Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama billboards

This is pretty cool, as they say over there.

H-T Catholic Fire.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Embryos for body parts


From the Daily Mail (in part): Couples could be allowed to store embryos in order to use them to create new body parts or cure diseases.

Government legal and ethical experts are to discuss whether families can ‘bank’ embryos not just for procreation but also for use by doctors to create personalised treatments for parents and their children.

Now, embryos – the first stage of life after an egg has been successfully fertilised – can be stored for up to five years but only for procreation.

But a huge ethical debate is set to erupt as the Government’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), moves closer to endorsing new developments in medical science.

It will debate whether embryos could be stored to harvest important stem cells that have the ability to turn into any tissue type in the body.

See the full story


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wynne-Jones on media portrayal of Christianity

Breifing. Mark Thompson, who famously said that Christianity should be treated with less respect than other religions, is a practicing Catholic. Much good may it do him.

From CFNews: Frequent television portrayals of Christians as absurd make it more difficult for believers to defend themselves, a national journalist has said.

Recent storylines in a number of soaps have sent the clear message that 'Christians are nutters', the Daily Telegraph's religion correspondent, Jonathan Wynne-Jones, wrote last week on his blog.

Christians should expect robust criticism, Mr Wynne-Jones said, but as faith is made to look more ridiculous 'the line between ridicule and persecution becomes even thinner'.

Mr Wynne-Jones wrote on his blog: 'Some would argue that Christianity has been undermined for some time on television.'

He continues: 'Even some of the BBC's religious documentaries have tended to challenge traditional beliefs, from claiming Mary was raped by a Roman soldier to arguing that Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus was caused by an epileptic fit.'

Earlier this week it emerged that dozens of viewers complained to the television regulator after an Easter Sunday episode of Coronation Street featured a string of outbursts against Christianity.

The character Ken Barlow described the Christian faith as a 'superstition', accusing churches of targeting 'vulnerable people' and 'indoctrinating' his grandson.

Mr Wynne-Jones also referred to Hollyoaks, a soap hugely popular with teenagers, where the 'Christian' in the show claims to have found an image of Jesus in a potato.

'Outspoken criticism of Christian beliefs should be expected, but the stealthy attempts to make believers look absurd is much more damaging,' Mr Wynne-Jones said.

'Once faith has been made to look ridiculous, the attempts of believers to rebut the criticism will be met with deaf ears. And then the line between ridicule and persecution becomes even thinner.'

It emerged earlier this month that the producers of Coronation Street are planning to portray a 'born-again Christian' character embarking on a lesbian affair in a bid to make the soap more reflective of modern Britain.

The BBC received 150 complaints about an episode of Eastenders shown in October last year, in which 'Christian' character Dot Cotton was made to look old fashioned and ridiculous in her beliefs on homosexuality.

She was shown getting to grips with an mp3 player before coming across two men kissing on a park bench and asking them to stop. The two male characters sniggered at her efforts to engage with modern technology.

Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, admitted last year that he believes Christianity should be treated with less sensitivity in television programmes than other religions. [Christian Institute]


Monday, April 27, 2009

Atheists evangelise children

Weirder and weirder.

From CFNews: The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) plans to launch a recruitment drive this summer. Backed by professors Richard Dawkins and AC Grayling, the initiative aims to establish a network of atheist societies in schools to counter the role of Christianity.

It will coincide with the first atheist summer camp for children that will teach that religious belief and doctrines can prevent ethical and moral behaviour.

The federation aims to encourage students to lobby their schools and local authorities over what is taught in RE lessons and to call for daily acts of collective worship to be scrapped. It wants the societies to hold talks and educational events to persuade students not to believe in God.

Chloë Clifford-Frith, AHS co-founder, said that the societies would act as a direct challenge to the Christian message being taught in schools. She expressed concern that Christian Unions could influence vulnerable teenagers looking for a club to belong to with fundamentalist doctrine. In particular, she claimed that some students were being told that homosexuality is a sin and to believe the Biblical account of creation.

'We want to point out how silly some of these beliefs are and hope that these groups will help to do that,' she said.

The federation's bid to improve co-ordination among atheists in schools follows a successful campaign at universities.

The number of groups reported by the AHS to be active on campuses has risen from seven in 2007/2008 academic year to 25 in 2008/2009, including societies at the universities of Oxford and Durham.

Leeds Atheist Society claims to have experienced discrimination, vandalism, theft and death threats from religious groups on campus, who oppose the open expression of an atheist viewpoint and blasphemy.

AC Grayling, the philosopher and writer, said: 'As well as making the case for reason and science, it is great to know that the AHS will be standing up against religious privilege and discrimination. The AHS shows that increasing numbers of young people are unwilling to put up with it.'

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: 'Atheists are becoming increasingly militant in their desperate attempts to stamp out faith. It is deeply worrying that they now want to use children to attack the Christian ethos of their schools. Many parents will also be anxious at the thought of militant atheists targeting their children.'

In a further development to strengthen the role of atheism among the younger generation, the first summer camp for irreligious children or the children of nontheistic parents is being held this summer. Organisers say that Camp Quest, which originated in America, offers 'a godless alternative to traditional religious summer camps, such as vacation Bible schools'. [Telegraph]


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Teacher suspended for resisting homosexual indocrination


From CFNews: In the UK, a Christian teacher has been suspended from a senior post for complaining that a staff training day was used to promote homosexual rights.

Kwabena Peat, 54, left a compulsory training session with several other Christian colleagues at the north London school after the speaker, Sue Sanders, invited by the School headteacher, openly questioned why people thought heterosexuality was natural.

Mr Peat says that Ms Sanders, who openly describes herself as a lesbian, told him and his colleagues that those who did not accept that being homosexual was 'normal' had 'issues' they must deal with.

He said: 'I expected the training session to help us by providing good information on how to handle bullying but she had another agenda. She started promoting homosexual lifestyles and suggesting those who had objections should sort out their prejudices. She clearly asked us 'what makes you all think that to be heterosexual is natural?''.

Mr Peat, who is a year-head on a £50,000 salary, and other staff were deeply upset that teaching staff, and others, who disagreed out of Christian conviction were given no opportunity to respond. It would seem that at the school only one position was acceptable, denying free speech and respecting staff's human rights, in a training establishment which is intended to encourage students to think for themselves and claims to respect every individual's moral convictions.

Following the training day Mr Peat wrote privately to three staff members involved in organising the session, including a deputy head, complaining about Ms Sanders aggressive' presentation. Sue Sanders is the co-founder of the Schools Out organisation which campaigns for homosexual equality in education and last month attended a Downing Street reception hosted by Gordon Brown to mark Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender History Month. She was paid £850 for conducting training in the school.

The three staff complained to the school's principal, claiming, although they were senior to Mr Peat, they felt 'harassed and intimidated' by the letter. Following an investigation, Mr Peat was suspended and placed on paid leave pending outcome of disciplinary investigations hearings. He is now being supported by the Christian Legal Centre who have instructed the leading Human Right's Barrister, Paul Diamond, to represent him.

Mr Peat, who has spent most of his teaching life working in inner city London Schools and is a father of three children said: 'I'm not surprised by all this, but I am disappointed. I'm the one being harassed and intimidated - for expressing my religious views. As an experienced professional I am very supportive of 'equality and diversity' programmes and have always got on well with colleagues who are well aware of my Christian beliefs.'

Mr Peat has been suspended since January after the training day and has not been allowed to return to work.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of the Christian Legal Centre said: 'Mr Peat is being discriminated against for expressing his Christian faith. A legitimate orthodox Christian view as expressed by Mr Peat, however disagreeable others may find it, should not be construed as harassment or discrimination. If this is allowed to continue it will be state censorship leading to the infringement of a person's right to freedom of religion and speech.' [CLC]


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Newman: the Telegraph jumps the gun


From an email: Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, said in a statement today, Friday 24 April 2009: "We have received no official notification from the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome concerning Cardinal Newman's Cause. As far as we are aware, the investigations into the presumed miraculous cure are still underway."

