Friday, 22 October 2010

Jack Valero of Catholic Voices issues a statement about condoms

Jack Valero of Catholic Voices has sent me the following message which I am happy to publish - and to comment on:
Dear John

A priest friend has recently alerted me to the fact that some people reading your blog entry on my appearance on Sunday Morning Live in early September in which you quote me, have got the mistaken impression from it that I was advocating the use of condoms, which would create scandalous confusion. I would therefore ask you to put in your blog another entry with the paragraph below in full so that your readers are not left in error.

Regards

Jack
Jack Valero's statement is as follows:
"Some people who did not see the whole of my appearance on Sunday Morning Live (BBC1) in early September and only read what was selectively quoted on this blog may have misunderstood my views about condoms and AIDS. I would like to make it clear I totally support the Magisterium of the Church as expounded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and all the relevant encyclicals (Humanae Vitae, Veritatis Splendor, Evangelium Vitae, etc). Anyone who would like further clarification can easily contact me through Catholic Voices, Opus Dei, Facebook, etc."
Unfortuntately, Jack Valero's statement includes nothing which addresses the scandal caused by what he said on Sunday Morning Live in early September. Indeed it compounds that scandal by suggesting that his comments on Sunday Morning Live can be understood to be true to Catholic church teaching on the transmission of human life.

Here again is what Jack Valero said on behalf of Catholics:
Jack Valero: The Church is not against condoms the Church is against promiscuity

Julie Bindel: The Church is against condoms!

Jack Valero: The Church is against promiscuity and sex outside of marriage

Colm O'Gorman: Is the Church now supporting the use of condoms?

Jack Valero: No, the Church is against... er... promiscuity

Colm O'Gorman: In marriage? Does the Church oppose the use of condoms in marriage?

Jack Valero: Well, no, the Church is against contraception of course.

Colm O'Gorman: So it's against condoms?

Jack Valero: But, but, we're talking here about HIV, no the Church is against contraception.
Jack Valero attempts to make a distinction between the use of condoms to prevent conception and the use of condoms to prevent HIV; and attempts to claim that the Church is not against condoms on the grounds that the Church is not against the use of condoms to prevent HIV.

Yet Humanae Vitae is crystal-clear in its prohibition of any action by a couple to close the marital act to the transmission of life:
"[E]ach and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life." (Humanae Vitae, 11)
As I said at the time, Mr Valero is providing a bridgehead for other Catholics in representative positions to adopt their own dissenting interpretations, not just of Catholic teaching on the use of condoms, but on other areas of Catholic teaching on life and family.

I say this, quite openly, in the spirit described as follows by Archbishop Raymond Burke, soon to be made a cardinal, in his address to the World Prayer Congress for Life earlier this month:
" ... One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church. In a society whose thinking is governed by the "dictatorship of relativism" and in which political correctness and human respect are the ultimate criteria of what is to be done and what is to be avoided, the notion of leading someone into moral error makes little sense. What causes wonderment in such a society is the fact that someone fails to observe political correctness and, thereby, seems to be disruptive of the so-called peace of society.

"Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church's unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life. Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities ... "
And on Humanae Vitae and the separation of the unitive and the procreative dimensions of sexual intercourse, Archbishop Burke said:
"... A second fundamental presupposition of my presentation is the essential relationship of the respect for human life and the respect for the integrity of marriage and the family. The attack on the innocent and defenseless life of the unborn has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act. The error maintains that the artificially altered conjugal act retains its integrity. The claim is that the act remains unitive or loving, even though the procreative nature of the act has been radically violated. In fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union."
And elsewhere he said:
" ... A most tragic example of the lack of obedience of faith, also on the part of certain Bishops, was the response of many to the Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae of Pope Paul VI, published on July 25, 1968. The confusion which resulted has led many Catholics into habits of sin in what pertains to the procreation and education of human life."
Visitors may wish to make up their own mind about the nature of Jack Valero's comments by watching Sunday Morning Live for themselves.


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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Why the pro-life movement must tackle contraception head on

Two weeks ago I posted about the launch of SPUC's new petition against TV condom adverts.

44 years ago when SPUC was founded to fight against abortion legislation, we could never have imagined what the scope of our campaign would be at the beginning of the 21st century. In late 1966 the first pro-life campaigners had little idea that condom use would demand the attention of SPUC.

Yet here we are in 2010 running a petition against advertising condoms on prime time television. People may wonder why we are doing this. They may protest that contraception is not part of SPUC’s remit. But the question is not so much “Why is SPUC campaigning against television advertisements for condoms which target children?”, as “How can SPUC ignore this?”

SPUC cannot ignore this. Promoting contraception to children is priming them for teenage sex. Teenage sex leads to unintended conceptions and abortions. Southern Cross Bioethics Institute explains how this is so in the briefing prepared for the Society in connection with our petition.

