May we ask: if they don't agree with group reconciliations, what is this Pontifical Council for?
From the Catholic Herald: One of the Vatican’s most senior cardinals has dismissed the idea that a breakaway group of Anglicans might be received into the Catholic Church en masse – despite Benedict XVI’s personal support for such a move. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, told The Catholic Herald: “It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome.” The cardinal’s comments refer to the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a rebel group which claims to represent 400,000 people. Its bishops sent a letter to Rome last month requesting “full, corporate and sacramental union”. But the bishops did not send their letter to Cardinal Kasper. Instead they addressed it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), where, it is understood, they expected a warmer reception.
It has been claimed that 60 Anglican parishes have joined the rebel group since their request became public.
Vatican insiders say that Benedict XVI is scrutinising the matter very closely and believes that the TAC is setting out a path that other Anglicans will follow.
One source said the Pope even gave his blessing to the TAC’s plenary assembly in October, when 60 bishops agreed to seek full communion with Rome. Each bishop reportedly signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the church altar.
Benedict XVI sent his message of support through Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the CDF.
But Cardinal Kasper, as president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is likely to be cautious about any arrangement that might upset the official leaders of the other Christian churches – notably the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
The cardinal said on Monday: “We are on good terms with the Archbishop of Canterbury and as much as we can we are helping him to keep the Anglican community together.”
When asked whether he felt encouraged by the TAC’s request, the cardinal replied: “It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome and I am not sure there are so many as you are speaking about.”
He added: “Of course, as a Catholic I am happy if one person joins our Catholic Church but I doubt such a big group is coming – I think there are still many questions to solve first.”
The cardinal made his comments just days after another Episcopal bishop announced his intention to seek full communion with the Catholic Church.
Bishop John B Lipscomb of southwest Florida is the fourth bishop this year to ask to be released from his Episcopal vows.
The subject of ecumenism also dominated discussions at the consistory in Rome last weekend, when Benedict XVI elevated 23 clergymen to the rank of cardinal.
The Pontiff told the assembled cardinals that they must be willing to shed their blood to spread the faith.
He singled out Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, head of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, and said his decision to elevate him was a way of expressing his “spiritual closeness and my affection” for Christians in Iraq. But Benedict XVI chose ecumenism as the main topic for debate at his meeting with all of the cardinals on the eve of the consistory.
Cardinal Kasper, who gave the opening address, said that ecumenism was not “an optional choice, but a sacred duty”.
Later in the day Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor proposed that the Holy See organise a “pan-Christian” meeting.
Benedict XVI returned to the same theme in his homily on Sunday. “Prayer for peace and unity constitutes your first and principal mission,” he told the assembled cardinals, “so that the Church may be healthy and compact”, a “sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race”.
The homily called on the cardinals, as “the senate of the Church”, to form one whole body under Christ. Commentators have suggested that the plea refers to the reluctance of some cardinals to accept the rulings of Summorum Pontificum, which allows priests to celebrate the traditional form of the Mass without the permission of a bishop.
The consistory also represented the first major test for the Vatican’s new director of papal liturgies, Fr Guido Marini, who replaced Archbishop Piero Marini in October.
Observers noticed several “traditionalist” touches that set the proceedings apart from those directed by Archbishop Marini, who was known as a liturgical innovator.
The Pope’s gold-embroidered mitre, for instance, belonged to the late 19-century Pope Pius IX, and his antique gilded throne was used by Leo XIII, who died in 1903. The consistory was held in St Peter’s Basilica and not in St Peter’s Square or the Vatican’s audience hall.
What can one say? Will St Peter say 'It is not my policy to bring that many Anglicans into Heaven'?
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Comment: when a couple marry and one chooses to stay at home to look after children, the state HALVES their collective tax allowance, at just the moment when their earnings have fallen and their needs have increased. Yet Ken Clarke tells us it would be wrong to reduce this tax on marriage even by the pathetically small ammount represented by the Married Person's Tax Allowance which he abolished when Chancellor. Liberal Conservatives, alas, have as little logic as their opponents in the Labour Party.
He went on: "But what I am in favour of is David [Cameron] setting an agenda pointing out all the social problems, the broken parts of cities, the level of family breakdown, poverty, social disorder and crime. I'm glad to see us getting into all that but the stuff I associate with the religious right in America, I think, is having too much influence on where we are."
Friday, January 30, 2009
Briefing: While The Times and other secular news outlets are venting their incomprehending fury on the Holy Father for lifting the excommunications, Bishop Williamson has sent the following letter of apology to Cardinal Hoyos. It is a truly astonishing act of humility on the part of a man who does not have the reputation for this particular virtue. Frankly on a human level this is impossible, but the Pope's act of pastoral concern and generosity has opened hearts to grace. Let us pray for all the parties involved, that remaining difficulties be resolved with truth, justice, and charity.
H-t Rorate Caeli. To His Eminence Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos
Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.
For me, all that matters is the Truth Incarnate, and the interests of His one true Church, through which alone we can save our souls and give eternal glory, in our little way, to Almighty God. So I have only one comment, from the prophet Jonas, I, 12:
"Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."
Please also accept, and convey to the Holy Father, my sincere personal thanks for the document signed last Wednesday and made public on Saturday. Most humbly I will offer a Mass for both of you.
Sincerely yours in Christ
Written to Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on January 28, 2009.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Comments: one excellent post by Fr Finnigan directs our attention to a very good article by Christopher Ferrara on the appalling damage done to the SSPX's own cause by his remarks denying the Holocaust.
Another recounts some interesting anecdotes about the liberation of Belson, one of the camps where Jews and others were exterminated, including the description of a Mass celebrated by a Polish priest which was witnessed by Lord Molyneaux, who was one of the liberating soldiers.
