or it is not a consecrated church, in which case the Mass should not routinely be said in it; either the Blessed Sacrament will be hidden away, or it will be subject to the disrespect of unbelievers; the whole project is an invitation to religious indifferentism.

Bishop McMahon on clerical celibacy and women priests: of all the bishops of England and Wales, McMahon seems most prone to blurt out things he shouldn't to the press. He denies it afterwards, but it is a strange spectacle indeed.


Liturgical abuses:

Two major attempts to restrain liturgical abuses by Pope John-Paul II are the documentsRedemptoris Sacramentum (2004) and On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests (1997). These left enforcement to local bishops, and the bishops took no notice at all: you will find the most blatant abuses in every Cathedral in the UK. Examples would be the routine use of Extraordinary Minsters of Holy Communion; the celebrant leaving the sanctuary to exchange the kiss of peace; the ignoring of rubrics (when to genuflect etc.) and the insertion of ex tempore formulas in place of the prescribed text. In the context of a gradually growing sense of liturgical propriety which is being fostered by Pope Benedict XVI, it is worthwhile to oppose the most serious abuses at a local level.

Redemptionis Sacramentum tells us that
[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.
See Fr Zuhlsdorf's guide to complaining.

General Absolution
This is extremely serious, as the validity of the sacrament is at issue: when a priest gives a 'general absolution' to a group of faithful, without individual confession of sins, the absolution isINVALID unless the faithful consciously intend to go to individual confession as soon as possible (making the procedure pointless, in normal circumstances). General absolution is intended to cater for soldiers going into battle who do not have time for individual confession and may not live long enough to go later. It is an extremely serious matter for a priest to mislead the faithful about this.

Disrespect for the Precious Blood
It is by the pouring out of Christ's blood on the cross that our sins are forgiven . Devotion to the Precious Blood is therefore of great importance, and it is forbidden for priests to consecrate it in jugs and pour it from one receptacle to another: it would be much better not to offer the faithful communion under both kinds when numbers of communicants are large.

The washing of women's feet on Maundy Thursday 
Part of an on-going campaign to bring women into the liturgy in a completely inappropriate way, the ultimate goal of which is the ordination of women to the priesthood. Since this is never going to happen (see John-Paul II's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994), the campaign is pointless as well as damaging to the symbolic coherence of the ceremonies.

Removal of Holy Water from Churches during Lent
A misguided practice depriving the faithful of an important and popular sacramental.

A blatant violation of the law of the Church. Bishop Drainey of Middlesbrough has tried to browbeat communicants who prefer to kneel; nevertheless, they have to right to do so.

This has been criticised by Pope Benedict: it is completely contrary to the spirit of the liturgy.

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Sex Education

Sex Education in the Archdiocese of Birmingham
One of the great scandals of today is the flouting of the CDF's guidelines on sex education by Catholic schools, using text books and methods approved or even enforced by dioceses. The programme of the Archdiocese of Birmingham is examined because it is generally thought to be more 'Catholic' than other commonly used programmes, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols is also the Chairman of the nationwide Catholic Education Service. As well as failing to present Catholic teaching as more than one lifestyle option among many, the programme tramples upon the principles, set out by the CDF, that teaching about sexuality should be carried out by parents, unless this is absolutely impossible; that it should be one to one; that it should respond to the child's questions and needs, and not burden the child with information the child is not ready for; and that the 'age of innocence' before puberty should be respected. CDF, 1995: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within The Family




The National Association of Catholic Families: letter to the CES

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Neo-Cats refuse to stop liturgical abuses

Action: anyone involved in the Neo-Catechumenal Way should be asking questions.

It is reported that the Pope has confirmed the statutes of this movement, despite their continued practice of sitting for the reception of communion. This, with their other liturgical abuses, was condemned by the Congregation for Divine Worship; in 2005 they were given two years to conform to the law of the Church on the matter. They have not.



Hat-tip to Rorate Caeli: On April 24, less than a month ago, in the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Namur, Belgium (one of a large number of seminaries of the same name run by the Neocatechumenal Way around the world), this is how Communion was distributed: as always, a single pancake-sized host is consecrated and then broken into many pieces, and distributed to the sitting congregation - 2 years, 4 months, and 23 days after the two-year phase-out deadline given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

But of course it is only conservatives and traditionalists who are expected to worry about liturgical law. Right?

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Muslim pharmacist objects to MAP

Briefing.

From SPUC: A Muslim pharmacist in north-west England reportedly refused to supply morning-after pills on conscientious grounds. J Sainsbury plc, owner of
the dispensary, said staff with moral objections should refer customers to another pharmacist and/or say where the drugs were available. [Manchester Evening News, 22 May] Some practitioners who will not give out morning-after pills because of their possible abortifacient nature may also object to helping people get them because they would be complicit in an unethical act.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

More pro-death statements from the 'Pro Life Group'

Briefing and comment: Dr John Pugh, a Vice-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPPLG) (and another 'Catholic' like Curtis-Thomas, Alton, Widdecombe etc) said in Tuesday's night debate:

"Despite profound moral differences, there is some common ground: we all believe that the abortion rate in the UK is far too high; we would all prefer a world in which there was no abortion, nor demand for it; we all recognise that our laws are among the most permissive; and we all qualify the rights that we claim-even the Catholic Church sanctions therapeutic abortion, and even pro-choice charities object to some choices. Where we differ is over the grounds, and consequently the limits, of abortion. I argue that, irrespective of any religious view, the justification for abortion becomes enormously harder from the moment when the foetus becomes conscious or responsive to pain. I also argue that we cannot be completely certain when that moment occurs, but that a precautionary principle should apply, and, where consciousness may exist, we must act as though it does. Frankly, there is no basis for giving anything a right other than that it is conscious, and there is no more significant event in the life of any being than becoming conscious."

