Sunday, November 30, 2008

King Herod hard at work in the UK

Briefing.

From CFNews: The number of women having an abortion in England and Wales exceeded 200,000 for the first time last year.

There has been an increased figure almost every year since the legalisation of abortion in 1967 - and the indications are this year's figure will be even higher.

Britain's termination rate is already the highest in Western Europe, and if trends continue it will bypass the U.S. within a decade as the place where the greatest proportion of births are terminated.

The shocking figures came just months after MPs rejected moves to restrict abortion to under 20 weeks only, in a bid to call a halt to the year-on-year rises.

The limit for social abortions stayed at 24 weeks.

Pro-life MPs say the figures prove that abortion has become so commonplace that hundreds of women are using it as a form of contraception.

Nadine Dorries, Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire, said: 'Abortion is wrongly seen as an easy and trouble-free way of ending a pregnancy. It has moved from a resource that women turn to in an emergency and a point of crisis to becoming a form of contraception.
'This has been brought about as a result of an ill-conceived notion that it is just a minor procedure with no side or lasting effects, but this is not the case.'

The Office for National Statistics has revealed that there were 205,600 abortions last year, with 198,500 carried out on Britons and the rest on women who had travelled from other countries.

There were more than 200,000 abortions in Britain in 2007 - but there could be even more in 2008.

Most abortions - 57,000 - were carried out on the 20 to 24 age group. However, there were 4,400 on the under-16s and 700 on those aged more than 45. Some 62.7 per cent of abortions were performed within nine weeks.

In the first six months of 2008, there were 105,000 abortions, slightly more than half last year's figure, indicating the annual total is likely to exceed that of 2007.

Pro-life campaigners are also becoming increasingly concerned with the number of repeat abortions.

The most recent figures for this from 2006 show that nearly 4,000 women have had four or more abortions - and dozens have had eight or more. There were 82 teenagers on their third abortion.

Overall, the number of women having repeat abortions has reached record levels. In 2006, 59,687 abortions were performed in England on women who had already had one.

A third of terminations are now repeats, and the number has gone up by 5 per cent in two years.

Read More...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Soft-porn advert for 'morning after' pill

Briefing.

From CFNews:A new advertisement from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), depicting a semi-pornographic Christmas scene is being used to tout free morning-after pills and condoms for the Christmas season.

The ad shows the lower half of a man clad in 'Santa' get-up grasping the rear of a woman in a mini-skirt whose leg is entwined around the 'Santa' figure, set against the backdrop of a typical Christmas living room scene. 'Santa only comes once a year ... but that's all it takes!' reads the ad, implying that the woman could get pregnant even if she only has sex with Santa once a year, without using contraception.

BPAS's website explains that they 'recognise that Christmas is a time when people don't think about contraception as a priority, but accidents still happen.' In order to remedy the shortened holiday schedule of family planning clinics and pharmacies, BPAS will be providing a 'Free Christmas Pack' containing a dose of the abortifacient morning-after pill, three condoms, a leaflet on 'what your options are in case the pill doesn't work' and another on general sexual health services.

BPAS, a non-profit organization, like its U.S. counterpart Planned Parenthood, is the U.K.'s largest single abortion provider.

Anthony Ozimic, political secretary for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), responded to the ad with disgust. 'It is certainly a despicable ploy which threatens unborn children, promotes promiscuity, undermines public health and insults the child-centred meaning of Christmas,' said Ozimic. 'The offensive sexual innuendo linked to Santa Claus is evidence of BPAS's morally bankrupt status.'

Ozimic also said it is revealing that the BPAS pack included information on 'options' in case of unexpected pregnancy. 'This makes us question whether not this free give-away isn't a thinly-disguised attempt by BPAS to drum up more abortion business in the new year,' he said.

'This style of promoting the morning-after pill will have an adverse effect on many young and vulnerable women,' Ozimic continued. 'It will encourage men to see females as sex objects, who can be exploited without responsibility for the consequences. The morning-after pill's promoters share in the abuse of women by misleading them about its potential effect, which, the manufacturers concede, may include causing an early abortion.'

The BPAS ad coincides with a Christmas campaign from the U.S. Planned Parenthood of Indiana, promoting gift cards to be redeemed for services such as birth control, STD testing, and abortions.

Read More...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Abortion propaganda aimed at schools

Parents should be vigilant: find out what is going on in your school!

From CFNews: Schools are being urged to show girls a film that teaches them that they have the right to choose an abortion. The film puts forward the idea that it's up to a woman if she wants to terminate her pregnancy.

Made by the family planning Association (FPA, Why abortion? shows a range of scenarios in which actresses justify abortion on the grounds that they cannot afford to have a child or that it could jeopardise their relationship with parents or boyfriends. Their choices are then debated in the film by teenagers from Northern Ireland -- when abortion remains illegal -- with a majority defending a woman's right to choose.

While the FPA is launching its DVD this week, with a handful of orders already received, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children offers a pro-life presentation to every secondary school and the organisation Life gave 816 school talks during 2006-2007. A spokesman for SPUC said, 'I disagree with these things being shown in lessons. They give a very unbalanced view of abortion. They don't give any indication that it might create psychological difficulties, and a realistic alternative to abortion is not covered'.

England and Wales has the second highest termination rate in Europe, with 205,600 abortions carried out in 2007. Sex and relationships education is to become compulsory in primary schools in a drive to cut teenage pregnancies.

Read More...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Policeman loses disciplinary case for believing sodomy a sin

Briefing.

From the Christian Legal Centre: A Christian policeman who objected to the aggressive promotion of homosexual rights within the Norfolk Constabulary has lost a disciplinary hearing brought
against him by his police force. Mr Cogman refutes any allegation that he is 'homophobic' as they have attempted to label him, but only sought equal space for the Christian viewpoint in the Police.

He is currently seeking further advice regarding what action to take next from CLC and we expect to announce further details early next week. Mr Cogman will not be giving any interviews to the press until then.

See also Fr Finnigan.

Read More...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Taxpayers fork out to promote Atheism

Briefing.


From Damian Thompsobn: The Government is about to fund a series of conferences on religious belief - organised, needless to say, by militant atheists.

The British Humanist Association will host free public events at which Evan Harris MP (the scary Lib Dem nicknamed "Dr Death" for his pro-abortion views) and atheist philosopher AC Grayling will talk about "religion or belief in equality and human rights groups". The bill will be footed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) - ie, the taxpayer.

According to the Catholic Union, funding the British Humanist Association to provide seminars on "religious belief discrimination" is a bit like asking the Far Right to host seminars on racism. I don't think that analogy will go down well with the Association, whose President is the snooty grande dame of the wealthy Left, Polly Toynbee.

See his full post.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Everybody is Welcome - except the Pope

Action: complaints, please, to Bishop Hine(jhine@absouthwark.org) and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The The Marriage and Family Life 'project' of the Bishops' Conference has produced a leaflet on how parishes should help homosexuals. It has very little content, apart from suggesting that the Church's usual response to homosexuality is callous rejection, but refers readers to four 'Church documents which describe the teaching of the Church and address the pastoral care of homosexual persons'. This list does not include the Church's primary catechetical document, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nor any other document from Rome: all are documents from the English or US bishops conferences, Cardinal Hume or the Diocese of Westminster, one of them dating back to 1979. All are seriously defective; three of them have been subject to criticism by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The attempt to direct Catholics away from documents giving the full story of Catholic teaching is remarkable, and the exclusion of papal teaching suggests an attitude approaching the schismatic.

