Thursday, 1 November 2012

What's going on at L'Osservatore Romano?

Two stories about the new James Bond movie appear in The Daily Telegraph today .

One is by Byrony Gordon, a feature writer, who says:
"I couldn't help but laugh out loud at one of the prerequisite seduction scenes, in which ... James Bond steps into a woman's shower uninvited, having only met her an hour or so before. I know the man is a legendary lover ... but I'd have slapped him round the face ... and threatened to call the police".
The other story by Nick Squires in Rome headlined James Bond, licensed to thrill ... by the Vatican reads:
" ... L'Osservatore Romano devoted an entire page and five articles in praise of the fictional spy on Wednesday.

"As the latest Bond film, Skyfall, opened in Italian cinemas, the Vatican paper said it was one of the best of the 23 films made since the franchise began 50 years ago ...

" ... it lauded this incarnation of Bond ... as being 'more human, capable of being moved and of crying: in a word, more real."
Now I'm a father who over the past few decades, with the support of my wife, has cautioned his children against James Bond movies which glamorize the permissive lifestyle. Dare I quote in support of the position I've adopted the following extract from Humanae Vitae? ...
"Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men's baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture (25) or by pleading the liberty which may be allowed in this field by the public authorities."
Of course, it's argued that James Bond films are not to be taken seriously, it's just good fun, and it's extraordinarily difficult in today's moral climate for parents to make a stand on such issues. Do we really want to risk making our children a laughing stock if their friends know they're not allowed to see such films?

My position on this is rather simple. If the film in question depicts an actor, in a brazenly glamourising and explicit manner, committing what for me, if I were doing it, would be a mortal sin, should I be watching that film, let alone allowing my children to watch it?

No serious commentator today is in any doubt about the social consequences of permissive lifestyles which are a fundamental part of James Bond movies. Consider, for example, cohabitation and its lifetime cruel consequences compared with marriage.

The conclusions of research include:
  • Living together leads to living alone
  • Cohabiting relationships are always more likely to break up than marriages entered into at the same time, regardless of age or income.
  • Cohabiting also influences later marriages. The more often and the longer that men and women cohabit, the more likely they are to divorce later
  • Both men and women in cohabiting relationships are more likely to be unfaithful to their partners than married people.
  • At all socio-economic levels, cohabiting couples accumulate less wealth than married couples.
  • Cohabitants have more health problems ... Cohabitants are also much more likely to suffer from depression than married people.
  • Cohabitations with children are even more likely to break up than childless ones.
  • Unborn children are four to five times more likely to be aborted than babies conceived inside marriage
Like practically everyone else reading the newspapers this morning about L'Osservatore Romano's coverage of the James Bond movie, I have been reading about the L'Osservatore's coverage rather than the coverage itself. Maybe it's much more nuanced than The Daily Telegraph reports today. Maybe the line L'Osservatore takes, reflects the kind of caution struggling parents seek to adopt about such cultural phenonemena when raising their children.

But enormous damage has been done. A few google searches I carried out when I got to my desk this morning at SPUC headquarters in London suggests it's been reported, literally, in millions of news/internet outlets. What is happening at L'Osservatore Romano?

If  L'Osservatore's coverage has been mischievously misrepresented, will a front-page apology be made to parents around the world, the primary educators, and to their children, for what appears to be, at best, a gross misjudgement and lack of editorial prudence?

If it has not been misrepresented, will anyone in the Vatican care about parents and their children sufficiently to seek, urgently, to redress the situation?

What's going on at L'Osservatore Romano and will someone bring it under control please?

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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

You can join pro-life pilgrimage of Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Westminster or elsewhere in Britain

The Ocean to Ocean* pilgrimage of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in defence of life will arrive in England on Monday. Special events, services and Masses have been organized throughout Britain in Catholic and Orthodox churches with the support of the Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies.

When the icon of the Black Madonna arrives at Westminster Cathedral next Monday, 5th November, at 5 p.m. there will be Mass in the Cathedral in memoriam for all unborn babies and for healing of those affected by abortion, celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes, auxiliary bishop of Westminster.

