Saturday, 25 September 2010

Great news from Western Australia on euthanasia

The Christian Institute reports:
"A euthanasia bill in Western Australia which would have 'turned doctors from being healers and carers into killers' has been defeated.

The private members bill would have allowed Western Australians over the age of 21, with a terminal illness and who were deemed to have a sound mind, to ask a doctor to end their life.

But after MPs in the state parliament debated the bill, brought forward by Greens MP Robin Chapple, it was defeated by 24 votes to eleven."
The Christian Institute's report also contains more good news:
"Last week it emerged that a television and billboard advertising campaign for the pro-euthanasia group Exit International, which is headed by Dr Philip Nitschke, had been banned in Australia."
So congratulations are in order to Australian pro-lifers, for reminding us that we can win battles defending life even in the era of the culture of death. This grea news encourages us to hope that we in Britain can defeat legislative proposals for assisted suicide and euthanasia should they be moved in the current Westminster parliament or elsewhere.

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Friday, 24 September 2010

A reflection on Archbishop Nichols' earlier comments on gay unions

The reflection below refers to Archbishop Nichols' comments on gay partnerships made on 2 July and 11 September. The reflection was written before the archbishop's further comments on gay partnerships in an interview shown on BBC Two on Monday (20 September) which I blogged about yesterday.

It has been suggested to me that I have been too hard on Vincent Nichols, the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, in my criticism of him; and that in fact the Archbishop is rather conservative and orthodox in his views on homosexuality, but at the same time he seems to be one of those who - using the words of Pope Benedict - have an "inclination towards more permissive religious convictions" in the area of moral conduct.

In my opinion it is not possible to separate the roles of teacher and pastor so completely. It is true that Archbishop Nichols stated his opposition to homosexual acts because they cannot be fecund, but he balked at the use of the word “unnatural” which, used of such acts, is both biblical and Magisterial. The objection to homosexual acts is not limited to the physicalist observation of their non-fecundity, but takes in as well the fact that such acts contravene the natural law and are therefore unnatural in the moral sense.

Archbishop Nichols said that he would be worried if the Catholic Church were “to try and refashion a message simply to suit a time”. So far so good. But all of this is undermined by his further statement that he did not know if the Catholic Church would "accept the reality of gay partnerships" (11 September) or "sanction gay unions" (2 July).

It is not just the case that there is something “missing” in what Archbishop Nichols says. In the context of that interview, and in common parlance, to “accept the reality” of something is to accept it as a fact and then move on. That that is what he meant can be found in his statement of 2 July, some two months earlier, that he did not know if the Catholic Church would “sanction gay unions”. That is to say that the Catholic Church’s moral teaching in this matter is in fact open to change, is fallible, and may ultimately be set aside.

Putting it all together, it seems obvious to me that Archbishop Nichols gives lip-service to the Catholic Church’s teaching, while fatally undermining (as distinct from denying) the security and even the legitimacy of that teaching.

It is pointed out, correctly, that Archbishop Nichols has also said this about the Catholic Church’s moral teaching:
“The moral demands on all of us made by that tradition are difficult.(...) Now, that's tough, that's a high ideal. I'm not sure many people have ever observed it in its totality, but it doesn't mean to say it has no sense".
In this statement the archbishop states the obvious, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The same is true of lying and stealing. What point is he making?

Well, he says that from the fact that we fail it doesn’t follow that the moral teaching “has no sense”. But this is a very equivocal statement. He is not saying the teaching makes complete sense, he simply observes that, as a matter of logic (as compared to truth) that it does not follow there is no sense in the teaching. Well, as a matter of logic, neither does it follow from the fact that people fail that there is any sense in the teaching.

What Archbishop Nichols should have said, quite unambiguously, is that the Catholic Church’s moral teaching on this matter is true and for a whole raft of good reasons. The way the archbishop has presented in a popular public forum is more than suggestive that:
a) he doesn’t really believe that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is true for all time
b) that homosexuality is not such a big deal, and
c) we should really just accept the fact that people are sexually active in all sorts of ways.