Fr Chavasse added: "With respect to the article 'Cardinal John Newman poised for beatification after ruling', by Simon Caldwell, (, website of the Telegraph Media Group), it seriously misrepresents the procedures followed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints."


Catholic school to be piloted for MAP by text

Local messages of support would be welcome. Nb Bishop Kenny is NOT the 'bishop of Birmingham': as everyone except the Telegraph subeditors know, Vincent Nichols is the Archbishop if Birmingham. Bishop Kenney in an auxiliary. His contact details are below.

From the Daily Telegraph (see here for the full story): Under the scheme pupils at six schools in Oxfordshire – including one Catholic secondary – would be able to access contraceptive advice and contraception, including the controversial 'emergency' pill.

William Kenney, the Bishop of Birmingham, who performs mass at St Gregory the Great Catholic School in Oxford once a year, has criticised the scheme, which is likely to be piloted in July.

The bishop said: "It goes against the very central idea the Catholic church has on human life. It is sending out the message that it was better to deal with the aftermath of what people do, rather than the causes. I don't think this will help solve the teenage pregnancy rate and is taking away responsibility from parents."

Leaders of St Gregory's and the five other schools are to been denied any say in stopping their pupils from being offered the service by Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust and the Oxfordshire County Council. The two authorities have said that, because the service will be offered outside school hours, it will "fall outside the governance of schools".

Right Reverend William Kenney CP, Titular Bishop of Midica
Born: 7 May 1946
Ordained Priest: 29 June 1969
Ordained Bishop: 24 August 1987 (Auxiliary Bishop of Stockholm)
Transferred to Birmingham: 17 October 2006

St Hugh's House
27 Hensington Road
Tel & Fax: 01993 812234


Friday, April 24, 2009

Bread-worship in Cumbria

Update: The Tablet has issued a 'clarification': 'We wish to make it clear that the events described in the letter "An Act of Memory" (11 April) did not occur in the parish of Our lady of the Wayside, Grasmere, Cumbria.'

Well, did they happen anywhere else? And why was the letter published?

Update (13/04/09): see comments: the letter may be a hoax. That would indeed be bizarre.

Local action, please (12/04/09). No doubt this will come to the attention of Bishop Patrick O'Donaghue of Lancaster, which includes Cumbria, but Catholics of his diocese should express their concern. Email him:

St Jean Viannay said that if a parish lacked a priest for 20 years, people would start worshiping animals. In Cumbria, they have done better. Lacking a priest, they have started worshiping bread.

It is not entirely clear what sacramental theology the writer of this letter has; no doubt it is very confused. At one point she seems to have a magical attitude: if you copy the priest's actions, or some of them, the trick will be done. But the underlying attitude is that you can have 'Holy Communion' without an ordained priest, by the exercise, no doubt, of the 'priesthood of the laity'. Why stop there? If you don't need a priest, why do you need a valid Eucharistic Prayer, valid matter (the hosts), or indeed any reference to Jesus Christ? At the moment all these things evoke certain 'feelings' in this congregation, but these will wear off in time.

This is an excellent illustration of the Holy Father's warning that the steps taken to deal with the shortage of priests are undermining the priesthood and leading to further falls in vocations. Leaving aside the appalling sacrilege and idolatry being committed in this Catholic church in Cumbria, this kind of thing is an attack on the very nature of the priesthood. It follows naturally from the institution of lay-led eucharistic services, and these really must stop.

Letter in The Tablet, 11/04/09: Just before our 10 a.m. Sunday Mass, John, one of our eucharistic ministers, explained that our priest had phoned to say that he had trouble with his car and would not be able to get to us. The priest had asked that John lead us in a Liturgy of the Word and then distribute Holy Communion from the tabernacle. Veronica, our other eucharistic minister, then came forward to say that she had taken Holy Communion to the housebound parishioners on Saturday and she thought that there was only one small consecrated host left in the tabernacle.

We had a brief discussion about what we could do. One gentleman said we should just listen to the readings and then go home. A lady suggested we place the one consecrated host on the altar and have a short period of exposition. Another gentleman suggested that we say the rosary. And then a lady spoke up and said “Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me’.” We asked her what she had in mind and she explained. And so we listened to the Sunday readings. The eucharistic ministers placed sufficient altar breads, the chalice with wine and a little water on the altar as we have so often seen done by the priest. Then, in unison, we read the second Eucharistic Prayer. We said the Lord’s Prayer, exchanged the sign of peace and shared in Holy Communion. The ministers cleaned the sacred vessels and we all prayed for God’s blessing on each other before leaving.

We have a midweek Mass on Wednesday – when we look forward to explaining to our priest what we felt able to do.

Michelle Street
Lower Grasmere, Cumbria


So who really does take sex ed seriously?

When I pointed out that 'most' Catholic bloggers, like the Catholic press and the hierarchy, seem to be largely ignoring the sex ed issue, I was rebuked by Mulier Fortis: 'don't antagonise your friends' she tells me.

I recognise the work Mulier Fortis has put into this issue, her courage and persistence; my remark wasn't directed at her. As for the others, I suggest the Catholic bloggers who do care about this needle them until they start taking notice.

Here's Google's top 25 Catholic websites. The ranking seems a little questionable to me but it is mostly blogs and it's a place to start. Looking at the blogs alone:

The Curt Jester: a search for "sex ed" throws up a number of references. There are numerous references as a side-issue and several posts devoted to the subject: on Bishop O'Donaghue, 'Screw Abstinence', Homosexual Progaganda, for example.

The Hermeneutic of Continuity is brilliant on the issue, so is Creative Minority Report.

Jimmy Akin: a search reveals a lot of references, but they seem to be mostly in the comments on his posts. The same seems to be true of 'Inside Catholic' and What Does the Prayer Really Say?. It is interesting that their readers are more concerned about it that the authors.

The Conversation Diary has fewer references, again many of them are in comments, despite acknowledging its importance in a post on 'How I became pro-life'. There are a handful of references on Pro Ecclesia.

So what's my point? The most read Catholic blogs are, I should say, completely orthodox on the issue, but most of them just don't talk about it very much.

Abortion is a big issue for Catholics because children are being killed under our very noses. Sex education should be a big issue too: not only are children being abused under our noses, but unlike abortion (at least until recently), it is happening to Catholic children in Catholic schools.

This last point makes it a hot potato. That makes it all the more important that we don't drop it.

Congratulations to the Catholic blogs who talk about it persistently - we link to a lot of them on the side-bar, including Mulier Fortis; see also Catholic and Loving It. But few of them are among the most widely read blogs.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who is taking Sex Education seriously?


Sex education is systematically depriving an entire generation of children of their sexual 'boundaries': the instinctive sense of what is private, what is appropriate, what is wrong. Read up on the ideology of sex education, and you will find that this is entirely intentional. But if you think that sexual immodesty and impurity, an incapacity for committed relationships, and the destruction of the only environment capable of bringing up healthy and happy children - a stable family - is getting bad now, just wait another twenty years. In twenty years time the brutalised adolescants of today will be in their mid and late 30s: and many of them will still be incapable of forming stable relationships, understanding sexual fidelity, and so on. 

The seriousness of the situation could hardly be exagerated. But where is the outrage? Where is the organised response?

Parents find opposing sex education frightening, for two reasons.

1.  They have been told that if it is not to be done at school, 'sex education' must happen at home. They find the prospect distasteful. They are right to find it distasteful: sex education, of the kind done in schools, the destruction of privacy and sexual boundaries, should not be done at home either: it is totally wrong. What children need from their parents is the answering of spontaneous questions in a way which respects the degree of maturity the child has attained. Parents should not be frightened of that.

2. They are worried that if they withdraw their children from sex ed classes, they and their children will be seen as prudish, eccentric, irresponsible, and worse. This is, unfortunately, true. 

In fact, it understates the problem. Sex ed is not only delivered in 'sex ed' (PHSE/PSE) classes; it is delivered right accross the range of subjects. It is usually impossible, in practice, to withdraw your children from it entirely. Furthermore, the brutalisation of children in the school creates an environment which is not conduceive to children receiving any kind of education, or developing normal relationships and emotional maturity. This problem points, in the end, to homeschooling as the way to protect one's children, and this is something which frightens parents even more.

