A blog launched on the 41st anniversary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the first pro-life organisation in the world, established on 11 January 1967. I wrote this blog in my role as SPUC's chief executive, commenting on pro-life news, reflecting on pro-life issues and promoting SPUC's work. I retired from my post on 31st August 2021 and will therefore be adding no further posts.
New research reported in the Family Education Trust Bulletin indicates that children with increased childcare “subsequently had worse health, lower life satisfaction, and higher crime rates later in life.”
One of the most disturbing aspects of contemporary Western culture is the willingness of a selfish materialistic society to conduct long-term social experiments on the lives of children. These social experiments would almost certainly be banned if they were medical experiments.
We have assumed easy ‘no-fault’ divorce would be better for children. We have assumed that children being brought up by same-sex couples will not be disadvantaged. And when evidence to the contrary emerges in the damaged lives of some of these children, now grown to adulthood, we shrug our shoulders because the best interests of adults (for which read self-interest) will always trump the so-called best interests of the child.
We believe children will not be disadvantaged if they are cared for by strangers in their early pre-school years. And the benefits are there for all to see. Take, for example, the Quebec universal childcare system. It is the biggest such system in North America.
The Family Education Trust (FET) carries a well referenced story on Quebec. The benefits of this system have been documented by the economist Pierre Fortin.
It has helped expand the provincial economy;
It has increased employment rates and women’s participation in the work force;
It has boosted the flow of taxes into the coffers.
What’s not to like? Wins for everyone? Well, yes, for the adults. But apparently not for the children!
You can read the discussion of these less than promising results in the November 2015 edition of the Family Education Trust bulletin.
Before reading this short book about the extraordinary life and death of Chiara Petrillo*, I had already heard her described as a twenty-first century Gianna Beretta Molla.
In worldly terms, her life was a series of disasters: she fell pregnant with a longed-for child shortly after getting married, only to be told that the baby had anencephaly and would die shortly after birth. Chiara refused an abortion and the little girl, Maria, died less than an hour after birth. A second pregnancy followed shortly after, a baby boy this time whom she called Davide, but during a routine scan he was found to have serious disabilities and he too died shortly after birth.
The response of some of those closest to Chiara and her husband was to tell them to forget about having any more children but they went on to have a third child whom they called Francisco. Francisco showed every sign during the pregnancy of being fit and well, but this time it was Chiara’s health that was in danger when a seemingly harmless mouth ulcer turned out to be a carcinoma. Well beyond the call of duty, Chiara chose to delay cancer treatment, even though she knew the dangers involved and she died shortly after her son’s first birthday. Chiara’s story is told in this book, written by two of her closest friends.
At this point, I have to make an embarrassing admission. When I first began reading Chiara’s story, I found it so difficult I very nearly asked for someone else to review it. I am naturally sceptical of anything that feels like hagiography and initially found the constant references to Chiara’s serenity exhausting (could somebody please direct me towards the patron saint of the volatile, the stubborn, the grumpily faithful??) ... However, as I was drawn into Chiara’s story, the nagging scepticism slowly gave way to a sense of awe that one person could endure so much with such quiet fortitude. I defy the coldest of readers to reach the end of the book dry-eyed.
One of the reasons Chiara’s story is so unsettling is that she is such a sign of contradiction in the world. Outwardly, she comes across as placid and unnaturally accepting of the suffering she is given, but it must take an incredibly powerful character to endure the loss of two children and to make a decision that will mean an early death.
Pro-life women are often forced to contemplate their own responses if they found themselves in a crisis situation – what if my baby were terminally ill? What if I became seriously ill during a pregnancy? What if I became pregnant through rape? In Chiara’s case, not one but two of the hard case scenarios campaigners argue about in debating chambers became part of her lived experience. She went much further than morality requires in refusing treatment of her own body that did not target her baby to which she would have been morally entitled. This book should be read, not so much as a biography, but as a testament to the power of one woman to defy the world for the sake of her children.
*Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy
Simone Troisi and Cristiana Paccini
Sophia Institute, 2015
Last month, the Family Education Trust (FET) published an article by Norman Wells, FET's director, which adds to the concern expressed by SPUC during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
Three years ago, SPUC said that the government's same-sex "marriage" legislation* threatened the freedom of citizens to say that legalising same-sex "marriage" is wrong (or simply impossible). The Society warned:
"There will be compulsory teaching of same-sex marriage, dismissal for teachers with a conscientious objection to teaching about same-sex marriage, and no opt-out for faith schools."