The four documents listed the leaflet lists are:

1. Cherishing Life. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. London: CTS, 2004.
2. A Note Concerning the Teaching of the Catholic Church Concerning Homosexual People. Cardinal Basil Hume. 1997.
3. Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers. USCCB 1997
4. An Introduction to the Pastoral Care of Homosexual People. CBCEW Catholic Social Welfare Commission, 1979

The first, Cherishing Life, has a short section on homosexuality (pp51-52) dominated by the strapline 'the Church teaches that homosexual people must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.' That is also its sole quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The rest of the text devotes itself to playing down the notion of 'objectively disordered' ('in this precise and particular sense only') in order to assert misleadingly that 'a homosexual orientation can never be considered sinful or evil in itself.' Sins are acts, not orientations, so denying that an orientation is 'sinful' is a straw man, but in teaching that a homosexual orientation is 'intrinsically disordered' the Church is certainly saying that it is a bad thing.

The second, A Note Concerning the Teaching of the Catholic Church Concerning Homosexual People, was composed by Cardinal Hume specifically in order to 'soften the blows' of the orthodox teaching about homosexuality presented by Vatican documents (reported in an obituary here), incorporating suggestions from the dissident 'Catholic' homosexual group Quest, which rejects the Church's teaching on sexuality (see our dossier on Quest here). Quest explains:
His Observations (1993) had been sent in draft to Quest. In full, and not unpersuasive, comments, Quest urged him to give more place to aspects of the CDF's views which showed, if somewhat meagerly, some sympathy, closer to the bishops' guidelines, with the needs of homosexual people. Nor had the cardinal taken any account of the strong support given by his predecessors at Westminster, Cardinals Griffin and Godfrey, to the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between men. This deficiency was remedied with a new paragraph on social policy which reflects Quest's concern for a better Catholic attitude than the CDF had shown to civil rights legislation for homosexual people. When the Observations were revised and reissued as the more expanded Note (1995), it was not sent in draft for the same wide consultation. The introduction of new sections on friendship and human love was not at all to the mind of the CDF (where love is never confused with sex - hence a further revision of the Note two years later).(See here.)

The third, 'Always Our Children' was criticised severely when it came out (in 1998), with the remarkable statement from the orthodox Bishop Bruskewitz, bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska:
"Calamity and frightening disaster" are terms which are not too excessive to describe this document. It is my view that this document carries no weight or authority for Catholics, whom I would advise to ignore or oppose it. (See his full critique here.)

The fourth, 'An Introduction to the Pastoral Care of Homosexual People', also included suggestions from Quest. Quest itself tells us this, adding
The bishops' guidelines were not well received at the CDF where the moral basis appeared defective and some of the pastoral advice in consequence unwarranted. Accordingly, the CDF wrote more fully and instructively to bishops worldwide, correcting moral misjudgements, disallowing inappropriate pastoral methods and forbidding support of extremist homosexual organisations. On all three counts, the English and Welsh bishops had to reconsider the position of the guidelines. In consultation with Quest and others, a revised version was drafted. On two matters of crucial concern to Quest, the moral neutrality of homosexuality as a condition and the right of homosexual couples to receive the sacraments, no concession was made to the CDF. (Seehere.)

It is outrageous that the list includes neither the Catechism not the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 'On the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person' (1986), pretty obviously relevant here.

The same approach can be seen with the other leaflets in the series: notably on mixed-faith marriages, and divorced Catholics.

The leaflets also promote Marriage Care (the leaflet on homosexuality wrongly calls it 'Catholic Marriage Care'), an organisation which no longer claims to be Catholic, and whose dissent from Catholic teaching has been exposed in our dossier here.

Read More...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Catholic Agencies latest

Briefing.

From CFNews: Two church-run adoption agencies have changed their charitable objects to allow them to turn away same-sex couples on religious grounds.

St Margaret's Adoption and Child Care Society, a Catholic agency in Glasgow, and the Cornerstone Adoption and Fostering Service, an evangelical agency in the north east of England, will now be able to comply with new homosexual rights laws while remaining true to their religious convictions.

Their success in changing their constitutions to comply with the law and stay within the control of their respective churches has raised serious questions over why the eleven English and Welsh Catholic adoption agencies have been unable to do the same.

So far, five of these have broken ties with the bishops to become independent secular institutions and one has wound up its adoption service altogether. Two others are undecided, while those in Westminster, Birmingham and Leeds have seen their applications to change their objects turned down by the Charity Commission.

There are just six weeks remaining before the agencies must comply with the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) that were brought in to ban discrimination against homosexual people in the provision of goods and services.

But there is still time for the agencies to follow the route taken by St Margaret's and Cornerstone.

Neil Addison, a barrister and expert in religious hatred law, said: 'The agencies can amend their constitutions within 24 hours if they wanted to. That is not the problem. All that is lacking is the will.'

He said the agencies were in a position to comply with the SORs and be protected under Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006 - which prevents local authorities discriminating against organisations on the grounds of their religious beliefs - and under Article 9 of the Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

He said he thought that the 'real reason' why many agencies had cut ties with the Church was because they were happy to comply with the SORs.

Lawyers representing the three adoption agencies that failed in their attempts to change their objects have been in contact with Cornerstone and St Margaret's to try to find out why they have succeeded.

They had earlier hoped that by explicitly stating that the agencies dealt solely with married couples and single people they would satisfy Regulation 18 of the SORs.

This allows limited discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation by 'reason of, or on the grounds of, the provisions of a charitable instrument'.

But some experts say their approach is directly discriminatory and offers no protection under existing religious discrimination laws. The successful agencies re-worded their objects to specifically refer to their religious character. Discrimination against homosexual couples would be indirect and a consequence of observing their religious ideals.

Jane Hasnip, the chief executive of Cornerstone, based in Stockton-on-Tees, said: 'We comply with Regulation 18 of the SORs because of the way in which our memorandum has been drawn up.

'We have drawn up a statement of faith and a code of practice which basically everyone connected with Cornerstone has to comply with. Part of that code states that people who come to us should be married and marriage is between male and female. We don't actually say we don't accept same-sex couples. Instead, we set out what we believe the Bible's definition of marriage is.'

Jim Richards, the director of the Catholic Children's Society (Westminster), said the success of Cornerstone had 'given hope' to the trustees of his agency in their efforts to both comply with the SORs and to remain in the control of the Archdiocese of Westminster.

'Our solicitors will use all legal arguments open to us,' he said.

The English and Welsh Catholic adoption agencies, which together find new homes for 250 children a year, have until New Year's Day to comply with the SORs or face the prospect of legal action or the withdrawal of their funding by local authorities.

The response of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to the threat to its adoption agencies has been undermined by internal divisions.

Although the bishops were united in opposing the SORs, they have failed to achieve consensus in how their agencies should respond to the law.

The agencies, as charities in their own right, were finally given the task of tackling the problem as they saw fit.

However, they were advised by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales not to explore legal avenues that would allow them to comply with the SORs and remain Catholic.

Read More...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Religious stamps available



Good news!

From CFNews: 'The 2007 Madonna and Child first and second class Christmas stamps are available to buy on the Royal Mail website. Just go to `online shop` at  http://www.RoyalMail.com and choose `stamps`. Scroll down past the pantomime figures which decorate this year`s stamps and you`ll come to the beautiful images we enjoyed last year. Available in sheets of 50, delivery is free.

Read More...

Bishop McMahon calls for married clergy

Udate: In a letter to The Tablet (22/11/08), Bishop McMahon seeks to clarify his position: Saying that there is no priest-shortage to justify the ordination of married men for pragmatic reasons, he goes on: 'I am quoted as saying that it is a matter of justice. Certainly some people feel that it is unfair that convert married clergymen are still being considered for ordination while the door is shut to other Catholic married men. Even if this is difficult to accept, we should always remember that ordination to the priesthood can never be understood as a right - like all sacraments, it is a gift.'


