Tuesday, 31 May 2011

David Norris, would-be Irish presidential candidate, is no friend of the unborn or the family

I note that David Norris, the Irish senator who is seeking to be nominated as a candidate for the Irish presidency, is in the news today, regarding a controversial interview he gave in 2002, in part about under-age sexual activity and incest. Pat Buckley, SPUC's man in Ireland, has the text of the interview on his well-read blog.

I also note Senator Norris' extraordinarily flippant comments in 2009 promoting destructive embryo research:
“Nobody takes an embryo to the zoo or the cinema or the church. Let’s be real about this.”
It is therefore clear to me that, based on his views on the unborn, Senator Norris has no place leading Ireland, a civilised, Christian and pro-life nation.

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SPUC recruits Anthony McCarthy, bioethics heavyweight, to help youth confront the culture of death

I'm delighted to announce that SPUC has appointed Anthony McCarthy as its Education and Publications Manager, effective from 1 July 2011.

He will oversee SPUC’s educational work at home and abroad, be responsible for SPUC’s educational publications and the SPUC website. He has also been given the responsibility of managing, directing and developing SPUC’s outreach to secondary schools, universities and colleges and to young people in general across the country. Given his background in research, bioethics and public relations, SPUC believes he is the ideal candidate to represent the organisation publicly and to write about bioethical and pro-life issues on behalf of SPUC for a range of publications.

Anthony was previously a Research Fellow of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, formerly the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, a bioethical institute serving the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In the eight years he spent with the Centre, Anthony contributed to submissions to the Government on major bioethical issues. He has written on such topics for national publications, including the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, and has argued the pro-life cause convincingly on Channel 4 News and the BBC.

Anthony is the author of a book entitled "Cloning and Stem Cell Research" and has helped to edit a range of other publications in the field of bioethics.

He has tutored in Philosophy at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham; Allen Hall seminary in Chelsea; Blackfriars, Oxford university; and Heythrop College, University of London. He has also given presentations at a European Parliament conference and to the Pontifical Academy for Life at the Vatican.

Before his involvement with the Linacre Centre, Anthony worked for an independent media monitoring firm serving a variety of financial institutions, and as a civil servant for the Cabinet Office and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Responding to his appointment, Mr McCarthy told the media earlier today:
“I am delighted and honoured to be asked by SPUC to become their Education and Publications Manager. I have been writing and speaking on issues in sexual and reproductive ethics, as well as other life issues, for years and relish the opportunity to educate young people ready to cast off the tired nostrums of the sexual revolution and the various promoters of the culture of death.

“With more and more people looking for ways to combat contemporary willingness to kill the innocent and the reluctance in certain quarters to face reality, SPUC’s work remains as important as ever.  I look forward to joining colleagues in this work, and to using my background in ethics, research and communications in the hope of making the new post a crucial part of SPUC’s mission.”
Anthony's enormous expertise on sexual and reproductive ethics and the whole range of life issues will be invaluable in SPUC's outreach to young people. They are being targeted by the pro-abortion and birth control lobby as never before, not least at school. On the basis on sound reasoning, solid arguments and hard facts, we need to equip young people to resist the culture of death which surrounds them.

Anthony is uniquely well-qualified to help SPUC fulfil that educational mission. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has been sending trained volunteer speakers to secondary schools for over four decades. SPUC's educational research trust produces 'How You Began', an educational set of realistic, anatomically-correct foetal models, which have been used in schools, medical schools and universities for over 20 years. They were designed and manufactured under the expert guidance of a team of leading foetal authorities including obstetricians and gynaecologists, pathologists and other experts in anatomy and embryology.

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Friday, 27 May 2011

Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Friday 27 May

Leah Hardy and children
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Sexual ethics
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Thursday, 26 May 2011

A Russian Orthodox priest speaks out against Britain's culture of death

Today I had the pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with Archpriest Andrew Phillips, who leads one of Britain's 40 Russian Orthodox parishes in Colchester. Archpriest Andrew has kindly sent me some of his recent personal reflections on pro-life issues:
"After 1945 we were to be provided by the Welfare State with care ‘from the cradle to the grave’. Instead, it rather looks as though, with legalised abortion on demand and creeping euthanasia, we are being provided with death from the cradle to the grave.

