Monday, 30 March 2009

Hillary Clinton: 'Who painted it?'

Picture courtesy of The Curt Jester

During her recent trip to Mexico, America's Secretary of State, Mrs Hillary Clinton paid a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadaloupe.She was received by the rector of the Basilica, Mgr. Diego Monroy, who took Mrs. Clinton to the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had been previously lowered from its usual altar for the occasion.
After some minutes, Mrs Clinton asked "Who painted it?", to which Mgr Monroy replied "God".

Mrs Clinton posed a natural query,one that might reasonably be made by many outside the Church, and possibly many within. But, whether she realised it , or not, her question had a deeper significance: when mankind asks "who?" the answer is, ultimately, "God".
We don't know if Mrs. Clinton realised that she had received from Mgr Monroy, some instruction in the Catholic faith, but we can be sure that Our Lady of Guadalupe's meeting with her will bear fruit......

...........Even though Mrs Clinton went on subsequently to receive the highest award from...........
the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Margaret Sanger award is named after the founder of Planned Parenthood. Margaret Sanger was a leading eugenicist of the 20th century.

From American Life League :

Friday, 27 March 2009

Abortion adverts: Statement from Rt. Rev. Bishop Patrick O' Donoghue

Bishop O'Donoghue, on the side of life, against the culture of death:

'The killing of the innocent can never be a genuine solution to a problem'

Read the full statement here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Therapy at Ealing

Just a quick note to advertise the next youth2000 retreat at St.Benedict's School in Ealing, London, from Friday24th April to Sunday 26th April.
Youth2000 retreats focus on round-the-clock Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Mass, Confession and healing. The retreats are designed for the 16-35 age group, though many families attend, as we do.
What draws us is the chance to leave the world behind and spend time with Jesus, present in the Monstrance exposed throughout the whole retreat. The talks are always excellent, challenging us to deeper conversion.
Here is the programme for the Ealing retreat; note that John Pridmore is speaking on the Sunday. He has an extraordinary
story of the power of God's grace in his life, and is a fantastic evangelist.

See you there!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ethically tainted blood

A major research project is to be announced this week that will culminate in three years with the first transfusions into human volunteers of "synthetic" blood made from the stem cells of spare IVF embryos. It could help to save the lives of anyone from victims of traffic accidents to soldiers on a battlefield by revolutionising the vital blood transfusion services, which have to rely on a network of human donors to provide a constant supply of fresh blood.

The multimillion-pound deal involving NHS Blood and Transplant, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Wellcome Trust, the world's biggest medical research charity, means Britain will take centre stage in the global race to develop blood made from embryonic stem cells. The researchers will test human embryos left over from IVF treatment to find those that are genetically programmed to develop into the "O-negative" blood group, which is the universal donor group whose blood can be transfused into anyone without fear of tissue rejection.

'That the Bones You have Crushed may Thrill' has further details on this announcement of an ingenious programme for a further cannibalisation of human life at its earliest stages.

Petition to Notre Dame

Damian Thompson has helpfully provided a link to the petition, 'Help stop the Scandal at Our Lady's University', which is opposing the University of Notre Dame's decision to host and honour President Obama at its commencement ceremony, (see yesterday's post). At the time of writing, the petition has 50,000+ signatures.

To sign the petition, just follow the link.

Monday, 23 March 2009

IPPF attacks Pope to protect "big business"

Yes, indeed, isn't this what the multi million contraceptive industry is all about? For more information, See John Smeaton's excellent post.

President Obama to be lauded at leading Catholic University

Why does a pre eminent Catholic University in the States,Notre Dame, want to invite the world's most pro abortion leader, President Obama, to speak at its graduation ceremony, and to confer upon him an honorary degree?
A retiring professor at Notre Dame, Ralph McInerny, has commented on this state of affairs; the full text can be read here, thanks Fr. Z., and is well worth reading.

Amongst other points, McInerny makes these:

'Abortion is an essentially evil act, both from the viewpoint of natural morality and from the explicit teaching the Church. There is no way in which an individual, a politician or an institution can finesse that fact.'

'By inviting Barack Obama as commencement speaker,Notre Dame is telling the nation that the teaching of the Catholic Church on this fundamental matter can be ignored . Lip service may be paid to the teaching on abortion, but it is no impediment to upward mobility, to the truly vulgar lust to be welcomed into secular society, whether on the part of individuals or institutions.'

Insidecatholic also reports on the Obama invitation speculating that the 'academic freedom' argument may be deployed as justification:

"a Catholic university is where the Church does its thinking, and that thinking, to be beneficial, must come from an intellectually rigorous engagement with the world."

True; however, I would also agree that:

"Whatever educational value there is in the visit of a U.S. president to the campus is trumped by the spectacle of moral support being offered by Notre Dame to Obama's position on abortion.