The most moving experience came on the second morning as I was walking from what had been the luxury SS barracks which our troops had transformed into a hospital. My attention was drawn to two packing cases covered by a worn red curtain. A young Polish priest was clinging to this makeshift altar with one hand, while celebrating Mass. Between his feet lay the body of another priest who probably died during the night. No one had had the energy to move the body.
I had no difficulty in following the old Latin Mass, having been educated at St James's Roman Catholic School in County Antrim, and, although an Anglican, I had gained a working knowledge of all the rituals. Still supporting himself against the altar, the young priest did his best to distribute the consecrated elements. Some recipients were able to stumble over the rough, scrubby heathland. Others crawled forward to receive the tokens and then crawled back to share them with others unable to move. Some almost certainly passed on to another - probably better - world before sunset. Whatever one's race or religion one can only be uplifted and impressed by that truly remarkable proof of the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
Let no one imagine that a position within the Catholic church favourable to her traditions has any connection with the demented desire to minimise the suffering of Hitler's victims.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
From CFNews: The number of abortions performed on teenage girls who have had at least one before has risen by almost 70 per cent since 1991, fuelling fears that terminations are being carried out for lifestyle reasons.
Experts have warned that binge drinking among teenagers had also contributed to the increase. In 2007, 5,897 girls under 20 had their second, third or even fourth termination. Sixteen years earlier, in 1991, the figure stood at just 2,934, the journal Contraception reported.
The analysis by scientists at Nottingham University, found that - even taking into account the rise in abortion among all age groups - the proportion of repeat terminations carried out on teenagers rose by 68 per cent in 16 years.
Abortions in the UK have reached record levels - almost 200,000 a year in England and Wales - a rate second only in the western world to the US
Researcher Jacqueline Collier, a professor of health services research, said that although there were probably many reasons behind the 'radical increase' in repeat abortions in teenagers, it is likely that alcohol played a part. Calling for more research into the issue, she said: 'It is right for us to put it as a priority. It is not good for society, let alone for teenagers, to be having repeat terminations or repeat pregnancies they are not wanting or not able to continue with.'
When all age groups are included in the analysis, a third of terminations are carried out on women who have had at least one before. The evidence shows that some women have had eight or more. Thirteen girls aged under 18 were on at least their fourth abortion in 2007, the Department of Health figures showed.
Dr Trevor Stammers, a GP and a lecturer in healthcare ethics, said: 'I think that young women who have had one abortion fall into two camps. 'There is one that understands the ongoing consequences and another that (is) very cavalier and hardened about it and have entered a phase of regarding it as a backup method of contraception. We have got to communicate that abstinence is not folly.'
Norman Wells of Family and Youth Concern said we were living in a 'contraceptive culture'. 'High abortion rates and the alarming number of repeat teenage abortions are the inevitable fruit of a society that has made an idol of sexual pleasure and failed to respect its proper place and purpose.'
Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which carries out almost a third of UK abortions, said: 'A lot has changed the past two decades. 'Abortion has become more acceptable, easier to access for all age groups, better funded by the NHS, and more integrated into mainstream healthcare - all of which are good things.' [Mail]
Briefing. This is a significant development. Williamson has been a loose canon for years but now reconciliation with Rome may be on the horizon the SSPX seems to be recognising it has to do something about it.
There is an apology included in this statement, which has been released by the Vatican: that is, it is addressed first and foremost to the Vatican. It does not say the Holocaust happened; it could not do so, given that argument it is using against Williamson is that he exceeded his authority by making historical claims, about which the SSPX could not in principle hold any position. It might have been better to have said that what Williamson did wrong was to make highly contentious historical claims likely to cause offence to great numbers of people; it could then have added that such claims are offensive partly because they completely lack historical credibility (and accordingly invite the conclusion that they are motivated by anti-Semitism). No one would have minded if Williamson had said that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
From NCT, in part (their translation; see their full story): Statement of His Excellency Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Fraternity of St. Pius X
We have become aware of an interview released by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, to Swedish television. In this interview, he expressed himself on historical questions, and in particular on the question of the genocide against the Jews carried out by the Nazis.
It’s clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on questions that regard faith and morals. Our Fraternity does not claim any authority on other matters. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, expressed in the dogmas of the faith. It’s for this reason that we are known, accepted and respected in the entire world.
It’s with great sadness that we recognize the extent to which the violation of this mandate has done damage to our mission. The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason I have prohibited him, pending any new orders, from taking any public positions on political or historical questions.
We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. Because we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only look with sadness at the way in which they have directly struck our Fraternity, discrediting its mission.
This is something we cannot accept, and we declare that we will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to administer the sacraments of grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Menzingen, January 27, 2009
Briefing. There will be no opportunity for proper medical supervision if the procedure goes wrong. Contrary to what the abortionists like to claim, abortion is not a quick-n-easy DIY procedure; it caries great risks to the mother, both immediate and long term. However, abortionists care as little for the mothers as they do for their children.
Freedom of Information requests by GP magazine found that at least six units are due to open in the next few months offering early medical abortions at GP surgeries.
Hampshire Primary Care Trust has applied to open an abortion service at a GP surgery in Basingstoke in the spring.
The service would be run by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a Government-funded abortion provider which carries out almost 13,000 early abortions a year.
At present, the law states that the pills can only be administered at licensed sites, such as hospitals, approved NHS providers and private clinics.
Ministers have had the power to allow terminations outside hospitals or clinics since 1967, when abortion was legalised, but they have never done so.
Last year, however, the Government conducted a pilot study which found that women could safely receive early medical abortions from nurses in 'community settings' - such as GP surgeries and family planning clinics.
Ministers then said they would consider applications from surgeries. The first, also run by BPAS, opened quietly in Wolverhampton last year.
