Friday, 15 January 2010

Let's call on young people to face today's pro-life challenges

On Wednesday, David Burrowes MP presented the 2009 Robin McNair Prize in the Houses of Parliament (pictured). Student-contestants wrote essays on bioethical issues including abortion, human embryos and the rights of the disabled. A full report and photos of the event can be seen on the SPUC website.

Kirsty Jones, 17, of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, won first prize. She answered the question: "Is abortion justified if the unborn baby is disabled?" She pointed out that five babies are aborted every day because of their disability, at a time when medicine and therapy are actually improving and extending the lives of many disabled people. Kirsty cites United Nations documents which defend the rights of the unborn. She concluded:
"As mere individuals we cannot cure disability, but [we] can cure the world of its attitudes towards [disabled people]."
Emily Nightingale, 15, of Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, won second prize. Like Kirsty, she wrote about abortion of disabled children. She pointed out that British law allows abortion of disabled children at any stage in the pregnancy. She wrote:
"There are thousands of disabled people living happy, successful lives and I think that aborting a child because of a disability is very offensive to all of those people."
Emily described how abortion has helped bring about a cult of perfection and a sort of "un-natural selection process".

Dexter Leung, 16, of Eton College, won third prize for his essay which answered the question: "Is the human embryo a potential human life or a human life with potential?" Dexter pointed out that the start of human life isn't just a religious matter but can also be determined by science. He described how modern genetics is reinforcing the fact that early human life is unique and truly human.

Mr Burrowes explained that it had been his involvement with SPUC at university that had encouraged him to enter politics. He said that there was a need of people who will speak with "passion and depth" about respect for the sanctity of human life.

I opened the event by thanking our host for his staunch defence of the right to life since his election in 2005. I pointed out, however, that all is not well:
"On Monday, the House of Commons gave a second reading to the government's Children, Schools and Families bill. This measure includes provisions to make sex education part of the national curriculum for England. Schools would have to teach it from the age of five. School-based sex lessons have a reputation for worsening, not improving, indicators such as teenage pregnancy ... "

"The bill's proposals for compulsory sex education have been framed by the pro-abortion lobby and will help to keep abortion rates high. Not since the Abortion Act 1967 has there been such a determined effort to promote universal access to abortion. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we call upon MPs to speak out against the bill's proposals."
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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Liberal Democrat leader says faith schools must be forced to teach that homosexuality is "normal and harmless"

Nick Clegg (pictured), the leader of the Liberal Democrat party, has reportedly told a homosexual magazine that faith schools must be forced to teach that homosexuality is "normal and harmless".

This news is important for many reasons, including;
  • the negative effect of teaching homosexuality on building a culture of life
  • the undermining by the state of the role of parents as the primary educators of their children, and parents' legal right to secure an education for their children according to their beliefs
  • the possible role of Mr Clegg and his party in holding the balance of power should this year's general election beget a hung parliament (i.e. where no one party has a majority)
In Evangelium Vitae paragraph 97, Pope John Paul II taught that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection. (Ironically, Mr Clegg, an atheist married to a Catholic, has reportedly pledged to raise his children as Catholics.)

Regarding parents, Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust put it well in yesterday's Daily Mail:
"The vast majority of parents do not want their children’s schools to be turned into vehicles to promote positive images of homosexual relationships."
It is also disturbing that David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Conservative party, has also proposed the normalisation of homosexual relationships, putting them on the same par as marriages:
"Pledging yourself to another means doing something brave and important ... And by the way, it means something whether you're a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man. That's why we were right to support civil partnerships, and I'm proud of that."
The promotion of homosexuality in schools as a result of the government's Children, Schools and Families bill is a distinct possibility. We need courageous people who will stand up against the political establishment for our children and grandchildren, if we want, as Pope John Paul II (that great pro-life leader) put it, to build a "true culture of life".