Insidecatholic concludes:

"Barring some miracle of divine intervention, the world will soon watch as the preeminent Catholic university in the country lauds the world's leading advocate for killing children in the womb. Under Father Jenkins's leadership, Notre Dame has had an "intellectually rigorous engagement with the world," and the world has won."

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork...

Monday is often the day on which we try to catch up letters, replies, form filling, emails, phonecalls, appointments etc. The ones I have been putting off are the three applications for student loans for next year, which run to 24 pages, each...aargh!
Just have to get going and hope to post something more interesting later on.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mothering Sunday!

Remember, O most loving Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left forsaken. Filled therefore with confidence in thy goodness, I fly to thee O Mother, Virgin of virgins. To thee I come, before thee I stand a sorrowful sinner. Despise not my poor words, O Mother of the Word of God, but graciously hear and grant my prayer. Amen

May all mothers have recourse to our heavenly Patroness.

Contraception :The bitter pill

Here's an excellent piece by George Sim Johnson, from InsideCatholic.
The author and his wife help prepare couples who wish to marry in the Catholic Church by explaining the teaching of the Church on human sexuality.
George Johnson mentions:

" One obvious reason [why the use of contraceptives contribute to marriage breakdown] is that it makes infidelity easier by taking babies out of the picture. It also turns premarital sex into a recreation like tennis or bungee jumping, so that many enter marriage with a consumerist attitude toward sex that is easily bored and dissatisfied.
Our culture has been able to turn sex into a casual activity because it has separated personhood from the human body.

When you take the pill or use a foam, diaphragm, condom, or whatever, you are, in effect, saying to your spouse, "In this, the most intimate act of our marriage, I am going to give myself to you, but only up to a point." Or, conversely, you are saying, "I want you in this act to make a total gift to me of yourself, except that part of you which so deeply defines you as a sexual being, your fertility."

The use of contraceptives always imposes a limit on the total self giving between spouses, which is why their use is so risky in marriage. In that uniquely intimate unity of persons, two truly become one because of their total, lifelong gift of self to each other, nothing held back.This is the true nature of the married state, to the pursuit of which, contraception has nothing to offer.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is our youngest son's birthday, God bless him, he has reached the grand old age of fourteen years and we are about to start the party...
Happy birthday, son, and may God grant you many more.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Dr.Oddie defends the Pope and the teaching of the Church

Maybe you heard this morning's piece on Radio 4's 'Today' programme where Dr. William Oddie and Martin Pendergast commented on what the Holy Father had to day about the use of condoms.Dr. Oddie gave solid and statistical reasons for the failure of condoms as a solution to Aids/hiv and Pendergast gave the same old, same old.Pendergast also said that the opponents of condom use were really quite disingenuous in promoting abstinence only programmes.Within the context, I think the shameful comment above must have been aimed at the Holy Father, as well as others who uphold the teaching of the Church.
If you didn't catch the 'Today' programme,here is a link to the relevant part.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Holy Father announces a special year for Priests

The Holy Father has decided to call a special year for priests from 16th June 2009 to 16th June 2010, being also the year which marks the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the Cure of Ars.
I am sure many graces will flow from heaven upon our priests, during this special year, at the intercession of the humble and holy Cure, whom the Pope describes as a 'true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock'.

A couple of points that stood out in the text of the announcement here were:

"The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry".

I think that Pastor Juventus, in this week's article for the Catholic Herald, must have been thinking along similar lines, where he comments on the heavy workload faced by so many priests:
" this should be galvanising us all into a huge effort to promote priestly vocations and to stop all the nonsense about the declining number of priests are God's way of telling us that what He really wants is more lay ministry."

And on the formation of seminarians the Holy Father underlines the need to:

"have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".

The laity could and hopefully will, support this 'special year' with a renewed effort to pray and make sacrifices for all priests, those known and those unknown, the nice along with the grumpy, the faithful and those in difficulty.
As the Holy Father says, without priests there would be no Eucharist, no mission and no Church.

St Jean Vianney, Pray for them, and for more labourers to the harvest.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

God brings good out of suffering

What a beautiful outcome to the recent attempt by the Tablet to foment discord in Fr Finigan's parish at Blackfen!

Friday, 13 March 2009

The Bishops respond to the Pope's letter

You can read the response of the Bishops of England and Wales here. I am a little disappointed at its muted tones and apparent failure to reply to the several points made by the Holy Father.Silence is not always golden, how are the faithful of England and Wales to be assisted in understanding the content of the Pope's letter by such a response? I wonder, too, how many of the Bishops of E+W were actually consulted before this response was made public, in their name?

