Saturday, 6 September 2014

Bishop Philip Egan addresses SPUC's national conference

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Bishop Philip Egan
This morning SPUC's national conference 2014 was privileged to be addressed by the Rt. Rev. Philip Egan, the Catholic bishop of Portsmouth, on the forthcoming Synod on the Family and the Sensus Fidei. Here are the main points from Bishop Egan's address.

What is a Synod?
An "Ecumenical Council" means a 'gathering of all', in order to discuss and decide about important matters. Ecumenical Councils are rare. A synod is a smaller gathering of bishops, such as bishops across a region or a province.

In preparation for a synod, the synod's secretariat sends out a scoping document for dioceses. The responses are sent back to Rome; and from those responses the secretariat draws up an Instrumentum Laboris, a 'working document'.

A synod is an advisory body. The Pope participates in the synod, and following the synod he issues an Apostolic Exhortation in response to the synod.

The synod on the family to be held in Rome in October is an Extraordinary Synod. The last Extraordinary Synod was in 1987 on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This year's Extraordinary Synod is also unusual, in two ways:
1) it will be followed by an Ordinary Synod next year. The Apostolic Exhortation will be the Instrumentum Laboris for the next year’s synod
2) The 39 pre-synod questions were circulated widely throughout the Church so as to put forward concerns.

Why the family?
Pope Francis announced the synod on the family at the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio. The Pope said that today many young people do not want to get married. Also, people get married lacking maturity. This is where pastoral care needs to comes in. The pastoral care of the family is very complicated, including issues such as annulments, divorce, and access to Holy Communion. Pope Francis said the family is in crisis worldwide. The topic needs two synods to give an adequate treatment.

Instrumentum Laboris
Instrumentum Laboris, to me, is a remarkable document. It unambiguously restates Catholic teaching on the main family issues. At the same time, it emphasises God’s mercy and the need to spread it; highlights the lack of faith and lack of sufficient catechesis. The beginning deals with the Gospel of the Family, which is the term I especially like. The crisis of faith leads to a crisis of relationships and families. The Instrumentum Laboris ends with the prayer of the Holy Family.

In summary the Instrumentum Laboris deals with:
  • how to communicate Church’s teaching more effectively?
  • how to support those in need more mercifully?
  • how to support families in teaching about openness to life?
Crisis of faith
In Britain the crisis of the family is bound to the crisis of the faith. Secularism separates Church and State. The result is moral relativism. Nothing is solid.

It is no secret that many progressive Catholics look forward to changes in Church’s teaching and doctrine from the Synod. In contrast, Blessed John Henry Newman taught that Christian teaching tends to develop organically, like an acorn, with continuity. Doctrine develops rather than changes. Developments in doctrine must be consistent.

In history the Church has experienced major controversies. Today’s issue is the anthropology of a human being: what it means to created, fallen and then redeemed. The Sensus Fidei is the belief that the Holy Spirit endows each member of the Church, each baptised Christian, with an instinct to live in truth. Some members of the Church do not understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and family. Should the doctrine then be changed?

Bl. John Henry Newman taught observed that it has been the ordinary faithful who have passed on the Church's doctrine. Like others in the Church, the faithful should be consulted, not in a democratic way, but rather as a thermometer to check the weather. It is the doctrine that Christ wills for His Church. The doctrine is not always the balanced view, but it is the truth.

My personal hopes for the Synod:
1) A fresh, attractive, easy-to-understand idea of the Gospel of the Family. I would wish that the Synod requests from the Pope a presentation of the Christian understanding of birth, sex, death, male, and female. This would greatly assist religious education in our schools. I am actively considering appointing a couple in every parish as a ministry for marriage.
2) That the Synod will find a better way how to spread mercy for those in difficulties and irregular situations. Pope Benedict suggested we need a further study on the relation of faith and the Sacrament of Matrimony. Many people fall away from the Catholic Church because they fail to form a personal relationship with Christ.