Home schooling is not, however, as bad as it sounds, as there are groups and resources out there to help those who go down this path. For those who are reluctant, however, we must ask this: if you don't want to home-school, you had better be prepared to fight your corner in your school.

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have decided, in the main, on a policy of appeasement. For the most negligible of concessions they have simply handed the children entrusted to their care over to the sex educators. The man in charge of this policy is Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Chairman of the Catholic Education Service. Now that he has been appointed Archbishop of Westminster, the policy does not seem likely to change any time soon. Even his opposition to the provision of contraception and abortion in Catholic schools has been muted and ineffectual: indeed, the CES officially 'welcomed' the Government's 'Connexions' clinics in Catholic schools.

See Eric Hester on the subject (and here).

The Catholic press, even most Catholic bloggers, are extremely unwilling to tackle the issue. It is the elephant in the room. They don't want to annoy the bishops; they don't want to upset their readers. 

So who is taking the problem of sex ed seriously? Well, if you are worried about it you are not alone. But we need to build a network of mutual support.

There is a petition open calling for a consultation on compulsory sex ed.

There is a newsletter for Catholic homeschoolers, 'Faith in the Home'. Email us and we'll out you in touch.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC): they have a 'Safe at School' campaign on the subject.

John Smeaton, SPUC's National Director, has an excellent blog.

Catholicmomof10journey: the blogger Jackie Parkes.

Mulier Fortis: the blogger Mac McLernon

Here are two newish websites with an interest in the subject:

We'd be very interested to add to this list.

CFNews draws our attention to this American site: Veil of Innocence


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Times hoaxed twice

Comment: a bizarre story. First Ruth Gledhill was suckered into reporting that the Papal Nuncio had been rushed to hospital, leading to the cancellation of his annual reception at Archbishop's House to celebrate the Pope's birthday, last evening.

Now the Times Rome correspondent, Richard Owen, has been taken for a ride over a story saying, completely untruly, that the Pope is planning to give the Prince of Wales a copy of a historical document relating to the divorce between Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon.

The Times has very little credibility left as a reporter of Catholic affairs. One might hope that basic story checking might be resumed after this fiasco. Perhaps that is the hoaxer's point. It will be interesting to see if the Times apologises.

Ruth Gledhill's ferocious attacks on the Pope following the Williamson affair undermine her role as a reporter on a respectable paper as effectively as her sensationalist misreading of an Anglican document about prospects for unity with Rome a couple of years ago. She really ought to get a job more suited to her talents.

H-T to Holy Smoke.


'All that I Am' condemned

Action: Parents must FIND OUT what is being done in their schools in the name of sex ed/PHSE and PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN. This will mean protests, quite possibly withdrawing children from the school. Yes, that might not be pleasant but we have a responsibility for the children God has entrusted to us and nothing can take that responsibility away. Their souls are at stake; so are their parents'.

Here is a critique of 'All that I Am', a programme of sex education developed for CATHOLIC schools for the diocese of the man who is Chairman of the Catholic Education Service, who has now been named the next Archbishop of Westminster: Vincent Nichols.

For heaven's sake, Catholic 'conservatives', stop rhapsodising about Archbishop Nichols and take a look at what he is imposing on our children. Here's the 'All That I Am' website with more information about the course. We've blogged before on this course, here; this includes the relevant documents from the Vatican.

From 'The Faith, The Family, The Future' (see it in full here): This critique mainly relates to the junior school material, though the KS3&4 material has been reviewed and is referred to below although the principles used in this critique can be applied to any sex-ed programme. It was written by several parents who, faced with the introduction of the programme into their schools, studied all the material (rather than just the promotional DVD) with some doctors and a priest.;-

1 It is extremely clear in the teaching of the Catholic Church that the prime educators of children on these matters are parents. There is a lot of evidence that shows that this position is valid and is by far the best way to provide effective values education for children. (BMJ research 19/1/07). Programmes which talk about sex and condoms have either no effect or (according to the literature) make things worse. Children almost always express a preference for their parents to explain these things to them. Outcomes are much more favourable among those for whom their parents are the main sources of information about sexual matters.
2 The proposed school program, as well as the diocesan policy usurps the role of parents by failing to involve them in the process of education. The process merely informs them and does not promote or support the role of parents in delivering this. The proposed school programme is therefore against Catholic teaching.
3 Where parents are not involved in the delivery of the programme, teachers may depart from the material approved and add inappropriate material. We know of a child in year 5 who was told by a school nurse “you don’t need a daddy to have children. For a few hundred pounds you can get a baby by a visit to a laboratory.” (Details of artificial insemination followed.)
With regard to the currently proposed program, “All That I Am”
4 While this program is less visually pornographic than alternatives, we still cannot condone something which is less corrupting.
5 Parts of the program which equate the bits on washing to being rejected because of smell etc to year 5 children are not necessary but also encourages feelings of inadequacy to those who are less than perfect. See DVD.
6 Discussion of periods is appropriate for girls, with their mothers but not in mixed sex classes. Boys should not be troubled with this in Y5. See Teaching Strategies p13
7 Boys and girls should not feel it is appropriate to have open disclosure of these issues and the programme clearly promotes this; this is culturally out of step and is inappropriate behaviour in our society, even for adults. CCC2522
8 “God does not want to hold us back from full self expression” (teachers manual year 6, p38) is an incorrect sentiment. He most certainly does want us to hold back from many ways in which we can express ourselves, primarily those ways which are sinful and which harm others and ourselves.
9 Y5 video and 09.30 has an inappropriate discussion of periods and presentation of female reproductive system in graphic form (needs justifying that this is necessary, or helpfully formative given lack of similar detail to anatomy of other systems at this Key Stage) and naked female form. The showing of naked adult forms and reproductive tracts in class falsely legitimises the sort of pornographic viewing on the Internet to which boys are particularly at risk.
10 In the Yr 5 "handbook" it says that "The onset of physical and emotional changes, such that is experienced in pre-adolescence and puberty, now require children to get information from sources, other than their parents.’’ This anecdotal comment is also often made by government teenage sexual health units with no scientific reference to back it up.
11 Y6;- specific questions as to whom can the child trust can introduce doubts and division into a parental relationship;- a study has shown that if the school introduces sex ed before the parents the children will go to the person who introduced them to the subject. (Who will be there in the future?)
12 Y6 key vocabulary = testicles! Also Ejaculate. We do not agree that this is key vocabulary for understanding human relationships in year 6.
13 We think this is the wrong program for the promotion of values;- How do I take care of myself (Y6 resource sheet 7) in these sheets we find no mention of sin, or values or keeping safe from moral danger etc, respect for others only cleanliness etc. The discussion of positive values like self-control, generosity, purity, good friendships, modesty are lacking.
14 Discussion of “wet dreams” should not be done in groups. Many parents at our schools feel it should be done individually, privately, probably not at year six (and definitely not with girls). (See CCC;2522 Modesty is decency. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.)
15 There is almost nothing in the Y5 and Y6 curricula about marriage, self-control, chastity and stable relationships.
16 This is not a programme that builds on a child’s understanding or natural interest in procreation, the approach recommended by the Vatican's document "Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality" (TMHS). Adults can interpret a child’s interest with their own adult understanding and thus impose on the child information the child had not sought.
17 This programme should be seen as a whole (we have viewed the material up to year 11 with a group of parents and a priest); it is highly sexual, introduces all areas of sex and related matters, to children at different stages of maturity. Discussion in pairs and as groups is a key part of the teaching strategy. The subject matter presented is often beyond the maturity, intellectual and moral formation of the pupils it is aimed at. It is disingenuous to publicly open up sexual behaviour, before the children are ready for it, and before it is approved, even in our society. Contrast this with the way smoking and alcohol are presented.
19 The KS1&2 material must be seen along with the KS3&4 to allow one to be fully concerned about the whole programme. The producers quote an otherwise largely obscure psychologist whose quoted piece was published after the pilot visual material of the programme was made. He states ‘Can we envisage 9 and 10 year old girls mature enough to start their sexual careers?’ J Coleman. Like other such material in the teachers’ notes, this appears twice in the teachers’ notes for KS3 and KS4.
20 There are scientific errors in the KS1&2 materials and also in KS3&4.

