Friday, 31 May 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Fri 31 May

Top story:

Ireland's dangerous abortion bill will be used as model for Catholic world
The Irish government's legislative proposals on abortion will be used by the international pro-abortion lobby, worldwide, as a "model" for majority Catholic countries. It's essential that pro-life citizens, politicians and church leaders worldwide study this Bill - not least SPUC's full analysis of it http://www.spuc.org.uk/documents/papers/2013/ireland20130524 . > Blogpost with executive summary

Other stories:

Abortion
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Professor Jones's LCP submission is a matter of great concern

Prof. David Jones (left) with Abp. Vincent Nichols
Professor David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Centre for Bioethics, is reported by The Tablet (16 May 2013) to be offering the reassuring news that his preliminary investigation into the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) finds that it:
“has not yet been demonstrated that the LCP is 'structurally unsound' or 'inherently unethical'.”
However, Professor Jones's reassurance (which appears in his submission to an enquiry, chaired by Baroness Julia Neuberger) merits, I believe, serious criticism - particularly since his submission could be presented as being on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. His submission is headed Submission to the Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway [LCP] on behalf of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. In a footnote Professor Jones adds:
"This submission was prepared in an individual capacity at the request of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales".
Firstly, it seems to be nowhere mentioned in his submission that Professor Jones has been intimately involved in the ongoing formulation and promotion of the Liverpool Care Pathway, not only sitting on the National Reference Group of the LCP (see his Anscombe biography or the LCP Reference Group itself) but also giving talks promoting the LCP, at least once with the founder of the Pathway, Professor Ellershaw. Does this not represent a conflict of interests which could be embarrassing for the Catholic bishops of England and Wales?

Secondly, I ask the question: were all the bishops of England and Wales consulted about this submission, over which there is growing concern, not least from senior Catholic doctors? In this connection, I have been informed by one such doctor that none of the senior Catholic medics who are opposed to (or highly critical of) the LCP itself, as well as its implementation, were consulted by Professor Jones when making his submission on behalf of the Catholic bishops.

Thirdly, Professor Jones’s submission suffers from a number of defects. Having failed to mention the role of financial incentives in the implementation of the Pathway in his (recently revised) Comment on the LCP (posted "with the approval of the governors of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre" on the Centre's website), Professor Jones now acknowledges there is a problem. However, he does so in order apparently to minimise it, merely asking:
“Is there evidence (from minutes of meetings, emails, witnessed conversations etc.) that commissioners, managers or doctors believe that the LCP hastens death and saves money for that reason?”
... As if evidence for such could easily be found (the financial incentives were unmentioned by Professor Jones and by the key promoters of the LCP until a determined journalist at the Daily Telegraph made some Freedom of Information requests)... As if financial incentives don’t corrupt in multiform and latent ways, especially in end-of-life care in a country such as the UK. We do know, however, that in certain areas, targets have been set* specifically to increase the numbers of people in their hospital dying on the Pathway. Nothing of this appears in Professor Jones’s submission on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. (*A lethal power? New Law Journal 23rd November 2012 Dr Jacqueline Laing, BA, LLB (ANU) DPhil (Oxon), barrister, High Court of Australia, senior lecturer in law, London Metropolitan University.)

Fourthly, Professor Jones tells us all disagreements about the LCP are 'empirical', yet he has neither medical qualifications nor expertise in the analysis of empirical data. On the crucial issue of diagnosis of impending death he quotes and gives central importance to an unblinded study in which the raters were also the carers. Indeed, the LCP is predicated on prognosis yet there is no reliable scientific evidence to show that it is possible to predict reliably the timing of death within a period of hours or days. As Professor Pullicino, pointed out in his lecture to the Royal Society of Medicine (June 2012) Can we predict impending death? The scientific evidence:
“The LCP does not attempt to use any published prognostication index to determine who goes onto it” and that 'being within the last hours of days of life' is really a prediction not a prognostication.” 
There is no recognition that the LCP is not evidence-based, as judged by authoritative Cochrane Reviews.

Fifthly, the submission dismisses cavalierly the media coverage which seeks to give voice to the huge number of complaints about the Pathway. Here Professor Jones reveals the partial nature of the submission. He focuses attention on a tiny number of sloppy articles (as there inevitably are for any news story) amidst a mini-mountain of witness statements and evidence regarding the flaws in the LCP and its implementation. Incredibly, no mention is made of the many misleading statements made by supporters of the LCP.

Sixthly, as Professor Pullicino, Dr Philip Howard and Dr Anthony Cole have noted:
“He supports the idea of withdrawal of fluid and sedative management in "dying" patients, without showing he understands how this conflicts with the physiology of thirst and the respiratory and central nervous system depressant effects of opiates and benzodiazepines”.
They add:
"He fails to highlight the pivotal place of the diagnosis that a patient is 'dying' in the LCP. He accepts the term 'dying patient' with only superficial discussion. He mentions that if the diagnosis of 'dying' is wrong, then reduction of fluids could be fatal. He does not see the potential for this to bring about a 'self-fulfilling prophecy' in someone diagnosed as 'dying' in the LCP, although he says that there is some concern for those 'who live longer than expected'.
"He is very critical of the views of Catholic physicians who have reported on the LCP and fails to do justice to what they put forward.”
It seems to me to be a matter of great concern that an individual's partial views should form an official response by the Catholic bishops. It will now appear that the official Catholic line on the LCP is one of support, together with a dismissive attitude toward critics.

We do not need an evangelist for the LCP. We need submissions which deal objectively with the scientific and ethical issues.

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Thursday, 30 May 2013

US Catholic archdiocese helps fund contraception and abortion insurance plan


It's perplexing, to say the least, to find leaders of the Catholic Church who are so signally failing to engage in the battle against the culture of death - to the point of co-operating with that culture.

For those who would criticize Michael Voris, of Church Militant, for raising such matters so forcibly, I would make the following points:
  • What Voris is saying has already been covered fully by the New York Times. The damage is done. The scandal is out there. Michael Voris is now challenging the Church to address the scandal and put things right.
  • Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae(number 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."
    Michael Voris is doing precisely what Pope John Paul II called for in Evangelium Vitae.
  • Thirdly, Michael Voris finds support for his outspokenness, I believe, in the words of Cardinal Raymond Burke, addressing the World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome in November 2010:
    "Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life. Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities.”