No! The Catholic Church does NOT sanction therapeutic abortions (abortions for the sake of the mother's health), but infallibly declares that abortion is intrinsically evil and can NEVER be justified.

And NO, gaining consciousness is NOT the most significant event in life, as it happens every morning when you wake up - or at least when waking up from general anesthesia. Perhaps Mr Pugh would not object to being murdered if he were already unconscious?

So now we have:
Jim Dobbin, Chairman of the PPPLG, has said: "I am against abortion, except in rare cases in which the mother's life is in real danger." (link to the Hansard record).

Claire Curtis-Thomas, a vice chairman of the APPPLG and supposedly a Catholic: 'I am not opposed to abortion.' See John Smeaton's blog.

Lord Alton, a prominent member of the APPPLG and supposedly a Catholic, in favour of IVF and abortion in some circumstances.

Ann Widdecombe, another prominent member of the APPLG and a convert to Catholicism, also accepts IVF. Life site News

The 'Passion for Life' campaign (website copyright to the APPLG) simply wants abortions to be earlier.

What's the problem with a 'broad church' approach? Well, the arguments don't work. The kind of stuff Pugh and the others say is simply incoherent. Pugh's argument is PRECISELY the argument used to promote euthanasia of people in a coma ('It's ok to kill him: he's unconscious.') Curtis-Thomas's argument comes straight out of the pro-choice textbook ('abortion should be safe, legal, and rare'). The Nadine Dorries approach to lowering the time-limit is based on emotion - heart-rending pictures of older embryos etc. - but the pro-abortionists can do emotion too: heart-rending stories of rape victims and disability. This stuff is not going to get pro-lifers anywhere.

We value the support of people who are not fully pro-life, insofar as they can support pro-life initiatives. But the pro-life argument must be led by people who have a coherent pro-life view, or it will immediately fall down.

In addition, Catholics politicians making public acts of apostasy in the course of claiming to defend life and the Catholic position is scandalous in the extreme. It is vital to the health of the Church that they cease to be regarded as speaking for the Church.

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£10m stolen from Catholic charity

Briefing: in renaming the 'Catholic Children's Society' the 'Cabrini Children's Society' the trustees want to perform the usual trick: change the name to exclude the word 'Catholic' but include a really obscure Catholic reference (how many English Catholics know about St Frances Xavier Cabrini?); keep assets (£10m) entrusted to them for Catholic charitable purposes and use them for something else; and to add insult to injury, continue to tap the Catholic community for donations by talking about the organisation's Catholic past. It's the Catholic future we're interested in, actually! Donations and official connections from the Church should cease. Perhaps readers could say a prayer to St Frances for the conversion of the people in this organisation. Hat-tip to Carpe Canum.

From Fr Finigan: Philip at Carpe Canem has reported on the change of name for the Catholic Children's Society which operates in the south of England:

In response to the Sexual Orientation Regulations, and hoping to continue to benefit from the generosity of the Catholic faithful, the Society is now to change its name to the "Cabrini Children's Society" (same initials, geddit!) As Philip comments:

The Catholic Faithful need to know that they’ve just lost £10 million (the society's assets), and been sold down the river of political expediency as it is now technically outside Church jurisdiction. Is there not something in canon law about alienating property?

Maggie Clitherow has some good comment on this issue from her own experience (Don't Know What I'm Doing: So-Called Catholic Adoption Agencies.

I am very pleased to hear that one of the Auxiliary Bishops in Southwark, Bishop John Hine has resigned from the board of the society. This action is very much to be commended.

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'Seige of Jericho' in Birmingham

Action: please support these pro-life processions and associated devotions if you can. This is an example of the use of supernatural means against the evil of abortion. The Good Counsel's regular Masses and prayer-rotas for its work is another; exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during a prayer vigil in Oxford is another. If there is nothing like this is your area then organise something! Political lobbying with as broad a range of pro-lifers (atheists, Muslims etc.) is great but it will be Catholic prayer, devotion to Our Lady and the Blessed Sacrament, and the Mass, which will alone defeat abortion.

From CFNews: Monday 9th June to Sunday 15th June, under the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 'Siege of Jericho', daily public rosary processions in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Priests and people praying the rosary are to process with the Blessed Sacrament round the abortion clinic on Arthur Road, Edgbaston, following the route of Arthur Road, Carpenter Road and Ampton Road. On the weekdays from Monday, June 9th to Saturday, June 14th, inclusive we will start with Mass at the Oratory Church, Haglev Road. Edgbaston at 3pm and after traveling to Arthur Road priests (one carrying the Blessed Sacrament unseen) and people will process once round the route. It will take about 20 minutes. On Sunday, June 15th, we will start at Arthur Road at 2pm (no Mass) and process (priests vested) round the route seven times, carrying the Blessed Sacrament openly, accompanied by the ringing of bells.

