Saturday, 19 July 2008

Philippines bishops "take fight versus birth control to the street"

With powerful and enlightened leadership, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is organizing a mass demonstration against a reproductive health bill, rushing through the Philippines Congress, which allows the use of artificial birth control in family planning. In a press release entitled “Church takes fight versus birth control to the street” the bishops point out that the Bill seeks, through various measures, to work towards a 2-child policy.

Fenny Tatad, the executive director of the Bishops-Legislators Caucus of the Philippines says that “Collective Bargaining Agreements” between employers and employees are required to include birth control and other services in their agreements and that although not “mandatory and obligatory” the bill also proposes a 2-child policy.

“This and all the above-mentioned proposals are considered gross violations of the pro-family provisions of the Constitution and the universal right to health of citizens,” Tatad said. “Public funds coming from Catholic taxpayers will fund these programs which is oppressive and in violation of their universal right to religious freedom and the freedom to live their faith in an environment that is free of coercion and harassment,” she added.

Thousands of faithful are expected to join a rally at the parade ground of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on July 25 to show their opposition against the proposed population policy.

“The street protests will coincide with the CBCP’s celebration of the Humanae Vitae’s 40th year, the landmark encyclical issued by Pope Paul VI that deals with Church’s uncompromising stand on birth control” the bishops’ press statement says.

I have blogged recently about the fulfilment in England and Wales of Pope Paul VI’s prophecy in Humanae Vitae, that governments will impose on countries birth control measures which are considered lawful by couples in pursuit of a solution to particular family difficulties. I also explained how the Catholic authorities in England and Wales are co-operating with the British government in imposing birth control, including abortion, on families through children’s access to secret abortion in schools, including in Catholic schools.

The bishops in the Philippines are providing more enlightened leadership – by assisting couples and families to resist public policy which will undoubtedly lead, in the fullness of time, to the type of abuse we parents experience in England and Wales.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Pope Benedict and bishop of Motherwell united in defence of life

In the opening address of his visit to Australia for World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI (pictured right) has said:

"The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable."

Back on the other side of the globe, Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell, Scotland (pictured left) has said in a letter to the press:

"Protecting innocent infants in the womb, supporting pregnant, frightened young women and working to secure a better standard of living and greater opportunities for the poor and marginalised are not mutually exclusive ideals. Indeed, a nation that condemns to abortion our beautiful and blameless unborn babies betrays itself as morally, ethically and politically untrustworthy and disinclined to give due care and attention to the poorest and weakest members of our society. ... Britain has among the highest abortion rates, the highest rates of family breakdown and the worst social problems in modern Europe. Do not tell me these things are not connected."

I have blogged about Tony Blair, recently received in the Catholic Church, and his refusal to repudiate the strongly pro-abortion, pro-human embryo research and pro-euthanasia by neglect policies he and his government pursued. I have also blogged about Progressio and its partnerships with organizations which campaign for legalised abortion and against the Holy See's observer status at the United Nations.

Both Tony Blair and Progressio claim that their "concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment" are motivated by their Catholic faith.

I would like to invite readers of my blog to join me in writing to Tony Blair and writing to Progressio to ask them how they square their positions with those of Pope Benedict and the bishop of Motherwell. We are encouraged to do so by Pope John Paul II who said in Evangelium Vitae (95):

"We need to begin with the renewal of a culture of life within Christian communities themselves. Too often it happens that believers, even those who take an active part in the life of the Church, end up by separating their Christian faith from its ethical requirements concerning life, and thus fall into moral subjectivism and certain objectionable ways of acting. With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses. With equal clarity and determination we must identify the steps we are called to take in order to serve life in all its truth. At the same time, we need to promote a serious and in-depth exchange about basic issues of human life with everyone, including non-believers, in intellectual circles, in the various professional spheres and at the level of people's everyday life."

Thursday, 17 July 2008

World fast day of prayer for the unborn

Ian Walker is a fellow parishioner of mine. We belong to the Catholic parish of St. Joseph's, Wealdstone, in north London.

Ian is a devout man and, in his prayers, he felt called to organize a world day of fasting for the unborn on Thursday, 14th August.

With the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill
making progress through parliament, with all its terrible provisions including the creation of human-animal hybrids for destructive research, I readily gave him my support. There's also the real danger of pro-abortion MPs using the report stage of the bill to widen, in a major way, the Abortion Act, virtually stripping the unborn child of any vestige of protection.

The postponed report stage and third reading of the bill in the autumn will arrive before we know it. I believe that activities to defeat this bill and to stop parliament from agreeing to further liberalisation of the abortion law must intensify and grow in number as never before over the summer. We must work on this as though everything depended on us.

However, I believe in God and I believe in prayer and I think those who believe in prayer should pray as though everything depends on God.

It's a world fast day of prayer because the goverment of virtually every nation under the sun promotes abortion - by funding the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN body which supports and participates in the management of China's population control programme, the one-child policy implemented by forced abortion. 180 countries make financial contributions to UNFPA. (President Bush's administration does not do so, on account of UNFPA's activities in China.)