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Horror of suicide is being utilised by pro-abortion and same-sex marriage lobbies

Today I am pleased to publish a reflection by Anthony McCarthy on the desecration of the human body, promoted by those who are lobbying in support of legalised abortion - not least at present in Ireland - and those who are lobbying in support of same-sex marriage of same-sex marriage, not least in Britain. (As the vote in the House of Lords looms on 3 June, please contact Katherine Hampton katherinehampton@spuc.org.uk in SPUC's political department to find out what you can do.)
Our society is one where people are taught to believe that a person’s body is what the person chooses to make of it. It is "self-owned": it has no inherent meaning, no in-built complementarity, no ‘givenness’. Only what we choose to value has value – there is nothing valuable in itself.

In 1791 the French revolutionaries expunged from the penal code prohibitions on suicide and sodomy, regarding these prohibitions as based on mere superstition. The use and abuse of the human body, its desecration, ceased to be seen as absolutely morally wrong. That which isn’t sacred (consecrated) could hardly be desecrated. And the very idea of the sacred was one that the promoters of ‘liberte’ were out to expunge.

Yet there remains, in the minds of many, a particular horror about suicide. Even that great philosopher of pessimism Arthur Schopenhauer, whose world view would seem to encourage "self-slaughter", was against it. GK Chesterton captures the horror we feel about suicide - as opposed to our admiration for those like Christian martyrs who accept their deaths but do not intend them:
“The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.”
This most desperate of acts is, of course, a matter of great sorrow for those left behind grieving, whether the suicide was freely chosen or, as so often, the result of a painfully clouded mind. Against this background, it is disturbing to see how, increasingly, groups with their own agendas are utilising the horror decent people feel about suicide in order to forward those agendas.

In Ireland a pro-abortion Bill has been presented which, among other things, proposes that any pregnant mother threatening suicide (although the threat need not be “inevitable or immediate”!) can access an abortion, even up to birth. So, for all the Bill’s talk of "medicine" and "clinical decision making" it ultimately finds that threats of violence may dictate medical decisions.

Would a threat of suicide be enough to justify a doctor in amputating a healthy limb, for example? If we allow this, then medicine loses all internal coherence: suicidal patients can dictate what counts as medicine, just as a terrorist might. And of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that killing an unborn child can ever "treat" the mother’s suicidal state: on the contrary, there is evidence that abortion increases suicidal ideation.

Another area where threats of suicide are often cited is in regard to same-sex marriage. People who support traditional marriage are sometimes told that maintaining this fundamental good for children, parents and society somehow causes young homosexuals to kill themselves. Again, there is no evidence for this whatsoever, though suicide is sadly more common among people who experience same-sex attraction, whether they are living in "liberal" or less "liberal" societies.

In short: if we really wish to show support for same-sex attracted people, and for despairing pregnant women, perhaps we could start by challenging the desecrating ideology of ‘choice’ that does nothing to address the roots of their despair. This is, of course, an area of risk, but we should love our enemies and stand firm. Let us stand up for the truth in these matters, and offer those in distress something a bit more than "desecration on demand".
Anthony McCarthy is a biothecist and former Research Fellow of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre. He is now SPUC's senior education manager.

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Monday, 27 May 2013

Ireland's dangerous abortion bill will be used as model for Catholic world

I have no doubt that the Irish government's legislative proposals on abortion will be used by the international pro-abortion lobby, worldwide, as a "model" for majority Catholic countries. It's essential that pro-life citizens, politicians and church leaders worldwide study this Bill - not least SPUC's full analysis of it http://www.spuc.org.uk/documents/papers/2013/ireland20130524

Deceptively entitled Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 (my emphasis) the Irish Government’s legislative proposals strip the right to life from children before, and even during, birth in a broad range of circumstances.

Their Bill will compel all maternity hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions. It will greatly increase the small number of abortions of questionable legality which are performed annually in Ireland.

It is urgently necessary that Catholic politicians are warned that support for the legislation would be contrary to Catholic teaching. In particular Catholics supporting these legislative proposals should be warned not to receive Holy Communion. Furthermore Catholic hospitals should be forbidden by Ireland’s bishops to provide abortion, if the legislative proposals are enacted.

In brief:

The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill (2013) if passed will mark a radical change in Ireland's abortion law. In many aspects the Bill is more permissive than the British Abortion Act (1967):
  • It repeals the comprehensive protection of unborn children under the Offences Against the Person Act (1861). It strips the right to life from children before, and even during, birth in a broad range of circumstances. Threats to life need not be inevitable or immediate.
  • It permits abortion on the grounds of suicidal ideation – once again, even when a threat of suicide is neither inevitable nor immediate.
  • Its numerous inconsistencies and ill-defined terms (eg "good faith", "reasonable opinion" and "due regard") render the Bill's limited protection of children virtually unenforceable.
The Bill fails to consider developments in science and legal precedent:
  • Its arbitrary and unscientific definition of "unborn" excludes all unimplanted embryos conceived naturally or by artificial means leaving such embryos vulnerable to exploitation.
  • This definition ignores the implications of recent Irish case-law which identifies the point of genetic fusion of parental DNA (ie fertilisation, not implantation) as decisive in establishing motherhood.
The Bill violates rights guaranteed by the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, including the equal right to life and freedom of conscience:
  • It will compel medical personnel to participate in abortion in some ways, while offering no protection to other professionals.
  • It will compel maternity hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions.
  • It legalises abortion without the consent of a pregnant woman in undefined “emergency” situations.
This Bill is so dangerously and deeply flawed that successful amendment of it is impossible. It should therefore be withdrawn in its entirety. If passed, this Bill will hugely increase the number of abortions carried out in Ireland. It is, without doubt, a Bill proposing a clearly unjust law and it must be resisted at every level.

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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Take courage from this performance as fight on same-sex marriage rages on

Make no mistake: the fight over same-sex marriage is not over simply because one house of the British parliament has voted for a bill. It will rage on, into the House of Lords on 3 June, in our communities and all over the world, just as the abortion battle rages on decades after the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967 and after the Roe v. Wade judgment. Our voices must be heard and we must have the courage to make them heard.

In that regard, over recent months SPUC has received a wealth of messages (see a selection below) congratulating Anthony Ozimic's performance back in January on ITV's This Morning programme on the subject of same-sex marriage and schools  (see below or view it on SPUC's channel on YouTube). Not only did Anthony hold his own against what was a three-against-one cross-examination, but the gap in the viewing public's opinions narrowed during the debate from 80%-20% to 60%-40%. As Fr Timothy Finigan, leading Catholic blogger, commented:
"In such an arena, arguing alone against three opponents, this was a highly significant swing. At the end, even the presenters had to acknowledge this and managed to admit that the debate was "interesting.""
So we should take courage from this proof that we can convince other people of our cause and that we mustn't be intimidated. As the vote in the House of Lords looms on 3 June, please contact Katherine Hampton katherinehampton@spuc.org.uk in SPUC's political department to find out what you can do.