Norman Wells's article on the British government's counter-extremism strategy raises the question: Must we respect a person or a person’s opinion? Is there any difference between saying I respect Christians and I respect Christian beliefs?
Well yes there is and Norman Wells points out the dangers of failing to see the difference. And that failure is to be seen, in a fundamental way, in the recently published government counter-extremism strategy defined by the government as follows:
“Extremism is the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist.” [Emphasis added]
The point/distinction to be made is this. I may respect a communist as a person, but loathe detest and abominate communist beliefs and practices. Why should I respect beliefs with which I disagree?
In his important discussion on this issue, Wells begins with this perceptive remark by Professor John Haldane at the Family Education Trust conference last June:
"The word toleration has been reinterpreted. Toleration is the primary virtue in the context of disagreement or difference. It allows us to live with people with whom we disagree. But in recent years, toleration has shifted to become approbation and approbation has shifted to become celebration. Intolerance is now defined as refusing to celebrate something with which you disagree. It is a corruption of language."
Does this mean that when a teacher in a school, asked about same sex marriage, responds with a defence of traditional natural marriage that that teacher is undermining the value of ‘equality’ and therefore would be regarded as indulging in extremist behaviour?
Normal Wells goes on to discuss all of the anti-democratic and anti-free speech implications of current government strategy which is dangerous because of a failure to make a simple but logical distinction. And Wells concludes with advice to the government about the need to rethink how it expresses it counter-extremism legislation and “to proceed with the utmost caution".
* SPUC opposed the redefinition of marriage in law to include same-sex couples, because it would undermine the true nature of marriage and thus the pro-life benefits of marriage. Marriage offers the most protective environment for both unborn and born children.
Liam Gibson, SPUC's development officer in Northern Ireland, has just issued the following statement on a truly tragic day for Ireland's unborn children and their mothers:
BELFAST 30 November 2015: The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the UK’s leading pro-life organisation, says that the ruling by the High Court that Northern Ireland’s ban on abortion breaches human rights is “dangerously flawed”.
SPUC is calling on the Attorney General to work with pro-life groups to mount a robust appeal against the judgement.
Earlier this year the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission applied for a judicial review of the law. The Commission claimed that the law, which prohibits abortion, violates the European Convention on Human Rights because it does not make exceptions for children who are disabled or whose mothers had been victims of rape or sexual assault.
Liam Gibson, the Northern Ireland development officer for SPUC, which intervened in the case, said:
“The ruling by Judge Mark Horner is dangerously flawed. The judge misrepresented the protection of children before birth in case law and statute law in Northern Ireland. He also confused the separate legal issues of viability and the capacity to be born alive.”
Liam Gibson continued:
“Not one universal human rights treaty recognises a right to abortion. However, the right to life is shared by all members of the human family. The Declaration on the Rights of the Child (DRC) acknowledges that ‘the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth’. The DRC explicitly states that the need for such special safeguards is ‘recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’.”
The greatest strength of SPUC's campaign in Northern Ireland over the past several decades has been the united opposition to abortion by the overwhelming majority of the community by Catholics and Protestants alike. May that unity, supported by prayer, grow ever stronger as we work to restore the protection of the law for unborn children, the most persecuted group of human beings in world history.
The values and wishes of parents must be at the heart of the way in which Ofsted rates schools on how they teach sex education, says Antonia Tully of SPUC Safe at School, following a report that government would like sex and relationships education (SRE) higher up the list of Ofsted's scoring system, rather than making it a compulsory school subject.
Antonia Tully, an expert on the impact of graphic sex education on children
Antonia Tully, leader of the Safe at School initiative, a project of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, was invited to Romania this month by the Metropolitan Orthodox Church of Moldova and Bukovina and pro-life groups to speak about the impact on children of graphic sex education. Here is her encouraging report about parents' resistance in Romania which she concludes with the words: "If mandatory sex education is stopped at the Romanian border it will deal a much needed blow to the global campaign to sexualise and defile the innocent hearts and minds of the world's children."
The global drive to make school sex education mandatory for the world's children is finding strong and organised resistance in Romania, where the issue currently hangs in the balance. The country's Minister for Health favours pro-abortion/LGBT style sex education while the Minister for Education would like to see Romanian children taught the family values promoted by the pro-life lobby.