This is a bizarre re-run of the 2002 incident when his diocesan newspaper quoted him making it very clear that he supported the ordination of women. This, he claimed, was false. How on earth could The Telegraph put quotation marks round the things they did if he told them the opposite? Something very odd is going on.

Briefing 10/11/08: Bishop McMahon of Nottingham, considered a candidate for the Archdiocese of Westminster, has publicly called for the ordination of married men (see the Sunday Telegraph), as a matter of 'justice' towards men who wish to marry and also to be priests, and towards the faithful suffering from a shortage of priests."

Yes, it is theoretically possible for the Latin (Western) Church to adopt the Greek Church's practice of ordaining married men to the priesthood, and it has done so for the exceptional case of former Anglican clergy. But McMahon suggests there there is simply nothing to be said for the immemorial practice of the Latin Church. Saying that we could have women priests is not a denial of doctrine; saying that the theological considerations in favour of a celibate clergy have no weight is. It is an implicit denial of the value of celibacy in the priesthood. This is something which has been reiterated recently by Pope Benedict XVI:

Post-Synodal Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (2007) 24 The Synod Fathers wished to emphasize that the ministerial priesthood, through ordination, calls for complete configuration to Christ. While respecting the different practice and tradition of the Eastern Churches, there is a need to reaffirm the profound meaning of priestly celibacy, which is rightly considered a priceless treasure, and is also confirmed by the Eastern practice of choosing Bishops only from the ranks of the celibate. These Churches also greatly esteem the decision of many priests to embrace celibacy. This choice on the part of the priest expresses in a special way the dedication which conforms him to Christ and his exclusive offering of himself for the Kingdom of God. (75) The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of the Latin Church. It is not sufficient to understand priestly celibacy in purely functional terms. Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ's own way of life. This choice has first and foremost a nuptial meaning; it is a profound identification with the heart of Christ the Bridegroom who gives his life for his Bride. In continuity with the great ecclesial tradition, with the Second Vatican Council (76) and with my predecessors in the papacy, (77) I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God, and I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition. Priestly celibacy lived with maturity, joy and dedication is an immense blessing for the Church and for society itself.

See the Catholic Encyclopedia on clerical celibacy; more comments by Damian Thompson and Fr Ray Blake.

Bishop McMahon is often described as 'conservative', but this is only the latest in a string of unsettling outbursts and scandalous policies.

He called for women priests in his own diocesan newspaper in 2002 - so explicitly  that his later claim that he had been misquoted can only be understood as a face-saving way of back-peddling. On the same occasion he called for married clergy. (See this Christian Order article.)

On his diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, he invited two Anglican women ministers into the sancturary to assist him during his celebration of Mass, and encouraged pilgrims to attend their services (see this Christian Order article).

What is more serious is that he has allowed his diocesan adoption agency to secularise, and, taking the assets given to it for Catholic charitable activities with it, to place vulnerable children into the care of homosexual couples.

Finally, Bishop McMahon, who is a Dominican, he has allowed Quest (see our dossier), the dissident gay group which was excluded from the Catholic Directory by Cardinal Hume for its support for gay sex, to have weekly Masses in the Dominican house in his diocese, Holy Cross in Leicester. Nottingham Quest members gratefully report that Bishops McMahon has encouraged them. What a nice man he must be.

Why is he regarded as 'conservative'? Because he has occasionally attended the Traditional Mass? Is that all it takes? This really is grasping at straws.

Why is McMahon coming out with this while apparently being considered by Rome for the Archdiocese of Westminster? Perhaps because in these matters the influence of liberals is greater than the influence of orthodox Catholics, and he wishes to establish his credentials as a liberal.

Read More...

Elderly 'vegtables' should be killed off

Briefing: this statement from the Governments 'czar' for the elderly defies parody. What is the 'normal' lifespan? Dame Joan has already outlived her 'three score years and ten'. Her remarks about 'enormous machinery' of lifesupport indicates a completely irrational approach to the question. What difference does the size of the machines make? In any case, she is not advocating switching them off when they are no longer doing any good - something which is entirely reasonable - but giving a lethal injection to people who can no longer refuse.

From the Daily Telegraph, in part: Labour's czar for the elderly said she had made a living will that will mean she is 'not kept alive if I'm a vegetable'. She added that people should not be helped to go on living by machinery if they had outlived their normal lifespan.

The 75-year-old television presenter also called for laws that would allow terminally ill patients to be given fatal doses of drugs. The controversial call for assisted dying and allowing people with dementia to die came a week after Dame Joan's appointment as the 'voice of older people'.


It comes at a time of growing pressure from supporters of euthanasia and assisted dying for legislation to allow the elderly and disabled to be helped to die when they become too sick to look after themselves.

Dame Joan told the Daily Telegraph: 'Everybody fears becoming unable to speak, unable to communicate. 'That's a really alarming prospect and I think it is quite a good idea to give thought to it now and to write a living will and to make provision, tell your nearest and dearest what you want.'

She added: 'I don't want people to be kept alive simply because there is a lot of enormous machinery that can keep them pumped up and with all the organs going, when in fact their identity has ceased to exist.'

She called for MPs and peers to 'revisit' the Bill put forward earlier this year by Lord Joffe that would have given doctors the right to give a fatal dose of drugs to a terminally sick patient.

Dame Joan said: 'The bill is very limited in scope and you have to have a terminal illness - you really have to be within sight of the pearly gates - before anything is possible. It is not a matter of saying "you are a bit old, can you pop off?".'

But Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: 'Dame Joan talks about enormous machinery keeping people alive, but there is a big difference between that and Lord Joffe's bill, that would mean people could be given injections to kill them off. Dame Joan ought to know the difference and it is disappointing that she doesn't. She runs the risk of giving the impression to people with dementia that they have a duty to die.'

See the full article here.

Read More...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good Counsel Network carols

Local action: please support these if you can.

From CFNews: The Guild of Our Lady of Good Counsel is organising carol singing in London Tube Stations, where we can also take up a collection, on several days during December.

Every year The Good Counsel Network helps to save the lives of hundreds of unborn babies. The Guild of Our Lady of Good Counsel is a charity which supports this work and can only continue this work through fundraising events like this.

If you can sing or if you just wish to help with the collecting please reply(indicating whether you are a singer or collector) with your
availability for any of the following dates:

1st December at Oxford Circus

3rd December at Piccadilly Circus

16th December at Paddington(tube)

22nd December at Bond Street.

We will be there from 12 noon until 8pm so if you can come and help with some time it would be very much appreciated. [info@goodcounselnetwork.freeserve.co.uk]

Read More...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Couple who smack may adopt

A victory for common sense and parental rights.

From CFNews: A court has ruled in favour of a couple who had appealed a decision by a local council to bar them from adopting a baby girl on the grounds that they sometimes used spanking to discipline their son. The court called the council's decision 'bordering on the bizarre' and has ordered that the couple be reconsidered for adoption.

The couple, identified only as Mr. and Mrs. A, have an adopted son and had applied to the Newham county council in east London to adopt his baby sister. They were refused when Mr. A admitted to using corporal punishment in rearing his son. The couple's barrister said that the Newham council's decision violated the family's human rights, and that their son would now unjustly grow up without his sister. The couple are experienced foster parents and have taken in children from all over London.

Mr. Justice Bennett, however, ruled that the couple's application to adopt the baby girl must be reconsidered. He said the council's decision was 'unreasonable' and 'in dangerous territory.'