We are running this petition to alert people to the dangers of advertising condoms to children and young teenagers. We can’t shy away from this because condoms are an indelicate subject or because we think that these advertisements won’t affect our children. The risks are real to all children, including the unborn.

These advertisements pose a long-term threat to the culture of life. As increasingly explicit sexual messages are being thrust at our children, their hearts and minds are closing to the pro-life message. As sex is robbed of its special and intimate role in creating new human life, the sense of anything special about an unborn baby is lost too. From the generation of children whose minds have been poisoned about the true meaning of sex and the dignity of new life, who will be left to take up the pro-life cause?

In our struggle to build up a culture of life, one of the most upsetting things we are witnessing is the way in which those who are pursuing an ever more liberal abortion culture, are using children to achieve their ends. Their methods are to subject primary school children to explicit sex education in the classroom where their natural reticence about sexual matters will be broken down, to fill secondary schools with promotional messages about contraception and abortion and to screen condom advertisements in their homes. Our children are in the front line of this anti-life onslaught. We cannot leave them exposed and unprotected.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Catholics scandalised by fellow Catholics must speak out says Archbishop Burke

I am delighted to hear that Archbishop Raymond Burke (right), prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the Catholic church's supreme court) will become a cardinal (on 20 November). 11 days ago I heard him speaking to the World Prayer Congress for Life at the Augustianum in Rome. His address was entitled "Catholic orthodoxy: antidote against the culture of death" and I strongly recommend that you read it in full.

To my mind, there are three essential documents to study for all pro-lifers and people of good will who are seeking to build a culture of life: the papal encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae, on both of which I have written frequently, and now, albeit at a different level, Archbishop Burke's speech to the pro-life congress in Rome "Catholic orthodoxy: antidote against the culture of death". Here are some extracts:
" ... The attack on the innocent and defenseless life of the unborn has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act. The error maintains that the artificially altered conjugal act retains its integrity. The claim is that the act remains unitive or loving, even though the procreative nature of the act has been radically violated. In fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union. The so-called "contraceptive mentality" is essentially antilife.Many forms of so-called contraception are, in fact, abortifacient, that is, they destroy, at its beginning, a life which has already been conceived ...

" ... A most tragic example of the lack of obedience of faith, also on the part of certain Bishops, was the response of many to the Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae of Pope Paul VI, published on July 25, 1968. The confusion which resulted has led many Catholics into habits of sin in what pertains to the procreation and education of human life.

"The lack of integrity in obeying the Magisterium is also seen in the hypocrisy of Catholics who claim to be practicing their faith but who refuse to apply the truth of the faith in their exercise of politics, medicine, business and the other human endeavors. These Catholics claim to hold “personally” to the truth of the faith, for example, regarding the inviolability of innocent and defenseless human life, while, in the political arena or in the practice of medicine, they cooperate in the attack on our unborn brothers and sisters, or on our brothers and sisters who have grown weak under the burden of years, of illness, or of special needs. Their disobedience pertains not to some truth particular to the life of the Church, that is, not to some confessional matter, but to the truth of the divine natural law written on every human heart and, therefore, to be obeyed by all men.
Archbishop Burke went on to talk about "the scandal of disobedience to the Magisterium" - in words which can clearly be applied to the scandal of Greg Pope's actions as an MP, the same Mr Pope who has been appointed deputy director of the Catholic Education Service (CES) of England and Wales. I will return to this topic soon. I will do so in the spirit Archbishop Burke described in his address as follows:
" ... One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church. In a society whose thinking is governed by the "dictatorship of relativism" and in which political correctness and human respect are the ultimate criteria of what is to be done and what is to be avoided, the notion of leading someone into moral error makes little sense. What causes wonderment in such a society is the fact that someone fails to observe political correctness and, thereby, seems to be disruptive of the so-called peace of society.

"Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church's unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life. Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities ... "
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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Ireland, historic bastion of civilised values, is targeted by the culture of death

Josephine, my wife, and I, went last month with two of our children, to join 10 of Josephine's 14 brothers and sisters for a family reunion in County Meath, Ireland.

Josephine's family were commemorating the 50th anniversary of their leaving Ireland for England in pursuit of work.

Josephine and Teresa, our daughter, are pictured (above) standing on the Hill of Slane where St Patrick lit the Paschal Fire on Easter Eve in 433 AD - in defiance of the Royal edict of the High King of Tara. The Easter Fire is lighted each year on the hill. Josephine recalls how, as a little girl, she and her family would walk from Wilkinstown to Slane - several miles - for the ceremony.

The Hill of Slane remained a centre of religion and learning for many centuries after St. Patrick. The ruins of a church and college can be seen on the top of the hill. I'm pictured right with Teresa and Paul, our son, exploring in ruins of the college.

Whenever I'm in Ireland I never cease to be deeply moved by the archaeological evidence and, more important, the living human evidence of a people who upheld Christian values for hundreds of years and who have played a critical role in preserving those values as the true basis of western civilisation.