From clergy:

Fr Timothy Finigan, Catholic priest and leading Catholic blogger:
"Anthony Ozimic fights 3-1 pounding and wins on points: Calm, dispassionate and devastatingly effective ... Congratulations to Anthony for this sterling defence of marriage and to SPUC for their determined campaign on this issue."
Fr Neil Brett, Catholic priest:
"Anthony’s performance was outstanding. All the answers were ready without sounding over-prepared. I was trembling for him while watching the onslaught, but he didn’t put a foot wrong. One of the techniques of these bullies is to feign shock when you say something they dislike. He handled that very well. What they obviously didn’t like was the change in voting. Genuine shock!"
Fr Andrew Southwell, Catholic priest:
"Anthony was superb. To be faced with three hostile individuals on public television and to remain calm and focused was brilliant."
Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson, Catholic priest:
"God bless Anthony. He was magnificent. The Holy Spirit was with him. ... I just wish I could be as calm and collected under fire!"
Fr Daniel Kelly, Catholic priest:
"[I] would like to congratulate Anthony Ozimic of SPUC for his incredible defence of marriage!"
Fr Robert Farrell, of the Dominican Order:
"Please thank Anthony for very convincing defence of marriage. Well done!"
Fr Philip Miller, Catholic priest:
"Well done, Anthony - this was a very tricky setting for a debate, and you did well."
Br Pius Collins, of the Norbertine Order:
"Well done, Anthony! Keep up the good work."
From a Catholic deacon:
"Bravo on your "This Morning" appearance, you flew the flag eloquently and well ... Thank you Anthony for representing the views of so many so bravely."
From bioethicists:

Professor Luke Gormally:
"Anthony was excellent – very calm and very lucid ... Anthony came across as splendidly lucid and as so calmly confident about the truth he had to communicate that he was undistracted by the evident hostility of those challenging him, remaining measured and courteous throughout. A heartening and impressive performance."
From Catholic Church officials:

Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs, Catholic archdiocese of Westminster:
"What was striking about the manner in which the online poll reduced in minutes from 80% in favour of teaching children about homosexuality to 60% was the fact that the impact of Mr Ozimic's insistence on the rights of parents as primary educator not the state or state sponsored agencies is what I believe is the true measure of how the viewers woke up to the harsh reality menacing their families because it's a message they rarely hear. It was clearly the intent of the programme presenters and other guest to demonise Ozimic's views thereby suppressing authentic debate. They were thwarted precisely because Ozimic stayed on message about parent power and its genuine moral authority. A sleeping giant in our culture."
John Deighan, parliamentary officer, Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland:
"Anthony was excellent. What a terribly hostile environment they created yet he remained calm and articulate throughout. I noticed that he greatly swung the vote which started out heavily against him and swung by 20% in his favour despite the strong bias of the three against him."
From journalists:

Edward Pentin, "Rome Reports":
"I thought Anthony handled the issue superbly."
From bloggers:

Laurence England, of That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill
"...Anthony single-handedly, against three opponents, reduced public support in the live opinion poll for same-sex marriage to be taught in school by 20%... Anthony was able to do the one thing that people at home who are uncomfortable with the LGBT agenda feel unable to do - that is - he spoke his mind ... Anthony's defence...was a defence mounted in defence of children."
Cum Lazaro, a Scottish Catholic blogger:
"Anthony did extremely well under enormous pressure: I could feel myself getting extremely worked up just watching it, and he managed to remain cool and articulate. Very well done. Particularly impressive as the question posed seems to assume that same sex marriage is already here and the only question is what to say about it in schools. ... I hope that Anthony's intelligence and reasonableness undermined that picture."
Dylan Parry, of A Reluctant Sinner:
"Yes, well done him! It must be very difficult to keep calm in such circumstances."
John Kearney, an English Catholic blogger:
"Anthony showed wonderful skill in his presentation. He refused to be pulled into side issues into which the opposite speaker tried to draw him with what was obvious contempt for anyone disagreeing with her. I am sure if the poll had gone on longer we would have had the same result as the Guardian had in an all day poll several months ago. The pro marriage ahead, gradually being overtaken by the anti marriage."
Tonia Marshall, of Attracted to the Light:
"He did a fabulous job and under heavy fire."
umblepie, an English Catholic blogger:
"Congratulations to Anthony Ozimic. He made his points clearly, calmly, and dispassionately, leaving his three prejudiced opponents beating the air, unable to offer any constructive statements, other than a final, insincere 'how shocking!', from the young woman presenter."
From pro-life activists:

Christine Hudson:
"What an asset Anthony is to SPUC. He is able to think on his feet and give cogent, reasoned answers - and he did not come across as a homophobe bigot - even though they tried their best to make him look like one. Very well done!"
David Ashby:
"Anthony did extremely well faced with three people arguing against him. Well done!!"
Dr A.Majid Katme, Muslim pro-life/pro-family activist:
"Excellent interview...excellent answers by Anthony Ozimic (SPUC) on ITV now regarding the teachings of gay marriage in schools! HE IS THE WINNER"
Dr Daniel Toye, GP:
"Very good. Was like Bruce Lee fighting off three baddies at once. Argumentative kung fu!"
Dr Peter Saunders:
"Good on Anthony for keeping cool under heavy fire. Clear, calm and every word he spoke was true."
Dr Tom Rogers:
"Just seen Anthony Ozimic's consummate performance on the Good Morning Show, Anthony, very well done! - he did so well maintaining a calm and reasoned line of truth in the face of such shrieking, hysterical bigotry. Felt proud to be associated with SPUC - keep up the good work."
Graham Moorhouse:
"Enjoy watching Anthony Ozimic going head to head with three daft liberals on gay "marriage" and win without breaking sweat - absolutely masterful!"
Jenny Ingelbrecht:
"Well done Anthony! It's obvious the presenters were biased, but he answered so well! Amazing that he managed to swing the poll so massively from just a short interview!"
Kevin Rowles:
"Please congratulate Anthony Ozimic on his ‘This Morning’ appearance – I just saw it on YouTube. It was particularly brave of him to speak as this show has a reputation of being little more than a vehicle for daytime smut"
Lisa Hamilton:
"You did a great job Anthony. Thank you for giving a voice to THOUSANDS of us whose voices are muted by the media minority."
John Marechal:
"Congratulations to Anthony on his calm defence of marriage against three excitable opponents. I was most impressed by the way he handled the attacks."
Mark Lambert:
"Have you seen this? Anthony Ozimic is a hero! Takes some courage I'd say, and he stayed so calm throughout!"
Nicolas Bellord, lawyer:
"Anthony Ozimic is a brave man. I wonder whether any of us could have done as well."
Paul Kilbane:
"Well done Anthony, I don’t know how you stick it, they were awful. I hope the whole issue and fights such as yours on TV, makes pro-lifers even more determined and resourceful."
Richard Carvath:
"Well done SPUC. Thank you to Anthony Ozimic and to all SPUC people for the important work you do. You are heroes and lifesavers".
Rhoslyn Thomas:
"Anthony did a job that few people could do! Great work once more from SPUC ... Well done to Anthony and to SPUC for being a loud and clear voice on this issue. He did very well and stayed calm throughout, though, I imagine, it is difficult to do so when you have Holly Willoughby gasping and shaking her head at you."
Robin Haig, SPUC chairman:
"Just watched the interview (ambush) again and appreciate how well he presented the case. Great stuff."
Sandra Rickell:
"Well done Anthony Ozimic re his i/v on @itvthismorning I've never seen such biased interviewing & he remained calm & reasoned ... That's why I admired Anthony Ozimic so much, he was attacked from 3 sides but gave reasoned arguments"
From supporters:

Dr David Jones:
"Enjoyed Anthony's calm and courageous performance and the look on the other panelists' faces at the end poll result. It surely must raise questions in their own minds because how did that narrowing of the poll happen despite their best efforts? What would have happened with a few more minutes? 50:50 or 60:40 the other way?"
Bruce Atkinson:
"Fearless...thank you, we need more of this."
Jim Wiltshire:
"In human terms alone Mr Ozimic's composure would earn him favourable points with any audience; the fact that he was making reasonable points based on history and research was not lost on the viewers either."
Laurence Coventry:
"Congratulations to Anthony on holding his own against such biased aggression from three others. He was accused of judgement, but they were as one-sidedly judgemental as you could imagine."
Leo Darroch:
"I was greatly impressed by Anthony’s composure in the face of such hatred – and, indeed, bigotry. ... It was a completely one-sided and partial attack on a guest who did remarkably well to maintain his composure and dignity, which was something that could not be said about the presenters."
Michael Ollerenshaw:
"Congratulations to Anthony Ozimic for his fantastic performance against the "gay marriage" enthusiasts of ITV. I don't know how he managed to keep his cool in the face of such hostility, but he did - and he was also able to make his own points clearly and effectively."
Mike Ryan:
"Anthony was really excellent on that dreadful television programme. Talk about putting Christians to the lions! He did extremely well to maintain his cool in the face of such blatant provocation."
Paul Endersby:
"Mr Ozimic stood his ground well. He was articulate and clearly in command of his subject, and he came out of it with dignity"
STE Bradley:
"This is just a quick message to say how great I thought he was on the show! The information that he expressed would probably rub most militant activist up the wrong way, but I was particularly impressed by how he justified everything that he had to say. I thoroughly enjoyed how he managed to shock everyone else in the segment with the information he presented but then also quickly silence them with justification for that information. I believe that this person is an asset to this organisation and you should, if not already, be very proud of him."
Valerie Findlay-Wilson:
"I've just watched the video of Anthony Ozimic debating on ITV: please pass on my congratulations and thanks to him, he did so well in the face of attacks from the other 3, he said so many good things in a good, calm way...Watching that is especially good for our 3 teenagers who are having to have these kinds of conversation at the lunch table - even in a Catholic school."
From a complaint to ITV:
"[H]ere was the gentle but firm Anthony - what a great defender for the cause of what millions of people believe, and even pedalling uphill all the way how impressed we were with his serenity, dignity, factual account of what would be excessive for a lot of impressionable kids in the School districts. All the best, and try to get people like Anthony on your shows more often. I'm sure the ratings would blow the roof off."
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Friday, 24 May 2013

Morning after pill is not a "life-saving commodity" says Holy See

Pat Buckley, who is lobbying for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children at the 66th World Health Assembly this week in Geneva, reports on a forthright attack by the Holy See on a resolution before the Assembly which lists "emergency contraception" (the morning-after pill) as a "life-saving commodity".

The Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly is taking place from 20 to 28 May 2013 in the United Nations, Palais des Nations Geneva. The Health Assembly, which is the annual general meeting of the World Health Organisation, this year, is discussing health topics like noncommunicable diseases, universal health coverage, women and children’s health, and is monitoring the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals.

Pat Buckley reports: "Yesterday, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski (above), Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the 66th World Health Assembly, addressed the Assembly. During his address, the archbishop was referring to efforts 'being made to save the lives of millions of women and children who continue to die every year from conditions that can easily be prevented with existing medical commodities' when he turned his fire on the morning-after pill."

Archbishop Zimonski said:
While indeed some of the recommendations [in Resolution EB132.R4] are truly life-saving, that of "emergency contraception" can hardly be labeled as such since it is well known that, when conception already has occurred, certain substances used in “emergency contraception” produce an abortifacient effect. For my delegation, it is totally unacceptable to refer to a medical product that constitutes a direct attack on the life of the child in utero as a “life-saving commodity” and, much worse, to encourage “increasing use of such substances in all parts of the world."
It is good to hear the Holy See speaking out boldly on this fundamental issue. Women are entitled to the truth - and the Catholic Church is serving the best interests of women, children and families worldwide, when it proclaims the truth fearlessly on abortion and abortifacient products in world assemblies.