The council had dismissed the findings of a review panel which described the parents as 'strong, caring, sensitive, supportive and resourceful.' Despite the fact that spanking remains legal in Britain, the council concluded that 'Mr. A does not appear to accept that corporal punishment should not be used. Such indications would normally mean an adoption application would be refused.'

Several attempts by activists in Parliament have failed to prohibit parents from using corporal punishment to discipline their children. The most recent law upholds parents' rights, only outlawing punishment which leaves 'physical marks' or causes 'mental harm.'

Read More...

UN still funding forced abortion in China

Briefing.

From CFNews:The Population Research Institute, whose groundbreaking investigation in China led the Bush administration to cut funding to the U.N. Population Fund for the past seven years, stands by its accusation that the UNFPA was--and is--involved in coercive abortions in China.

'Our investigation remains valid,' says Colin Mason, PRI's media director. 'We put boots on the ground, and made the results available to anyone who wanted them. Those who would disregard our findings show an appalling lack of respect for human rights.'


Here's their video on the subject.


PRI's report, entitled 'UNFPA, China, and Coercive Family Planning,' is based on an investigation conducted by PRI researchers in China's Sihui County. Relying on interviews with over two dozen victims and witnesses, the 2001 investigation found that coercive abortion and sterilization practices were taking place in that county where the UNFPA had supposedly instituted a 'client-centered and voluntary family planning program.' In fact, PRI's investigation discovered that the UNFPA shared an office with the very Chinese family planning officials who were carrying out forced abortions.

Prompted by this investigation, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell sent his own research team to China, which independently verified the facts that PRI had gathered. As a result, Powell himself urged that the U.S. government stop funding the UNFPA. Said Powell in a 2002 letter to Congress. 'UNFPA's support of, and involvement in, China's population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion.'

'President-elect Obama and his supporters blame the Bush administration for this decision,' says Steven W. Mosher, PRI's president. 'But in fact it was Colin Powell, who is no friend of social conservatives and who recently endorsed Obama for President, who made this call.'

'It would be a shame if Obama abandons both the women of China--and one of his most high-profile backers--in the name of the failed ideology of population control,' said Mosher. 'Americans don't want their money going to an organization--the UNFPA--which works hand-in-glove with China's population control police as they drag women off for forced abortions and forced sterilizations.'

The first episode of PRI's new video series on the UNFPA is available for viewing on PRI's YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/colinpri1 [PRI]

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pope Benedict: Church buildings should be honoured

Briefing: wreckers, please note.


From Zenit: It is important that the community take 'special care' of the church building in which it gathers to pray, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Sunday during his Angelus address for the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, which was built following the Edict of Milan in 313.

'[T]oday's feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God's desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God,' the Holy Father explained.

The feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, which for some time was only celebrated in the city of Rome, was extended to the whole Church in the 16th century.

'The honoring of this sacred edifice was a way of expressing love and veneration for the Roman Church, which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch says, 'presides in charity' over the whole Catholic communion,' Benedict XVI said.

The material temple, the Pope noted, is important because it is an expression of that 'spiritual edifice,' which is the Christian community.

'The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human being, limited and sinful, to convert to form a 'cosmos,' a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints,' the Holy Father continued.

For this reason, he added, every community 'has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony.' [Zenit]  

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Copmpulsory Sex Ed at Primary and Secondary Schools

So says the Government: but it's ok, because (they tell the Telegraph) they won't coerce girls into having contraceptive injections. Oh, so they were thinking of doing that? Certainly, it would fit right in with the project: if you think contraception is the way to cut teenage pregnancy, and sex ed fails, then obviously the next step is to to use stronger measures to get children onto it. Perhaps we can look forward to it being implemented in a year or so, with the Conservatives' agreement.

H-T John Smeaton.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chritianophobic hate-speach promoted at the Welsh Assembly

Action: Welsh readers should complain. 'All I preach is deicide'? The combination of ridicule of religious beliefs with with attacks on believers would make this work indefensible if the religion in question were not Christianity. It is now being promoted by the Welsh Culture Secretary in a reading at the Welsh Assembly: this is a kind of official endorsement. Email Peter Black, the culture secretary, and ">your own Assembly Member


From Christian Voice: WELSH LIBDEMS BECOME THE 'INSULT JESUS' PARTY.

Dated 10.40am 14th November 2008

The decision by Peter Black AM to invite the poet Patrick Jones to insult Jesus Christ in the National Assembly has been condemned by a Christian prayer and lobby group.

Christian Voice described the event, due to be held on 11th December, as a disgrace to the Assembly itself. The Waterstone's bookshop in Cardiff cancelled a reading of Jones' poetry on Wednesday night. after a 24-hour campaign by Christian Voice, whose members emailed and phoned the store to complain. At no time did Christian Voice make any threat of disruption to Waterstone's, who took the decision themselves.

But Peter Black, who is the LibDem's culture spokesman, has now invited Jones, a militant atheist, to read his poems, which insult Jesus Christ and call for an end to Christian worship, in Committee Room 24 of the Assembly at 12 noon on Thursday 11th December.

On BBC Wales yesterday afternoon, after being repeatedly challenged by Stephen Green, Black eventually agreed to extend an invitation to Christians to attend. Christian Voice is now awaiting an invitation.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today:
'This is a creepy event in the seat of government at which Jesus-hating AM's can swoon over poems packed with hatred for Christianity and which speak of Mary Magdalene and the poet having sex with the Lord Jesus Christ. They will also hear Jones' unfettered hatred of Christianity, which he has somehow managed to convince himself is indistinguishable from Islam.

'What they will not hear is Jones insult the prophet Mohammed. He dare not do that at all, let alone in the sexual way he insults Jesus Christ, whom he sees as a soft target.

'Christians in Wales must not take this lying down. We need to stand up for our Lord against this attack on His honour and on the Church itself by Peter Black. Black has gone out of his way to show contempt for Christians in Wales. As he is the LibDem Culture Spokesman, that means insulting Jesus Christ is now official LibDem policy. The LibDems have thus become a political party Christians can no longer in conscience
vote for or take any part in.'

NOTE: Patrick Jones emailed some of his poems to Stephen Green on Tuesday morning, then denied he had done that on BBC Radio Wales Thursday morning, then admitted it on the same station Thursday afternoon.

Waterstone's told Christian Voice they had cancelled Jones' reading at 10am on Wednesday morning, but did not email Jones to tell him until 2pm that afternoon.

The poems aren't actually much good, they hardly rhyme, they rarely scan or have rhythm, but they possibly have enough profanity and references to female genitalia to get the literati excited. One of them, to which we are taking the greatest exception, includes the blasphemous if not terribly original line: 'just like mary magdelene (sic), i f****d jesus'.

Other lines include: 'All I preach is deicide', 'today I have become a born-again atheist' and 'god does not die because he was never alive.'

One poem describes God as 'the first absent dad' who 'lorded it upstairs' while Jesus was on earth.

Another strikes at the fundamental right to hold a religious view and have freedom of worship, as Jones expresses his desire for 'prayers to be abandoned ... synagogues closed, churches morphed into pound shops' and concludes 'then they shall all be f***ing saved.'

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Hollis criticised for call to legalise brothels

A year ago Bishop Hollis of Portsmouth made widely criticised remarks on how brothels should be legalised for the sake of the prostitutes. The question, from a Catholic point of view, is whether the state should tolerate this evil for the sake of the common good: ie whether the law causes more harm than good. Hollis' judgement that it does ignores (1) the experience of Sweden, where prostitution has been much more effectively suppressed by focusing efforts on prosecuting clients, rather than the prostitutes, (2) the current situation in England, where brothels are de facto tolerated already, and (3) the reality of prostitution as the most appalling kind of exploitation of women.


