Thursday, 15 March 2012

We must re-double our resistance to the government's dictatorship of relativism on gay marriage

This morning the government launched its consultation document on gay marriage (see SPUC's position paper, background paper and official policy on gay marriage. I will return in a future blog to the substantive issues in the consultation document). As expected, the consultation is an attempt to achieve a fait accompli on the enactment of gay marriage. The forward from Theresa May, the home secretary and Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, reads:
"[W]e are, today, launching this consultation to seek your views on how we can remove the ban on same-sex couples having a civil marriage in a way that works for everyone."
Further on, the consultation document says:
"2.8 As already made clear, this consultation is about how we best remove the ban on same-sex couples having a civil marriage, not on whether this should or should not happen. However, we are aware that there are a number of disparate views on this subject and would like to understand the views of all of those with an interest in this issue.

Question 1: Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?

Question 2: Please explain the reasons for your answer. Please respond within 1,225 characters (approx. 200 words).
The references to "in a way that works for everyone", "we...would like to understand" and the limit of 200 words (even less than the average limit for a letter to the editor of a newspaper) are deeply patronising.

The government has claimed that MPs will have a free vote on the legislation for gay marriage and that the legislation will not result in gay marriages in churches. However, assurances of free votes can hide the reality that MPs who vote against party policy can get penalised for it. And Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary and possible future Labour leader, has said today that:
"[T]he government should go further than they currently plan. Churches who want to celebrate gay marriage [should have] the chance to do so."
The Labour opposition is currently neck-and-neck with the Coalition government in the opinion polls, so there is a real danger that religious gay marriages could be enacted after the next election. The likely future pattern is clear: in 2005 the Blair government enacted civil partnerships restricted to civil venues (e.g. registry offices); by 2011 its successor the Cameron-Clegg government had extended civil partnerships to religious venues (e.g. churches).

The government’s attempted fait accompli on gay marriage, its flimsy assurances of free votes and respect for religious freedom, and its patronising fake interest in opposing views reminds me of the examples below of the 'dictatorship of relativism' in recent history. We must re-double of our resistance to the government's plans before it's too late.

1804: Napoleon invites Pope Pius VII to crown him Emperor. Napoleon snatches the crown from the pope and crowns himself:
He later persecutes the Church and kidnaps Pius VII.

1924: The first Soviet constitution is enacted, declaring rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and other democratic rights:
The Soviet government then continues to murder and imprison tens of millions of Soviet citizens suspected of supporting such rights.

1933: Hitler says to the Reichstag:
"[T]he Government is creating and securing the conditions for a really deep and inner religious life ... The national Government sees in both Christian denominations the most important factor for the maintenance of our society. It will observe the agreements drawn up between the Churches and the provinces; their rights will not be touched ... The national Government will allow and confirm to the Christian denominations the enjoyment of their due influence in schools and education. And it will be concerned for the sincere cooperation between Church and State ... The national Government, seeing in Christianity the unshakable foundation of the moral and ethical life of our people, attaches utmost importance to the cultivation and maintenance of the friendliest relations with the Holy See ... The rights of the churches will not be curtailed; their position in relation to the State will not be changed."
Hitler's Nazi regime then proceeds to murder, imprison, persecute and oppress millions of Christians in Germany and throughout Europe over the following 12 years.

1949 - present: The People's Republic of China continues the ancient system of allowing citizens to seek redress of grievances by petitioning:
60 years later, thousands of Chinese are imprisoned arbitrarily for petitioning.

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Today's Catholic bishops must apply the prophetic words of Pope Pius XI