Another is set to open in Newcastle upon Tyne in the next few months. These are technically private clinics based at GP sites.
GP magazine found that more are due to open this year. Hounslow PCT in West London said it was looking at providing medical terminations at the Heart of Hounslow clinic. Sandwell PCT in the West Midlands also plans to apply for 'a primary care-based medical termination service' based in a polyclinic. Other PCTs that have expressed an interest are Kirklees in West Yorkshire, Islington in North London and Somerset.
A spokesman for antiabortion group Alive and Kicking said: 'This is an extraordinary response to what should be seen as a huge problem - that we have the highest rates of abortion in Western Europe.
'This is going to make it easier for women to have an abortion without counselling. More and more women will have abortions in haste, wake up and then regret it.'
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said: 'The Government is doing everything in its power to facilitate more abortions. It is a dereliction of the Government's duty of care.'
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'Providing early medical abortions in a community setting is about increasing the choice of method and locations for abortions, and improving early access to abortions, as evidence shows that earlier abortions carry less risk of complications. 'It is not about increasing the number of abortions.' So, the government says early abortion is 'less risky' (presumably for the mother). [Daily Mail, SPUC]
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Briefing. The film quality is superb but bizarrely they have disabled the 'embeding' facility.
From CFnews: On Friday morning Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of Vatican Radio, of the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) and of the Holy See Press Office, announced the creation of a new Vatican channel on YouTube, through which various forms of video news will be available concerning the activities of the Pope and events in the Vatican. The site will be updated with one or two news pieces each day, none longer than two minutes, he said. For the moment, the languages available are English, Spanish, German and Italian.
The web page of the new channel, he explained, contains various links via which the visitor can find more information and documentation on the Pope, the Vatican and the Catholic Church. The main links connect to the multi-lingual web pages of CTV and Vatican Radio, to the Vatican and to the new site of Vatican City State. 'Of particular importance', said Fr. Lombardi, 'is the link to H2O News which transmits other video news items on the life of the Church in the world'.
He went on: 'Further links under the main video give access to other Vatican news sources: in each linguistic sub-channel is a link to the web page of Vatican Radio in that language, to the web page of the Holy See Press Office Bulletin (with complete texts in original language), and to that language's edition of the 'Osservatore Romano' newspaper'.
In the light of the possibility offered by YouTube to exchange information, establish relationships, etc., 'we will consider how best to administer this 'global' flow of comments and replies', said the Holy See Press Office Director. 'The Pope', he concluded, 'was personally informed of our project, and gave his approval with his usual courtesy and graciousness. For us this is a great encouragement'.
[Vatican Information Service]
Monday, January 26, 2009
Briefing. This is so totally disgusting that it is hard to know what to say. Catholic stroke victimsand their families should find out whether the source of their medication is ethical and refuse to be a party to abortion (by material cooperation) if that is possible.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Briefing: this is no joke. Parents have got to find our what is happening in their schools and remove their children if necessary. In this context to do nothing is to consent.
Heads of the project have set themselves a goal of 'creating primary classrooms where queer sexualities are affirmed and celebrated'.
The ambition was revealed in documents prepared for the No Outsiders project run by researchers from universities and backed with £600,000 of public money provided by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The stated purpose of the project - which is operating in 14 primary schools - is to stop bullying and prejudice aimed at homosexuals.
A document prepared for an Exeter University seminar and couched in convoluted academic jargon says: 'The team is concerned to interrogate the desexualisation of children's bodies, the negation of pleasure and desire in educational contexts, and the tendency to shy away from discussion of (sexual) bodily activity in No Outsiders project work.
'The danger of accusations of the corruption of innocent children has led team members to make repeated claims that this project is not about sex or desire - and that it is therefore not about bodies.
'Yet, at a very significant level, that is exactly what it is about and to deny this may have significant negative implications for children and young people.'
No Outsiders is led by researchers from Sunderland University and also involves academics at the Institute of Education and Exeter University. Books, puppet shows and plays are used to teach children about same-sex relationships.
During the project, the seminar paper says, its members have 'challenged each other to go beyond imagined possibilities into queer practice'.
The seminar will 'question the taken-for-granted of the supposedly sexless, bodiless and desire-less primary classroom' and examine 'the place of the research team members' own bodies, desires and pleasures in this research'.
The discussions provoked a furious reaction from critics of the homosexual rights agenda. Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: 'When an adult who is working in a primary school suggests that children should explore their sexuality, that should result in a complaint to the police.'
Patricia Morgan, author of studies of family life and gay adoption, said: 'The proposal is that primary school classrooms should be turned into gay saunas. This is about homosexual practice in junior schools. The idiots who repealed Section 28 should consider that this is where it has got them.'
Project leader Dr Elizabeth Atkinson said the seminar had no connection with No Outsiders work in classrooms. 'The seminar is part of a long-standing academic debate and has nothing to do with schools,' she said. 'It has no connection with sex education.'
Section 28, the law which banned the promotion of homosexuality in state schools, was repealed five years ago. Current guidance on sex education says it should not promote sexual orientation or sexual activity. [MailOnline]
In a decree dated January 21, and released to the public on January 24, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, announced that the excommunications imposed on July 1, 1988-- after the four bishops were ordained by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in defiance of Vatican orders-- are no longer in effect.
The prelates affected by the Pope's decision are Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior of the SSPX, and Bishops Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta.
The Vatican decree indicates that Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication in response to a plea from the SSPX bishops, and in an effort 'to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division.'
The decree acknowledges that further steps will be required to complete the reconciliation of the SSPX. 'It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X,' the document says.
