Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lesbians to get IVF: at taxpayers' expense


From SPUC: A court in Scotland has persuaded the local state health authority to pay
for IVF for a female homosexual couple. Caroline Harris and Julie McMullan claimed discrimination because of their sexual orientation and the Glasgow-based health board says it re-examined their case in the light of last year's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. [Scotsman, 27 February]


Friday, February 27, 2009

The Holocaust and abortion

Briefing. Comparing the Shoah with anything else infuriates some people: they seem not to so much wish to ensure that it never happens again, as to ensure that its lesson cannot be applied to anything else. Bishop Mixa of Augsburg has got into trouble over this:

Mixa was a guest speaker on the theme "Values and Ethics in Politics" at an event organized by the Dinkelsbühl CSU, when he brought the two issues together. In an allusion to the debate about the SSPX Mixa stressed that the Holocaust on the scale of six million deaths had certainly taken place. The Bishop of Augsburg, adding that this figure had already been exceeded by the number of abortions.

Hat-tip and more of the news report from Cathcon.

A somewhat different but also very pertinent point is made by Fr Z:

I am reading stories that "the Vatican" has "rejected" Williamson’s recently issued apology.

Fr. Lombardi

...Williamson’s statement "does not seem to respect the conditions" set forth by the Vatican on February 4, when it ordered Williamson to "in an absolutely unequivocal and public way distance himself from his positions" regarding the Holocaust.
I don’t think that any apology SSPX Bp. Williamson may issue about his views on the Holocaust will ever be enough for certain groups, both of Jews and within the Church.  They may have crafted this in such a way that they know he will not do it.

But whatever else may happen with Bp. Williamson, will unambiguous apologies be required now from the more avid pro-abortion Catholic politicians?

If there are concerns that someone would deny that 6 million Jews were killed in
WWII, and apologies are demanded from such a person, is there going to be equal concern over those who promote or participate in a far more extensive killing of the innocent?

Will Catholic pro-abortion politicians be required to issue apologies, as unambiguous as that which they require from Williamson… heck
any apology at all…. for voting for abortion rights?

I’m just askin’


EU People's Party to be more pro-death

Briefing: the European People's Party is the main grouping of right-of-centre parties in the European Parliament. It includes many Christian Democrat-type parties, and currently the British Conservative Party, although David Cameron has pledged to pull Conservative MEPs out of the EPP (because it is too keen on eroding national sovereignty).

From the Iona Institute (via CFNews): The European People's Party (EPP), which is the grouping of mainly Christian Democrat parties from across the EU has circulated a draft election manifesto for the upcoming European elections in June. The document, which is being discussed this week, is much more radical than its 2004 manifesto with regard to the issues of marriage and the right-to-life..

For example, the 2004 document referred to 'an apparent crisis' of the 'institution' of the family, and defined the institution as 'this unique tie of man and woman', a clear reference to marriage. It argued that the family thus defined 'deserves special and concrete support of society', and that 'what is good for the family is good also for society.'

However, in the 2009 document, the reference to the 'unique tie of man and woman' has been deleted. In addition, the section of the draft manifesto headed 'Reconciliation of Family and Work Life' calls on member-states to adapt their policies 'in support of family life to take account of demographic ageing and the growing diversity in family relationships'. In other words, family diversity rather than marriage is now the order of the day for the EPP.

On life issues, the 2004 manifesto referred to the party's respect for 'human life in all its forms (including embryos) and at all stages; to respect the human dignity in medical and genetic advancements'. It said the EPP 'opposes euthanasia, eugenics, human cloning'. This last line has been deleted from the 2009 draft manifesto.

The 2004 manifesto also called on the EU not to fund 'biotechnological practices that are illegal in at least one of the Member states' on the basis that this best protects and safeguards human dignity while also fully respecting the principle of subsidiarity. This meant that it opposed the current practice whereby the EU funds embryo stem-cell research. Ireland backs EU funding of such research.

However, in the draft 2009 manifesto this policy no longer exists. [The Iona Institute]


Thursday, February 26, 2009

New teachers' code threatens Christian teachers

Action: please take a few minutes to complete the survey - the new code is undergoing consultation by the General Teaching Council. The key point here is that instead of being fair to pupils and not demeaning them (as the old code demands), the proposed code expects teachers to promote a particular political agenda, that of 'equality and diversity'. As we have learnt to our cost, promoting (as opposed to tolerating it or respecting it etc.) 'diversity' means encouraging non-traditional lifestyles and so on - a totally inappropriate thing for a teacher to do, even according to the government: he Government’s own Sex and Relationship Education Guidance says that it is “inappropriate teaching” to promote a sexual orientation.

From Christian Concern for our Nation: The General Teaching Council for England published their new draft Code of Conduct and Practice for teachers in England in November 2008. Teachers are required to sign a clause saying that they will adhere to the Code before they can be registered and the Code is used as a standard by which teachers are judged by the GTC or by Employment Tribunals, as well as by schools and Local Education Authorities.

It is of concern that the Code requires teachers to “promote equality and diversity in all their professional relationships” in Principle 4. This implies that teachers will be required to promote other religions and/or sexual practices outside marriage and it could lead to censorship. We believe that teachers should be required to respect pupils, parents and colleagues from other backgrounds, but should not be required to promote other religions and sexual orientations such as homosexuality that are contrary to their beliefs. The ordinary meanings of the words “equality” and “diversity” should not cause a problem, but recent cases have shown how these terms have been interpreted to require promotion of values contrary to Christian beliefs. For example, a nurse, Caroline Petrie, was suspended for offering to pray for a patient and a registrar, Lillian Ladele, was dismissed for refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies. It is important to respond to this survey because as a result of this draft Code, Christian teachers could face disciplinary action or even dismissal for practising their faith.

Please take a few minutes to defend the freedoms of Christian teachers by responding to the survey.

Responding to the Survey Anyone can respond to the General Teaching Council for
England’s survey on their draft Code of Conduct for teachers. Before you respond, you need to read the draft Code of Conduct and practice, which can be accessed here:

Replies are needed by Friday 27th February 2009.

The questionnaire is anonymous. Answers can be changed by going backwards and
forwards between questions and only once the ‘submit’ button is clicked will
the entire survey be sent. The website estimates that users should be able to
complete the survey in 15 minutes.

The survey’s website advises you that if you experience technical difficulties
completing the survey you can contact Jo Sloman on 020 7239 7823 and that if
you wish to talk to someone about the survey you can contact Kate Willcocks at
OPM by e-mail: or by phone: 020 7239 0875.

Contents of the Survey Section A provides different questions depending on your
interest in the survey. You will therefore be asked whether you are a teacher,
a parent, a governor, a pupil and so on. You will also be asked what your
length of service is, or the age of your children as appropriate. All
participants are required to state whether they are responding from within
England and from which region.

Section B asks questions about the Code itself and offers the opportunity for
general comments regarding the introduction to the Code (box B2); the content
of the Code (box B5) and the language or tone of the code (box B7).

Section C gives you an opportunity to make general comments.

You can see our responses to the questions that ask for comments if you click on
this link .
Please answer the questions as you see fit, including a selection of our points
if you wish, but it is best if you try and put them in your own words. You may
forward this e-mail to others who may wish to respond to the survey, but please
do not post it on any website. You will need to fill in the survey at the
following link:

We suggest that you use some of the following points in your answers:

All teachers need to be registered, so this means that Christian teachers, who
have to agree to abide by the Code, will be signing up for an equality and
diversity agenda that is contrary to their core beliefs.

A teacher’s job is to teach, it is not to be an equality and diversity officer.

The Government’s own Sex and Relationship Education Guidance says that it is
“inappropriate teaching” to promote a sexual orientation, it is therefore
doubly inappropriate to be disciplined for not doing so.

The new draft Code should take the approach of the current Code in setting down
minimum standards only.

