Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pro-Life vigils and the Police


From Fr Tim Finnigan: The Helpers of God's Precious Infants regularly hold prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. Recently there have been some instances of disproportionate attention from the police. Fortunately at Twickenham, this matter now seems to have been resolved satisfactorily with the Metropolitan Police agreeing that the vigils can continue without police attendance. (See: Victory for Pro-Life Abortion Campaigners facing Police suspension)

I take part in these vigils from time to time. What happens is that a group stands well away from the entrance and says fifteen decades of the Rosary and other prayers and perhaps hymns. Nearer the entrance a counsellor, or a small group of counsellors offer leaflets to those entering or leaving, or to passers by and are available to talk to people. The whole thing is quite peaceful and causes less obstruction than, for example, the people who give out free newspapers outside tube stations. In my experience, I have seen many people stop to talk and it is always a joyful thing if someone changes their mind as a result.

What happens to cause the police attention is that someone from the clinic rings the police to complain about a disturbance, or obstruction or whatever. The police then turn up and feel they have to do something. At the recent case at Twickenham, a car and a van arrived with sirens going, and threatened to arrest anyone who did not stop the counselling.

The Twickenham case seems to have been resolved now. The advice I have been given for others is to inform the police in advance of a vigil, saying exactly what you will be doing. Then if they receive a call, they have some information to go on in making a decision whether or not to attend. Of course, the letter from the Met concerning the Twickenham vigils can now be quoted as an example.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Another health worker sacked for being Christian


From CFNews: A Council worker has been suspended for encouraging a terminally ill woman to turn to God after she told him her doctors could do nothing more for her.

Duke Amnchree, a Christian who has worked for Wandsworth council in south west London for neatly 18 years, was suspended after he discussed his faith with a client.

He claims he was later told that he should not raise the issue of religion at work. He says he was also told it was inappropriate to 'talk about God with a client and that he should not even say 'God bless'.

Mr Amachree, 53, a member of the UK World Evangelism Church in London, was disciplined as a result of a complaint made by the woman client who had come to the council to discuss a housing problem.

He described the moment he was told by council staff that he was being suspended: 'I was speechless. I was so stunned could not even bring myself to tell my wife,'

Mr Amachree, who is British but was born in Nigeria, has not worked for two months. 'This is it worrying time for me,' he said. Senior council sources have confirmed his suspension but dispute his account of events. They say it has been alleged that Mr Amachree made a long and aggressive 'religious rant' against the seriously ill woman, who has not been identified. They also say he has been warned in the past for raising his religious beliefs with members of the public.

The case comes two months after the Sunday Telegraph disclosed that Caroline Petrie, 45, a nurse from North Somerset, was suspended for offering to pray for an elderly patient's recovery from illness. Mrs Petrie, also a Christian, was accused of failing to demonstrate a 'personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity', but she was later reinstated by the North Somerset Primary Care Trust.

Mr Amachrce's case has been taken up by Christian Legal Centre (CLC). which seeks to promote religious freedom and, particularly, to protect Christians and Christianity. The centre. in turn, has instructed Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister. Mr Amachree, a married man with two young children who earns £30,000 a year as a homelessness prevention officer, said that the incident took place on January 26 after a woman, aged about 30, came to ask for advice.

He says they spent 50 minutes discussing her concerns that she was going to have to move out of her privately rented flat because her landlord was selling it. The woman, an artist, hoped to find alternative accommodation nearer a hospital, where she could be treated for what he says she described as an 'incurable bowel condition'.

Mr Amachree said: 'She was in despair. It was out of compassion that I said to her: 'Sometimes the doctors don't have all the answers'. I suggested she could put her faith in God.'

He insisted the woman had not been concerned by his comments, although she said religion had not worked for her. According to Mr Amachree, she then smiled, thanked him and left.

But on January 28 he was handed a two-page letter by the council's director of housing and told that he was being suspended. Mr Amachree is taking legal action against the council decision which he says effectively 'privatises' Christian faith and is against his human rights.

A spokesman for the Conservative-run council said: 'A serious allegation has been made which is being investigated as a disciplinary matter'. [Sunday Telegraph]


Government funds anti-religious zealots


From CFNews: It has emerged that £25,000 from a special Government fund set aside for 'building faith communities' has been allocated to the anti-religious British Humanist Association (BHA).

The BHA was behind the atheist bus advertisements which claimed: 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.'

It was also given £35,000 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year to run seminars on religious tolerance with prominent atheists giving keynote speeches.

MPs and campaigners have called the decision to fund the group with money from the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund 'scandalous'.

The Government department responsible for the fund is headed by communities secretary Hazel Blears, who was recently criticised for saying faith groups should only be funded to carry out social projects if they promise not to evangelise.

The figure was unearthed through a written parliamentary question from Conservative MP Caroline Spelman.

Commenting on the news, she said: 'Britain has a long tradition of respecting freedom of religion. But English institutions like local church groups are being discriminated against just for being Christian.

'There is a clear agenda to twist so-called equality and human rights. It is wrong that taxpayers' money is being used to bully town halls into axing funding for Christian faith groups.'

The BHA has provided guidance for local authorities which states: 'Religious pictures on the walls may seem inoffensive to those of the religion in question but can create a hostile or offensive environment for others.'

It also boasts to have helped activists within the City of London Police rename their 'prayer rooms' as 'quiet rooms'.

Mrs Spelman continued: 'It is scandalous that Government cash is being used to train 'local authority equality officers' and tear down the religious paintings and imagery which are part of the fabric of our nation.

'People of all faiths have a right to pursue that faith without taxpayers' money being used to marginalise them.' [Christian Institute]


Abortion kills mothers


From LifeSiteNews: A coroner has criticised abortionists at one of the U.K.'s largest abortion providers after a fifteen year-old girl died from complications following an abortion. Roger Whittaker, the coroner for West Yorkshire, has charged that staffers at a Marie Stopes International abortion facility in Leeds were negligent in having failed to provide antibiotics to Alesha Thomas and that the facility could face prosecution.

Thomas died on July 11, 2007 from a heart attack after contracting toxic shock syndrome, a bacterial infection. She had been fifteen weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion. An inquest heard how the gynaecologist who performed the abortion, Dr. Peter Paku, had made out a prescription for antibiotics, but that the girl left before she received them. Dr. Paku admitted that it is not uncommon for patients to leave the facility without their medication. Alesha was discharged 45 minutes after having the abortion.

The inquest was told that Marie Stopes had no system in place to ensure that nurses would re-check a patient's notes after discharge to make sure all instructions, including prescriptions, had been followed.

Rose Bent, Alesha's mother called the Marie Stopes helpline three days after the abortion, telling a nurse that Alesha was suffering stomach cramps and heavy bleeding. The nurse recommended Ibuprofen. Five days after the abortion, Alesha's symptoms worsened and she died from a heart attack in the car on the way to the hospital.

Despite the claims of the abortion lobby that legal abortion has answered the problem of the 'thousands' or 'tens of thousands' of women dying from 'illegal back-alley abortions,' researchers have found that legal abortions rank as the fifth leading cause of maternal death in the United States. In 1972, the year before abortion was legalised in the US, the Centers for Disease Control reported 39 abortion related deaths.

A recent study of pregnancy-associated deaths in Finland has shown that the risk of dying within a year after an abortion is several times higher than the risk of dying after miscarriage or childbirth. The statistical analysis unit of Finland's National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health found that women who obtained abortions were 76 percent more likely to die in the following year than non-pregnant women. The research found that of 281 women who had died within a year of their last pregnancy between 1987 and 1994, 27 died after giving birth, 48 after having had miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, and 101 after having had abortions.

The leading causes of abortion related deaths are haemorrhage, infection, embolism, anaesthesia, and undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies. [LSN]


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Parents lose battle to stop hospital withdrawing treatment from child


From LifeSiteNews: A seriously ill baby, known only as OT, died on Saturday in the U.K. after his parents lost a legal bid to keep him alive.

The nine-month-old boy suffered from mitochondrial disease, a rare metabolic disorder which resulted in brain damage and respiratory failure.

Two Court of Appeal judges refused the couple permission to challenge a decision by Mrs. Justice Parker of the High Court, made after a 10-day hearing, which gave the hospital treating the boy the right to stop the medical treatment that was keeping him alive.