I therefore invite believers to join Ian Walker in a world fast day of prayer for the unborn. In our parish, Fr Michael Doherty (pictured above) is organizing the world fast day of prayer in accordance with Catholic traditions. On 14th August, evening Mass will be preceded by recitation of the Rosary and followed by Eucharistic adoration until 10 p.m.. Others may choose other ways of celebrating the day - either privately or in accordance with other Christian traditions.

Is the Government calling a pro-abortion tune for Progressio to dance with its partners?

I've blogged recently (4 July and 10 July) about Progressio, formerly the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR), and its pro-abortion partner organisation in El Salvador, Las Dignas. Progressio describes its work in El Salvador as including "Strengthening the women's movement on response to the needs of women's organisations". The question needs to be asked: has Progressio helped Las Dignas's work promoting abortion?

Further research into Progressio has revealed that at least two of its partner-organisations support a campaign to strip the Holy See, the government of the Catholic Church, of its permanent observer status at the United Nations. (The See Change campaign is run by the pro-abortion and falsely named Catholics For Choice [CFC] and is motivated by, among things, the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion.)

One of the two Progressio partners supporting See Change, COMUS (Colectiva Mujer y Salud) (Woman and Health Collective) in the Dominican Republic, is described by Progressio as: "a non-profit-making organisation which has been working since 1984 to defend the sexual and reproductive rights of Dominican women in rural and urban areas. The collective offers services of integral care and health (physical, mental and emotional), training, produces information materials and promotes public debate on gender issues."

"Sexual and reproductive rights" is a term commonly used to denote the right of access to abortion on demand. It would be interesting to know whether the Collective's "services of integral care and health" include abortion. The Collective lobbied its country's legislature to decriminalise abortion and condemned the government's decision to declare 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation, as the Day of the Unborn Child.

Among Progressio's areas of work in the Dominican Republic are "supporting women's organisations", "lobbying and advocacy skills training" and "training in social and political rights". The question needs to be asked: has Progressio helped the Collective to lobby for the legalisation of abortion?

Progressio describes its other partner supporting See Change, Fundacion Puntos de Encuentro (Meeting Points Foundation) in Nicaragua, as "a platform from which to take on and debate different themes from a perspective of diversity with equity and non-discrimination. Among others, it deals with the themes of health and sexual and reproductive rights". The Foundation is also a partner of the Guttmacher Institute, the worldwide pro-abortion lobby's leading research body. The Foundation campaigned against the closing of a loophole in Nicaraguan law which allowed abortion.

Progressio says that "the current focus of Progressio's work [in Nicaragua is, among other things] "to promote women's rights" and that "Progressio's development workers have strengthened advocacy by partner organisations working with networks of women". The question needs to be asked: has Progressio helped the Foundation to lobby for abortion?

A parliamentary answer yesterday showed that, in the decade since the Labour government came to power, Progressio has received over £28 million from the British government's Department for International Development (DFID), and will receive over £3 million in the coming financial year. The Labour government's policy is to promote abortion on demand worldwide as a fundamental, universal human right. Progressio itself presents a case study of DFID funding an English woman to prepare programmes for Progressio's pro-abortion partner in Nicaragua, the Meeting Points Foundation mentioned above.

Does the old adage "He who pays the piper calls the tune" apply here?

As a Catholic myself I think its wrong that Progressio is listed as a Catholic organization in the Catholic directory and that its publications can be found in Catholic churches.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Young people reap Government's bitter harvest

At least two news articles today highlight the fact that rates of sexually transmitted diseases in teenagers are at a record high (The Independent and Guardian). This is hardly surprising. Nor is it particularly new. The Government’s strategy of promoting birth control, including abortion, as some sort of panacea for society’s ills is not solving any problems. The victims of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy are not only growing numbers of unborn children being killed daily, but also the teenagers themselves.

There is hard evidence for this, as I have mentioned before. Professor David Paton, who holds a chair in Economics at Nottingham University, has shown in a paper entitled "
The economics of family planning and underage conceptions" (this paper is not available free online, but if you would like a copy please contact me) that family planning, and increased access to it, increases the likelihood that teenagers will engage in sexual activity. Prof. Paton says: "I find no evidence that greater access to family planning has reduced underage conceptions or abortions. Indeed, there is some evidence that greater access is associated with an increase in underage conceptions..."

Elsewhere, Prof. Paton discusses a principle which in the insurance industry is called “moral hazard”. The principle is that the greater the level of coverage afforded by any insurance scheme the more likely the insurance holder will be to take chances. Applying this principle to the current debate, Prof. Paton explains: "For those youngsters who are not opposed in principle to abortion, it provides a way in which, if pregnancy occurs, birth can be avoided, i.e. if pregnancy occurs either through failed or non-use of contraception, there is a possible let out clause."