Much of what is in the new draft Code (when compared to the current Code) should
be contained in non-disciplinary guidance. Teachers should not be disciplined
for acting on their values, but only when they bring the profession into
disrepute, such as by acquiring a criminal conviction or by demeaning a pupil.

The code should not cover matters of promoting higher professional standards,
which should be in a separate advisory non-disciplinary guide.

The code on equality and diversity could be used to victimise Christian
teachers, who do not wish to promote a sexual orientation and other religions
contrary to their beliefs.

The cases of the nurse Caroline Petrie and of Jennie Cain, a primary school
receptionist who is being investigated by her school after her 5 year-old
daughter spoke to friends about Jesus, show how the equality and diversity
agenda can be used to victimise Christians.

All current references to equality and diversity should be removed from the
draft Code and replaced by the wording on these issues in the current Code to
show that teachers’ duties amount to treating those from diverse backgrounds
with respect by refraining from demeaning them—the correct scope for
disciplinary matters.

The equality and diversity promotion aspects of the code could be used gradually
to remove from the teaching profession Christian teachers and prospective
Christian teachers, because they will be unable, in good conscience, to comply
with its requirements. The Christian ethos motivates many of the profession’s
most valued, loving, caring teachers. In short there is a danger that the
profession will lose many talented and experienced teachers who are currently
an asset to the profession.

Teachers should not be required to promote what may amount to a
politically-correct view that is contrary to their consciences and beliefs.
“Diversity” means respecting the diversity of staff as well as that of pupils
and/or parents.

The Code is used for the registration of all teachers and their discipline so it
is important to ensure that it is restricted to minimum standards only.

Christian teachers and prospective Christian teachers would have great
difficulty in agreeing to Principle 4 that requires the promotion of equality
and diversity; such issues should not be included.

There is already growing concern at the victimisation of Christian teachers in
schools in relation to diversity issues, including a head teacher who tried to
apply the statutory requirement for collective worship in assemblies, (see the
following article from The Daily Telegraph:
-in-schools-why-were-losing-our-religion.html) and this code will make such
matters much worse.

The code could result in those who wish to attack both Christian teachers and
Christianity in schools having the ammunition to do so using terms such as
“equality”, “diversity” and “inclusion” as a pretext. These terms are causing
the marginalisation of Christianity.

The effect of this code could be gradually to remove Christian teachers and
those of other faiths from the teaching profession.

There is a difference between teaching about other faiths and promoting them.

The new draft Code should be reformulated along the lines of the current Code,
which serves its purpose as a disciplinary code well, because it restricts
itself to disciplinary matters. Much of the material in the draft Code should
be in a separate code of advisory, non-disciplinary status, covering
professional standards. For example, teachers showing the core values of
“excellence and continual development” and “commitment and empathy” are
professional standards to strive to achieve, but failure to attain them should
not warrant disciplinary measures.

Andrea Minichiello Williams
Christian Concern for our Nation


Lancaster adoption agency cuts ties with Church


From CFNews: Catholic Caring Services, the adoption agency linked to the Diocese of Lancaster, has changed its name and cut its ties with the church after 75 years of support.

Jim Cullen, chief executive of the charity, which has renamed itself Caritas Care, said comments by Bishop of Lancaster Patrick O'Donoghue about same-sex adoption was 'a significant drive' behind the changes.

The Bishop said it would be 'unthinkable, indeed heart-breaking' for the agency to agree to new equality laws which came in last month, meaning it must treat gay and lesbian couples the same as heterosexual couples when it comes to finding homes for children.

Mr Cullen said: 'Bishop Patrick did say if we did comply with the law, we would not be able to call ourselves Catholic.

'We are still a Catholic charity in as much as everything we do is still driven by the teachings of the church, but we no longer receive support from the Diocese, in the sense it no longer provides any funding.

'We would have had collections to support us financially from the Diocese and receive other guidance from it, but that has now stopped.'

Bishop O'Donoghue stepped down from the charity's board of trustees at the end of last year.

Mr Cullen said the charity, which is based in Tulketh Road in Ashton, Preston, would feel the hit of losing the financial support as trust funds and councils which support it also feel the squeeze of the recession.

He said that it had not yet felt the impact of the downturn on councils it works for, but expected to in the near future.

The chief executive said: 'If these things conspire against us it will be very difficult. We will need to more than ever be tight and in control of our resources.'

Bishop O'Donoghue has declined to comment but in an open letter to the charity's trustees last October he urged them not to 'capitulate' to the changes in the law.

He said: 'I remain convinced the best interests of children are served when they live with and are brought up by a married couple.' [Lancashire Evening Post]


Card. O'Brien on assisted suicide


From SPUC: The Catholic church in Scotland has warned that legalisation of assisted
suicide there could lead to depressed people killing themselves. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, warned that vulnerable people could be manipulated. Ms Margo MacDonald MSP, who is proposing the bill, dismissed the concerns as nonsense. [Scotland on Sunday, 22 February] A case in the Indian supreme court would reportedly legalise euthanasia, and the country's Catholic bishops have expressed concern. [Catholic News Agency, 23 February]


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Williamson in England

Comment: Bishop Williamson has arrived in England. The brouhaha will continue, since he is now potentially subject to a European arrest warrent issued by a German prosecutor for denying the Holocaust (which he did on German soil).

More worrying is the fact that he was met at the airport by Michele Renouf, and has been corresponding with David Irving. Renouf and Irving are of course veteran Holocaust deniers. It is interesting to note that Renouf hates Judaism as a religion, to an extent which implicates Christianity as well. According to Wikipedia she wrote to a certain Barry Chamish 
I do not hold you personally responsible for the disastrously sociopathic formulation of the Hebrew Scriptures!

Renouf's attitude is reminiscent of that of Charles Mauras, the founder of Action Francaise at the end of the 19th century, who's anti-semitism was the consequence of his hatred for the entire Judeao-Christian tradition. He thought that Christianity, in displacing classical paganism, had been a disaster. For complicated reasons, Mauras was influential for many French Catholics, and it is often said that the SSPX attracts the same segment of French Catholic opinion which Action Francaise did.

But it wasn't Maurass's Christianophobia which attracted French Catholics; they were either too stupid or too desperate for allies to make the connection. Does Williamson believe that the Hebrew Scriptures (ie the Old Testament) are 'disasterously sociopathic'? What on earth is he doing with these people? Has the SSPX lost control of him, or is his arrival in England to join up with a legal team organised by Renouf a plan of which his superiors approve?

The danger is that Williams is going down a spiral of self-delusion. But bear these points in mind.

-Williamson's Hollocause denial is not an example of German neo-nazism or French anti-semitism in the SSPX. 
He's not German, he's not French, he's picked up this rubbish as part of a package of conspiracy theories in the English-speaking world which include mad ideas about 9/11.

-Williamson's views are irrelevant to the question of the SSPX's reconciliation with Rome. 
He holds no appointment in the Catholic Church or in the SSPX. His views are his own; since they have caused scandal he has rightly been forbiden to air them. End of story.

-Williamson's derangement does not excuse his demonisation: he has a right to our charity and to his communion with the Church. 
Hollocaust denial does not equal schism or heresy: not all sinners, even stubborn ones, are schismatics or heretics. 

-Still less does it excuse the demonisation of Bishop Fellay or the SSPX in general: a disgraceful example of this is on show in Damian Thompson's latest post
The SSPX is not a repository for anti-Semites; people with objectional views are to be found accross the spectrum of the Church. If the Pope sees a large body of people who wish to be in good standing with him but are not, it is natural and indeed morally necessary for him to seek their reconciliation in charity.


Petition for Tablet apology to Fr Finnigan

Action: please sign the petition.

H-T Cathcon.

To:  The Tablet

The purpose of this petition is to demand an apology from Catherine Pepinster (Editor) and Elena Curti (Deputy Editor) to Fr Timothy Finigan for the article entitled, 'That was not my Mass' in the 21st February 2009 edition of your journal. The reason for this demand is the unethical journalism used by Ms Curti to publish the article. The apology can come in either a private letter to Fr Finigan or printed in the next edition of The Tablet.