His parents reportedly were 'deeply distressed' by the court's decision to end their baby's treatment and thereby his life. In a statement, the parents said that only one other child with the same condition had been identified by modern medicine and everyone was in 'unknown territory.'

'We are and always will be convinced that, despite his desperate problems, his life is worthwhile and is worth preserving as long as it is possible to do so without causing him undue pain.

'That was the real argument between us and the doctors - they think his life is intolerable and that his disability is such that his life has little purpose; but we, along with some of the nurses, believed that he experiences pleasure and that he has long periods where he was relaxed and pain free.

'Our belief in his humanity and inherent worth justified us taking every step to support him.'

A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association, which represents doctors involved in the case, said in a UKTelegraph report, 'Cases like this are very distressing and we have every empathy with the parents, but when the parents and the clinical team don't agree on the treatment for the child in question, the only way forward is to go to the courts and for the courts to decide on what is in the best interests of the child, which is paramount.'

Alex Schadenberg, chairman of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, commented on the court decision, saying, 'The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is shocked that a High Court ruling in the UK would determine that a child who is disabled from a rare metabolic disorder is better off dead. It is very sad when parents make decisions to give up on a child with a disability, but it is shocking when the courts Court imposes death on the child, against the wishes of the child's loving parents.

'How is it possible that a court could impose death upon a vulnerable child? It is simply unbelievable.'

The parents told the BBC, through spokesman Christopher Cuddihee of Kaim Todner: 'During his short time with us OT became the focus of our lives.

'We were present during his last moments, together with O's extended family.

'He died peacefully. We will miss him greatly and wish to say that we are proud to have known our beautiful son for his brief life.' [LSN] 


IVF babies' health risks


From LifeSiteNews: The British government's embryo research authority has warned potential parents that children conceived artificially through in vitro fertilization have a thirty percent higher risk of genetic abnormalities.

Reports of higher levels of birth defects among IVF children have been making headlines since at least 2003, but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has only this week issued a warning on the matter. The HFEA said that parents should be told of the risks associated with IVF, but emphasized that not all the risks are fully understood and more research is needed.

The Daily Mail notes that research by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, published online last month in the Human Reproduction journal, found that IVF babies suffer from heart valve defects, cleft lip and palate, and digestive system abnormalities due to the bowel or esophagus failing to form properly.

For years researchers have warned that IVF children risk complications such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome; rare urological defects including bladder development outside the body; heart or central nervous system abnormalities, and dangerously low birth weight.

Evidence presented at a symposium at the Monash Institute of Reproduction and development in Melbourne in 2003 showed that certain IVF techniques may pass on birth defects from fathers with defective sperm. In 2002 scientists from Johns Hopkins and Washington University School of Medicine reported that IVF-initiated conception was six times more likely to be associated with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome than the general population.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Morning after pill by text for 11 yr-olds


From SPCU: Children in England aged 11 will be able to request morning-after pills
from nurses by short message service texts. Schools are involved in the scheme in Oxfordshire. The opposition Conservative party said morning-after pills were only for emergencies. Family and Youth Concern said the move would not cut teenage pregnancy. Rev John Saward of SS Gregory and Augustine Catholic church, Oxford, said it was horrendous and would encourage promiscuity.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Petition Notre Dame

Action: please sign the petition. It now has 156,000 names.

From SPUC: Mr Barack Obama, labelled by Congressman Christopher Smith as the abortion
president, is to visit a Catholic university. He will give an address and receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame University, Indiana, which has received many complaints. [LifeSiteNews, 23 March] Rev John Jenkins, university president, defended the decision and said he hoped to engage with Mr Obama on life issues. [Catholic News Agency on EWTN, 24 March] Rt Rev John D'Arcy, the local bishop, will boycott the event and has asked the institution to reconsider. [LifeSiteNews, 24 March] More than 110,000 signatures have been added to an online petition against the visit.
[LifeSiteNews, 24 March]


Abortionists to advertise on TV?


From SPUC: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is considering lifting its ban on abortion agencies advertising through the broadcast media.

John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said: "The ASA's proposal threatens to further commercialise the killing of unborn children. It would completely disregard the adverse effect of abortion on women's health. Agencies with a financial interest in abortion will be in a position to buy expensive broadcast advertising, whereas groups which provide objective information about abortion and its impact on women's health will be unlikely to afford to advertise.

"We note the proposed requirement that any group advertising counselling services for pregnant women must make clear if the group does not refer women for abortion. We will be scrutinising the ASA's proposals closely for any similar signs of potential discrimination against pro-life groups. The ASA already demonstrated a bias against pro-life groups when it attempted to ban advertisements which stated correctly that morning-after pills may cause early abortions.

"We are also concerned about the proposal to allow advertisements on television for condoms before the 9pm watershed. Such a move would only serve to sexualise young people, and the resulting promiscuity would lead to more abortions, more teenage pregnancies and more sexually transmitted infections."


Free speech ammendment to homosexual rights bill fails


From Christian Concern for our Nation and the Christian Legal Centre: The vote to keep free speech was lost by 328 votes to 174 last night in the House of Commons with the vote being whipped rather than a free vote. The clause was initially proposed by Lord Waddington, as part of last year’s Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, in an attempt to permit legitimate discussion of sexual practice. This is a vital freedom for Christians who are called to love every individual no matter what their sexual orientation but must be free to speak out on biblical sexual ethics.

The Sexual Orientation Hatred Offence was originally proposed because homosexual lobby groups convinced the Government that there was a need to give homosexuals this particular protection. We are opposed to incitement to hatred against anyone, but existing legislation provides sufficient protection for every member of society. In 2008, Lord Waddington successfully tabled a free speech amendment to allow ‘discussion or criticism’ of sexual practices. The free speech clause deals with the chilling effect that arises when restrictions are placed on freedom to express biblical views on sexual practice. Although the Government has indicated that written Guidance will be provided to Prosecutors and Police Officers on this matter, this leaves Joe Public in a vulnerable position with no certainty about what he is free to say. This is why free speech protection needs to be stated clearly on the face of the law. Without it those wishing to express legitimate and biblical views about sexual practice could face frightening police investigation for an offence that may carry up to seven years in prison. Unless the Church wakes up and stands against this law it will find itself silenced on this matter as so many Christian Legal Centre cases demonstrate with ordinary folk dismissed and bullied for voicing their beliefs in work and every aspect of life.

The Government and the Liberal Democrats, particularly, opposed the free speech
clause and deemed it either ‘useless or dangerous’. However, David Taylor, MP,
(Labour) argued for free speech specifying that the real issue must be the
protection of human liberties according to the Human Rights Act.

When Christians campaigned the Lord miraculously (by one vote) allowed a free
speech provision to be included in the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
(RRH Act 2006) regarding incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion. We
should not forget this. The incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual
orientation offence is modelled on the religious hatred offence. This is why it
would have been consistent and coherent to maintain a free speech provision for
this offence. The desirability of there being a free speech clause in the
sexual orientation hatred offence is imperative for a working democracy which
requires the tolerance of individual opinions. Tom Harris, MP, (Labour)
highlighted ‘public concern that a person who voices an opinion that is not
considered to be politically correct could end up being questioned by police’.

The debate on the free speech provision was won though the vote was lost. See
column 188 to column 204 if you would like to read the debate.

The Coroners and Justice Bill will now be considered by the House of Lords in
May. Please prayerfully consider contacting Peers to ask them to support the
free speech provision and to vote against any attempt to legalise assisted
suicide. See CCFON Action Pack for example letters.

Please pray for a miracle that God will restore the free speech provision to
allow for freedom to discuss sexual ethics and biblical truths. A free speech
clause is essential to defend orthodox, Christian beliefs on sexual morality.
The rights of freedom of religion and of conscience with freedom of speech in a
democratic society should allow for criticisms of different types of sexual
conduct or practices.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bishops consult on Social Teaching document

Action: please respond to this consultation! The bishops want your views: give them. Their last document on the subject, 'The Common Good', was abysmal. One key problem is a complete failure to understand or address the negative effect of government policy on family life. Click on the 'Family Policy' tab above to see the most recent of the innumable stories on this blog on this subject, including reports on the stready torrent of studies which show that the tax and benefits system encourage not only divorce but even the separation of unmarried co-habiting parents of young children. This situation is diabolical: for the Catholic bishops to ignore it in a document about 'social justice' is scandalous. If they do it again, let it not be because we failed to mention it to them!