Pope Benedict was moved by the 'spiritual unease' conveyed by the SSPX bishops in a July 2008 letter, in which they renewed their plea for an end to the excommunications, the decree indicates. The Pope also took note of the traditionalist bishops' determination to 'deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters.'
In that July 2008 letter-- which was addressed to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, who had been the chief Vatican representative in talks with the SSPX for the past several years-- Bishop Fellay had expressed both the pain of separation and the loyalty of the SSPX to the Pope. In a portion of the letter that is quoted in Cardinal Re's decree, the traditionalist bishop wrote:
'We always determined by the desire to stay Catholics and put all our forces for Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept his teachings with heart subsidiary. We firmly believe the Primacy of Peter and its prerogatives, and this makes us suffer so much the current situation'.
In a press release welcoming the Vatican decree, the SSPX thanked Pope Benedict for his 'courageous act.' The group welcomed the Pope's call for further talks, saying that in these talks SSPX members could 'explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church.' The SSPX referred to 'the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world,' and indicated that the crisis is caused by Catholics' departure from traditional Church teachings.
In a letter to SSPX members announcing the decree, Bishop Fellay described the Pope's decision to lift the excommunications as 'benevolent, and courageous.' The move should be welcomed with gratitude by all SSPX members, he said, noting that they will 'no longer be unjustly stigmatized.'
Bishop Fellay expressed the certainty that the Pope's decision was influenced by an extraordinary prayer campaign, undertaken by SSPX leaders last year. 'Your response exceeded our expectations,' the traditionalist bishop said, reminding members that a the group had presented the Pope with spiritual bouquet of over 1.7 million rosaries.
Bishop Fellay's letter to the SSPX faithful also contained a clear indication that the anticipated talks with Vatican officials will include a heavy focus on the traditionalists' concerns about the teachings of Vatican II. The SSPX superior recalled that in his June 2008 letter to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos he had said:
We are ready to write the Creed with our own blood, to sign the anti-modernist oath, the profession of faith of Pius IV, we accept and make our own all the councils up to the Second Vatican Council about which we express some reservations. [CWNews] 1512.2
Briefing: very good news.
Mr Mitchell took his case to an employment tribunal but has reached an out-of-court settlement. The firefighters, who had been based at the Cowcaddens station, claimed it would be embarrassing to attend the rally in uniform, while others claimed it would contradict their moral beliefs. Mr Mitchell began employment tribunal proceedings after exhausting Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service's internal appeals procedure.
It is understood that Mr Mitchell, a Catholic, has received damages and an apology from his employer as part of the settlement, and is prevented from discussing the case.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, condemned the agreement. He said: 'The Strathclyde Fire Service should have seen this through. The case would have set an important precedent - that public service workers cannot pick and choose which section of the public they will and won't serve. Although no life was threatened because this man refused to hand out safety leaflets, what if he, or his colleagues, now decide that they don't want to deal with homosexuals at all? Who is to tell them they can't now?' [BBC]
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Action: complaints, please, about 'Hunter'. You can see the relevant material on the internet here. Pro-lifers are portrayed an violent fanatics, kidnapping and killing children. As John Smeaton quotes one SPUC activist, 'They would never dare portray other groups in this way'. Catholics and Pro-Lifers are fair game.
Comment: it has been widely reported that the excommunications of the SSPX bishops, to which they were subject automatically on being ordained without the Vatican's permission in 1988, is to be lifted today.
Friday, January 23, 2009
SIR - You report (January 16) (Catholic Herald Letters to the Editor ) that the National Association of Catholic Families has written an open letter to the Catholic Education Service (CES) about that body's support for the Government's plan to introduce compulsory sex education for all children in schools from the age of four as part of the National Curriculum.
The Government's proposal has been rightly described by Gerald Warner of the Daily Telegraph as "child abuse".
Those who think that what the Government has in mind is something mild that can be incorporated into Catholic teaching about chastity should realise that the material that is already used and recommended is obscenity of the worst kind. Those with strong stomachs can see for themselves by looking at the websites of the Government-recommended agencies, such as the Terence Higgins Trust, the Teenage Pregnancy Unit, Marie Stopes International, the Family Planning Association, and Connexions.
The Government proposals are opposed by almost everyone, including the association that represents headteachers and the National Union of Teachers, as well as, according to opinion polls, 75 per cent of parents.
It is therefore astonishing that the CES is supporting the Government rather than Catholic parents. Catholic teaching could not be clearer on two important points: that the rights of parents are "inalienable" and that there should be no sex education at all in what John Paul II called the "years of innocence" -_that is, before puberty.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Briefing: an interesting anecdote from an otherwise unfriendly obituary on him which is doing the rounds. Let us pray that his good deeds find favour with Our Lord. And that they might be imitated by his brother bishops here on earth.
From an email: Bishop Hugh Lindsay died on Monday at the age of 81 after a short illness. His letter-writing mania has finally come to an end. Throughout his episcopate he was the implacable foe of Sacred Tradition. But in fairness to him, it seems appropriate to recall the occasional good deed that he did. In the late 1970's a church in Jarrow was broken into - the tabernacle was opened and Communion hosts were scattered around the church. Bishop Lindsay ordered all-night Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in every church of the diocese in reparation for the sacrilege perpetrated.
From CFNews: BBC presenter Jeremy Vine has claimed that it is becoming 'socially unacceptable' to be a Christian in Britain. The Radio 2 host said that he feels unable to talk about his faith on his show because he fears how people would react. He argues that society has become increasingly intolerant of the freedom to express religious views. 'You can't express views that were common currency 30 or 40 years ago,' he said.
'Arguably, the parameters of what you might call 'right thinking' are probably closing. Sadly, along with that has come the fact that it's almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God.'
