Friday, 20 November 2009

Congratulations to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales


Congratulations to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales who have delivered a powerful official response to the set of draft guidelines on assisted suicide drawn up by the Director of Public Prosecutions, describing them as "unacceptable in a civilised society".

Archbishop Vincent Nichols is reported as saying that the DPP's guidance risks "creating categories of people who are given less protection in the law and therefore runs the risk of seeing those categories of people as less worthy of the protection of the law" such as those who are disabled, or have a history of suicide attempts.

Professor David Jones, professor of bioethics at St Mary's University College, is reported as saying "I think that there is a danger that it could be perceived as a cloak for murder".

SPUC Pro-Life has produced a briefing to help you respond to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)'s consultation on guidelines for prosecuting cases of assisted suicide.

Following the House of Lords judgment in the Purdy case in July, the Director of Public Prosecutions issued his “interim prosecuting policy” for assisted suicide. It is very worrying indeed.

It lists factors that will count against the DPP bringing a prosecution - these include things like the victim being disabled, and that the victim spontaneously asked the suspect for help (this is quite ludicrous – as the victim will be dead by the time). This policy will be used to sanction help for suicides in England and Wales, as well as those who help people go abroad to kill themselves.


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Bishop Conry wrong to question Humanae Vitae


I am disappointed that Kieran Conry, Catholic bishop of Arundel and Brighton, has again questioned papal teaching on contraception, specifically as found in the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI (pictured). In his latest pastoral letter, Bishop Conry writes:
"[Some Catholics] 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."
This latest pastoral letter of Bishop Conry mirrors an interview he gave to The Catholic Herald in December in which the bishop was quoted, inter alia, as saying [extracts]:
"I would disagree that [the teaching of Humanae Vitae is] a key teaching ... It's not a life issue ... [Abortion and Humanae Vitae are] two completely different issues."
Interviewer Andrew M. Brown:
"Does it matter if people disobey that teaching?"
Bishop Conry:
"In the great scheme of things I don't think it's high up the list."
Interviewer Andrew M. Brown:
"Was Humanae Vitae a mistake?"
Bishop Conry:
"I don't know. I don't know."
Interviewer Andrew M. Brown:
"But is the teaching itself wrong?"
Bishop Conry:
"It could be. It's not an infallible teaching."
Interviewer Andrew M. Brown:
"So in a sense it's a matter of opinion?
Bishop Conry:
"Well, it's... It is."
Earlier in the interview, the bishop asserted unequivocally that:
"We've got first of all massive climatic change heading our way inexorably."
I refer readers to my blog earlier today, in which I wrote:
"The claim that man-made carbon dioxide omissions threaten to cause catastrophic global warming is a scientific theory and one that must be considered seriously and objectively. As it is a theory, it cannot be asserted with certainty that people will die if developed countries don't agree to further reductions in carbon omissions ...Whatever the evidence regarding man-made global warming, the right to life and the right to found a family are fundamental, universal human rights..."
Regarding the link between contraception and life issues, which Bishop Conry denies, the late Pope John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (13):
"[T]he negative values inherent in the "contraceptive mentality" which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected ... [D]espite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree ... The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious."
Bishop Conry's view of the importance of Humanae Vitae is starkly at variance to that of Pope Benedict, who said in May last year:
"The teaching expressed by the Encyclical Humanae Vitae...conforms with the fundamental structure through which life has always been transmitted since the world's creation, with respect for nature and in conformity with its needs. Concern for human life and safeguarding the person's dignity require us not to leave anything untried so that all may be involved in the genuine truth of responsible conjugal love in full adherence to the law engraved on the heart of every person."
In his pastoral letter, Bishop Conry said quite rightly:
"If we are to be truly Catholic, then we must be truly human too".
Bishop Conry should therefore read the analysis of Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the "supreme court" of the Catholic Church). According to Archbishop Burke, Pope Benedict has emphasised in his latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate that the message of Humanae vitae is fundamental to achieving authentic human development:
"It is instructive to note that Pope Benedict XVI, in his most recent encyclical letter on the Church's social doctrine, makes special reference to Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae, underscoring its importance "for delineating the fully human meaning of the development that the Church proposes" (Caritas in veritate, no. 15). Pope Benedict XVI makes clear that the teaching in Humanae vitae was not simply a matter of "individual morality," declaring: 'Humanae vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II's Encyclical Evangelium vitae' (Caritas in veritate, no. 15).
" ... The respect for the integrity of the conjugal act is essential to the context for the advancement of the culture of life."
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Climate change theory no excuse for misanthropy

I am concerned that the fear of man-made climate change is being used to foster misanthropy, such as the anti-human practices of abortion, contraception and population control.

UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) issued a report this week which argued that climate change should be combatted by reducing population growth through contraception. UNFPA, one of the world's leading anti-life agencies, is complicit in China's brutal population control programme. The core of that programme is a one-child policy implemented by forced abortions, forced sterilisations, compulsory fittings of abortifacient birth control devices, abandonment of children and deliberate killing of orphans through neglect. Coercion is exercised through stiff penalties which include extortionate fines, destruction of property, imprisonment and even torture.