Hillary White of Lifesitenews gives us this update:

PORTSMOUTH, UK, November 15, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Anti-trafficking organizations have demanded the resignation of Portsmouth Catholic bishop Crispian Hollis after he told media of his support for the legalization of brothels. He made his comments in response to a resolution passed by the Hampshire branch of the Women's Institute, the UK's largest women's organization, calling on the government to legalize brothels.

Hollis, whose diocese covers Hampshire, told media last weekend, "If you are going to take a pragmatic view and say prostitution happens, I think there's a need to make sure it's as well-regulated as possible for the health of people involved and for the safety of the ladies themselves."

The Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition has called for Bishop Hollis to resign citing the Vatican's condemnation of the international movement to legalize prostitution. IATC director, Gregory Carlin told LifeSiteNews.com, "Legal brothels legitimize an industry that completely victimizes women."

Although the argument is routinely made that legalization protects women, anti-trafficking organizations insist that it fails to protect women or slow down the growth of organized crime, trafficking or sexual abuse of children. "No jurisdiction," Carlin said, "not Australia, New Zealand, Holland, or Germany has been able to migrate street prostitution to the brothel model."

"If the demand is legitimized or expanded in the UK it will increase the existing problem of sex tourism" in Europe, he said. "There are men who think they have a right to do these things. Legal brothels in Britain will offer a seamless opportunity vis a vis Germany, Holland, Belgium and other European countries."

In 2005, the Vatican released a document calling prostitution "a form of modern day slavery". The document, developed at the First International Meeting of Pastoral Care for the Liberation of Women of the Street, added that "sexual exploitation, prostitution and trafficking of human beings are all acts of violence against women," and "constitute an offence to the dignity of women and are a grave violation of basic human rights."

Carlin also called on the National Federation of Women's Institutes to disavow any support for the legalization of prostitution or brothels. Efforts by the Women's Institutes to legalize brothels, he said, "is not going to help anybody who needs help."

Eoin Redahan, head of Public Relations with the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI), responded, however, that the decision to support legalization of brothels by the Hampshire branch "is not an issue that the WI" as a whole "has a position on."

Redahan wrote in an email, "The National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) is made up of 70 federations representing more or less a county each. These federations are independent and are free to discuss whatever issues that feel may be of concern to their members. The Hampshire federation, in this instance, discussed and debated the legalizing of brothels and voted in favour of this resolution. This federation's resolution does not apply to any of the other 69 federations or to the NFWI."

But the Hampshire WI intends to try to bring the entire national organization into line. Jean Johnson, Hampshire WI advisor, told the BBC this week that if the Hampshire resolution was successful nationally the WI would then propose it to the British government.

She told BBC News that legalizing brothels would improve the access of prostitutes to medical care and "make it easier for police to tackle illegal human trafficking".

But actual human trafficking campaigners disagree, saying that legalization is a "gift" to those who live off the arrears of prostitution and traffic in women and girls.

Gregory Carlin said that the British police do not close illegal brothels, and that British men who frequent them are a "major part" of the exploitation of trafficked children in brothels. He alleged that they are frequently offered immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for information about immigrants.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hybrid embryos today, the old and sick tomorrow

The agenda of death goes on. Last week the Queen signed the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: not for the first time, breaking her Coronation Oath.

She was asked 
Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel?

She replied 'I will'. 
But hey, 1952 was a long time ago, maybe she's forgotten.

The merchants of death will not leave matters there, however: new attempts will be made to extend (note: not legalise) involuntary as well as voluntary euthanasia. The legal situation now (following first the Bland Judgement and then the Mental Capacity Act 2005) is that doctors can and sometimes must starve and dehydrate incapacitated patients to death - patients who obviously cannot consent to this. The horrible and lingering death this produces is the ideal argument, the proponents of euthanasia believe, for introducing the killing of patients by lethal injection.

John Smeaton reminds us:

SPUC has frequently quoted Dr Helga Kuhse, the utilitarian bioethicist, who as then-president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, said in 1984:

"If we can get people to accept the removal of all treatment and care--especially the removal of food and fluids--they will see what a painful way this is to die and then, in the patient's best interests, they will accept the lethal injection".


Lord Joffe is again going to seek to bring a bill to Parliament, and neither Labour nor the Conservatives have any principled objection to it - which is why the Mental Capacity Act got through with so little opposition.

So, although we won the Joffe battle last time, be prepared for another fight - under less favourable conditions.
See his full post.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christian Ecology Link: dossier

Christian Ecology Link is a non-denomenational group, so we aren't going to go into detail on its history or structure. It encourages Catholic membership (it has a 'Catholic Team', 'Catholic Resources' etc.), and it is listed as an 'Ecumenical Partner' on the 'livesimply' list of members. The question is whether Catholics can in conscience join, support, or promote this group (as livesimply does: see our dossier on them).

The answer is a resounding No. Catholics, like everyone else, are entitled to their private views about how to save the planet. What they cannot do it promote contraception and abortion, or contribute this promotion, or sit quietly on the sidelines of an organisation which promotes them. But like many ecological groups, CEL regards contraception and abortion not just neutrally, but as essential to the project of saving the world. Not only should contraception be forced on any remaining populations where it is not already widespread, but coercion should be used if necessary - even the forced abortion policy of China gets a favourable mention. All this is promoted on the basis of the tired and superficial arguments put forward by the United Nations and others that there are 'too many people', despite the stubborn way in which the supply of food (and everything else) has more than kept up with strong population growth over the last century, and despite the fact that population growth is slowing. According to their projections, on current trends it will peak in 2050. Not exactly out of control, is it?

CEL publish a daily 'Prayer guide', which gives supporters something to pray about every day ('Useful for assemblies, private prayer and workshops: Share it with your church.'), and these are a few of the delightful things they'd like us to chew over.

Wednesday 11 January 2006.
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), 380 women a minute become pregnant, of whom 190 do not plan to do so, but lack modern contraceptives. According to John Guillebaud, Emeritus Prefessor of Reproductive Health at University College, London, every minute of the day one woman dies through unsafe induced abortion or childbirth, i.e. 600,000 a year. The UNFPA figures quoted above suggest that half are being killed by pregnancies that they would have avoided – if only they had the contraceptives that we take for granted.

But 'unplanned' pregnancies are not necessarily 'unwanted': these statistics are meaningless. Certainly, women die from abortion, but far more from the 'safe', legal kind, than from illegal abortions.

Thursday 12 January 2006.
For the 4th year in succession the US Administration has withheld funding from UNFPA, the only international agency dedicated to family planning and reproductive healthcare. According to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, experts estimate that the former US contribution to UNFPA, if continued, would each year prevent 2 million unintended pregnancies, nearly 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant and child deaths. 

This is one of the acts of the Bush administration upon which it can congratulate itself: no funding to bribe or bully men into sterilisations in India; no money for forced abortions in China. But CEL clearly thinks this is a bad thing - basing their reasoning on the claims of the most fanatical abortion-pushing group in the world, the IPPF, that, contrary to all the evidence, increased access to contraception reduces the number of abortions.

Wednesday 25 October 2006.
China's notorious “single child” policy has prevented over 400 million births. The average birth rate is now 1.8 children per couple as compared with 6 per couple before the policy was introduced. Nevertheless, according to Zhaio Baige, vice-minister of the National Population & Family Planning Commission, “the basic fact is that we have over 1.3 billion people in China (increasing to 1.5 billion by 2035) accounting for over 22% of the world's population, while we have only 7% of the world's arable land.” As to population policy, she says: “We are introducing a system in the countryside to encourage people to obey the family policy plan, granting economic rewards rather than punishing people who break the rules.” It combines free contraception services for rural women, with sensitive local economic assistance, such as micro-loans for communities in the remote countryside, which can help them stay on their land and make a living from it. But she admits there are difficulties. “How should we promote proper contraception without offending women's rights? That will be a great challenge to our work.” “Ultimately” she says “the solution to China's environmental problem is closely linked to its population situation. We realise that China's population and environmental concerns are the world's concerns, and we are willing to take responsibility and share our experience of solving the problems with the rest of the world.”

