Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Cardinal Levada defends the Holy Father

Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has taken the New York Times newspaper to task, for its lack of fairness in its coverage of the Pope.
(Hope the UK press is taking note)

 The Cardinal says:

"we owe Pope Benedict a great debt of gratitude for introducing the procedures that have helped the Church to take action in the face of the scandal of priestly sexual abuse of minors. These efforts began when the Pope served as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and continued after he was elected Pope."

Read the full article here

Thanks to Fr. Ray Blake and Rocco Palmo

Our Lady of Guadalupe coming soon?

A good friend has sent word that an authorised copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe may soon be visiting throughout England and Wales.

Here's what he said:

"Please pray that the Bishops of England and Wales will grant permission for an
authorized relic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to enter their diocese, for the prayers
and devotion of the faithful.

With the approval of Archbishop Nichols, the relic image was exhibited in Westminster
cathedral hall for a day of devotions, on 13th March 2010. It was then taken to three
other London parishes, including the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden.

The digitally reproduced image with official seals imprinted upon it is a full scale replica
of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, touched against and consecrated
by the original Tilma image of St. Juan Diego, the visionary to whom Our Lady
appeared in 1531. It is one of only 220 such images that were commissioned by
Cardinal Rivera Carrera of Mexico in 2004, and entrusted to the apostolate Life and
Mercy Crusade in Mexico for distribution to every country which welcomes them.  The
purpose of the specially consecrated images is to help fulfil the exhortation of the
Venerable Pope John Paul II when he proclaimed in 1979:

"The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be the centre from which the light of the Gospel of Christ will illuminate the entire world by means of the miraculous image of His

These images have been declared as authorized relics that will extend the graces of
evangelization, conversion and truth to those nations which receive them; the same
graces as extended in 1531."

Considering the many fronts on which the Catholic faithful are battling right now, a chance to come before this relic image of Our Lady and invoke her powerful intercession, would be wonderful.

Say a prayer that your Bishop will welcome and promote Our Lady of Guadalupe in his diocese.
Thanks to Bishop Hollis of Portsmouth, who I believe has already given the necessary permission.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Prayer Request

Of your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Anthony Cornish  who died on the Feast of the Annunciation.
He had been our Parish Priest for many years, heard our older childrens' first confessions, gave them their first Holy Communions and arranged their preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation. Fr. was a major influence in the spiritual development of their early years.

Our eldest disabled son was a teenager when he was ready to make his first Holy Communion; he was unable to consume a host (we practised without success using some unconsecrated hosts), and it was Fr. Cornish who arranged for him to receive his first and subsequent Holy Communions by receiving the Precious Blood from the chalice, using a silver teaspoon.

Eternal rest grant to him O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon him
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed
Through the mercy of God
Rest in peace

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

More obfuscation?

What does the following statement mean?

" All Catholic schools in the Diocese teach sex and relationship education, and are required to do so in accordance with the teachings of the Church."

a) Is the writer saying that the Teaching of the Catholic Church mandates the teaching of sex and relationship education in Catholic schools?

b) Is he saying that Catholic schools which teach SRE must teach it in accordance with the Teaching of the Church?

I am not sure how the Director of Education for the Archdiocese of Westminster, Mr. Paul Barber, who wrote the statement above,  expects  it to be understood.

If he means a),  then he ought to produce the evidence to support his claim.

If he means b),  if the Education Bill becomes law, Catholic schools will discover that while they may  teach SRE in accordance with the Teaching of the Church, they will also be required to teach SRE according to any other view that the Government wishes to promote.At best, there will be 'faith based' SRE, and 'state imposed' SRE.

'And, both '  not  'either, or'.
Children in Catholic schools will receive a sort of 'pick an' mix' SRE.

Thanks to John Smeaton,  on whose blog you can find the rest of what Mr Paul Barber has to say about That Bill

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Auntie Joanna: Did You Know....?

 Auntie Joanna has a  suggestion for us:

Did you know...

...that you can send an email to the Holy Father? Why not write to him now and tell him of your love and loyalty, with an assurance of your prayers?

You can find the address here.

