Saturday, 2 June 2012

Why are Catholic schools in Tower Hamlets using sexually-explicit teaching materials?

Antonia Tully of SPUC's Safe at School campaign has reported to me on the disturbing use of pornographic materials in sex and relationships education (SRE) in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Safe at School is assisting parents in Tower Hamlets in their campaign to have such materials removed from schools in the borough. It is particularly disturbing to read in Antonia's report that:
"St Agnes Catholic Primary School E3 3ER and Holy Family Catholic Primary School E14 0DE both recorded that they use both The Christopher Winter Project and “Living and Growing”. Tower Hamlets Local Authority records that teachers at St Edmunds RC Primary School and Holy Family Catholic Primary School received training from The Christopher Winter Project."
'Living and Growing' and 'The Christopher Winter Project' are two of the most notoriously pornographic SRE programmes currently in use.

SPUC will be raising this matter with the relevant Catholic authorities. In the meantime, I encourage parents, whether Catholic or not, to find out what materials are being used in their local schools, and email me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk

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Friday, 1 June 2012

Book now to hear Linda Couri, former pro-abort turned pro-lifer, 8 June, Westminster

Book now to hear Linda Couri speak on "The Choice-Driven Life" in London on 8 June. Linda is the director of lay ministry formation of the Catholic archdiocese of Chicago. A former Planned Parenthood employee with experience on abortion issues, Linda Couri will present an inside perspective on the so-called 'pro-choice' mindset. She will address the values, goals and motivations behind the so-called 'pro-choice' movement and offer suggestions with regard to how Christians might best respond to them. Linda is now a sought-after pro-life speaker with unique insights to share. 

Details:
When: Friday 8 June 2012, 7pm
Where: conference room, Vaughan House, 46 Francis Street SW1P 1QN (behind Westminster Cathedral).
How: advance booking essential – contact cathmacgillivray@rcdow.org.uk or telephone Catherine on 020 7931 6064. Entrance fee: £5

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Must-read pro-life news-stories, Fri 1 June

Prince Alois of Liechtenstein
Top stories

Please sponsor mountain-climbers raising funds for SPUC
On 1 and  2 July, a team of SPUC supporters are planning to climb Britain’s three highest peaks – Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike – in order to raise funds for the Glasgow midwives’ appeal costs and SPUC’s other life-affirming work. Please sponsor them. > Full details

Please respond to consultation on conscientious objection
The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued new draft guidance for doctors on "Personal beliefs and medical practice". The draft deals with the important issue of conscientious objection, and it seeks to control how doctors deal with requests for treatments which they do not in conscience provide, which may include abortion, IVF, contraception, the morning-after pill, or euthanasia. There are serious flaws in the draft and doctor who hold pro-life values could be penalised or prevented from practising medicine as a result.  Please respond to this consultation yourself and/or ask others (especially doctors). This consultation is being conducted online only. Please visit: http://gmc.e-consultation.net/econsult/ and click on "Consultation on Personal beliefs and medical practice". You need to register to contribute but it is free to do so. The deadline for comments is 13 June 2012. SPUC has published a guideline brief http://www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns/alerts/gmc_consultation_2012 to help you respond to the questions in the consultation. 

New abortion figures represent "bonanza" for private abortion sector
Figures issued by the Department of Health indicate that in 2011 there were almost 190,000 registered abortions on resident women in England and Wales. A further 6,000 abortions were registered on non-residents. Paul Tully of SPUC commented: “The statistics also represent an increasing bonanza for the private abortion sector, as their share of the abortion market increases and more NHS money flows into their coffers. They are looking to widen their market further by promoting flawed birth control practices and by promoting abortion as a normal part of people’s sexual health needs." [SPUC, 29 May]


Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
  • More Britons are paying Indian women to become surrogate mothers [Telegraph, 26 May]
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
  • Catholic schools should teach Theology of the Body, say English bishops [Tablet, 1 June]
  • Opposition to gay marriage is "not acceptable", UK minister says [Telegraph, 31 May]
  • STD fears as 70% of single women admit to regularly having unprotected sex [Mail, 30 May]
  • The fashion for gay marriage has nothing in common with the civil-rights campaigns of the 1960s [Brendan O'Neill, 29 May]
  • MPs should not be allowed free vote on gay marriage, Nick Clegg says [Telegraph, 27 May]
  • Ditch plans for same-sex marriage, voters tell MPs [Telegraph, 26 May]
General
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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Please respond to consultation on conscientious objection

The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued new draft guidance for doctors on "Personal beliefs and medical practice". The draft deals with the important issue of conscientious objection, and it seeks to control how doctors deal with requests for treatments which they do not in conscience provide, which may include abortion, IVF, contraception, the morning-after pill, or euthanasia.
There are serious flaws in the draft and doctor who hold pro-life values could be penalised or prevented from practising medicine as a result. The GMC has the power to strike doctors off the medical register and they warn doctors what the consequences may be:
"Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will put your registration at risk."