Therefore we maintain the God given right of parents to be the prime educators of their children in this matter, and insist that the school withdraw this education from our children, allowing us to take responsibility for this aspect of their education.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Notre Shame

Please sign the petition if you haven't yet. This is a really huge campaign now: they have well over 300,000 signatures, and the support of more than 30 American bishops, including the local bishop.

Notre Dame, the flagship of the US's system of Catholic universities, has invited President Obama to received a honorary law degree and address them at their 'commencement' ceremony. To invite the most pro-abortion President in the history of the country is not a monor faux-pas. Notre Dame is saying that it no longer wants to be associated with Catholic teaching and values.

If so they must cease to call themselves a Catholic university!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Tablet attacks Catholic blogs

Comment: it takes a stunning lack of self-knowledge for The Tablet to accuse others of 'straight poison-pen character assassination without reference to any requirements of accuracy or balance.' (leader, 1/4/09) Wasn't The Tablet being accused of something along these lines, and with good reason, just a few weeks ago?

Only the hauteur of the liberal establishment makes possible the lambasting of a conspiracy among its opponents, one of whose principle characteristics is supposed to be 'paranoia' and conspiracy theories.

It may be news to Catherine Pepinster, whose mixture of denial and paranoia is revealing itself in her leading articles, but most Catholic blogs pay little attention to The Tablet. It comes onto the radar screen only when it takes to poison-pen character assassination.

Naturally, Catholic blogs take up the contrary position to The Tablet much of the time. When The Tablet attacks the Holy Father, we defend him. When it attacks Archbishop Nichols, or Bishop O'Donaghue, or Catholic teachings, we defend them. But don't make yourself feel too important: it's not a conspiracy against The Tablet: we'd be defending these people and things anyway.

But since you raise the question in the week the Bishops are having their annual meeting, who is doing damage to the Catholic cause? And who gets the implicit approval of bishops and parish priests? The Tablet is stocked in churches throughout the land, yet never ceases to undermine the Church, its institutions and its teachings alike.The Bishops would do well to end this anomaly.


Friday, April 17, 2009

The death of the taditional family


From CFNews: Women are more likely to give birth before they turn 25 than get married, according to official statistics that illustrate how British family life has been transformed in a generation. More people are living alone, more children are being raised by single parents and more grown-up children are living with their parents than ever before, according to the Office for National Statistics. One expert said that the in-depth annual study was final confirmation that the nuclear family had become 'a museum piece'.

The wide-ranging report also showed that Britain had become a nation of people who travel longer distances to work, take more foreign holidays and fill their homes with electrical gadgets.

The Social Trends report made clear, however, that the most radical changes had been to child-rearing and marriage.

Its figures showed that 30 per cent of women under 30 had given birth by the age of 25, while 24 per cent had married: the first time that having children had become the first major milestone of adult life, ahead of marriage. This was in sharp contrast to their parents' generation. In 1971 three-quarters of women were married by 25, and half had given birth. The statistics also showed that:

* the number of adults living alone doubled in a generation, from 6 per cent to 12 per cent, because of a combination of death, divorce and marrying at a later age;

* single-parent households nearly tripled from 4 per cent of the total to 11 per cent between 1971 and 2008;

* the percentage of households comprising the traditional nuclear family - a couple with children - fell from 52 per cent to 36 per cent over the same period;

* the number of married couples hit the lowest level, in real terms, since 1895, with 237,000 marriages in England and Wales in 2006, down from a peak of 471,000 during the Second World War;

* some 1.66 million children were being brought up by an unmarried couple, up from one million 10 years ago. The number brought up by married parents dropped from 9.57 million to 8.32 million.

The figures were published two months after official statistics showed that the annual rate of teenage pregnancy in England had risen to 42 in every 1,000, despite a £286 million government campaign to tackle the problem. The figures reinforced Britain's position as the teenage pregnancy capital of Europe.

Dr Richard Woolfson, a leading family expert and child psychologist, said: 'The nature of family life has changed significantly in the last 30 years. The traditional nuclear family of two parents and 2.4 children has become a museum piece.

'The single-parent family carried all sorts of social and moral judgments back then [in 1971]. That is just not the case any more.

'The couple who do not get married is now socially acceptable in a way that it never was before.'

Dr Woolfson said it was impossible to say if children raised outside the traditional family were unhappier, but he added: 'You have to ask what sort of families will today's children create. Where will they go?'

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader and chairman of the Centre for Social Justice, said the figures 'mattered hugely'. He added: 'One in 12 children will experience their parents breaking up by the age of five if those parents are married. But that figure is one in two if the parents are cohabiting. Marriage is not just a piece of paper.'

Mr Duncan Smith called for the tax system to favour those who choose marriage over living together. 'It is not our job, as politicians, to lecture, but the problem has been caused by successive UK governments centring on the child, and forgetting the parent,' he said.

'We now know that children suffer hugely if they don't get the balance of two parents in their upbringing. Those with two parents are less likely to take drugs, more likely to do well at school, more likely to get jobs.'

The ONS figures also showed that a rise in the number of people going to university and a decade-long house price bubble had meant that 300,000 more people under the age of 34 lived at home than in 2001. In 2008, 29 per cent of men under the age of 34 lived at home with their parents, up from 27 per cent seven years earlier.

The ONS said the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, which made it easier to dissolve a marriage, was one of the main causes for the radical change in families.

Critics of the Government point out that the tax system has also been altered to the advantage of unmarried couples.

The last tax break for married couples, the married couples' allowance, was abolished in 2000. State benefits, and especially Gordon Brown's flagship tax credit system, pay more to single mothers than to two-parent families.

Patricia Morgan, the author of The War between the State and the Family, said: 'There is discrimination on the one hand, but on the other there are major benefit incentives for a single woman to have children. It's a mug's game, getting married.'

However, the ONS figures suggested that those who got married were staying together for longer. An average marriage lasted 11.6 years in 2005, up from less than 10 years in the mid-1990s.

Sue Palmer, a child expert and author of Toxic Childhood, said many of the statistics relating to the breakdown in the traditional family were linked indirectly to separate figures showing that 30 per cent of girls and 31 per cent of boys were overweight or obese. She said: 'The more parents work, the more the children stay at home and are not playing outside with their friends.'

A spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: 'We know that the make-up of the family unit is changing but that doesn't mean the family is breaking down. It is Government's role to support families in all shapes and sizes, which is why our policies are aimed at empowering and advising parents to make the best choices for their children. We are investing £250 million in local services for parents, particularly those in challenging circumstances and last December the first ever Government relationship summit looked at what more we can do to support children and families and give extra help to families experiencing relationship breakdown.'

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: 'We support all struggling families, giving them the real help they need. Modern families come in all shapes and sizes but every family with one child, where one adult is working full-time at minimum wage took home £292 a week in 2008 compared to £182 in 1999 - a real terms increase of 24 per cent.

'Child benefit, Tax credits and other benefits help all working familiies and through the welfare reform bill we are putting new expectations on workless parents to ensure they take up the support we offer.' [Daily Telegraph]


Thursday, April 16, 2009

What happened to the University of Notre Dame?

Briefing, This is a very interesting and informative article about how America's top 'Catholic' university same to be so detached from the Church as to invite President Obama to address it. There are two, linked tendencies, which go back 40 years: federal funding was available if it played down its Catholic identiy, and academic prestige is increased on the same basis.

Mutatis mutandis this is the mechanism driving all sorts of Catholic institutions out of the Church: Government funding and the desire for the respect of secularist colleagues in whatever field the institution happens to be working.

From the Wanderer: Christopher Manion comments in his 'From Under The Rubble...' column in The Wanderer: 'In 1974, 1 attended a meeting designed to probe the possibilities of rescuing Catholic education from the nebulous but ubiquitous 'spirit of Vatican II.' At lunch. I joined Fr. Christopher O'Toole, CSC, and my own bishop, Leo Pursley, DD. who had confirmed me years before. Why were these two luminaries interested in supporting efforts to preserve orthodox education for the next generation of college students? Their answer was blunt. 'I'm doing penance,' said Fr. O'Toole, somberly. And Bishop Pursley nodded in agreement.