To date, two of our Bishops have responded individually; Archbishop Nicholls has made some more detailed comments here, and below I have copied the response of Bishop O'Donoghue. Though it is brief, and doesn't go into detail, Bishop O'Donoghue's love for and loyalty to, the Holy Father, shines through. He unites himself with the Holy Father's views and assures the Pope of the continuing support and prayers of his whole diocese.

Statement from Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster

I warmly welcome this moving and humbling letter of the Holy
Father and wish to echo his views as my own – that only in a sprit
of deep reconciliation and communion can we achieve the prayer
of Christ himself – that ‘they may be one’.
The Holy Father can rely on the love, support and prayers of the
Diocese of Lancaster – as he seeks to bring unity to the Lord’s
Church in our time.”

Thursday, 12 March 2009

A Visitation is Announced

The Vatican has recently announced an
Apostolic Visitation to the Women Religious of the U.S. This announcement was not universally welcomed

The Visitors will witness
plenty of good,
old fashioned prayer
in the Chapels..

....but what will they make of the sentries
posted on the look-out for early warning of their impending arrival.............

. order to give the sisters time to get changed?

Thou art Peter

There is so much in the letter of the Holy Father to the Bishops of the world, that it may well take several readings and reflection, to extract the best and fullest understanding of what he says.

Whether the Holy Father chides, encourages or teaches, he does not do so to defend Joseph Ratzinger, but to lovingly speak the words of Christ to us, and we can surely be in no doubt that it is Peter who has spoken, it is our responsibility to listen to his words.

Here is an exerpt from the first message of his Holiness Benedict XV1 at the end of the Eucharistic Concelebration with the members of the College of Cardinals, just after his election.

"I. the Successor of Peter...listen again with intimate emotion to the reassuring promise of the Divine Master.If the weight of the responsibility that now lies in my poor shoulders is enormous, the divine power on which I can count is surely immeasurable: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church'. Electing me as the Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me as His Vicar, He wished me to be the 'Rock' upon which everyone may rest with confidence. I ask him to make up for the poverty of my strength, that I may be a courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always docile to the inspirations of His Spirit."

What an amazing gift to the Church is our humble Holy Father!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Holy Father writes to the world's Bishops

Fr. Z. and Rorate Caeli have both posted about the Holy Father's letter to the Bishops of the world regarding Bishop Williamson, and Rorate has some excerpts from Italian news agencies who published this morning .

On Ecumenism and the SSPX, the Holy Father says:

"May we consign to utter indifference a community in which there are 491 priests, 215 seminarians, ... 117 brothers, 164 sisters, and thousands of faithful? Should we truly let them drift away from the Church? Are we allowed to simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical and marginal group, from the search for unity and reconciliation?"

I think they (SSPX) remain our brothers and sisters, perhaps closer to 'thinking with the mind of the Church' than others in different Christian communities.

"A mishap unpredictable to me was the fact that the Williamson affair was placed above the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards the four Bishops, ordained validly but not licitly, appeared unexpectedly as a completely different matter: as a denial of the reconciliation of Christians and Jews, and thus as a repeal of that which the Council had clarified for the path of the Church regarding this matter."

In the reporting of, and reaction to, the Williamson affair, there were many who couldn't or wouldn't see the wood for the trees..

And, as William Shakespeare has it,

"The quality of
mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain fron heaven upon the place beneath.It is twice blessed, it blesseth him that gives and him that is an attribute to God himself, and earthly power doth then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice." -The Merchant of Venice.

"The impression is often given that our society feels the need for at least one group to which no tolerance is to be granted; which one may perfectly abuse with hatred. And if anyone dares to approach them, he also loses his right to tolerance and he also may be treated with hatred, with no fears or reservations."

Strong words indeed from the Holy Father. An admonition.

The following words are an indication of the depth of the assault on the Holy Father:

"I am saddened by the fact that even Catholics, who in the end should have known better how things stand, considered having to assail me with a hostility ready for attack. "

I too, am saddened that the merciful actions of the Pope in lifting the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops, should have been greeted with such anger, even disloyalty.

I am also saddened at a state of affairs in which the Pope judges it necessary to write such a letter......I could go on......but I won't!

It's much more helpful to pray, for the Holy Father, and for the Bishops.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Fr Mildew's 50th Jubilee

On his return to blogging, Fr Mildew has announced that this is his 50th Jubilee year!
I can't begin to imagine how many souls he will have helped, guided towards Heaven in 50 years of dedicated, faithful ministry in the Sacred Priesthood.
Thank God for the gift and vocation of priesthood, and the generous men who respond to His call.