Sincerely, [the undersigned]


Archbishop Ranjith on the liturgical reform


Hat-tip to Fr Z, who quotes the following passages from a foreword Ranjith has written to new book. The full story can be seen on Catholic World News.

Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation." ... 

Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation—all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained. ...

An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation—and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium—were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools. ...


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A problem in Catholic Germany

Comment: we generally don't cover international stories, but this is bizarre. Here is a carnival in Dusseldorf. The Germans are obviously sensitive about anti-semitism, and have a sense of special connection with - even ownership of - the Pope because he is a German. But not content with (literally) demonising Bishop Williamson, they want to do something similar to Papa Ratzinger.

The Church in Germany and Austria is in deep trouble. It was the source of much of the worst liberal theology before and after Vatican II, and this kind of theology, given time, makes a wasteland of the Church. Pope Benedict understands how important the Church in Europe is, especially the German church, because it gives intellectual leadership to the Church worldwide. It doesn't matter how exciting the vocations numbers are in the Far East or Nigeria, they will all read the theology of German liberals unless they are offered something better carrying the same intellectual prestige. Benedict's conflict with the German church is of crucial importance to the Church everywhere.

H-t to Cathcon (passim).


Ash Wednesday: fast to end abortion

Action: we heartily endorse this, from the Good Counsel Network.

Via email: Following on from last years National Days of Prayer & Fasting for Life, the Good Counsel Network will continue to promote these Days each month. Would you
therefore please pass the details onto friends or family via e-mail.

On Ash Wednesday 25th February please pray and fast for the end of abortion and

With over 600 abortions each day in England & Wales please remember that Christ
said, This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.(Gospel of Mark 9:29). Your prayer and fasting is urgently needed.

For information on the day of Prayer and Fasting contact:
The Good Counsel Network on 020 7723 1740


Government: don't tell your children underage sex is wrong

Briefing. Beyond belief.

From SPUC: British government advice reportedly tells parents not to say to their teenage children that having sex is wrong. Ms Beverley Hughes MP, children's minister, says parents should advocate birth control to their sons and daughters, and the government explained that that included 13-year-olds (who are under the age of consent). Such advice is predicted to be in Talking to your Teenager About Sex and Relationships, a pamphlet available from pharmacists from Thursday-week (5 March). Dr Patricia Morgan, the sociologist, says young people do heed their parents when they say they disapprove of underage sex. [Mail, 23 February] John Smeaton of SPUC said: "The government's teenage pregnancy strategy is failing yet here we have ministers telling parents to give value-free sex education and even to go with their under-age daughters to the GP's surgery to get birth control."


Monday, February 23, 2009

NHS advertising for 'long term contraception'

Action: please complain to the ASA if you've seen these adverts.

From an email to CRNews: 'I would like to draw attention to the following (perhaps the readers of your bulletin would care to be involved) CASH Contraception and Sexual Health, which I believe is an NHS initiative, has plastered the sides of buses and bus shelters in Oxford with a campaign 'three questions about sex'. Perhaps this campaign is also running in other parts of the country.

You may have seen recently in the newspapers that the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against the prominent use of the word 'sex' in a poster campaign for a nasal spray for prolonging sexual intercourse. Thanks to complaints, including mine, this poster was rapidly removed. Can I ask anyone who cares strongly about the increasing intrusion of inappropriate advertising into public spaces, and who has seen this advertising, to take 5 minutes to visit the ASA website and submit a complaint. Just follow this link .

This is my own complaint for your reference, but obviously use your own words, not mine.

I object to this campaign on 2 grounds:

(1) I object to seeing the word 'sex' prominently displayed in public advertising where children of ages 5-11 can read it. The copy of the advertisement also asks the reader if they are worried about getting pregnant: another adult concern which should not be thrust upon little girls. There is also mention of sexually transmitted infections and condoms. I regard the pre-pubescent years as a time of necessary innocence when children should be shielded from knowing about adult matters such as sex, which can only cause them unnecessary worries. Seeing this advert prominently displayed in public places can only lead to them asking questions to which they are not yet sufficiently mature to receive the answers. I refer to the recent adjudication made by the ASA against AMI Clinic Ltd in case no. A08-78392.

(2) The contraceptive implants/injections are clearly being advertised to a teen/young adult market due to the style of the advertisement. The contraceptive injections/implants they are offering are not of course risk-free despite the tone of the advertisement, and the advertisers have clearly tried to cover their backs by adding small print to the effect that this contraceptive form does not protect against STIs and condoms should be used. This last statement is deceptive as it implies that condoms prevent STIs when it is well known that condoms offer no protection against the common STI, chlamydia, and provide a false sense of security in the case of other STIs, on account of the proven yet not publicised high failure rate of condoms.

I would ask the ASA to call on CASH to withdraw this campaign immediately as it is both inappropriate for public spaces and is deceptive in its wording.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Muslims and Secularists on collision course

Comment: ethnic minorities, of which Muslims form an important part, are a key part of the electoral coalition which underpins the Labour Party. The thinking is that it is easier to bribe them with economic and cultural goodies, and keep them voting for an intrusive government, than groups who are wealthier or more integrated. Islamic terrorism has put this relationship under strain. But a longer-term problem is that another key part of the Labour coalition is the liberal chattering classes, who, while happy to patronise ethnic minorities, also want to expunge traditional morality and all forms of religion.

From LifeSiteNews: The Guardian reports that a document known as Contest 2 reveals plans to widen the definition of 'extremist' as part of the antiterrorism effort to those who hold views that clash with what the government defines as shared British values. Under the plan Muslims who believe homosexuality is sinful could be considered as 'extremist,' by that fact alone.

The counter-terrorism strategy, reports the Guardian, would consider people as potential terrorists if they are in favour of a pan-Islamic state involving many countries and headed by a caliphate; promote the application of Sharia Law; believe in jihad or support the armed resistance of Palestinians against Israel; and perceive homosexuality as a sin and argue that it is banned by Islam.

The acid test of this counter-terrorism plan is reportedly not whether an individual promotes these views by means of violent action, but, while condemning violence, holds or even discusses these ideas.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, in a speech in December, had said that an effective anti-terror strategy required a mental dimension that includes challenging non-violent extremist groups that 'skirt the fringes of the law ... to promote hate-filled ideologies.'

Advocates of the proposed code say that rigid interpretation of the Qur'an forms the root cause of terrorism which threatens the British people; opponents claim that this strategy would brand the vast majority of British Muslims as extremists and would lead to further alienation of British Muslims from British society.

Homosexualists in Britain are praising the proposed plan. An article in PinkNews, a homosexualist news service in the UK, quoted a 2007 survey of Muslins living in London which revealed that 'less than 5% (of Muslims) thought homosexual acts are 'acceptable,' compared with more than 65% of the general population.'

As an example of the 'extreme' Muslim belief concerning homosexuality, PinkNews quotes Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, who called homosexuality, 'a practice that in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that comes along in a society, it is not acceptable.'

'Each of our faiths tells us that it is harmful and, I think, if you look into the scientific evidence that has been available in terms of the forms of various illnesses and diseases that are there, surely it points out that where homosexuality is practised there is a greater concern in that area.'

The Guardian report has raised concerns for some that the movement to marginalize those who hold to traditional moral teachings on sexuality is gaining ground. In recent years U.K. law has become increasingly hostile to those who believe homosexual acts are immoral, particularly with the passage of the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR's) in 2007.

The SOR's specify that no one may 'discriminate' against homosexuals in the provision of goods and services, including in religious schools, adoption and social aid agencies, hotels or rental facilities. They have been used to force Catholic adoption agencies to deviate from their specifically Catholic nature and begin adopting children to homosexual couples, against Catholic teaching. There have also been cases of couples not being allowed to adopt children merely because they hold to tradition views of sexuality.