Please respond to this consultation yourself and/or ask others (especially doctors). This consultation is being conducted online only. Please visit: http://gmc.e-consultation.net/econsult/ and click on "Consultation on Personal beliefs and medical practice"

You need to register to contribute but it is free to do so. The deadline for comments is 13 June 2012.
SPUC has published a guideline brief http://www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns/alerts/gmc_consultation_2012 to help you respond to the questions in the consultation.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Fr Kosmas, the "rubbish baby", is on fire for the unborn child

Fr Kosmas, the priest who hosted my talk on abortion at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Birmingham last night, was nicknamed "the rubbish baby" by his grandmother who had defended his right to be born. I am pictured (right) with Fr Kosmas Pavlidis, and Liliana Malla, the chairman of the Ladies Committee at the Cathedral, who organized the event at Fr Kosmas's request.

After I spoke, Fr Kosmas told the meeting the moving story of his family and of his birth in poverty in Greece 51 years ago. He was the fourth of four boys. His father had no work and he told Fr Kosmas's mum when she was pregnant for the fourth time: "We can't afford another child. You will have to take care of the situation."

Fr Kosmas's mum did not want an abortion - and his maternal grandmother was also strongly opposed. However, eventually his mother reluctantly agreed and her husband took her to a local hospital for the abortion - where he left her because he didn't like hospitals. Whilst waiting on her own for the appointment, she made up her mind not to go ahead. She went home and told her husband she had taken care of the situation - only telling him the truth a couple of months later when the secret could be kept no longer.

Fr Kosmas was born. His father accepted what had happened; and his grandmother never let her daughter, his mother, forget, that "This was your rubbish baby" - whilst confidently predicting that Kosmas would become a priest!

Fr Kosmas's simple story made a big impression on everyone, particularly his parishioners who had never heard it before.

The Orthodox tradition and Orthodox values have a huge amount to teach us in how to engage with modern society. As His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, says in Freedom and Responisbility:
"Modern society is constantly inculcating into people that religious faith is a purely private, indeed intimate affair of the human individual ... Personal ethics do indeed lie at the very heart of Christian morality. The Christian message is aimed in the first place at the individual person, seeking to elicit a personal spiritual experience and response which will open the way to the transfiguration of his or her soul. Nonetheless, these salvation-bringing changes in our inner worlds take place not in isolation from the external environment, not in special laboratory conditions, but in real and living contact with the people around us: in the first instance in our families, then with our colleagues at work, with society and, ultimately, with institutions of State. It is not possible to be a Christian inside the walls of one's own home, in one's family circle or in the solitude of one's cell and to cease to be Christian when teaching at university or in school, standing in front of a television camera, voting in Parliament or undertaking a scientific experiment".
Patriarch Kirill's words were particularly relevant for that part of my talk which addressed the powerful political and social forces, internationally and nationally, seeking to destroy conscientious objection on abortion and on other right to life issues. I cited Orthodox teaching taken from Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church which states (XII.2):
"Sin also lies with the doctor who performed the abortion. The Church calls upon the state to recognise the right of medics to refuse to procure abortion for the reasons of conscience."
and I referred to the General Medical Council's new draft guidance for doctors on Personal Beliefs and medical practice.

This latter document is so significant and, potentially, dangerous in relation to conscientious objection, I shall return to it very shortly on this blog. In the meantime, go to the home page of SPUC's website, whether or not you are a health professional, to find out what you can do.

Suffice it to say, the growing closeness between, and the shared values of, those in the Orthodox tradition and the worldwide pro-life movement are crucially important in the development of our work. In this connection, I pointed out at Birmingham Orthodox Cathedral last night the following extract (XII.3) from the teaching document I cite above:
"Among the problems which need a religious and moral assessment is that of contraception. Some contraceptives have an abortive effect, interrupting artificially the life of the embryo on the very first stages of his life. Therefore, the same judgements are applicable to the use of them as to abortion."
Fr Kosmas, the "rubbish baby", was on fire last night for the unborn child. He told me that his grandmother had played a key role - influencing his mother - in saving his life. He said that the pro-life movement needs everyone - the old as well as the young - to pitch in, to speak out, and to save lives.