Comments and observations about the Social Teaching Document to be sent by post to:

Archbishop Peter Smith
Social teaching document consultation
39, Eccleston Square

By e-mail to CSTconsult@cbcew.org.uk

Press release: Bishops consult on Social Teaching Document

A consultation period has been launched today by the bishops' working group on a proposed new Social Teaching Document. Contributions are invited from the lay faithful, agencies and groups.

The new document will seek to present the essence and application of what has often been described as the Catholic Church's best kept secret; its social teaching, to some of the issues facing society today. It will be particularly pertinent at a time of great turbulence in the global economy and change in our society. It will seek to make clear that social teaching is an integral dimension of the Gospel message, always rooted and founded in a life of prayer.

The Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Reverend Peter Smith, Chairman of the Social Teaching Document Working Group says: "I think the document which we are preparing will be an important one, not only in helping to set out in a creative and constructive way the Church's contribution to the debate about the sort of society we want to make, but also to give our own people confidence in their generous work for the common good which is part of the Kingdom of Christ."

The proposed framework for the document identifies four areas in particular: the current social and cultural context (with globalisation, the need for a moral ecology of the markets and the changing meaning of family life being, among others, areas for exploration); the theological context; possible topics and crowd of witnesses - a section which would look at contemporary examples of men and women, and organisations and communities whose life and work are inspired and sustained by the Gospel.

A great deal has changed in culture and society since the Common Good was written by the Bishops of England and Wales in 1996. Although much of this statement on Catholic social teaching is still relevant; the new social teaching document will not be a second edition of the Common Good.

A working group of seven bishops has been charged with taking the new document forward - Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and Bishops Chris Budd, David McGough, Declan Lang, Michael Campbell and Malcolm McMahon. The bishops hope to complete their work by the autumn of 2009.



Monday, March 23, 2009

Joanno Bogle with Jon Snow

Comment. Joanna Bogle was ambushed: yes, but it was so obvious she would be, on this topic with this interviewer, that she must have seen it coming. Her response was reasoned but comes accross as shrill.

We have a problem here: too few people are prepared to defend the Church in public. Who is going to second Mrs Bogle? We need people who are cool under fire, and can put their opponents on the back foot with quick and unexpected responses. Knowing lots of facts isn't enough: Joanna should have leant that in the school debating society.

See the comments on Snow's blog.


Dept Health issues flawed abortion guidlines for Northern Ireland


From SPUC: Belfast, Monday, 23 March 2009 - Pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland are warning that newly issued guidance from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) on the circumstances in which
abortion can be legally carried out in the Province is fundamentally flawed. If the guidance is not amended, it may face a judicial review, campaigners say.

Betty Gibson, chairwoman of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Northern Ireland, said: "Abortion is a criminal offence in Northern Ireland not a medical procedure. A medical intervention to save the life of a pregnant woman is lawful, even if it risks the death of her unborn child. However, it is never lawful to perform any operation solely aimed at taking the life of a child. This remains the law and the guidance published by the department of health cannot change that.

"The guidelines are incorrect in relation to a medical professional's refusal to facilitate to an abortion. The DHSSPS guidances cites advice from the General Medical Council in an attempt to convince objecting doctors that they should refer women to a colleague who will approve the abortion. However, no-one can be forced to co-operate in the performance of a criminal offence.

"Doctors should remember that GMC advice also states: 'Patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and health. To justify that trust you must show respect for human life and you must: Make the care of your patient your first concern.'

"Medical professionals have a duty to have respect for life and an ethical and legal duty of care owed to an unborn child as a patient. It is unacceptable for the health department guidelines to require anyone to put in place arrangements to facilitate the intentional killing of a child through abortion. On the contrary, a doctor has a moral and legal duty not to be involved in the deliberate killing of one of his or her patients.

"We believe the department of health has not listened to the concerns expressed by the Northern Ireland Health Committee. As a result these
guidelines are fundamentally flawed. At present we are considering all of
the options available to us to ensure that the law is fully reflected in
the guidelines. If the department wishes to avoid a judicial review of this
document then it must introduce serious changes right away," said Mrs


Pope correct on condoms and AIDS, says expert


From LifeSiteNews: Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, has said that the evidence confirms that the Pope is correct in his assessment that condom distribution exacerbates the problem of AIDS.

'The pope is correct,' Green told National Review Online Wednesday, 'or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope's comments.'

'There is,' Green added, 'a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded 'Demographic Health Surveys,' between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction 'technology' such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by 'compensating' or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.'

The Harvard AIDS Project's webpage on Green lists his book 'Rethinking AIDS Prevention: Learning from Successes in Developing Countries'. It is stated that Green reveals, 'The largely medical solutions funded by major donors have had little impact in Africa, the continent hardest hit by AIDS. Instead, relatively simple, low-cost behavioral change programs--stressing increased monogamy and delayed sexual activity for young people--have made the greatest headway in fighting or preventing the disease's spread.'

The full text of Pope Benedict XVI's exchange with the reporter, which has set off a firestorm around the world in the media, has been released by the Vatican press office.

The pope was asked, 'Holy Father among the many evils that affect Africa there is also the particular problem of the spread of AIDS. The position of the Catholic Church for fighting this evil is frequently considered unrealistic and ineffective.?'

Benedict XVI replied, 'I would say the opposite.

'It is my belief that the most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/AIDS is precisely the Catholic Church and her institutions. I think of the Community of Sant' Egidio, which does so much, visibly and invisibly to fight AIDS, of the Camillians, of all the nuns that are at the service of the sick.

'I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness - even through personal sacrifice - to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.

'Therefore, I would say that our double effort is to renew the human person internally, to give spiritual and human strength to a way of behaving that is just towards our own body and the other person's body; and this capacity of suffering with those who suffer, to remain present in trying situations.

'I believe that this is the first response [to AIDS] and that this is what the Church does, and thus, she offers a great and important contribution. And we are grateful to those that do this.' [LSN]


Former Headmistress wins £400,000 over Islamophobia smear

Briefing: one can forget than an employer - in this case the local council - has a duty towards its employees. They shouldn't assume accusations are true just because they come from people good at whipping up public support. The same is true of priests accuse of sexual abuse.

From the Daily Mail, in part: A headmistress who was hounded out of her job after being falsely accused of racism was yesterday awarded more than £400,000 in compensation. Erica Connor had run a 'happy and successful' primary school but was driven to a breakdown by the allegations.

The Daily Mail can reveal the school's troubles started when a local mosque decided to pack the governing body with Muslims. Paul Martin - a Muslim convert - and Mumtaz Saleem began monopolising meetings with the aim of turning New Monument in Woking into an Islamic faith school. ...

But when Mrs Connor resisted the new governors' plans - such as the introduction of Islamic worship into the school - she became the target of a smear campaign. An anonymous petition was circulated among parents, stating that those signing 'no longer have confidence in Erica Connor to educate our children in a way that respects and values our faith, culture and heritage'.

An accompanying document accused the headmistress of 'racism and Islamophobia'.

See the full story.


French street battle over the Pope

Comment: only in France... It is not at all clear what 'Far right' means here.

From CFNews: Far-right youths clashed with left-wing activists who had gathered outside Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris this morning to protest against Pope Benedict's opposition to condoms, a police source said.

About 30 ecologists and Communists threw condoms on the ground outside the cathedral, where worshippers were leaving Sunday mass.

One person was injured and three were arrested after clashes between the protesters and about 20 youths who the police source said were associated with the far-right and who were carrying placards saying "Leave my Pope alone."

Benedict said in Africa Tuesday that the use of condoms was complicating the fight against AIDS, reaffirming the Church's opposition to condoms. [Reuters]


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hotel sued for refusing double bed to gay couple


From CFNews: The Christian owners of a seaside hotel may be prosecuted after refusing to allow a homosexual couple to stay in a double room.Peter and Hazelmary Bull are facing an unprecedented court case under controversial new equality laws.Martyn Hall, who lives with his civil partner Steven Preddy, has lodged a county court claim for up to £5,000 in damages alleging 'direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation'.

But the Bulls deny the charge, saying they have a long-standing policy of banning all unmarried couples, both heterosexual and gay, from sharing a bed at the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion near Penzance in Cornwall.

Mrs Bull, a 62-year-old great-grandmother, said that even her brother and his female partner had to stay in separate rooms when they visited the hotel.