One interesting consequence of the new counter-terrorism strategy, however, is that it could see Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, under suspicion as an extremist for his defence of the encroachment of Islamic Sharia law into the British legal system as 'unavoidable.'

The titular head of the Church of England said in an interview with BBC Radio 4's World at One program last year that Britain had to 'face up to the fact' that some accommodation for Sharia law would be implemented in Britain. He argued that since British law 'accommodates' the views of Catholics and some others on issues such as abortion, Sharia should be welcomed on the grounds of tolerance for religious viewpoints. 'And anyway,' he said, 'certain provisions of Sharia are already recognized ... So it's not as if we're bringing in an alien and rival system.'

Subsequently, the Sunday Times reported that the government had officially accepted the existence of Sharia law courts to officiate in Muslim civil cases. Since August 2007 the courts have dealt with more than 100 cases, ranging from Muslim divorce and inheritance cases as well as six cases of domestic violence, normally a criminal procedure under British law. [LSN]


Saturday, February 21, 2009

New charities guidlines


From CFNews: The Charity Commission, charities regulator for England and Wales, has published the new guidance it will use to assess the charitable status of churches and other religious organisations, such as the National Association of Catholic Families.

The Christian Institute write : 'We do not believe that churches will face any difficulties complying with the law. The guidance is not legally binding but trustees of religious charities are required to have regard to' the Commission's analysis. The Commission says this means trustees should be able to show that they are aware of the guidance, have taken it into account where relevant and have good reasons if they choose not to follow it.

As a result of a consultation on draft guidance held last year, the Charity Commission has addressed several concerns raised by Christian groups. For example, the draft guidance suggested that the Commission was intending to regulate membership criteria of religious groups, including churches. This suggestion is absent from the final guidance. The final guidance also contains assurances that vexatious and unsubstantiated complaints to
the Commission about religious charities will be dismissed.

Despite the improvements, there are still some worrying parts of the guidance. We still have concerns about the Commission's approach to charities which have the sole purpose of seeking to convert people from one religion to another, though there is an encouraging recognition that evangelism is
regarded as a central part of the Christian religion.

The guidance also implies that the Commission can adjudicate on what is correct religious doctrine and practice. But these are matters the Commission is neither able nor supposed to determine.

Fundamentally, we believe that the Charity Commission is wrong in law to apply an 'activities test' assessing the benefits versus the detriments of a charity's activities. According to some leading experts in charity law the
Commission has misinterpreted the new Charities Act. These experts say that under the Act 'public benefit' should have the meaning developed by English case law, which does not include an activities test'.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Israeli TV blasphemes Our Lord and the Virgin Mary

Briefing: the Latin Partiarchate and other Christian leaders in Israel, and the Vatican, are vigorously protesting at the deliberate and repeated blasphemies of 'Channel 10'. The Patriarchave have put a transcipt up here.

The story on Zenit, which quotes the communique from the Patriarchate and others:

A joint communiqué issued Wednesday explains, "In these days, during a night show on Channel 10, a series of horrible offenses were launched against our faith and consequently against us, Christians."
The communiqué was signed by the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land, among others.

"The show directed its attacks to the holiest figures of our Christian belief in an attempt, as the director of the show himself specifically declared, to destroy Christianism," the communiqué stated.

"Channel 10 was used to desecrate the holiest figures of Christianism offending hundreds of thousands of Christian Israeli citizens and of many millions of Christians all over the world as well," the Catholic leaders lamented.

A big hat-tip to Cathcon (and here).


Tablet attack on Fr Tim Finnigan

Comment: Catholic priest found in South London wearing a cassock! Shock! Traditional Mass provided to those who desire it without depriving anyone of the New Mass! Horror! Money spent on decent vestments as well the church roof, the floor, the heating, the PA system, and the parish hall kitchen! Who'd beleive it?

However it must be true because it is printed in The Tablet. It must be extremely unpleasant for Fr Finnigan and everyone in his parish, to have this vindictive rubbish about the parish spread accross the English-speaking world by the ghastly Elena Curti. Careful reading of the article, however, provides its own vindication of Fr Finnigan's extremely careful and pastorally sensitive approach. She can't accuse him of falling numbers; she can't accuse him of depriving anyone of the New Mass; she can't accuse him of any impropriety: it is all insinuation mixed with things which would only appear shocking to the most sheltered Tablet reader. I mean, he spends money on 'clerical garb'? That would be his own money, of course, but Curti is deeply scandalised simply by the idea of priest not in jeans and a t-shirt. He has asked Mass-goers to talk in the narthex and hall, not in the church, after Mass: this cuts right against her hatred of the concept of the sacred. So many people receive communion kneeling, that those who insist on standing fell self-conscious: now that is a deeply frightening image - that a groundswell of popular devotion could displace irreverence without the involvement of a 'parish liturgy committee' dominated by the shrillest liberal voices.

The Benedictine revolution has a very long way to go: Blackfen is a very unusual parish. But this is how it will go: Blackfen blazes the trail. The fact is that nine parishoners have complained about Fr Finnigan's approach, but 135 go to his Traditional Mass on a Sunday, which has been taking place only since the Motu Proprio came into effect. Do the maths.

See Fr Finnigan's own fisking of the article.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pelosi rebuked by the Pope

Briefing: an act which will give coursge to pro-lifers everywhere. Nancy Pelosi, the pro-abortion US Democrat Speaker of the House of Representatives met the Pope, and this is the press release:
Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

For more commentary see John Smeaton and Fr Finnigan


Government shifty about numbers of abortions for trivial disabilities


From CFNews: Pro-life campaigners have launched a legal battle after being barred from a hearing over abortion figures which the Government wants to keep secret.

They have accused officials of using restrictions that are more heavy-handed than those used in terrorist trials, to exclude them from a tribunal which will decide whether statistics on foetuses aborted because of disabilities will be published.

The hearing next month will decide whether figures on the number of babies aborted for disabilities such as cleft palate and club foot should be published.
While abortion is only legal in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy if carried out on social grounds, it is legal to abort a foetus which has a serious risk of physical or mental abnormality, right up to birth.

In 2005, after a public outcry over the termination of a foetus with a cleft palate at 28 weeks, the Department of Health (DoH) stopped publishing abortion statistics if fewer than 10 cases were carried out. Details of abortions on foetus with club feet, cleft lips and palates and webbed fingers and toes were no longer published.

The Information Commissioner has ordered the release of the figures, requested by the Pro-Life Alliance campaign group, but the DoH is resisting, claiming that the data could lead to women who have late abortions being identified.

Now, campaigners are challenging an application by the DoH to bar them from the proceedings in which the crucial decision will be made.

Lawyers for the alliance say even the most sensitive legal hearings, including matters of national security, are normally divided into public and private sessions, and have lodged an application with the commissioner demanding to know the DoH's grounds for seeking to bar them from the entire hearing.

During discussions about restrictions at the hearings, Government lawyers referred to procedures used in terrorist trials, when lawyers are not allowed to discuss the most sensitive evidence with their clients, before going further, to request that the alliance are entirely banned from proceedings.

Julia Millington, from the alliance, accused the Government of a 'serious misuse' of the judicial process to shield the debate from scrutiny.

Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe is backing their case. She said: 'As a former home office minister and shadow health secretary, I know that proper scrutiny can only take place where there is proper information. Those who take a close interest in abortion law are as entitled to the provision of information as those who take an interest in any other law'.

The DoH said it asked for the restrictions because officials wanted to be able to make free and frank disclosure of the data itself in order to help the tribunal understand its highly sensitive nature. A spokesman said DoH lawyers had not implied that the presence of campaigners at the tribunal raised issues on a par with a terrorist threat to national security, but had made a reference to legal procedures used in such cases. [Sunday Telegraph]


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Christian charities to be gagged

Briefing. Blears is at it again. Here's the previous post. Charities who take the government's money are striking a Faustian bargain. But the government's position is incoherent: all charities, and government agencies, display the values which motivate them in what they do. Why should Christian charities be an exception?