Prior to the Mass, SPUC has organized a pro-life event in The Hinsley Room, Morpeth Terrace, SW1, from 3 p.m. to 5 pm which will feature addresses from SPUC, Good Counsel Network and Helpers of God's Precious Infants. The event will consist of refreshments and stalls, presentations and prayer. The Hinsley Room is situated close to Westminster Cathedral, in Morpeth Terrace between two school playgrounds.

SPUC will also be holding an event at St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, on Friday, 9th November.  An SPUC speaker will give a brief address at the Welcome Liturgy, which starts at 4.30pm.  From 6.00pm onwards SPUC and Helpers of God’s Precious Infants will have stalls and speakers in the Grimshaw Room at the cathedral.

Ewa Kowaleska, European co-ordinator of the pilgrimage, and director of Human Life International, Poland, has said:
"The Icon travelled over 30 thousand kilometers in 137 days and has been met by nearly 2,000,000 people. Large crowds of people – Orthodox, as well as Catholics – have been greeting Our Lady on Her scheduled route, giving their unwavering witness of faith and their active involvement in the defense of life.
"Since June 15, when this historic and unprecedented pilgrimage began in Vladivostok, the following countries have already welcomed Our Lady's Icon on Her journey:
Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland and Germany. This autumn, the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa will be visiting the following countries: Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, France, and Spain. Our Lady will arrive in Fatima, Portugal just in time for Christmas."
Whether or not you can get along to one of the many events in Britain, those wishing to be associated with the pilgrimage can join in the following daily prayer - an Act of Entrustment of the Protection of the Civilisation of Life and Love Into the Hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, which represents the heart and purpose of this historic spritual project:
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Chaste Mother of God, Immaculate Virgin.
Into your hands we entrust the great cause of protecting the civilization of life and love.
We live in a difficult time of a massive global attack by the civilization of death.
Very many innocent people are perishing - unborn children, the aged and the sick.
The number of victims already exceeds two billion human beings.
Each day an additional 50 thousand children die in their mother’s womb.
Many people do not want to have any children at all.
Means of destroying fertility and life are becoming more and more common.

Infertility of married couples is increasing.
The human child is becoming a product of modern technology, a donor of cells and organs.
Children “are produced” with designated attributes, subject to selection.
Hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos are preserved between life and death in liquid nitrogen.

International man made law denies legal protection to the life of the unborn child.
More and more countries are legalizing euthanasia.
The attack on marriage and the family is increasing.

O Holy Mother, we promise you that we will defend human life,especially the small and defenseless, with all our strength.

We stand before you, Mother of Our Redeemer,
fully aware that alone we are unable to win that global struggle.
Stand at the forefront of the defense of life movements and lead us.
Protect life! Save the family! Strengthen us!
Obtain from your son the victory of the civilization of life and love!
SPUC has donated towards the British leg of the pilgrimage which has received Catholic episcopal support from Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Longley, the archbishop of Birmingham, Bishop Mark Davies, the bishop of Shrewsbury, Cardinal O'Brien the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and the bishops of Scotland.

Archbishop Elisey of the Russian Orthodox diocese of Sourozh has assured  the support of the Diocese of Sourozh. The Diocese of Sourozh has for its territory the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.

Dr Tom Ward, vice-president of the National Association of Catholic Families, explained to me the signficance of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. He said:
"The Black Madonna is not an icon, exclusively, of either the Catholics or the Orthodox. It antedates the great schism. It's our common patronage.

"The pilgrimage of the Black Madonna has for the first time in 1000 years caused Orthodox an Catholics to unite in defence of their families - which have never been under such threat from politicians in Britain and throughout the world promoting abortion, same-sex marriage and the destruction of parents as the primary educators of their children.
"In the Ocean to Ocean pilgrimage Orthodox and Catholic families are entrusting to the Mother of God the replacement of today's culture of death  with a new civilisation of love and life based on the timeless values of marriage and the family. This is nothing less than a cultural revolution based on the teachings of Christ."
*Pacific Ocean at Vladivostok to the Atlantic Ocean at Fatima.