The Bulls, who have the backing of the Christian Institute, have operated their 'married only' policy since they bought the hotel in 1986. The hotel website says: 'We have few rules but please note that out of a deep regard for marriage we prefer to let double accommodation to heterosexual married couples only.' Last August, the Bulls received a letter from Stonewall, the gay rights organisation, saying it had received a complaint and warning the hotel it was breaking the law.

The following month Mr Preddy, from Bristol, rang to book a double room for two nights. Mrs Bull, who took the call, said last night that she had wrongly assumed that he would be staying with his wife before she accepted the booking. When Mr Preddy and Mr Hall arrived, they were told by the manager, Bernie Quinn, that the hotel could not honour the booking. The couple told him he was acting illegally before leaving and reporting the incident to police. Mrs Bull insisted last night: 'I have had people clearly involved in affairs and under-age people who have tried to book in here for sex, and I have refused them the same as I refused these gentlemen because I won't be a party to anything which is an affront to my faith under my roof.'

The couple's solicitor, Tom Ellis, from the Manchester-based firm Aughton Ainsworth, said: 'Our argument is that the regulations impinge on the Bulls' human rights. 'Under the European Convention on Human Rights, people are able to hold a religious belief and manifest it in the way they act.' A spokesman for Stonewall said: 'We look forward to the hotel changing its policy to reflect equality, the 21st Century and the law.' [MailOnline]


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Commemoration of the destruction of Marian shrines

Comment: unfortunately, if the model is any guide, the statue will be hideous. Why did they choose Paul Day? His previous work ranges from mediocre realism to ugly weirdness, and the proposal in this case is completely misconceived. (Don't put walls round a statue. It's not clever and suggestive; it's just going to hide the thing.) Still, it's a nice idea. Here is the organisers' website.

From the Catholic Herald, in part: One of Britain's leading sculptors is to erect a statue of Our Lady and the Child Jesus on the site of London's medieval Marian shrine.

Paul Day will spend a year creating the work, called Mary Most Holy, outside the front entrance of the Church of Our Lady of Willesden, north London. It will commemorate the Marian shrines destroyed during the Reformation.

The sculpture was originally intended to stand on land alongside the River Thames at Chelsea where King Henry VIII ordered the statues taken from 64 Marian shrines to be burned on huge bonfires in 1538.

But Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council denied planning permission at the last minute, forcing the Art and Reconciliation Trust, the charity that commissioned the work, to look elsewhere.

Brent Borough Council has now formally approved the plans.

"As we couldn't have Chelsea the next obvious place was at Willesden," said Frances Scarr, chairwoman of the trust, which was set up to promote awareness of the negative effects iconoclasm can have on culture. "It is a medieval shrine dating back to 939," she said. "It is one of the original shrines. It was the only shrine to Our Lady in London at that time. It even pre-dates Walsingham.

"We now all agree actually that where it is going is more appropriate and will also foster a great deal more prayer. If it had been at Chelsea it would have been in a garden with a lot of other statues but now it is outside a church and a very active church at that."

She said that she was seeking £500,000 in donations to help to pay for the work. "If all goes to plan Paul Day will start on the memorial this September," she said.

See the full story.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Reactions to attacks on the Pope

Comment: some good letters appeared in The Times, including this excellent one from Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor:

Sir, I was appalled at the tasteless cartoon depicting Pope Benedict XVI. No newspaper should show such disrespect to a person who is held in high esteem by a large proportion of Christians in the world. To pillory the Pope in this way is totally unacceptable. As to what Pope Benedict said, it would be wiser for people to look at the issues that he was raising in his remarks. It is certainly true that the widespread distribution of condoms can run the risk of greater promiscuity and that the best way to combat the Aids epidemic is by healthcare, education and fidelity in married life. Even if people do not accept the Church’s teaching in this matter, it is a well-known fact that the greatest contribution to health care for those living with Aids in Africa is given by the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

Archbishop of Westminster

There were some less good ones, including an attack on the Pope's position as lacking 'any semblance of Chrsitianity', from a 'Catholic' Aids charity, the 'Australian AIDS Fund'. Let us hope Ausralian Catholics notice what their donations are funding. Glancing at their website they seem to be obsessed by circumcision, often the mark of a bunch of weirdos.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pope attacked over condoms

Update and action: the increasingly appalling Ruth Gledhill draws our attention gleefully to a cartoon by Peter Brookes of the Holy Father with condom on his head, which appeared in The Times. This is absolutely outrageous and people must complain. H-t Catholic Truth: thank you, Patricia!

You can go the Gledhill's article to post a comment; more importantly complain to the Press Complaints Commission here. The cartoon infringes section 12 (i) of the Code of Practice

The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. 

However the Code has little to say about hate speech, since it is covered by the law of the land, including the 2007 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which outlaws incitement to hatred, though not ridicule and insult. How these two principles are supposed to work together is anyone's guess.

Nevertheless the PCC is the obvious first place to go for redress, so please make the point that this cartoon is insulting to Catholics and denigrates their religion and beliefs. Just imagine how long it would be tolerated if it insulted the Chief Rabbi, an Iman, or a homosexual.

In the meatime 'Iosephus' on the Cornell Society has a very good piece on why condoms increase AIDS. (Anyone who has run out of sleeping pills can read about whether the Vatican Press Office's version of the Pope's remarks diverges from that of the press corps in a totally insignificant way, here. Damian Thompson is getting very excited about it.)

Comment: dog bites man, not for the first time. But the man will outlive the dog.

The Pope's crime is to point out, to journalists on the plane to Cameroon, that condoms can actually make AIDS epidemic worse. This is to deny a key article of liberal faith, but it is nevertheless obviously true. Just as the provision of contraception increases promiscuity in the West, so it does in Africa. More promiscuity means more infections - since condoms are far from 100% effective, and are not used 100% of the time. Simple, really.

The exact increase or decrease of the infection rate will depend on the ratio between the reduced chance of infection of each act of intercourse and the increased number of acts of intercourse. Depending on the exact numbers, condoms might paliate or aggravate the immediate problem. In either case, it is not exactly a sure-fire way of combatting AIDS. In the meantime, the underlying problem which give all venerial diseases their opportunity, promiscuity, is being increased, not decreased. Now that is just stupid. For more on condoms and AIDS, see here.

Here is what the Pope said (h-t Fr Ray Blake):

The question's premise was "The Catholic Church's position on the way to fight against AIDS is often considered unrealistic and ineffective," and the pope responded:

"I would say the opposite. I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant'Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS ... and of all the sisters at the service of the sick.

"I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money -- which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn't help.

"One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.

"The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.

"Therefore I would say this is our double strength -- to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one's own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. ... I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this."


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Divisions over the excommunication of abortionists

Comment: it seems extraordinary that Archbishop Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has criticised the action of a local ordinary in the Brasilian rape case. As John Smeaton says, to subject this unfortunate girl to abortion is a further violation of her following her appalling rape. Abortion is gravely illicit; it carries with it the penalty of excommunication and it would cause confusion and scandal for Archbishop Sobrinho, the local bishop, to seem to excuse it in this case.

You can't kill innocent people just because they are inconvenient, or bring unpleasant memories to mind. There is simply no logic to the idea that abortion might be permissible in the case of rape, if not in other cases.

From SPUC: The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life has criticised excommunications which were announced after the abortion of twins belonging to a nine-year-old girl in Brazil. Archbishop Rino Fisichella opposes the decision by Most Rev José Cardoso Sobrinho, Archbishop of Recife, to exclude medical staff and the girl's mother from the sacrament. The former says the move eroded the credibility of Catholic teaching and seemed insensitive. Brazil's episcopal conference has also distanced itself from Archbishop Sobrinho's actions, though Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Holy See's Congregation for Bishops, approved. The girl was allegedly raped by her stepfather. [Times, 16 March] SPUC's national director wrote: "[T]he right to life of the twins in the womb of this poor Brazilian girl has been denied by all those participating in the abortion, and all those approving of the abortion (neither of which category, of course, includes the nine-year-old mother). [T]he little girl at the centre of this tragic situation has suffered not only the violence of rape but also the violence of abortion, which carries with it the risk of long-term harm including a seriously increased risk of suicide." [John Smeaton, 16


Film on abortion on Russia

Comment: this film should be required viewing for anyone who thinks Russia has been converted by the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady.