From CFNews: Christian groups should only be able to access funding for social work if they promise not to evangelise, says communities secretary Hazel Blears. Speaking at an Evangelical Alliance (EA) conference on Christian debt-counselling services Mrs Blears spoke of a new charter for faith groups involved in social work.

Under the charter, developed with the help of the Faithworks group, religious organisations will be offered public funding for projects serving the community.

But this money will, Mrs Blears said, only be available to groups 'promising not to use public money to proselytise'.

During a Commons debate on the charter last year Mrs Blears said 'many people are motivated by faith of all kinds to do great acts of social good'.

'However,' she continued, 'I am concerned to ensure that if faith groups become involved, they do so on a proper footing - not by evangelising or proselytising, but by providing services in a non-discriminatory way to the whole community'.

Her speech to the EA has been compared to a church sermon in some press reports, as Mrs Blears 'preached' to church leaders about how Jesus would have understood the pressures of the economic crisis.

She spoke of the 'hope' which characterises the Christian life, adding that such hope could help society get through the 'difficult path ahead'.

But Christian groups are concerned that the Government wants to use the services provided by Christian groups while preventing them from articulating their faith.

The speech comes in the wake of a spate of stories where Christians - often in caring professions - are facing opposition from local authorities over their beliefs.

These include a Christian nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, a Christian carer struck off after a Muslim girl in her care became a Christian, and a Christian care home which lost council funding over its beliefs about homosexuality.

A spokesman for the Evangelical Alliance, Dr R David Muir, said: 'The Government wants the social action and welfare that faith groups provide, but there is a danger that they also want faith groups to leave their beliefs at the door.'

Mrs Blears said: 'It's not about trying to stop the people manning the soup kitchens, or making home visits, talking about their faith if people ask, or being open about what motivates them.'

She told the conference: 'I don't want to get to the place where the very thing that motivates you is stripped away. That's self defeating.'

But Dr Muir said: 'Our faith is what equips us as Christians to provide support and compassion to those who are spiritually and emotionally damaged by debt.'

The Bishop of Rochester recently wrote of the way the Christian foundations of much social care are being forgotten as Christianity is sidelined in many public services.

This is done under cover of concerns about offending people, he said, but was really driven by 'secularist agendas which marginalise all faith but seem especially hostile to Christianity'.

Secularists have welcomed Mrs Blears' plan to stop religious groups from evangelising if they are commissioned to carry out social work for the Government.

The National Secular Society commented that 'hidden beneath the flattering and emollient words was a clear message: we need your help to run welfare services on the cheap.

'This message was also tempered by the announcement that public money would come with firm conditions attached'.

The Faithworks charter, which has influenced the Government's plans, requires Christian groups who sign up to it to provide services to the community without 'imposing our Christian faith or belief on others'. [Christian Institute]


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bishop O'Donaghue: challenge your bishop

Comment: let us hear no more about respect for our bishops meaning that we should never defend the truth. Here is what Bishop Patrick O'Donaghue of Lancaster has to say:

If you hear any Catholic say or teach something that goes against the teaching and discipline of the Church, as safe-guarded by the Pope, politely, but firmly, challenge them, be they a lay catechist, teacher, deacon, priest or even a bishop.

He is in fact only reiterating Canon Law, which tells us this:

Can 212§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

See Bishop O'Donaghue's full speech, from which the above passage is taken.


Monday, February 16, 2009

A gentle schism

Briefing: Rorate Caeli is right to point out the significance of this. For those who have not been following the story a priest who the Vatican had announced would be an auxiliary bishop of a looney-liberal diocese in Austria, Linz, has been forced to ask for his name to be withdrawn. The objection against him was essentially that he was conservative; the hook this was hung on was that he had said that Hurricane Katrina was a punishment for sin. Well, perhaps not very diplomatic.

But here is the response of the Austrian bishops:

The faithful are legitimately concerned that the process of candidate search, examination of the proposals and the final decisions should be carefully undertaken and with pastoral sensitivity are possible. This can ensure that bishops are appointed who are not 'against' but 'for' a local church. We bishops will make every possible effort to support the forthcoming episcopal appointments in the sense of monitoring these procedures in close cooperation with the relevant Vatican offices."

What this means is that bishops should never be appointed who are not tainted with whatever nonsense has got a grip in a local area. This is a recipe for schism: it is so obvious that it is amazing that these bishops can keep a straight face. If the bishops of a country drift away from the teaching authority of Rome, and if it is a principle that no new bishop should be appointed who isn't 'with' the existing self-appointed gang, then clearly they are going to go on drifting until they have given up being Catholic altogether.

As Rorate Caeli says, if the Pope accepts this, the game is up. But the worst thing is that this is, as far as it is possible to discern, essentially the principle lying behing appointments to the sees of the United Kingdom, and indeed most countries, for several decades.


Innocent parents lose their children


From CFNews: UK A judge yesterday ruled that a couple will never see three of their children again even though he accepted they may have been wrongly accused of abusing them.

Mark and Nicky Webster's three eldest children were taken into care in 2004 after doctors claimed that six tiny fractures found on the middle child had been inflicted deliberately. All three were adopted.

Yesterday, in a failed attempt to have the adoption order overturned, the couple were told that even though they could be victims of a miscarriage of justice it was 'too late' for them to be reunited with their daughter and two sons.

In a devastating ruling, the judge said that as the youngsters are now settled with their adoptive families they would have to stay there - even though the original decision to take them away could have been wrong.

Last night, Mr Webster told the Daily Mail: 'I am very disappointed and hurt that we've been let down again. I haven't read the judgment yet so I can't comment on all the details but I do find it extraordinary that the judges say that there may have been a miscarriage of justice but still can't do anything about it.'

The couple's ordeal began in October 2003 when Mrs Webster took their second son to hospital with a painful, swollen leg.
He was found to have a number of small fractures which doctors said could be caused only by physical abuse.

All three children were placed in foster care and six months later, in a one-day court hearing, the children were permanently removed and swiftly offered for adoption.

Medical experts later concluded that the injuries were not caused by violent twisting and shaking, but were symptomsof scurvy. This now-rare deficiency is believed to have been caused by the family GP's advice that the child should be fed on soya milk, which is lacking in vitamin C.

The Websters have not seen their first three children since January 2005, when they were aged five, three and two.

They have always denied causing the fractures. After the heartbreak of losing the children Mr Webster, 35, and his wife, 27, fled to Ireland in 2006 to stop their fourth child, Brandon, being taken into care at birth. He has never had contact with his siblings.

They later returned to their home in Cromer, Norfolk, where after a long legal battle Norfolk County Council dropped proceedings to take Brandon into care after accepting that he was in 'robust good health'.

Yesterday the Websters were left bitterly disappointed after the Court of Appeal rejected their bid to challenge the adoption order on their other children.

Lord Justice Wall, sitting with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice Wilson, said he had 'profound sympathy' for the couple, for whom the case had been a 'disaster', but ruled that the courts could do nothing for them.

He said: 'Mr and Mrs Webster believe that they have suffered a miscarriage of justice. They may be right. A family which might well have been capable of being held together, has been split up.'

But he said the case highlighted the 'finality' of adoption orders which can be revoked only in extremely limited circumstances. 'The court concluded that after three years it was in any event too late to set the orders aside, and that it would not be in the interests of the children to do so.'

He added: 'If there is a lesson to be learned from the case it is the need to obtain second opinions on injuries to children at the earliest opportunity, particularly in cases where, as here, the facts are unusual.'

