Friday, 4 October 2013

Pro-life Catholic vigils this month in Maidstone and Stratford

Catholic readers will be interested in the two vigils detailed below this month in Maidstone and Stratford organised by the Helpers of God's Precious Infants. The Helpers say:
"Please join us – you really do make all the difference. And don’t forget, please try to bring someone with you. For those of you who are unable to join the procession, please be with us spiritually.
'A great prayer for life is urgently needed…prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil.’
Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, p.100"
Maidstone: processional prayer vigil led by Father Stephen Boyle
The next vigil at Marie Stopes Abortion Centre, Brewer Street, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1RV, will be held on Wednesday 16 October 2013, from Grove House, 126 Week St, Maidstone ME14 1RH.

Times (approx.) are as follows:
  • 10.00am: Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St Francis’ Church
  • 10.30am: prayerful and peaceful procession with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Marie Stopes abortion centre. Holy Rosary, prayers and hymns
  • 12 noon: return procession for blessing and refreshments in the parish centre.
Directions: South Eastern trains runs a direct line from Victoria to Maidstone East Station, which is opposite St. Francis Church. By road: The M20 – come off at Junction 6. Follow signs to Town Centre then to Maidstone East Station. There is a car park at the station and also 2 car parks in Brewer Street and 1 in Wheeler Street, both of which are accessed by Lower Boxley Well Road. The shaded areas on the map are pedestrian areas only.

For further information contact:
Helpers of God's Precious Infants
P.O. Box 26601, London, N14 7WH
Telephone: 020 8252 3109
E-mail: info@hgpi.co.uk Local Co-ordinator: Carole Smith
Web: www.hgpi.co.uk Mobile: 07502 109397

Stratford: processional prayer vigil led by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
The next vigil at the BPAS abortion centre, 32-36 Romford Road, Stratford, E15 4BZ, will be held on Saturday 19 October 2013, from St. Francis of Assisi church, Grove Crescent Road, Stratford, E15 1NS.

Times (approx.) are as follows:
  • 8.45am: Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St. Francis of Assisi church
  • 9.30am: prayerful and peaceful procession to BPAS centre, processing with image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Holy Rosary and hymns
  • 11.45am: return procession with prayers and hymns
  • 12.15pm: break for tea and get together. Please bring packed lunch.
Directions: Maryland Rail stn. – National Rail (Richmond/Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction/Gospel Oak). Stratford stn. - Underground served by Central and Jubilee lines: Docklands Light Railway: Buses – 25; 69; 86; 158; 241; 257.

For further information contact:
Helpers of God's Precious Infants
P.O. Box 26601, London, N14 7WH
Telephone: 020 8252 3109
E-mail: info@hgpi.co.uk
Web: www.hgpi.co.uk

We are an international pro-life group founded by Msgr. Philip Reilly on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, 1989. Our main apostolate is prayer vigils at abortion facilities and our Spiritual Directors are Msgr. Reilly and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Our Lady of Guadalupe is our Patroness and is also the Protectress of Life.

Our trained pavement counsellors are available to speak with those who are considering abortion or to offer healing to those who have had abortions, to evangelise and most importantly are supported by prayer groups at the sites.

Seven Cardinals and over 100 Bishops participate world-wide, including: Bishops Thomas McMahon (Brentwood), John Hine (Southwark), Arthur Roche (formerly Leeds) and Alan Hopes (formerly Westminster).

The spirituality of the Helpers is one of solidarity with Jesus in the person of the unborn child: "Whatever you do for the least of these my brethren, you do for Me." Matt.25:40

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

St Thérèse and the victory over assisted suicide

St Thérèse on her sick-bed
This week Catholics have been celebrating the feast of St Thérèse of Lisieux (1st October in the 1970 liturgical calendar, today in the 1962 calendar). One of the lesser-known aspects of her celebrated life is her temptations towards suicide during her fatal battle with tuberculosis - I recommend reading the short essay "Suicide: Insights from St. Thérèse of Lisieux" by Fr. J. Linus Ryan, O. Carm. Fr Ryan writes:
"The thought of suicide comes to most people at some time in their lives. For the majority it may be only a fleeting thought that is fairly quickly dismissed. But for others it can be a real temptation that must be strenuously fought. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower (d.1897), would seem to belong to the second category. Even though she was an enclosed Carmelite nun in a French provincial town, who died at the age of twenty-four, she has something important to say to people seeking to tackle the problem of suicide."
So I recommend that my Catholic readers pray to St Thérèse for the defeat of legislation for assisted suicide in the UK (such as the bills proposed by Lord Falconer and Margo Macdonald), in St Thérèse's native France, in Europe and worldwide.