His comments follow the claim from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor that Britain is an 'unfriendly' place for religious people to live. Mr Vine, 43, is a practising Anglican, but says he would be compromised by being more open about his faith on air. 'Just blurting it out would be destructive,' he said.
In an interview with Reform, a magazine published by the United Reformed Church, Mr Vine says that he is forced to separate his personal beliefs from his role as a presenter. [Sunday Telegraph]
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
From the Christian Institute: The Government is planning to overturn a crucial free speech protection added last year to a controversial 'gay hate' law. The free speech protection was added last May to the new offence of 'incitement to homophobic hatred' after a late night victory in the House of Lords.
It makes it clear that criticising homosexual practice or urging people to refrain from such conduct will not, in itself, be a crime. But in clause 58 of its new Coroners and Justice Bill, the Government is attempting to remove the protection.
The offence of inciting homophobic hatred catches any words or behaviour which are threatening and intended to stir up hatred. It carries a maximum seven year prison sentence. At the time, campaigners argued that no genuine Christian would do anything to fall within that definition. However, there was strong concern that the new law could be used as an excuse to silence religious views about sexual behaviour.
The protection, which was added by former Home Secretary Lord Waddington, reads: 'for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred'. These are the words the Government is seeking to delete from the law.
In 2006, a free speech amendment was added to a similar law against inciting religious hatred, despite Government attempts to block it. This amendment is much more wide-ranging than the one attached to the homophobic hatred law, but no attempt has been made by the Government to remove it.
During the parliamentary debates on the homophobic hatred offence, a number of cases were highlighted to show the importance of a free speech protection.
Miguel Hayworth, 2008
A Christian street preacher in Manchester was silenced, taken into the back of a police van, questioned and detained for over an hour following a complaint of 'homophobia'.
Miguel Hayworth had been publicly reading from the Bible, from Romans 1:17-32, when a member of the public complained. The officers later released Mr Hayworth and he was permitted to continue preaching.
Stephen Green, 2006
Stephen Green, a Christian campaigner, was arrested for handing out evangelistic tracts at a gay pride festival in Cardiff. Police admitted that he had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, but confirmed that officers arrested him because the leaflets contained biblical quotes about homosexuality.
Mr Green was held at a police station for four hours, questioned, charged and eventually committed for trial. The case against Mr Green was subsequently dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Archbishop of Glasgow, 2006
A Member of the Scottish Parliament asked Strathclyde Police to investigate remarks made by the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow.
The Archbishop had defended the institution of marriage and criticised civil partnerships in a church service.
Lynette Burrows, 2005
Lynette Burrows, an author and family-values campaigner, took part in a radio talk show about civil partnerships for homosexuals. Mrs Burrows said she did not believe that adoption by two gay men would be best for a child. Subsequently, a policewoman telephoned Mrs Burrows to speak to her about her comments.
The police officer said a 'homophobic incident' had been reported against her and that record of it would be kept by police. Mrs Burrows felt that the policewoman was pressurising her even though she had committed no crime.
Joe and Helen Roberts, 2005
Christian pensioners, Joe and Helen Roberts, were interrogated by police in 2005 because they had expressed their opposition to their local council spending public money on 'gay rights' projects.
After launching legal action, the couple eventually won an apology and damages from Lancashire Police and Wyre Borough Council. The police and the council also changed their procedures to avoid making the same mistake again.
Cambridge Christian Union, 2004
The Christian Union of the University of Cambridge was reported to the police following its distribution of St John's gospel to students and hosting an evangelistic meeting where the Dean of Sydney Cathedral put forward 'a traditional biblical view on homosexuality'.
The Bishop of Chester, 2003
In November 2003 the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, was investigated by Cheshire Constabulary after he told his local newspaper that some homosexuals re-orientated to heterosexuality with the help of therapy.
A complaint was made to the police that his remarks were a 'hate crime', and the Bishop was berated in the media by the Chief Constable. The police passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, who decided not to prosecute because the Bishop had not broken any 'current' laws. [Christian Institute]
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Briefing: it was Cardinal Ratzinger whose analysis of the ARCIC (Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission) documents effectively finished them off. Similar difficulties have been consistently emerging for the Catholic-Lutheran 'Joint Declaration on Justification', which although praised by John-Paul II is not unequivocally in accordance with Catholic teaching. Ten years later:
There is a very good history and discussion on Rorate Caeli.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Briefing: this is a committee mandated by a United Nations treaty and supported by the UK, which promotes abortion.
From C-Fam: (NEW YORK – C-FAM) The committee that monitors state compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) will begin a new session in Geneva next week, but even prior to the meeting six of the eight states who will be reviewed have already been questioned on abortion. In a stinging written response to the CEDAW committee’s advance questions, Cameroon fired back that “abortion is murder.”
CEDAW does not mention abortion, but the committee has courted controversy for years by pressuring over 65 countries to liberalize their abortion laws. In a written communication to the Cameroon government, the CEDAW committee asked the government to account for how they have implemented CEDAW’s previous recommendations to “review the abortion law and increase access to, and availability of, contraception.”
The government of Cameroon provided a lengthy written answer to the question and repudiated the tendency to “elevate” abortion to “the rank of a right and dignity.” Cameroon continued that abortion “is portrayed as a freedom without mentioning that the mother exercises this freedom to the detriment of the child’s.”
The Cameroon response lists the risks associated with abortion, including death, intestinal aspiration, hemorrhaging, infection, sterility, ectopic pregnancy, future miscarriage, perforation of the uterus and distress. Cameroon warned that new ideologies and scientific and technical progress “must not lead to an erosion in basic values.”
Cameroon emphasized the traditional African philosophy that “recognizes the permanent bond that links societies and families to their ancestors” and how children are a “bridge between generations past and present, while representing future prospects for communities.” Therefore, any abortion performed for any reason “other than to save the life of the mother or child, impedes the expression of this vital social dynamic.”