In the NHS today, where one of our daughters works as a nurse, patients who refuse to die are called ‘coffin dodgers’. Everything must be accounted for, everything has a price – the accountant’s mentality introduced into everything by Mrs Thatcher and ardently pursued by Mr Blair. Today, life and death decisions are overseen by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the ironically-named organisation which decides whether we can afford care for the sick or not. It was prophesied by C. S. Lewis, also in 1945, in his novel ‘That Hideous Strength’, which is about a devilish and anti-human organisation called N.I.C.E. – the ‘National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments’. That organisation should definitely have been called NASTY.

Financial pressures decide our ‘best interests’ - life or death. DCS - Deep Continuous Sedation – with deprivation of food and fluids - is the fate of more and more terminally ill. DCS is in fact simply a disguised, politically correct term for euthanasia. Yet, the Gospel of Christ proclaims not ‘Euthanasia’ (‘Good Mortality’), but Athanasia – Immortality.

It is the same with abortion, the politically correct term for infanticide or child-murder. It is no good referring to a child as ‘an embryo’ or ‘a foetus’, it is still a child and its abortion is still murder. We are told that we must be ‘pro-choice’ (another disguised name), but what is this choice: to murder or not to murder? This is no more a choice than that made by the Nazis in their death camps. In reality, there is only one choice. It is not ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’, it is pro-life or anti-life.

The Western culture of death is the culture of suicide. Does the Western - and Westernised – world want to live or want to die? I know where I stand."
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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Fewer Northern Irish women are travelling to England for abortions

Belfast
One of the less reported aspects of the 2010 abortion statistics (England and Wales) released yesterday is the fall in the number of women from Northern Ireland having abortions in England and Wales. In 2010 there were 1,101 such abortions, down from 1,577 10 years ago. Liam Gibson, SPUC Northern Ireland's development officer, told me:
"SPUC has invested considerable effort and resources in Northern Ireland over decades. That lives of babies have been saved is a not just a tribute to all SPUC staff but to SPUC's supporters. Their commitment can does save lives. The people of Northern Ireland are grateful for their support."
Statistically an unborn baby in Northern Ireland is safer than anywhere else in the UK. The success of the pro-life movement in preventing the extension of the mainland's Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland  has meant that the law in the Province still safeguards the lives of unborn children as well as protecting women from the terrible damage which abortion can cause. SPUC has been particularly successful in challenging departmental guidance which seriously misrepresented the law on abortion. As a direct result of SPUC's latest legal challenge, the government has now withdrawn that guidance and must produce a new, legally accurate version.

Peaceful, prayerful, well-informed and uncompromisingly pro-life resistance will overcome the culture of death.

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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Wednesday 25 May

Julia Holcomb and Steve Tyler (centre)
Abortion
Embryologist
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

New abortion figures show avoidable tragedy

The latest annual abortion figures represent 190,000 unborn babies whose deaths were entirely avoidable. The figures for 2010 in England and Wales show a slight increase in registered abortions over the previous year. Abortions were 8% higher than 10 years before in 2000.

Commenting on the figures, Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, told the media earlier today:
“The annual abortion statistics tell a tragic story of avoidable death – driven by commercial interests and sexual exploitation of women. The abortion industry and the Department of Health abet the anti-life culture by promoting the idea that sex – and abortion - must be available to everyone on demand.

“As a result, for every two married women who have abortions, 11 unmarried women undergo abortions.

“A notable shift in the figures for 2010 is an increase of nearly 10% in abortions of disabled babies. 2290 disabled babies were destroyed in 2010, compared to 2085 in 2009. The average for the past 5 years had been under 2000.

“Private abortionists are once again favoured by the Department of Health policy of spending NHS money on so-called ‘charitable’ abortion services. These services do not provide any genuine benefit, but simply provide abortions and charge the NHS.

