Friday, 30 April 2010

Archbishop Peter Smith appointed to Southwark

From Cardiff, home to Southwark;  Congratulations to Archbishop Peter Smith of the Archdiocese of Cardiff , who succeeds Archbishop Kevin McDonald, of the Archdiocese of Southwark.

Speaking of his appointment, Archbishop Peter said:
“I shall never forget the warmth and generosity of the people of Wales, not only the Catholic community but so many others, and their great sense of humour and cheerfulness.

“However, my sadness at leaving is tempered by the prospect of returning to my roots in South London and going home to the Archdiocese in which I was born and for which I was ordained a priest in 1972. I am very much looking forward to that and to serving the people, religious, deacons and priests of the Archdiocese of Southwark as their Bishop. It is good to be returning home, although I feel there is part of me which will always have a “second home” in Wales.”

Is Christianity now the love that dare not speak its name?

 Lord Justice Laws has dismissed a legal challenge by Mr. Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor, who was sacked after refusing to offer sex therapy sessions to homosexual couples because it was against his beliefs. (See Daily Telegraph report here )

"Lord Justice Laws ruled that while everyone had the right to hold religious beliefs, those beliefs themselves had no standing under the law.
“In the eye of everyone save the believer, religious faith is necessarily subjective, being incommunicable by any kind of proof or evidence,” he told the court.
While acknowledging the profound influence of Judeo-Christian traditions over many centuries, he insisted that no religious belief itself could be protected under the law “however long its tradition, however rich its culture”.
“The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified,” he said.
“It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary.” 

"Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Mr McFarlane, described the depiction of traditional religious views on marriage as subjective as an “alarming” development.
“In effect it seeks to rule out Christian principles of morality from the public square,” she said.
“It seems that a religious bar to office has been created, whereby a Christian who wishes to act on their Christian beliefs on marriage will no longer be able to work in a great number of environments.” 

And this is how Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, sees this ruling:

“The right to follow a religious belief is a qualified right  and it must not be used to legitimise discrimination against gay people who are legally entitled to protection against bigotry and persecution.”

  Leading Catholic barrister,Neil Addison, has published some early thoughts about this ruling

 on his blog here. He notes:

  "The decision in the McFarlane case was based very largely on the earlier Court of Appeal decision in Ladelle v London Borough of Islington [2009] EWCA Civ 1357. Both the Court of Appeal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal had rejected the the decision of the original Employment Tribunal which had decided that Miss Ladelle had been discriminated against but I do feel that the original Tribunal had understood the issue better than the EAT or Court of Appeal when it said

"This is a case where there is a direct conflict between the legislative protection afforded to religion and belief and the legislative protection afforded to sexual orientation .... One set of rights cannot overrule the other set of rights"

That common sense and balanced view is clearly not the view of the Court of Appeal and Lawyers dealing with religious discrimination cases are going to have to reconsider their tactics accordingly."

Did the script writers for the Sexual Orientation Regulations foresee such  'direct confrontation between the legislative protection afforded to religion and belief and the legislative protection afforded to sexual orientation'?
Perhaps they did.
At any rate, while it falls to unelected Law Lords, to decide the interpretation of poorly drafted legislation, we can probably look forward to further cases in which the attempt to protect believers who take a stand on matters of conscience under the law are thrown out as irrational and capricious.
Perhaps it would be simpler to abolish 'conscience'.
Oh, wait...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Actually, words fail me....

Statement from the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales
Statement from Oona Stannard

“I am disappointed that Mr Pope’s appointment to the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) has occasioned some very misleading and diverting correspondence from a small number of people. At a time when as Catholics we particularly need to pull together, the undermining of Mr Pope saddens me. Mr Pope deserves our encouragement and support in his new role undertaken in the service of the Church.
“His first line responsibility is the organisational management of CESEW but like all senior colleagues at CESEW he will be involved in policy work. In this and all aspects of his role he is required to uphold the Church’s teachings. This is a responsibility that he has willingly committed to undertake and I have every confidence that he will fulfil this expectation.
“Staff at CESEW are busy preparing for the Papal visit and looking forward especially to the event which will have an education focus. We are also getting ready to respond to whatever may be the outcome of the General election and the emerging policy developments which will impact on Catholic education. We are concentrating on this and our core work.
“Mr Pope, other candidates and referees are entitled to have their confidentiality respected re the selection process for Deputy Director and I, therefore, do not intend to say anymore on this appointment.”