It will also be interesting to those who think that shock images of abortion will win the argument. Note what the film producer says.
Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek asked Kinsella why the film, which took such an unflinching glance at the circumstances of abortion, overlooked the actual deed. Kinsella said that he had footage of abortions, but left it out of the final version. 'I think … I will have a much higher success rate with the normal public by not showing scary images,' he told Stanek. 'People, especially women, just would turn off.'

From CFNews: A graphic documentary touted by its creator as 'neither pro-life nor pro-choice' that depicts in intimate detail the disturbing reality of Russia's abortion culture has been released.

'Killing Girls,' so named because all the women filmed eventually learned they carried baby girls, is a documentary seven years in the making that discusses the history of abortion in Russia and follows the induced abortions of several young Russian girls. Only one girl in the documentary chooses to keep her daughter.

The film is set in the Center for Family Planning and Reproduction in St Petersburg, where babies are delivered on one floor and aborted on the floor above.

According to the film, in Russia 80% of women have had at least one abortion. Of these, the average woman has aborted between two and ten times throughout her life, and hundreds of thousands of Russian women each year are permanently stripped of their fertility due to their abortions.

Despite the prevalence of late-term abortion as the country's 'birth control' of choice, says the film, the public discussion about abortion is nearly silent.

'Killing Girls has also been my most difficult film to produce, mainly because it was next to impossible to find finance,' said Ireland-born producer and director David Kinsella. 'Everybody was telling me that I could not show this or that! ... I was being suffocated by all the negative criticism towards our film. So I decided to make a film straight from my heart and soul and forget all the negative reactions.

'At times I felt totally helpless during the filming, the screaming from the hospital are tattooed on my soul, the sound of a baby crying during the abortion,' he said. 'I was totally shocked.'

The raw filmmaking spares few details except one: the abortions themselves. Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek asked Kinsella why the film, which took such an unflinching glance at the circumstances of abortion, overlooked the actual deed.

Kinsella said that he had footage of abortions, but left it out of the final version. 'I think … I will have a much higher success rate with the normal public by not showing scary images,' he told Stanek. 'People, especially women, just would turn off.'

Kinsella said there were already 'a number of countries' that have asked to use the film in sex education.

Anna Sirota, script writer and narrator of 'Killing Girls,' said she too was shocked 'not just because this was so painful and cruel, but also because I could not understand how easy it is to give and to take lives, how mechanical the whole abortion process looks.'

Sirota has given birth to one daughter and had four abortions.

'The project started to become an obsession. Maybe I was trying 'to excuse' away my sins… I still have no answers,' she said.

To view the trailer (WARNING: The trailer contains very graphic nudity and is not suitable for young audiences): http://www.killinggirlsmovie.com/trailer/


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Benedict XVI on the priesthood

Comment: it is refreshing to see the Holy Father's great clarity of mind and his grasp of the processes undermining the priesthood. Here are some remarks from a recent speach, translated by Fr Z (my emphasis):

A grasp of the radical social changes of the last decades must move our better ecclesial energies to take care for the formation of candidates for ministry. In particular, it must stimulate constant solicitude of Pastors toward their first collaborators, either cultivating truly paternal human relations, or concerning themselves with their continuing formation, above all in the matter of doctrine. The mission has its roots in a special way in a good formation, developed in communion with the uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, without breaks or temptations to discontinuity. In such a sense, it is important to foster in priests, above all in younger generations, a correct reception of the texts of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, interpreted in the light of the whole doctrinal train of of the Church. There appears to be an urgent need for the recovery of that awareness which drives priests to be present, identifiable and recognizable both for their judgment of faith, and for their personal virtue, and also for their dress (abito), in ambients of culture and of charity, which have ever been at the heart of the mission of the Church.

As a Church and as priests we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth is Lord and Christ, crucifed and risen, King of time and history, in the happy certainty that such a truth coincides with the deepest desires of man’s heart. In the ministry of the incarnation of the Word, in that fact that God became man like us, there is situated both the content and the method of the Christian message. The mission has here its true driving core: namely, in Jesus Christ. The centrality of Christ brings with itself the proper evaluation of the priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, nor, much less, the mission of the same Church. In this sense it is necessary to be vigilant that "new structures" or pastoral organizations are not considered for a time which one must "do without" ordained ministry, starting from the erroneous interpretation of a right promotion of the laity, for in such a case presuppositions would be advanced for the further dilution of the priestly ministry and the eventual presumed "solutions" would come dramatically to coincide with the real causes of the present challenges bound up with ministry.

Notice this at the end: the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, lay-led 'eucharistic services', the clustering of parishes without a parish priest: these and other initiatives are not solutions to the shortage of priests by body-blows to the understanding of the priesthood which has to lie behind vocations.

This directly contradicts views constantly repeated in semi-official ways by the Church's buearocracy. Don't let them get away with it!


Teen mags sexualising children

Parents: you have been warned!

From CFNews: Teenage magazines are to blame for the 'early sexualisation' of their young readers and are failing to uphold their own guidelines on content, the Government's consumer watchdog has claimed. Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus, said the magazines were 'pushing the envelope' and warned that parents would be shocked by much of their content.

A study by The Sunday Telegraph of several magazines aimed at teenage girls found that they contained sexually-explicit material which was potentially in breach of the industry's editorial code.

Campaigners have attacked the magazines' self-regulatory body as 'toothless' and have called for an independent organisation to monitor the publications, which are read by children as young as 11.

The move comes after Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, ordered a review into whether young girls are being sexualised through fashion, music, computer games and other industries.

Bliss magazine, whose readers have an average age of 15, features on the front of this month's issue the cover lines 'The Sex Factor, your questions answered on p46' and 'Gang raped - for a mobile phone.'

April's Sugar magazine, with readers aged 14 on average, features a spread entitled 'Is it a crush or are you gay?'. This month's Top of the Pops Magazine, with readers aged 11 to 15, is sold with a set of 'Kiss Me!' stickers.
It features photos of shirtless male celebrities and a picture of Justin Gaston, an underwear model, who appears to be naked except for a panel covering his private parts.

Bliss's website has previously invited girls to send in photographs of themselves to be marked on 'looks and pullability' in a contest called 'How Sexy Am I?' while Sugar has an annual modelling competition for girls asking: 'Want fame, freebies and fit lads?'

The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP), the industry's self-regulatory body whose members include publishers and editors, is supposed to ensure that 'the sexual content of teenage magazines is presented in a responsible and appropriate manner'.

Its guidelines, which apply to magazines who have more than 25 per cent of their readership aged under 16, state that 'readers will always be encouraged to take a responsible attitude to sex' and that 'editorial content of the magazines will reflect the typical concerns of the magazine's readership'.

However, critics say that few parents know about TMAP. Since it was launched in 1996, to head off the threat of legislation clamping down on the magazines' sexual content, it has ruled on only three complaints, and in the past three years it has received only one.

Mr Mayo said: 'Teenage magazines do have a role to play in guiding teenagers through difficult issues, but when it comes to what is responsible and what is not, clearly the envelope is being pushed and parents would be shocked by much of their content.

'There is no doubt that some of these magazines are responsible for the early sexualisation of children. If you let industry set the rules, the industry will often find a way through. The answer is not always new rules, but I would welcome the current guidelines actually being enforced.'

Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary, said: 'These magazines are pushing the boundaries of what parents would consider acceptable. Their publishers have to explain why publications aimed at girls below the age of consent carry this sort of material. The industry needs to look again at how it regulates itself.'

Sue Palmer, an educational consultant and the author of Toxic Childhood, said: 'The reality is that children as young as 10 read these magazines, and what they are being exposed to is often horrific and entirely inappropriate.

'The very blatantly sexual ethos expressed in them is becoming normalised among young girls. Then we wonder why we have such high teenage pregnancy rates and a booming ladette culture.

'The regulatory body is clearly a toothless watchdog. Magazines are blatantly flouting the guidelines, which need to be tightened up and have a real force of law behind them, with a watchdog that is independent of the industry.'

Dr Fleur Fisher, the chairman of TMAP, said: 'The magazines should be cross-checking their features with our guidelines, and if they are not, then that is where we come in. Any complaints we receive from readers are carefully checked against our guidelines, and we respond accordingly. Many of the features within these magazines are written in response to queries they receive from their readers [Sunday Telegraph]


Monday, March 16, 2009

Scottish Executive conceals official report on homosexual adoption


From LifeSiteNews: The government of Scotland plans to allow homosexual partners to foster children, but will not make public a report on the practise of allowing them to adopt children. Homosexual adoption was legalised in 2006.