Archbishop Nichols says that there is:
“a critical distance to be held between how the church struggles to understand a revealed truth and how a society is moving. If they're too close there's no light. If they're too far apart there's no light.”
Two comments here. The Catholic Church is not “struggling to understand a revealed truth” here. The objection to homosexuality is that it is contrary to the natural law, a law which is accessible to non-believers as well as believers. It may suit secularists to think that objection to homosexual acts is just something for believers to worry about. But the Catholic Church clearly teaches that homosexual acts are contrary to the natural moral law. Second, what on earth does such a sentence really mean?

I expect from my archbishop clear, unequivocal, and pastorally sensitive teaching which is completely faithful to the teaching of the Magisterium. Moreover, being “pastorally sensitive” applies not just to those struggling with homosexual temptations, but to parents who have the primary responsibility in passing on the moral teaching of the Catholic Church to their children. This pastoral sensitivity also applies to parents who are non-Catholics, and who recognise that homosexual acts are, in fact, unnatural in the moral sense.

* The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae 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.

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Archbishop Nichols undermines Pope Benedict on gay unions the day after his return to Rome

Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, was interviewed on BBC Two on Monday evening for a programme reflecting on Pope Benedict's visit to Britain. The archbishop was interviewed by Huw Edwards, along with Diarmaid MacCulloch, a homosexual Anglican and Oxford professor of church history, Tina Beattie, a Catholic academic and notorious dissenter from Catholic pro-life/pro-family teaching, and Lord (Chris) Patten, a Catholic diplomat who helped organise the papal visit.

At 21 minutes 30 seconds into the programme, Huw Edwards to put it to Professor MacCulloch that Pope Benedict:
“clearly sees a country where there is a lot of growing hostility to faith communities. Is that the right reading?"
Professor MacCulloch replied:
“That is a code, and it’s a code for something quite specific. The code is: now Britain treats gay people as equal with heterosexual people, and gay partnerships are on the statute book, and the Catholic hierarchy hates that fact. You seem them across the world as gay marriages are introduced in country after country...”
Archbishop Nichols intervened in a firm manner to tell Professor MacCulloch:
“That’s not true, in this country. In this country, we [JS: the Catholic hierarchy, i.e. the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales] were very nuanced. We did NOT oppose gay civil partnerships, we recognised that in English law there might be a case for those. We persistently said that these are not the same as marriage.”
Later (at 24mins50secs into the programme) Archbishop Nichols said:
“The times we [the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales] interfere most in British politics is on poverty and education. Of course the media are obsessed with certain issues [JS: referring to a previous reference by Dr Beattie to homosexuality] but if you want to know what it is we’re really passionate about, it’s about the fight against poverty and [about] the education of young people.”
Later (at 27mins30secs into the programme), Professor MacCulloch said:
“I’m pleased to hear what the archbishop has to say about sexual questions, and it has to be said that the English Catholic Church has rather taken its own line on this, not the Vatican’s line, there is always a certain independence in the English Catholic Church. It’s is good that that should be so.”
No response to Dr MacCulloch’s claim appeared from Archbishop Nichols (though I cannot say whether the filming was edited prior to broadcast and Archbishop Nichols’ response was edited out).

Archbishop Nichols' comments constitute the third set of comments he has made undermining Pope Benedict's teaching on the issue of gay* unions (see my blog-posts of 4 July and  11 September for the first two sets. His comments on the Soho Masses for dissenting homosexuals complement these other comments). Here is what Pope Benedict taught on 13 September:
"The Church looks with concern at the growing attempts to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is the lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is always open to the transmission of human life ... the success of marriages depends upon us all and on the personal culture of each individual citizen. In this sense, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of marriage and family life. They contribute to a weakening of the principles of natural law, and thus to the relativisation of all legislation and confusion about values in society". [my emphasis]
Archbishop Nichols has clearly failed, not only to listen to Pope Benedict, but also to listen to some of his own brother-bishops in Britain. In July Philip Tartaglia, bishop of Paisley, said that the Catholic Church will never celebrate same-sex unions:
"not now, not in the future, not ever".
And even Archbishop Peter Smith said at the time of the Civil Partnerships Bill:
"The government has effectively established same-sex marriage in all but name."
In his regular Wednesday address yesterday, Pope Benedict said:
"Dear brothers and sisters, in this visit of mine to the United Kingdom, as always I wanted in the first place to support the Catholic community, encouraging it to work tirelessly to defend the immutable moral truths that, taken up again, illumined and confirmed by the Gospel, are at the base of a truly human, just and free society." [my emphasis]
Yet within 24 hours of the Holy Father's return to Rome Vincent Nichols, as the head of the Catholic community in England and Wales, was publicly undermining that work.