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Thu 23 May

Top stories:

The battle against government's same-sex marriage bill moves to the Lords
The bill now goes to the House of Lords where it faces concerted opposition, and there is no guarantee that the government will be able to force it through, despite the government’s strength in the Lords. We need to mount a strong campaign. Please contact katherinehampton@spuc.org.uk to find out what you can do. [SPUC, 23 May]

Lords should have confidence to reject same-sex marriage at first vote
Peers should have confidence to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its first House of Lords debate due on 3 June, says SPUC. SPUC was commenting after the House of Commons voted in favour of the bill by 366 to 161. All amendments which sought to limit the damage that the bill threatens to wreak on society were rejected. Previously MPs voted by 400 to 175 for the bill. Paul Tully, SPUC’s general-secretary, commented: “The fact that the government failed to increase the proportion of MPs supporting the measure indicates the weakness of their case for this bill." [SPUC, 21 May]

Stephen Shaw walks to raise funds in defence of marriage and the unborn
From 20-24 May, Stephen Shaw, Chairman of SPUC’s North and North East Scotland region, will hike along the challenging Speyside Way to raise money for SPUC’s work. [John Smeaton, 22 May] Please consider going the ‘extra mile’ with Stephen and help defend marriage, the family and our precious unborn babies in one or two of the following ways:
  • Making a personal donation in lieu of sponsorship
  • Gathering sponsors for the Speyside Way walk
Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
  • Catholic doctors reject the new stem cell technique [FIAMC, May]
Euthanasia
  • Disabled woman judged 'not worth saving': Charity claims hospital doctors let her die after she developed pneumonia [Mail, 21 May]
Sexual ethics
  • The evidence that blows apart Mr Cameron's claim that gay marriage will strengthen families [Mail, 22 May]
  • Nine in 10 children born to cohabiting couples this year will see parents split by the time they are 16, suggests research [Mail, 22 May]
  • More than 500 imams in landmark gay marriage protest [Telegraph, 19 May]
  • Gay marriage could stop Christians becoming teachers or doctors - church leaders [Telegraph, 19 May]
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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The battle against government's "same-sex marriage" bill moves to the Lords

Yesterday, Parliament again voted on the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. The vote was 366 to 161. Although saddening and damaging to the reputation of Parliament, this result was no surprise as the bill has the support of all three main parties in the House of Commons. It is good to note that substantial opposition to it has been maintained.

The number of MPs both supporting and opposing the bill dropped slightly, compared to the second reading vote in February (400 to 175).

Please check how your MP voted and thank those who opposed the bill. If your MP voted for bill (i.e. “X” on the listing), you might point out that the bill negates the main reason for having laws in support marriage – for the benefit and welfare of children. It was a vote of ‘no confidence’ by MPs in real marriage – the foundation for stable family life and the safe, happy upbringing of children.

Some MPs suggested that by copying other countries that have redefined marriage recently, they are on the cutting edge of progress. In fact these other countries are, like Britain, suffering the effects of weakening marriage. (Read SPUC’s What Happens To Marriage And Families Where The Law Recognises “Same Sex Marriage”? by Dr Patricia Morgan.)

Next stage of the campaign

The bill now goes to the House of Lords where it faces concerted opposition, and there is no guarantee that the government will be able to force it through, despite the government’s strength in the Lords.

Already, peers have expressed very strong reservations about the bill. We need to mount a strong campaign. The bill has no public mandate, and this means that peers cannot be asked to accept “the will of the electorate,” and let the government get its bill through. Please contact katherinehampton@spuc.org.uk to find out what you can do.

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Stephen Shaw walks to raise funds in defence of marriage and the unborn

From 20-24 May, Stephen Shaw, Chairman of SPUC’s North and North East Scotland region, will hike along the challenging Speyside Way to raise money for SPUC’s work. For much of the route Stephen will be taking traces the River Spey from the coast to Aviemore situated in the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. The River Spey is famous for its salmon fishery, whilst the valleys of the Spey and tributaries such as the Fiddich, Livet and Avon are home to the highest concentration of malt whisky distilleries in Scotland.

This year’s event has a special purpose. As well as generating much-needed funds for SPUC’s existing pro-life work, I must ask for your help to fund our continuing battle against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which threatens to seriously undermine marriage and the family and put unborn children at even greater danger of abortion than they are today. Government statistics show that 80 per cent of abortions in England and Wales are carried out on unmarried women and this is telling us quite clearly that, as an institution, marriage is the greatest defender of unborn children. In countries where same-sex marriage has been legalised—such as Spain—real (heterosexual) marriage has declined. That is why it is so important that the Same Sex Marriage bill is stopped. Stephen will be sending out regular updates and photos of his walk. Below is today's:
Stephen & Sheila at Boat O’Brig
Tuesday
Today, I was joined by Sheila, a member of the Banff & Buchan Branch from Huntly.

We set off from Fochabers in light drizzle along the minor road to Boat O’Brig where the Aberdeen to Inverness Railway and the B9103 from Keith to Rothes cross the Spey on adjacent bridges.  The drizzle soon stopped and some small areas of blue sky appeared by the time we reached Boat O’Brig.  At this point we caught up with two Germans (a different pair from Monday) and a couple from Stirling caught up with us.

Beyond Boat O’Brig, the Way climbs alongside farmland and provides lovely views of the valley in both directions.  It then enters the Ben Aigan Forest adjacent to the Speyside Gun Club.  The Red Flag was flying to warn us that firing was taking place, although we heard the gunfire long before we saw the flag!  The signs recommended that we did not stray from the marked path.  We obediently complied.  The climbing takes place in the first 2 or 3 miles of this section and leads onto a forest road with a picnic bench, where we stopped for our lunch.  We met the couple from Stirling again at this point.  They showed an interest in the sponsored walk and kindly made a donation to our funds.  By and large, the remaining 5 or 6 miles to Craigellachie were a gentle downhill walk on a forest road and then a minor road.

The last 2 miles of the day’s walk, from Craigellachie to Aberlour, followed the route of the former railway along the side of the river.  As the service is hourly, we made a special effort to reach the bus stop in Aberlour in time for the bus.  We just made it by the advertised time.  The bus, however, was 15 minutes late!

I would like to thank Sheila for accompanying me on this, which is one of the two more strenuous sections of the Speyside Way, and for her efforts in securing sponsorship in her parish.

Stephen
Please consider going the ‘extra mile’ with Stephen and help defend marriage, the family and our precious unborn babies in one or two of the following ways:
  • Making a personal donation in lieu of sponsorship
  • Gathering sponsors for the Speyside Way walk
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You don't have to be in the pro-life movement to be fired up by abortion's injustice

I joined the pro-life movement 40 years ago this year, giving my first talk on abortion to schoolchildren in south London in 1973.

Actually, though, on reflection, I was unaware I had joined a "movement". I was simply appalled at the injustice of abortion, having read Jack Scarisbrick's little book "What's wrong with abortion?" and I wanted to do something about it.

Every day that sense of injustice is renewed by reading, watching, or hearing something new ... And I think: "Why isn't every decent person in my church, in society, fighting this injustice?"

You don't have to be in the pro-life movement to be fired by the injustice of abortion and determined to stop it.

You can be:
  • a feminist
  • a bishop
  • a member of a justice and peace group
  • a doctor
  • a supervisor midwife - like Connie and Mary, the brave Glasgow midwives whom SPUC has been supporting in their fight for their right to conscientious objection
You can be anyone!