The good news is that introducing graphic sex education into Romanian schools will not be a pushover. Having recently returned from a week-long visit to Romania at the invitation of the Metropolitan See of Moldova and Bucovina, I saw parents and the Orthodox church standing shoulder to shoulder determined to protect their children from damaging sex education. The bad news is that the sex education lobby has been given access to the political and civic infrastructure to promote its position and materials.
In 2013, over 2,000 public libraries in Romania became the channel for distributing a graphic sex education programme; "Sex v the Stork". This online resource was written by a Romanian, Adriana Radu, following a year she spent in Germany working with a pro-abortion organisation. Roundly condemned by pro-family groups, "Sex v the Stork" was launched in the Romanian parliament on national "Day of the Library", and made available to any child visiting a library via the internet, avoiding control by parents or schools.
Speaking to packed meetings in five different towns and cities mainly in the north east of Romania, I invited people to look across Europe to Britain. Teaching children as young as five and six years old about their sexual organs, followed by detailed animated presentations of sexual intercourse are fairly standard elements of British classroom sex education. In Britain we are being told that children have a "right" to this education, indeed they "need" it in order to avoid pregnancy and to stay safe from sexual abuse. Nothing was lost in translation when I informed parents, teachers, doctors and priests that there is no evidence that teaching young children about sex protects them from premature pregnancy or sexual abuse. My take home message is: Parents you are the first and best educators of your children. You are the best people to protect your children.
In October 2015, 60 pro-abortion organisations petitioned the ministries of health and education to impose sex education on the country's schools. This was accompanied by typically vulgar demonstrations outside the respective ministries, with young people brandishing condoms, underwear and bearing placards with slogans such as "My vagina- my choice".
82 pro-life groups responded with a joint statement firmly rebuffing the claims of their opponents. Drawing on their recent past, they pointed out that the first political system to significantly separate children from their parents was Communism. They said: "It is not difficult to identify in the proposed approach for sex education an essentially Communist principle: children do not belong to parents they belong to the state". This sinister aspect of secular, state-sponsored sex education is perhaps not so keenly felt in many countries. But it is in Romania, where Christian families suffered so greatly under Communist rule.
Based in the lovely university city of Iasi (pronounced 'yash'), I covered several hundred miles by car travelling around this beautiful country. But it is a country haunted by people who are not there. For every Romanian alive today (approximately 18 million live in Romania, with a further 2 million living abroad), there is one who has been lost to abortion. 20 million unborn babies have been killed by abortion in Romania from 1970 to the present day.
However, I am very hopeful for Romania. During my recent visit I heard a number of priests publicly pledge the support of the church to defeat sex education in schools. The Archbishop of the Diocese of Buzau and Vrancea spoke at the meeting I addressed in the city of Buzau, again positioning the church with ordinary parents in their initiatives to protect their children.
In 2011 the Orthodox archbishopric of Iasi, established the first dedicated, diocesan pro-life department in Romania. The department offers care and support for women in crisis pregnancies, it runs a social project for large families and has produced an accredited pro-life, pro-family teaching resource for schools in Iasi. Archbishop Teofan is clearly loved by his flock, not least for his outstanding pro-life witness.
However grateful my Romanian hosts were in each place I spoke, I am more grateful to them for their commitment to life and the family. Many, many Romanian families are resisting the sex education invasion from the west which would indoctrinate and corrupt their children. If mandatory sex education is stopped at the Romanian border it will deal a much needed blow to the global campaign to sexualise and defile the innocent hearts and minds of the world's children.
"Heavy casualties are feared after a bomb blast ripped through packed crowds in Yola, north-east Nigeria, just days after the president, Muhammadu Buhari, visited [pictured] declaring that terrorist organisation Boko Haram was close to defeat."
I mourn for those killed and pray for those injured in the Nigeria blast and pray for the families of all those affected by this tragedy.
Last Friday, in connection with the tragic slaughter in Paris, I recalled Mother Teresa's words linking the lack of peace in the world to abortion.
In connection with yesterday's terrible tragedy in Nigeria, we in the West need also deeply to consider why the story of yesterday's murderous blast in Yola is not making top headlines in our news in the West today.
We are rightly transfixed by the tragic events in Paris, praying for the victims, and calling on politicians to act with prudence and courage to protect European citizens. However, it's apparent that the tragic events in Nigeria are currently being given much less significant attention, for example, on the BBC website where the top story first thing this morning was the friendly football match between England and France. At the time of writing this post, yesterday's terrifying violence in north east Nigeria, was in 8th place in the BBC's list of news stories, with the death of a rugby star being given more prominence.