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Sex education: the destruction of childhood

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Antonia Tully
The first address of day II of SPUC's national conference 2014 was given this morning by Antonia Tully, national coordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, on the theme "Sex education: the destruction of childhood". Antonia spoke mostly about primary schools (ages five to eleven). This is what Safe at School is focusing on, because that is where the current battle on sex education is located. 

Reality of sex education in primary schools today:
Graphic materials are used in primary school sex education, "giving children the impression that sex is part of their lives". Same-sex issues are promoted and parents are excluded.

Living and Growing
Living and Growing is the most widely-used sex education programme. It sets a sort of 'gold standard' for the sex education lobby. Living and Growing:
  • makes young children aware of their sexual organs
  • introduces them to sexual intercourse.
  • normalises sex for young children.
Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP, said about Living and Growing:
“Until you have seen this, you can’t believe, how awful this programme is.”
Others who have seen it have said: there is nothing as horrible in our countries (US, in Europe)
Living and Growing has nothing to do with childhood
It features the voice-over of a young child accompanying the clip of sexual intercourse:
“They do look happy, don’t they?”
Sexual intercourse is thus presented as a game.

A recent letter from a parent in The Times revealed the great emotional agony children are experiencing as a result of sex education classes. Parents call Antonia saying:
"My child thinks now that she should be doing it."
A Journey of Love is a so-called “Catholic” approach somewhat similar to Living and Growing. It contains a teacher’s note that masturbation is a normal part of growing up.

Children and schools pitted against parents:
Modern sex education programmes have nothing to do with parents. Schools are deemed to be the experts. Parents are held at arm's length.
Children are encouraged to:
  • train your parents
  • talk to them as adults
  • show them that you can be sensible and very often they learn to be sensible too.
The idea that parents need to be trained is now getting into teachers’ heads. But the parents are the experts!

Child protection:
Ofsted has raised the question about the state of sex education in schools. The push is to equip children with tools to defend themselves, protect themselves. What really protects a child? Knowing that their parents are their protectors. Sex education lobby shifts the responsibility of protecting the child to the child himself. The Sex Education Forum has claimed that children will be vulnerable unless they get sex education in schools. Yet there is no evidence to support the claim that children need sex education to stop sexual abuse/exploitation. Calls to NSPCC and Lucy Faithful Foundation reveal that neither organisation was able to give any studies that his claim was based on.

Why sex education is destruction of childhood:
Children need a natural childhood in order to reach mature adult age.
It undermines the parents, and weakens the families.
In our over-sexualised culture, children need their parents to give them strength to cope with it.
If families are destroyed, lives are destroyed. This is why SPUC is working so hard on this.
No evidence that sex education is contributing to fall in teenage pregnancy. There has, however, been a fall in teenage pregnancies since 2008. Some possible reasons, suggested by Professor David Paton of Nottingham University, are:
  • more and more widespread use of long-acting contraception
  • immigration
  • fewer people leaving school with no qualifications.
  • less drinking.
Guidelines for school from the sex education lobby:
  • Parents now removed from the guidelines
  • Ask young people what they want to be talk about
  • Bring in experts
  • Treat sex as normal and pleasurable part of life
Safe at School approach:
  • Parents are at the head of what Safe at School is fighting for. Children need their parents to protect them. Young people are defenceless against anti-life propaganda. They have reduced resistance to the pressure of casual sex and abortion.
  • Parents are the experts in educating their own children about sexual matters, supported by schools. Parents teach their family's values to their children not schools. The role of parents is at the heart of the campaign against compulsory sex education. Keeping sex education non-compulsory is an acknowledgement that parents are responsible for their children, not the state.
  • No matter who wins the General Election 2015 there will be moves to introduce compulsory sex education. All three parties are heading toward the direction of the compulsory sex education.
  • We must prepare for a major battle to uphold the rights of parents as the primary educators and protectors of their children.We must get parents reaffirmed to be in the centre of their children’s lives. We cannot hope to defeat abortion, if the families are destroyed this way.
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SPUC's national conference 2014 opens with an African flavour

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Bob Edwards
SPUC's national conference 2014 kicked off last night in Swanwick, Derbyshire. Follow our Twitter feed @spucprolife for updates throughout this weekend.