Penance for what? Well, Fr. O'Toole explained, as the superior general of the Congregation of the Holy Cross throughout the 1960s, he had not done enough to prevent the secularization of the University of Notre Dame during that fateful decade. Bishop Pursley, who had presided over the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for almost 20 years, also admitted that he had not been forceful enough with the university. That afternoon, both men agreed that, as far as Notre Dame was concerned, they had failed.

That conversation came to mind during the uproar that followed the recent announcement by Fr. John Jenkins. CSC, president of Notre Dame, that Barack Obama would address the class of 2009 at commencement in May. This decision was shocking, yes - but it was based on a fundamental error that goes back 40 years.

In 1967, a group of Catholic educators, led by Notre Dame President Theodore M. Hesburgh, met at Land O'Lakes, Wis., and formally declared their independence from the Catholic Church. Alas, their motives were less than noble. Just two years before, LBJ's Omnibus Education Act had opened the floodgates to federal funding of higher education, and Catholic colleges wanted a place at the trough. Notre Dame quickly adopted a lay board of trustees so it could receive federal money, and only a year later the other shoe fell when numerous Notre Dame faculty and religious roundly denounced Humanae Vitae.

In a 2007 Wanderer interview, Archbishop Raymond Burke zeroed in on Land O'Lakes as a central catalyst of decline in Catholic education. 'So much was undone,' he said, 'and there's a mentality [that] entered into the universities by which those people who dedicated their lives to Catholic education believe that they could not be an excellent university and at the same time be faithful to the Church's teaching and discipline. That is a fundamental error, and it takes a lot to undo it.'

Shaking Down The Thunder

Since announcing Obama's acceptance. Fr. Jenkins has been deluged with phone calls, e-mails, and letters denouncing his decision and requesting that he rescind the invitation. Within days, 160.000 people signed an online petition at and Notre Dame students began planning a series of events addressing Obama's policies that have already proven him to be the most pro-death president in U.S. history.

Not that any of this will bother Fr. Jenkins. Notre Dame's administration these days is thoroughly intimidated by the increasingly left-wing and non- Catholic faculty, which apparently expects to be running the school within a generation.

The reasons are simple. Consider the CSCs: The Catholic News Service incorrectly reports that Notre Dame is 'run by the Congregation of Holy Cross.' Sorry, that ended 40 years ago, when federal money required that the congregation not run the school. Moreover, vocations to the CSCs are dwindling to the point that, in 40 more years' priests on the faculty will be a rare anachronism.

But won't outraged alumni stop donating? No problem! NBC Sports has an exclusive multiyear contract to broadcast Notre Dame's home football games. University spokesman Dennis Brown cannot reveal the amount the school receives from NBC, but a source in NBC's New York headquarters says that Notre Dame receives more from NBC than it receives from all alumni giving. And what about that federal money? Brown tells The Wanderer that, in a typical year, Notre Dame receives about eighty million dollars in federal grants.

In brief, Notre Dame's institutional priorities have moved since the 1960s from the principles of the faith to money and power. And what has been the engine of that change? Ralph Mclnerny, who retires this year after teaching philosophy at Notre Dame for 54 years, blames it on the university's 'truly vulgar lust to be welcomed into secular society.'

In short, from the point of view of Notre Dame's first priority since 1967 - money - the Obama invitation is a win-win situation. The uproar delights the faculty: Their status rises in the eyes of their secular counterparts who sit on the 'peer review' committees that approve federal grants. So does their prestige, since being a Catholic who actually embraces Church teaching is a ticket to nowhere among any university's faculty nowadays.

The Silver Lining

Two opportunities emerge here. First, in brushing off the avalanche of criticism. Fr. Jenkins, at the end of some blather celebrating Obama's appearance, said that 'we see his visit as a basis for further positive engagement.' Well, a number of Notre Dame students have taken him seriously. Already, several organizations have banded together - first, to repudiate the invitation, and second, to organize a series of events that will reveal whether Fr. Jenkins is as good as his word. Does Obama really want engagement? Does he really want to discuss embryonic stem-cell research beyond the blithe pleasantries he offered at his press conference on March 24? How about the ten billion condoms that the U.S. has sent to poor countries around the world?

Would Obama care to compare his views on African AIDS with those of Pope Benedict? And, if the president is 'personally opposed' to abortion, will students have a chance to ask him why he is personally opposed? What is it about abortion that is so gruesome that he would personally oppose it, when so many of his ardent supporters are pro-abortion zealots?

The second opportunity lies with the real authority here - diocesan Bishop John D'Arcy. Canon law gives the ordinary, not the university, the right and the duty to bestow and to remove the name 'Catholic' from any institution or endeavor in his diocese (c. 216). There is recent precedent. Last fall, Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde announced 'that Notre Dame Academy can no longer identify itself as a Catholic school.' The academy. founded in Middleburg. Va., by the Sisters of Notre Dame 45 years ago, is now governed by a lay board of trustees who no longer want to uphold the teachings of the Church. Bishop Loverde thus announced that 'the school will no longer have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in its chapel and the diocese will not be able to guarantee the quality or authenticity of religious or other instruction.'

Bishop Loverde saves the best till last: 'I have strongly suggested to [the chairman] that the Board of Trustees consider changing the name of the school. The title 'Notre Dame' (Our Lady) is so closely associated with our Catholic faith that continued use of the name would undoubtedly be a cause of confusion to potential students and their families.'

Bishop D'Arcy wrote that 'President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred,' the bishop wrote, announcing that he would not attend the ceremony.

But he can do more. Let us pray that Bishop D'Arcy doesn't someday lament that, when it came to Notre Dame, he was not forceful enough. []


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

GCSE in soft port


From CFNews:GCSE pupils could be analysing sexually explicit lads' mags as part of a Media Studies course, it has emerged. Teens could compare the 'style and tone' of magazines such as Nuts, FHM and Zoo, notorious for displaying semi-naked women on their covers.

The latest edition of Zoo features 'Britain's sexiest blondes - 14 topless pages proving they really do have more fun!' Family campaigners are outraged at the move by assessment body AQA.

The news follows a survey last week which showed nearly nine in ten 14 to 17-year-olds had viewed pornography. And alarmingly almost one in five confessed to accessing pornography more than once a week - mostly online or via mobile phone.

The updated syllabus is currently being taught to children aged 14 to 16, with the first examinations due to take place next June.

The examination requires students to 'identify/describe targeting of specific markets by magazines and comics eg 'lads' mags''.

They should 'analyse/interpret the relationship of content to target audience in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, social and educational background'.

Margaret Morrissey, Chairman of campaign group Parents Outloud, said: 'If we want to bring back some vestige of normality for our teenagers then we have got to stop exposing them intentionally to such things.'

An AQA spokesman insisted the magazines were not a compulsory part of the syllabus.

Last year MP Claire Curtis-Thomas warned that notorious lads' mags such as 'Zoo', and 'Nuts' were little more than pornography and should be given age-appropriate 16 and 18 certificates.

Mrs Curtis-Thomas voiced her concerns after commissioning The Top Shelf Report which recommended introducing 'statutory guidelines that are comparable to the existing standards for video, film and television.'

In the report a sample of sixth-form students were surveyed and it found that 100 per cent of girls who looked at 'The Daily Sport', 'Zoo' and 'Nuts' expressed being angry, offended or upset by the images they contained.

One fifth of male students sampled admitted that looking at this material encouraged them to see women as sex-objects. [Christian Institute] 


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another homosexual adoption scandal


From CHNews: The mother and family of two little boys have launched a bid to keep them from being adopted by a homosexual couple. The boys' grandfather says the adoption would go against the 'family's Christian values'.

The boys, aged nine and six, were taken away from their mother after she allowed them to have contact with their father, her estranged husband, who had physically abused her. Despite the mother's parents and married brother each offering a home to the boys, social workers advertised them in an internet adoption magazine and decided that a homosexual couple should adopt them.