It is refreshing to note that some environmental campaigners reject population control as a means of combatting global warming. It is an inhuman way to solve human problems by eliminating humans. As Pope Paul VI told the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in 1974:
"It is inadmissible that those who have control of the wealth and resources of mankind should try to resolve the problem of hunger by forbidding the poor to be born."
The claim that man-made carbon dioxide omissions threaten to cause catastrophic global warming is a scientific theory and one that must be considered seriously and objectively. As it is a theory, it cannot be asserted with certainty that people will die if developed countries don't agree to further reductions in carbon omissions. What can be asserted with certainty is that abortion kills millions of innocent human beings every year; and that there is an ever-increasing push to promote abortion and population control in the developing world. Whatever the evidence regarding man-made global warming, the right to life and the right to found a family are fundamental, universal human rights enshrined in legally-binding international conventions, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which marks its 20th anniversary today.

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

Detail of schools bill reveals government's abortion agenda

The government's Children, Schools and Families bill has been published today and it reveals the way the government will promote abortion through state schools in England.

The bill reflects the recommendations of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group 's report. Clauses 11 to 14 of the bill make sex education compulsory and set out the principles under which schools must teach sex education. The principles require that sex education "reflects a reasonable range of...cultural and other perspectives" and promotes "equality", "diversity" and "rights". The bill also says that schools must "have regard" to government guidance on how to implement the principles. (Our Notes section of our media release today has further detail.)

There can be no doubt the government will use the bill, if passed, to promote abortion in schools. The bill's principles will be used to ensure that pro-abortion propaganda dominates the content of sex education. Schoolgirls will be told that they have a right to abortion, that abortion is virtually harmless and that pro-abortion agencies provide good sexual health services. 'Equality' and 'diversity' will be used to suppress opposition to abortion. The abolition of parents' right to withdraw older children from sex education classes will ensure that no child leaves state schooling without having been brainwashed with an pro-abortion mentality.

Parents, teachers and clergy should contact MPs immediately in protest against the government's plans, urging MPs to speak out in parliament against them.

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Euthanasia bill defeat in South Australia a victory for civilised values

The upper house of the South Australian parliament has just voted to reject a bill to allow euthanasia tabled by Mark Parnell.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC Pro-Life's communications mananger and an expatriate Australian, has told the media today:
"Those seeking to develop civilised values which respect the sanctity of human life should be encouraged by this vote. In spite of all the money, media support and propaganda of the euthanasia lobby, many politicians recognise the dangers to public safety in introducing such legislation. This victory for civilised values joins the recent defeat of a similar bill in Tasmania, as well as the repeated votes by the British House of Lords against assisted suicide."
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Government's Queen's speech schools bill will undermine child safety

The BBC has confirmed that the Children, Schools and Families Bill will be part of the government's legislative programme in the new parliamentary year, which began with today's Queen's Speech.

The government's plans to make sex education compulsory will undermine child safety by initiating children into an adult culture of abortion and sexual activity. The government has made clear that all schools following the national curriculum, including faith schools, must teach children about abortion and contraception in a so-called anti-discriminatory way. This means that children may well be taught that abortion is a legal right. It will certainly ratchet up the current policy of arranging secret abortions without parental knowledge or consent.

In addition, the government's planned abolition of parents' right to withdraw older schoolchildren from sex education classes will undermine child safety by undermining parents' role as their children's primary educators. This role is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I'll be blogging further about this later today.

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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Leading bioethicist warns of "radical remaking of society"