During the event supporters will pray before the Blessed Sacrament at St. Dunstan's Church, Kings Heath and other venues, praying many Rosaries. We invite everyone to join us in prayer from their churches or homes or elsewhere, especially the old and the sick.

The Intentions :

1. For a conversion of heart among the organisers and staff of the abortion centre and centres generally, so that they and others may join the present movement to stop abortions world wide. They will know at first hand the distressing effects abortion has on women and the cruel death visited on the babies aborted. They must know too about the lucrative and shameful sale of aborted baby parts.

2. To reinstate the priesthood in the eyes of the people, one of God's purposes at the original Siege of Jericho on which we model this prayer crusade.

To help with organisation please let us know in advance, if you can, on which days you intend to participate. Contact us on 0121 705 9317 or 0121 706 1973. Please tell your priest friends and encourage them to come on one or more days.

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Cherie Blair on the importance of contraception

Briefing: it is surprising that anyone finds Mrs Blair's remarks surprising. She must count as the most prominent hypocrite of the age, calling herself 'a good Catholic girl'. As well as recounting her use of contraception, her autobiography tells of her fornication and even two-timing before she married. See our earlier post on this picture of her brandishing a condom.

From CFNews: Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, appeared to contradict Catholic teaching on artificial birth control during a television interview in which she talked about the impact of contraception on women's lives. Speaking in an interview on GMTV, Blair responded to viewers interested in her remarks concerning contraceptive use in her new book. In her book, Blair told how her youngest son was conceived when she did not pack her contraceptive equipment.

'People seem to be quite shocked that perhaps a Catholic girl even uses contraception but it is really an important thing for women because one of the things about the book is about how women's lives have changed,' Blair told interviewer Lorraine Kelly. 'One of the reasons women's lives have changed is that they have been able to control their fertility, it is an important issue.' Her comments follow Pope Benedict XVI's remarks earlier this month defending the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, which explains how artificial contraception is immoral. Blair also spoke in the interview about meeting two Popes, which she called a 'huge thing' for a 'good Catholic girl.'

Her husband, Tony Blair, converted to Catholicism last December. According to The Press Association, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in England and Wales declined to comment.

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The Commons votes for death, fatherless children and hybrids

Briefing. Note the determination of MPs to refuse women whose are diagnosed with disabilities to have counseling: defeated by 309 to 173. Note also the massive scale of all these defeats for pro-lifers. As we and others have been saying, this was not a good time to introduce pro-life amendments on abortion, which was not at issue in the government's version of the bill.

From Christian Concern for our Nation:

MPs vote to keep the abortion upper time limit and abolish the need for consideration of father in IVF treatment


On Tuesday, 20th May, MPs voted against lowering the upper time limit for abortion, having abolished the requirement that clinics consider the child’s need for a father when giving IVF treatment earlier the same evening.

Amendments to lower the upper time limit to 12, 16, 20 and 22 weeks, were moved on the floor of the House, but not one was passed, in spite of evidence that more and more babies born at 22 and 23 weeks' gestation now survive and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.

Nadine Dorries MP gave an emotive and impactful speech in favour of lowering the upper time limit to 20 weeks. She gave an account of a botched abortion that she witnessed when she was working as a nurse: "A little boy was aborted into a cardboard bedpan, which was thrust into my arms. When I looked into the cardboard bedpan, the little boy was gasping for breath through the mucus and amniotic fluid. I stood by the sluice with him in my arms, in the bedpan, for seven minutes while he gasped for breath. A botched abortion became a live birth, and then, seven minutes later, a death."

On BBC breakfast TV, Nadine Dorries also made the point that the Government was not listening to what people want, as three quarters of women and two-thirds of GPs want the abortion rate lowered.

The BBC commented that MPs generally voted along party lines. David Cameron MP supported Nadine Dorries along with most Conservatives, whilst the Liberal Democrats largely followed Nick Clegg MP by voting against a reduction. The Prime Minister ensured that Labour MPs were given a 3-line whip to attend the vote and few defied the party line when voting on the issues. Votes as recorded in Hansard are at column 222.


Link to the vote on lowering abortion limit from 24 to 12 weeks, lost with a vote of 393 against to 71 for.

Link to the vote on lowering abortion from 24 to 16 weeks (column 275), lost by 387 against to 84 in favour.

Link to the vote on lowering abortion from 24 to 20 weeks (column 278), lost by
332 to 190 votes.

Link to the vote on lowering abortion from 24 to 22 weeks (column 286), lost
with a vote of 233 in favour to 304 against.

A new clause that would have laid down a statutory duty to give women who have had a test showing that the unborn baby has a substantial risk of being seriously handicapped the offer of counselling and information including the sources of help available to her was lost by 309 votes to 173.

The vote to retain the requirement to consider the ‘need for a father’ for the child resulting from IVF treatment was presented by Iain Duncan Smith MP in terms of defending the traditional family saying that removal of this consideration would send the message that fathers are less important than mothers. Geraldine Smith argued that no-one seemed to be able to name any single women or lesbian couples who had been refused treatment as a result of the current provisions on the ‘need for the father’ (which will now be replaced with consideration of the need for ‘supportive parenting’).

Link to the start of the debate on Tuesday 20th May 2008 here.