If you know someone who's hesitating to get involved in helping to stop abortion, just ask them to look at the video I watched for the first time this morning in which three former abortion clinic workers (pictured above) are interviewed.

How can any decent person, having watched that, not want to do something to stop abortion?  How could any decent person vote for a politician who upholds legislation permitting it?

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Lords should have confidence to reject same-sex marriage bill at first vote

Peers should have confidence to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its first House of Lords debate due on 3 June.

SPUC was commenting after the House of Commons voted in favour of the bill this evening by 366 to 161. All amendments which sought to limit the damage that the bill threatens to wreak on society were rejected. Previously MPs voted by 400 to 175 for the bill.

Paul Tully, SPUC’s general-secretary, told the media this evening:
“The fact that the government failed to increase the proportion of MPs supporting the measure indicates the weakness of their case for this bill.

The consequences of allowing the bill to pass are grave, most significantly the effective abolition of real marriage in English law. Marriage will be redefined as a genderless institution. The link between marriage and child-rearing will be seriously eroded. Significantly, Greg Mulholland MP yesterday called upon Parliament to abolish marriage in English law and replace it with a vague and arbitrarily-invented ‘civil union’. Charlotte Leslie MP defined marriage as ‘a social construct’, when in fact it is a building-block of society, and the common patrimony of humanity. And today, Kate Green, the Labour front-bencher, even questioned the existence of any fundamental English law of marriage.

Once parliamentarians decide to dismantle legal protections for the institution of marriage, then the welfare of children – the main reason for state recognition of marriage – will suffer. Statistics show that the family based on the marriage of one man and one woman is the most protective environment for children, both before and after birth. It is revealing that neither Maria Miller, the minister in charge of the bill, nor Yvette Cooper, the Labour party spokesman, made one single mention of children in relation to marriage in this evening's debate.

The experience of other countries where marriage has been redefined shows that calling same-sex unions ‘marriage’ damages real marriage – leading fewer people to regard marriage as relevant to parenthood, and all that that entails for tomorrow’s children. SPUC provided evidence to the Commons bill committee showing that this had happened in other countries that have already implemented similar laws."
SPUC's evidence "What happens to marriage and families where the law recognises 'same-sex marriage'?" can be read in full at www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns/ssmsub20130301)

SPUC has also published a position paper on same-sex marriage – explaining why SPUC campaigns for real marriage, and a background paper to be read in conjunction with the position paper and which provides some additional references and reflections.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Politicians excommunicate themselves by supporting abortion, says Irish archbishop

In all the media and political whirlwind over the weekend surrounding the British government's same sex marriage proposals and the Irish government's disastrous legislative proposals on abortion, there could be heard the still small voice of Archbishop Eamon Martin, ordained Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh last month (picture right), telling Irish politicians they are excommunicating themselves if they support abortion.

Yesterday, the Sunday Times carried the following story under the headline Church warns pro-abortion TDs:
The next Catholic primate of Ireland has said politicians who “knowingly introduce legislation aiding and abetting abortion” should not “approach [a priest] looking for communion”.

In the clearest statement so far on the church’s position Archbishop Eamon Martin, who will succeed Cardinal Se├ín Brady next year, said legislators who support abortion are excommunicating themselves.

“You cannot regard yourself as a person of faith and support abortion,” Martin said in an interview with The Sunday Times. “You cannot believe you are with your church and directly help someone to procure an abortion. This includes medical professionals and the legislators.

“If a legislator comes to me and says, ‘Can I be a faithful Catholic and support abortion?’ I would say no. Your communion is ruptured if you support abortion. You are excommunicating yourself. Any legislator who clearly and publicly states this should not approach looking for communion".
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Friday, 17 May 2013

Same-sex marriage votes imminent, contact your MP now

As MPs prepare to debate and vote on the report stage and third reading of the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on Monday (20 May) and Tuesday (21 May), please make a point of emailing or phoning your MP to ask him/her to oppose the Bill, especially by voting against it at third reading. MPs can be emailed via SPUC's website at http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps or telephoned via the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000.

Please ask any clergy you are in touch with to tell people that this is their last chance to lobby MPs – who can be phoned or emailed on Monday prior to the third reading on Tuesday.

The principal reason for having laws supporting marriage is because marriage is the best environment to conceive and raise children. Redefining marriage so that it has no particular link with children means there will be no real justification for laws recognising marriage at all. This is why “same-sex marriage” will damage marriage and harm future generations. You can read SPUC's position paper on same-sex marriage at http://www.spuc.org.uk/documents/papers/ssm201201

Please stress that it is most important that MPs oppose it at this stage, because as a bill without mandate, the government needs to appreciate how strongly it is opposed by people all over the country.

Please remember always to forward any replies you receive from MPs to SPUC, either by post or by email to political@spuc.org.uk

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Thu 16 May

Top stories:

Same-sex marriage is "policy by magic", hear parliamentarians
Changing the law to allow same-sex marriage is "policy by magic", parliamentarians heard on Monday (13 May) in an expert briefing. Proponents are claiming that the change will benefit marriage in general, but this is wishful thinking and not evidence-based. MPs and Lords gathered in Parliament for the official launch of a scholarly analysis of same-sex marriage in various countries by Patricia Morgan, a leading social scientist and family policy expert. Parliamentarians and other interested parties were briefed with arguments prior to next week's Commons Report stage and 3rd reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. The Bill is expected to be debated in the Lords very soon. The launch was hosted and chaired by Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and organised by SPUC. [SPUC, 14 May]

Lord Falconer attacks right to life for elderly and disabled people

A new onslaught on disabled and vulnerable people has been launched with the introduction by Lord Falconer of a bill in the House of Lords to legalise assisted dying. Lord Falconer's bill is expected to be targeted at the lonely and disabled elderly. Previous attempts to undermine the right to life of elderly and disabled people have met with strong opposition in the House of Lords. Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life’s general secretary, said: “We will be collaborating with disability rights groups, health professionals and pro-life politicians to resist Lord Falconer’s proposals with all our strength." [SPUC, 15 May]

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
Population
Sexual ethics
  • The scandal of Stonewall in a Catholic primary school is the tip of the iceberg [John Smeaton, 16 May]
  • Majority of British women would pick being a housewife over having a career, suggests new research [Mail, 16 May]
  • Former teen mum criticises campaign underming young mothers [Telegraph, 15 May]
General
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The scandal of Stonewall in a Catholic primary school is the tip of the iceberg

Stonewall's poster for schools
The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, the Protect the Pope blog and other media have reported on the scandal of a Catholic primary school in Wimbledon which invited Stonewall, the UK's main homosexual lobby, to train its teachers how to deal with 'homophobic bullying'. Antonia Tully, the coordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, was quoted in the reports, saying:
“Many parents will be very concerned that a gay rights organisation is considered to be an appropriate source of advice on how to deal with children using inappropriate language in the playground.