Despite the use of the word 'notorious', China's policy is being presented in a positive light. A little adjustment, perhaps, would be good - but overall it is 'responsible'. But abortion, even when bullying and bribery are used instead of inprisonment and coercion, always harms women.

Wedneday 30th July 2008
According to Professor John Guillebaud, Emeritus Professor Family Planning & Reproductive Health at University College, London, “Family planning could provide more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single ‘technology’ available to the human race.” There are three possible solutions to climate change:

-Better technology. But all known renewable energy sources - wind, waves, tides, solar and biological – have their adverse impacts. They also lack the power density of fossil fuels.
- Reduced consumption. But poor people very reasonably aspire to leave poverty – which can only be done by consuming more, so producing more greenhouse gases.
-Fewer humans doing the consuming. The only remaining solution. Voluntary, accessible contraception is NOT a substitute for reduced consumption assisted by technology. It’s just the much-neglected other side of the same coin.

Yet talk about population within the Church and within aid agencies is largely taboo – “the elephant in the room that we don’t want to talk about.” “Compulsion, whether overt or covert, is wrong. Let’s just ensure that every woman who now wants a modern contraceptive method has easy access to it.”

If contraception is the answer, it must be a stupid question: how to save the planet from an imaginary population crisis.


Other clues to their attitude are to be found in their newsletter, Green Christians. It is no surprise that they have attracted to their fold cradle Catholics who dissent from Humanae Vitae: the Winter 200/01 issue contains an article by one such, Michael O'Gara. O'Gara explained that he first dissented from it because of what he took to be the self-contradictory teaching of Paul VI: no to contraception, yes to periodic abstinence for good reasons. (Clearly he's not a great logician.) It was after this that he became involved in 'Christian' ecologists (see here).

The Spring/Summer 2008 issue treated its readers to an article by Professor John Guillebaud, who rejoices in the most revolting claim to fame (see here):
I decided, over 40 years ago and probably uniquely among doctors anywhere in the world, to specialise in contraception including surgery (our clinic in Oxford has done >39,000 vasectomies to date!) on environmental grounds.

The attitude to the human body, to women, and to unborn life, evidenced by CEL's publications is not only grossly immoral, but it is something they are willing and indeed eager to foist on unwilling people, such as Islamic countries in the developing world. It is wrong for Catholics to be invovled in this organisation, and hypocritical for organisations such as 'livesimply', who use Catholics' donations and the Church's network, to give them support.

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Clare Short invitation withdrawn by Catholic school

A great victory for faithful Catholics.


From the Catholic Herald (14/11/08), in part: St Paul's School for Girls in Edgbaston, Birmingham, had invited former Labour Minister Miss Short, an old girl, to be guest of honour at an awards ceremony today.
But her invitation was retracted following vociferous complaints from parents and priests of the Birmingham Oratory, who objected to her voting record on abortion and her support for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Why do these 'Catholic' MPs think they will still be welcomed in Catholic institutions having just voted for the most horrific laws? And why do those entrusted with the stewardship of Catholic institutions think it would appropriate to invite them? Perhaps this is beginning to change. Well done to Jackie Parkes, all the parents of the school, and to the priests of the Birmingham Oratory.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Dossier: The Archbishop Romero Trust

What have Oscar Romero, CAFOD, and homosexual activists got in common?

'Justice and Peace' groups naturally see the Servant of God Archbishop Romero, perhaps soon to be beatified, as a hero for speaking out against government human-rights abuses. Unfortunately, they focus their own work on getting parishes to buy 'Fair Trade' products while our own goverment is forcing adoption agencies to give children to gay couples, allowing scientists to create human-animal hybrids, and promoting abortion for 12-year-olds.

But that is not enough. The Romero Trust, which has the laudible aim of promoting knowledge and awareness of the life and work of Archbishop Romero, is Chaired by Julian Filochowski, a former CAFOD director and civil partner of gay activist Martin Pendergast: an irony noted by Fr Tim Finnigan. The Mass celebrating their civil union caused a storm; a book edited by Filochowski in honour of the relationship is full of attacks on the Church: see here.

The use of Romero by these militant gay activists gives them opportunities for promoting the gay agenda through the activities of the Romero Trust. This might seem a difficult trick to pull off, but Martin Pendergast tells us himself that a Mass in honour of Romero in 2005 also marked World AIDS Day. Naturally, this is not a day dedicated to suggesting to 'active' homosexuals that they stop their immoral and self-destructive behaviour: it has been so completely taken over by the gay lobby that this year its theme was ending 'HIV prejudice'.

Another of Martin Pendergast's hobbies is the 'gay' Masses on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month in the church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street: see our dossier on the RCCLGCM. Another dissident group in which he is involved, 'Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support', is celebrating a 'World AIDS Mass' in this church on 30th November, and this is being promoted by the Diocese of Westminster's Justice and Peace Commission, through their e-bulletin, which also promotes World AIDS Day itself and an event of another dissident group, Pax Christi (their advent service 8th December).

So it's all very chummy. The presence of militant gay activists in the 'Justice and Peace' estblishment fits J&P's 'progressive' image, but hardly its Catholic identity.

What would the saintly Archbishop have thought? The Servant of God, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, was well known for his opposition to Marxist-inspired liberation theology. He was assassinated for speaking out against the murders and other abuses being perpetrated by the Salvadorian Government and its allies, in 198o.

It was a highly confused situation. A basically left-wing government was fighting a civil war with Marxist terrorists supported by Cuba; far-right death squads, loosely controlled by elements in the government, were wreaking havoc at the same time. Jimmy Carter, the Democrat US President of the time, supported the government with military aid. Romero was killed by a member of a death-squad, after calling for President Carter to cease this aid. (See Wikipedia.)

The one thing one could comfortably predict about Romero, is that he would find the J&P establishment's idea of action for the worst off pretty unimpressive. Perhaps Filochowski and his friends regard him as a man to be admired, but not emulated. Or perhaps not even admired: just used.

Post scrip: We've had an email from Positive Catholics, aka Catholicss for AIDS Prevention and Support, the dissident homosexual group we write about here. It suggests that there is something innacurate about the post, but we can't see anything in the post which the email contradicts, except the exact dedication of the 2005 Mass we refer to. 

Here is the email. (Don't you love their apostrophe's?) :

My attention has been drawn to an item on your blog. The Mass did not mark Archbishop Romero’s murder, but coincided with both the 25th anniversary of the murder of 4 American religious women in El Salvador in 1980, and the annual commemoration of World AIDS Day. As such it was supported by a range of Catholic organisations, with the £250 collection being sent to the Contrasida AIDS project in San Salvador, directed by Maryknoll Sister, Dr. Mary Virginia Annel, who belonged to the same community as two of the murdered sisters.

It is regrettable that something which calls itself Catholic Action, allegedly committed to promoting truth, seems to rely on incorrect information, mistruth, and personal vendetta’s against fellow Catholics and organisations which it seeks to denigrate or undermine.

