Monday, 30 November 2009

Congratulations to SPUC!

The community in Northern Ireland, despite a history of division, and against the face of considerable pressure from powerful political interests, has always been united in opposition to the extension of abortion provision to Northern Ireland.

 I was delighted to read of  SPUC's success in the high court, Belfast, which will help protect the whole community from the giving, or receiving, of wrongful advice on the matter of abortion,  which itself remains illegal in Northern Ireland.
Further details on John Smeaton's blog, linked below.

John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, reports that:

"The Belfast high court has this morning ruled in favour of SPUC's challenge of government abortion guidance in Northern Ireland.Lord Justice Girvan ruled in favour of SPUC's challenge on two grounds. SPUC argued that because abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, it was wrong to expect medical providers to give non-directive counselling to women who might be considering abortion. SPUC also argued that the government's guidance was wrong regarding non-participation in abortion (conscientious objection). The judge ruled in favour of SPUC on these points. The judge awarded costs against the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety."

Sunday, 29 November 2009

1st Sunday of Advent

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High:
  for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his path,
to let his people know their salvation,
  so that their sins may be forgiven.
Through the bottomless mercy of our God,
  one born on high will visit us
to give light to those who walk in darkness,
  who live in the shadow of death;
  to lead our feet in the path of peace."
 -from today's Canticle-  Morning Prayer of the Church, 1st Sunday of Advent

I found the Advent Wreath graphic (to the right of my posts) over at the Curt Jester and took advantage of his kind offer to share it with (non-techie) bloggers;  thanks, Curt Jester!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Lights going out in E.U.?

  EU Commission Demands UK Abolish Religious Freedom Rights

  LONDON, November 24, 2009. In what may be the first test of the new legal situation created by the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission has said that absolutely no exemptions can be allowed in anti-discrimination laws, even for religious conscience. In a letter to the British government, the EU has demanded that Britain abolish laws protecting religious freedom rights with regards to "sexual orientation".

More at lifesite news

Friday, 20 November 2009

Policy based evidence making

Could the phenomenon known as 'Policy based Evidence Making' be present in some scientific circles, as well as in some educational circles?

Thanks to Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP.
Hot Air
and  Fr. Finigan

Trying not to get fixated...

The Catholic Herald reports that Bishop Kieran Conry, in a pastoral letter read out to churches in his diocese, has said:

“It is all too easy to get caught up and even fixated with single issues, whether this is in religion or politics. So many people tend to focus on liturgy – even the language of the Mass – as if this somehow expresses the core of our beliefs.

“Others campaign on the moral issues of the day. Someone said recently that a person’s attitude to Humanae Vitae was a ‘litmus test’ of being a Catholic, whereas many might not know what Humanae Vitae is.

“These are all undoubtedly important issues, but they will never get anywhere near expressing our faith in its entirety, and we can ask if some of these questions are actually fundamental to faith at all.”

The full text of Bishop Conry's letter is here

Thursday, 19 November 2009

'Resting' Catholics

'Resting' Catholics:   now that is a phrase I haven't heard before, though I have heard that actors who are not working, i.e. out of work, are sometimes euphemistically described as 'resting'.

Presumably, a 'resting' Catholic is one who temporarily, (or over a long time),is not practising his faith.

Bishop Conry has  reminded  Catholic mothers, of the need to pray for Catholics who have ceased to practice their faith. At the launch of the annual 'Come home for Christmas' campaign, Bishop Conry suggests that we might pray for the powerful  intercession of  St. Monica, the mother of St Augustine of Hippo.  St Monica's incessant prayers for her, then wayward, son, were heard and answered by God. He returned to the faith and spent the rest of his earthly life doing God's work, as a Bishop, in his prayer, and in his writings.

A phrase for which St. Augustine is well known, is found in Ch.1 of  his 'Confessions':

'.. because you have made us
and drawn us to yourself,
and our hearts are restless
until they rest in you.'

So, a 'resting' Catholic could also be................

Monday, 16 November 2009

USCCB in Conference

How fascinating it is, to sit here in the UK and watch the proceedings of the meeting of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops!
I wonder if televised meetings will ever catch on with our own UK bishops Conference...

The Wisdom of Pope Benedict

 Here's an interesting (though sad) story, from the New Oxford Review, of the descent of two Catholic nuns into the culture of death, via their espousal of  radical feminism and its insistence on 'Women's Experience' as a source for interpreting moral value.The former nuns even wrote a book about their experiences, titled:
'No Turning Back: Two Nuns Battle with the Vatican over Women's Right to Choose' (1990).

