Friday, 13 May 2011

Silence about the Birmingham Three endangers other "good and holy men"

I have long referred on this blog to the co-operation between the Catholic authorities in England and Wales and the  Government in its attack on families, on parents as the primary educators of their children, on the innocence and welfare of schoolchildren, and on the sanctity of human life.

Things could not be more serious: and still those episcopal policies, such as lending support to the previous government's legislative proposals which would have facilitated the corruption of our children, remain in force, not least through the continued employment of Greg Pope at the Catholic Education Service (see below).

This evening, on the first anniversary of the expulsion of three "good and holy men" from the Birmingham Oratory, I find myself wondering whether the Birmingham Three, their confreres, and even those apparently acting in authority over them, are all, somewhere along the ecclesiastical line, perhaps unwitting instruments of this policy of co-operation between State and Church - at the expense of the lives of unborn children, of marriage and the family.

Let's look at some of the past year's events:
  • We had the story in The Times a year ago with its hints of alleged homophobia - re-cycled by A Reluctant Sinner.
  • Importantly, we had the unequivocal confirmation from a Birmingham Oratory spokesman that the three Oratorians were "entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever, including, specifically, sexual misdemeanours or homophobia".
  • Equally importantly, however, they remain in exile, in spite of assurances from a Birmingham Oratory spokesman in June 2010 that the Three "can come back soon and continue as normal"
Mud sticks. And since their exile we've had Archbishop Nichols undermining Pope Benedict's teaching on gay unions*, just the day after His Holiness returned from England to Rome.

Before their exile, the Birmingham Oratory website was boldly denouncing the previous government's legislative proposals which would have enabled the promotion and facilitation of abortion, contraception and homosexuality in schools, including Catholic schools. These shocking proposals - fortunately defeated following a strong campaign by SPUC, Catholic clergy, head teachers and school governors and three Catholic bishops - were painted in a good light by Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

And Archbishop Nichols has continued to back the appointment of Greg Pope, the anti-life, anti-family former Member of Parliament as deputy director of the Catholic Education Service as does Bishop McMahon, Archbishop Nichols's successor as chairman of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW).

Many Catholic clergy, three Catholic bishops, and others put up a brave fight against the policy of the bishops' conference of England and Wales on the Children Schools and Families bill - and not least through their courage - we won that campaign.

But silence about the unjust fate of the Birmingham Three - with the exception of lay bloggers - exposes those churchmen and churchwomen who dare to speak out boldly about the wickedness of episcopal policies to a similar fate; and it leaves families, children, parents and unborn children to the tender mercies of the realpolitik of the bishops' conference of England and Wales. God help us.

In a fascinating interview about the Birmingham Three Dr Tom Ward is asked about the silence of the Catholic clergy in publicly challenging what happened.

Dr Ward, a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, says:
"Good priests are busy men and there was a great deal of disinformation in the media. This disinformation caused confusion in spite of the valiant efforts of individual lay people to get the truth through ... This was one reason for the clerical silence.

 "The other reason was much more worrying. The penalties that the three Oratorians had suffered were draconian and it was universally agreed that they are virtuous men who are innocent of any wrong doing. For example, on May 26, 2010 their brother Oratorian and their then Provost, Fr. Duffield said in reply to a letter: 'I agree with what you say about Fathers Dermot, Philip and Lewis and with the specific examples you give of their virtues. All three have been my friends for many years. They have not done anything wrong" and the matters involved are private and "do not involve any wrong-doing'. In a letter to an enquirer (June 5, 2010) the spokesman of the Oratory wrote : 'These good and holy men have led exemplary lives and offered wonderful pastoral care to the parishioners of the Oratory'.

 "As I said the other reason for the silence of the priests was more worrying. It was fear. Having seen what happened to the Oratorians they wondered what might to happen to them if they too were outspoken."
Quite so Dr Ward.

*Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, teaches in paragraph 97 of Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Let's listen to the Pope and bishops speaking with the courage of St Peter at Pentecost

In recent days Pope Benedict has given a number of addresses in which he proclaimed the Gospel of Life:

Today in an address to a Jewish delegation, the Pope said:
"[O]ne of the most important things that we can do together is bear common witness to our deeply-held belief that every man and woman is created in the divine image and thus possessed of inviolable dignity. This conviction remains the most secure basis for every effort to defend and promote the inalienable rights of each human being".
On 7 May he addressed the citizens of Aquileia:
"[You have the mission of] witnessing to the love of God for humanity, above all, through acts of love and life choices made in favor of actual persons, beginning with the most vulnerable, fragile, and defenseless ... such as the poor, the elderly, the ill, and the disabled.
...
From faith lived courageously arises, today as in the past, a fertile culture of love for life, from its conception to its natural end, for the promotion of human dignity, for the exaltation of the importance of the family based on faithful marriage and openness to life, and for a commitment to justice and solidarity".
Also on 7 May, in a message to Italian Catholic Action, the Pope listed first "the defense of life" as one of "the most pressing problems of the everyday life of the family".

Also this week, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, who heads the Korean bishops' bioethics commission, said in a message for the country's first annual Sunday for Life that:
"[Abortion is] even worse than ordinary murder because it is committed by the parents of the victim and the medical staff that is supposed to protect life. It is a brutal crime against a defenceless human being and must be condemned without question ... [P]eople have become completely insensitive to the idea of moral judgement. People no longer care, and thus prepare the ground for other crimes. A rampant culture of death is spreading around the world, especially in Korea, and it must be stopped.”
Bishop Gabriel's teaching on the moral gravity of abortion reflects the strong yet compassionate teaching of the late Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae:
"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. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having it done.

It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being." [para.58]
Pope Benedict and bishops such as Bishop Gabriel are speaking with the same courage shown by St Peter at Pentecost, who did not shrink from telling the men of Jerusalem:
"Do penance ... Save yourselves from this perverse generation."
And what was the result of this plain, strong talking?:
"[T]here were added in that day about three thousand souls ... [T]he Lord increased daily together such as should be saved."
So we must hope and pray that soon bishops will speak out boldly for life and family, not just in Rome and Korea, but in England and Wales too.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Swedish parliament votes to campaign against conscientious objection to abortion

The Riksdag (the Swedish parliament)
The Swedish Parliament voted this afternoon to campaign against a European resolution upholding the right to conscientious objection to abortion.

Swedish parliamentarians voted 271 to 20 to instruct the Swedish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Coucil of Europe (PACE) to work to change a resolution passed in October, which said (in part):
"No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion".
SPUC's lobbying had helped pass the final (amended) version of that resolution.

The text of today's motion in the Swedish parliament said (inter alia):
"Sweden should support efforts which makes abortions free, safe and legal for all women. Sweden is one of few countries who are central in the international work focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights."
As I told the media earlier today, Sweden's vote today shows the lengths to which the supporters of abortion are prepared to go to promote the killing of unborn children. There are no international conventions which recognise a right to abortion, whereas conscientious objection is a basic principle of international human rights law. October's PACE resolution was passed in a massively amended form because the original text was an outrageous attack upon the ethical standards of the medical profession, trained to preserve, not end, life. We will be working with our colleagues across Europe to ensure that Sweden's attempt to erode the right to defend life is thwarted.

The text approved by the Swedish Parliament today reads:
“The resolution 1763 (2010), adopted October 7, 2010, by the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council, implies that health care workers should have the possibility to choose not to perform abortions. The position of the standing committee, has been expressed in the commission report 2009/10:UU15, “Human rights in Swedish Foreign Policy”. The standing committee stands firm that Sweden should support efforts which makes abortions free, safe and legal for all women. Sweden is one of few countries who are central in the international work focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Swedish policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights remains stable. The standing committee notices that the issue of abortion is not covered by the EU treaty. The standing committee remain negative to the content of Resolution 1763 (2010) and consider the [Swedish] delegation to take more action to accomplish a change of this resolution.”
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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Wednesday 11 May

Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

"Catholic Voices" are undermining Catholic teaching on homosexuality

On 1 May Jack Valero and Chris Morgan of Catholic Voices were interviewed on BBC West Midlands radio. Mr Valero and Mr Morgan were questioned about, among other things, the issue of Catholic teaching on homosexuality* (full transcript of their replies on homosexuality). Whilst they affirmed that the Church approves neither homosexual acts nor homosexual marriage, they also commented on homosexual orientation:
Jack Valero
Valero: "[T]he Catholic Church is against all forms of homophobia, and all forms of unjust discrimination against anybody for what they are ... I think people could have this idea that the Catholic Church is not in favour of gay people or whatever, but that’s absolutely not true. The Church is in favour of all people without discrimination."
...
Interviewer: "[The Catholic Church] says you can’t be a Catholic and gay, or a good Catholic and gay."
Valero: "No, that’s absolutely not true. I have many friends who are homosexually inclined and are Catholic and are very happy with the Church and practising Catholics and so on."
...
Chris Morgan
Interviewer: "Do you think the Catholic Church has had a particular problem with homosexuality in proactively challenging discrimination against it?"
Morgan: "I don’t think the church does have a problem ... [I]f you look at Catholic teaching it’s very clear that all discrimination is wrong."
...
Interviewer: "So it’s alright to be gay but you can’t have sex."
Morgan: "There is absolutely nothing wrong with somebody being homosexual. If that’s the way they are, that’s just their characteristic. There is nothing wrong with that at all."
Firstly, what does Mr Valero mean by "homophobia", a term invented by the homosexual rights lobby? And what does Mr Valero include in "all forms of homophobia"?

Secondly, do Mr Valero and Mr Morgan agree on the issue of discrimination? Mr Valero says the Church is against "unjust discrimination" but Mr Morgan claims that "Catholic teaching [is] very clear that all discrimination is wrong".

Lastly, why are Mr Valero and Mr Morgan undermining Catholic teaching on homosexual orientation by asserting boldly that there is "nothing wrong" with being homosexual? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states clearly that:
"homosexual acts...do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity ... [The homosexual] inclination...is objectively disordered"
and the Holy Office's 1986 letter "on the pastoral care of homosexual persons" teaches that:
"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder." [no.3]

"[I]ncreasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered ... The Church's ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church." [no.8]
In 2003 the Holy Office made clear, precisely in the context of the public debate about homosexuality, that:
"Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth".
Mr Valero and Mr Morgan have not only failed to "give witness to the whole moral truth" about homosexuality, but have contradicted Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

One does not need to look far for the likely origin of this scandal. Dr Austen Ivereigh, Mr Valero's fellow Catholic Voices co-ordinator who recently endorsed civil partnerships, in September said:
"In the briefing sessions [for Catholic Voices spokesmen] ... a thorny issue was homosexuality. Obviously we had to deal with the “disordered” language... Also, we had to deal with the question of what are gay people actually called to? Obviously they’re called to chastity, because the only place for sex is within marriage. But are they called to love, for example? It caused a bit of discussion. It’s one of those cases in which I don’t think there’s really a settled view within the church."
Also in September the Catholic Voices blog not only espoused the unorthodox position broadcast this month by Mr Valero and Mr Morgan, but defended the infamous Soho Masses, despite the clear and mounting evidence, easily available then as now, that these Masses are organised by and for openly-practising homosexual dissenters.

Unless and until Catholic Voices accepts the "whole moral truth" of Catholic teaching on sexual ethics, and "in every occasion" witnesses without ambiguity or internal contradiction to that truth, they have no business representing Catholicism.

*And why is the Catholic Church's teaching on sexual ethics important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection. 

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Disability rights group welcomes survey showing disabled concerned about assisted suicide

Alison Davis, leader of No Less Human (NLH), a group within SPUC, has responded to the survey commissioned by Scope which found that a majority of disabled people were "concerned about a change in the law to legalise asssisted suicide."

Alison told the media earlier today:
"This survey is particularly welcome because it disproves the constant claim by the misnamed 'Dignity In Dying'* lobby that most disabled people support assisted suicide. Scope, by contrast, is an independent organisation with no affiliation to either side of the argument. *(Formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.)

"Dignity In Dying's spurious distinction between 'assisted suicide' and 'assisted dying' does not hold. Both aim to cause the death of a sick or disabled person, because their life is considered, by themselves or others, to be not worth living. Such people need support to live, not encouragement to believe that their suicidal thoughts are rational and right.