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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Pope Benedict ushers into Catholic Church pro-Humanae Vitae Anglicans

I have mentioned before that I think that Pope Benedict's Apostolic Constitution and the entry into the Catholic Church of members of the Traditional Anglican Communion will greatly strengthen Catholic witness on pro-life matters. A recent post about contraception on The Anglo-Catholic confirms my view. It begins:
"It is an unfortunate — but not altogether infrequent — occurrence to find a 'traditional Anglican' who believes that his faith permits the use of artificial means of contraception despite the difficult moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. It is supposed (by the ignorant) that our acceptance of the courageous teaching of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae and reinforced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the doctrinal standard proposed by Anglicanorum Coetibus) would be, at least, a novelty, a rigorous discipline beyond what has been required in the past. But it is important to understand that with respect to this now controversial point of moral teaching, the Church of England, and her daughter Churches throughout the world, followed the tradition of the Church Catholic from the earliest days."
The Anglo-Catholic article is timely, particularly in view of Pope Benedict's recent strong emphasis in Caritas in Veritate that the Catholic teaching on contraception is not just a matter of personal morality. As Archbishop Burke explained last year in the US:
"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)
For reasons I have frequently presented on this blog, to my own mind it’s quite clear* that countless human lives have been destroyed as a result of the rejection of Humanae vitae and its teaching on the wrongfulness of the separation of the unitive significance and procreative significance of the conjugal act, not least through birth control and IVF practices, including amongst Catholics.

(*Albeit on the question of the separation of the unitive significance and the procreative significance of the marital act, SPUC itself has no policy. The Society is made up of people of all faiths and none, and SPUC’s remit is solely concerned with defending the right to life from conception till natural death.)

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Monday, 11 January 2010

Sex ed plans in schools bill would pour petrol on the fire

Tonight the House of Commons voted to give the Children, Schools and Families bill a second reading by 287 votes to 206.

The government's plans for sex education in all state schools would pour petrol on the fire of the sexual health crisis among young teenagers.

The bill includes provisions to make sex education part of the national curriculum for England, requiring schools to teach it from the age of five and up. This gives us serious cause for concern because of the history of British classroom-based sex education. School-based sex lessons have a reputation for worsening, not improving, indicators such as teenage pregnancy.

As sections of the media have become increasingly explicit and lurid over recent decades young teenagers have been increasingly sexualised, and many youngsters suffer the related miseries of early and inappropriate sexual initiation. Yet health and sex education policies have facilitated, and not discouraged, illicit teenage sex. This has meant sustained high levels of sexually transmitted disease, lone-parent families and abortion.

The changes in the CSF bill amount to pouring petrol on the fire.

The most important thing at this point is for the MPs considering the bill during its coming committee stage to scrutinise the evidence carefully. Critically they should not accept false claims that school-based sex education reduces teenage pregnancy and abortion, but should examine the evidence themselves.

The government defended tonight its plans to abolish parents' right to withdraw older teenagers from sex education classes. The government says that it's nonsensical that older teenagers can be told by their parents they can't have such classes. The government's defence shows that it doesn't trust parents to deliver the pro-abortion propaganda it wants teenagers to hear in such classes. It is important that all parents, who have legal responsibility for their children until they leave school, retain the right to withdraw them from sex education classes. Retaining this right may help to have a positive effect on the content of school SRE lessons, forcing them to pay attention to the values and moral standards of parents. This may put a break on some of the worst excesses of school-based sex education.

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Pope Benedict tells diplomats to place man at the heart of environmental concerns

In an address today to the diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict XVI urged representatives that:
“[a] concern and commitment for the environment should be situated within the larger framework of the great challenges now facing mankind.”
This larger framework refers to man’s attitude to man. Pope Benedict highlights the contradiction between a promotion of environmental concerns and a disregard for the protection of human life, itself the crown of creation.
“If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn? It is in man’s respect for himself that his sense of responsibility for creation is shown. As Saint Thomas Aquinas has taught, man represents all that is most noble in the universe (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 29, a. 3).”
Benedict also took the opportunity to reject the myth that the world is suffering from a shortage of food. (Too often this myth is used as a smokescreen for the agenda of pro-abortionists to destroy human life through brutal family planning policies and the promotion of abortion.)
“Furthermore, as I noted during the recent FAO World Summit on Food Security, ‘the world has enough food for all its inhabitants’ (Address of 16 November 2009, No. 2) provided that selfishness does not lead some to hoard the goods which are intended for all.”
The multi-faceted nature of governmental policies effecting a culture of death were highlighted by Pope Benedict and he reflected on the difficulty which those with religious beliefs face in being an active part of the moral reform needed to help improve the environment and society. This difficulty arises due to the often aggressively anti-religious legislation in West:
“The community of believers can and wants to take part in this, but, for it to do so, its public role must be recognized. Sadly, in certain countries, mainly in the West, one increasingly encounters in political and cultural circles, as well in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion and towards Christianity in particular. It is clear that if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks viewing secularity solely in the sense of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion. But such an approach creates confrontation and division, disturbs peace, harms human ecology and, by rejecting in principle approaches other than its own, finishes in a dead end.”
Such relativism, culminating in the ‘dead end’ of increased abortions, will be foisted upon the next generation of English schoolchildren via the government’s plans to impose universal sex education through the Children, Schools and Families bill being debated today in the House of Commons. Through this legislation, the government wants to use all state secondary schools, including Catholic ones, as centres for promoting access to contraception and abortion services. Sadly the government's plans are being supported by both the Catholic authorities and the Anglican authorities in England and Wales