This week and next week contains two 75th anniversaries of encyclicals by Pope Pius XI, both of which contain words which are particularly apposite to the grave situation which parents and the family must face today. Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of Mit brennender sorge ("With burning sorrow", against Nazism), in which Pius XI wrote:
"Parents who are earnest and conscious of their educative duties, have a primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions. Laws and measures which in school questions fail to respect this freedom of the parents go against natural law, and are immoral.
...
"We address Our special greetings to the Catholic parents. Their rights and duties as educators, conferred on them by God, are at present the stake of a campaign pregnant with consequences. The Church cannot wait to deplore the devastation of its altars, the destruction of its temples, if an education, hostile to Christ, is to profane the temple of the child's soul consecrated by baptism ... Then the violation of temples is nigh, and it will be every one's duty to sever his responsibility from the opposite camp, and free his conscience from guilty cooperation with such corruption. The more the enemies attempt to disguise their designs, the more a distrustful vigilance will be needed, in the light of bitter experience ... [D]o not forget this: none can free you from the responsibility God has placed on you over your children. None of your oppressors, who pretend to relieve you of your duties can answer for you to the eternal Judge, when he will ask: 'Where are those I confided to you?' May every one of you be able to answer: 'Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one' (John xviii. 9)."
And next Monday will be the 75th anniversary of Divini Redemptoris (against Communism), in which Pius XI wrote:
"Refusing to human life any sacred or spiritual character, such a doctrine logically makes of marriage and the family a purely artificial and civil institution, the outcome of a specific economic system. There exists no matrimonial bond of a juridico-moral nature that is not subject to the whim of the individual or of the collectivity. Naturally, therefore, the notion of an indissoluble marriage-tie is scouted ... [T]he right of education is denied to parents, for it is conceived as the exclusive prerogative of the community, in whose name and by whose mandate alone parents may exercise this right."
Reflecting on these great, prophetic words, I am painfully reminded of the unresolved scandal of the appointment of Greg Pope as deputy director of the Catholic Education Service (CES), an organ of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Here is but a small sample of Mr Pope's lengthy record of opposing Catholic pro-life/pro-family teaching during his time as a member of parliament. Mr Pope:
  • voted against a bill which would have required practitioners providing contraception or abortion services to a child under the age of 16 to inform his or her parent or guardian (14 Mar 2007)
  • signed a parliamentary motion praising a condom manufacturer for helping schools host “National Condom Week” (11 May 2004)
  • voted against measures (popularly known as “section 28”) preventing local councils from promoting homosexuality, including the teaching in schools of “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” (5 Jul 2000) (10 Mar 2003) (10 Mar 2003). He also signed a parliamentary motion in the same vein (24 Mar 2004).
  • voted against amendments restricting adoption to heterosexual couples (20 May 2002) and married couples (4 Nov 2002). He also signed a parliamentary motion in the same vein (24 Mar 2004).
In other words, Mr Pope has voted for or otherwise publicly supported the anti-life and anti-family ideas which Pope Pius XI found and condemned in Nazism and Communism. So, will the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales sack Mr Pope, or do they prefer totalitarianism?

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Wed 14 Mar

Sarah Teather, UK govt minister
Top stories:

GMC suspends doctor filmed agreeing to abort foetus because it was baby girl 
A doctor filmed agreeing to sex-selective abortion has been suspended by the General Medical Council. Dr Raj Mohan, of the Calthorpe Clinic, Birmingham, is under investigation following revelations by The Telegraph newspaper. Two other doctors involved have also been suspended pending investigations. [Mail, 12 March]

Pro-abortion leader admits: sex-selective abortion is dilemma for 'pro-choice' lobby
The leader of Britain's oldest pro-abortion group has admitted that sex-selective abortion is a dilemma for the so-called 'pro-choice' lobby. Julia Bentley, head of the Family Planning Association (FPA), wrote that she has "felt personally conflicted on the matter" and that "I don't think there are simple answers to dilemmas of this complexity and I'm not afraid to say I certainly don't have them." [Huffington Post, 12 March] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC commented: "Ms Bentley's admission proves that the pro-abortion lobby has no convincing answers to the scandal of sex-selective abortion."

UK government calls for more contraception and sex ed to reduce teen pregnancies
British government health ministers have called for more contraception and sex education in response to higher rates of teenage pregnancies in some parts of the country. In a joint statement, Sarah Teather (pictured) and Paul Burstow said: "The evidence shows that comprehensive education about relationships and sex (SRE), combined with easy access to effective contraception are the two essential ingredients for reducing teenage pregnancy. Every young person needs decent SRE and contraception advice" [Children & Young People Now, 12 March] However, research by Professor David Paton has shown that promoting sex education and contraception does not reduce teenage pregnancy.

Other stories:

Abortion
Sexual ethics
General
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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

SPUC was "the cavalry riding over the hill" says veteran Northern Ireland political leader

On Saturday last, SPUC held a well-attended conference Defending the Rights of Parents, Protecting Children at Belfast Castle in Northern Ireland. (Pictured in front of Belfast Castle is Ryan Doherty, the son of Aaron Doherty, a member of SPUC Northern Ireland's executive committee.)

The purpose of the conference was to make the case for strengthening parents' legal rights in the matter of providing birth control drugs and devices to children under the age of consent. Professor David Paton of Nottingham University Business School spoke on this theme. I will be reporting on his talk on another occasion.