“In contrast, there has been a further small but welcome reduction in abortions performed here on women from Northern Ireland. Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland but some women travel to England for abortions. The figure has gone down from 1577 in 2001 to 1101 in 2010.”
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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Tuesday 24 May

Dr Gianna Emanuela Molla
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
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Monday, 23 May 2011

This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Monday 23 May

Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo, Malta
Abortion
Embryology
Sexual ethics
General
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Friday, 20 May 2011

Faithful Catholic parents are continuing the fight against episcopal bullying

The parent governors of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School have announced that they are seeking leave to appeal against last month's high court ruling regarding appointments to the school's board. These parent governors and their supporters are defending the rights of parents over their children's schooling, in particular their God-given role as the first and foremost educators of their children. Archbishop Vincent Nichols (pictured), in contrast, is seeking to take over the school, in order to subject it, inter alia, to the Catholic Education Service (CES) - which welcomed and helped draft the previous government's proposal to amend sex education guidance on anti-life, anti-family lines - and its allies within the official Catholic establishment. This week Archbishop Nichols filled a sudden vacancy among the governors with a serving member of the CES's management committee, Kate Griffin, rather than with a Vaughan parent.

Please support the Vaughan's parents by praying, by informing yourself and others, by attending their acts of witness and, if you can, with funds. If faithful Catholic parents lose control over good Catholic schools to dissenting episcopal bullies, then many more of our children will be lost to the culture of death.

* 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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The Tablet helps radical pro-abortion group raise money

The 14 May edition of The Tablet, the self-styled "International Catholic Weekly", came with an insert (pictured) from an organisation called Womankind, appealing for donations to help it and its partner groups "support girls and women wanting change". Womankind is a radical pro-abortion group which attacks the Catholic Church for upholding the sanctity of human life  - see the list of references below. This is not the first time The Tablet has included a fundraising insert for a pro-abortion organisation: in 2008 the 12 July edition contained an insert from M√©decins Sans Fronti√®res ("Doctors Without Borders"), which both performs and defends abortion.

The 14 May Womankind insert follows soon after The Tablet's 30 April editorial which, citing the pre-marital cohabitation of HRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, argued that the Churches should endorse cohabitation "as a sensible precaution".*

Raising money for abortion campaigners, publishing pro-abortion dissent, endorsing pre-marital cohabitation, campaigning for so-called gay rights, disobeying Church teaching on contraception ... May I encourage readers of this blog to contact the Catholic bishop in their area, as well as the parish priests of any local churches which stock The Tablet, urging them to cancel and ban sales of The Tablet. Tabula delenda est

* Why is the area of sexual ethics important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 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. 

Web references to Womankind's support for abortion
N.B. "Sexual and reproductive health and rights" is commonly used by pro-abortion bodies as both a technical term and an euphemism for abortion on demand (Technical definitions prepared for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Cairo, 1994; Hillary Clinton, April 2009).

"[Womankind's] efforts...guaranteeing women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights" [link]

"2005 – women defend their gains at the ten year review of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and successfully defeat a proposal led by the U.S government for an anti-abortion amendment to the declaration" [link]

"But, increasingly, this vital work is threatened by a powerful group of right-wing organisations. Linked with conservative governments, they oppose sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms for women and girls." [link]

"In Peru, the problem of legal abortion is embedded in a society in which the exercise of women’s sexual and reproductive rights is not achieved".[link]

"WOMANKIND’s partners are keen to point out that the ongoing restrictions on women's rights are...to do with the wider external environment which is often hostile towomen’s rights. In Peru, Maria-Ysabel Cedano, from DEMUS, puts this down to ‘the interference of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church’, particularly in matters related to sexual and reproductive health." [link]

"WOMANKIND’s four Peruvian partners are working in a very difficult environment. There is a real backlash against women’s rights, after a period in which community organisations and women’s organisations...made significant advances. Women started to benefit from better sexual and reproductive rights ... Many battles were won. But right now the influence of the Catholic Church is very apparent in relation to sexual and reproductive rights: even though the law allows abortion for women whose life may be in danger, public hospitals don’t have the necessary guidance. When the main women’s hospital in Lima did develop guidelines, the Ministry of Health caved into pressure from the Church and invalidated them." [link]
 