Vote on restoring the need for a father in IVF treatment (this included the need for a mother, due to the provision in the Bill for fast track parental orders which will facilitate two-father families), lost by 292 against to 217 in favour, here.

Link to the vote on restoring the need for father in IVF treatment by adding to supportive parenting the need for a father or male role model, lost 222 votes to 290, here.


Brief Analysis of Campaign

It was good that the Prime Minister came under so much pressure that he was forced to allow Labour MPs to vote according to their consciences on these ethical and moral issues. It was good that members of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group were able to lay their amendments first and that the abortion amendments in favour of lowering the time limit were voted on first and in the right order.

Whilst it is disappointing that Labour whips had imposed a "three-line whip" on attendance for Labour MPs in the Commons for last night’s vote, this has at least enabled us to establish where the vast majority of MPs stand on life issues. This information will be useful to us in the future, both in terms of campaigning and in terms of voting at the next election.

Another encouraging development was that instead of pro-abortion MPs laying amendments to liberalise the law, pro-life MPs were able to lead the offensive to reduce the upper limit, whilst liberalisers could only seek to defend the present law. Unfortunately, amendments to liberalise the abortion law could still be defeated and we must continue to pray that this does not happen.

Public opinion and medical opinion has generally been favourable towards us.

We have lost this battle, but we must continue to speak up on behalf of light and truth in this nation. We must not give up for the sake of the children. The Church and the nation need to be aroused from slumber regarding pro-life issues. Perhaps now that it is clear just how bad it is we might do so. We need to keep praying.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

'Passion for Life' campaign pro abortion?

Update: A vice chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, Claire Curtis-Thomas, said last night 'I am not opposed to abortion. I believe that women should have the right to choose; I just hope that they do not choose to have an abortion.' There is something odd going on here. By all means make tactical alliances to win votes, guys, but shouldn't the pro-life group leadership be pro-life? See John Smeaton's blog.

Life site News reports the above and adds that Ann Widdecombe MP, another prominent member fo the Pro-Life Group and a convert to Catholicism, accepts IVF, and the countless deaths of embryos this entails.

Briefing 20/05/08:
the second of a series about opponents of the hybrids bill: many readers will have seen these cards, often at the back of churches. While most of the cards from Passion for Life, the all-party parliamentary pro-life group are excellent, unfortunately it seems they are not actually against abortion, and this card actually contradicts Church teaching. This is no small matter: the 'abortion should be rare' mantra is used constantly by pro-abortionists while demanding easy access to abortion in coinjuction with ever more sex education and contraception. This is not an approach Catholics can endorse. See Fr Finnigan here.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New article on Feminism in the Church

A new article by Patricia Phillips, number IX in the series, is available to download here. It will appear in the next edition of Christian Order.

Highlights: the dissident Women Word Spirit (formerly Catholic Women's Network) has not been listed in the 2008 national Catholic Directory, but is still listed in several diocesan directories. Their entry makes it abundantly clear that they support the ordination of women; they also support abortion and contraception, and ceaselessly promote the ideas of radical feminists such as Tina Beattie. May of the people they promote and publish are no longer Catholics; those that remain in the Church do so only for tactical reasons. ('The Catholic Church has the Xerox machines. You can't win the revolution without the Xerox machines.')

Most importantly, they are completely dominant in the National Board of Catholic Women, supposedly an umbrella organisation for Catholic women's organisations, and an official agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

NB In late 2006 the orthodox Association of Catholic Women resigned its membership of the NBCW in protest at its approach. If WWS is not fit to be in the Catholic Directory, all the more so it is not fit to be a member of the NBCW.

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Some questions for Lord Alton

Briefing: the third in our series on opponents of the hybrids bill. Opposition has been led by Lord Alton, who has dedicated his life to opposing abortion. But close examination of his parliamentary record throws up some surprises:

he didn't move to vote against the HFE bill at either 2nd or 3rd Readings in the House of Lords;

he is in favour of abortion and IVF in certain circumstances;

he has voted on occasion for pro-homosexual legislation;

he promotes religious indifferentism in his Universe columns;

he has defended the alleged reception of Tony Blair into the Church, regardless of Blair's refusal to repudiate his anti-life and anti-Catholic parliamentary record.

Are we being silly, at the moment the hybrids bill is passing in the House of Commons, to pick holes in our supporters? No: the uncritical endorsement by Catholic pro-lifers of these individuals and groups undermines our opposition to the bill because it makes it incoherent. If killing embryos is ok in 'some cirmcumstances', such as in IVF, late abortions cannot be wrong on the grounds that embryos deserve the respect due to human persons, as the Church teaches. Why are they wrong, then, according to Alton and his friends at Passion for Life? Because they are particularly gruesome to perform? Supporters of abortion are immediately going to see the idiocy of that argument.


Alton on record: IVF.

1. "If you could just create an embryo to implant, that would be fine." Sunday Times

2. Of course in practice IVF involves the destruction of numerous embryos (emphasis added: Lord Winston is involved in IVF):
"Lord Alton of Liverpool: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, but I do not think I am overstating it. The expert witness, who has been cited throughout our debates as the leading authority on this, said that there were no cases that she was aware of. If there are cases, before we get to Report we should know what they are so that we have a better idea. The noble Lord, Lord Winston, is one of the foremost experts in this area; he is quite right to remind us of that; and he has brought to countless infertile couples the opportunity to have children. I salute him for that. We have no difference on that issue. However, if there are examples of the kind to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, has just referred, I accept that he is not a hostile witness; we need to know about those cases before we start to change the law on that basis."
Committee Stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, 10th December 2007, Hansard, House of Lords, page 45.