The conference was opened by Bob Edwards, SPUC's Honorary Treasurer, who has had a long and distinguished career in finance and in the charity sector. He was sure that many warm friendships would be established among the delegates this weekend.
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Rhoslyn Thomas
Next we heard from Rhoslyn Thomas, 25, SPUC's new Youth and Education Officer and the manager of SPUC's internship scheme. She introduced Eyo Esua, one of four of this year's interns. Eyo is a law student at Portsmouth University. He explained the many interesting and varied activities during this internship, such as researching charities, educational leafleting, and a protest outside the Polish embasssy. He discovered that many members of the public are generally against abortion. He charmed the audience by talk: "I'm Eyo, I'm 19, and I'm pro-life."
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Eyo Esua

The keynote address of the evening was given by Obianuju "Uju" Ekeocha, who runs Culture of Life Africa (COLA), an internet-based resource which monitors and publicises the attacks on the culture of life in her home continent of Africa. Uju organised the first ever pro-life conference in her native Nigeria in June 2013. She is outspoken against first world countries deluging the world’s poorest countries, most of them in Africa, with contraception and abortion. Here are the key points from her address:

Uju and SPUC:
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Obianuju "Uju" Ekeocha
Uju, who is a biomedical scientist, said that she grew up in Nigeria and has lived in the UK for 9 years. She thanked SPUC, saying she was impressed by the depth of SPUC's dedication. Not many pro-life organisations take a great interest in Africa. Uju has developed a very special pro-life friendship with Antonia Tully of SPUC.

Uju, Melinda Gates, Culture of Life Africa (COLA):
There is a clash of culture between the West and Africa
Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft billionnaire Bill Gates, organised the London Summit on Family Planning, London. David Cameron spoke at the summit.
Melinda Gates' campaign may have to some good intentions but is going to:
  • start a contraceptive culture in Africa, when the current rate of contraceptive usage is simply not on a par with the Western world
  • distort the understanding of human sexuality
  • depreciate the value of motherhood, when in fact motherhood is celebrated in African culture
  • de-emphasise marriage, when in fact Africans aspire to marriage
  • spread ideology of radical feminism and culture of abortion - claimed not supporting abortion but contraceptive campaign will involve abortion as 'safety net'
On 5 August 2012, Uju wrote an open letter online to Melinda Gates. The open letter went viral, and sparked argument. Uju had to defend her position online and therefore had to do lots of research. She decided to launch Culture of Life Africa in February 2013, starting with a blog.

Current situation in Africa:
  • Abortion on demand is legal in only four African countries. 80% of African countries protect unborn children
  • Pro-abortion advocates hard at work - pro-abortion advocates don't sleep! In some countries (e.g. Kenya, Ghana) they're playing word games
Plot to pass pro-abortion law foiled in Nigeria!:
Recently a short, sweeping pro-abortion bill was inserted into the law in one Nigeria state. The bill looked like something from a Planned Parenthood guidebook. Uju said: "This has nothing to do with my country!" The bill was signed into law by the state's Governor but kept secret, with the text of the law locked away in a state government office. The tribal prince of Uju's town sent someone to sneak into the office and photocopy the bill - something he could have been killed for doing. The prince made the text public, which led to widespread outrage. The local Catholic archbishop organised opposition to the bill. In response, the governor not only repealed the law but publicly apologised for what had happened. So Africa can be kept pro-life!

Reality of abortion in Africa:
Where abortion is legal in Africa, there is coercion, post-abortion trauma (PAS), sexual violence, medical malpractice, marriage and family weakened, and suppression of conscientious objectors.

Where there is suppression by pro-abortion authorities in Africa, there is a lot of suppression - in South Africa, even religious sisters are not exempt from having to do abortion training and must therefore withdraw from health care! The rape culture in South Africa has actually worsened since legal abortion was liberalised in 1994. One million unborn babies have died through abortion in South Africa since then.

Man will decide if woman has abortion. Abortion clinic workers are poorly paid. There is inadequate crisis pregnancy care. Legal restrictions are not enforced because of corruption. Doctors are performing illegal abortions - though this is exaggerated by pro-abortion advocates in order to paint a false picture. Doctors, OB/GYNs: these people, the ones who are doing abortions, are in fact the ones who should be protecting life.