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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Read Anthony McCarthy's fascinating report of the Cork same-sex marriage debate

On 1 October, Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, debated at University College Cork Philosophical Society on the subject of same-sex marriage. Also opposing same-sex marriage was Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked Online. Speaking in favour of same-sex marriage were Katherine Zappone, a lesbian senator from Canada, and Max Krzyzanowski, an Irish gay rights activist. Do read the whole of Anthony's fascinating report of the debate on the SPUC website. Here are some key quotations from Anthony's arguments:
  • "The attempt to make natural institutions [e.g. marriage] conform to personal desires [e.g. homosexuality] is always a grave error."
  • "[There is ] no middle ground when it came to competing notions of sex and the family."
  • "[T]he evidence does not support the claims of gay parenting promoters. Underlying all the propaganda and citation of methodologically worthless papers is, in fact, a deep rejection of the biological family.  Sometimes this will take the form of supporting, not gay adoption, but the use of donor eggs or sperm to produce a child ... As with gay marriage, the rights of adults here are, it seems, what ultimately matters."
  • "[W]e are faced with a new image of the person – one where sexual differences and biological ties are robbed of all meaning, and marriage and the family lose their status as the foundational unit of society."
  • "[T]hose seeking to impose a new and incoherent anthropology [i.e. gay marriage] are violently intolerant of opposition to their cause."
  • "[T]he [UK] government’s proposal to airbrush certain words from official documentation: words like husband, wife, father, mother."
  • "The gay-marriage issue is giving the state extraordinary leeway to interfere in married and family life, which have traditionally been considered no-go zones."
  • "[S]terile and unnatural sex is elevated and fruitfulness despised and persecuted"
  • "[In contrast] a vision of life that understands the difference between being a parent and being a gamete donor, and in which the love and nurture of young human lives is seen as more important than adult ‘sexual rights’."
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Monday, 29 October 2012

Girls of 13 given birth control jab at school without parents’ knowledge

Top stories:

Girls of 13 given birth control jab at school without parents’ knowledge
The Telegraph newspaper has found that school nurses have given contraceptive implants or jabs to girls aged between 13 and 16 more than 900 times in the past two years. The schoolgirls' parents were not told about the jabs unless the girls gave permission for this information to be shared. [Telegraph, 28 Oct] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, commented: "Such implants and jabs can act as early forms of abortion. So not only are schoolgirls being introduced prematurely into the adult world of sexual activity, they are also being involved in the killing of unborn children." See SPUC's leaflet and briefing about birth control methods which can cause abortion.

Other stories:

Sexual ethics
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Pray for the downfall of children's "rights" referendum in Ireland

At critical moments in history, even secular politicians unashamedly turn to God to pray for Divine intervention.

Famously, Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during the Second World War, organized "Divine Service" on the quarterdeck of HMS Prince of Wales for his first wartime meeting with Franklin D. Roosevelt, the US president, on 10th August 1941.

After the war, Churchill said:
"On Sunday morning, August 10, Mr. Roosevelt came aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales and, with his Staff officers and several hundred representatives of all ranks of the United States Navy and Marines, attended Divine Service on the quarterdeck ... I chose the hymns myself – 'For Those in Peril on the Sea' and 'Onward, Christian Soldiers.' We ended with 'O God, Our Help in Ages Past,”' ... Every word seemed to stir the heart. It was a great hour to live. Nearly half those who sang were soon to die."
Today, one of Ireland's great pro-life leaders, Patrick McCrystal, is appealing for 9 days of prayer, starting today, for the downfall in Ireland of the Children's "Rights" referendum. What's at stake for Irish families and for Irish parents is every bit as grave as what was at stake for those on board HMS Prince of Wales - as Pat McCrystal, the father of a large family, explains on the HLI Ireland website.

I particularly commend Patrick's prayer novena to my fellow Catholics for whom it is designed.

I refer visitors to my blogpost last week in which Fr Fleming described the proposed amendment to Ireland's constitution as "potentially be a disaster for Irish families."

The proposed amendment, according to Fr Fleming "represents a dramatic ideological shift in both emphasis and practice", "provid[ing] a beachhead by the state into what has traditionally been the preserve of the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children."

Fr Fleming is a foundation member of UNESCO's International Bioethics Committee, and a corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life

Whether or not you join Patrick's prayer novena, to which I strongly commend you, everyone should pray - and, if possible, work for the defeat of the amendment.

You might also look at Pat Buckley's blog for a full legal analysis of the wording and text of the referendum on children,

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