If a primary school takes on Stonewall’s agenda, young children will be exposed to homosexual issues, which they are too young to understand properly. Parents expect a school to provide an education, not subject their children to gay propaganda.”
The Catholic Herald reports that an unnamed source close to the school:
"said the training day had the blessing of the Archdiocese of Southwark. The archdiocese was not available for comment."
The paper also reports that:
"Wes Streeting, Head of Education at Stonewall, said that about half a dozen Catholic primary schools had been given the accolade of “Stonewall School Champion”, including St Mary’s. He added:
'Thousands of primary schools have received Stonewall’s primary school resources through local authorities, including Catholic primary schools.'
The resources used to guide Stonewall’s work with some Catholic primary schools include a “best practice” guide which advises teachers on how to promote equality in the classroom.

The guide provides case studies of different primary schools, describing how some put up Stonewall posters with the slogan “Different Families, Same Love” with cartoons of same-sex parents.

In another case study a primary school compared books from the 1960s and 1970s that portrayed conventional families with a modern children’s picture book called Prince and Prince."
The Edge on the Net website reports that [my emphasis in bold]:
"As part of their "Different Families, Same Love," program, Stonewall provided the teachers with education at a training day last September. The education teaches that same-sex couple households are equal to heterosexual households. Children are advised not to use the word "gay" in a negative way, as it might upset kids with gay parents."
Pink News (and other sources) quotes Sarah Couch, the school's headmistress, saying:
"...we log all incidents of homophobic language use..."
The school's approach sounds like Communist East Germany's notorious system of encouraging citizens to inform the Stasi secret police of any comments against the state ideology. In fact, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) sex education programme, "It's All One Curriculum", recommends just such a Stasi-like system:
“Indicate a person or organization to go to or call if someone’s sexual rights are being ignored." (p.21) "[I]dentify trusted individuals (or organizations) who can help respond to incidents of discrimination" (p.32) “[J]oin organizations or groups that fight for sexual and reproductive rights using various tactics. Examples include:...community “watch groups"."
Pink News also quotes Wes Streeting of Stonewall (my emphasis in bold):
“Our work with St Mary’s is part of an ongoing programme to help staff challenge homophobia, which helps meet Ofsted guidelines and the Catholic Education Service’s advice that Catholic schools tackle homophobic bullying."
Fr Timothy Finigan, a leading priest of Southwark archdiocese, has blogged that:
"I know of at least one other Catholic school in the Diocese where posters saying "Some people are gay. Get over it." were posted on classroom notice-boards."
I hope that Peter Smith, the Catholic archbishop of Southwark, will issue a prompt statement denying that the archdiocese approves of Stonewall's presence in any of its schools and assuring parents that measures will be taken to block Stonewall and its material.

Sadly, groups inimical to pro-life and pro-family Catholic principles have been welcomed into Catholic schools in England and Wales for many years, courtesy of the Catholic authorities. Connexions, a government service which facilitates secret abortions on schoolgirls without parental knowledge or consent, has been welcomed into Catholic schools courtesy of the Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. And most recently, Catholic primary schools in Tower Hamlets have been trained how to use the sexually-explicit teaching materials supplied by the Christopher Winter project.

The scandal in Wimbledon is but the tip of an iceberg which threatens to sink a whole generation of schoolchildren. The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 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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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Lord Falconer attacks right to life for elderly and disabled people

A new onslaught on disabled and vulnerable people has been launched today with the introduction by Lord Falconer of a bill in the House of Lords to legalise assisted dying.

Lord Falconer's bill is expected to be targeted at the lonely and disabled elderly. Previous attempts to undermine the right to life of elderly and disabled people have met with strong opposition in the House of Lords, but the increasing costs of looking after frail elderly people may be leading euthanasia supporters to think that the government will eventually lend support to such a measure.

Commenting on news of the proposal, Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life’s general secretary, told the media today:
“Earlier this week, we saw ‘Martin,’ Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson renew the legal attacks on the right to life through the courts. This means that disabled people and elderly people are in the firing-line from several directions at once. Present financial difficulties in providing the necessary health and social care will be leveraged by euthanasia supporters to aid their cause. Any down-grading of legal protection for vulnerable lives should be resisted.

We are also seeing disturbing abuses of palliative care, through incentivised pathways for example, which are being used to hasten or bring about death in many cases. The pressure is on health trusts to put budgets before good care. This situation is being exploited by those who think that people with limited lives or serious disabilities should be helped to die.

We will be collaborating with disability rights groups, health professionals and pro-life politicians to resist Lord Falconer’s proposals with all our strength."
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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Same-sex marriage is "policy by magic", hear parliamentarians

Changing the law to allow same-sex marriage is "policy by magic", parliamentarians heard yesterday in an expert briefing. Proponents are claiming that the change will benefit marriage in general, but this is wishful thinking and not evidence-based.

MPs and Lords gathered yesterday in Parliament for the official launch of a scholarly analysis of same-sex marriage in various countries by Patricia Morgan, a leading social scientist and family policy expert. Parliamentarians and other interested parties were briefed with arguments prior to next week's Commons Report stage and 3rd reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. The Bill is expected to be debated in the Lords very soon. The launch was hosted and chaired by Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and organised by SPUC.

Patricia Morgan's paper "What happens to marriage and families where the law recognises 'same-sex marriage'?" can be read in full at www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns/ssmsub20130301 She is a leading researcher on family policy and author of numerous books and scholarly papers on marriage and the state. She has researched the effect on marriage when same-sex marriage legislation is introduced. She has produced the "What happens to marriage..." paper for SPUC, based on research and data from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and the US and Canada.

Dr Morgan told the meeting that same-sex marriage in various countries is being promoted by the same people who have facilitated the decline of marriage generally over recent decades. Legislators and officials, having used law and public policy to undermine the conjugal model of marriage, are now seeking to debase marriage further by redefining it as a genderless relationship.

In Sweden, the authorities have conducted a campaign of massive public re-education and forced the state church to perform genderless marriage ceremonies. In Spain, the terms 'mother' and 'father' have been replaced in birth certificates with the terms 'progenitor A' and 'progenitor B'.

