Friday, 2 April 2010

Listen to a beautiful pro-life song from Majella McKendry

Late last year I blogged on the time I prayed with my fellow Catholic po-lifers in the Helpers of God's Precious Infants in Sydney, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadaloupe. I am delighted to read of their recent successful 40 days for life campaign. 

As part of the worldwide 40 Days for Life initiative, the group prayed continuously for 40 days, a total of 960 hours, outside of Sydney's largest abortion clinic.

The procession which began the 40 days of prayer, was led by Bishop Julian Porteous, auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.

One of the remarkable things to emerge from the campaign was the opportunity for the group to record, very professionally, two pro-life songs.  One that I found particularly moving was a cover of Regina Spektor's hit, 'The Call'.  The vocals are supplied by 14 year old Majella McKendry, the daughter of Scott McKendry, the 40 Days for Life Sydney director.  I include the video for the song below.

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

SPUC International Student Conference goes from strength to strength

Joe Lee, the SPUC Scotland branch development officer, has sent me a report on SPUC's international student conference, held last month in Clydebank. 
The 160 young delegates left the 3rd International Youth Pro-Life Conference on Sunday 21st March with the hope that a change in our culture towards respecting all human life is a real possibility.

Lucy McCully, event organiser and SPUC Scotland’s Education Officer, said “This year’s conference really has set the benchmark for future youth pro-life conferences, not only in Scotland but world-wide. The event has gone from strength to strength since 2008 and we are sure that it will continue to do so. Planning has already started on the 4th International Youth Pro-Life Conference, scheduled for March 2011.”

The Conference was held at the Beardmore Hotel, Clydebank, last weekend and brought together speakers and young people from all over the world to explore the theme "I exist, therefore I am". Delegates from Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, the US, Canada, Portugal, Germany, France, Australia and the Congo listened to an in-depth exploration of the concept of personhood in relation to embryo experimentation, abortion and euthanasia.

The two keynote speakers at the conference were the Rev. Arnold Culbreath, director of Protecting Black Life in the US, and Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Rev. Arnold said that “abortion is the leading killer of Black Americans, more than all major diseases, crime and accidents put together,”…[a total of] 37 per cent of all abortions in America are performed on African American women, yet African American women represent only 13 per cent of the population… abortion is literally destroying the African American population.”

In spite of the serious nature of his subject matter, he left the delegates with a sense of hope that the situation can and will change, as more young people educate themselves.

Mr Schadenberg, focused on examples of how euthanasia and assisted suicide are practised in Oregon and Holland. He said that “these laws specialise in using vague language to hide exactly what their intentions are.”

He also addressed the threat of euthanasia in Scotland with regards to Margo MacDonald’s End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill. “This bill is a recipe for the abuse of elderly people,” he said. “We’ve seen it in other countries and it will happen in Scotland too [should] assisted suicide and euthanasia become legal.” He urged all of the young Scottish delegates to write to their MSPs to register their opposition to these proposals.

Another speaker, Mattei Radu, from Philadelphia, USA, offered an excellent analysis of the links between abortion, the holocaust and the slave trade. Mr Radu said, “to claim to uphold the rights of all citizens, yet deny the unborn any legal protection is an act dripping with hypocrisy”.

Sr. Roseann Reddy of the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative in Glasgow and Eileen Reilly, a consultant obstetrician, were also among the extensive list of speakers that addressed the conference.

Delegates also enjoyed light relief with the Saturday night ‘Salsa Fiesta’ encouraging everyone to dance.
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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

We must defend Pope Benedict against his anti-life opponents

Frances Kissling, former president of "Catholics for Choice", a front organisation for the pro-abortion lobby, has just sent the following message to her anti-life colleagues:
"The outrage in various European countries over the sexual abuse of children and its proximity to Pope Benedict present European Progressive Catholics and Secularists with an unprecedented opportunity to push for roll backs in state financial support to Catholic schools, parish priests and other agencies as well as to rescind religious taxation of citizens."
It is clear that Pope Benedict is being defamed by opponents of the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. In a remark which seems directed at this defamation, he said in his Palm Sunday sermon that:
"Jesus leads us ... to the courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of dominant opinions."
It is therefore incumbent upon pro-lifers of all faiths and none to help defend the good name of Pope Benedict, one of the world's great pro-life leaders and the head of the world's largest pro-life organisation. Below are quotes and sources from some prelates, clergy and other commentators setting the record straight about Pope Benedict and cases of the sexual abuse of children: 
  • "[There is] a well-oiled campaign against Pope Benedict ... peddling falsehoods to destroy the Holy Father’s good name. It needs to be called what it is – scandalous." 
  • "There is no evidence at all that Cardinal Ratzinger ever blocked any decision about [Fr Lawrence] Murphy [a priest accused of abusing children]"
  • "[T]he false allegations of last week have obscured the good work that the Cardinal Ratzinger did at the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and as Pope."
  • "Cardinal Ratzinger brought about a profound change in how sexual abuse cases were handled ... Since his election, Pope Benedict has repeatedly demonstrated that even high-ranking priests are to be held accountable, and has not minced words about the failures of his brother bishops – both here in the United States and just last week, in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland."
"[W]e all need in a particular way to give thanks to God for the leadership of Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal and Pope, who has acted decisively, fairly, consistently, and courageously to purify the priesthood and to make the Church a safe place for everyone. Anyone with any knowledge of this terrible reality realizes that Pope Benedict has led the way in confronting this evil."
"I believe, and history will confirm that his actions in responding to this crisis, swiftly and decisively and his compassionate response to victims/survivors, speak for themselves. The Holy Father has been firm in his commitment to combat clergy sexual abuse; root it out of the Church; reach out to those who have been harmed; and hold perpetrators accountable. He has been a leader, meeting with victims/survivors and chastising bishops for their lack of judgment and leadership."
Fr Timothy Finigan of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life:
  • "[T]he Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict to the Catholics of Ireland ... is a noble and powerful response."
  • "Pope Benedict has long been known as tough on the "filth" of clergy sexual abuse and, as Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, introduced procedures to ensure that offenders were dismissed from the clerical state."
  • "[The BBC is] essentially using the plight of abused children and scandalised Catholics to further their secularist, anti-Catholic agenda while distracting everyone from benefiting from the wise pastoral advice of the Pope."
  • "The mainstream media are clearly gearing up for an all-out attack on the Holy Father when he visits Britain in September."
Sean Murphy, published on the website of the Catholic Education Research Center
Bill Donohue, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, "Going for the Vatican Jugular

