Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Catholic Education Service tells Catholics to "pull together"

It's difficult to know where to begin with the most recent reported statements from the Catholic Education Service (CES) on the appointment of Greg Pope, former Labour MP for Hyndburn, as its new deputy director. In a recent blogpost I gave a very full account of Mr Pope's lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record.

Oona Stannard says:
" ... At a time when as Catholics we particularly need to pull together, the undermining of Mr Pope saddens me ... "
She continues:
" ... His first line responsibility is the organisational management of CESEW but like all senior colleagues at CESEW he will be involved in policy work. In this and all aspects of his role he is required to uphold the Church’s teachings. This is a responsibility that he has willingly committed to undertake and I have every confidence that he will fulfil this expectation ... "
Can Oona Stannard explain, please, how the appointment of Greg Pope as deputy director of the Catholic Education Service, in the light of his lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record, helps Catholics to "pull together"?

Is Oona Stannard able to understand that Catholics and pro-life and pro-family campaigners feel that it is they who are being undermined and, I would say, oppressed by episcopal policy in England and Wales on sex and relationships education and, not least, through this latest appointment?

How does Oona Stannard reconcile Greg Pope's lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record with his responsibility in his new job "to uphold the Church's teachings"? When Oona Stannard says: "This is a responsibility that he has willingly committed to undertake and I have every confidence that he will fulfil this expectation ... ", on what basis does she have this confidence? Did he renounce those aspects of his parliamentary record to which I referred in my recent blogpost?

Greg Pope, for his part, is reported as saying:
“ ... I really want [to] look forward now to how I can serve the Catholic Church through its Education Service rather than debate the minutiae of previous voting tactics in the House of Commons ... "
Can Mr Pope understand why Catholics, pro-lifers and pro-family campaigners who've studied his lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record may not be content to allow matters to rest there?

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Abortion recovery care helpline for the UK is launched today in Glasgow

I'm in Glasgow today for the launch of a UK-wide new abortion recovery care service and free helpline at the Trades Hall in Glasgow: ARCH* (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline), formerly known as British Victims of Abortion.

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967 coming into effect (on 27th April 1968). It is, therefore, good to be present at the launch of such an important project - today of all days - reaching out to women, men and families who have been adversely affected by an abortion experience by offering counselling for Post Abortion Trauma (PAT).

ARCH has been set up in recognition of the fact that PAT is becoming a recognised problem in the UK, and is on the increase in Scotland where more than 60% of abortions are now RU486 abortions.

Margaret Cuthill (pictured), a PAT counsellor working with ARCH who is also post-abortive, said:
"We recognise that there is a great need for much in-depth work in the area of post-abortion recovery. ARCH will work to support and encourage the development of honest, caring support networks throughout the country to help women. We also want to encourage more research into PAT and raise greater awareness and understanding of this damaging condition.

"In the past surgical abortions were the norm and PAT often took a long time to surface for many women. Now the majority of abortions in Scotland are performed using RU486 where the woman is taking the pills herself and living with the procedure over a number of days. Post abortion counsellors like myself can see that in these cases PAT is immediate so we know that this service is vital."
Speaking at today's press conference, Margaret Cuthill said that women were "tortured and tormented" by abortion. Quoting Shakespeare's Richard II, Margaret conveyed the sorrow of abortion in these words:
“My grief lies all within, And these external manners of lament Are merely shadows to the unseen grief That swells with silence in the tortured soul”
And Cathy MacBean, ARCH's administrator said that she hoped the re-naming of the work which was established in 1987 as British Victims of Abortion would set more women and men on the road to recovery.
*ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline) is an organization which offers help for women, men and families to restore their lives and relationships after an abortion experience. It's committed to exposing the truth of abortion’s tragedy in our community that women deserve better than abortion. This is a free, confidential service, and is open to everyone , irrespective of their background, culture, ethnic origin, disability, gender, age and beliefs. It is a project funded by the SPUC educational research trust.
Its website address is www.archtrust.org.uk

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Monday, 26 April 2010

Smears against the Catholic Church by anti-lifers go back to sinister times

Blessed Clemens von Galen
The Foreign Office official’s memo smearing the Catholic Church for its defence of the sanctity of human life and the family is one of a number of similar recent smear campaigns. Yet few people know that such smear campaigns by those motivated by anti-life/anti-family ideology date back many decades. Enraged by Mit brennender sorge (1937), Pope Pius XI’s famous encyclical condemning Nazism, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, ordered a revenge campaign against the Catholic Church. The campaign involved exploiting the relatively few cases of child abuse within the Catholic Church in Germany at the time to create the impression that such abuse was endemic among Catholics.

One of the Church leaders who had taken swift action against child abuse was Blessed Clemens August Cardinal Graf von Galen (pictured), bishop of Munster. He later also took swift action to oppose the Nazi euthanasia programme. For this courageous opposition, Hitler vowed that “after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing.”

Shrugging off smear campaigns clearly motivated by anti-life/anti-family ideology as merely bad jokes is a signal failure to defend the Pope and the Catholic Church. Melanie Philips has today explained very well the gravity and significance of the Foreign Office memo.

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches (n. 81):
“The Church’s social doctrine has the task of proclamation, but also of denunciation [emphasis in the original] … This social doctrine also entails a duty to denounce, when sin is present: the sin of injustice and violence that in different ways moves through society and is embodied in it.”
We need true Catholic voices prepared to cry in the wilderness, not reeds who prefer to bend with the wind.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Pope Benedict "could be invited to open an abortion clinic"

Jack Valero's - of Catholic Voices - response to the Foreign Office document suggesting Pope Benedict might be asked to open an abortion clinic, is unimpressive. Thankfully the document has now been withdrawn by an embarrassed foreign office.

Jack Valero (pictured right) is reported on Catholic Voices' website to have said:
"I think it's a joke that has gone wrong - light relief that has gone out of control. And I think Catholics will just take it like this, you know, that they'll think about it today and then they will forget about it."

He said those that have been scarred by abortion would find the joke "a bit thin".
Sorry Jack, that's really not good enough, particularly in view of the unbalanced criticism of the Catholic Church during the prime ministerial debate last Thursday. May I respectfully remind you what Pope John Paul II said about abortion?
"Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an "unspeakable crime" ...

" ... The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby's cries and tears ... " Evangelium Vitae, N. 58.
Pope John Paul II goes on to say (in relation to abortion and euthanasia):
" ... But any State which made such a request legitimate and authorized it to be carried out would be legalizing a case of suicide-murder, contrary to the fundamental principles of absolute respect for life and of the protection of every innocent life. In this way the State contributes to lessening respect for life and opens the door to ways of acting which are destructive of trust in relations between people. Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good ... " Evangelium Vitae, No 72.
Abortion, in other words, is not a matter of private morality of concern only to Catholics. On the contrary, Pope John Paul II teaches: "When a parliamentary or social majority that it is legal, at least under certain conditions, to kill unborn human life, is it not really making a 'tyrannical' decision with regard to the weakest and most defenceless of human beings? Everyone's conscience rightly rejects those crimes against humanity of which our century has had such sad experience. But would these crimes cease to be crimes if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimated by popular consensus? ... " Evangelium Vitae, N70

As Clement Atlee, the post-war Labour prime minister, said of Harold Laski when he sought to intervene in foreign affairs, I would say to Jack Valero: " ... a period of silence on your part would be welcome."

By way of contrast, I thought the Government's response was nearer the mark. David Milliband, the foreign secretary, was said to be "appalled" by the incident.


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