As I blogged on Monday, faithful pro-life/pro-family Catholics must not get carried away by the papal visit and close their eyes to the tragic fact that their official leader is, to say the least, not on their side.

* The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae 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.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Catholic Church is the most dangerous heretic in the world's new order

I am grateful to Dan Blackman, an SPUC researcher, for studying Archbishop Chaput's address to the Canon Law Society in Slovakia last month. Archbishop Chaput's words should also be studied by everyone concerned about, or struggling under, the appalling policies of the Catholic Bishops' conference of England and Wales - co-operating with the British government in providing our children, in Catholic schools, with access to abortion; and everyone concerned by Archbishop Vincent Nichols's support for the last government's anti-life, anti-family sex and relationship legislation, fortunately defeated by the pro-life lobby, and by his recent statements on gay unions.
The ideologies that produced the dehumanising regimes of Nazism and Communism are still with us today, only this time they are more subtle, kinder, media friendly, and operate under the guise of tolerance. We know that Nazism sought credibility in a warped and manipulated Christianity, which was a stepping stone towards the real goal of Nazism: the destruction of Christianity and the establishment of neo-paganism. Communism was explicitly atheistic. What unites Nazism, Communism and modern day atheistic secularism, is the desire to live automomously from God i.e. man is his own master. This was the point Pope Benedict XVI made in his opening address on his recent papal visit to the United Kingdom.

In trying to construct a society autonomous from God and His truth, we find ourselves in a situation in which the systematic killing of unborn children is the "foundational injustice" upon which this secular atheistic society is being built.

This was the message of Archbishop Charles Chaput in his address to the 15th symposium of the Canon Law Society meeting last month in Slovakia, a country that has known the meaning of suppression under totalitarian regimes that rejected God. Catholicism in Europe has lived under wars, revolutions and totalitarianism.

The first lie

In speaking of Christians under totalitarian regimes, Chaput said:
“They know the real cost of Christian witness from bitter experience—and also, unfortunately, the cost of cowardice, collaboration and self-delusion in the face of evil. Many Catholics in Western Europe today simply don’t understand those costs. Nor do they seem to care. As a result, many are indifferent to the process in our countries that social scientists like to call 'secularization' but which, in practice, involves repudiating the Christian roots and soul of our civilization.’
Chaput calls this the first big lie: that Europe can be understood without Christianity:
"The unique genius and meaning of Western civilization cannot be understood without the 20 centuries of Christian context in which they developed. A people who do not know their history, do not know themselves. They are a people doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past because they cannot see what the present, which always flowers out of the past, requires of them."
Religion is being systematically reduced to a private lifestyle choice that does not have the right to a voice in the public square. Why? Because Christianity, specifically Catholicism, has a voice that speaks of God, of truth, of the sanctity of human life from conception:
"Efforts have been made to discourage or criminalize the expression of certain Catholic beliefs as 'hate speech'. Our courts and legislatures now routinely take actions that undermine marriage and family life, and seek to scrub our public life of Christian symbolism and signs of influence."
In Europe, such hostility is marked by its open contempt for Christianity. Ths state has become an absolute, an idol. Freedom of worship is very important, but still leaves Christianity to be marginalised and privatised. What Chaput is calling for is both freedom to worship and for religious freedom, which ensures Christianity has a voice in public debate.

Chaput notes that this secularism can sometimes be promoted with good intentions. After all, some would say we live in a pluralistic multi-faith, multi-ethnic and culturally diverse continent. English Dominican theologian Aidan Nichols OP has labelled this pluralism “communitarianism by non-religious elites.” This seems to imply a deliberate attempt at social engineering rather than the results of history and circumstance.