"My personal experience proves this to be true. Some years ago, when I was in great pain, and was simultaneously experiencing other forms of suffering, I made up my mind that I wanted to die - a settled wish that lasted more than 10 years. Had assisted suicide/dying as proposed by Dignity in Dying been available then, I would have qualified for it, and would have chosen it.

"My doctors believed my remaining life would be very short, and my pain was intractable. Now, so many years later, my pain is, if anything, even worse. What has changed is my outlook on life, helped by friends who refused to accept my view that my life had no value or meaning.

"Had my request for assisted death been accepted then, I would have missed the best years of my life - and no one would ever have known that the doctors were entirely wrong in thinking I had little time left to live.

"Members of No Less Human join their voices to the 77% of disabled people (18-24 years) surveyed who believe that legalising assisted suicide/death would result in pressure on other disabled people to end their lives prematurely. Moreover we recognise that disabled people are particularly in danger of having our lives deemed not worth living, whatever our views on the subject.

"Suicidal disabled people deserve the same care, support and presumption in favour of life as able-bodied people who feel suicidal. If this does not happen, it only confirms the view of many of us that society regards us as dispensible, and of little or no value to society."

This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Tuesday 10 May

The Woodward family
Abortion
Embryology
Population
Sexual ethics

Monday, 9 May 2011

A new survey of disabled people on assisted suicide is welcome

SPUC Pro-Life has welcomed a survey of disabled people’s concerns about the possible legalisation of assisted suicide. The survey, commissioned by disability group Scope, found that 70% of disabled people are “concerned about pressure being placed on other disabled people to end their lives prematurely” “if there were a change in the law on assisted suicide”.

The survey also found that most young adults share the concerns of older generations about the dangers of legalising assisted suicide.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC Pro-Life’s communications manager, told the media earlier today:
“We welcome this survey and take encouragement from its findings. Scope, which commissioned the survey, is not part of the pro-life movement and there is no suggestion of it being partisan. The survey’s questions were worded fairly, unlike recent general public opinion polls which use the pro-euthanasia lobby’s euphemisms, such as ‘assisted dying’. Disabled people, including young adults, are increasingly alarmed by the celebrity-driven push for legalising assisted suicide. Disabled people want help to live well and die naturally, not lethal injections or poison-pills."

This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Monday 9 May

BBC presenter Kate Silverton
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The culture of death at work in this weekend's Economist

For a truly chilling commentary on 21st century-style social engineering aimed at the world's poorest families by powerful agents/agencies of the culture of death - please see this week's edition of The Economist.

With cruel, albeit unconscious, irony, the Economist runs a story under the headline Good trash, How television and radio shows can improve behaviour  about the work of the Population Media Centre (PMC). The story begins by explaining how radio drama has been used by PMC to influence people in Papua New Guinea on environmental issues.

Warming to its theme, it continues:
"Evidence that radio and television soaps can change behaviour was first spotted in the 1970s. But solid academic research was lacking until a few years ago. In 2008 economists at the Inter-American Development Bank, for instance, found that Brazilians receiving Globo, a television network, had fewer children and got divorced more often. Another study discovered that, as cable television spread, the fertility rate in rural India dropped by as much as if women had received five additional years of education.

"Some thought that this was because couch potatoes were less likely to make babies. But research in Ethiopia showed that dramas can have a direct effect. Demand for contraceptives rose by 157% among married women who listened to the soap operas "Yeken Kignet" and "Dhimbibba" ...

“ ... The best results are when people identify with characters,” says Betty Oala of the PMC. This is why the organisation does extensive research, takes on local writers and uses native languages."
Now reflect on the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae:
"Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power [the use of contraceptive methods of birth control] passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife ...

" ... And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations. To you most of all is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. You can contribute so much to the preservation of morals. We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be undermined ... "
And remember too the words of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae:
"The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being."
How tragic it is that, since 1971, Vatican officials have put in place an unofficial policy through the Washington case (about which I spoke towards the end of my talk in Saragossa) which has effectively denied unborn children as well as families throughout the world - Catholic and non-Catholic - the protection of the fullness of the teaching of the Church as set out in Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae.

The story in this week's Economist is one more illustration as to how the whole world is suffering from the culture of death, including Vatican politics which has done so much to stifle the prophetic voice of the Catholic church on the use and promotion of artificial birth control.

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