We should also consider the words of Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria, who told Alateia last February "that the United States has made clear it will not help Nigeria fight the Boko Haram terror group unless the country modify its laws regarding homosexuality, family planning and birth-control".
A similar observation was made by former U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman, a member of a four-person U.S. Congressional Delegation sent to Nigeria in the months after the horrific kidnapping of over 250 schoolgirls. In an interview with LifeSitenews, he said that the Obama administration was refusing critical intelligence to Nigeria in their fight against Boko Haram because of Nigeria's stance against same-sex "marriage".
Whatever the truth may be regarding Western policy towards Nigeria, I ask the question: Is the West's ideological commitment to killing unborn children and to so-called "sexual rights" robbing our nations of the compassion, the moral clarity and the strength to resist the evil agenda of today's terrorists?
I mourn for those killed and pray for those injured in Paris and for their families.
This morning I am also mindful of Mother Teresa's words when she received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize: "And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child - what is left for me to kill you and you kill me - there is nothing between."
Congratulations to John Deighan CEO of SPUC Scotland, for his eloquent and compassionate defence of the unborn child on BBC Radio Scotland today. He was being interviewed about the devolution of power of legislating on abortion to Scotland. Check it out at 1 hr 36 minutes at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06nrl40
The interview (with John Deighan and Madeleine Glen of Abortion Rights) lasts 6 minutes beginning at 1:40.
Paul Tully, SPUC's General Secretary, says:
"John does a fantastic job of shifting the focus to the unborn child and the injustices of the current law – you can hear by the end how annoyed and flustered Madeleine Glen is getting. It’s worth a listen!"
As our Voice of the Family team leaves Rome today after a month of engaging with the Family Synod, I take this opportunity of thanking so many people for your prayers and encouragement.
One very positive outcome of the Synod has been the development of a dynamic coalition of pro-family and pro-life groups and individuals of all faiths and none who are determined to put their experience and expertise at the service of the truth about life and the family.
Pictured above, left to right, are Georges Buscemi, President of Campagne Quebec-Vie, myself, Matthew McCusker, the author of most of Voice of the Family's publications, Dr Vincent Cernea, Dr Anca-Maria Cernea, whose outstanding intervention as a lay participant in the Synod we blogged on earlier, Maria Madise, Voice of the Family manager, and Pat Buckley, veteran SPUC lobbyist at the UN in New York and Geneva and an indispensable member of the Voice of the Family Team.
Others who formed part of our daily working team came from Australia, France, Italy, the US, whilst the Voice of the Family coalition comprises 26 pro-life and pro-family groups from five continents.
The immensity of the battle ahead is nowhere more clearly reflected than in the tragic decision of 94% of Synod Fathers voting to undermine Catholic teaching on the rights and duties of parents as the primary educators.
The most important target for the pro-abortion lobby is planting the culture of death in the soil of the hearts and minds of young people around the world - as I have spelled out in detail on many previous occasions. They do this chiefly by promoting pornographic, anti-life sex education programmes in schools, (including in Catholic schools in England and Wales and in many other parts of the world, bypassing parents with the cooperation of Catholic authorities).
It is abundantly clear that it's up now to lay people in the Church and all citizens of good will to uphold and to promote Catholic teaching, which is also the natural law, upheld in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the matter of parents as the primary educators of their children.
Cardinal Burke told us yesterday that he always tells parents to check carefully as to what's being taught in their children's schools.
For SPUC's part, we have our long established Safe at School project which helps parents do just that and to fulfil their rights and duties spelled out in Pope John Paul II's encyclical Familiaris Consortio:
Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents. (FC, 37)
So, following the Family Synod, whilst we must be soberly realistic about the immensity of the task ahead, we must deeply encouraged by emergence of a broad and tough coalition of lay groups and individuals who are determined to work with church leaders around the world to serve the unchangeable truth of Catholic teaching on parents as the primary educators of their children and on a number of other issues.
Today's epistle at Mass, St Paul's letter to the Ephesians (2,19-22), seemed most appropriate in this regard:
Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
SPUC was formed in 1966, and 6 years before the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision declared abortion to be a constitutional right in America, abortion was given widespread legal permission in Britain on 27th October, 1967.
Under British abortion legislation, over 555 little girls and little boys suffer lethal violence in the womb every day – and nearly 8 million unborn children have been killed under British law since the Abortion Act came into force in 1968.
Behind each of these abortions lies a mother and a father, who may be suffering deeply because of their experience of abortion paid for by the British government – particularly mothers.