In 1985, the Ratzinger Report was published in which the Holy Father, then Cardinal Ratzinger, offered  perceptive insights into the problem of radical feminism.

Below are some quotations:

"The interchangeableness of the sexes, viewed as simple "roles" determined more by history than by nature, and the trivialization of male and female extend to the very idea of God and from there spread out to the whole religious reality.
            Christianity is not "our" work; it is a Revelation; it is a message that has been consigned to us, and we have no right to reconstruct it as we like or choose. Consequently, we are not authorized to change the Our Father into an Our Mother: the symbolism employed by Jesus is irreversible; it is based on the same Man-God relationship that he came to reveal to us. Even less is it permissible to replace Christ with another figure. But what radical feminism - at times even that which asserts that it is based on Christianity - is not prepared to accept as precisely this: the exemplary, universal, unchangeable relationship between Christ and the Father.
I am, in fact, convinced that what feminism promotes in its radical form is no longer the Christianity that we know; it is another religion. But I am also convinced (we are beginning to see the deep reasons of the biblical position) that the Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches will defend their faith and their concept of the priesthood, thereby defending in reality both men and women in their totality as well as in their irreversible differentiation into male and female, hence in their irreducibility to simple function or role.
            Besides what I shall never tire of repeating also applies here: for the Church the language of nature (in our case, two sexes complementary to each other yet quite distinct) is also the language of morality (man and women called to equally noble destinies, both eternal, but different). It is precisely in the name of nature - it is known that the Protestant tradition and, in its wake, that of the Enlightenment mistrust this concept - that the Church raises her voice against the temptation to project persons and their destiny according to mere human plans, to strip them of individuality and, in consequence, of dignity. To respect biology is to respect God himself, hence to safeguard his creatures.
            Feminine radicalism announces a liberation that is a salvation different from, if not opposed to, the Christian conception. The men and above all the women who are experiencing the fruits of this presumed post-Christian salvation must realistically ask themselves if this really signifies an increase of happiness, a greater balance, a vital synthesis, richer than the one discarded because it was deemed to be obsolete."

 From The Ratzinger Report, 1985 with thanks to Catholic insight

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Prayer Request:

Please say a prayer for a friend who is thinking about becoming a Catholic. There are difficulties and hurdles in the way;  my friend will need every prayer, support and encouragement.

Fox News interview with Abby Johnson, exPlanned Parenthood Director

"If clinic workers saw what was happening on that screen, they would be running out of those clinics," Johnson concluded.  "This is what the abortion industry does not want their workers to see ... they don't want people to see what's actually happening in the woman's womb."

Thanks to Fr. John Boyle
and Lifesite News


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

On the one hand, the CES, on the other hand the Government.....

Can both of the following statements be true? :

"CESEW welcomes the government’s reiteration of its support for the important principles underlining SRE, which emphasise that schools continue to have the legal right to determine the content of what is taught in PSHE within their schools and that governing bodies retain the right to determine what is taught, and must determine this in line with the ethos of the school."  Catholic Education Service

".. we have published the Government’s
response to the review of SRE in schools. As well as setting out our intention
to make PSHE statutory - with statutory programmes of study that will give
all children and young people a common core of knowledge and skills – the
response also accepted a range of further recommendations designed to drive
up the quality of SRE in schools".         Para 40, Govt. response to Report of Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

New job: only Guardian readers need apply?

The Bishops Conference is advertising, in the Guardian newspaper,  the  post of 'Development Manager' in marketing, PR and fundraising.
Fr. Ray Blake at Saint Mary Magdalen has an interesting post about this in  which he raises a couple of  questions:

"what type of person does whoever placed this advert in the Guardian hope to attract?"

"are habitual Guardian readers likely to be ardent supports of mainstream Catholicism? "

Fr. Ray has not been able to find this post advertised in other newspapers, and neither have I.
If the Bishops Conference has only advertised the post in the Guardian, and not in other publications which would reflect a broader political spectrum,  does that rather invite the question ,that the Bishops Conference would only be willing to employ someone, for this post, of a particular political persuasion?

Taking swine flu seriously

Various Dioceses in the UK have adopted to a greater or lesser degree, the 'swine flu regulations'. I am inclined to agree with Fr.Z that,  Bishop Boland of Savannah, GA, USA,has the best approach.