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

English bishops' election questionnaire does not challenge candidates

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has published today a questionnaire for parliamentary candidates.

The questionnaire says [my emphases in bold]:
"Here are some issues and questions which may help inform your decision on who to vote for. They are open questions with no single ‘right’ answer."
The questionnaire also says:
"Firstly in valuing life. That means opposing abortion and euthanasia, and life-cramping poverty, and the neglect of the elderly."
The questionnaire then suggests asking the candidate:
"What does respect for life mean to you? Do all lives have the same value? Older people and the infirm … the severely disabled … the unborn?"
This questionnaire falls seriously short from a pro-life perspective. To suggest that there is "no single 'right' answer" to questions on pro-life matters is to suggest that candidates don't have a duty to uphold the right to life by voting against anti-life laws.

Putting poverty in the same category as abortion is to equate the relative with the absolute. This question thus repeats the 'seamless robe' error of the bishops' pre-election statement, which also equated second-order social issues with first-order moral issues. Virtually all candidates will promise to fight against poverty, but many candidates will support and vote for abortion if elected.

The questionnaire omits or fails to detail certain pro-life issues likely to come up in the new parliament, such as assisted suicide. A candidate in favour of assisted suicide, but asked instead a vague question about 'euthanasia', can thus easily leave the impression of being pro-life on end-of-life issues.

By posing vague, open, multi-issue questions, the questionnaire fails to pin candidates down on how they will vote if elected. The questionnaire thus fails on its own terms, to 'help inform [a voter's] decision on who to vote for'.

SPUC has produced its own questionnaire for candidates. Please contact SPUC to order a copy on (020) 7091 7091.

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Monday, 29 March 2010

Landmark letter against government sex ed bill published in Sunday Telegraph

The Sunday Telegraph has published a letter, signed by 640 people, calling upon parliament to reject the government's Children, Schools and Families bill. (The web-page on which the letter is published actually starts with another letter from six Anglican bishops which argues that "the religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect.")

The letter reads:
"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.

"The Children, Schools and Families Bill undermines this principle and seeks to impose a particular ideology by means of statutory sex and relationships education from the age of 5 (which primary schools do not currently have to teach). We would therefore urge Parliament decisively to oppose it.

"A state which seeks to centralise responsibilities which are properly fulfilled by families is acting in an unjust manner and undermines the basis of a free society."
The letter, led by Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust, has been signed by several Catholic bishops and over three hundred clergy, both Catholic and from other denominations/faiths. Among them are:
  • Rt Rev Brian Noble, Catholic bishop of Shrewsbury
  • Rt Rev Mark Davies, co-adjutor bishop of Shrewsbury
  • Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, bishop emeritus of Lancaster
  • Monsignor G M Dasey, vicar-general, Middlesborough diocese
  • Canon T A McBride, episcopal vicar for formation and cathedral dean, Salford diocese
  • Canon A T Hayes, diocesan safeguarding officer, Lancaster diocese
  • Canon Jeremy Garrett, rector, St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, Southwark archdiocese
  • Fr John Fordham, vice-provost, London Oratory
  • Fr Leo Chamberlain, former headmaster, Ampleforth
  • Dom Antony Sutch, former headmaster, Downside
The more than 100 Catholic headteachers and governors among the signatories include:
  • Dr Andy Stone, Headteacher, Holy Family Technology College, Walthamstow
  • Mrs Michelle O’Sullivan, Chairman of Governors, St Alphonsus School, Manchester
  • Eric Hester, former headmaster, chief examiner and chief inspector
The SPUC website has a selected list of signatories. If you know any of the signatories, perhaps you could contact them to congratulate them for standing up against the government's sex ed agenda?

The massive support the letter has received from leading Catholics is yet further proof of just how out of touch the Catholic Education Service (CES) is with the concerns of the Catholics community in England and Wales. Bishops, diocesan officials and Catholic schools are now losing confidence in the CES, as evidenced by their rejection of a bill supported by the CES.

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