Before you write to him, say a special prayer that he will be given strength and courage in the weeks ahead - and that his visit to Britain will be a big success. Then write and tell him that is what you have done, and that you will continue to pray for him.

Pass this information on to a friend too "

Well I didn't know that one could send an email  to the Holy Father, but I think I'll take up Auntie's suggestion..........with love, loyalty and an assurance of my prayers.........yes, that's about right.

The Holy Father's Pastoral Letter to the Church in Ireland

Quite simply, this is a brilliant pastoral letter from the Holy Father.

  No-one who reads it with serious attention could be in any doubt of his determination to confront and attack the evil of child abuse, perpetrated by some priests and religious, and covered up by some other priests and religious.
The Holy Father  shows that it was a spiritual crisis which led to this sin against children and their families, just as spiritual crisis always precedes sin.

 He diagnoses the symptoms and sets out the prescription:

"Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing."

The Holy Father's prescription includes:

Penitential acts, especially Friday penances:
"I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland."

More frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession:
"I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace."

Eucharistic Adoration; He wishes to see, in every diocese, churches or chapels devoted to this.
"Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful."

The Intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney:

"The Curé d’Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.” Through the intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalized, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.

An Apostolic Visitation
of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.
 and a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious.

The Holy Father attached this beautiful prayer for the Church in Ireland:

Prayer for the Church in Ireland
God of our fathers, renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation, the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal, the charity which purifies and opens our hearts to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus Christ, may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.
Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide, inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal for the Church in Ireland.
May our sorrow and our tears, our sincere effort to redress past wrongs, and our firm purpose of amendment bear an abundant harvest of grace for the deepening of the faith in our families, parishes, schools and communities, for the spiritual progress of Irish society, and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace within the whole human family.
To you, Triune God, confident in the loving protection of Mary, Queen of Ireland, our Mother, and of St. Patrick, St. Brigid and all the saints, do we entrust ourselves, our children, and the needs of the Church in Ireland.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Petition to Gordon Brown, Ed Balls: No to compulsory Sex Ed

It's brief and to the point:

"No to the UK government's compulsory sex education and anti-life Children, Schools and Families bill."

Here's the link if you would like to sign this petition.

Thanks to de cura animarum

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Lord Alton:Teaching children how to access abortion is promotion not information

                                                               Lord Alton

Laurence England has posted the letter he received from Bishop McMahon in which the good Bishop attempts to defend the work of the CES regarding its input to the sex education aspect of the DCSF Bill. Bishop McMahon states:

"As the Bill stands at the present time, it will not be made statutory for Catholic Schools to promote abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

 I suggested in a comment over on Fr. Ray Blake's blog,  that the CES/Bishop McMahon position hangs on what they mean by that word 'promote'.

 Lord Alton, a prominent Catholic peer, believes that teaching children how to get an abortion,  is promotion of, rather than  information about, abortion.

This is a part of the Hansard record of Lord Alton's speech in the House of Lords on the 8th March 2010:

"Last week, I tabled a Written Question to the Government, indicating my intention to raise this point. It was reported in the media that:
"Catholic schools must teach pupils where to access an abortion, Schools Secretary Ed Balls has said".
Mr Balls said this on the "Today" programme:
"What this changes is that for the first time"-
Catholic schools-
    "cannot just ignore these issues or teach only one side of the argument".
8 Mar 2010 : Column 95
The Minister herself said something similar today at the Dispatch Box. I cannot begin to tell the Minister how much anxiety this has engendered, and not just among Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Anglicans, who as a matter of conscience believe abortion to be the taking of an innocent life.
This is not a trivial matter, and I hope that the Government realise the implications. The Government need to understand that such a fundamental attack on the character and ethos of faith schools will create a crisis of conscience for parents and teachers alike. After their inept handling of the adoption agencies issue, the Government should understand the enormity of this question which they have opened.
As someone who left a political party when it said that abortion had to be a party policy rather than a matter of conscience, I can say with some feeling that Catholics and many others will not meekly accept that their children should routinely be taught how to procure abortions. That is promotion, not information, and the Government really do need to clarify the difference between the two. This is a wholly unacceptable assault on the rights of conscience, beliefs, the integrity of religious foundations, and the integrity of families."      (my emphasis)