Children at school and elsewhere, including children under the age of consent, are given access to abortions, without the knowledge of their parents.
Commercial abortion clinics around the country perform about 2,400 abortions per week. These clinics are demanding that the government make it illegal for a lone pro-life pavement counsellor to stand peacefully near an abortion clinic.
Pro-life pavement counsellors cause no obstruction but simply offer help, without coercion, to women who are considering abortion. Many women decide to keep their babies when they find that help is available. In contrast, the clinics, which offer no alternatives, receive on average over £600 for an abortion.
If you believe that pro-life volunteers should have the freedom of speech, to be allowed to stand outside abortion clinics and offer life-saving alternatives to pregnant mothers contemplating abortion, then go to SPUC's campaign page and sign our petition now.
Please share this information as widely as possible on this tragic anniversary.
Yesterday morning I was interviewed by James Naughtie on Radio Four's Today programme about the Family Synod:
Prior to the interview, in the small hours of yesterday morning, I made notes on the key issue on which I was to be interviewed: Voice of the Family's response to the final report, in particular the section dealing with the civilly divorced and remarried. I thought it might be helpful to visitors to my blog to share with you the notes I prepared - including my explanation as to why a pro-life leader finds it necessary to engage with the issues considered by the Family Synod in Rome which has just concluded:
Catholic teaching on marriage and the Holy Eucharist and its reception
1. Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that marriage is indissoluble and, Jesus taught, if someone divorces or puts away their spouse and marries another, he or she commits adultery - which is considered a mortal sin, the kind of serious sin by which one cuts oneself off from God's love. (Matthew, 19)
2. Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that in going to Holy Communion we receive the body of Jesus Christ, God Himself: we receive life and the promise of eternal life. (John, 6:54)
3. Finally, Catholics believe the teaching of St Paul that if a person eats and drinks the body and blood of Jesus Christ unworthily, we don't receive life or grace, we eat and drink judgement to ourselves "not discerning the body of the Lord". (Corinthians: 1,11.29)
4. Catholics believe that the whole of the teaching of Jesus Christ is about mercy including the demands of the Gospel: God's commandments which Jesus announced or confirmed. Catholics believe that Christ's message is not just for a select few. We believe that everyone receives from Christ the grace to live in the way God wants us to live.
5. Catholic teaching is not that following Christ is easy. Christ taught that we have to carry our cross and He promises that He will give us the help we need to carry that cross.
6. I know lots of ordinary Catholics both in my family life and through my work. I know women and men who've been deserted by their spouse for another person and either left alone with children or left alone without their children. If that deserted spouse were then to see their wife or husband with a new partner, receiving the Body of Christ in Communion, that sends the message to everyone, including the children, that marriage is not indissoluble after all. This is destructive of the truth about marriage. It's also damaging psychologically and spiritually, not least for the children.
7. Jesus Christ told the woman found in sin, who was perhaps caught up very deeply in a way of life which appeared to be impossible to escape: Go and sin no more.
8. I believe, as all Catholics believe, that the Pope is Peter, the rock Christ chose on which to build His Church. The Pope serves the unchangeable truth of Christ's teaching. The Pope is not the master but the servant of the truth. The difficulty for Catholics with this particular document from the Synod of Bishops is that it doesn't properly reflect Catholic teaching: It's ambiguous and confusing.
Other aspects of the final report
9. The Church teaches that certain actions are wrong in themselves - or "intrinsically evil" as the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it: such things as contraception or in vitro fertilisation. This is not made unambiguously clear in the Synod document. This shows a lack of mercy because it denies Catholics the truth about right and wrong. It denies Catholics the knowledge they need to exercise true freedom, freedom from sin.
Text agreed by the Synod on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried
10. Paragraphs 84 - 86 are not clear and the way is left open to bishops opposed to Catholic teaching in this area to give the green light to sacrilegious communion. The paragraphs refer to "exclusion" practised in liturgy and of priests accompanying interested parties on a path of discernment according to the teaching of the church and the orientations of the bishop. Catholic teaching, however, is that the truly merciful opening to Holy Communion with all mortal sins, not just sins against marriage, is repentance and a firm purpose of amendment. Confession does not provide Catholics with a license to sin: it provides grace to repent and amend one's life
Why is pro-life leader engaging in work on the Family Synod?