Friday, 6 November 2009

'Abortion- the most lucrative part of Planned Parenthood's operations'

Abby Johnson, the ex-director of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility who recently made national headlines after converting to the pro-life position, has revealed that Planned Parenthood pushes employees to strive for more abortions to boost profits.
Abby Johnson had worked at Bryan's Planned Parenthood facility for eight years and been its director for two when she resigned on October 6th, near the beginning of Bryan's sixth annual 40 Days for Life Campaign.She said that she grew uncomfortable with Planned Parenthood when they told her to try to bring more abortions through the door because of the economic downturn.
"Every meeting that we had was, 'We don't have enough money, we don't have enough money - we've got to keep these abortions coming,' " Johnson said in an interview with Fox News. "It's a very lucrative business and that's why they want to increase numbers.

Johnson said she became involved with the clinic "to help women and ... [do] the right thing."  The idea of increasing abortion numbers to increase revenue was repugnant to her. She said that ideally the facility's director would provide "so much family planning and so much education that there is not a demand for abortion."
But this ideal was not shared by the rest of Planned Parenthood, she said, because "abortion is the most lucrative part of Planned Parenthood's operations."

Thanks to Lifesite News

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Tony Blair invited to Rome Conference about legislation against Catholic Teaching

Tony Blair has been invited to Rome, by the Holy Father, to attend a conference entitled 'Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community'.The conference may be sheduled early next year.
Items to be discussed include the family, right to life, Christian roots, education and bio-ethics.
Vatican sources said that Pope Benedict XVI was becoming 'increasingly concerned' at how Christian values were being eroded because of various world governments introducing legislation against Catholic teaching.

The Catholic Education Service at the service of whom?

Driving home tonight, I caught some of Radio4's PM news programme in which changes to sex education in schools in England were announced. The main differences seem to be that sex and relationships education will now become mandatory in  schools including 'faith' schools and the parental right to 'opt out' of such lessons will be weakened by establishing a child age limit of 15 years beyond which there is no opt out.
Ed Balls, Education Secretary was asked on the programme:

"....but isn't it true that you're going to make all schools including faith schools teach about contraception, whether they approve of contraception or not?"
Ed Balls:  " Yes and that's been supported today by both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church who I work with very closely on this, and who are also supporting me today on the opt out going down to 15.

Ed Balls also stated:
"The Catholic Education Service was part of a group which recommended to me that we should make this statutory, that we do have sex and relationships education for all children and young people, in all our schools, with parental opt out which I am reducing today with the support of the vast majority of faith schools."

Here is a link to todays PM podcast, which I think will stand for seven days.The topic comes up at about 15.30 mins.
Update:  See also John Smeaton's perceptive post 'Compulsive sex ed is Govt. exploitation of schools' which  also has a link for SPUC's excellent critique of government sexual health interventions for schools.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

'Say something nice about a priest'

James Preece has tagged(?) me for a meme- to say something nice about a priest. I'm happy to oblige, but it will mean some cheating as I'm not sure that saying something 'nice' will quite suffice!

When I think of priests my thoughts are less about how nice they, are but how necessary their Sacred vocation is, for the salvation of souls. How priests act in Persona Christi, in dispensing the sacraments to us.
Priests are priests from the moment of their ordination .They are changed by God, in the depths of their being, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They will never be the same again, (even those who have left ministry are still priests, though not ministering).
It is God who calls men to priesthood. They are ordained to do God's work. Most of the priests I have met or know, do God's work pretty cheerfully, always generously, and in obedience to their Superiors or Bishop.
Priests need and deserve our constant prayers to support them in faithfully carrying out their lifetime work, God's work.
 We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude because without priests there can be no Mass, ultimately, no Church.

So priests can be cranky at times? And we are never cranky?
My husband once witnessed a parishioner attempting to speak to Father during a scheduled Confession time when Father was hearing another's confession. That priest got very cranky!
A parishioner got cranky once because she wanted the playgroup toys to be stored in a cupboard in the presbytery, and Father said 'no'.

Isn't the reality that, human faults and failings only get in the way, perhaps colour our opinions about priests, because... we let them? ....instead of  using our time to  pray for those priests?

P.S.  I forgot to nominate three other bloggers for this meme, here they are :
Jackie Parkes
Fiorella Nash

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Update on the Dominican Sister who acted as an abortion clinic escort

I posted earlier about this sad case.

Sr. Quinn's religious community, the Wisconsin-based Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation, admitted in a press release posted on their website that they were informed of the allegation several months ago, and, after having completed a period of investigation, the Congregation's leaders have informed the pro-abortion sister that "her actions are in violation of her profession as a Dominican religious."

Thanks to Lifesite news

ECHR Ruling: Displaying crucifixes in Italian schools violates human rights

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Italian schools have violated the rights of their students and their parents by displaying crucifixes on classroom walls. The court ordered Italy to pay €5,000 ($7,400) in "moral damages" to a mother who had complained about the presence of the crucifix in her children's classrooms.