Statement from Gregory Pope
“I am happy to clarify my position. I am a committed, practising Catholic. I very much share the Church’s opposition to abortion. I was one of only a handful of Labour MPs who defied their own Government to vote against the whole Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill at its Third Reading on the grounds that it was insufficiently pro-life.
“I really want look forward now to how I can serve the Catholic Church through its Education Service rather than debate the minutiae of previous voting tactics in the House of Commons. We face serious challenges from a secularising society and a sometimes hostile media; I hope that we might look forward to finding solutions together rather than seeking division in our own ranks.”

Notes to Editors:
Mr Pope was appointed to the position of Deputy Director at CESEW in April 2010 following advertisement of the post in Catholic and other media. Bishops, members of the CESEW Management Committee, senior diocesan education colleagues and others were represented on the selection panel.

Thanks to John Smeaton and Annie at Arundel and Brighton Latin Mass Blog 

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Toleration and understanding of a Christian point of view?

A Conservative Party candidate has been suspended after making "deeply offensive" comments about homosexuality on his website.
Philip Lardner was standing in the Scottish constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran.
On the website, Mr Lardner said he would tolerate "common sense equality and respect" for gay people but "will not accept that their behaviour is 'normal' or encourage children to indulge in it."
He also supported the law known as Section 28 which was repealed in 2003.

His comments, entitled "what do I believe in?" continued: "Christians (and most of the population) believe homosexuality to be somewhere between 'unfortunate' and simply 'wrong' and they should not be penalised for politely saying so - good manners count too, of course.

Andrew Fulton, the party's chairman in Scotland, said: "The views expressed by Philip Lardner, the candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran, are deeply offensive and unacceptable and as a result he has been suspended as a member of the Conservative party.  (my emphases)

The Daily Telegraph also reports this story and quotes Dave Cameron:

“I couldn't have acted quicker – decisive action in minutes of finding out about this.”

From Skynews via orangenews

Monday, 26 April 2010

"I Heard the Devil's Confession" by Father Manuel Julian Quiceno Zapata

A Columbian priest,Father Manuel Julian Quiceno Zapata, of the Diocese of Cartago, Colombia, won the "Priestly Anecdotes" competition sponsored by, which received 820 entries from presbyters in 78 countries.  The prize was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

This is how Fr. Zapata's prizewinning entry begins:

Of what I experienced before hearing his confession, I remember the following.
As parish priest of a small village, I would often go out through the streets on Sunday, to greet people and give them a written catechesis, especially those who for different reasons did not go to church.
In the parish dedicated to St. Joseph, many had a habit that they fulfilled every Sunday without fail, as if it was a duty. This was to drink "some cold ones" -- as they called beer. Hence, it was easy to know where to find this type of "faithful," and he was also among them.
One day, when I finished my run, a lady approached me to ask me if I had recognized the "devil." According to her, I had greeted him and he had received one of the messages that I gave out.
I had not seen the "devil," or at least I don't remember having seen any woman or man who looked like him.

Thanks to Zenit

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Congratulations to Fiorella and Edmund!

I've just read the lovely news of the birth of Nicholas Xavier Nash on 24th Aprill 2010.
Congratulations to The Monstrous Regiment of Women, her husband, and all her family.

Thanks to Auntie Joanna

Vatican: "It’s even possible the trip could be cancelled as this matter is hugely offensive.”

 I'm sure readers will have by now, seen  the various reports   about the insulting and offensive document relating to the Pope's state visit to the UK. The document , published by the Daily Telegraph, which  was produced  by a junior civil servant in the Foreign Office, suggested several activities for the Holy Father to undertake during his visit, including:
  • launch of 'Benedict' condoms
  • review of Vatican attitude on condom use
  • open an abortion ward
  • bless a civil partnership
  • reversal of policy on women bishops/ordain woman
Presumably, in an effort to limit the damage,some have tried to  pass this off as a kind of joke, as  an example of boisterous schoolboyish  humour which no-one would ever take seriously.
A more likely explanation might be that such a document, whether intended as a joke or not, could only come into existence within a politically correct government culture which appears to respect diversity of belief and faith, as long as it's not Catholic.

 The Telegraph reports that the Vatican is not impressed with the action taken against the junior civil servant, who was moved to other duties within the F.O.:

"One highly-placed source in the Vatican said: “This could have very severe repercussions and is embarrassing for the British government - one has to question whether the action taken is enough.
“It is disgusting. Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See has been in to see the Secretary of State and explain what happened and this will all be relayed to the Pope.
“It’s even possible the trip could be cancelled as this matter is hugely offensive.”
Cardinal Renato Martino, the former head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: “The British government has invited the Pope as its guest and he should be treated with respect.
“To make a mockery of his beliefs and the beliefs of millions of Catholics not just in Britain but across the world is very offensive indeed.”

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Well, I suppose they couldn't get Tony Blair.....