Had Bishop McMahon  included in his letter to Laurence England, a statement that Catholic schools would not teach children how to access abortion (or indeed contraception),  that could possibly have put the CES in the sort of direct confrontation with the Ed Balls department, that Bishop McMahon believes would not achieve anything. However, we are now in the deeply worrying situation whereby a failure to stand up against "such a fundamental attack on the character and ethos of faith schools"  could result in Catholic schools teaching children how to procure an abortion, whilst simultaneously claiming that this does not promote abortion to children, and is consistent with the ethos of a Catholic school.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Mighty Mouse!

This is the kind of strength needed to finish Lent well ,  get through today without breaking my fast!

Thanks to Robert Colquhoun at Love Undefiled

Correspondence: Confidential drop in service in school

The letter from the school nurse about bringing a confidential drop in clinic to our childrens' school, also invited parents to contact a representative of the local Primary Care Trust for further information .
So I did.
Here's how our correspondence has been going; I thought it best to keep the  names off, for now.

Dear Ms..............,

Having been notified of a proposal to provide a 'confidential health drop in service' at ................. Community College, I would like to ask for some clarification on a couple of questions raised.
1)For which age groups of young people  is  the proposed 'drop in'  designed?
2)I understand that the School Nurse operating within the drop in clinic, will be able to refer young people to other services. What services are these?
I would be grateful to hear back from you as soon as possible.
Yours sincerely,

Dear kate,
 Thank you for your enquiry, I would be happy to answer your questions and discuss this further.
  I would appreciate if you could either give me a ring or put your request in writing to the address below, indicating the reason for your query as you have not given any indication of whether you are asking as a parent, teacher or school governor.
 Kind Regards

Dear ...........,
Thank you for your reply, I'm sorry it has taken me a couple of days to respond.
To answer your question, I am a teacher by profession, was a governor for 10 years and remain a parent.
It would be very helpful to me if you could provide your response to my query via email, which is, after all, much more prompt than posting, and widely accepted as a legitimate means of communication.
With best wishes,

Dear kate,
 I had hoped to have a conversation with you in preference to responding by email as this would have given greater opportunity for further discussion if required.
  We are proposing to develop, 'drop-in clinics' in response to national guidance from both health and education, with the driver being the requirement to promote the wellbeing of pupils at school.
  The drop-in would be accessible to young people attending the school and the school nurse would adhere to professional guidelines, national and local policies and procedures relating to confidentiality.
It is accepted best practice that the health professional would encourage the young person to talk to their parent or carer.
 It is difficult to answer your question about specific services that a school nurse may refer to, as this would depend on the issue, ranging from bullying and relationship problems to diet, body image and physical and emotional health and wellbeing issues.
 I hope this is helpful
 Best Wishes

 Dear ............,
Thank you for your helpful answer.
I appreciate your difficulty in answering my earlier question about which services a school nurse might refer a pupil to. Since the range of issues you mention does not include include sexual health, STI's, emergency contraception or abortion referrals,  my understanding is that a school nurse operating in a school based confidential drop in service, would not refer pupils  to any of those services. Would that  be correct?
With best wishes

Dear Kate,
The examples of issues that young people might bring to a confidential drop in was not comprehensive and yes, they might bring sexual health questions and concerns.
 These would be dealt with in the same professional manner, adhering to national and local policies and procedures.
 The advice and signposting that the school nurse would offer would depend on the assessment of the young person, this includes considerations relating to informed consent and safegaurding (i.e. issues of possible abuse).

A school nurse would not refer anyone for a termination of pregnancy as this is a doctors responsibility.

If you would like to discuss this further or any other aspect of the proposed drop in, please could you either give me your phone details so that I can ring you to arrange a meeting or contact me by phone (numbers below).  I think this would give you an oppportunity for a more in depth exploration of the proposal and I can share with you the documents/guidance supporting the establishment of the drop ins and the professional procedures that support the service.