However, it is also being promoted to marginalise and to neutralise the voice of Christians in society. The daily lived experience of Christians testifies to this injustice.
“To be European is to be the heir of a profound Christian synthesis of Greek philosophy and art, Roman Law and biblical truth”
Chaput says, echoing Pope Benedict’s own thought. Chaput  goes on to quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“The unity of the West is not an idea but a historical reality, of which the sole foundation is Christ.”
Chaput tells us that we, as Europeans, cannot dispense with our history. Superficial concern about not offending our fellow non-Christians does not justify the silencing of Europe’s Chrisitan heritage. Despite what the "new atheists" claim, Christianity is not imposed upon anyone. The only confessional states in the world today are those ruled by Islamist or atheistic dictatorships:
“regimes that have rejected the Christian West’s belief in individual rights and the balance of powers.”
The second lie

Chaput tells that there is a second big lie at the heart of this autonomous society:
"the lie that there is no unchanging truth".
This is particularly pertinent in the moral discourse of today. Relativism has now become the civil religion and public religion in modern society. Objective truth is rejected as a dangerous idea. Relativism is proposed as a means of keeping peace, eqaulity and tolerance.

In practice, however, we see that without a belief in fixed moral principles and transcendent truths, our political institutions and language become instruments in the service of a new barbarism. In the name of tolerance we come to tolerate the cruellest intolerance; respect for other cultures comes to dictate disparagement of our own; the teaching of “live and let live” justifies the strong living at the expense of the weak.

To summarise so far: Chaput has traced out the historical epochs of Europe, particularly the totalitarianism of the last 50 years, and the ideologies that fuelled them. Chaput then suggests two lies that society is being constructed on: Europe without its Christian context and content, and relativism. With this analysis Chaput writes:
“This diagnosis helps us understand one of the foundational injustice in the West today—the crime of abortion.”
Chaput calls this the "the crucial issue of our age".

The foundational injustice: abortion

The right to life is the foundation of every other human right. If that right is not inviolate, then no right can be guaranteed. Indeed, the defence of life from conception is an intergral and central part of Catholic indentity since apostolic times. Sacred Scripture testifies to the sanctity of human life. The first century Didache clearly speaks of the sanctity of life and the evil of abortion,
"Homicide is homicide, no matter how small the victim."
In the face of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research and eugenics in our own day, this aspect of discipleship becomes even more important.

Chaput says:
 "My point in mentioning abortion is this: Its widespread acceptance in the West shows us that without a grounding in God or a higher truth, our democratic institutions can very easily become weapons against our own human dignity.
"If human rights are separated from objective truth and their relationship to God, they devolve to the arbitrary conventions of men and women. The state is there to recognise and protect these fundemental rights, not arbitarily bestow them or take them away. In doing this, the state becomes totalitarian."
This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing the Catholic voice in public discourse:
"The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be."
The rejection of objective truth in favour of relativism also explains the paradox of tolerance and equality, at the same time resulting in the systematic kiling of unborn children. Abortion is the example of intolerance, inequality and disregard for human rights. It is an act of atrocious violence, not a path to peace.
"The Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman. These truths are subversive in a world that would have us believe that God is not necessary and that human life has no inherent nature or purpose. Thus the Church must be punished because, despite all the sins and weaknesses of her people, she is still the bride of Jesus Christ; still a source of beauty, meaning and hope that refuses to die -- and still the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order."

A temptation for the Church

We must put God first, and the obligations of political authroity second. An excellent example of this is seen in the life of St. Thomas More, who was tried and condemned to death in Westminster Hall, where Pope Benedict XVI recently gave his address to civil society on the right relationship between religion and the state. According to Chaput, throughout the ages, it has been a temptation for the Church in its relationship to the civil powers and the state to try and get along with Ceasar, to the point that the Church accommodates ideas and practices that are inimiciable to the Christian faith. The Scriptures remind us that we should pray for our civil leaders, and love our country (1 Timonthy 2:1-7). However,
"We cannot collaborate with evil without gradually becoming evil ourselves. It’s foolish to expect gratitude or even respect from our governing and cultural leadership classes today. Na├»ve imprudence is not an evangelical virtue."