There has been a low uptake of same-sex marriage in various countries, explained Dr Morgan. In the Netherlands, the number of same-sex marriages conducted has fallen from 2,500 in 2001 to 1,355 in 2011. Same-sex marriages are often short-lived and have higher rates of dissolution than heterosexual marriages. In Scandanavia, nearly 50% of same-sex unions are between nationals and non-nationals, suggesting that many same-sex unions may be unions of convenience for immigration purposes. These facts expose the false claim that same-sex marriage will rejuvenate the institution of marriage generally.

Dr Morgan argued that same-sex marriage advocates cherry-pick their statistics and fail to explain how same-sex marriage is going to rejuvenate marriage, which faces decline due to increasing rates of cohabitation and divorce. In fact, parliamentarians are being misled into supporting a bill which will contribute to the evisceration of the rationale for state recognition of marriage, which is the best interests of children.

Lord Carey expressed his appreciation for the high quality of Dr Morgan's research and for the work of SPUC in organising the meeting. He quoted the Book of Proverbs, "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set", arguing that the heterosexual nature of marriage is a timeless institution which we must uphold.

Toward the end of the meeting, I told the parliamentarians present SPUC has an interest in defending marriage on two main grounds: An increasing body of robust research shows that children do better when brought up by their biological father and mother who are committed to each other in marriage; and in the UK, babies conceived outside of marriage are about four to five times more likely to be aborted than those conceived within marriage.

Patricia Morgan's research indicates that as marriage is redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, this reinforces the idea that marriage is irrelevant to parenthood; and that same-sex marriage may begin the process of severing marriage from family in otherwise family-friendly societies such as Spain and The Netherlands.

Legalising same-sex marriage is not about removing an 'inequity' in the law, as Lord Fowler said last Wednesday in the debate on the Queen's Speech. It is about the destruction of the oldest human institution in the world which protects the mental and physical wellbeing of men, women and children. Future generations of children will simply not know that the natural habitat for children is the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman as a permanent exclusive union. I concluded by expressing my hope that the parliamentarians present will be successful in persuading their colleagues to reject completely the government's bill.

SPUC has published a position paper on same-sex marriage – explaining why SPUC campaigns for real marriage, and a background paper to be read in conjunction with the position paper and which provides some additional references and reflections.

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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Pope's guidance to bishops on abortion has serious implications for Ireland's Catholic politicians

Enda Kenny, Ireland's Taoiseach, who's
proposing abortion legislation which
is worse than the British Abortion Act.
Pope Francis has written to the Argentine Assembly of Bishops expressing the desire that they use the Aparecida document as their frame of reference for the government of the Church. As John-Henry Weston, editor-in-chief of LifeSite, puts it: "the [Aparacieda] document made a very clear statement regarding the consequences of supporting abortion - disallowing holy communion for anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians".

Pope Francis's thinking has serious implications for Ireland’s Catholic TDs (members of the Irish Parliament) and Ireland’s "Catholic" Taoiseach [prime minister] Enda Kenny, who has just introduced draft abortion legislation for Ireland - draft legislation which if enacted will be worse than the British Abortion Act.

Pope Francis's letter, of 25th March 2013, the solemnity of the Annunciation, was sent to the Argentine bishops and posted on their website. In the letter, Pope Francis writes that the Aparecida document is the “guideline we need for this point in history”.

This document opens with an address by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to the general assembly of Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal conferences, in which he says the family is currently suffering a degree of adversity caused by:
“secularism and by ethical relativism, by movements of population internally and externally, by poverty, by social instability and by civil legislation opposed to marriage which, by supporting contraception and abortion, is threatening the future of peoples.”
The document also includes a message from the bishops to the people of Latin America and the Caribbean:
“Faithfulness to Jesus demands from us to fight against the evils that harm or destroy life, such as abortion ...We invite all the leaders of our nations to defend the truth and to watch over the inviolable and sacred right to life and dignity of the human person, from conception until natural death.”
Pro-lifers around the world are now drawing attention to the significance of this document and Pope Francis’s letter. The following sections of the Aparecida document are of particular significance to the pro-life movement:
436: We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility. Hence, in response to government laws and provisions that are unjust in the light of faith and reason, conscientious objection should be encouraged. We must adhere to “eucharistic coherence,” that is, be conscious that they cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.

467: Today we stand before new challenges that call us to be the voice of the voiceless. The child growing in its mother’s womb and people who are in their declining years are a claim for dignified life that cries out to heaven and that cannot but make us shudder. The liberalization and routinization of abortion practices are abominable crimes, just as are euthanasia, genetic and embryonic manipulation, unethical medical testing, capital punishment, and so many other ways of assaulting the dignity and life of the human being. If we want to maintain a solid and inviolable basis for human rights, we absolutely must recognize that human life must always be defended from the very moment of conception. Otherwise, the circumstances and conveniences of the powerful will always find excuses for abusing persons.
The paragraphs quoted above cite the 2007 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis:
83. Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as eucharistic consistency, a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody. Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them.
Evangelium Vitae, an encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is also cited, which is very appropriate in light of the argument of Enda Kenny (the Irish Prime Minister) that he has a duty to legislate for abortion:
74: Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it.
Earlier this year, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, gave an interview with Irish newspaper Catholic Voice. In this interview Cardinal Burke stated:
“With regard to Canon 915, it states that those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin should not be admitted to receive Holy Communion. There can be no question that the practice of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins and therefore once a Catholic politician has been admonished that he should not come forward to receive Holy Communion, as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion.”
Similar comments were made by the former head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, by the late Cardinal Trujillo, in an address to the eleventh ordinary general assembly of the synod of bishops meeting at the Vatican in 2007, saying:
Can we allow access to Eucharistic communion to those who deny human and Christian principles and values? The responsibility of politicians and legislators is great. A so-called personal option cannot be separated from the socio-political duty. This is not a “private” problem: acceptance of the Gospel, the Magisterium and right reasoning is needed!

As for everyone else, the Word of God holds true also for politicians and legislators: "Therefore anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily...is eating and drinking his own condemnation" (1 Cor 11:27-29).

Politicians and legislators must know that by proposing or defending projects for iniquitous laws, they have a serious responsibility and must find a remedy for the evil done and spread in order to be allowed access to communion with the Lord who is the way, truth and life (Cfr. John 14:6).
The Catholic teaching on abortion legislation and Catholic politicians is clear, as seen in the literature itself and the comments of the Catholic hierarchy together now with the wishes of Pope Francis in his letter to the Argentinian bishops. It is important that the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland present this teaching in a clear way to all people, especially to the TDs and to Enda Kenny.

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