The Christian Institute reports that although Scottish ministers launched an investigation last month into the results of the homosexual adoption law, the government will not release the report, saying it is only intended for use 'in house.'

The Christian Institute's Mike Judge said, 'We all deserve to know the outcome and the fact it is not being published will raise concern that ministers know their findings may alarm the public.'

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Catholic archbishop of Edinburgh, has issued a statement asking ministers not to extend fostering to homosexuals, but instead to encourage couples in natural marriages to foster children. The government's proposal to extend the right to foster to same-sex partners is 'as misguided and inappropriate as the previous change to allow same sex adoption' he said. The cardinal's statement cited a government consultation in 2006 that found that 80 percent of respondents were opposed to the change.

'I urge the Scottish Government not to jeopardise the welfare of children who need foster care in a similar way,' Cardinal O'Brien said.

The bias of British officials in favour of homosexuals in adoption and fostering was revealed in 2007 after two homosexual men were sentenced to five years in prison for sexually abusing the boys placed in their care. After Ian Wathey, 41, and Craig Faunch, 32, were convicted of sexually molesting 4 foster boys, the council officials who had placed the boys admitted that there had been reservations, but the two men were regarded as 'trophy carers' because of their status as homosexuals.

An independent panel was told by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council officials that 'the fear of being discriminatory' led them to 'fail to discriminate between the appropriate and the abusive.' In a period of several years Wathey and Faunch took in a total of 19 boys.

At the same time, however, a series of media reports have revealed that local council authorities in Britain are refusing to allow Christians to adopt or foster needy children, because of their traditional views on moral matters.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day of Prayer & Fasting for Life

Action: please participate in this.

From the Good Counsel Network:

Tuesday 24th March 2009, Vigil of the the Annunciation

Please pray and fast for the end of abortion and euthanasia.

For information on the day of Prayer and Fasting contact The Good Counsel Network.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tax payers fund abortion


From CFNews: n Parliament : 'David Amess (Southend West, Conservative) 'To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what payments his Department has made to (a) Marie Stopes International, (b) the International Planned Parenthood Federation, (c) the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, (d) the United Nations Population Fund and (e) the Family Planning Association (UK) for (i) abortion, (ii) family planning and (iii) other reproductive health services in the last year; what the total of grants made to each organisation in that year was; how much he plans to give to each in each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement.

Ivan Lewis (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development; Bury South, Labour) 'Details of DFID's 2008-09 spending are not yet available but will be published in our 2009 annual report in July. DFID contributions to the listed organisations in the 2007-08 financial year are as follows;

* Marie Stopes International (MSI) (funding for three projects): £220,000

* International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF): £9.55 million (£7.5 million core contribution and £2,050 Safe Abortion Action Fund)

* United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): £34.9 million (£20 million core contribution, £14.9 million in funding for projects at a country level)

* British Pregnancy Advisory Service: 0

* Family Planning Association: 0

'UNFPA has the global mandate to assist countries deliver better sexual and reproductive health and rights including voluntary family planning services, gender equality, and to better understand population dynamics including growth, ageing, fertility and mortality. Comprehensive family planning includes the provision of reproductive health services and the provision of services to prevent unsafe abortion. It is therefore not possible to disaggregate these figures.

'DFID will provide £8.6 million per annum to IPPF over the next three years. DFID will also provide up to £89.5 million in un-earmarked core funding to UNFPA between 2008 and 2011. We will also provide £100 million between 2008-09 to 2012-13 to support UNFPA's Global Programme for Reproductive Health Commodity Security (GPRHCS).

'It is not possible to provide similar figures for MSI. This is because DFID has a number of funding channels for country programmes including budgetary support for health systems, direct government budgetary support and multilateral funding which may have as a sub-component the provision of family planning commodities and services contracted to MSI'.


Friday, March 13, 2009

UK Life League jumps on gore bandwagon

Comment: not for the first time, the fringe pro-life organisation UK Life League has attempted to associate itself with the half-witted stunts of the campaigner Ted Atkinson, despite the fact that Atkinson has nothing to do with their organisation.

They are not deterred by the fact that Atkinson's latest exploit is so idiotic as to be completely incomprehensible. Not content with bringing the pro-life movement into disrepute by sending gory pictures of dead babies to hospital staff, he is now sending them to a bed manufacturer. The man has lost his marbles.

The UK Life League however wants a share of his publicity, and who are we to gainsay them? Yes, we can all acknowledge the the UK Life League, which periodically attempts to garner donations from Catholics through full-page adverts in the Catholic press, sometimes under the name 'Pro-Life Care',* though it is in no sense a Catholic organisation, are just as mad as Atkinson, and just as dangerous to the pro-life cause. Their perpetually half-finished website (to which we will NOT link) is decorated by the same images of dead babies that Atkinson so likes.

Why do the UKLL think that pictures of dead babies will help the pro-life cause? Gory pictures of animals in labs have done nothing to convert the country to the anti-vivisection cause; horrible pictures of starving Africans have done nothing to make people consistent donors to development charities; gut-wrenching pictures of warfare have failed to make us all pacificists. These picutures all pack the same emotional punch, but ultimately they DON'T WORK. Instead, they put people off both the cause and the people who promote it.

As Joanna Jepson wrote, 'abortion is wrong not because of what it looks like, but because of what it does.'

From Life Site News (via CFNews): Pro-life campaigner Edward (Ted) Atkinson was sentenced to jail for 12 weeks last Wednesday after he sent graphic images of aborted and disfigured babies to a bed company in Wales, Lynn News has reported.

This is not the first time that Atkinson has been criminally charged for sending such materials through the mail. On 4th May 2006 he was convicted at Swaffham Magistrates Court, Norfolk under the 'Malicious Communications Act' for sending pro-life material through the post to Mrs. Ruth May, Chief Executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn.

Atkinson was also handed an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) that forbade him from ever again sending out graphic pro-life materials.

On 12th December 2007, he was again arrested for the crime of sending pro-life material through the post. This time, he was charged with both breaching his ASBO and violating the Malicious Communications Act.

Judges in Lynn Magistrates' Court heard that Mr. Atkinson had sent pictures of aborted children, with a sticker containing the words 'abortion is murder' and a warning message which stated 'graphic material for mature adults,' to the Adjustomatic bed company along with some other paperwork. It is unclear why Atkinson chose to send the materials to that particular company.

The court was told that the disturbing images left a manager and secretary with 'severe anxiety and distress.'

Mr. Atkinson admitted that by sending the material to the company he was in breach of the ASBO. However, he told investigating police that he believed the ASBO had no binding force, since no-one can be prohibited from exposing mass murder.

Michael Phillips, the lawyer representing Atkinson, told Lynn News, 'Legally he is guilty of this offence but he does not feel morally guilty.'

The UK pro-life action group LifeLeague praised Mr. Atkinson's actions in standing up for the lives of the unborn.

'We are honoured to stand with Ted in this his latest crusade for the unborn child. He is one of our finest heroes in the fight to end abortion. His fearless dedication should serve as an inspiration to us all,' a LifeLeague spokesman said in statement. [LSN]

*Here's a funny thing. In the Catholic Herald (6/4/04), on page 2 ('A Note about our Advertisements') editor Luke Coppen 'commended' to his readers 'the advert on page seven UK Life League'. Why he should do such a thing is a mystery; was it just because full page adverts are expensive? Well, readers who turned to page 7 saw not an advert for the UKLL at all, but one for Pro-Life Care. An embarassing slip by Coppen not realising that the UKLL wanted to milk his readers for money they might hesistate to give to them if they knew who they really were.


Abortion statistics


From CFNews:
The number of conceptions to girls aged under 15, 15 and 16, by Government Office Region (GOR), 2007 (Provisional}

Region   :   Conceptions   :   Abortions   :        Births
England and Wales 2,278 1,481 797
North East 163 105 58
North West 321 210 111
Yorkshire and the Humber 276 174 102
East Midlands 181 117 64
West Midlands 236 153 59
London 327 223 104
South East 277 191 86
South West 189 115 74
Wales 124 68 56

Age 15

England and Wales 5,918 3,552 2,366
North East 368 201 167
North West 877 526 351
Yorkshire and the Humber 692 400 292
East Midlands 473 260 213
West Midlands 727 435 292
East 466 275 191
London 745 522 223
South East 747 467 280
South West 466 279 187
Wales 357 187 170

Age 16

England and Wales 13,554 6,858 6,696
North East 814 341 473
North West 2,043 1,027 1,016
Yorkshire and the Humber 1,509 694 815
East Midlands 1,101 512 589
West Midlands 1,609 770 839
East 1,164 602 562
London 1,803 1,158 645
South East 1,607 843 764
South West 1,126 578 548
Wales 778 333 445

[Parliamentary written answers]


"Catholic mom of 10" is back!