The web address for the relevant part of the House of Lords Official Report is http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/text/80128-0013.htm

3. In December 2007 Alton supported an amendment by Baroness Finlay to make it obligatory for the NHS to provide IVF. The amendment read as follows:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/text/71204-0002.htm

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 24: After Clause 10, insert the following new Clause— "Infertility treatment Duty to commission in vitro fertilisation service After section 10 of the 1990 Act (licensing procedure) insert— "Infertility treatment 10A Duty to commission in vitro fertilisation service (1) Each specialist service commissioner must commission a service for in vitro fertilisation in respect of the population for which they commission services. (2) An annual report on the performance and outcomes of each in vitro fertilisation service must be made to the relevant strategic health authority by the commissioner. (3) The report made under subsection (2) must be published.""

Alton said at
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldhansrd/text/71204-0003.htm

4 Dec 2007 : Column 1619

"I, too, rise to support my noble friend Lady Finlay. I passionately believe that this area should be regulated inside the National Health Service. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Winston, made a very compelling case to us today and at Second Reading when he spoke about those who operate outside the NHS. He described some of their suspect practices and gave the impression that charlatans were operating, with some very bogus therapies being produced that were not helping patients who presented themselves. For those reasons, regulation within the National Health Service is a far better way for us to proceed than that which unravelled after the 1990 legislation."

Abortion of the disabled.
During the House of Lords debate on the HFE Bill on 28 Jan 2008, Baroness Masham tabled an amendment which would delete disability as a ground for abortion. Alton said (at Column 523): "The noble Lord, Lord Steel, gave examples I think of anencephaly and hydrocephaly, and of life-threatening disorders where often the child cannot be born alive anyway. There would probably be no disagreement between us on that. That was never meant to fall within the scope even of this amendment, which I think was first moved in 1990."

Alton was referring to the following part of Lord Steel's speech previously in the debate (28 Jan 2008 : Column 519)

"As to subsection (2) of her amendment, to which she spoke earlier, that was a change made in both Houses in 1990, as she rightly said. At that time, it was agreed, and I agreed with it, to reduce the age of assumption of viability, in the light of medical knowledge, from 28 weeks—which had existed, not from the Abortion Act 1967, but from the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929—to 24 weeks. That was agreed and it went through both Houses without demur. However, as a consequence, the section, to which the noble Baroness has drawn attention, was added, to say that, in the case of severely disabled foetuses, the 24 week limit would not apply. I must admit that I had some hesitation about that section. It meant that, as the noble Baroness said, an abortion could be carried out right up to the point of birth, which was contrary to the Infant Life Preservation Act, never mind the Abortion Act itself. However, my mind was settled on that issue by a conversation, which I will retell to the House, that I had with a distinguished professor of obstetrics at one of our leading universities. He told me about two cases referred to him, after the 24 week limit had passed, of mothers who were carrying foetuses which had no prospect of life. In the one case, after immense consultation and proper counselling, it was agreed that the pregnancy should be terminated and the mother helped to start a new and healthy pregnancy and that is what happened. In the other case, identical to the previous one, the mother, for reasons known to herself, which may have been religious or because of other conditions in the family—I do not know the circumstances—decided that they would rather have the baby born. The baby having been born dead, they took it in the family car from the hospital to their house to see the room that had been prepared for it, and then brought the dead baby back to the hospital. The professor made three points. First, tragically, the outcome was the same in both cases. He could do nothing about it. Secondly, both parents had been the subject of proper counselling—a subject which we come back to time and again when discussing abortion. Proper counselling is very important and in this case they had expert counselling. The third thing they had in common was that the parents were ultimately able to decide on their preference. That is terribly important. If the noble Baroness's amendment were carried, that choice would be taken away and we in Parliament would be denying people a free choice on what to do in these difficult and tragic circumstances."

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Archbishop Nichols: embryos of less 'value'

Action: expressions of concern, please, to Archbishop Nichols, over his choice of words: of the 'value' of an embryo, he said 'clearly it's not the same as we would give to [an] adult'. This is an extraordinary thing to say. Talk of 'value' here is not helpful in any case: the point is not the 'value' of the 'life', whatever that may mean, but what we are morally obliged to do in respect of it. On this the teaching of the Church is clear: we are obliged to give the embyro the same respect we give to any human person. We are obliged not to kill embryos, or put them at risk in experiments; we--and especially their parents--are obliged to look after them, to save them from avoidable harm, to give them medical treatment where necessary and possible, and so on: see the passage from the CDF's Donum Vitae quoted in Pope John-Paul II's Evangelium Vitae, below. Messages to Archbishop Nichols should go to his secretary.

See Fr Finigan on the grossly biased nature of the BBC interview.