Wesley J. Smith, a leading American bioethicist, addressed anti-euthanasia activists last night at the Cadogan Hotel, London. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, was there and he has sent me a picture (right) and the points below from Wesley's talk. Wesley is pictured with the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, who kindly hosted the meeting. Mr Smith told the meeting:
  • There is a push to legalise a broad array of private killing.
  • There is no real moral distinction between assisted suicide and euthanasia. They are like one leg following the other when walking.
  • The push for euthanasia is based on a two-part ideology: firstly, that killing is an acceptable solution to human suffering, and secondly, autonomy. This ideology represents a radical remaking of society, from one predicated on equality to one in which people's lives exist on different tiers of value.
  • In our polyglot, multi-cultural society, law has become the means by which the morality of actions is judged.
  • The criteria in the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)'s draft guidelines is the same as the criteria in Margo MacDonald's Scottish bill: assisting suicide should not be prosecuted where the deceased was terminally ill, neurologically degenerating, or seriously physically disabled. Scottish euthanasia activists are far more candid than their counterparts in England or elsewhere. The 2002 law allowing euthanasia in The Netherlands had its origins in prosecutorial guidelines which were relaxed at the behest of judges in the 1970s.
  • In quadraplegic patients, depression is no higher after five years of quadraplegia than among the general population. The Hollywood film Million Dollar Baby, however, sent the message that people with quadraplegics are better off dead.
  • Assisted suicide/euthanasia is not a medical act, as it can be performed by lay people. In The Netherlands, the euthanasia lobby is calling for lay people to perform assisted suicide/euthanasia.
  • The 1995 case of Myrna Lebov, who had multiple sclerosis (MS) and who was coerced into suicide by her husband George DeLury, shows the danger of decriminalising assisted suicide. DeLury had convinced many people that his wife had wanted to commit suicide and that he had assisted her suicide out of compassion. It was later revealed that DeLury had coerced her into suicide because he resented having to care for her. Under the English DPP's draft guidelines, someone cleverer than DeLury in covering his tracks could get away with it. George DeLury's resentment of caring for his wife is similar to the resentment expressed by Jenni Murray, the BBC broadcaster, at the idea of caring for her elderly mother.
  • The Law Lords judgment in the Debbie Purdy case was a blow against the rule of law, which has been now been made worse in the DPP's draft guidelines.
  • Although the authors of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) are well-intentioned, there is serious reason to believe that it may be used for back-door euthanasia. Palliative sedation is very rarely required, but according to The Telegraph, it is used in 16.5 percent of relevant cases, which is double the rate in The Netherlands. I have never heard of so many people needing palliative sedation. President Obama's plans for universal healthcare ("Obamacare") is tick-box medicine, similar to the LCP. Patients should instead be treated as individuals, not as categories.
  • Thinking within medical ethics is moving towards the concept of "rational suicide", in which suicide is regarded as a rational choice rather than the result of negative psychological factors. The decisions of the doctors and the coroner regarding Kerrie Wooltorton made that case the epitome of abandonment.
Do read Wesley's excellent blog Secondhand Smoke for more about his UK tour.

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Monday, 16 November 2009

Were 20th century battles against tyranny fought in vain?

Recent weeks have seen some important commemorations:
  • the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War (1 September)
  • the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall (9 November)
These anniversaries mark struggles by countless millions of free people against regimes that were seeking to oppress them.

Yet in our own day, countless millions of free people in supposedly free Western societies face oppression by their own governments. In addition to the lethal oppression of abortion, destructive embryo research and euthanasia, our government is increasingly oppressing innocent children and their parents in its drive to introduce the culture of death into schools. In this, it emulates the Nazi and Communist regimes, which used state power effectively to abduct children from their parents' oversight. The totalitarian regimes of the 20th century shared the Brown government's contempt for the principle that parents are the primary educators of their children, a principle enshrined the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)  It is important to note that this principle was enshrined in the UDHR precisely in the light of the indoctrination of children by Nazi rule (which even led to units of the German armed forces being composed of children).

Today there is a disturbing reversal of the post-war drive to protect individual human rights.  Baroness (Mary) Warnock, the radical anti-life philosopher, told the House of Lords in 2007:
"At the centre of the moral thinking behind the 1990 [Human Fertilisation and Embryology] Act was a broad utilitarianism. Changes may have come about, and we may all be much more rights-oriented than we were before the passage of the then Human Rights Bill, but in that moral thinking there was very little consideration of human rights. It was much more a broad utilitarian consideration, and I must say a few words in favour of utilitarianism … As legislators, parliamentarians have to be utilitarian in the broadest possible sense … On the committee, we thought that utilitarianism in this broad sense was the philosophy that must lie behind any legislation …" (Hansard, 19 Nov 2007, col. 721)
I was struck this morning, when I went to church before going to the office, by the first reading in today's Mass from the Book of Maccabees. In short, the narrative relates how a section of God's people made an alliance with Israel's pagan rulers. This dissident section betrayed the true religion, and before long the king imposed his paganism on the whole of Israel. We can see today how the Catholic Education Service seems effectively to be making an alliance with the Government to introduce compulsory sex education, betraying Catholic pro-family teaching, and before long, if their legislation is not resisted and defeated, the government will have imposed the culture of death throughout the school system and on another generation of British people.

Considering the millions of unborn children and innocent born persons killed under anti-life governments every year, and the reversal of the post-war drive to protect individual human rights, may we dare to ask the frightening question: Was the sacrifice for freedom made by so many millions in the 20th century in vain?

My answer is that we should only dare to ask that question if we dare to answer with a resounding  "No" and to justify that answer by our actions. We will never abandon our children or set aside their birthright to be their primary educators.

Our children will never be surrendered to an anti-life, anti-family culture, so long as there are parents, headteachers, doctors, priests, and pro-life campaigners who are prepared to resist the government's legislation. We must begin our resistance to the government's plans by appealing to our pastoral leaders of all faiths: Please act urgently to protect the families entrusted to you from the government and from politicians of all parties who are determined to destroy them.

(I am grateful to Fr Andrew Southwell, of St Bede's church, Clapham Park, London, for the broad theme of this blog-post: whether 20th century battles against tyranny were fought in vain.)

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