Dear ...........,
 Thanks again for your helpful reply.
You have stated that a school nurse would not refer anyone for a termination of pregnancy  (abortion) as this is a doctor's responsibility.
Of course, whilst not actually making a direct referral for an abortion, a  school nurse would be able to refer a pupil to a doctor who would make an abortion referral. That is so, isn't it?
Thank you for your offer of a meeting. Sadly, I must decline owing to various time pressures.
If you could email the various documents/guidance that you propose to share with me, I would be most grateful.
With best wishes,

Still waiting for a reply to my last email above........

Fasting and Praying...

We are joining in the praying and fasting (on coffee, for me) today, for the intention of the defeat of the DCSF Education Bill. We have added a further intention to this, that the governors of our childrens' school will refuse the proposal to institute a confidential drop in clinic on site. The governors have a meeting today, and this proposal is on the agenda.

I suppose I ought to try to fast on bread and water, but I have never managed to succeed on this. Of course, as St. John Vianney advised, there are many other ways of fasting too.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

St John Vianney : the fasts which are most agreeable to God

"Tell me, now, is there any fasting which would be more pleasing to God than to do and to endure with patience certain things which often are very disagreeable to you? Without mentioning illness, infirmities, or so many other afflictions which are inseparable from our wretched life, how often do we not have the opportunity to mortify ourselves in putting up with what annoys and revolts us? Sometimes it is work which wearies us greatly; sometimes it is some person who annoys us. At another time it may be some humiliation which is very difficult to endure. Well, then, my children, if we put up with all that for God and solely to please Him, these are the fasts which are most agreeable to God and most meritorious in His eyes."

Friday, 12 March 2010

Fr. Philip Cleevley on 'that Amendment'

John Smeaton draws attention to an excellent analysis of the implications of the proposed  Education bill, written by Fr. Phillip Cleevely of the Birmingham Oratory.
As Fr. Cleevley concludes:

"Only the Catholic Church (also) teaches, clearly and consistently, the wrongness of contraception, homosexuality and abortion. What is at stake is her right, in her own schools, to continue to do so, free fron State censorship and control ."

If you would like to sign the petition against government led sex education in schools, it's here.
At the moment, 1721 have signed.

Now is a good time to pray for priests

 As the secular assault on the Church is becoming more evident, perhaps now is a good time to intensify our prayers for priests, including those who are also bishops.

St Therese of Lisieux, who spent much of her life praying for priests, once said that she would spend her heaven doing good on earth. We can be sure that this great Saint will join her prayers to ours.

I found St. Therese of Lisieux's beautiful Prayer for Priests on a small prayer leaflet, published by Southwark Vocations. 
It says it all, really.

St. Therese of Lisieux
Prayer for Priests

O Jesus
I pray for your faithful and fervent priests;
for your unfaithful and tepid priests;
for your priests labouring at home or abroad in distant mission fields.
For your tempted priests;
for your lonely and desolate priests;
for your young priests;
for your dying priests;
for the souls of your priests in Purgatory.
But above all, I recommend to you the priests dearest to me:
the priest who baptised me;the priests who absolved me from my sins;
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
the priests who taught and instructed me;
all of the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.

O Jesus, keep them all close to your Heart,
and bless them abundantly in time and eternity.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

For Catholicmomof10

I am sorry to read that Catholicmomof10 (Jackie Parkes) is off blogging at present. I hope it won't be long before she feels able to resume, and assure her (if she reads this), of my prayers.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A correct understanding of sexuality leads to a correct understanding of celibacy for the Kingdom of God.

ROME, MARCH 8, 2010 ( Priestly celibacy is not psychologically dangerous, and in fact, sexual behavior based on "anything goes" is what is truly destructive to the personality.

This is the affirmation made by Dr. Aquilino Polaino Lorente, a physician and psychiatrist who teaches courses on psychopathology at the University of St. Paul in Madrid.

ZENIT: Is priestly celibacy psychologically dangerous?

Polaino: It's not dangerous at all because perhaps it blends very well with what is the realistic anthropological structure of the human condition. Celibacy has its difficulties of course given that human nature is somewhat deteriorated and fallen and all the dimensions must be integrated.