Cameroon also reminded the CEDAW committee of an aspect it feels is overlooked – “the tremendous joy that the possibility of having a child brings to women, as well as to men and families.” Cameroon asks the members of the committee to “Think for a moment of the anguish felt by the many couples who do not have children; think of the thousands of women and men who, in spite of their comfortable material existence, desperately want a child, even if it means adopting just one child.”
While the recommendations of the CEDAW committee are non-binding, abortion activists have brought litigation in various countries citing human rights treaty bodies, like the CEDAW Committee, in challenging laws against abortion. Such arguments helped convince the Colombian constitutional court to liberalize that country’s restrictions on the practice.
CEDAW critics will be watching the next session closely to monitor the performance of several newly elected committee members such as Violet Tsisiga Awori of Kenya and Barbara Evelyn Bailey of Jamaica, who were high-ranking members of non-government organizations that advocated for abortion rights in their respective regions.
Along with Cameroon, the CEDAW Committee will also be reviewing the country reports of Armenia, Dominica, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Libya and Rwanda.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Briefing: babies are routinely screened for autism and other disabilies, leading to abortion for the unlucky ones who fail the test. This screening was 'pre-implantation', meaning that group of IVF embryos were screened and the lucky one then implanted in the womb. Apart from increasing the number of embyros killed exponentially (one was lucky, eight not), an involving the couple in another unethical process (IVF itself), the use of IVF to screen for propensities for disease is counter-productive since the IVF process itself leads to numerous health problems.
From The Guardian, in part: The birth of the first British baby genetically screened before conception to be free of a breast cancer gene was hailed yesterday as a breakthrough by doctors but raised fresh questions about the ethics of creating so-called designer babies.
The baby girl grew from an embryo screened to ensure that it did not contain the faulty BRCA1 gene, which would have meant she had a 50%-85% of developing breast cancer.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Briefing: We didn' think this worth pursuing with a call for compaints, but Stephen Green has one after it and we shall see what happens. Organic farmers aren't allowed to describe their produce as more tasty than its rivals without evidence; why should the Humanist Association be able to say there is no God without argument?
In another twist to the story, a Christian bus driver has refused to drive the buses with these adverts on them.
From the Guardian, in part: The advertising regulator has received almost 150 complaints that an atheist ad campaign, proclaiming "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life", is offensive to Christians and other religions that believe in a single God.
Stephen Green, the national director of Christian Voice, is among those who have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, arguing that the atheist campaign broke the advertising code on the grounds of substantiation and truthfulness.
The ASA has received 141 complaints about the Atheist Bus Campaign which launched earlier this week on buses throughout England, Scotland and Wales, as well as the London underground. However, 39 of the complaints are regarding newspaper and online articles about the campaign, which the ASA has no power to deal with.
Green said: "It is given as a statement of fact and that means it must be capable of substantiation if it is not to break the rules. There is plenty of evidence for God, from people's personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world. But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it."
The regulator has not yet decided if the complaints warrant a formal investigation to see if the campaign has broken the advertising code.
Hanne Stinson, the chief executive of the British Humanist Association, which launched the campaign, said she "pitied the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of god's existence. However, if they do investigate we will be very happy to respond".
Friday, January 16, 2009
Briefing: the fact that ethical alternatives to this appalling approach have proved far more promising is an important factor here.
From the BBC, in part: But since the bid to outlaw the research was defeated in May last year, two of the three groups which hold a license to create hybrid embryos have been unable to find funding, while the third has yet to try.
Human animal hybrid embryos - in which the nuclei of human cells are inserted into animal eggs - have been seen as one of the most promising ways of overcoming the dramatic shortage of good quality human eggs.
The stem cells then extracted from the embryos - which are some 99% human and 0.1% animal - have the potential to become any kind of tissue and as such could be used to develop treatments for cancer and conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
"We can't do anything at the moment, we just don't have the money" says Dr Stephen Minger, of King's College London, who received his license over a year ago.
"What we have to work out now is whether it's a good use of our scant resources to put our efforts into resubmitting a proposal - which is incredibly time-consuming."
Dr Lyle Armstrong, of Newcastle University, who has failed to find money to take his hybrid research to a next stage added that "legislation does not guarantee that funding will follow".
See the full BBC story.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Briefing. First, by bad catechesis; then by joint Anglican-Catholic schools with women vicars as RE teachers; then by sex education, and now, not for the first time, by going beyond even the government's demands for the Catholic credentials of parents to be taken into account in admissions.
See Damian Thompson. The whole thing is very sad.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Action: please write to your MEP.
From SPUC: This Wednesday the European Parliament will vote on a resolution which
seeks to promote abortion and same-sex unions throughout the European Union. The resolution, authored by Giusto Catania, an Italian Communist MEP, calls upon EU member-states to guarantee access to "sexual and reproductive health and rights", a term which is often interpreted to include abortion on demand. The resolution also calls on EU member-states to recognise same-sex unions equally with (heterosexual) marriage. The full report can be read here.
The resolution should be rejected, because it threatens unborn children. The resolution repeats the usual calls by the pro-abortion lobby for more contraception, more sex education and more confidential advisory services. Providing these things, however, do nothing to decrease the numbers of abortions, sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies, and may in fact serve to increase them.
The resolution should also be rejected because it promotes an unauthentic model of the family, by seeking to impose upon EU member-states the recognition of same-sex unions. Although SPUC is not a religious organisation, we feel that both religious and non-religious pro-lifers can understand and appreciate the following words of the late Pope John Paul II: "It is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not help the young to accept and experience sexuality and love and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection ... Only a true love is able to protect life."
