Wednesday 17 December 2008

Join the pro-life resistance by supporting SPUC's White Flower appeal

Every January (in England and Wales) many Catholic churches have for thirty years held SPUC's White Flower appeal, when the Society explains the importance of pro-life issues, details SPUC's work and appeals for your financial help and personal support. It is particulary important for Catholics to support the White Flower Appeal this coming January in the light of intensified attacks by the culture of death not only upon life itself, but also upon pro-lifers who speak out without equivocation, not least those seeking to uphold or exercise a conscientious objection to abortion.

I think particularly of teachers and parents "whose lives are made difficult"* as a result of government policy to provide children under the age of 16 with access to abortion, without parental knowledge or consent, including in Catholic schools.

In the face of another (but by no means unrelated) culture of death, viz., Nazism, in 1937 Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Mit brennender sorge ("With burning sorrow"). In it the Pope exposed the Nazis'
"[s]ecret and open measures of intimidation, the threat of economic and civic disabilities, [which] bear on the loyalty of certain classes of Catholic functionaries, a pressure which violates every human right and dignity."
He expressed his compassion for Catholics persecuted for opposing the anti-life Nazi state, who "have often to face the tragic trial...of being hurt in [their] professional and social life", and commended them for their "heroisms in moral life". He warned that:
"The resulting dereliction [by Nazism] of the eternal principles of an objective morality, which educates conscience and ennobles every department and organization of life, is a sin against the destiny of a nation, a sin whose bitter fruit will poison future generations."
Far from bowing to the state, he called upon Catholics to "counter these erroneous developments [Nazism] with an uncompromising No from the very outset".

This year 2008 marked the 65th anniversary of the trial and execution of the leaders of the White Rose Society, a group of Christian students at Munich University who, with the moral support of courageous Christian shepherds, resisted Nazism. These students read the famous 1941 sermon by Clemens August von Galen, Catholic bishop of Munster, against the Nazi euthanasia programme. One of the group, Hans Scholl, stated in the spring of 1942: “Finally someone has the courage to speak”. Bishop Galen's protest prompted and encouraged Hans Scholl and fellow student Alexander Schmorell to write their own anti-Nazi leaflets in June-July 1942. Bishop von Galen was hailed as "The Lion of Munster" for his resistance to Nazism, was honoured after the war by being made a cardinal and was beatified (declared "Blessed") in 2005 by another German pro-life church leader, Pope Benedict.

The students took a white rose as their symbol, to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil. Pictured here is Hans Scholl (left), Sophie Scholl (centre), and Christoph Probst (right) with a white flower between them. (The 2005 film 'Sophie Scholl - The Last Days' has won many awards.) SPUC adopted the same symbol for both our organisation and our annual appeal.

So please help SPUC build an heroic resistance to today's culture of death by supporting SPUC's White Flower Appeal. You can help in a number of ways: speaking to local Catholic parish priests about holding an appeal at their church (if they aren’t already doing so), supporting our parish organisers by handing out appeal materials and collecting donations, or reading the appeal talk or bidding prayers. Contact me at for more information.

*A phrase from Pope John Paul II's prayer in Evangelium Vitae, 105