During our trip to Ireland Josephine and I travelled to Galway and we went exploring that beautiful county.

We visited the Church of the Immaculate Conception to pray before the Blessed Sacrament which was exposed in a side-chapel. I found in the church a number of newsletters promoting the Clann Resource Centre. (The parish newsletter made reference to activities being run by the Centre.)

The Clann Resource Centre newsletter makes reference to Club4U, a club for 14 - 18 year-olds. The newsletter says: "Activities include workshops on issues including mental health, sexual health, relationships and body image. Activities also include DVD nights ... ".

That evening I looked up Club4U on the internet and found a number of "Help on the Web" links on their Think Positive page. One click on spunout on that page took me to another page where I clicked on sexual health where, lo and behold, Irish youngsters - maybe youngsters whose families go to Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception - can be introduced to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) which is affiliated to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the largest abortion-promoting agency in the world. The IFPA is the organization which earlier this month held a conference in Northern Ireland entitled the 'First All-Ireland Conference on Abortion and Clinical Practice'. The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland has issued a statement "deploring" and "opposing" the conference, saying:
"This conference is clearly designed to undermine the rights and welfare of children in the womb and the consistently pro-life position of the majority of people on this island. It is an attempt to normalise what is unacceptable. We appeal to all those who cherish the inherent dignity of human life in all its stages to join us in expressing opposition to this event.

"Every human life is worthy of protection from the moment of conception to natural death. The dignity of the human person is absolute and inviolable. We call on public representatives to express their opposition to this conference and to promote and defend a legislative environment which respects the inherent dignity of life in all it stages.

"A conference which promotes themes such as 'manual vacuum aspiration' and 'issues in late abortion' is an affront to the dignity of the human person. It is gravely immoral. Respect should be shown in all circumstances for the life and well being of both the mother and the unborn child.

"One of the objectives of the conference is to learn about how clinicians can be trained to provide abortion services. This raises questions about how the statutory authorities should respond to such an event in a jurisdiction where abortion is illegal in most circumstances.

"No one should be forced to act against their conscience on a moral issue as fundamental as the right to life of the unborn. Employers and others must therefore uphold the right of every person to have their moral conscience and deeply held religious beliefs respected."
It breaks my heart that Ireland, whose history and whose people have repeatedly demonstrated their outstanding defence of Christian values and the sanctity of human life, should be targeted by the culture of death so aggressively. The promoters of the culture of death do not even stop at the door of the church as I found in Oughterard, County Galway, last month, in that most sacred place for the Catholic community - a Catholic church where the Blessed Sacrament is being exposed.

I hope and pray that material promoting Club4U in Oughterard will be withdrawn and a new club, one without links to the pro-abortion industry, is established in the area and elsewhere in Ireland.


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Monday, 18 October 2010

Please respond to UK government consultation seeking to promote abortion

Paul Tully (pictured), SPUC's General Secretary,  is appealing to pro-lifers in Britain and worldwide to participate on a UK government consultation - the clear aim of which is to promote abortion overseas. Paul writes:

The UK Department for International Development is promoting abortion in a new public consultation – please respond urgently, whether you're in the UK or abroad. The deadline for consultation responses is 20 October.

Please go to this page:  http://consultation.dfid.gov.uk/maternalhealth2010/ then click the links in either or both of the boxes:
"People around the world: Take our survey" (This leads to a ‘surveymonkey’ online survey) and

"Development partners: Have your say" (this will lead to a set of questions to which people can respond with comments – scroll to the bottom of the comments displayed to add your comment.)

If you can, please respond to both of these sets of questions.

As you will see, the issues of abortion and contraception dominate the approach to reproductive health in this consultation.

The consultation mentions some positive measures (like early breastfeeding) to reduce infant mortality, but does not mention measures that protect maternal health such as promoting marriage and stable families, continence and responsible sexual behaviour. Nor is there any effort to help people resist unsafe practices like pre-marital sex, promiscuity or prostitution.  The survey also presumes that abortion can be “safe” for women – whereas it always carries risks. 

Please respond to this consultation before Wednesday (20th October), and encourage others to do so too.

Further information that may be helpful in responding to the consultation:

A short briefing on maternal death and the Millennium Development Goals:
http://www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns/un/matmorbrief201008

A useful British Medical Journal article, pointing out that rising rates of maternal death in southern Africa are largely due to HIV: http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c5068.full  (This article also cites Margaret Chan of WHO, saying that training midwives and improving healthcare facilities are the effective measures being taken to reduce maternal deaths.)



A WHO article which does not distinguish between spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and induced abortion, but suggests that maternal deaths due to abortion are overestimated in surveys where the data is of poor quality: http://centre.icddrb.org/images/WHO_Analysis_of_Causes_of_Maternal_Death_-_Khan_&_co..pdf


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