African medical systems are heavily influenced by the West huge pressure from West:
  • the UK's DFID (Department for International Development) - used to promote general education, now all they care about is sex education
  • IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation) - funded by the US et al.
  • MSI (Marie Stopes International) - has produced a video made to spread the pro-abortion message to young people
  • Amnesty International
  • Ipas - from North Carolina, trains lobbyists
A Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) has been established. It exists only to lobby. It's a terrible thing and the UK is paying for it. This is cultural imperialism by Western politicians, and against African values, which includes valuing life.

The pro-abortion strategies in Africa include:
  • reframe the issue by calls to 'public health'
  • lobbying African leaders
  • campaigns at UN, EU, etc
  • media campaign
  • sex education - funded by United States et al.
  • questionable statistics
The anti-life lobby claim that there are large numbers of  'unplanned' pregnacies; yet the concept of 'unplanned' doesn't exist as an expression in African dialects! Where are they getting figures from? They have launched a project to condomise Africa, flooding the continent with condoms. For example, 118,800 condoms were shared at one event.

What Africa really needs is H.E.L.P.:
  • Health
  • Education
  • Life
  • Peace
The pro-life response:
There has been a powerful witness by SPUC in Nigeria. John Smeaton's talk to the Nigerian bishops has had huge fruits: the Bishops' Conference is inspired and ready to champion the pro-life cause; more pro-life outreach; and more international recognition of African pro-life spirit. So there is a way forward for a pro-life Africa:
  • frame the issue
  • lobby African leaders
  • humanise the subject
  • campaign at UN, EU, etc., especially get more Africans lobbying for life at UN
  • conduct media campaigns
  • educate the African public on life issues.
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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Protest held outside Polish embassy in defence of pro-life doctor

A demonstration has been held outside the Polish embassy in London to protest against the dismissal of Professor Bogdan Chazan from his post at Holy Family Children’s Hospital in Warsaw. The protest was organised by SPUC.

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Professor Chazan was dismissed by the mayor of Warsaw after refusing to grant an abortion to, or refer for an abortion, a woman who was carrying a child with a disability. The child was born and has since died naturally.

Following Professor Chazan’s dismissal, Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland, made a statement saying: "Regardless of what his conscience is telling him, [a doctor] must carry out the law", according to Polskie Radio.

Regarding the Prime Minister’s comment, Magdalena Ozimic (age 31), one of the protesters and originally from Szczecin (north-west Poland), said:
"It is very important for me to be a witness here as a Pole. We live in terrible anti-life times when even in Poland, where a huge majority declare themselves Catholic, the Prime Minister stands for killing the innocent. As a young adult I wanted to become a doctor, believing I would be saving people's lives. Unfortunately nowadays, young people who want to save lives may have to think carefully before embarking on a medical career. I hope Dr Chazan will get more support in Catholic Poland and we can do our best here to show our support as pro-lifers."
The event was attended mostly by young people, particularly from the Polish community. The aim of the demonstration was to call for the reinstatement of Professor Chazan to his post at Holy Family Children’s Hospital and to highlight the injustice of the dismissal. Unfortunately, the demonstration drew no visible reaction from the embassy itself; when enquiries were made, protestors were told that the ambassador was absent.

One Polish demonstrator, Slawek Wrobel, age 36, a historian, said:
"I cannot believe that, 10 years after the reign of John Paul II, our Polish pro-life pope, someone who cares about life can be dismissed from their job. I am also astonished that the Mayor of Warsaw, who has put herself forward as a good Catholic, has sacked Dr Chazan."
Particpants handed out leaflets to passers-by detailing the case of Professor Chazan’s dismissal and the situation surrounding Professor Chazan’s refusal to participate in the abortion.

Katarzyna Jabrocka, age 34, said:
"I came here to support the belief that Dr Chazan shouldn't be dismissed because he supported life. He should be enabled to continue his work as a doctor, and we are here today to support him."
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