A Catholicism of resistance

Chaput calls for a "Catholicism of resistance" based on trust in Christ’s words: "The truth will make you free." Chaput called this "believing that the truths of the Creed are worth suffering and dying for".
"We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates."
Chaput continues:
"Let us preach Jesus Christ with all the energy of our lives. And let us support each other—whatever the cost—so that when we make our accounting to the Lord, we will be numbered among the faithful and courageous, and not the cowardly or the evasive, or those who compromised until there was nothing left of their convictions; or those who were silent when they should have spoken the right word at the right time."
If the Church is the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order, the Gospel of Life must be its sacred book, and the dignity of human life one of its key doctrines.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

SPUC reports on European Parliament debate on embryo experimentation

Daniel Blackman, who researches international affairs for SPUC, has sent me the following report about the recent debate in the European Parliament on experimentation on animals, a debate which involved the issue of experimentation of human embryos:
On 8 September 2010, the plenary session of the European Parliament met to debate a draft directive. The directive, proposed by Elizabeth Jeggle MEP, sought to give further legal protection to animals used in scientific experimentation. We at SPUC urged our members to act to oppose this directive, and support prolife amendments.  
During the debate, the united Green parties strongly argued for member states to be obliged to use non-animal testing where alternatives exist; for strengthened rules on primate testing; for ensuring that those member states who want to introduce tougher animal welfare standards would be able to do so. The amendments were all defeated, but more legal protection for animals has been put in place. Disappointingly, no prolife amendments were tabled at second reading. Amongst MEPs, Martin Kastler, Miroslav Mikolasik and Anna Zaborska each called for human embryos not to be considered as alternatives. For this, SPUC commends them. Thank you!
The commissioner John Dalli spoke of the consideration given to human embryos. This was a reference to a prolife amendment introduced at first reading. Article 13 of the directive reads:
Without prejudice to national legislation prohibiting certain types of methods, Member States shall ensure that a procedure is not carried out if another method or testing strategy for obtaining the result sought, not entailing the use of a live animal, is recognised under the legislation of the Union
This means that member states are not required to use an alternative if the member state has legislation opposed to certain alternatives. What the alternatives could be is not specified, taking into account the differing legislation of member states. However, this does mean that member states have the right to opt-out of using human embryos as an alternative if they have legislation against it. However, the new directive does not offer any new protection to human embryos or older unborn children.
Member states are encouraged to use alternatives to animals in scientific experimentation. This could mean further calls from politicians and scientists for permission and funding for human embryo research. This research is always destructive as it involves the creation of human embryos, the extraction of their cells, and the destruction of the human embryos. Such flagrant disregard for human life is totally unacceptable.
The new EU directive updates the previous EU directive of 1986. ‘86 seems a particular year when human dignity and protection for animals was particularly confused and inverted.
For example, we have Roger Short, Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Prof. Short lists his areas of expertise as human reproduction, contraception, HIV, and AIDS prevention.
On Monday, the 26th of May 1986, Prof. Short was representing the Australian Academy of Science. At that time he was the Chairman of the Working Party on Human Embryo Experimentation, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Prof. Short gave evidence to the Senate Select Committee on the Human Embryo Experimentation Bill (1985). During the debate, Prof. Short makes the inaccurate distinction in calling some embryos “human pre-embryos.” Prof. Short then tells the select committee that it is lawful to use “human pre-embryos” because humans are not endangered, unlike gorillas and chimpanzees. 
In an article for Cosmos Magazine entitled ‘A plague of people’ Prof. Short wrote:
We have already invented a pill that will prevent global warming - the oral contraceptive pill...if women the world over were given easy access to the contraceptive pill, every birth could become a wanted birth, and human population growth would almost come to a halt.
SPUC does not have an official line on animal experimentation. However, many of our members belong to the Christian faith, whether Catholic or Evangelical. SPUC also has many members who belong to the Islamic religion. We are in constant dialogue with people from the worlds of science, medicine, politics, philosophy and fellow prolife groups. As such, we would seek to understand animal experimentation in light of our positions on the dignity of human life and our relationship to the created world. 
As such, the views expressed by Prof. Short, and those like him in the EU who may want to push for the use of human embryos in experimentation, is always unacceptable. The call for human embryos to be used in scientific research because humans are not endangered is flagrant utilitarianism. Human life is reduced to a commodity at its most vulnerable stage.
What we have been witnessing for several decades is the utter obfuscation in the correct relationship between people and the planet we live in, and the animals under our care. People are not the enemy or the problem. To construe people as the problem, and procreation as the enemy, is a failure to think through and provide real creative solutions to the questions we are facing. Technocratic and utilitarian thinking can only lead to the dehumanising of individuals, communities, and creation itself. In doing so, human life becomes a commodity. We should also remember the utter failure of research on embryonic human stem cells, and the relative success rate using adult human stem cells for treating multiple sclerosis, breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, and spinal injury, to name a few.
We urge prolifers in EU member states to work in shaping public opinion about the dignity of the human embryo. We call on legislators, politicians, scientists and religious leaders to ensure that the inherent rights of human life at the embryonic stage are recognised and protected in their country. We would also like those in the animal welfare movement to understand that in their goal of greater protection for animals, human life must not be seem as an alternative in experimentation. Being pro-animal does not have to mean being pro-human embryonic experimentation. Being prolife does not mean we advocate cruelty to animals.
If we fail to try, there will be no success. We may end up asking ourselves what the lay of the land will look like in another 24 years time.
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Monday, 20 September 2010