Vincent Manning
Chairperson – Catholics for AIDS Prevention & Support

We were relying on 'incorrect information'? Well, that would have to be Martin Pendergast's press release. As if it made any difference, Pendergst tells us, re this Mass: 2005 marks two significant 25th anniversaries in the martyrs' chronicle of the small Central American country of El Salvador. On 24 March 1980, Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was martyred as he celebrated Mass in the chapel of a cancer hospice. - the other being of the four religious women. Anyway, anyone could click on the link we gave to see the full press release.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bishop Hollis 'clarifies' support for Obama

A victory for faithful Catholics! We blogged about this on Tuesday 11th, John Smeaton on Wednesday and Damian Thompson on Thursday, and now Hollis has raised the white flag. Yes, he is thrilled that the most pro-abortion politician in America has been elected President, but he rejects the pro-abortion stuff. Oh, of course, how could we have been so sill?

From the Diocesan web-page:

Barack Obama: A Clarification
I would like to add some words to the statement that I issued last week on the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.

I genuinely welcome his election because he represents such a different political profile from that of President Bush. America – and the world – needs that political change and will benefit from it.

However, I am aware of what he has said about abortion and about the so-called freedom of choice and I deplore his words. There is no way in which I endorse his position on these crucial “life” matters, nor, as a Catholic bishop, could I ever do so.

Perhaps it’s na├»ve to say this but I hope and pray that the realities of the political process will mean that he has to temper his personal policies on these all important life issues and pay serious attention to the outrage with which many view his “life” agenda.

Bishop Crispian Hollis

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Crown Prosecution Service stops prosecution in blasphemous statue case

Briefing

From the Christian Legal Centre: Emily Mapfuwa has been denied the right to bring a private prosecution against the Baltic Flour Mills Visual Arts Trust for displaying a traditional statue of Jesus with a grossly oversized phallus. When the Crown Prosecution Service
(CPS) discovered Emily Mapfuwa was going to bring a private prosecution they considered the case for over a month and then decided to take over the case in order to drop it.

They base their decision on the following: there was a sign outside the exhibition warning that the content of the artwork might be considered offensive, that a defence based on freedom of expression was likely to succeed and that there was no public disorder.

This was a highly controversial exhibition which caused deep offence to the Christian Community and was offensive to many members of the general public. Freedom of Expression under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights is not unfettered but is subject to restrictions which include the protection of morals and the rights and freedoms of others.

We believe that such a scurrilous, gratuitous and offensive attack on the person of Jesus Christ who is held in veneration by millions of British citizens as the Son of God, and whose teachings have shaped our culture and heritage over centuries should not be tolerated in a civilised society.

At the Christian Legal Centre we believe the CPS’s actions fundamentally breach Emily Mapfuwa’s statutory right to seek to uphold the rule of law where the State will not intervene by virtue of section 6(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.

It is inconceivable that the CPS would have intervened in this way had the exhibition portrayed leading figures of other religions in this manner. Why is it that Christianity is now the one religion that can be derided and vilified with impunity? This is a sad day for truth and justice in our society.

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Gay fascists storm Californian church

Briefing: the gay lobby in California is furious that it lost the battle to stop 'Proposition 8', a referendum voted on at the same time as the Presidential election, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Proposition 8 became necessary when liberal judges in California decides that, although no one had noticed until now, the state constitution allowed gay marriages.

The reaction of the gay lobby is violence, notably death threats, violent protests, and the disruption of the services of churches which supported Proposition 8. Several other states have passed similar laws by referendum, either in the most recent election or in previous years. It is important to remember that what these laws are seeking to do is simply to maintain what has always been the case, that the legal definition of marriage refers to the natural institution of a life-long commitment between a man and a woman suited to the procreation and raising of children. This huge outburst of anger is at a set-back to the progress of their agenda. If they won this battle they would simply move on to the next item - insisting that home-schooled children are given more homosexual propaganda, say, or reducing the age of consent to below puberty.

One group whose support they can rely on is the US media - and no doubt the BBC as well - who are declining to report this fairly, or even at all. Imagine the outrage if these were white supremicists. All the pictures on news services seem to be of respectable-looking gays peacefully holding banners. And yet they are defacing Mormon temples and invading churches shouting 'Jesus was gay'.

H-t to Cathcon.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blasphemy for sale at Waterstones

Briefing: we don't normally get involved in books, which are intrinsically less public than, for example, a statue in a public gallery, or a television broadcast. But there are a couple of interesting features to this.

The Welsh 'poet' Patrick Jones has published a book , 'Darkness is Where the Stars Are', which attacks Christianity and contains at least one blasphemous passage about sex and Our Lord. The Evangelical group 'Christian Voice' was planning to protest at a reading he was going to give in the Cardiff branch of Waterstones, and the event was cancelled. The PA of the Managing Director of Waterstones told them 'It is not appropriate for our stores to host events that are potentially disruptive'.

With this success won without a fight, Christian Voice are suggesting a number of options to thier supporters, including the boycotting of Waterstones. Here's another of their options:
One of the poems in the book includes the blasphemous line: "just like mary magdelene (sic), i f****d jesus"
You can find the book on the shelves at your local Waterstones, look for the offending words, which Patrick Jones has helpfully told me are in the poem 'Hymn', and if it causes you harassment, alarm or distress, contrary to Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, make a note of the facts and report the matter to your local police.

Yes, this sounds a bit mad, but the law is there, it has been made stronger and stronger in the context of harrassment to homosexuals and Muslims, the potential it has for persecuting Christians is immense, and possibly the best way to get it changed is to show how it can be used by Christians themselves.

Furthermore, the reaction of Waterstones indicates that the feelings of Christians cannot always be ignored. We shall see what happens if Christian Voice supporters report their distress to the police.

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LiveSimply: dossier

'Livesimply', founded in 2006, is the achingly right-on project, constantly promoted by aging trendies in the Church's bureacracy, to replace genuine Catholic social teaching and concern for the worst off (which surely includes the victims of abortion) with a series of platitudes about saving water and recycling. Not that they are very open about being Catholic - this emerges only after considerable searching of the website - but it is the creaking structures of the Bishops' Conference and their friends who supply the lion's share of supporters and finance, and it is the time and resources of Catholic parishes and individuals which they wish to tap.

This is what they say about themselves:

Economic growth that tramples on the rights of the poor is not progress. The accumulation of riches at the expense of people and the environment is not true wealth.
We can choose to live in a way that puts us back in touch with what really matters.We can help create a world where human dignity is respected and people in developing countries have the chance to live their lives to the full. God calls us to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with people who are poor.

How is this put in practice? The livesimply site directs us to Progressio, which suggests buying local food or 'fair trade' brands, using low energy lightbulbs and turning down the heating, etc. etc.. It is interesting to see that there is nothing here about direct concern for the less fortunate (such as joining the Sisters of Charity soup-run in London, for example), and nothing about the Gospel. It is simply the a series of things which Islington dinner guests would agree would constitute 'doing our bit' for the planet.


Who are they?

The website is coy about who set it up, or even what it is. (A campaign? An organisation? A department of another organisation? How related to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales?) It emerges, however, that the major force behind it is CAFOD: the text explaining the purpose of 'livesimply' is signed by a CAFOD official; resources packs can be had by emailing a CAFOD address; and CAFOD is providing a bank account ('cheques should be payable to CAFOD'). CAFOD itself tells us of its committment to the project:

In the run-up to the launch of LiveSimply in Advent 2006, CAFOD’s Spirituality team trained 216 individuals to become local leaders to promote the initiative.

CAFOD promotes condoms for the poor, despite being an official agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales (see our dossier on CAFOD for full details).