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SPUC's Anthony McCarthy comments on donor-conceived children

Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, gave an interview recently to The National Catholic Register, a leading Catholic journal in the United States, on the subject of donor-conceived children. You can read the full interview on the Register's site, which includes contributions from other interviewees, but below I reproduce Anthony's contributions.

From "The Commodification of Children and the Insensitivity of the Culture" by Leslie Fan, National Catholic Register, 1 October 2013:
Shouldn’t offspring of third-party conception be some of the “least of these” that pro-lifers and Christians work to protect? Anthony McCarthy is a former fellow at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and currently serves as the Education and Publications Manager at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in the United Kingdom. He told me via email recently that consumerism effects even those of us who are strongly pro-life. “I think we have become very sentimental in this age, which is the flipside of our cynical consumerism,” he said. “Perhaps this explains why even pro-lifers find it hard to think carefully about justice and think only of the loveliness of a child’s existence without thinking about sex and marriage and commitment and how they relate to that child and what he or she deserves.”

...

McCarthy said IVF lends itself to commodification. “The very language of the IVF procedure is an inegalitarian one of producer over product, of controller over controlled,” he said. “This is radically opposed to the idea of unifying committed sexual love in which a newly conceived child — for those lucky enough to conceive one — is ‘received’ as a gift and at no stage treated in a sub-human, ‘product-like’ way.”

...

For his part, McCarthy pointed to the use of “therapeutic” abortions many abortion supporters advocate as further evidence of child commodification. “Abortions for disability may sometimes be chosen out of misplaced kindness but are often based on a view of the child as a rejectable, and replaceable, product. The language of choice, appropriate for the supermarket and purchasing of goods, is applied here to a unique and very special bonded relationship,” he said.

In addition to new and available technologies, what else is behind this commodification? “Economic systems based on usury and contempt for labor already encourage the idea that people are commodities and nothing more,” according to McCarthy. “Children, as the most vulnerable members of any society, are particularly prone to commodification. The institution that has always protected children from being regarded as mere commodities in a marketplace is the traditional married family. That natural institution is based around the welfare of children, understood as bringing together biological and social bonds as part of a lifelong commitment — an affirmation of the irreplaceable nature of all members of the family.”

...

"McCarthy told me he thinks we need to understand the culture before fighting it. “It’s worth seeing how different aspects of commodification support each other,” he said. “On the economic front we see contempt for marriage in terms of taxation, contempt for the family in terms of wages paid or hours of work required. This undermining of the family fits well with the destruction of marriage, and the replacing of the idea of husband and wife with a kind of genderless consuming individualist as the paradigmatic ideal for people to aspire to."

He added that strengthening our family lives, cutting out TV propaganda, getting involved in our local schools and parishes and connecting with other families are key in rejecting commodification. "And of course, for Catholics, prayer and recourse to the sacraments are the most perfect way to resist the very real temptations of commodification."
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Priest resigns from Dublin hospital over abortion law

Top stories:

Fr Kevin Doran resigns from Mater Hospital board following its statement on compliance with abortion legislation
A member of the board of a leading Irish hospital has resigned after it announced that it will comply with Ireland's new abortion law. Fr Kevin Doran, a prominent priest in Dublin, said that the Mater hospital had a duty to give witness to the Gospel value of the sanctity of human life. The Archbishop of Dublin is seeking clarification of the hospital's announcement. [Pat Buckley, 2 October]