Please email immediately the MEPs for your region, urging them to vote against the resolution on Wednesday. You can find out who are the MEPS for your region and their email addresses by following the links here specifically by
clicking on your region on the coloured map on the left of the page.
Yours sincerely in defence of life,
Action: parent must find out what is going on in their schools and write to the head teacher as suggested below. See our general briefing on sex education in Catholic schools here. The picture shows Oona Stanard and Archbishop Nichols (Chief Executive and Chairman of the Catholic Education Service, respectively) cosying up to Ed Balls, the Government Education minister.
Briefing. This seems like a flash-back to the 1970s. But these 'justice and peace' people still exist, and are being manned by religious orders and funded by the dioceses: see our dossier on 'Pax Christi' (which links to Catholic Worker's website).
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Briefing. Another great success for sex education. We're not joking: it is embedding a radical, anti-marriage sexual revolution accross society. Whereas in the past social conservatives could appeal to a shared understanding of marriage and family, these developments are being used by the government to argue that 'non-traditional families' are so numerous that they must simply be accepted as part of society. When they are the majority, they will be above criticism: they will simply be 'normal'.
In the two thirds of the worst affected areas, which the Government has targeted with increased sex education and contraception classes for children, teenage maternity is also still on the rise.
Experts blamed the increases on young women who see the morning-after pill as a contraceptive or want to have children young to copy their favourite celebrity mother. An aversion to abortion among affluent families may also be a factor, they said.
In December, official figures revealed a 2.7 per cent increase in teenage pregnancies in England and Wales last year - ensuring Britain's place at the top of the Europe's under-18 pregnancy league. The latest figures, obtained by the Conservatives. break down the number of teenagers giving birth by parliamentary seats and show that 42,300 babies were born to mothers under the age of 20 in 2006. Surprisingly, many with the highest rates are affluent suburbs, often presided over by Conservative MPs.
The seat with the biggest increase of teenagers giving birth - from 16 in 2002 to 44 in 2006 - was Rushcliffe, Nottingham, where the MP is former Conservative Health Secretary Ken Clarke. In Pudsey, West Yorkshire, the number rose from 26 to 60 and in Epsom and Ewell, in leafy Surrey, it rose from 15 to 32.
Conservative children spokesman Tim Loughton said that the situation was getting worse despite the Government's "smoke and mirrors" tactics to disguise it. "Most of the areas that are already experiencing the biggest problems are seeing the number of teenage pregnancies rise," he said.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Briefing: it is very good news that condemnations are happening. Naturally more are needed. But simply to get the message out that the Vatican is not endlessly tolerant of Catholic religious publishing heretical books is a big thing, and will start to have its effect.
In a "notification" approved by Pope John Paul II, and signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Congregation said that the work of Father Roger Haight contained serious doctrinal errors, and forbade the Jesuit priest from teaching theology until the errors have been corrected. The notification was dated December 13, 2004, and made public by the Vatican this week. The Vatican notification came after a 5-year investigation, prompted by the publication of Father Haight's book, Jesus Symbol of God. During the investigation, Father Haight had resigned his teaching post at the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Father Haight, whose work was devoted to inter-religious dialogue, argued that God's grace was active through non-Christian religious traditions. After an examination of the book, and repeated questioning of the author, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found that Father Haight's work conflicted with key Catholic teachings, including the doctrines on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the divinity of Christ, the salvific power of Christ's Sacrifice, the Resurrection, and the unique role of the Church in the economy of salvation.
Soon after the book was published, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found that Jesus Symbol of God contained serious doctrinal flaws. In July 2002 the Congregation submitted a list of errors to Jesuit superiors, inviting Father Haight to correct his work.
Father Haight is the second Jesuit theologian whose work has drawn a formal rebuke from the Vatican in the past five years. In February 2001, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warned of doctrinal errors in the work of Father Jacques Dupuis, a Belgian Jesuit and former professor at the Gregorian university, who died in December 2004. In the case of Father Dupuis, too, the central doctrinal problems cited by the Vatican involved the unique role of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church in the work of salvation.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Briefing. An interesting development. It seems probable that nothing like this would be possible from the Catholic Church because of the attitude of the Bishops: it would be seen as too risky.
"They help in an amazing array of ways. Not only do they pray for people, but they offer practical solutions to problems."
See the full story.
From the Belfast Telegraph, in part: A record number of women from Northern Ireland are opting to go to England and Wales to terminate a pregnancy, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.
Figures released by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey show that there were 1,343 abortions carried out in England and Wales where the woman gave a home address in Northern Ireland in 2007 — the majority of which would be regarded as illegal here.
According to the Department of Health statistics, 6,400 abortions were performed on women from Northern Ireland in hospitals in England and Wales between 2003 and 2007.
The latest figure was a rise of 48 on that for the overall 2006 tally while 179 more women went for abortions in 2007 compared to 2005.
See their full story.
From CFNews: Half of the Catholic adoption agencies that the Church threatened to close if they were required to work with homosexual couples have now decided to adopt the new equality law following an exemption period.
In total, 11 agencies were given a 21 month 'adjustment' period from the Equality Act in April 2007. The Act outlaws discrimination in the provision of good and services on the grounds of sexual orientation. The exemption period ran out on 1 January 2009.
Five of the agencies have now changed their position and will comply with the law,. One is to close and two others are still seeking exemption, BBC News reports.
Compliance with the new regulations by Catholic adoption agencies has been met with strong criticism by some members of the Church.