Congratulations, Fr Mildew, let the celebrations begin!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Equality and Diversity

A few weeks back, John Smeaton posted about the new draft Code of Conduct and Practice by the General Teaching Council, which is the professional regulatory body for teachers.Only teachers registered with the GTC can teach in state schools, and those who register must sign the declaration:

'I understand that as a registered teacher I am required to comply with the code of conduct and practice for registered teachers'

As the Christian Institute has noted, amongst other things, the Draft Code would require:

.'Registered teachers…
Act respectfully towards all children and young
people, parents, carers and colleagues, regardless
of their socio-economic background, age, gender,
sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or
Proactively challenge discrimination,
stereotyping, and bullying, no matter who is
the victim or the perpetrator; promote equality
and value diversity in all their professional
relationships and interactions'

The first paragraph above simply requires
teachers to treat people respectfully. This is what
Christians believe in any event. The Bible teaches
the inherent worth and dignity of every person
– regardless of their background or conduct –
because they are made in the image of God.
Christ taught that we must love everyone, even
our enemies,4 and “do good to all people”.5
But Principle 4 also requires teachers to
“promote equality and value diversity in all their
professional relationships and interactions”.

And the Christian Institute gives examples of what the promotion of equality and valuing of diversity could mean :

• A university department of education asks
all applicants for teacher training courses to
affirm their willingness to promote gay rights,
citing Principle 4.

• A Christian woman applies to teach Personal,
Social and Health Education. At interview
she is asked if she will use lesson materials
designed by gay rights groups. When she
says no she is told this breaches Principle 4.
She does not get the job. The woman takes
the school to an employment tribunal for
religious discrimination. The tribunal refers
to the code of conduct and finds in favour of
the school.

• Pupils ask a Christian RE teacher if he
believes Christ is the only way to salvation.
He says yes. An atheist parent complains to
the GTC and to the school, citing Principle 4.

• A teacher known for his Christian faith is
asked for advice by a troubled pupil. After
a conversation he tells the pupil he will
be praying for him. Another staff member
reports the teacher who is suspended pending
investigation into an alleged failure to “value
• An OFSTED inspector criticizes teachers of
sex education in a church school for teaching
that cohabitation and homosexual practice
are wrong, claiming it breaches the GTC’s
equality and diversity requirements.

• A Christian teacher, returning to the
profession after a career break, applies for
GTC registration. However, she cannot sign
the declaration about complying with the
code because she cannot, in good conscience,
agree with the modern definitions of
‘equality’ and ‘diversity’. She is therefore
unable to return to teaching.

• A homosexual group writes to schools
claiming that Principle 4 means all schools
must use materials designed to promote
acceptance of homosexuality

‘Equality’ and ‘diversity’ are concepts which can
be used as a tool for promoting secularism and
gay rights, as these cases demonstrate:

• When nurse Caroline Petrie offered to pray
for a patient North Somerset Primary Care
Trust suspended her. It cited the Nursing
and Midwifery Council Code that says “you
must demonstrate a personal and professional
commitment to equality and diversity.”

• Lillian Ladele, a Christian working as a
marriage registrar for Islington Council,
was disciplined for refusing to conduct
homosexual civil partnership ceremonies.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that
Islington was justified in disciplining her
because to do otherwise “would send the
wrong message to staff of the council about
its commitment to equality”.

• Brighton Council withdrew funding from
Pilgrim Homes, a Christian care home,
because it refused to question elderly
residents four times a year about their
sexual orientation.9 Brighton claimed the
home failed to comply with “fair access and
diversity” policies.

The Catholic Education Service has responded to this draft code.

Oona Stannard writes:

'My initial reaction was to welcome the protection that it should offer, for example, to any teacher in a school with a religious character or for person of religious faith, entitling them to be protected from any harassment or bullying and discrimination.'

Maybe Ms Stannard took some further advice, as, she admits:

'Subsequent reflection, however, has led me to think that my stance is too trusting and would not take into account those who would misappropriate the Code and who could abuse the use of the words in Principle 4 to discriminate, for example, against Christian teachers.'

Too trusting indeed!
Where have you been, Ms Stannard, these last few months that have seen nursing staff, a nursing home and a town hall employee fall foul of equality and diversity policies?

The most telling point that Ms Stannard raises is, I think, the following:

'Clearly in secular terms as well as in religious terms “promoting equality and value diversity” ....could not always be upheld; one has only to think of issues around the BNP to know this.'

Ah, there we have it, the draft code couldn't be upheld in respect of people that we don't agree with anyway.
I wonder why Ms Stannard selected the BNP to make this point? That, so far, it is Christian organisations and individuals who have suffered the consequences of Equality and Diversity policies, seems to have passed her by.

Lenten Fast Day

CAFOD supporters filling their Lenten Fast Day envelopes this weekend, will no doubt be interested to know that the Director of CAFOD was paid £71,258.00 in the 2008 financial year (source:Charity Commission).In addition, the employer's contribution in that year to the Director's pension scheme was £7,125.
Every little helps?