Lisa Christensen, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, said she sympathised with the Websters but believed the authority was 'absolutely right' to refer the matter to the courts when details of the fractures were first identified on their second child. [Mail]


Sunday, February 15, 2009

UN chief: Breakdown of the family a 'triumph'

Briefing. Don't be surprised: this is entirely logical. There is a whole literature on how evil the family is, an idea supported for a century or more by leftists and feminists. It is a key source of resistance to their plans to remake the world according to their tastes. These ideas are influential in the UN: that is a reflection of the intellectual culture there.

From LifeSiteNews: A leader of the UNFPA, the UN population agency President Obama plans to fund that has been involved in the forced abortion program in China, is drawing heat for applauding the breakdown of the family caused by abortion. Arie Hoekman from the Netherlands, recently spoke about family breakdown at a colloquium in Mexico City. In his remarks, Mr. Hoekman declared that family breakdown is a triumph for human rights. His remarks came only days after Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, spoke at the World Meeting of Families in Mexico City, where the breakdown of the family was described as a 'crisis.' Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, responded to Hoekman in comments sent to 'Mr. Hoekman praised the 'weakening of the patriarchal structure' and the 'new values' made possible by the United States' change of policy that increases the economic base for UNFPA. This man actually admitted that the goal of the United Nations is to promote 'new values' around the world. Sadly, those who closely watch the U.N. have seen that goal of promoting new values implemented in numerous policies in nations around the world.' Crouse explained the UNFPA's new outlook: 'The official United States policy during the Bush administration was to deny funding for foreign organizations that promoted or provided abortions; that policy meant no funding for UNFPA. Nevertheless, the UNFPA continued to support and subsidize China's One-Child Policy and to help fund sterilizations worldwide. When the Obama administration overturned the Mexico City Policy, the U.S. restored UNFPA funding. Now they will be better able to broaden their impact around the world.' [LifeNews]


Rabbi defends the Pope

More from Rabbi Levin: another LifeSiteNews article: "I support this move" to reconcile the traditionalist faction in the Church, he said, "because I understand the big picture, which is that the Catholic Church has a problem. There is a strong left wing of the Church that is doing immeasurable harm to the faith."

Rabbi Levin said that he understands "perfectly" why the reconciliation is vital to the fight against abortion and the homosexualist movement.

"I understand that it is very important to fill the pews of the Catholic Church not with cultural Catholics and left-wingers who are helping to destroy the Catholic Church and corrupt the values of the Catholic Church." This corruption, he said, "has a trickle-down effect to every single religious community in the world."

"What's the Pope doing? He's trying to bring the traditionalists back in because they have a lot of very important things to contribute the commonweal of Catholicism.

"Now, if in the process, he inadvertently includes someone who is prominent in the traditionalist movement who happens to say very strange things about the Holocaust, is that a reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater and start to condemn Pope Benedict? Absolutely not."

NB Abraham Foxman of the Antidefamation League is a secular Jew committed to the homosexual agenda (see his Wikipedia entry). There is obviously a world of difference between his perspective on the Pope than that of a man like Rabbi Levin, who sees him as an ally. See the full LSN article.

Briefing (13/02/09): Rabbi Levin has got this exactly right. Catholic liberals are appalled about the prospect of the SSPX being reconciled because they hate the idea of a million morally orthodox Catholics re-entering the mainstream. They were equally appalled, for the same reason, at the liberation of the Traditional Mass. They have seized on the Williamson issue as a hook to hang their indignation on, just as they used the Good Friday prayers last year, but these excuses won't last.

Religious Jews - except the most liberal ones - have far more in common with Pope Benedict XVI on moral issues than they do with The Tablet and its secular allies.

From A prominent Jewish Rabbi who represents over 1000 Rabbis in North America spoke to last week regarding the recent controversy around Pope Benedict XVI and his lifting the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). Rabbi Yehuda Levin says he sees the media attack on Pope Benedict as being more about the influx of morally conservative Catholics into the mainstream of the Catholic Church, rather than anything else, including the holocaust denial of one of the SSPX bishops, which has received widespread media coverage.

See their full article.

The SSPX faithful, in addition to offering the Mass in its ancient Latin form, are also known for their orthodoxy on moral matters. The mainstreaming of such Catholics into the Church would boost the numbers of pro-life and pro-family Catholics significantly, especially in Europe.

Rabbi Levin said that he believed that the Vatican has dealt appropriately with the controversial comments by SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson. However, he said that while this will will put to rest the "ridiculous" suggestions that the Pope is anti-Semitic, it will not end the controversy.

"At this point there has been a wonderfully strong renunciation of Bishop Williamson by the Vatican and therefore the Jewish community from their statements seems to be satisfied that things are going in the right way," he said. "This is just going to increase the frenzy of left wing Catholics, whether outside the Church or inside, because they now have to carry the ball in terms of keeping the attack on the Pope going."


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bonuses for GPs to encourage 'long term contraception'

Briefing: some of these methods of course are abortifacient; all of them are have health risks attached. But who cares about the health of young girls if their babies can be killed before they become a burden on the state?

From SPUC: Family doctors in Britain will be paid extra for getting teenage girls to use long-term hormonal birth control such as injections, implants and coils. The girls' parents will not routinely be told. From next year, the physicians will be rewarded for recommending the methods when they prescribe morning-after pills. The government says young people neglect to use other types of birth control. The General Medical Council allows doctors to provide such devices and substances to minors without parental knowledge. Family and Youth Concern said the move was: "tantamount to bribing doctors to facilitate underage sex." Our source mentions unpleasant side-effects of long-term birth control. [Mail, 13 February] SPUC's national director said: "This has a faint echo of the global financial crisis, in which the senior management of failed banks are still being paid bonuses despite their complicity in the crisis. The government's teenage pregnancy strategy and its accompanying provision of more contraception and so-called sexual health services is an abject, manifest failure." He urges supporters in England and Wales to organise public meetings on the matter. [John Smeaton, 13 February]


Friday, February 13, 2009

Novena for the Pope

Action: please join this Novena, which starts Saturday, in union with members of the Fraternity of St Peter and its Confraternity. See also the Hermeneutic of Continuity which talks about the same Novena.

From the FSSP, England: You are all well aware of the opposition which the Holy Father has faced in his efforts to reconcile the Society of Pius X. The current pressure from the media and others seems to not only threaten Pope Benedict’s work with SSPX. It also seems as though some would like to see it work as a means to undermine his very teaching and governing authority for his pontificate.

Given these oppositions which the Holy Father faces; given the particular role of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in working as a bridge for those who have grown apart from the Church in the last forty years; finally, given that we hold St. Peter as our patron and have a particular attachment to his successor, as also requested by our Superior General Very Rev Fr John Berg, FSSP, I would ask all of the members of the Confraternity of St. Peter to offer increased prayers at this time for strength for Pope Benedict XVI.

I suggest that each of our members may offer the following novena, which will be prayed as well by all our seminarians and priests, beginning on February 14th and concluding on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22nd.

Please remember that as a CSP member you can earn a plenary indulgence on that day, February 22nd, the second anniversary of the foundation of the CSP. On the same day the CSP chaplains will hold a meeting at the General House and will pray at all your intentions.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP, General Chaplain CSP

Novena (February 14 to 22)

Pater Noster, 3 Ave Maria, Gloria Patri

V. Orémus pro Pontífice nostro Benedícto.

R. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum, et beátum fáciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum eius.

V. Tu es Petrus.

R. Et super hanc petram ædificábo Ecclésiam meam.

Orémus. Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, miserére fámulo tuo Pontífici nostro Benedícto : et dírige eum secúndum tuam cleméntiam in viam salútis ætérnæ : ut, te donánte, tibi plácita cúpiat, et tota virtúte perfíciat. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

R. Amen. Mater Ecclésiæ, ora pro nobis. Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another case of Christianophobia

Briefing. Christians have no right of religious self-expression: this is the attitude which is being drummed into the functionaries of the state, and it is increasingly having an effect on ordinary people.