......So, the apparently Catholic Education Service will have to make do with Greg Pope, former Labour MP for Hyndburn.
Greg Pope,  a former Labour MP., with a consistently anti life/pro abortion voting record,  has been appointed deputy Director of the apparently Catholic Education Service.

John Smeaton has assembled Mr. Pope's  'C.V.' ,  see here .

Other bloggers have commented on the whole sorry business including:
Fr. Finigan
Damien Thompson
Mulier Fortis
David Lindsay
Countercultural Father
That the bones you have crushed may thrill

Statement from the Bishops of England and Wales

"Our first thoughts are for all who have suffered from the horror of these crimes, which inflict such severe and lasting wounds. They are uppermost in our prayer. The distress we feel at what has happened is nothing in comparison with the suffering of those who have been abused.
The criminal offences committed by some priests and religious are a profound scandal. They bring deep shame to the whole church. But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God. Therefore we focus not on shame but on our sorrow for these sins. They are the personal sins of only a very few. But we are bound together in the Body of Christ and, therefore, their sins touch us all.
We express our heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed. We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses.
Furthermore, we recognise the failings of some Bishops and Religious leaders in handling these matters. These, too, are aspects of this tragedy which we deeply regret and for which we apologise."

The full text of the Bishops' statement is here

Monday, 19 April 2010

Consultation on new Sex and Relationships Education Guidance

I have only just received the following email from the Family Education Trust which was kindly forwarded by a friend. I know it will be difficult to respond in such a short time, but if you are able to, please do. 
 The Family Education Trust co-ordinated the recent letter to the Sunday Telegraph, which was signed by 640 headteachers, governors and faith leaders, and which opposed the government proposals for Sex Education. 

From: Family Education Trust []
Sent: 09 April 2010 13:57
Subject: Update from Family Education Trust

Dear Friends

We are delighted to report that the government has withdrawn from the Children, Schools and Families Bill the two most controversial sections covering sex and relationships education (SRE) and home education.

The proposals would have seen SRE made a statutory part of the national curriculum for pupils in maintained schools from the age of five, with parents losing their current right to withdraw their children from SRE classes after their 15th birthday. The Bill would also have introduced a licensing scheme for home educating families alongside intrusive monitoring procedures.

However, when the government failed to secure the support of the Conservative Party for these measures with the dissolution of Parliament looming, it reluctantly dropped its plans in order to allow less controversial parts of the Bill to pass into law. If the Labour Party is re-elected at the General Election, it has pledged to re-introduce the proposals within the first session of a new parliament, while the Conservatives have indicated that they would 'address and consult on' the place of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (including SRE) within the curriculum.

Family Education Trust director, Norman Wells, told the Daily Mail: 'Parents have been increasingly sidelined and effectively told they must bring up their children by government diktat. It is time for politicians from all parties to start showing parents more respect and to recognise that the family is a private institution, not an arm of the state.'

Sunday Telegraph letter
We are grateful to those of you who wrote to MPs and peers, and worked tirelessly to defeat these anti-family proposals. Opposition to the government's home education plans resulted in by far the largest number of petitions presented to parliament on a single issue, and the large volume of correspondence received by MPs and peers was referred to in debates in both Houses. The strong opposition to the government's proposals was also demonstrated by a letter to the Sunday Telegraph signed by 640 headteachers, school governors and faith leaders (second letter down on the page).

The letter, which was co-ordinated by Family Education Trust, expressed concern at the government's attempt to impose its own ideology on children by means of statutory SRE and stressed that, 'Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for bringing up their children in accordance with their own values and culture. They may entrust the task of formal education to a school of their choice, but the overall responsibility for the upbringing of their children remains theirs.'

In the accompanying news item, Norman Wells commented that the Children, Schools and Families Bill was 'music to the ears of those who have long campaigned for compulsory sex education to advance their agenda to break down traditional moral standards, redefine the family, promote relativism, celebrate homosexuality, and encourage sexual experimentation'. He added that it was 'time to stand up to the encroachment of an overbearing state and say enough is enough'.

Consultation on new Sex and Relationships Education Guidance
Although the battle over the Children, Schools and Families Bill has been won, the war is far from over. Regardless of the outcome of the General Election, fresh challenges will lie ahead on both sex education and home education fronts sooner or later.

But before the next parliamentary session begins, there remains one further assault on traditional family values to be addressed. We are therefore writing to encourage you to respond to the Department for Children, Schools and Families consultation on new sex and relationships education guidance. The draft guidance is far more prescriptive than the current guidance which was issued in July 2000, and it attaches far less importance to consultation with parents and the need for schools to be sensitive to parental concerns. While the document pays lip-service to showing ‘sensitivity to faith and cultural perspectives’, it includes a strong emphasis on ‘promoting equality, inclusion and acceptance of diversity’. It stresses that ‘SRE should promote awareness, respect and understanding for the wide range of practices and beliefs relating to sex and relationships within our society’ and ‘provide children and young people with information about their right to confidential advice and support on sex and relationships’.