Womankind's Peruvian partner-organisation DEMUS has created a cartoon character called Barbi. "Barbi uses [Facebook] to comment on current issues and developments such as Peru‘s recent efforts to decriminalise abortion". [link]

"Bolivia’s women also face serious and substantial risks to their sexual and reproductive health ... Access to legal abortion is restricted to cases of rape, incest, abduction not followed by marriage, or when the mother’s health is at risk ... While contraception is available throughout the country, sustainable use is limited to educated, urban women ... Educating women about their health and particularly their sexual and reproductive rights, enables them to ‘take ownership’ of issues that fundamentally affect their lives."[link]

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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Friday 20 May

Stacey Solomon and her son
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Monsignor Reilly teaches us "Unborn children should not die alone"

Once again, the pro-life movement in Britain has reason to be grateful to Robert Colquhoun, a pro-life powerhouse, and organizer of the excellent 40 Days for Life initiative.

Robert has posted on his blog, Discover Happiness, the best pro-life talk I've ever heard, given last night in London by Monsignor Philip Reilly, the founder of Helpers of God's Precious Infants.

You need 75 minutes to listen to the talk. It might be the best 75 minutes you spend learning about pro-life activities this century if you can find the time.

All of us struggling to play our role in the worldwide crisis afflicting humanity, brilliantly identified by Pope John Paul II as the culture of death in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, can be buoyed up by the vision, wit and wisdom of Monsignor Reilly's words and by his vital work.

Before I get too carried away, let me say that this vital work, which is by no means easy, is praying and fasting combined with truly effective counselling outside abortion clinics.

Monsignor Reilly has been doing just that for 22 years, 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. And he's been travelling all over the world establishing this work - the fruits of which can be seen here in many parts of Europe, including in England. As someone involved these past 37 years in the educational and political work of SPUC - I salute what has been achieved by Helpers of God's Precious Infants. (On a personal note, my love and thanks here to Josephine, my wife, for the past 27 years of marriage which we're celebrating today.)

Judging by its fruits, which I've witnessed personally in England, in Australia and in Austria, I believe this work is one of the most effective of all front-line pro-life activities - full of compassion and truly saving lives - and its growth throughout the world is changing lives and re-building the culture of life.

But Monsignor Philip Reilly is above all a man of God and what he's primarily about is bringing Christ to women and men, to abortionists, and to unborn children - and  seeking to save souls.

He says that those who need our compassion and prayers most are not the unborn children, but those bringing them to the abortion centres and, in particular, the abortionists.

He told us that he was in Maidstone yesterday morning and the abortion centre, outside which he and the Helpers of God's Precious Infants were praying, called the police to complain that the Helpers outside were disturbing everyone inside.

When the police told him that everyone inside the abortion centre was disturbed by what was going on outside, Monsignor Reilly replied: "What, everyone?" "Yes", the police replied. "Oh wonderful", said Monsignor Reilly.

"Does it bother me that a change of heart was taking place inside the abortion centre?" he asked us, his audience. And he gave us many heart-warming examples of such changes of heart occurring during his 22 years of keeping vigil.

Monsignor Reilly insisted that Jesus did not die on the cross "abandoned and alone". He had Mary his mother there; Christ had St. John, Mary Magdalen, Mary the wife of Cleophas and the women who had followed him from Galilee. Monsignor Reilly told us "Unborn children should not die alone". They need us praying for them, for their mothers, and for the abortionists, and loving them before they die - just as Mary and the others did for Jesus.

He told us that the pro-life movement was maintaining the light as the world goes into darkness - and just as a light shines clearly and brightly in the darkness, so does the pro-life movement.

He told us that the abortionists need our presence more than the unborn children do.

He tells the countless mothers who tell him how much they regret their abortion: "You're a mum forever. Your child is with God."