From the Christian Institute (and Daily Telegraph): The Daily Telegraph reports today that a primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class is being investigated for professional misconduct after seeking support from her church. Her daughter Jasmine had been overheard by a teacher discussing heaven and God with a friend and had been taken to one side and told off.

Mrs Cain contacted 10 close friends from her church by email but the message came to the attention of Gary Read, the headmaster of Landscore Primary School, Crediton, Devon, where she works as a receptionist.

The 38-year-old mother of two is now being investigated for professional misconduct for allegedly making claims against the school and its staff.

Mrs Cain has been told she may be disciplined and was warned she could face dismissal.

Mrs Cain, who has worked part-time at the school for two and a half years, describes herself as a "quiet Christian" who would never force her beliefs on others.

But she said she was angry about the way she had been treated: "I felt embarrassed that a private prayer email was read by the school – it felt like someone had gone through my personal prayer diary.

"I feel my beliefs are so central to who I am, are such a part of my children's life.

"I do feel our beliefs haven't been respected and I don't feel I have been treated fairly. I don't know what I am supposed to have done wrong."

On January 22, Mrs Cain went to pick up her children from Landscore Primary School

"My daughter burst into tears, her face was all red and she was clearly upset.

"She said 'my teacher told me I couldn't talk about Jesus' – I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"She said she was taken aside in the classroom and told she couldn't say that. I was so shocked, I didn't know what to do."

Mrs Cain said she decided to wait until she wasn't working to discuss the issue with the teacher Sharon Gottelier as a parent rather than an employee.

But she was called into Mr Read's office the next day over another matter before he started discussing Jasmine.

"He started talking about my daughter about how he wasn't happy about her making statements about her faith.

"At that point I froze, I felt very small and I felt trapped as I was a junior member of staff."

That weekend, she emailed a prayer request from her personal computer at home to 10 trusted friends from her church.

"I asked them to please pray for us, please pray for Jasmine, please pray for the school and pray for the church."

A few days later she was called back into Mr Read's office.

"I didn't think at this point I could be more stunned. He had in his hand a copy of my private, personal email and it was highlighted all the way through.

"He said that he was going to investigate me for professional misconduct because I had been making allegations about the school and staff to members of the public."

"He said the investigation could be followed by disciplinary action up to and including dismissal because of this private email."

Mr Read said: "An investigation by the governors of the school is being held into the conduct of a member of staff and at this stage I cannot comment any further."

Her case is being supported by the Christian Institute who said Mrs Cain was the latest example of a Christian being persecuted by society.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “I thought I had heard it all when I learned a nurse had been suspended for offering to pray for a patient.

“But now a five-year-old girl and her mother have been slammed for nothing more than expressing their Christian faith.

“I am particularly concerned about the way in which Mrs Cain’s private email to her church friends ended up in the hands of the head teacher.

“This is the latest in a series of cases where Christians are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. It is really getting to a point where it has to stop.”


Council forbids 16-yr-old to convert


From the Christian Institute: A Christian foster carer has been struck off because she allowed a Muslim child in her care to convert to Christianity. Neither the foster carer nor the girl can be named for legal reasons.

The girl, in her late teens, was interested in exploring Christianity before she was placed with the foster carer. But when the girl decided she wanted to be baptised, council officials said her carer had failed in her duty to preserve the girl's religion and should have used her influence to prevent the baptism from going ahead.

They said the girl should stay away from church for six months, and later struck the carer off the fostering register. The carer, who has over ten years experience looking after more than 80 children, is now challenging the local authority's decision. Her case is being backed by The Christian Institute's legal defence fund.

The carer is a practising Christian, and made it clear to the girl when she arrived that she could continue to practice her Muslim faith if she wanted to. In assessments before the baptism, the authorities said the girl's emotional needs were being met, and noted that the carer was showing understanding and respect for the girl's culture.

The carer's lawyers say there was no evidence that the change in the girl's religion would harm her, and argue that the authorities failed to listen to the girl's views.

The carer, an Anglican who attends a local evangelical church, said: 'I did initially try to discourage her. I offered her alternatives. I offered to find places for her to practise her own religion. I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go, 'I am interested and I want to come.' She sort of burst in.'

The carer said that the girl's social workers were fully aware that she was going to church and had not raised any objections. The girl had told her auxiliary social worker of her plans to convert before she was baptised in January last year, and the social worker had appeared to give her consent.

The Christian Institute's Mike Judge said: 'All people should be free to change or modify their religious beliefs. That surely must be a core human right in any free society.

'I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God. This is the sort of double standard which Christians are facing in modern Britain.

'In recent months we have seen grandparents, a nurse, adoption agencies, firemen, registrars, elderly care homes - and now a foster carer - being punished because of the Christian beliefs they hold. It has to stop.'

The carer's solicitor Nigel Priestley said: 'There is no doubt that the event that provoked the council was the decision by the girl to be baptised.

'This girl was 16 and has the right to make this choice, so for the council to react in this way is totally disproportionate. Even at this late hour, we hope that the council will resolve the issue.'

A council spokesman said: 'From the details provided, we believe that this information relates to a child who is the subject of a final care order in favour of the council. In those circumstances, we are unable to pass any comment.' [Christian Institute]


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Archbishop Burke on Communion and pro-abortion politicians

Comment: if this were enforced in this country, most of the Catholic politicians listed in the Catholic Directory would be in trouble - including the leading members of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group.

From CFNews: The head of Church's highest court has said ecclesiastical law is clear on the exclusion of abortion supporters from holy communion. Most Rev Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome stated that Catholics who, despite being formally corrected, overtly supported abortion should not be given the sacrament, nor could they worthily receive it. He could not see why the issue was still debated. The US bishops' conference said in 2004 that bishops were able to decide whether to refuse communion in such cases; Senator John Kerry was then running for president and seen going to communion. Doing so was using the sacrament politically, the archbishop told LifeSiteNews. The eucharist had to be protected from sacrilege.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

British nun's cause to be opened

Briefing. The Bridgettines have houses in England: see here.

From CFNews: A British nun who helped to hide Italian Jews from the Nazis in wartime Rome has been put forward as a candidate for sainthood.

Mother Ricarda Beauchamp Hambrough played a vital role in saving the lives of more than 60 Jews by smuggling them into her convent. Her order, the Bridgettines, founded in the 14th century, has now sought permission from the Vatican to examine her life and writings for evidence of 'heroic virtue', the first step to beatification and, ultimately, canonisation. She could join three other British women being considered by Rome for sainthood.

Ricarda's case is in its earliest stages and requires evidence of two miracles. Yet with successful progress, it could make her the first British female saint since 1970, when Pope Paul VI canonised three women among martyrs who died in the Protestant Reformation.

Ricarda was born Madaleina Catherine in London in September 1887 and was received into the Church in Brighton at the age of four after her parents' conversion to the faith. Little is known about her childhood, but as a young woman she was influenced by Father Benedict Williamson, a Benedictine monk, and in 1912, aged 24, she travelled to Rome to become a nun. With the Bridgettines she took the religious name 'Ricarda' and was soon chosen as the assistant to Blessed Mary Elizabeth, the abbess.

During the second world war, on hearing that the Germans were exterminating Jews, Pope Pius XII secretly ordered the religious houses of Rome to shelter them from persecution, according to Vatican records. A spokeswoman for the Bridgettines confirmed yesterday that Ricarda was central to the hiding of refugees, including Italian Jews, communists and Poles: 'We helped many during the war and Mother Ricarda helped Mother Elizabeth to hide them.' [TimesOnline]


Maciel exposed

Update: From CFNews: Here is the text of a statement from Legionary of Christ Father Thomas Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, in response to news released this week regarding the congregation's founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel.

Last Thursday evening I was informed that, after an internal investigation of the charges lodged against him, it had been discovered that my religious congregation's founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado fathered a child, who is now in her early 20s. Fr. Maciel founded the Legion in 1941. He died on January 30, 2008. On May 19, 2006, the Vatican released a communiqué requiring him to retire to a private life of penitence and prayer in light of numerous allegations brought before the Holy See, including accusations of sexual abuse of some of the first members of the congregation. At that time the Legion began its own internal investigation.