A key organiser of the livesimply project has been Fr James O'Keefe, a director of CAFOD, who celebrated the notorious Mass celebrating the civil partnership of Martin Pendergast, the gay activist and former priest, and Julian Filochowski (a former CAFOD director). O'Keefe stepped in when Bishop Crowly of Middlesbrough, was forced not to do it after the event became public: full details here and here.

Another important contributor is Progressio, which, as well as providing the practical tips noted above, hosts the website. The 'www.livesimply.org.uk' address is simply a domain name which covers up the real address, which is http://www.progressio.org.uk/livesimply/AssociatesHome2/92990/livesimply/
The 'livesimply' address has been stuck onto this part of the Progressio website using 'frames', which means that whatever link you go to from there it will say 'www.livesimply.org.uk' in the location bar of your browser, although it is not the 'real' url.

Progressio has been repeatedly exposed as supporting abortion, as well as contraception: see our dossier.

Any organisation can become a 'member' of livesimply for £50 so there are quite a few. It lists the large number of nominally Catholic organisations which regard material help, understood from a strictly left-wing viewpoint, as the only 'Catholic' response to human needs; it also lists some of the more trendy Catholic dioceses, and other groups which seem to have been memerised by the hype.

The dioceses are Hallam, Westminster, Plymouth, East Anglia, Liverpool, Leeds, and Portsmouth.

Dissident groups listed, in addition to CAFOD and Progressio, include Pax Christi, and the National Board of Catholic Women, an agency of the Bishops Conference which has been taken over by the feminists of 'Women Word Spirit', recently expelled from the Catholic Directory for its support for abortion and women's ordination. Listed as an 'ecumenical partner' is Christian Ecology Link, which supports not only contraception but China's forced abortions.


The Distortion of Catholic teaching

Many Catholics who identify with what we might call the 'progressive left' give outstanding witness to their Catholic committment by criticising the left's undermining of the family and support for abortion. After all, these positions are incompatible with a committment to the poor and vulnerable. Such Catholics are, alas, becoming less common as their fellow lefties become increasingly intolerant of pro-life and pro-family views. Accordingly, we encounter the phenomenon of Catholics on the left who will say nothing in support of the family or unborn life, but, to salve their consciences, attempt to present the left's agenda on third-world development and climate change as Catholic, and their support for it as arising from their Catholic beliefs. It is, however, nothing of the kind: this agenda evidently has its origins outside the Church, and its usefulness or otherwise depends on political and economic judgements which are outside the scope of Church teaching. That is not to say it is wrong - perhaps turning down the heating is good idea - but to present it as a 'Catholic position' (or: the position which should be supported by agencies of the bishops' conference, dioceses, parishes and so on) in the place of family and life issues, and indeed spirituality, is a gross distortion of Church teaching.

Not only does the 'livesimply' message distort the message, but it is an attempt to divert attention and resources away from the issues on which the Church has something distinctive to say, in opposition to the assumptions of secular society, on the family, life, and spirituality, towards things about which the Church has nothing distinctive to say: where all she can say is 'we care about the environment too!'

We can do no better than quote from Pope Benedict XVI's encyclicals.

Deus Caritas Est 28:
The Church is ... alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live “by bread alone” (Mt4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.

Spe Salvi 35:
... our daily efforts in pursuing our own lives and in working for the world's future either tire us or turn into fanaticism, unless we are enlightened by the radiance of the great hope that cannot be destroyed even by small-scale failures or by a breakdown in matters of historic importance. If we cannot hope for more than is effectively attainable at any given time, or more than is promised by political or economic authorities, our lives will soon be without hope. It is important to know that I can always continue to hope, even if in my own life, or the historical period in which I am living, there seems to be nothing left to hope for. Only the great certitude of hope that my own life and history in general, despite all failures, are held firm by the indestructible power of Love, and that this gives them their meaning and importance, only this kind of hope can then give the courage to act and to persevere. Certainly we cannot “build” the Kingdom of God by our own efforts—what we build will always be the kingdom of man with all the limitations proper to our human nature. The Kingdom of God is a gift, and precisely because of this, it is great and beautiful, and constitutes the response to our hope. And we cannot—to use the classical expression—”merit” Heaven through our works. Heaven is always more than we could merit, just as being loved is never something “merited”, but always a gift. However, even when we are fully aware that Heaven far exceeds what we can merit, it will always be true that our behaviour is not indifferent before God and therefore is not indifferent for the unfolding of history. We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good. This is what the saints did, those who, as “God's fellow workers”, contributed to the world's salvation (cf. 1 Cor 3:9; 1 Th 3:2).


What should faithful Catholics do?

Catholic parishes should not be used to spread 'Livesimply' propanda; Catholic organisations should not be members of it; indvidual Catholics should not support it.

If you want to support this kind of thing, support some group like Greenpeace - they promote their ideas without claiming that they are Catholic teaching. No Catholic can in conscience present his private opinions as Catholic teaching, or highjack Catholic organisations to further his personal views.

Best of all, support the 'livechastely' 'promise': see here.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Support for Obama from British Catholic clergy

Briefing: Catholic bishops and priests in the United States, who have risked the wrath of the liberal establishment by pointing out that it is wrong to vote for a man who has vowed to remove all legal restrictions on abortion in America, and will certainly appoint Supreme Court judges who are solidly pro-abortion, will be saddened to hear of the support for Obama from British Catholics whose liberal instincts seem to be stronger than their Catholic ones.

An American priest, David Cotter of St Aidan’s, Johnstone (Diocese of Paisley, Scotland) appeared on the radio to proclaim his support for Obama, dismissing the importance of abortion as an electoral issue, and ridiculing a recording of the Ave Maria at the same time. H-t to Catholic Truth, where there is more commentary. See the broadcast here.


Bishop Hollis of Portsmouth has this to day, in a 'Special Message' on his diocesan homepage: “With millions of others, I have been thrilled by Barack Obama’s victory and I thank God for it. For me, it represents a rare moment of hope and optimism which shows American democracy at its best and it is of seismic significance and potential for the whole global community. And so, more than ever now, he deserves and needs us to keep him in our prayers.”   

Prayers for his conversion would certainly not go amiss. Prayers in regard to the millions of abortions he is going to facilitate would be even more apposite. See John Smeaton on Obama's anti-life views, which are the most extreme of any major US politician.

By contrast, Bishop O'Donaghue said this about voting for the pro-abortion candidates:
So can a Catholic in good conscience vote and campaign for a political candidate who supports and promotes abortion ...? My personal answer to this question is: I can’t and I won’t.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Ofsted lies about demand for sex ed

Briefing: most children don't want more sex ed - but Ofsted are trying to get us to think they do.

From CFNews: The schools watchdog has been accused of deception after it claimed that a third of pupils wanted more sex education, while failing to mention that more than half did not.

The huge nationwide survey of almost 150,000 children aged ten to fifteen is designed to find out, among other things, 'if the advice they receive on matters like sex and relationships is sufficient.'

In a press release accompanying the survey, Ofsted simply said: 'Better information and advice about sex and relationships was wanted by more than a third of children and young people.'

But according to the figures released by Ofsted, 55 per cent of those asked said they didn't need more information. Ofsted failed to report this figure in the press release.

Ofsted recently announced plans to begin using pupils' opinions on the sex education they receive when assessing schools - a plan which has been denounced as 'lunacy' by commentators.

Since then, the Government has announced that sex and relationships education is to become compulsory across both primary and secondary schools.

Mike Judge of The Christian Institute said: 'Ofsted's own figures say that a majority of children don't want more sex education.

'It looks as though the schools inspectorate is trying to spin these figures in order to back up the Government's misguided plans for sex education.

'Has Ofsted jumped on the sex education bandwagon? If so, it should jump off again and get on with the job of improving schools.' [Christian Institute]

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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