"Schools have no right to dictate what parents must teach their children about sex", says Safe at School campaign to Hounslow parents
Parents in Hounslow met yesterday evening to hear how they can best protect their primary school children from explicit sex education. The meeting was held in response to growing concern among parents that some local schools are telling parents that their children must attend sex education classes and any parents withdrawing their children will be told by the school what they must teach their children. Antonia Tully, national co-ordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, said: "This is an outrageous development. Sex education is not compulsory and it has never been a statutory part of the science curriculum. Schools have no legal or moral right to dictate what parents must be teach their children about sex." [SPUC, 2 October]

SPUC's Anthony Ozimic comments on so-called "post-fertilisation contraception"
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, has commented on recent news that scientists are developing a monthly birth-control pill as an alternative to daily birth-controls pills and the morning-after pill. Such a pill would work by killing newly-conceived human embryos. Anthony told Simon Caldwell, writing for The Catholic Times this past weekend: "Firstly, it is both nonsensical and devious to speak of 'post-fertilisation contraception'. Contraception is something which prevents conception, which every embryology textbook teaches is the fertilisation of an egg by a sperm. The use of any drug to prevent a newly-conceived embryo from implanting in the womb, or to dislodge him or her from the womb, is abortion. Secondly, promoting chemical abortion outside of medical centres as preferable to surgical abortion inside medical centres is to promote a form of backstreet abortion. Lastly, the supposed 'benefit' of greater convenience will further fuel the already-rampant levels of promiscuity, abuse and disease which has been fuelled by mass promotion of both the ordinary contraceptive pill and the morning-after pill." [John Smeaton, 30 September]

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

"Schools have no right to dictate what parents must teach their children about sex", says Safe at School campaign to Hounslow parents

Parents in Hounslow met yesterday evening to hear how they can best protect their primary school children from explicit sex education. The meeting was held in response to growing concern among parents that some local schools are telling parents that their children must attend sex education classes and any parents withdrawing their children will be told by the school what they must teach their children.

Antonia Tully, national co-ordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign told the media:
"This is an outrageous development. Sex education is not compulsory and it has never been a statutory part of the science curriculum. Schools have no legal or moral right to dictate what parents must be teach their children about sex."   
Mrs Tully told parents that they are the primary educators of their children on sexual matters. She urged parents to exercise their legal right to withdraw their children from sex education lessons if they were unhappy about the content of the lessons. She also explained that the new National Curriculum for primary school science makes it clear that human sexual reproduction is not part of the statutory requirements.

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Further texts for reflection on Pope Francis's interview with Jesuits

Last week I offered some texts of reflection in the light of Pope Francis's interview to Jesuit publications. Below I offer some further texts for reflection, including from Pope Benedict XVI.