Thanks to Catholic Culture where there are more details.

CES responds to Homeschooling Consultation

The CES has published its response to the Government's Consultation on Home Education and seems to be broadly in agreement with what the consultation proposes. 

The questions in the Consultation seem to indicate a certain direction of travel on the part of the Govt., with regard to parents who exercise their right to home educate. There is the hint of a possible conflict of interest between the rights of parents (to home school) and the rights of children ( to be educated). The 'big govt.' drive to register everything that lives and breathes, enforceable by law, and the obsession with tracking and monitoring every child to keep those Govt. data bases up to speed.

I feel rather disappointed with the CES responses, especially the answer to this question: 

10. Do you agree that the local authority should have the power to interview
the child, alone if judged appropriate, or if not in the presence of a trusted
person who is not the parent/carer?
CES: Disagree. The power to interview a child alone needs to be strictly limited and the
grounds on which it might be appropriate clearly indicated. We could agree to the
interview in the presence of a trusted person.

Parents are not  seen as trusted persons?
So who would be?
Would it be the Govt. which decides that question?

Under a heading 'Additional Comments' the CES remarks:

"We have also been told of parents describing their home schooling
arrangements and curriculum as being “Catholic home schooling". There is no such
model or programme of which we are aware.."

Such parents are possibly using Catholic Homeschooling Programmes developed  in America, where there seems to be considerable demand.
But parents might be devising their own programmes of education for their children, in which their children are taught at their own pace, and in conformity with the Church's teaching. That too, is Catholic education, and there are probably as many models for it as there are faithful Catholic home educators.

Faithful Catholic parents would surely, be likely to have renewed confidence in the CES, had it defended the inalienable, essential, primary and God-given role of parents as principal educators of their children,  against the onslaught of state intrusion.

As the late Pope John Paul said:

"Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area: they are educators because they are parents."

I found these helpful quotations on the Association of Catholic Families website.

The italics are mine.
Gravissimum Educationis - declaration on Christian education, Paul VI, 1965, n.3.
Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2223
Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones."31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them.

Gaudium et Spes, n.49
It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise, so that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter upon a marriage of their own.

Familiaris Consortio n.36
The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.

In addition to these characteristics, it cannot be forgotten that the most basic element, so basic that it qualifies the educational role of parents, is parental love, which finds fulfillment in the task of education as it completes and perfects its service of life: as well as being a source, the parents' love is also the animating principle and therefore the norm inspiring and guiding all concrete educational activity, enriching it with the values of kindness, constancy, goodness, service, disinterestedness and self-sacrifice that are the most precious fruit of love.
Message for 38th World Communications day, Benedict XVI.
5. Parents, as the primary and most important educators of their children, are also the first to teach them about the media. They are called to train their offspring in the “moderate, critical, watchful and prudent use of the media” in the home (Familiaris Consortio, 76). When parents do that consistently and well, family life is greatly enriched.

Charter of the Rights of the family, 1983, Article 5
Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children.

a) Parents have the right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions, taking into account the cultural traditions of the family which favor the good and the dignity of the child; they should also receive from society the necessary aid and assistance to perform their educational role properly.
b) Parents have the right to freely choose schools or other means necessary to educate their children in keeping with their convictions. Public authorities must ensure that public subsidies are so allocated that parents are truly free to exercise this right without incurring unjust burdens. Parents should not have to sustain, directly or indirectly, extra charges which would deny or unjustly limit the exercise of this freedom.
c) Parents have the right to ensure that their children are not compelled to attend classes which are not in agreement with their own moral and religious convictions. In particular, sex education is a basic right of the parents and must always be carried out under their close supervision, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them.
d) The rights of parents are violated when a compulsory system of education is imposed by the State from which all religious formation is excluded.
e) The primary right of parents to educate their children must be upheld in all forms of collaboration between parents, teachers and school authorities, and particularly in forms of participation designed to give citizens a voice in the functioning of schools and in the formulation and implementation of educational policies.
f) The family has the right to expect that the means of social communication will be positive instruments for the building up of society, and will reinforce the fundamental values of the family. At the same time the family has the right to be adequately protected, especially with regard to its youngest members, from the negative effects and misuse of the mass media.
The truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, Pontifical Council for the Family, n.5.
The Church has always affirmed that parents have the duty and the right to be the first and the principal educators of their children.

Letter to Families, 1995, John Paul II.
"Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area: they are educators because they are parents."