It seems to me that open sexual behavior is more dangerous, not normative in that anything goes; I believe that has consequences that are more destructive of the personality than celibacy well lived in its fullness, without ruptures or breaks.

ZENIT: What does a priest need in order to be faithful to his vow of celibacy all the days of his life?

Polaino: The tradition of the Church has a multitude of counsels that can be put into practice and that are effective, for example, protecting one's heart and sight. What is not seen is not felt. Not that one must be looking at the ground; one can see without looking. This ensures the cleanliness of the heart and also the living of the first commandment which is to love God above all things. Flies do not enter a pressure cooker. A satisfied heart does not entertain stinginess or fragmentation.

The full,  mythbusting  Zenit interview is here!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Holy Father: 'Learn to read the events of life in the light of faith'


"The possibility of conversion demands that we learn to read the events of life in the light of faith. ... In the presence of suffering and tragedy, true wisdom is to ask ourselves about the precarious nature of existence and to read human history with the eye of God Who, always wanting only the good of His children for an inscrutable design of His love, sometimes allows them to be tried by pain in order to lead them to a greater good".

From the  Vatican Information Service

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Spiritual weapons for the defeat of the Children Schools and Families Bill

Please Pray and Fast for the defeat of the Children, Schools and Families Bill
The Good Counsel Network is urgently asking you to pray and fast on Monday 15th March for the defeat of the Children, Schools and Families Bill which is continuing it’s passage through Parliament. If it becomes law, the Bill will means that children of Primary School Age will be taught explicit and immoral sex education by teachers who may be utterly at variance from the parents in their moral views. Unfortunately, the much publicised amendment to the Bill will not protect children in faith schools from the many dangers of this bill. For more info tel: 020 7723 1740

Thanks to Fr Finigan

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Bloggers Beatitudes!

Blessed are the blog makers, for they shall be linked to the Celestial Blogroll
Blessed are those who cut'n'paste, for what is cut on earth shall be pasted in heaven
Blessed are those whose links work, their work will be linked to eternal joy
Blessed are those who comment, often and on-topic; the heavenly debating rooms will be theirs
Blessed are those who visit, their number will be counted in heaven
Blessed are the bloggers who persevere, their stats. will be multiplied
Blessed are the followers of blogs, for what is followed on earth will be accountable at heaven's gate
Blessed are those who link to good blogs, for by their links you shall know them
Blessed are the hat tippers, for they themselves will be acknowleged
Blessed are those who yearn for a visit from the Vatican, be happy and contented, for the Holy Father
is coming (to the UK) soon!

School based Confidential Health Service

Much of our time, this week, has been taken up by the need to consider our response to a letter from the school nurse at our childrens' (non-Catholic) school.
The letter explains that the Primary Care Trust wishes to set up a Confidential Drop in Health Service on the school premises, operating during a school lunch hour and staffed by the school nurse.

It reads:

" These services are already running successfully in county secondary schools, and are recommended by key local and national documents that aim to improve young peoples' health.
The School Nurse will be able to offer advice and guidance, refer to other services where appropriate and offer some limited sexual health services including condoms, chlamydia screening, pregnancy testing and emergency contraception." (my emphasis)

There is no attempt to explain the meaning of the word 'confidential', in this context.  We believe that it  means  pupils could be offered any or all of the above services without the knowlege or consent of their parents. We also think that 'refer to other services' must mean  so called 'sexual health services', including abortion,  since for every other health service provision for a minor, the written and signed consent of a parent is required.

Attached to this letter is a parental response form with two questions:

"Do you welcome the proposal for a health drop in at the college?"
-which invites  responses of yes, no, or don't know

Do you think young people would be happy to access this service? "  
-Responses as above.

There is a space for comments/suggestions.

And this, it would appear, constitutes a consultation with parents.

The response form is to be returned to the Chair of Governors by 11/3/10.
I think I can safely promise that we will beat that deadline, and that our reponse will be rather more substantial than circling one of the 'yes,  no, or don't know's.

I'll post again on how things are developing, in the meantime your prayers for us, and all parents fighting similar battles would be gratefully appreciated.