From the interview with Pope Francis, published 19 September 2013:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
Texts for reflection:
Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 2007:
"...fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. ... Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them."
Report of Pope Benedict XVI's sermon at the funeral of Cardinal Alfono Lopez Trujillo, 23 April 2008:
“The Holy Father spoke powerfully about Cardinal Lopez Trujillo’s zeal, passion and indefatigability in his promotion of marriage and the family and he spoke of the courage with which the cardinal defended the non-negotiable values of human life. He praised his tenacity in defence of family life, his love of the truth of the family and his love of the Gospel of Life. Pope Benedict stressed that the cardinal dedicated his life in Rome to the defence of the family and of life as a collaborator of the Holy Father."
Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 82, 1995: 
"To be truly a people at the service of life we must propose these truths [of the Gospel of Life] constantly and courageously from the very first proclamation of the Gospel, and thereafter in catechesis, in the various forms of preaching, in personal dialogue and in all educational activity.
...
Faced with so many opposing points of view, and a widespread rejection of sound doctrine concerning human life, we can feel that Paul's entreaty to Timothy is also addressed to us: "Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching" (2 Tim 4:2). This exhortation should resound with special force in the hearts of those members of the Church who directly share, in different ways, in her mission as "teacher" of the truth. May it resound above all for us who are Bishops: we are the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of life."
From the interview with Pope Francis, published 19 September 2013:
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."
Texts for reflection:
Pope Benedict BXVI, message to the bishops of Brazil, 9 March 2011:
"[T]he first ecology to be defended is 'human ecology'. This is to say that, without a clear defence of human life from conception until natural death; without a defence of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman...we will never be able to speak of authentic protection of the environment."
Pope Benedict XVI, address to diplomatic corps, January 2010:
"If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn? It is in man’s respect for himself that his sense of responsibility for creation is shown. As Saint Thomas Aquinas has taught, man represents all that is most noble in the universe (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.29, a. 3)."
From the interview with Pope Francis, published 19 September 2013:
"I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else."
...
"[T]he proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives ... The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ."
Texts for reflection:
Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 82:
"To be truly a people at the service of life we must propose these truths [of the Gospel of Life] constantly and courageously from the very first proclamation of the Gospel, and thereafter in catechesis, in the various forms of preaching, in personal dialogue and in all educational activity."
Pope Benedict XVI, address to German ambassador, 7 November 2011:
"Today, however, certain basic values of human life are again being put into question, values which defend the dignity man possesses simply by virtue of being a man. It is here that the Church sees she has a duty, over and above her faith, to defend truths and values that are under threat."
From the interview with Pope Francis, published 19 September 2013:
"I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?"
Texts for reflection:
Pope John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988:
14. ... "How often is she abandoned with her pregnancy, when the man, the child's father, is unwilling to accept responsibility for it? And besides the many "unwed mothers" in our society, we also must consider all those who, as a result of various pressures, even on the part of the guilty man, very often "get rid of" the child before it is born. "They get rid of it": but at what price? Public opinion today tries in various ways to "abolish" the evil of this sin. Normally a woman's conscience does not let her forget that she has taken the life of her own child, for she cannot destroy that readiness to accept life which marks her "ethos" from the "beginning"."
Pope John Paul II, Letter to women, 1995:
2. ... "Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God's own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child's first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life."
From the interview with Pope Francis, published 19 September 2013:
"We must...investigate further the role of women in the church."
Texts for reflection:
Pope John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988:
"18. ... Th[e] mutual gift of the person in marriage opens to the gift of a new life, a new human being, who is also a person in the likeness of his parents. Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman's "part"."

"27. ... By defending the dignity of women and their vocation, the Church has shown honour and gratitude for those women who - faithful to the Gospel - have shared in every age in the apostolic mission of the whole People of God. They are the holy martyrs, virgins, and mothers of families, who bravely bore witness to their faith and passed on the Church's faith and tradition by bringing up their children in the spirit of the Gospel."
From the interview with Pope Francis, published 19 September 2013:
"It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’ conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in fact, are much better dealt with locally."
Texts for reflection:
Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, interview, 21 September 2013:
"The CDF is responsible for the whole world in the interests of the papal Magisterium. Bishops lead local Churches. The papal and the episcopal office are legitimised by divine law. That is something that bishops' conferences are not. They are work groups but do not have a competence to teach of their own over and above that of an individual bishop's mandate. So they are not a third authority between the Pope and bishops."
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Monday, 30 September 2013

SPUC's Anthony Ozimic comments on so-called "post-fertilisation contraception"

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, has commented on recent news that scientists are developing a monthly birth-control pill as an alternative to daily birth-controls pills and the morning-after pill. Such a pill would work by killing newly-conceived human embryos. Anthony told Simon Caldwell, writing for The Catholic Times this past weekend:
"Firstly, it is both nonsensical and devious to speak of 'post-fertilisation contraception'. Contraception is something which prevents conception, which every embryology textbook teaches is the fertilisation of an egg by a sperm. The use of any drug to prevent a newly-conceived embryo from implanting in the womb, or to dislodge him or her from the womb, is abortion. Secondly, promoting chemical abortion outside of medical centres as preferable to surgical abortion inside medical centres is to promote a form of backstreet abortion. Lastly, the supposed 'benefit' of greater convenience will further fuel the already-rampant levels of promiscuity, abuse and disease which has been fuelled by mass promotion of both the ordinary contraceptive pill and the morning-after pill."
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