Their mother has told a family court in Somerset that a homosexual household is not a suitable environment for her sons.

She told one newspaper: 'I would love to look after the boys myself and think I am quite capable, especially with the support of my family.

'I was dismayed to find they are going to a single-sex couple. Social workers just dumped the truth on me. I was called to their office about the adoption procedures, and they said the boys' new parents would be a single-sex couple.'

The mother's brother says he has discussed the matter with homosexual friends, who have also raised concerns.

'They asked about the long-term future of the couple who want to adopt my nephews. Will they stay together? Are they in a civil partnership? What happens to the children if they split up?'

Critics of gay adoption have questioned the stability of same-sex relationships, particularly given the fact that many children placed for adoption have already experienced significant family disruption.

Government figures show that none of the 20 male couples in England who adopted children in the year up to March 2008 had registered their relationship as a civil partnership.

The boys' grandfather, a sports coach in his sixties, said: 'The boys thought they were getting a new mummy and daddy, not a daddy and daddy. We are not homophobic, but we feel strongly this adoption is against our family's Christian values.'

Their grandmother added: 'Our grandsons are being forcibly taken from a family who want them dearly. We are worried they will be indoctrinated into a different lifestyle. This is social engineering by the state.'

Somerset County Council say they cannot comment on individual cases.

The case is similar to one which emerged earlier this year of an Edinburgh couple who were told they would never see their grandchildren again unless they dropped their opposition to the children being adopted by a gay couple.

The grandparents had been turned down as adoptive parents themselves because, at 46 and 59, they were told they were too old. [Christian Institute}


Monday, April 13, 2009

Martin Pendergast on homosexulity in the Church

Briefing: an interesting statement of his position, which no doubt goes for his groups, the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement/ Soho Masses Pastoral Council, and Catholic AIDS Support/ Positive Catholics. He makes it quite clear that he completely rejects Church teaching, including the prohibition on homosexual sexual acts, which he coyly calls 'choosing to exercise rights of conscience'. He is simply laughing at the hierarchy, who would prefer to turn a blind eye to his views when granting him permission for 'gay' Masses.

The fundamental issue here, which we never tire of pointing out, is that in allowing them to organise Masses, run the choir, distribute their literature at the door etc. etc. bishops are allowing these groups to exercise a pastoral role viz-a-viz some of the most vulnerable Catholics in their dioceses. Since these organisations reject the Church teaching relevant to the issues at hand, this is a gross dereliction of duty.

Pendergast writes: Successive Roman documents have embroidered this offensive and confusing vocabulary [that homosexuality is 'instrinsically disordered'] to the present day. The Vatican becomes more and more isolated from other parts of the church in theological reflection and pastoral practise. It has ratcheted up its rhetoric, forcing Bishops to defend the indefensible, whether with regard to admission of candidates to seminaries or religious communities, same-sex marriage and civil unions, or same-sex couples ability to foster or adopt children.

Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality highlights some of Catholicism's best kept secrets: the primacy of a fully informed personal conscience, the hierarchy of truths, and the development of doctrine. The Catholic Bishops of England & Wales rose to these challenges when they authorised the publication of "An Introduction to the Pastoral Care of Homosexual People" in 1979.

These guidelines stayed faithful to Catholic teaching that sexual activity is only admissible within marriage, but stated that both homosexual orientation and heterosexual orientations are morally neutral. This underscores the Vatican position that the orientation in itself is not sinful, but moral decisions relate to how that orientation is expressed sexually. Whereas the Vatican would go no further in the discussion, the local Pastoral Care guidelines encouraged clergy to adopt a more nuanced approach when faced with two people in a permanent, faithful relationship who choose to exercise their rights of conscience. The Vatican was not pleased with this liberal interpretation.

See the full article, in the Guardian, here.


Card. Murphy-O'Connor to join Blair foundation

Action: complaints, please, to the congregation for bishops. Blair himself is deeply committed to an anti-Catholic and pro-abortion agenda, and this is reflected in by his foundation. It is a scandal that a Cardinal should join it.

Congregation for Bishops
10 Piazza Pio XII
00193 Vatican

In office, Blair's voting and speaking record is uniformly pro-abortion, pro-sex education, pro-contraception and so on.
He supported Stonewall, the militant gay group, in its campaign against the Church's adoption agencies.
After leaving office, he has refused to clarify his views on those issues.
The Blair foundation supports 'millenium goals', including abortion.

From Life SiteNews: The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has announced that after his retirement as Archbishop of Westminster in May this year, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor will become the first Catholic member of the Foundation's International Religious Advisory Council.

The move comes two years after the cardinal received his friend Tony Blair into the Catholic Church without requiring the former Prime Minister to publicly apologize or recant his anti-Catholic positions on abortion and human embryonic experimentation or for his championing the cause of the homosexualist movement during his political career.

Tony Blair made headlines this week when he was quoted in a homosexualist magazine saying that the Catholic Church needs to 'rethink' its 'position' on homosexuality. He said that Pope Benedict's 'entrenched' views are a result of 'generational issues' and 'fear' of change.

He described the work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as encouraging 'faiths' to come together, overcoming differences in 'doctrine.' A large part of his work, he said, is to urge religious leaders to reinterpret 'religious texts' metaphorically rather than literally. He said religious leaders need 'to treat religious thought and even religious texts as themselves capable of evolution over time.'

He said, 'I think that for all religions, the challenge is how do you extract the essential values of the faith from a vast accumulation of doctrine and practice? For many people, the reason for their religious faith is less to do with the doctrine and practice, and more to do with the values like love of God and love of your neighbour.' [LSN]


Card. O'Brien on social collapse

Briefing: is it just me or are bishops saying more interesting things these days?

Cardinal O'Brien tells the Scottish executive that if you wreck society - undermine the family, forbid schools to exercise discipline, encourage under-age sex etc. - you should not be surprised when things even liberals don't like start happening: vandalism, yobbery, drunkeness, public health problems etc.. And having destroyed self-restraint you can't solve the problem with headline-catching initiatives like making booze marginally more expensive.

From CFNews: The leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics today hit out at the way politicians are trying to tackle society's problems, saying Scotland is now "staring into the abyss of social collapse".

Writing in a newspaper on Easter Sunday, Cardinal Keith O'Brien accused politicians of being "paralysed by a chronic fear of moralising" as he called on them to stop passing "frenzied regulation" and do more to look at the underlying causes of social problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse.

He also described the government's crackdown on cheap alcohol as stemming from a "deeply flawed" and "utterly discredited" approach.

He said: "Scotland is staring into the abyss of social collapse. Too many of our young people are caught up in a maelstrom of drug-and-alcohol-fuelled promiscuity, hedonism, vandalism and outright nihilism.

"It is a whirlwind which we will reap for a long time to come. We are paying the price for denying too many of our young people security, stability and morality, a price paid in shattered lives and broken children."

And the Cardinal, in his Easter Sunday Homily, said that too often public policy deals with the symptoms of social breakdown rather than the causes.

He said: "When our fellow citizens err and lapse we seldom focus on them or ask why they behaved as they did. Rather we rush to impose legal restraints on such action forgetting dangerously that no external restrictions can ever match the effectiveness of self-restraint.

"When a toddler is shot with an airgun we regulate the sale of such weapons, alcohol abuse by our young people is met with legislation to restrict sales and sexual promiscuity with regulations aimed at ensuring contraception and abortion are widely available.

"In every instance we seek to mitigate the effects of bad behaviour and perhaps place barriers in the paths of such acts. We do not as a society take action to tackle the underlying motivation; instead we limit our action to blunting the impact of our excesses."

The Scottish Government last month announced plans to set a minimum price for alcohol and ban money saving promotions such as "three for two" deals.

Ministers say alcohol misuse costs Scotland £2.25billion a year.

Cardinal O'Brien added: "In recent weeks much coverage has been given to the decision by the Scottish Government to limit sales of alcohol to young people by increasing the selling price through restrictions on a variety of retail offers and by asking local authorities to consider raising the age for alcohol purchases.