SPUC's Belfast Castle event was supported by three leading Northern Ireland politicians:
  • Nelson McCausland, the minister for social development in the Northern Ireland government (Democratic Unionist Party representative for North Belfast in the Northern Ireland Assembly);
  • Pat Ramsey, chairman of the all-party pro-life group in Stormont (Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Memberf or Foyle in the Northern Ireland Assembly);
  • and Jim Wells, deputy chairman of the Stormont health committee and expected to become the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in mid-2013 (Democratic Unionist Member for for South Down in the Northern Ireland Assembly).
Jim Wells (right), who's the Father of the Northern Ireland Assembly as its longest-serving member, told the conference:
"If the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) had done nothing else in its 45-year history than defeat Northern Ireland's health department abortion guidance in the high court, that achievement alone would have justified its existence.

"I admire the courage SPUC had in defending in the high court Northern Ireland's legal prohibition of abortion. The action could have destroyed SPUC financially. However, if SPUC had not taken the case, our meeting today would be occurring in a very different atmosphere and environment."
Jim Wells said that SPUC was the "cavalry riding over the hill" safeguarding Northern Ireland from the Department of Health's attempt to widen the practice of abortion.

Pat Ramsey (right) also praised the work of SPUC in Northern Ireland and the work of other pro-life groups. He said:
"We believe that the right to life is the most basic principle of all and that includes the right to life of the unborn child. Every life should be protected from conception. Northern Ireland politicians not only reject the liberalization of Northern Ireland's laws against abortion, we oppose any kind of weakening of our laws. This is a matter of the first importance for our constituents."
Jim Wells, commenting on the words of his party political rival, said:
"We work very well together on this issue. We come from different places theologically. However, we come together on the fact that it's absolutely immoral to destroy the life of the unborn child".
Jim Wells added that legal protection for the unborn child should be strengthened rather than weakened.
"I'd be very worried if babies were being killed in Northern Ireland because they had Down's syndrome", he said. He told the conference that one of his three children was born with a significant physical handicap - and her life now is "bursting with opportunities".
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Monday, 12 March 2012

Huge pro-life witness in East London

I was delighted today to hear about a wonderful pro-life event this past weekend in Stratford, East London. At the time of this event I was in at an SPUC day conference in Belfast Castle, Northern Ireland. I will be doing separate reports on this conference and a pro-life conference in Dublin this past Sunday.

In Stratford 170-200 people gave public witnessing to the dignity of human life from conception, by praying, counselling and educating passers by outside a new BPAS abortion centre. I am informed that the group was made up mostly of local residents of Stratford, as well as 10 Catholic priests including Bishop Thomas McMahon's (the local Catholic bishop) representative, 10 religious brothers and sisters, and people coming as far as Colchester and Bournemouth. This is a great witness to the strength and commitment of the pro-life movement both locally and nationally. Plans were begun to organising a regular pro-life activity in the area. I wish them every success.

This event is the latest in long running campaign in Stratford, which has been led by SPUC. 
Saturday's event was primarily organised by that wonderful pro-life group The Helper's of God's Precious Infants, but SPUC were well represented with Daniel Blackman, an SPUC researcher, playing a key organisational role in the day. Daniel has written a full report with several pictures on SPUC's new youth, Why I am Pro-Life. Here are some of the impressive photos from the day.

                            
The group process to the Bpas abortion centre

Bearing witness and praying outside the Stratford Bpas



It is particularly encouraging to see such strong pro-life witness from the local Catholic bishop and Catholic clergy. The number of lay people in attendance is testimony to the great impact Catholic leaders can have when they take decisive in defence of unborn children. Daniel reports that:
"During the opening Mass, Monsignor John Armitage, the official representative of the local Catholic Bishop Thomas, read out a special letter of support. Bishop Thomas told the congregation that they had his full support, and lamented the tragedy of more than 200,000 abortions in the UK every year."
With leadership such as this there is still great hope for the pro-life movement in the UK.

Daniel's report concludes with some of the things that can be done now, by everyone, to help build on the momentum that the Stratford campaign has been building up for the best part of a year. I include them below and urge readers to take action to support this fantastic initiative in defence of the unborn.

ACTION POINTS
  • Send an email or letter of support to Bishop Thomas and Monsignor Armitage
  • Join the Helpers at their vigils, and perhaps start one in your area
  • Complain to One Housing CEO Mike Sweeny, who gave Bpas the lease. Ask One Housing to withdraw the lease: complaints@onehousinggroup.co.uk or send a letter to CEO Mike Sweeny at One Housing HQ Chalk Farm, London.
  • If you like to be involved with the East London Campaign, email me danielblackman@spuc.org.uk There is so much we can do to make an effective impact.

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