From John Smeaton's blog: It is dismaying for pro-lifers, of all faiths and none, to hear the words of Vincent Nichols, the Catholic archbishop of Birmingham, today on BBC Radio 4's World at One. He said: “…What we’ve been trying to say all along is ‘What is the value that we give to human life in its first beginnings?’ Now clearly it’s not the same as we would give to another adult sitting next to me…”

... Elsewhere, quoting Donum Vitae, the Holy Father said: "'The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life'" (Evangelium Vitae 60)

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Scandal at Cardiff Cathedral

Briefing and comment: Yesterday a long-arranged and much anticipated Pontifical High Mass in the 'Traditional' form (ie the Usus Antiquior or Extraordinary Form: the 1962 missal) was to have bee said in Cardiff Cathedral. On Friday the Cathedral Dean, Canon Peter Collins, told the organisers that he wanted a female altar server in the sanctuary during the Mass. The Latin Mass Society and the ministers who were to celebrate it all agreed that this was unacceptable, and so the Mass was canceled.

Female altar servers were a liturgical abuse (explicitly forbidden in the 1986 Code of Canon Law) which was permitted by Pope John-Paul II in 1994, solely because it had become so widespread that it could not be suppressed. Similar stories explain the development of communion in the hand and the routine use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (although we are still at the awkward stage of 'officially forbidden but universally done' with the latter). It is not hard to fathom that Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass are, among other things, trying to escape these liturgical innovations, which are inspired by many ideas hostile to Catholicism, especially radical feminism. It seems that Canon Collins realises the potential for the spread of the Traditional Mass to roll back the advance of feminism and liberalism, and is determined to stop this. This potential is one reason why the spread of the Traditional Mass is so important to the future of the Church.

The Latin Mass Society's argument, that celebrations according to the 1962 missal should be in accordance with the 'liturgical law' (rubrics etc.) appropriate to that missal, seems sensible. Otherwise, you might as well say that any post '62 change can be back-dated to the '62 Mass.

Fr Z. prefers a different argument: that under the current law of the Church, celebrants cannot be forced to use female altar-servers (see also St Louis Catholic: the law on female altar servers is 'permissive not prescriptive'). Isn't it amazing that what once was forbidden, then allowed in certain cases at the discretion of bishop and celebrant, is now being presented as obligatory?

In either case, Canon Colins has been extraordinarily unjust, rude, and unpastoral. Anyone wanting to make a polite complain to Canon Collins can email him.

Hat-tip to Damian Thompson, who received the following account of events: In late 2007, the Dean, Canon Peter Collins, agreed to a request from Kingsley Lewis, LMS Cardiff Representative, for a Traditional Mass to be celebrated in the cathedral. The Dean himself proposed that it take the place of the usual main Sunday Mass. The LMS therefore arranged for a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form to be offered by Abbot Paul Stonham OSB of Belmont Abbey.

The LMS handled most of the arrangements for the Mass, arranging for its senior liturgical expert, Mr Gordon Dimon, to travel from London to MC the Mass, for vestments to be transported to Cardiff and for Sacred Ministers trained in the Rite to be available. The LMS committed much time and expenditure to make the Mass as fitting an occasion as possible. It is understood the LMS now proposes to send an invoice to the Dean for its services.

On the evening of Thursday 15 May Mr Lewis attended a training session in the Traditional Rite for the cathedral servers and the Dean who was to be Assistant Priest at the Mass. It was only then that he discovered that Canon Peter Collins proposed to have a lady server present in the sanctuary during the Mass.

Mr Lewis explained that this was not possible under the rubrics and law governing the 1962 Rite of Blessed John XXIII, but to no avail. Afterwards he consulted with the LMS’s Senior MC and the cleric who was to be Deacon at the Mass, and all were of the same opinion that the 1962 Rite should not be offered if ladies are present in the Sanctuary. The Chairman of the LMS, Mr Julian Chadwick, confirmed that this was the firm policy of the LMS.

Certainly, if the Mass had gone ahead with LMS involvement, the ordinary faithful with an attachment to the Extraordinary Form would have been scandalised and there would have been uproar afterwards.

Mr Lewis telephoned Canon Collins the following morning (Friday) to inform him that in conscience the LMS would not be able to take part in the Mass. The LMS’s position and that of the faithful attached to the Extraordinary Form is clear: that when the 1962 Rite of Blessed John XXIII is used, the rubrics and law integral to that rite must be respected and this does not allow the use of lady servers. Canon Collins refused to change his mind or take account of the consciences and clear wishes of those attached to the Traditional Rite.

Therefore, Mr Lewis emailed Archbishop Peter Smith asking him to intervene to ensure that the Mass proceeded on a basis compatible with the rubrics of the Rite so that scandal would not be given to the consciences of those attached to this form. However no response was received.

The LMS posted an announcement on its website on Friday evening but at such a late date it was not possible to contact those many faithful who were planning to travel long distances to assist at the Mass. On the Sunday some arrived by coach. The LMS had representatives outside the cathedral to explain to the faithful what had happened. Inside, a new rite Mass was concelebrated. The cathedral was almost full with about 300 worshippers instead of its usual 35-40 but they were expecting a Traditional Rite Mass. It is understood that the LMS office on Monday received heavy traffic by email and telephone from faithful who were deeply upset at what had happened and felt they had been deliberately let down by the cathedral authorities.

What leaves a bad taste is the great discourtesy shown by Canon Collins to the Sacred Ministers who were due to travel and offer the Traditional Mass and the discrimination against the many faithful who gathered to assist at the celebration of the 1962 rite expecting the rubrics and law to be followed only to find that the Canon had planned to violate their consciences.