"This policy mirrors the approach taken by this and previous administrations to drug use, vandalism, anti social behaviour, obesity even promiscuity and might usefully be called the 'command and control' model of public governance.

"Advocates of such a model take the view that 'bad behaviour' whether it be public drunkenness, health-threatening over eating or teenage promiscuity are all immutable and unchangeable.

"The urge and desire to commit acts of this type cannot be curbed far less removed therefore public, social and health policy must all be orientated towards mitigating the effects.

"It is an approach, which is deeply flawed and utterly discredited."

Cardinal O'Brien called for action to address what he believes are the underlying causes of social problems, such as marriage breakdown the fracturing of family life.

He said: "Scotland has one of the highest divorce rates in the Western world we also have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates and STI statistics, which are both alarming and growing.

"In the face of all this evidence our Parliament has enacted legislation making divorce easier and quicker and giving greater legal recognition to cohabitation, while our taxation system ruthlessly penalises long-term legal commitment." [STV]


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Talking about your faith can cost your job - in a 'Christian' charity

Briefing. This is one of the things which happen to charities founded by Christians.

From Christian Legal Centre: Archbishop’s Homeless Charity Suspends Christian for Answering Questions about His Faith to Colleague at Work

An employee at a Christian ‘homeless’ charity, whose Patron is the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been suspended for answering questions about his faith to a colleague at work.

David Booker, aged 44, a Christian from Southampton, has worked for the English Churches Housing Group for almost four years .On 26 March, whilst working an evening shift, he had a 35 minute conversation with female colleague Fiona Vardy. Ms Vardy asked him about his faith and beliefs. During the conversation he was asked the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and same-sex marriages, which Mr Booker explained. The conversation was free-flowing and Mr Booker clearly explained that he had homosexual friends and that he was not homophobic.

The following day he was summoned by his employers and told that he was
suspended for “events that happened last night”. On March 30, he was given a
formal suspension notice alleging that: “ On 26 March 09, whilst on shift with
Fiona Vardy, you seriously breached ECHG’s (English churches House group) Code
of conduct by promoting your religious views which contained discriminatory
comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation.”

Threatened with the sack for ‘gross misconduct’ under the charity’s Culture and
Diversity Code of Conduct, Mr Booker has sought the advice of the Christian
Legal Centre (CLC), who in turn have instructed Paul Diamond, the leading
human rights lawyer to represent him.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of CLC said: “Mr Booker has
been suspended since 27 March for two weeks pending investigation. No date has
been set for the investigation and disciplinary hearing. This case shows that
in today’s politically correct, increasingly secularized society, even
consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being
twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and
freedom of expression.

“To date, the English Churches Housing Group is funded largely by churches
throughout Hampshire, who we are sure will be shocked at the attitude and
action taken by a Christian organisation towards a Christian employee. The
Archbishop of Canterbury, as Patron, has confirmed the Church’s teaching on
marriage, same-sex relationships and homosexuality and that is in the public
domain. We are interested to know whether his Patronage is now under threat
under the charity’s Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct?”.

ECHG (English Churches House Group) has recently been taken over by Society of
St James ( a charity providing homes for the homeless).


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Archbishop Nichols on the radio

Listen to him here. He defends the Pope - a good start!

On the advertising consultation: 'I would like Catholics to be more active'

Sex: 'that's not my preoccupation' - in contrast to the media.

On the contrast between Catholic teaching and modern attitudes: 'I'm not entirely uncomfortable with it: I do expect there to be a critical distance' between popular thinking and Church teaching. Being a Catholic is 'a challenge'.

Against Tony Blair's advice on changing Church teaching: 'I think I'll take my guide from Pope Benedict, actually.'


European Parliament votes to outlaw discrimination based on orientation

Briefing. This is the Sexual Orientation Regulation issue all over again, at the European level. Depending on how it is drafted, it raises not only the question of hoteliers being obliged to give double-beds to unmarried couples, and adoption agencies to give children to same-sex couples, but also the things we narrowly avoided with the UK legislation. These include the provision of 'services' by the Church, such as the sacrament of marriage, and discrimination by the Church in ordination and the religious life  (by sex, by sexual orientation, and against transexuals). The Communists and militant liberals and Greens who voted for this Directive would relish the opportunity to give the Church a kicking.

From C-Fam: In last week's plenary session, the European Parliament (EP) voted 360 to 277 in favor of an 'Anti-Discrimination Directive' that critics say paves the way for interference in the social policies of member states and strengthens the hand of homosexual activists. The legislative resolution, called the “Equal treatment of persons irrespective of religion or belief, disabilities or sexual orientation,” was voted on after passing the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Union (EU).

Originally intended to serve as an equal treatment directive for the disabled by prohibiting discrimination with respect to accessing “goods and services, including housing,” the directive was expanded to include the categories of religion or belief, age and “sexual orientation.”

Kathalijne Maria Buitenweg, Vice-President of the parliamentary working group of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and a member of the European Green Party, chaired the directive’s drafting committee and drew up the resolution. Buitenweg vigorously stressed the importance of “combating all forms of discrimination,” stating that “It must be possible for two men to occupy a hotel room” though it is unclear where in Europe this is not allowed.

Critics allege that non-governmental organizations pushing “homosexual rights,” such as ILGA, tried advancing their agenda by broadening the directive to encompass elimination of all forms of discrimination, explicitly adding discrimination based on “sexual orientation.” (ILGA has been rejected for UN status for non-governmental organizations for many years because of its connection to pedophile groups.)

Commentators see the directive as another example of the EU imposing one particular view of morality upon its member states. The tendency of the EU to exceed its mandate and impose its moral predilections upon countries was seen a few weeks ago when the Serbian parliament buckled to EU pressure by adopting an anti-discrimination law favored by homosexual rights advocates in the hope of becoming a member of the EU.

One example of intolerance in the name of tolerance is the case of Swedish Pastor Åke Green, who was convicted of violating a Swedish non-disparagement law for a sermon criticizing homosexual conduct as sinful, though his conviction was overturned on appeal. The ongoing fear is that the new sexual orientation provision invites further interference in member states’ national social policies and invites coercion of those who believe homosexual conduct to be immoral to act against their beliefs.

Before becoming binding on member states, the Anti-Discrimination Directive still must be voted on by the EU Council of Ministers, a separate body that effectively functions as an upper legislative chamber. The Council of Ministers is comprised of the ministers from each nation whose portfolio encompasses the issue being voted on. Each country’s vote is weighted in accordance with the relative size of its population, with the vote of Italy, France, Great Britain and Germany having the most weight and Malta the least.

Passage of the directive was attributable to a coalition of communist, liberal, socialist and Green parties.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Archbishop Nichols calls for protests over abortion and condom ads

Action: please answer the Archbishop's call. The consultation has not been made very user-friendly but please take a moment to send something in.

All the documents you need are on this page. There is a 'cover sheet' which should accompany your submission, and a list of questions: the idea is that you select the questions you want to address and paste your responses into the document. There is also a guide to the consultation (and an 'executive summary').

Archbishop Nichols makes the very helpful points that the existing advertisment of condoms fails both 'truthfullness' and 'taste' tests: they are not truthful because they are demeaning; they are evidently distasteful. On abortion it is wrong to advertise abortion alongside ordinary goods and services because, like other medical services, but more so, it needs to be presented in a situation where there is proper information and counselling available, and not promoted as if it were a consumer item. This is why there are no adverts for medical products or practicioners in the UK: it is bizarre that it should be proposed to make abortion an exception. It is scandalous that the opportunity should be given to pro-abortion counselling services and not pro-life ones: there cannot be any justification for that. It is simply a matter of the Advertising Code taking a view on the what kind of advice women should be getting.

From CFNews: The Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop-designate of Westminster, has urged Catholics in England and Wales to oppose plans put forward to allow abortion services to advertise on television and radio.

The Archbishop also called on Catholics to make their opposition known to proposals to relax rules restricting the advertising of condoms on television.
Appointed as the new Archbishop of Westminster by the Pope last Friday, he said current television advertising for condoms 'demeaned' young people by depicting 'casual sex on the street corner' and 'drunken sex'.