In October 2008 the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue, threatened to evict adoption agency Catholic Caring Services from church premises for complying with the Equality Act
Gary McFarlane had worked for Relate since 2003. He was disappointed with the hostility he had experienced from Relate. Although Mr McFarlane had never had to provide sex therapy to a same sex couple, he thought that if the situation did arise, he would be able to discuss his Christian views with his supervisors so that his position could be discussed and if necessary accommodated. Any such discussions were, however, pre-empted by unexpected meetings between Mr McFarlane and his manager in October 2007 when he was asked to state his views
regarding same sex couples. Despite explaining that he would counsel couples in compliance with Relate's Equal Opportunities Policy, and that he would raise any issues with his supervisors and manager, as good practice required, Mr McFarlane was suspended in early January 2008 and then dismissed in March 2008.
Mr McFarlane was given no other choice than to subject his religious faith to
the Equal Opportunities Policy.
However, although he won his wrongful dismissal claim, the Tribunal held that
his claim of religious discrimination should fail. The Tribunal recognised
powerful arguments on both sides, but held that the provision of non
discriminatory services was important.
Andrea Minichiello Williams Director of the Christian Legal Centre said : 'The
law is in a confused state; in the case of Lillian Ladele, the Islington
Registrar, the Court held that Christian belief must give way to the rights of
same sex couples; but in the case of Gary McFarlane there is a finding of
wrongful dismissal. The courts and public are confused; we call on the
Government to recognise the legitimate expression of conscience by Christians
in the area of sexual orientation and provide protection where necessary.'
Mr. McFarlane said that: 'If I were a Muslim, this would not have happened. But
Christians seem to have fewer and fewer rights'
Muslim prisoners for sex offences may opt out of therapy (Times 9 April 2008)
Non Muslim father banned from Swimming Pool (Telegraph 18/4/08)
Magistrate investigated for refusing evidence in veil (BBC 8/1/08)
Betts Awards 'Three Little Pigs' too offensive (BBC)
Andrea Minichiello Williams continued:- 'It is important to note that Mr.
McFarlane has never refused to counsel a same sex couple; he merely raised the
potential conflict between his Christian faith and homosexual conduct. It is
deeply disturbing that the mere expression of religious belief with an
inability to give unqualified support to sexual orientation issues means that a
Christian can be dismissed with no attempt to provide suitable accommodation
for his or her beliefs. The law preventing religious discrimination against
Christians is in danger of becoming a dead letter'.
Link to Judgment - http://www.ccfon.org/docs/reserved_judgment_20090501.pdf
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Briefing. We think she is. John Smeaton reports
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Briefing: there was a notorious Mass in Westminster Cathedral when the late Cardinal Hume was presented with 'liturgical dancers', but this kind of thing seems pretty rare in this country, thanks to a merciful providence. Here is some extraordinary goings-on in France, where what look a bit like Morris dancers are prancing about with enormous knives. The fun starts about half-way through.
Yes, dancing is forbidden in the Roman liturgy. This kind of thing can't really be called 'liturgical dance' of course since there is no such thing in the Catholic tradition. The closest we come to it are certain rhythmic processions; not only are these extremely rare in Europe but what fruit-cakes like these guys are doing has got no connection with that. They are simply performing a secular folk dance in church. See Cardinal Arinze for an excellent discussion of the issue.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
From CFNews: Both the Church and society are suffering today from the harm caused by gross distortions and the rejection of Catholic teaching over the past 40 years, warns Bishop Patrick O'Donohue of Lancaster.
'The idea of obedience and humility toward God's truth are totally alien to many people in this age of assertive individualism,' said the bishop.
Critical of a lack of courage in bishops and Catholic leaders, he stated: 'If we fail in our duty of presenting the truths of the faith, not only the Church but also wider society, suffers.'
In an interview with Zenit newsagency, the Bishop of Lancaster argued that 'the principal challenge, from which many of the other challenges spring, is the rejection of obedience in the Church.'
'We must allow the word of God to judge and challenge us,' he said, rather than approaching it 'with the attitude of consumers, who pick and choose according to taste and personal comfort.'
In the past few years Bishop O'Donoghue has emerged as the most outspoken bishop in these islands, stating without compromise what is demanded by the following of Christ.
Some months ago his comprehensive programme for the renewal of his diocese, Fit for Mission?, created a stir in the English-speaking world, and won the praise of top Vatican officials.
Bishop O'Donoghue admitted that he had been surprised 'both by the approval and the hostility' that his documents caused 'in my own diocese, nationally and internationally.'
He added, 'all I have done is reiterate and explain the teachings of the Church as expressed in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.'
Critical of bishops for their neglect in correcting distortions of the faith since the Council, he also did not spare well-educated lay Catholic leaders.
They, he said, 'occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord.'
Bishop O'Donoghue also claimed that 'a wrong type of ecumenism has put a brake on the Catholic Church's freedom to engage in evangelisation and mission in society.'
Fear of offending other Christians 'has inhibited us from confidently proclaiming the distinctive and defining truths of Catholicism,' he said.
He wanted ecumenical dialogue to focus on 'those elements of the Catholic Church that we have in common with non-Catholic churches and ecclesial communities.'
The goal, he said 'should always be to strengthen the imperfect communion that already exists, in the hope that non-Catholics will come to see and come to seek the fulness of truth.'
Since he hit the headlines, Bishop O'Donoghue has been seen as particularly concerned about the religious formation of children and young adults.
Part of his aim, he said was 'to encourage debate among clergy and catechists about the nature and methodology of catechesis and theology.'
He rejected the tendency to treat Church doctrine as a secondary source, 'with primacy given to personal experience and secular methodologies.' Rather, Church doctrine, 'the Deposit of Faith,' must have primacy in the task of communicating the fulness of the faith.
Catholic renewal will only come, he said, 'if clergy and laity, including the bishops, wholeheartedly accept obedience to the full doctrinal, moral and liturgical truth as entrusted to, and protected by, the Successor of St. Peter.' [www.alive.ie]