Responses must be submitted by Monday 19 April, so time is short. Please respond if you can. You do not have to respond to each question. The attached briefing explains how to respond and suggests points you may wish to cover, but please use your own words. Do feel free to forward this message and the attached briefing to your friends and other family members who share our concerns. 

Thank you for your interest and support.

Family Education Trust
Jubilee House
19-21 High Street

Tel: 020 8894 2525
Fax: 020 8894 3535

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Support the Pope!

You can show your loyalty, allegiance, support and love for the Holy Father,
the Vicar of Christ,
the Pope of Christian unity,
the person who, in the Catholic Church, has done most to rid us of  paedophiles in the priesthood
by signing this online pledge-

Here's how it reads:

Dear Holy Father,
We, the undersigned, want you to know that you are not alone in your pledge to fight injustice and the ailments in the Church. We want you to know that we trust you in your role as the leader of the Church. We want you to know that we forgive the sins of other members of the Church as we are forgiven. We are praying for you; for your courage, conviction, perseverance, and resolve.
 We love you Papa Benedicto XVI!

Thanks to Fr. Boyle

Monday, 12 April 2010

Jack Valero on the man who has done most to get rid of the problem of paedophile priests

The Holy Father is the man who has done most, in the Catholic Church , to get rid of the problem of paedophile priests.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Decoding accusations against Pope Benedict

An excellent article from Mercatornet-Just B16 :
(See also Damian Thompson's post, 'Journalists abandon standards to attack the Pope..') 

"An Italian journalist’s examination of the sex abuse cases that the New York Times has chosen to cover, and those it has ignored, reveals a calculated effort to target Pope Benedict XVI. So writes Sandro Magister in an article published by Our Sunday Visitor:
The newspaper that carried out the strongest attack on Pope Benedict in these recent weeks is not at all “impartial.” It has an agenda that it does not hide. It is the same agenda of those who, from the vast inventory of pedophilia in the last half century in the world, fish only for those cases which — by date or place —  can be bent to Pope Benedict, both as archbishop of Munich and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This resulting world media’s attention to the Holy Father’s record, however, far from diminishing his credibility, has had the opposite effect, Magister writes.
Paradoxically, the pedophilia cases aimed like weapons at Cardinal Ratzinger by the world’s media help one understand at least this: that the current pope was truly the leader of a change in the Church’s way of facing this plague.

A few media outlets do not yet get it, but a broad consensus is emerging that Pope Benedict deserves credit, not condemnation, for his now long-standing efforts to clean up filth that spilled over into parts of the Church during the “sexual revolution”  of the 1960s and 1970s. During that period, as Magister notes:

A manifesto signed by French intellectuals — including Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of the Paris student revolutions of 1968 and today a European parliamentarian — went to the point of laying claim to pedophilia as the newest conquest. Even the victims of sexual abuse remained silent. Accusations were rare and poorly received.

Ratzinger, he notes, was among the first to begin “decoding” this program for cultural disaster at a time when the New York Times (and still is) exalting sexuality as pure instinct, free from every bond."

Thanks to mercatornet and Our Sunday Visitor

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

CES off the hook?

John Smeaton writes:

"In a significant victory for the pro-life and pro-family movement, the Government have agreed to delete their clauses on Personal, Social Health and Economic education (PSHE) contained in their Children, Schools and Families Bill." 

Yes, the despicable attempt to force government dictated sex education on children, has fallen victim to political expediency, in the dying days of the current administration.

Was this what our Bishops were quietly hoping and praying for, during their period of silence on the matter?
Did the Catholic Education Service foresee this result, as it welcomed the compulsory sex education proposals, even to the point of helping to draft them?
Can we be truly content that (for now), compulsory, explicit, anti-life sex education is off the political agenda?

I think it'll be back, sooner or later.
God help us, if the likes of Ed Balls gets a hand on power again.

 And what now, for the discredited Catholic Education Service?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Pope Benedict: Love is the only force able to change the world

From Vatican youtube:

"Lord let us carry our crosses with love, our daily crosses, in the certainty that they are illuminated by the radiance of Easter"-Pope Benedict.

A Happy and Holy Easter to all readers!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

"Thy Cross, O Lord we adore; thy holy resurrection we laud and magnify; for behold it is by the wood of the cross that joy has come into all of the world."