He urged Catholics to respond to a consultation exercise on the proposed changes, saying that the country would not expect abortion to be advertised 'alongside a packet of crisps'.

Archbishop Nichols said: 'I would appeal to Catholics to respond to the consultation and two of the principles put forward are that advertisements should be truthful and tasteful.

'I doubt that any intended adverts about abortion would be fully truthful and tell the whole truth of the effects of abortion in a woman's life. I seriously wonder if any advertisements for the use of condoms would be tasteful because the ones we have at the moment are demeaning of the young people of this country.
'They depict casual sex on the street corner and drunken sex. I do not think these things do anything to genuinely help young people to understand themselves in their own dignity and in the proper meaning of what human sexuality is about.'

Under the terms of the proposals, adverts for pregnancy advisory services could be allowed in prime-time evening slots on the major channels and radio but advertisers would have to stipulate if the service does not refer women directly for abortion.

Condoms could be advertised on television before the 9pm watershed.

Currently Channel 4 is the only channel with permission to advertise condoms from 7pm.

The proposals would mean that for the first time pregnancy advisory services advertisements that were not Government approved would be permitted on broadcast media. [Telegraph]


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Blair attacks the Church

Briefing: the arrogance of this man is stunning. Having just been received into the Church, and having refused to clarify his position on abortion and so on at the request of concerned Catholics, he has gone to a militant homosexual magazine to criticise the Pope and tell him to change the teaching of the Church.

Here's the interview in full. Here's a typical passage. He's just been saying (and he's not the only one who has noticed) that the younger generation of Evangelical Protestants are far more liberal than the previous generation. So, he thinks, the same may be true of the Catholic Church. Asked about the Pope's reiteration of the teaching of the Church on homosexuality, he says:

'Again, there is a huge generational difference here. And there’s probably that same fear amongst religious leaders that if you concede ground on an issue like this, because attitudes and thinking evolve over time, where does that end? You’d start having to rethink many, many things. Now, my view is that rethinking is good, so let’s carry on rethinking. Actually, we need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith. So some of these things can then result in a very broad area of issues being up for discussion.'

This is so half-witted that it defies critique. There are things being rethought in the Church: the policy of appeasment toward liberal governments, the policy of soft-pedelling hard teachings in catechesis, the policy of trying to make the liturgy as like ordinary, daily experience as possible. These are being rethought because as policies they had goals, and in terms of those goals they have failed. It seems dubious that Mr Blair would approve of this rethinking. But you can't chuck the deposit of faith in the way you can chuck policies: it is a set of truths, and we have to live with those truths like them or not.

But who cares what Blair thinks? The only important thing here is that neither Tony nor Cherie should be considered reputable Catholics to speak at Catholic events, still less to speak for Catholics or the Church. They are are simply liberals who have wandered into the Church by mistake: and have left it, by denying the faith, without noticing.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Petition in support of Pope Benedict

Action: please sign up!

Here is the petition text: We, the undersigned, declare our full solidarity with the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and his teachings.

We strongly object to the irresponsible attacks in the media on the person of the Holy Father in the context of his pilgrimage to Africa. His words of truth have become a pretext for further attempts to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church, and especially the Encyclical “Humanae Vitae”.

We wish to express our great gratitude to the Holy Father for his uncompromising proclamation of the Truth, which the modern world needs so much.


A happy and holy Easter Triduum


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bishop Devine slams Labour's record

Briefing. Bishop Devine is right to attempt to show Labour that trampling on the family will cost them votes. But David Cameron's support for the family is short on specifics, and betrayed his Catholic supporters completely over the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

From The Scotsman, in part: Joe Devine, the Bishop of Motherwell, has written a letter to David Cameron, praising the Tory leader for his stance on family values. The controversial bishop asked Mr Cameron to confirm that he will support and promote the "sacred" institutions of the family and marriage.

In the last Holyrood election, Bishop Devine called on Roman Catholic voters to abandon Labour, undermining the Church's previous perceived position as the "Scottish Labour Party at prayer". Then, he accused Labour of abandoning family values in its attitudes towards single parents, abortion and homosexuality.


[In a letter to David Cameron] the bishop made it clear that he was impressed by the work carried out by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith's think-tank on social breakdown.

"I have been full of admiration for a number of your pro-family policies (as well as your promise to support and promote faith schools) that include ending tax credit penalties paid by married couples with children," he wrote.

"Your pledge to help the estimated 1.8 million families who lose out by staying together is an exemplary policy initiative, certainly compared to the current situation where any state support for marriage and married couples is shamefully rejected.

"Families need all the help they can get – now more than ever! And families who stay together should not be financially penalised for their commitment and loyalty to each other."

See the full story.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Bishops 'run away' when Pope is attacked

Briefing. Let us hope that Archbishop Vincent Nichols makes a better stab at leading the Church in England and Wales.

From CFNews: The Easter editorial in Faith magazine, one of England's most respected Catholic publications, directs a powerful reproach at the Bishops of England and Wales for failing to support Pope Benedict XVI during his recent troubles. 

Faith compares 'cardinals and bishops' to the Apostles who ran away, hid or failed to speak up for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. 'There has been little attempt even in Catholic circles to give a public and sustained support of Pope Benedict throughout these difficulties. The fact that even Bishops and Cardinals have not just criticised the Pope but have also kept silence, giving him little support, speaks volumes about those august bodies. Many have sat back and watched; others have made statements reaffirming the Church's commitment to working with the other religions and with the Jews; but few have stood up and robustly supported the Pope at a time when he needed them. In Gethsemane too the Apostles ran away and hid, or at best looked on, when the Lord was taken prisoner. We are all weak - but it is a weakness and their silence has not been a virtue. There is a reason why Cardinals sport the colour of red and it is not on account of their own dignity'. [Telegraph] 


Friday, April 03, 2009

Vincent Nichols to be Archbishop of Westminster

There are good and bad things to say about Archbishop Nichols.

As Chairman of the Catholic Education Service, and in his own diocese, he has been pushing sex education in Catholic schools, which is completly at odds with the teaching of the Church. He has been persistent in this, even when making noises indicating his opposition to the 'sexualisation of children'. The CES has also 'welcomed' the 'Connexions' service into Catholic schools, where they can dish out contraception and arrange abortions. His policies have been loudly condemned by John Smeaton of SPUC and the National Association of Catholic Families. The redoubtabable Jackie Parkes is none too pleased with him over this as well.

He nurtures a long-standing arrangement in which Quest, the dissenting homosexual group, has a special Mass in a church in Birmingham, St Catherine of Siena, Bristol Road.

He made a bit of fool of himself over the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill when he said that embryos were of 'less value' than adults, in an interview.

Most recently, he not only allowed but defended the decision to allow a celebration of Mohammed's birthday in the chapel of a Catholic university in Birmingham.

On the plus side, he opposed the Sexual Orientation Regulations, earning a runner-up position in the 'Bigot of the Year' award organised by the militant homosexual group Stonewall. When the Government proposed allowing two women to be 'mother' to an adopted child, and even to go onto the birth certificate as 'mother', he again put his head above the parapet.

He is clearly not a coward, and although he has handed Catholic schools over to the Government birth control agenda he has resisted other attacks. Either he sincerely thinks that, while the gay lifestyle can properly be promoted through special Masses and in schools, gays should not be allowed to adopt children, or else he thinks he is being clever by picking his battles.


Scottish Bishops close Scotland's only seminary

Briefing: more evidence of decline, although this particular seminary, Scotus College, will be no loss.  See Catholic Truth.

From CFNews: The Catholic Church announced yesterdar that it is to stop training priests in Scotland. A statement from the Scottish RC bishops' conference said seminary education would be concentrated at the Scots College Rome from the next academic year. It means the closure of Scotus College in Glasgow, where there are currently nine students. The bishops said the focus on Rome would mean benefiting from the 'spiritual, cultural and academic opportunities' at the heart of the Church.

The statement said: 'It is a matter of regret that the Catholic Church will no longer train priests in Scotland. Should the number of seminarians increase in future, the bishops would be delighted to reassess the situation.' [Edinburgh Evening News]


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