No evil has ever taken place in the world, he said, which did not produce a greater good. The greatest evil which has ever taken place in the history of the world was the Crucifixion of Jesus. And the Crucifixion of Jesus produced the greatest good in the history of the world: our redemption. The culture of death is so bad, Monsignor Reilly said, it's hopeful!

He tells mothers who come back to thank him after their babies are born: you owe me nothing.

I can't possibly capture the wit, humility and wisdom of Monsignor Reilly. His talk, at 75 minutes, was simply too short. Just one tiny example of his New York humour came at the start of his talk when he said: "It's good to be here this evening at St. James, Spanish Place...It's good to be anywhere in today's culture of death"!

Please listen - and learn.  And thanks again for the recording Robert!

At the end of the meeting we were urged to attend a vigil in Brixton this Saturday beginning at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 6 Knowle Close, Brixton Road, Brixton, SW9 at 9 a.m..  I have an SPUC executive committee all day that day and cannot attend - but will be with the Helpers in spirit. Full details can be found here, under 21st May.

Finally: you might also be interested in supporting the vigils at the Marie Stopes abortuary organized by the splendid Good Counsel Network.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Anti-life and anti-family speakers are due at a English and Welsh Catholic bishops' agency conference

This July the National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) will hold its 33rd annual conference. NJPN is an agency of the Department of International Affairs of the Catholic Bishops's Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW). One of this year's speakers is Frances O'Grady, deputy general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Ms O'Grady is quoted on the front page of a leaflet entitled "Abortion - a trade union issue" published by Abortion Rights, formed in 2003 from the merger of the National Abortion Campaign (NAC) and Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA). The leaflet quotes Ms Grady saying:
“access to birth control and abortion has allowed immeasurable economic, educational and social benefits for women. Now is the time to stand up again to defend women’s right to choose”
Also, last year Ms O'Grady addressed the TUC's annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) conference thus:
"Much has been achieved over the past decade but some hugely difficult challenges remain for LGBT people in Britain and across the world ... While we may have made real legal advances in the UK, we have yet to see a parallel shift in social attitudes."
Another person due to speak at the NJPN's conference is Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham. In December Mr Cruddas told The Catholic Herald that abortion:
"should be safe, legal and rare".
Since the year 2000 Mr Cruddas voted 18 times with the anti-life lobby, for example voting in favour of the:
  • anti-life Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act) at second reading (which denotes approval for the bill's principles) 
  • pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Bill (now Act) at second reading and third reading (which denotes approval of the bill as a whole)
Mr Cruddas has also expressed his pride in his voting record in support of the homosexual agenda.

I will be writing immediately to Mrs Anne Peacey, the NJPN's chairman, and to Bishop Declan Lang, the Department of International Affairs' chairman, to urge them to cancel the invitations extended to Ms O'Grady and Mr Cruddas. In June 2004 the US bishops' document "Catholics in Political Life" said:
"The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which [JS: i.e. "as this"] would suggest support for their actions."
You may also like to write to Mrs Peacey admin@justice-and-peace.org.uk and Bishop Lang, both at 39 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1BX.

* Why is the issue of homosexuality important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 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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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Edwin Poots is Northern Ireland's first pro-life health minister

SPUC welcomes the appointment of Edwin Poots (pictured) as Northern Ireland's new health minister.

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, told the media earlier today:
"SPUC will be praying for success for Mr Poots as Northern Ireland’s first pro-life health minister as he faces enormous challenges. SPUC will be watching closely to see how he intends to resolve the ongoing problems surrounding the health department’s guidance on abortion law and clinical practice.

In 2007 Mr Poots supported a motion rejecting the original draft of the department’s guidance as flawed and which called upon the then minister 'to abandon any attempt to make abortion more widely available in Northern Ireland.'"
In an intervention during an Assembly debate on 22 October 2007, Mr Poots made his views on abortion very clear:
“I speak as someone who has a close family member with a disability. Will the Member agree that those who support abortion on the basis of a child being born with a deformity are devaluing that child before it is born? Will he also agree that — given that almost seven million children have been aborted since the 1967 Act was passed and that almost two million have been terminated since the House last debated the issue — future generations will look back on this period in the way that we look back on the period when children were used to clean chimneys and people were kept as slaves?”
Liam also told the media:
"Twice in recent years SPUC has successfully taken legal action against Mr Poots’ predecessor in order to remove guidance that threatened the rights of women, unborn children and medical personnel.