11. Many pro-life campaigners are Catholics, many are not Catholics. Whether or not we're Catholics evidence indicates that two things most protect unborn children: those are laws against abortion and the institution of marriage. Goverment data show that unborn children are 4 to 5 times less likely to be killed by abortion if they are conceived within marriage. Catholic teaching, the teaching of Jesus Christ, upholds the indissolubility of marriage. We must defend our Catholic faith against all ambiguous or misleading representations in order to defend the human and Divine institution which most protects unborn children.
Allow me to draw your attention to a truly remarkable interview about this month's Family Synod recorded here in Rome with Dr Anca-Maria Cernea, a medical doctor from Romania. The interview is expertly conducted by John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSite News. Dr Cernea has been a lay “auditor” at the Family Synod this month, representing lay Catholics in Romania.
Anca-Maria's historically significant eyewitness account of what happened at the Family Synod is invaluable for Catholics at this troubling time for our Church. It's also essential viewing for everyone involved in the pro-life and pro-family movements. She is particularly impressive in her explanation of why contraception is closely linked to abortion, which is all the more persuasive in view of her expertise and experience as a medical doctor.
Yesterday, I wrote about the crisis of trust in the Church in the wake of the Family Synod.
What happened at the Synod has huge implications for the spread of the culture of death throughout the world - and, please God, for the beginning of a more effective resistance to the culture of death.
Dr Cernea’s deep and compassionate understanding of major issues facing the world and the Church today exactly reflects my own understanding of Catholic faith, of pro-life issues, and of issues such as the global "homosexual 'rights'" and reproductive "right" (contraception and abortion) agenda which are being pursued, including within the Church, at the cost of so much human suffering.
I ask you to consider watching this 30-minute video from the beginning to the end and to give serious consideration to what she has to say.
If there is anything arising from this interview about which you want to write to me, please do so.
Truth has a force of its own
John-Henry Westen introduces Dr Cernea as a "star of the Synod" and so she is ... for reasons you will clearly see. Quite simply: Dr Anca-Maria speaks the truth and, as she puts it, "truth has a force of its own" which is heard and understood because it speaks directly to the human heart.
Lack of faithful love breaks marriages
Dr Cernea begins by speaking about the causes which break families. She refers in this connection to her mother and father. Her father was imprisoned for 16 years, after a year's interrogation, by the communists in Romania for leading a party which opposed, firstly, fascism, and, secondly, communism.
Anca-Maria's mother, to whom he was engaged, waited for her father for 16 years, not knowing whether he was alive or dead. When he was released, he had not changed from the man he always was. He married Anca-Maria's mother and they had two daughters. Dr Cernea makes the point that beautiful, faithful love is the foundation of marriage and, (therefore, by implication), it's the lack of beautiful, faithful love which primarily destroys marriage - not social, economic causes, not poverty or consumerism.
There is nothing like the poverty of a person engaged to be married to a political prisoner. Her mother was a pariah in Communist Romania and was persecuted very cruelly. However, her parents' faithfulness, their love for each other, triumphed over all obstacles and Dr Cernea - an eloquent spokeswoman for family and life – and her younger sister, are alive today to vindicate that love and faithfulness.
Dr Anca-Maria's view of same-sex relationships
John-Henry Westen asked what Dr Cernea thought, as a medical doctor, about the promotion at the Family Synod of same-sex relationships. In her reply, Dr Cernea stresses that it's very important for the Church to maintain its normal doctrine: the sinfulness of homosexual acts and the importance of helping out people who act in this way. In this connection it is important to recognize the harmfulness of homosexual acts, in her experience as a doctor, to physical health. The Church, Anca-Maria says, has a duty to care about both the eternal life and earthly life of those in same-sex relationships. The world worries about obesity and the dangers of smoking; how much more should the world and the Church be concerned about those in same-sex relationships who are exposing themselves to disease and early death.
She compared the obsession of certain Synod Fathers with homosexuality with the lack of any reference to alcoholism which is a really huge problem in Romania and elsewhere and which really destroys families. If you're talking about problems affecting families, Dr Cernea said, why not talk about one which is much more significant [than homosexuality] in terms of statistics.
Bishops who promote the acceptance of same-sex relationships: Dr Cernea’s reaction
John-Henry Westen asked Dr Cernea what she thought about Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago — who said at a Vatican press office on 16th October that the conscience is "inviolable" and that he believes divorced and remarried couples could be permitted to receive the sacraments, if they have "come to a decision" to do so "in good conscience" - theological reasoning that he indicated would also apply to homosexual couples.