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House of Commons to debate compulsory sex ed bill today

The House of Commons will this afternoon debate the government's plans for sex education in all state primary and secondary schools. The second reading of the Children, Schools and Families bill will start at 2.30pm. SPUC will be commenting after the debate's conclusion this evening and will be available for interviews.

The bill seeks to force schools to prime children for adolescent sex. This is a clear example of pursuing ideology despite the evidence. The teenage pregnancy policies pursued over the past 10 years have encouraged escalating rates of sexual diseases, the further sexualisation of culture, and continuing high abortion rates among teenagers, especially younger teenagers. The bill's proposals for compulsory sex education have been framed by the pro-abortion lobby and will help to keep abortion rates high. Not since the Abortion Act 1967 has there been such a determined effort to promote universal access to abortion. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we call upon MPs to speak out against the bill's proposals today.

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Sunday, 10 January 2010

Good Counsel Network shows great pro-life leadership

As a Catholic, I am impressed and inspired by the great, consistent, pro-life leadership shown by the Good Counsel Network, a pro-life group founded on devoutly Catholic spirituality. As Fr Tim Finigan, the well-known Catholic blogger, has pointed out, their work is "solidly based on a life of prayer".

This Tuesday, 12th January, they commemorate the 13th anniversary of their foundation - a truly historic date for the ever-growing number of mothers and babies they've saved from abortion. The Good Counsel Network is marking this anniversary with a day of prayer and fasting. I am delighted to commend this initiative to Catholic and to non-Catholic readers alike.

Such Catholic pro-life leadership is sorely needed particularly in a country in which the Catholic authorities shamefully co-operate with a government which provides schoolchildren in Catholic schools with confidential access to abortion and contraception. This is a result of the Catholic Education Service's ambiguous policies.

Instead of such co-operation with the pro-"choice" culture of death, " ... what is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life ... ", as Pope John Paul II put it in Evangelium Vitae (95).

Personally, I believe strongly in fasting - but I believe (like the Good Counsel Network) that this can be from giving up a favourite food or drink, to more serious fasting. Please read their appeal below. I will be joining them - in reparation for the government's policy in promoting abortion amongst schoolchildren and for the actions of those who co-operate with that policy.

The Good Counsel Network writes:
On Tuesday 12th January, the eve of the 13th anniversary of the founding of The Good Counsel Network in the UK, please pray and fast for the end of abortion and euthanasia. Your prayer and fasting is urgently needed.

A great prayer for life is urgently needed.
Pope John Paul II

Join us each month in prayer and fasting:
  • fasting: Fast from all food except bread and water for the day or fast from a particular food or luxury, e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, TV. Fast from whatever you can given your state of health etc, but make sure it is something that involves a sacrifice to yourself.
  • prayer: We are asking people to say a Rosary (or an extra Rosary if you say it daily already). You could also offer an extra effort such as going to Mass (or an extra Mass) on the day, or going to Adoration. You can even pray before a closed tabernacle if Adoration is not available near you.
And He said to them; This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (Gospel of Mark 9:29)

For information on the day of prayer and fasting contact The Good Counsel Network on 020 7723 1740.

And the people of Ninevah believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least…God saw their efforts to renounce their evil ways. And God relented about the disaster which He had threatened to bring on them, and He did not bring it.
(Jonah 3:5,10)

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New abortion drama looks interesting

A new film on abortion exploring the abortion issue looks likely to spark controversy.

Entitled “South Dakota: A woman's right to choose”, the film-makers say it represents "both sides" - although at least one of those attending advance screenings in the US says it leans towards the pro-life side.

According to a CNA report, this "is a movie that dramatizes the stories of two teenage girls who become pregnant unexpectedly. Interspersed with the action are interviews and sound clips of various pro-abortion and pro-life advocates ... The movie was produced by Howard Kazanjian, (Star Wars Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark.) It will be marketed by Motive Entertainment (The Passion of the Christ, The Polar Express, The Chronicles of Narnia, Expelled)."

Sounds interesting. I look forward to seeing the film and reviewing it in a future post.

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