The health department’s relationship with the pro-abortion Family Planning Association (FPA) urgently needs to be re-examined. The issue of public funding for FPA especially needs be looked at. Mr Poots is likely to face significant opposition from within his own department, as a number of senior civil servants are not sympathetic to pro-life concerns. However, if Mr Poots does bring forward pro-life measures, he will have the support both of most assembly-members and the people of Northern Ireland."
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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Tuesday 17 May

David MacDonald
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Sexual ethics
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Monday, 16 May 2011

Well done SPUC supporters for big campaign on TV abortion ads!

SPUC's vigil outside the ASA
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has just published its annual report for 2010. According to the report (p.25), the Marie Stopes International (MSI) television ad "Are you late?" was the second-most complained-about ad (the most complained-about ad was by Paddy Power, a betting agency). However, if one looks closely at the ASA's figures, MSI's ad should in fact be given first place. The ASA said that it had received 1,088 complaints about MSI's ad, with 1,313 complaints about the Paddy Power ad; yet the ASA reports also says that:
"In addition to the complaints detailed above, we received over 3,600 other objections, some prior to broadcast and some via petitions."
So in fact the ASA received almost 4,700 complaints about the MSI ad, three-and-a half times more complaints than about the Paddy Power ad! Furthermore, that figure does not include all the complaints - either about the ad or about the general proposal to allow abortion agencies to advertise on TV and radio - received by:
We know that the vast majority of the complaints to the ASA and elsewhere came from SPUC supporters. So well done, SPUC supporters, for challenging the culture of death and showing that SPUC punches well above its weight!

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This morning's must-read pro-life news-stories, Monday 16 May

Tani and Gloria Cruz
Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
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Friday, 13 May 2011

Silence about the Birmingham Three endangers other "good and holy men"

I have long referred on this blog to the co-operation between the Catholic authorities in England and Wales and the  Government in its attack on families, on parents as the primary educators of their children, on the innocence and welfare of schoolchildren, and on the sanctity of human life.

Things could not be more serious: and still those episcopal policies, such as lending support to the previous government's legislative proposals which would have facilitated the corruption of our children, remain in force, not least through the continued employment of Greg Pope at the Catholic Education Service (see below).

This evening, on the first anniversary of the expulsion of three "good and holy men" from the Birmingham Oratory, I find myself wondering whether the Birmingham Three, their confreres, and even those apparently acting in authority over them, are all, somewhere along the ecclesiastical line, perhaps unwitting instruments of this policy of co-operation between State and Church - at the expense of the lives of unborn children, of marriage and the family.

Let's look at some of the past year's events:
  • We had the story in The Times a year ago with its hints of alleged homophobia - re-cycled by A Reluctant Sinner.
  • Importantly, we had the unequivocal confirmation from a Birmingham Oratory spokesman that the three Oratorians were "entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever, including, specifically, sexual misdemeanours or homophobia".
  • Equally importantly, however, they remain in exile, in spite of assurances from a Birmingham Oratory spokesman in June 2010 that the Three "can come back soon and continue as normal"
Mud sticks. And since their exile we've had Archbishop Nichols undermining Pope Benedict's teaching on gay unions*, just the day after His Holiness returned from England to Rome.

Before their exile, the Birmingham Oratory website was boldly denouncing the previous government's legislative proposals which would have enabled the promotion and facilitation of abortion, contraception and homosexuality in schools, including Catholic schools. These shocking proposals - fortunately defeated following a strong campaign by SPUC, Catholic clergy, head teachers and school governors and three Catholic bishops - were painted in a good light by Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

And Archbishop Nichols has continued to back the appointment of Greg Pope, the anti-life, anti-family former Member of Parliament as deputy director of the Catholic Education Service as does Bishop McMahon, Archbishop Nichols's successor as chairman of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW).