It is clear that Pope Benedict in his Motu Proprio intended that the Extraordinary Form of the Rite be widely available and celebrated in accordance with its own rubrics and law; what Canon Collins proposed was in effect an act of defiance to the Pope’s wishes.

It has been suggested that the LMS prepare a report on this matter for HE Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, who in June comes to Westminster Cathedral to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

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Liturgical abuses saddened Paul VI

Briefing. We must never forget the importance of the liturgy.

From CFNews: When Pope Paul VI spoke about the 'smoke of Satan' entering the Catholic Church, he was referring to liturgical abuses, according to the prelate who served as his master of ceremonies. Cardinal Virgilio Noe, the chief Vatican liturgist during the pontificate of Paul VI, spoke candidly about the late Pope's concerns in an interview with the Roman Petrus web site. The Italian prelate-- who was also the Vatican's top liturgist under Pope John Paul I and the early years of the pontificate of John Paul II-- is now retired, and at the age of 86 his health is failing. In his interview with Petrus he concentrated primarily on his years serving Pope Paul VI.

Pope Paul accepted the liturgical reforms after Vatican II 'with pleasure,' Cardinal Noe said. He added that Paul VI was not be nature a sad man, but 'he was saddened by the fact of having been left alone by the Roman Curia.' Regarding the late Pope's famous remark about the 'smoke of Satan,' Cardinal Noe said that he knew what Paul VI intended by that statement. In that denunciation, he said, the Pope 'meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn't render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.

He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dross in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony.' For Pope Paul VI, the cardinal continued, the worst outcome of the post-conciliar liturgical reform was the 'craving to be in the limelight' that caused many priests to ignore liturgical guidelines.

Cardinal Noe recalled that the Pope himself believed in careful adherence to the rubrics of the Mass, firmly believing that 'no one is lord of the Mass.' Speaking for himself, the former top Vatican liturgist said that the liturgy must always be celebrated with reverence and careful respect for the rubrics. He said with regret that in the wake of Vatican II 'it was believed that everything, or nearly, was permitted.' Cardinal Noe said: 'Now it is necessary to recover-- and in a hurry-- the sense of the sacred in the ars celebrandi, before the smoke of Satan completely pervades the whole Church.'

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Petition to have lap-dancing clubs regulated

Please sign the petition (if you a UK resident or citizen).

H-t to Fr Finnigan: A petition has recently been started by Sandrine Leveque of Object. It reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to to re-categorise lap dancing clubs as Sex Encounter Establishments.

Further information: Under current legislation lap dancing clubs are licensed in the same way as cafes or karaoke and require only a Premises Licence. The Licensing Act 2003 restricted the power of both local authorities and residents to have a say in the licensing of lap dancing clubs. This is wholly inadequate.

Research confirms that lap dancing clubs are part of the commercial sex industry. The buying and selling of sexual services occurs in some clubs and women performers face poor working conditions and high levels of harassment. Lap dancing clubs have a negative impact on the safety and well being of women living and working near them. They normalise the sexual objectification of women. It is clear that lap dancing clubs have a deeper social impact than cafes or karaoke. Licensing must recognise this.

We call on the Government to rethink licensing and re-categorise lap dancing clubs as Sex Encounter Establishments. This would give local authorities the same licensing powers as apply to sex shops, ensure better regulation and give local people a far greater say in licensing.

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Catholic Family Conference

Readers may like to attend this.

From Fr Finigan: Some of my parishioners are setting up a conference 'The Faith, The Family...The Future' to be held near St Alban's on 25th and 26th October 2008. The adult residential rate for the weekend will be up to £100. To enable the initial deposit to be paid and to set up a subsidised rate for families and children to attend, any donations you can spare would be very gratefully received.

The speakers include Fr Roger Nesbitt on 'Reaffirming the Family', Fr Aidan Nichols on 'Rediscovering Catholic Culture', Antonia Tully on 'Helping Parents in the formation of their children', Fr Stephen Langridge on Vocations: 'Responding to the Call in 2008', Fr Luis Ruscillo,' Passing on the Faith', a talk on Fatherhood by Johannes Waldstein, and 'The Heart of the Church's Teaching on Marriage' by a panel of speakers. Fr Agnellus FI will preach at Mass on Our Lady's Apparitions and their Messages of Hope for our Time.

There will be talks and activities for young adults and children including presentation of the work of the Church in our inner cities by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and 'Go Teach All Nations', a presentation by Aid to The Church in Need.

Please send any donations to 'The Faith and Family Conference', c/o 195 Halfway Street, Sidcup, DA15 8DE. Any email enquiries to faithandfamily2008@yahoo.co.uk

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Another clerical abuse conviction

Prayers, please, for the victim and the convict. Catholics must acknowledge and make reparation for these terrible crimes.

Hat-tip to Fr Finnigan, who has a thoughtful post on a case which is a local issue for him.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

ACW survey on Catholic Schools

Action: please complete this: it will take you less than a minute. It's more like a petition, really, acting as a means of getting as many people as possible to agree that in Catholic schools 'teachers should be Catholics', 'crucifixes should be displayed' and so on.

From the Association of Catholic Women: We hope to be able to demonstrate significant support for the important role of our Catholic schools as partners with parents in passing on the faith to our children, in order to strengthen our bishops' position as defenders of Catholic education against the forces of secularity.