As much as the Government would like us to believe that their policies are evidence-based, the truth is that they are driven by an ideology proving harmful to our teenagers. The Government is sowing the seeds of family breakdown and public health catastrophes, and the public, particularly young people, are beginning to reap the harvest.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Honour life, not anti-lifers

It has been reported that Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, has given a high papal honour to a pro-abortion politician "for services to the nature of healthcare". Renate Brauner, the deputy mayor of Vienna, received the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great. In autumn 2005 she is reported as having said: "If we socialist women speak about lasting values, we mean lasting women's values - abortion rights are part of it." Surprisingly, Cardinal Schönborn is reported as saying at Mrs Brauner's investiture: “It’s good if the finance minister in the city council has first been responsible for the health care system because, this way, we can be sure that the state money will be in good hands." I will be writing to Cardinal Schönborn regarding the award to Renate Brauner.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Abortion without borders

The latest edition of the The Tablet (which describes itself as "the international Catholic weekly") contains a glossy full-colour insert advertising Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sometimes known by its English name Doctors Without Borders (DWB). The insert's front page has a modern paraphrase of the Hippocratic Oath, "I will tread with care in matters of life and death". Yet inside, an MSF nurse working in the Democratic Republic of Congo recounts how her team "trained local nurses to provide emergency contraception", i.e. the morning-after pill, which may cause an early abortion.

The reference in the Tablet insert is by no means an isolated incident of MSF complicity in the culture of death. In November 2001, an MSF spokesman admitted that MSF doctors perform abortions, saying: "In some countries abortion is an important part of family planning policy."

MSF's own website has many references to MSF's provision of abortion and abortifacient birth control, and its programmes of "reproductive healthcare" and "family planning" (both euphemisms for abortion). For example, in December 2005 an MSF article said:

"The obligation to give resources - even when operating in dangerous situations - is above all the obligation to provide care and to ensure its quality. In cases of sexual violence, it could be a matter of giving antibiotic treatment to combat a sexually transmitted infection, giving prophylaxis treatment to prevent HIV infection, providing medicine to avoid pregnancy, performing an abortion or reconstructive surgery, or, of course, addressing psychosocial issues."

"Providing medicine to avoid pregnancy" refers to the morning-after pill - MSF deny that life begins at conception. ("Prophylaxis treatment" is a reference to condoms and possibly early drug treatment.)

Last year, the president of the International Federation of Associations of Catholic Doctors, Jose Maria Simon, claimed that an MSF internal protocol advises MSF doctors how to get away with performing illegal abortions.

Catholic publications should not promote Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). It is particularly to be regretted that this insert appeared in a publication sold at the back of Westminster Cathedral and other prominent Catholic places.

I will be writing to relevant Catholic authorities about this. In the meantime, anyone wanting more information about MSF's complicity in the culture of death can email me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Knife crime, abortion, Mother Teresa and Gordon Brown

This morning a Google UK search provides over 11,000 news references to knife crime. The first two headlines from Times Online and the Press Association read "Brown commits to immediate action on knife crime" and "PM pledge over knife crime measures".

Today's knife-crime news and questions about the causes of violence in Britain (and its solution) bring to mind Mother Teresa's speech on 3rd February, 1994, at the National Prayer Breakfast in the US, in Washington DC - attended by President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, the first lady.

Mother Teresa said:
"Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today - abortion which brings people to such blindness."
Peggy Noonan, best-selling author and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and present at the prayer breakfast, described the audience's response, including the reaction of Bill and Hillary Clinton, in an article in Crisis magazine:
"Well, silence. Cool deep silence in the cool round cavern for just about 1.3 seconds. And then applause started on the right hand side of the room, and spread, and deepened, and now the room was swept with people applauding, and they would not stop for what I believe was five or six minutes. As they clapped they began to stand, in another wave from the right of the room to the centre and the left. But not everyone applauded. The president and first lady, seated within a few feet of Mother Teresa on the dais, were not applauding. Nor were the vice president and Mrs. Gore. They looked like seated statues at Madame Tussaud’s. They glistened in the lights and moved not a muscle, looking at the speaker in a determinedly semi-pleasant way."
I'm sure Gordon Brown is entirely genuine when he says: “
The terrible stabbings that have occurred this week are shocking and tragic and my thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have been hurt or killed in these attacks".
In saying such things the Prime Minister expresses the thoughts of virtually everyone in the UK; and if Gordon Brown were to discover the cause of this epidemic of violence and begin to address it, his premiership will go down in history for this reason and he will be well remembered by the British people.

I believe that what Mother Teresa said in 1994 about violence in the United States applies equally to the situation in Britain today; and I believe that if Gordon Brown begins to see the mistake he (and Parliament) made in voting for legalised abortion, in vitro fertilisation and destructive embryo research - and thus completely undermining respect for the sacredness of all human life - he will have discovered the greatest destroyer of peace in Britain and the biggest cause of knife-crime.

Now that debate and voting on pro-abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill have been delayed till the autumn by the government, pro-life leaders and church leaders should waste no time in echoing the words of Mother Teresa:
"...this is the greatest destroyer of peace today, abortion...".
Tony Blair, Bill and Hillary Clinton have never repudiated their pro-abortion positions and the worldwide consequences of their policies have been catastrophic. Even one small step for Gordon Brown, using his Government's influence to stop a complete meltdowon on respect for unborn life in Britain, could prove to be a giant leap for humanity.