Pope Benedict's hint to English bishops: stop backsliding on pro-life issues

In yesterday's public address to the English and Welsh bishops, Pope Benedict said:
"As you proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, with its promise of hope for the poor and the needy, the sick and the elderly, the unborn and the neglected, be sure to present in its fullness the life-giving message of the Gospel, including those elements which call into question the widespread assumptions of today’s culture." [my emphasis]
We should be aware that Pope Benedict, in the midst of the frenzy stirred up by a hostile media, crafted much of his words in the language of diplomacy. Observers of the language of diplomacy, however, look out for what may be called the "iron fist in the velvet glove", where a rebuke is veiled in subtle terms. To me it seems clear that Pope Benedict's words are a strong hint to the bishops of England and Wales that he knows that they have failed to preach and teach, fully and unadulterated, the Gospel of Life and the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (by which I mean both those doctrines and the Vatican documents of the same name).

For example, on the very weekend that Pope Benedict arrived in Britain, a headline in The Catholic Herald read:
"Archbishop: teaching on gay relationships may change"
reporting on Archbishop Vincent Nichols' comments (not once, but twice) that the Catholic Church may accept and recognise homosexual unions.

Thankfully, in the same edition The Catholic Herald published a letter by Mrs Dominie Stemp of East Sussex, which read:
"[It is] disturbing [that Archbishop Nichols is] unsure about whether gay marriages will be accepted by the Catholic Church. Our archbishop seems to have been swept up in the culture we live in and his eyes can no longer see the reality of the situation."
Many faithful pro-life/pro-family Catholics are today riding high on the successes of the papal visit: the unexpectedly large crowds, the absence of large protests, the praise for Pope Benedict from the otherwise usually sceptical commentators. The elation, however, must be properly directed, so that people's critical faculties are not suspended and so that they are not thus led into naivety. The energies loosed by the papal visit must be directed towards revitalising pro-life/pro-family activism, for which Pope Benedict explicitly called during his visit to Britain.

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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Pope calls for support for the pro-life movement

Pope Benedict has issued a clarion call for Christians and all people to be pro-life. Speaking at a residence for the elderly yesterday evening, said:
"Life is a unique gift, at every stage from conception until natural death and it is God’s alone to give and take."
Speaking to pilgrims in Hyde Park, the Pope also said:
"No one who looks realistically at our world today could think that Christians can afford to go on with business as usual ... Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person."
As I told the media earlier, the underlying text of the Pope addresses recent moves to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide. His words also imply that there is a lack of support for the pro-life cause among Christians. The Catholic bishops of England and Wales must look long and hard at themselves and ask themselves whether they have really opposed the culture of death.

The bishops' conference was complicit in the passage of the Mental Capacity Act by Tony Blair's government, which enshrined euthanasia by neglect into English statute law. More recently, Peter Smith, archbishop of Southwark, whitewashed the director of public prosecutions' policy on assisted suicide, a policy which effectively decriminalises assisted suicide.

I could give many further examples of how the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales have let down the pro-life cause. They need to reflect deeply on Pope Benedict's words and realise that they
"can[not] afford to go on with business as usual".
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