The survey may be found here.

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Euthanasia encouraged by NHS leaflet

Briefing. Since the Mental Capacity Act describes food and water as 'medical treatment' this leaflet is encouraging people to ask to starved to death on the false promise of 'basic care, support and comfort.' How comfortable is it to starve to death? See Salford document here.

From SPUC: Local government in north-west England is distributing a leaflet on making advance treatment directives under the Mental Capacity Act. Salford City Council's publication gives refusal of mechanical life support and cancer treatment as example-decisions. An associated webpage lets people refuse cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, assisted breathing and artificial feeding. Below the declaration is written: "I am aware that I will be provided basic care, support and comfort." [SPUC, 15 May] Antonia Tully of Patients First Network said: "This is a dangerous and confusing leaflet, which could to used to place vulnerable people at risk of a painful and premature death. It is ludicrous to suggest that 'basic care, support and comfort' can be given to someone while they are being dehydrated and starved to death. There seems to be a 'death at all costs' mentality behind this scheme which also suggests that people fax or post a copy of their advance decision to the local ambulance service. Perhaps this is to avoid the risk of the ambulance crew doing anything to preserve life."

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Westminster 'Gay' Masses: business as usual

Update: the next of these masses is taking place this Sunday, 18th May
Please join the protest, from 4.45pm, outside Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street.

Briefing 08/01/08: the change of Parish Priest has made no difference to the Masses arranged by and for a group of dissenting gay activists as a platform for attacking Church teaching, with the permission of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

'Independent Catholic News' described the Mass as being 'for London's gay community'.The celebrant, Fr Philip Endean SJ, invited by the self-appointed 'organisers' of the Mass, had this to say in his sermon: This feast of Epiphany and its scripture reminds us that the mystery of the Incarnation is not something static; it never simply reinforces cultural norms and traditions. It raises challenging questions about who does and does not belong; and it may be a sign of this community's health that its celebrations are often accompanied by the prayers of 'our friends outside' who believe it has no business to exist. (Full text here.)

Poignant indeed: but there would really be no need to worry if the Masses were not organised by a roll-call of professional gay activitists who call the Pope a 'homophobe', if they didn't promote the events of militantly immoral gay groups such as the Gay Pride march, and if they - like Fr Endean's sermon - didn't remain resolutely silent on the Church's teaching on sexual morality.

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

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Catholic Union organises mass lobby on hybrids bill

Update: this took place and was a great success.

From CFNews: Lord Alton emails : 'Yesterday, an estimated 600 people turned up to the lobby Parliament, and all went to see MPs. Central lobby was completely packed from just after 1pm until 5 with our people, making it clear they were representing many more thousands in the country. It looked good. Let's hope it did some good. Thanks to everyone who helped with time and resources on the day. The major votes on the key issues of animal human hybrids; saviour siblings; the child's need for a father and abortion will take place on Monday and Tuesday next week.

Ian Duncan Smith MP has confirmed that there will be a major briefing on the Fatherhood issue released over the weekend, as part of his 'Breakdown Britain' study. This is well timed especially as he is moving the Fatherhood amendment. The 3rd viral is now released for the Passion for Life campaign (and deals with the child's need for a father) - it lasts 1 minute, and is here.


Action 28/04/08: please support this.Everyone is entitled to go to the 'lobby' of the House of Commons and meet his or her Member of Parliament. A 'mass lobby' is a coordinated effort to maximise the impact.

From CFNews: National Lobby of Parliament. May 14th, - 12.30 onwards. A vital opportunity to tell your MP how strongly you feel about the introduction of

* Animal / Human Hybrid embryos
* 'Saviour' Siblings
* Removal of Fatherhood

Please arrange to meet your MP at the Houses of Parliament, from 12.30 onwards. We will supply briefings to help inform your discussion with your MP. There will be a venue close by for refreshments, literature and an opportunity to meet Pro-Life MPs. Event supported by Right to Life, CARE, LIFE and many other groups. Now is the time to arrange an appointment with your MP, arrange transport, and tell your friends and colleagues to travel to London for this vital campaign. [Catholic Union]

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Lords Victory on homophobic hate-crime bill

Update: the Commons have accepted this ammendment. Well done to Lord Waddington and his supporters! See the story here.

Briefing, 22/04/08

From Christian Concern for our Nation: In the House of Lords last night Lord Waddington succeeded in amending the incitement to "homophobic hatred" offence to include a free speech provision. Just before midnight Peers voted 81 to 57 in favour of this amendment.

Thank you to all those who prayed for this and/or who contacted Peers to attend this crucial vote. We thank God for answered prayer.

Though the Government seems to have tried to wrong foot Peers who wanted to vote for the free speech clause by unexpectedly extending the debate into late last night and switching the vote from Wednesday 23 April (when it was anticipated) to yesterday, sufficient Peers felt strongly enough to attend and stayed late to support Lord Waddington's amendment to maintain freedom of speech.

This is the amendment:
'In this Part, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.'

This is the link to last night's debate - the relevant part starts at Column 1365

This is the link for how Peers voted from Column 1377

The amendment still needs to be approved by the House of Commons. The Government
may try to overturn it there. Let's continue to pray.

The amendment is an important protection for free speech and religious liberty.

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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