She's got a new blog, and we wish her all the best!

Jackie is just in time to report on the appalling 'celebration of Mohamed's birthday' in a Catholic university chapel on her doorstep in Birmingham.

See what happens when you stop blogging, Jackie?



Another attack on marriage


From Christian Concern for our Nation: Potential Cohabitation Law Reform: An Attack on Marriage

There is a second reading of Lord Lester’s Private Member’s Bill on cohabitation on Friday 13th of March in the House of Lords. The proposals in the Bill would allow the court to make the same type of financial orders as on divorce where a couple (of the same or opposite sex who are not married or in a civil partnership) have been living together for two years or more, or have a child together. The practical effect of the change would be to remove the distinction between marriage and cohabiting relationships on relationship breakdown.

The Parliamentary page including the text of the Cohabitation Bill can be found here.

This is a Private Member’s Bill, not a Government one. However, in the past Lord
Lester produced a Private Members Bill which was a forerunner to the Government’s own Civil Partnership Act 2004, so we need to seriously take account of the potential influence this Bill may have to undermine marriage. Private Member’s Bills can on infrequent occasions become law.

The background to this Bill is a Law Commission report published in July 2007 on
the financial consequences of cohabitation, which recommended a change in the
law to introduce a limited regime of financial “compensation” for former
cohabitees on relationship breakdown. Details of the Law Commission report and
executive summary can be found here.

In March 2008, the Government interim response to the Law Commission report was to take no further action and await the outcome of research, as shown here. Ministers were reported to want to consider the cost implications.

Lord Lester’s Bill is much more wide ranging than the Law Commission recommendations. It will introduce a new law similar to our current divorce law for all cohabiting couples. It will apply to any cohabiting couple who has lived together for two years or has had a child even if they do not live together. The two years do not even have to be fully continuous and can compromise several separate periods as long as the gaps do not add up to more than six months.

Although the basis upon which orders under the proposed new law are made will be
at variance from current divorce law (for example, there will be a presumption
that the couple will be financially self-supporting with maintenance claims
generally limited to a period of 3 years, and claims will be limited to
“reasonable needs”), the effect in practice will be to remove the distinction
between marriage and cohabiting relationships on relationship breakdown.
However, there is provision for couples to “opt-out” of the obligations the new
law would impose, by entering into a written agreement after the receipt of
independent legal advice by each party.

Response At first blush, the proposals in this Bill may seem attractive in that
they will encourage parties to take responsibility for the consequences of
informal relationships. However the inherent instability of cohabiting
relationships, which are commitment vulnerable, is of great concern because of
the impact of family breakdown, in particular on the children. Statistics show
that only 35 per cent of children born into cohabiting unions will live with
both parents throughout their childhood (to their 16th birthday), compared with
70 per cent of children born within marriage. Millennium Cohort Study data on
15,000 mothers shows that during the first three years of a child’s life, the
risk of family breakdown faced by those who describe themselves as
‘cohabiting’, is 3.5 times greater than that faced by married parents. The
impact on children of family breakdown is of course well-documented. Any legal
change which lowers the status of marriage and makes relationships that are not
characterised by commitment more attractive to people at the expense of
marriage is therefore unwelcome, and likely to be detrimental.

Please pray for the protection of marriage as a stabling foundation of our
nation, and for life-long commitment to bring up children in a secure and
stable family environment. The best way for parents to take responsibility for
their children and one another is to get married.

Please also pray against any legal change that will ultimately undermine this

Where possible, and particularly if you are in communication with Members of the
House of Lords contact them to register your concern about this Bill, the
underlying philosophy which undermines marriage, and which is in practice
likely to lead to the encouragement of informal relationships that are not
characterised by commitment.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Islamic students have talk on Mohamed in Catholic chapel

Action: people in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, especially, should complain to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who has already defended the event, which took place in a supposedly Catholic university, Newman College University, in Birmingham.

Here's his press release: In a statement issued today, Thursday 12 March, Peter Jennings, Press Secretary to the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, and the Archdiocese of Birmingham, said: "The chapel at Newman University College, Birmingham, was properly prepared for this event which consisted of two talks and a discussion of an interfaith nature."

Mr Jennings added: "Christian/Muslin dialogue is an important part of the Catholic Church's agenda. College authorities were fully aware of what was taking place."

But Catholic chapels are not intended for use as venues where Islam can be promoted. The talks were described in an email promoting the event as celebrating Mohamed's birthday. They were organised by the Islamic Society of the University, with the approval, we assume, of the feral nun who has the title of 'Chaplain' there (contrary to canon law).

H-T to Holy Smoke: see the original post and the response to Archbishop Nichols' statement.

You can e-mail Peter Jennings, the Archbishop's spokesman, here: imc@peterjennings.co.uk

Or write to here:
Archbishop’s House
8 Shadwell Street
B4 6EY


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Papal letter on the SSPX excommunications

Update: official version available here. (H-t Cathcon)

Comment: the Pope is sending a letter about his lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops to the bishops of the world. A leaked copy is available in German. It has been translated by Cathcon and by the NLM. In it the Holy Father acknowledges the doctrinal issues which are obstacles to the SSPX's reconciliation, but defends his overtures to them, against those whose idea of Christian charity includes hatred for groups who harbour opinions different from their own.

Here's an interesting passage from the Cathcon version:

But some of those who take themselves as great defenders of the Vatican Council, must also remembered that the Second Vatican Council is located in the teaching history of the whole of the church. Whoever wants to be obedient to it, must have the faith of the centuries and may not accept the cutting of the roots from which the tree lives.
Can we be totally indifferent to a community in which there are 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 Seminars, 88 schools, 2 university institutes, 117 brothers and 164 sisters? Should we really be happy to let them be driven from the Church?

I am thinking, for example, of the 491 priests. The fabric of their motivations, we cannot know. But I think that they would not have decided for the priesthood, if they could not show the love of Christ to some of the flock have the will to proclaim the living God. Should we simply turn them away as representatives of a fringe group when seeking reconciliation and unity? What would then happen?


Another dissident conference at Roehampton

Briefing: bringing together a remarkable collection of dissident groups, Tina Beattie, the well-known dissident feminist, is organising a symposium on AIDS at Digby Stuart College, Roehampton. This is where the dissident Catholic homosexual group, Quest, held its conference last year. Digby Stuart was founded as a Catholic college and still has a Catholic chapel.

It is not surprising that the dissent on the 'response to AIDS' fomented by CAFOD and Progressio should find an echo with the dissident homosexual groups such as the RCCLGM Quest, and their supporters at Marriage Care. All these groups will no doubt be represented at this delightful symposium, where they will sit at the feet of an American feminist nun, Margaret Farley.

Farley is giving a talk to the RCCLGCM (see here). Terry Prendergast is giving that paper a reply, perhaps in preparation for addressing the conference of the UK's other dissident Catholic gay group, Quest. Prendergast is head of Marriage Care, the formerly Catholic marriage guidance service which now counsels homosexuals whose relationships may be in difficulties, and peddles sex education materials: see our dossier on them.

From an email: HIV/AIDS - meeting the challenge, exploring the questions

Sister Margaret Farley, Professor of Christian Ethics at Yale University and active in Sister to Sister, a project working with African women religious on HIV issues, is visiting London to give the 5th Alan Bray Memorial Lecture, Sacrament of Desire, on Saturday, 18th April (see

Professor Farley has agreed to take part in a one day symposium at Digby Stuart College, Roehampton University, on Monday, 20th April, which will bring together moral theologians, representatives of NGOs and religious orders and others working in the area of HIV/AIDS, to explore our different perspectives and to ask how we can maintain a dialogue which enables us to address the questions and challenges we face.

We should be delighted if you or a representative of your organisation would join us for this event. The venue will be Digby Stuart College, Roehampton University in south west
London(http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/about/location/directions/index.asp), and we plan to start at 10.30 am and to finish by 4.30 pm. We are also able to offer a limited amount of accommodation for anybody who would like to come to London for the Alan Bray lecture and to stay over for the Monday event.