May his fire continue to spread.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

New abortion figures represent "bonanza" for private abortion sector

Figures issued by the department of health today indicate that in 2011 there were almost 190,000 registered abortions on resident women in England and Wales. A further 6,000 abortions were registered on non-residents. My colleague Paul Tully (pictured), SPUC's general secretary, has issued the following statement on behalf of the Society:
“The increase in registered abortions is only slight, but every abortion represents the death of one or more unborn children. Killing on an industrial scale is routine in most western countries, and it destroys the claim of nations to uphold peace and respect human rights for all. These are figures of which any country and any government should feel profoundly ashamed."
Paul added:
“The statistics also represent an increasing bonanza for the private abortion sector, as their share of the abortion market increases and more NHS money flows into their coffers. They are looking to widen their market further by promoting flawed birth control practices and by promoting abortion as a normal part of people’s sexual health needs.

“We question the legality of promoting abortion on this footing: the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sally Davies, recently called for compliance with the terms of the Abortion Act which requires health grounds to permit an abortion. Yet in the vast majority of cases, spurious grounds are cited, and no effort is made to enforce the law.

“Vulnerable young and single women are the main target of abortion providers, and we are increasingly concerned that they are not being given full information about abortion procedures, the risks, and the alternative help available to them to go through with a pregnancy when facing problems.”



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Sunday, 27 May 2012

SPUC Evangelicals presents award to George Verwer, a humble pro-life hero

Gillian Foster, representing the co-ordinating committee of SPUC Evangelicals, and I, had the privilege of presenting a "pro-life hero" award to George Verwer in south-east London yesterday. We made the award at a very special occasion celebrating 50 years of George's ministry in Operation Mobilisation, in the presence of hundreds of  his co-workers. Gillian, second-right, presents the award to George who asked Drena, his wife, to join him for the ceremony.

George Verwer is the Founder and former International Director of Operation Mobilisation (OM), which is a ministry of evangelism, discipleship training and church planting. George led OM for over 40 years before stepping down in August 2003.

George has a burning concern for vital, propagating and revolutionary Christianity in his own life and in those he meets. In George's modern version of the parable of the Good Samaritan, he includes the unborn in his list of seven groups of people lying at the side of the road and he challenges Christians not to ignore them. Through OM, George distributes free of charge tens of thousands of books and DVDs about the unborn around the world.

Even yesterday, when hundreds of George's co-workers in Operation Mobilisation came together to celebrate his 50 years of service to the OM mission, George Verwer was unafraid to challenge those present who may favour abortion to re-think their position. "We're not judgding you", he said - and he openly wept for his own failure to speak out for the unborn earlier on in his Christian ministry.

George continues to travel around the world preaching about Christ and about seven people lying at the side of the road which include: children at risk, abused women, the extreme poor, the HIV/Aids patient, people with impure water, the unborn, and the environment. Here's what George was saying in 2006 about the unborn:
Some estimates put the number of children who have been aborted at 500 million. The numbers are staggering, and in many ways I would rather ignore them. But I know that I cannot. I confess, when my close friend Dr. Francis Schaeffer decided to put so much effort into the pro-life movement towards the end of his life, I thought he had gone a little extreme. I no longer feel this way, and repent of my own inaction. In some countries there are more abortions than births, and the laws in some nations allow abortion until the day before birth. How can this be?

With so much abortion taking place, let us not consider it a lost cause and give up. No, many battles have been won, and every battle is a victory; every saved life a real person. I believe that there are thousands alive today who otherwise would not have been without pro-life action. Are not these saved lives worth the effort? Yes, they are!

So let us be people of vision, action and especially grace - grace for the mothers, for those in the pro-choice camp, and for fellow Christians who disagree. Recommended reading: Why Pro Life? by Randy Alcorn"
As Jan Bell, Chairman of SPUC Evangelicals, put it in her letter accompanying the award:
"For a number of years now we have been appreciative of your support for SPUC and for SPUC evangelicals in particular. You have been and are a good friend to pro-life activists and to the unborn who have no voice of their own ... We can assure you that you will continue to be in our prayers and we trust that god will continue to use you further. We know he will bless you for your diligence in proclaiming the gospel in all its fullness."
As Gillian Foster and I travelled back home from south-east London yesterday we felt privileged to have presented such a richly-deserved award to, and to count as a friend of SPUC, a humble Christian leader who's prepared to speak up for the unborn in season and out of season.

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