Many Catholic clergy, three Catholic bishops, and others put up a brave fight against the policy of the bishops' conference of England and Wales on the Children Schools and Families bill - and not least through their courage - we won that campaign.

But silence about the unjust fate of the Birmingham Three - with the exception of lay bloggers - exposes those churchmen and churchwomen who dare to speak out boldly about the wickedness of episcopal policies to a similar fate; and it leaves families, children, parents and unborn children to the tender mercies of the realpolitik of the bishops' conference of England and Wales. God help us.

In a fascinating interview about the Birmingham Three Dr Tom Ward is asked about the silence of the Catholic clergy in publicly challenging what happened.

Dr Ward, a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, says:
"Good priests are busy men and there was a great deal of disinformation in the media. This disinformation caused confusion in spite of the valiant efforts of individual lay people to get the truth through ... This was one reason for the clerical silence.

 "The other reason was much more worrying. The penalties that the three Oratorians had suffered were draconian and it was universally agreed that they are virtuous men who are innocent of any wrong doing. For example, on May 26, 2010 their brother Oratorian and their then Provost, Fr. Duffield said in reply to a letter: 'I agree with what you say about Fathers Dermot, Philip and Lewis and with the specific examples you give of their virtues. All three have been my friends for many years. They have not done anything wrong" and the matters involved are private and "do not involve any wrong-doing'. In a letter to an enquirer (June 5, 2010) the spokesman of the Oratory wrote : 'These good and holy men have led exemplary lives and offered wonderful pastoral care to the parishioners of the Oratory'.

 "As I said the other reason for the silence of the priests was more worrying. It was fear. Having seen what happened to the Oratorians they wondered what might to happen to them if they too were outspoken."
Quite so Dr Ward.

*Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, teaches in paragraph 97 of 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, 12 May 2011

Let's listen to the Pope and bishops speaking with the courage of St Peter at Pentecost

In recent days Pope Benedict has given a number of addresses in which he proclaimed the Gospel of Life:

Today in an address to a Jewish delegation, the Pope said:
"[O]ne of the most important things that we can do together is bear common witness to our deeply-held belief that every man and woman is created in the divine image and thus possessed of inviolable dignity. This conviction remains the most secure basis for every effort to defend and promote the inalienable rights of each human being".
On 7 May he addressed the citizens of Aquileia:
"[You have the mission of] witnessing to the love of God for humanity, above all, through acts of love and life choices made in favor of actual persons, beginning with the most vulnerable, fragile, and defenseless ... such as the poor, the elderly, the ill, and the disabled.
...
From faith lived courageously arises, today as in the past, a fertile culture of love for life, from its conception to its natural end, for the promotion of human dignity, for the exaltation of the importance of the family based on faithful marriage and openness to life, and for a commitment to justice and solidarity".
Also on 7 May, in a message to Italian Catholic Action, the Pope listed first "the defense of life" as one of "the most pressing problems of the everyday life of the family".

Also this week, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, who heads the Korean bishops' bioethics commission, said in a message for the country's first annual Sunday for Life that:
"[Abortion is] even worse than ordinary murder because it is committed by the parents of the victim and the medical staff that is supposed to protect life. It is a brutal crime against a defenceless human being and must be condemned without question ... [P]eople have become completely insensitive to the idea of moral judgement. People no longer care, and thus prepare the ground for other crimes. A rampant culture of death is spreading around the world, especially in Korea, and it must be stopped.”
Bishop Gabriel's teaching on the moral gravity of abortion reflects the strong yet compassionate teaching of the late Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae:
"The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby's cries and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having it done.

It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being." [para.58]
Pope Benedict and bishops such as Bishop Gabriel are speaking with the same courage shown by St Peter at Pentecost, who did not shrink from telling the men of Jerusalem:
"Do penance ... Save yourselves from this perverse generation."
And what was the result of this plain, strong talking?:
"[T]here were added in that day about three thousand souls ... [T]he Lord increased daily together such as should be saved."
So we must hope and pray that soon bishops will speak out boldly for life and family, not just in Rome and Korea, but in England and Wales too.

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