I'd be very grateful if you would let me know as soon as possible if you are able to attend. We can meet expenses (within reason!), but for budgeting purposes it would be helpful to know, if you plan to attend: (a) your estimated travel costs, and (b) whether or not you will need
accommodation and, if so, for how many nights.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes,
Tina Beattie


EU 'anti-discrimination' threat


From the Christian Institute. New Proposed European Anti –Discrimination Directive –A Threat to Religious Liberty in the UK and Across Europe.

There is a new proposed European Directive which is rapidly in the process of going through the various stages of the European Parliament. This proposed Anti-Discrimination Directive prohibits discrimination and harassment on the grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief for:

social protection (including social security and healthcare); social advantages; education (but not the content of teaching) ; access to and the supply of goods and other services which are available to the public, including housing (applying to individuals only insofar as they are performing a professional or commercial activity).

Seeking to prohibit discrimination on grounds of disability and age is not contentious. However, it is of concern that the proposed directive includes sexual orientation and religion or belief.

Lessons from the EU’s Employment Discrimination Directive It might be thought that the Directive would enhance religious liberty. However, the implementation of the 2000 Employment Discrimination Directive has given cause for concern. As a result of the Directive, a Bishop of the Anglican Church was successfully sued by a homosexual after not being given a position as a youth minister. A British Christian charity was successfully sued for refusing to promote an atheist support worker.

Removal of Rights of Conscience The new Directive could remove rights of
conscience for those whose religious beliefs prevent them endorsing certain
homosexual and religious practices. A Christian architect should not be
required to design a mosque. A Christian publication should not be required to
advertise material promoting homosexual activity.

We are concerned that the Directive could remove Christianity from public
services. An atheist patient should not be able to sue a hospital because there
is a Bible in the bedside locker. Local councils and schools should not be
intimidated into cancelling Christmas carol services.

Promotion of Homosexuality In the UK similar legislation has been widely
interpreted as requiring the homosexual lifestyle to be promoted by public
services. Adoption agencies, with public funding, which do not believe in
placing children with same sex couples, have had to close. Foster parents have
been removed from council registers because they are not willing to promote
homosexuality to their children. Only the threat of legal action has led to
their reinstatement.

It is of concern that the Directive could remove Christianity from public
services. An atheist patient should not be able to sue a hospital because there
is a Bible in the bedside locker. Local councils and schools should not be
intimidated into cancelling Christmas carol services.

Harassment It is of deep concern what the harassment laws could do to free
speech. Unlike criminal harassment the EU law will have a very low threshold
and therefore be easy to prove. The mere explanation of the relevant religious
belief to a homosexual or a Christian communication on your religious beliefs
to those of another faith may be interpreted as amounting to harassment.
Harassment is from the subjective perspective of the person alleging the

The loose wording of the new EU harassment law leaves huge scope for bogus and
trivial complaints which will limit freedom of speech and religious liberty.

The sexual orientation regulations in England and Wales did not include
harassment. The High Court in Northern Ireland struck out the harassment
provisions for parallel sexual orientation regulations.

As a result of a UK Government consultation response to a forthcoming Equality
Bill, with around 4,000 responses from a wide range of stake-holders, the
Government decided not to extend protection against harassment outside work, on
the grounds of sexual orientation or religion or belief, because they did not
see evidence of a real problem.

Exemptions Article 3 of the draft Directive contains exemptions for religious
schools and churches and other organisations based on religion or belief.
However, it is not clear whether the exemption for religious organisations is
aimed only at protecting existing laws that guarantee religious freedom, or
whether it allows Member States to introduce new protections when implementing
the Directive. The definition of religious organisations protected by the
exemptions is also unclear.

Where church-based groups hire facilities to enable them to run social
activities, the religious exemptions will not protect them.

Where religious organisations provide welfare and care, a potential claim for
discrimination could be made against the organisation for refusing to condone
same sex activities e.g. refusing a double room in a Christian care home to a
same-sex couple.

Balance of Rights The proposed Directive has profound implications for the
fundamental rights of European citizens to freedom of religion. The Directive
and the accompanying documents do not appear to have properly considered the
need to have mechanisms to balance conflicting fundamental rights with each
other and without doing so, it may create at the very least indirect
discrimination against religious believers. In our opinion, the absence of the
word “morals”, found in Articles 8(2), 9(2), 10(2) and 11(2) of the European
Convention on Human Convention of Human Rights, from the balancing recital in
the Directive is symbolic of the changes being made.

It is essential that religious beliefs and the rights of the homosexual
community are properly balanced otherwise well-meaning Directives such as the
proposed Directive will themselves become instruments of discrimination or
oppression. There are many unanswered questions as to the compatibility of the
proposed Directive for religious organisations and individuals with the ECHR,
the EU Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and the Declaration on Elimination
of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,
UN Resolution 36/55. The religious freedom of its citizens is the hallmark of a
democratic society and a core value for modern human rights law.

Including Fundamental Rights within Article 3 An explanation of the Directive
has stated that the prohibition of discrimination should go hand in hand with
other fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of religion. Yet these
fundamental rights are only in a Recital not in the Articles, which are the
main part of the Directive. A recent European case ruling on the principle of
equality overruled Recital 22 of the Employment Directive and it is of concern
that this may create a future precedent for overruling Recitals in other
directives. [See Case C-267/06 Tadao Maruko v Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen
Bühnen at:

There are many different European Parliamentary Committees considering this
proposed Directive, but the main one is the Libe Committee. The current
proposed Directive can be found at the following link (from page 13):

Amendments and Approximate Timetable There have been many proposed amendments
put forward by the various Committees and individual MEPs to this proposed
Directive. These many amendments will be considered by the Libe Committee on
the 17th February 2009 and voted upon. European Parliamentary parties may then
put down further amendments but not individual MEPs. MEPs are expected to vote
on the Directive in the European Parliament plenary session on the 23 March
2009 (indicative date). After that time the Directive will then be considered
by the Council of Ministers (possibly in April 2009 but there is no indicative
date yet) and unless there is a nation veto, the Directive will then become an
official European Directive by being entered into the official journal.

We do not know what the final Directive will say. However there are a number of
amendments already proposed from a Committee which may make the Directive even
worse. This includes an amendment to even remove the fundamental rights and
freedoms from a Recital, where this shows the importance of respecting such
rights while prohibiting discrimination. There are also proposed amendments to
destroy any special status nations may accord to marriage. Stating that where
types of relationship, other than marriage are recognised as equivalent to
marriage under national law, the principle of equal treatment should apply.
Discrimination is about the need to protect fundamental rights not to promote
or create a hierarchy of rights and religious freedom is a core human right
which should not be trampled upon.

Multiple Discrimination It is of concern that there are amendments which seek to
extend the prohibition of discrimination to multiple discrimination. Seeking to
introduce multiple discrimination on the grounds of age and disability is not
contentious. The easiest non-contentious example of a multiple discrimination
case is of a black woman with the potential of alleging multiple discrimination
on the combination of race and sex. But what about the comparison between a
young white male Christian (religion only) and a black disabled elderly lesbian
of a different religion or belief (religion or belief, race, disability, age,
sex and sexual orientation equals 6 unbalancing multiple discrimination
potential equality factors).

This illustrates how the introduction of multiple discrimination between
religions and between religion and sexual orientation is so complex, highly
unadvisable and requires careful consideration. Multiple Discrimination is a
concept which lacks legal clarity and instead of a positive approach to life
may serve simply to generate an aggressive, unhealthy, detrimental multiple
victim mentality. It upsets the delicate balance of rights which are already
complex enough when there are only two conflicting fundamental rights being
considered. It could very easily result in the application of unreasonable and
circumstantially irrelevant weightings which result in both a hierarchy and
unfair balancing of fundamental rights, which instead of protecting rights
becomes of itself oppressive.

There have already been numerous examples of how existing equality and diversity
laws in the UK have led to the infringement of religious liberty. For example,
see the cases described on the Christian Legal Centre Website.

Let us pray to God for a miracle as Christian European Citizens of all European
nations contact their MEPs and Nations overwhelmingly reject this new Proposed
Anti-Discrimination European Directive and restore the original proposal to
remove both sexual orientation and religion or belief from the Directive.

What happens in Europe is important as Directives are European legal obligations
for all European countries. Please prayerfully consider writing to your MEP in
your own words, using the material in this paper to help you.

MEP link for UK


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