Given the near impossibility of ascertaining what happened over so many years (the earliest accusations would have been dated to the 1950's), and because I am not privy to the findings of any of these investigations, I do not know which of those earlier accusations might be true. Sadly, however, it seems evident that some of them must indeed be true.

In shock, sorrow, and with a humbled spirit, I want to express my deepest sorrow for anyone who, in any way, has been hurt by the moral failings of Fr. Maciel. Of my readers, I ask your prayers for each of them. They count not only on my prayers, but also on the personal acts of reparation that I intend to do to implore for each of them the grace, healing, and comfort that only God can give. I am so sorry for each of them, and for the scandal this has caused to the entire Church.

For the members of my religious family, the Legionaries of Christ, I humbly ask for your prayers as we discern the road ahead and strive, each in our way and apostolic work, to continue to serve Christ and his Church.

Comment (04/02/09)10/200: Fr Marcial Maciel was the founder of the Legionaires of Christ. He died a year ago having been forbidden to celebrate Mass in public by Pope Benedict, following a long investigation into his sexual misconduct. Now more stories are coming to light: that he fathered a child, and was both extravagant and unaccountable with the order's money.

From the New York Times: Jim Fair, a spokesman for the Legionaries, said only: “We have learned some things about our founder’s life that are surprising and difficult for us to understand. We can confirm that there are some aspects of his life that were not appropriate for a Catholic priest.”

See their full story.

H-t to Rorate Caeli. As they say, this underlines the wisdom of the Holy Father in disciplining Macial publicly. Those Legionaries who were trying to deny the truth of the previous set of allegations will now have to face reality.


Christian Care home loses grant for failing to persecute residents

Update: their funding has been restored: see Hillary White at LifeSiteNews, and Fr Blake. The reason for the backdown is not clear; perhaps it was the threat of vigorour legal action for religious discrimination: the PC brigade aren't keen to test the law on the conflict between freedom of religion and their interpretation of freedom of sexual expression. But the lesson is clear: don't give up! Remember also the victories scored in recent days by the Christian Nurse and the Catholic Fireman. The laws are new: no one knows exactly how they are going to be interpreted.

Briefing. (05/01/09)

From the Daily Mail: A British care home where elderly Christian residents refused to answer 'intrusive' questions about their sexuality is at the centre of a bitter legal battle after its council grant was axed.

Brighton & Hove Council told the home to ask pensioners four times a year about their sexual orientation under its 'fair access and diversity' policies, which stem from New Labour equality laws.

Council chiefs also accused the charity that runs the home of 'institutional discrimination', before cutting a £13,000 grant towards warden services.

Pilgrim Homes, which operates ten schemes for elderly Christians across the UK, says it has never breached the law and is now suing the council, accusing it of religious discrimination.

Andrew Jessop, the charity's chief executive, said: 'The council has taken overzealousness to the extreme. People in their 90s are very vulnerable and shouldn't be treated in this way.'

Tensions began last year when the council imposed stricter criteria on organisations it supported to 'comply' with the Equality Act 2006 and the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

It circulated a questionnaire to the Pilgrim Home in Egremont Place, Brighton, which houses 39 single Christians aged over 80, including former missionaries and a minister.

Phil Wainwright, director of human resources for Pilgrim Homes, said he was told by the council the home had to ask residents if they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or 'unsure', even if they objected. Many of the elderly rebelled, however, and the home wrote to the council saying residents did not want to participate.

Mr Wainwright said: 'There was a strong feeling among people in the home that the questions were inappropriate and intrusive. They felt they had come to Pilgrim Homes because of its Christian ethos and were upset they were not protected from such intrusions.'

But Brighton & Hove Council complained about the home's 'negative response' and argued that because the home had a Christian ethos, homosexual people might be deterred from applying.

It cited the 'resistance' to using images of elderly gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in the home's leaflets, saying this meant gays and lesbians 'would not feel comfortable' applying for a place.

The council then announced it was axeing the grant because there had been 'limited progress' in making the home accessible to the homosexual community.

Mr Wainwright said the charity was open to anyone with orthodox beliefs.

He said: 'We have every reason to believe that we have given places to gay Christians, and no questions were ever asked. The council hasn't demonstrated any discrimination on our part. We believe it is Brighton Council that is institutionally discriminatory.'

MPs backed the charity, which fears other councils that provide it with grants totalling more than £100,000, could follow Brighton's lead.

Ann Widdecombe, former Tory Home Office Minister, said: 'The equality law does not oblige anyone to ask intrusive questions. This sort of thing needs to be nipped in the bud.'

David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, said: 'It is absolutely disgraceful that the council has tried to get 90-year-olds, from a generation that wasn't obsessed with sex, to put intimate information on to one of its forms.'

But Brighton & Hove Council said: 'We have never expected any residents to answer questions about their sexuality if they preferred not to do so.

'The Government specifically states the home must be open to the gay and lesbian community and that it must demonstrate this to qualify for funding. In the absence of any willingness to do this, funding has been withdrawn.' [Mail]


Monday, February 09, 2009

Card. Murphy-O'Connor: Anglicanism not a 'church'

Comment: yes, you read that right. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, former co-chairman of ARCIC II (the failed talks on reunion between Rome and Canterbury) has described Anglicans (at least by implication) as an 'ecclesial community', the term approved by the Vatican for referring to Protestant sects. By contrast, the Orthodox can be described as a 'church' in the sense of 'local churches', each diocese being a church etc. (a usage one finds in Scripture). A schismatic part of the Universal Church, with a bishop, is a 'church', but a bunch of Protestants is not.

See here for an article on Cardinal Ratzinger (as he then was) rejecting the absurd fudges of ARCIC's 'Final Report'; see here for 'Dominus Iesus', issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger, which clears up the matter of 'churches' in paragraph 17: On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense...


Sunday, February 08, 2009

SSPX acts on Williamson

Comment: the Holy Father has given the SSPX an incentive to make itself more presentable to the mainstream. The SSPX's response indicates that they are taking imminent reconciliation extremely seriously.

Bishop Williamson has been relieved of his post as head of the SSPX seminary in Argentina. H-T Rorate Caeli.

A prominent SSPX priest in Italy, who criticised his superiors for accepting the lifting of the excommunications and doubted the validity of Benedict XVI's papacy, has been expelled. H-T Rorate Caeli.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Don't give to the Catholic Education Service

Action: there may be a second collection tomorrow for them. For full details see John Smeaton.


Faith and Euthanasia

Comment: 'Care not Killing' welcomes a letter in The Times pointing out that 'faith' is not the only or the main reason against legalised euthanasia. Lord Joffe claims that it is, perhaps with a view to the argument that opponents are trying to impose their religious commitments on everyone else, certainly in order to ignore the reasoned arguments against his position.

While it might seem ungracious for our non-religious allies against euthanasia to wish to repudiate our religious motivation, Catholics can understand this point better than many non-Catholic Christians. Euthanasia is an offense against Natural Law. It is not a matter of ritual obligations, revelation, faith, or the life of grace. It is a matter of the obligations we have to each other as human beings, obligations which can be grasped by all men of good will on the basis of natural reason alone. The fact that many non-Christians have been so corrupted by modern currents of thought that they shut their eyes to these obligations does not change the point. Catholics, and the Church, in arguing as they do, are defending not faith but reason.

From Care not Killing: In a robust letter to the Times, Lord Carlile QC has taken issue with Lord Joffe’s recent accusations that religious leaders are largely responsible for the opposition to assisted suicide. Carlile asserted, This is not about religion or autonomy or medicine: it is about public safety, legal certainty and the protection by the law of the vulnerable.’ Lord Joffe has meanwhile threatened to bring his assisted dying bill back in to the House of Lords.


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