Dr Cernea said that she wished that Archbishop Cupich and Synod Fathers who suggest that homosexual relationships could be accepted could have been with her in her surgery when she was telling a 23 year-old man told that he is HIV positive. She said she could not describe the despair expressed by such patients. This young man, a child, she says, has been the victim of homosexual propaganda encouraging him to experiment. This young man had been told that if he protected himself he would be safe. Such propaganda is really criminal, Dr Cernea said. The young man told Dr Cernea: "It can't be true, I have protected myself."
Leninist minority at the Synod
John-Henry asked Dr Anca-Maria whether views like that of Archbishop Cupich were heard a lot in the Synod. Dr Cernea said "Yes" but from a small minority of Synod participants - what is called in Romania a "Leninist minority". This minority is well-organised and well-co-ordinated (a point confirmed by an eastern European bishop Voice of the Family met whilst in Rome). The impact of this minority, however, is enhanced by others who keep silent.
She said that this group was being very careful not to go too far in what they say. They want a final report which is a compromise between good and evil, between the truth and a lie.
What about abortion at the Synod?
In answer to John-Henry's question, Dr Anca-Maria said that there was virtually no talk in the Synod about the after-effects of abortion (a huge source of suffering virtually completely ignored). She said that there was to be a powerful attack on the teaching of Humanae Vitae - the Church's teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraceptive acts. Dr Cernea makes the point that if one attacks the Church's view on contraception, it inevitably takes one on the path that abortion will also be accepted. She said that so many "contraceptives" also work abortifaciently and, when contraception does not provide the expected result (i.e. no child), abortion is much more readily chosen. Dr Anca-Maria also spoke about the silence in the Synod (and in the Instrumentum Laboris the working document of the Synod) concerning the babies destroyed through in-vitro fertilisation procedures "so many babies frozen" used as experimental material in research, simply lost in the process etc.
Heteredox positions adopted by some Synod Fathers are offensive to the memory of Catholic martyrs
What was Dr Cernea's reaction to bishops pursuing contrary to Catholic teaching during the Family Synod, John-Henry Westen asked. She replied that what such Synod Fathers were doing was "offensive" to the memory of the many many martyrs for the Catholic faith in Romania and elsewhere.
Business of the Church is to care about salvation not to pursue ideologies
Romanians could understand, she said, from their experience of Communism, how ideological language such as "sustainable development" is used to smuggle in political goals promoting abortion and contraception under ideological terms like "reproductive health". Such ideological language has no place in Church discussions and documents. The business of the Church is to care about the salvation of souls.
SPUC is a co-founder of Voice of the Family. For most of the past month I have been with the Society's Voice of the Family team here in Rome. The following is the press statement we put out Saturday night as the Synod on the Family draws to a close:
ROME, 24 October 2015: “There’s a crisis of trust regarding the family between faithful lay Catholics and those in authority at the highest levels of the Church – and only the Pope can restore that trust” according to Voice of the Family, a coalition of 26 major pro-life and pro-family organisations from five continents formed just before an Extraordinary Synod on the Family which took place in Rome last year.
As this year’s Ordinary Synod on the Family closes at the Vatican, Voice of the Family is saying to the Pope: “Holy Father, enough is enough”.
John Smeaton, co-founder of Voice of the Family and chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC)in the UK, explained:
“Paragraphs 84 – 86 of the final report published today can be interpreted as providing a number of clear openings to the reception of Holy Communion by those living in public adultery, and thus to the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament and the scandalising of the faithful, not least our children and grandchildren.
“One is mindful of the words of Our Lord:
‘he that shall scandalise one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea’ (Matthew 18:6)
“Trust between the Catholic lay faithful and the Church authorities in Rome was breached this year by the Synod’s working document, the Instrumentum Laboris, which undermined Church doctrine on contraception, parents as the primary educators of their children, fornication, adultery, homosexuality and on other fundamental issues.
“The laity’s trust was further weakened by the Pope’s special appointment to the Synod of leading prelates who have demonstrated support for positions contrary to the teaching of the Church on family or life issues.
“The crisis of trust between laity and Church authorities became still worse last week when Pope Francis told a gathering of bishops during the Synod that he ‘felt the need to proceed in a healthy decentralization of power to the Episcopal Conferences’, a power which he said earlier in his papacy would include ‘genuine doctrinal authority’.
“In view of openly heterodox positions adopted by presidents of Episcopal conferences in particular countries, ‘decentralisation of power’ on doctrinal matters would risk obscuring the universal nature of the one true faith.
“Will sanction for homosexual unions and adultery be granted by bishops’ conferences in one country and denied in another? Spouses, parents and families would be abandoned to the wolves by any such fudged arrangement,” John Smeaton said.
“In the name of conscience, the Synod organisers and leading Synod Fathers appeared to be seeking to abolish the notion of intrinsic evil, that is sin: – on contraception, on cohabitation, on homosexuality and on other fundamental matters. How can parents hope to teach their children the truth and meaning of human sexuality and the sanctity of human life when the notion of intrinsic evil is abolished? Certain Synod Fathers and Synod organisers are speaking the language of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and not acting as shepherds of the laity.
“Only the Pope can restore trust between Catholic laypeople and Church authorities in Rome. Confusion on fundamental doctrinal matters, which has reigned at the Family Synod, is only serving to assist powerful international bodies opposed to the family and to the sanctity of human life. Holy Father, enough is enough”, concluded Mr Smeaton.
The Code of Canon Law secures to all the Christian faithful, “according to the knowledge, competence and expertise which they posses”, the “right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful.” (Canon 212)
In order to better fulfil this duty Voice of the Family has produced a manifesto, which presents the most serious concerns held by the members of our coalition. Noting “with alarm the increasing tendency of prominent figures within the hierarchy of the Church to promote positions contrary to the Catholic faith and the natural moral law”, Voice of the Family appeals to Pope Francis and the Church’s teaching authorities “to take all necessary steps to protect the integrity of Catholic doctrine and, by so doing, to protect our families from the ravages of the culture of death.”
The manifesto calls upon the Synod “firmly and unambiguously” to uphold the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the evil of adultery, the wrongness of homosexual unions, the sinfulness of contraception.
South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, a leading cardinal on the organizing committee for the Synod on the Family, issued a pointed critique on Twitter of a controversial report on the Synod by the Vatican’s English-language spokesman, Fr. Thomas Rosica, in which the priest emphasized that the Church should “embrace reality” in dealing with sinful situations.
Rosica’s summary of Synod fathers’ addresses at Tuesday’s press briefing was criticized for its emphasis on liberal proposals and the strong language he used to describe them. The remarks fuelled ongoing concerns from last year’s Synod about the manipulation of the message by the Vatican press office and the Synod’s organizing body.
The German Catholic Youth Organisation has called for local churches to decide on matters of doctrine. Its president told a conference:
"Therefore, we hope that the Synod accepts the cultural differences between local churches and that it puts more trust in the consciences of the faithful, rather than in the communication of individual norms of interdiction ... We work for the acceptance of same-sex relationships."
This call for the delegation to local churches was echoed in the report by the Synod's French B circle:
"Diversity requires an articulation of what is of a universal order and of a particular order, a strong common word able to respond to particular situations. In this respect the group proposes that the episcopal conferences hold a determined power to allow their pastors to be good Samaritans in their ecclesial service."
An international conference entitled Ways of Love: Snapshots of Catholic Encounters With LGBT People and Their Families took place last weekend in Rome. The conference was sponsored by the “Global Network of Rainbow Catholics”, a worldwide network of organisations that, in the name of “social justice”, demand inclusion and dignity for LGBT people and their families within the Catholic Church and society in general. The meeting was attended by Catholic pastoral leaders from around the world, who work in favour of LGBT people within their ecclesiastical communities. In addition to drawing up new action plans, a clear and stated objective of the initiative was to apply some pressure to the impending crucial Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. Among the speakers was a Dominican Bishop Raúl Vera López from the Mexican diocese of Saltillo.
Superficial synod reports give green light to attacks on life and family
Last week cardinals and bishops attending the Ordinary Synod on the Family separated into thirteen small groups to discuss the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris and propose amendments to the document. The reports of their work, made public yesterday, reveal a striking failure to protect the family from the serious threats contained within the first part of this heterodox preparatory document.
Voice of the Family has published an analysis of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Ordinary Synod on the Family. Our other publications are available here.
Human Life International does extraordinary pro-life work with affiliates and associates in over 80 nations worldwide.
As Fr Boquet, the president of Human Life International, presented me with the first Father Paul Marx Pro-Life Award, I was thrilled to stand beside Monsignor Reilly, my pro-life hero, the founder of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants which give witness and pray worldwide outside abortion clinics which he still does at the age of eighty-two. Fr Manfred Muller a great supporter of HLI Austria is on the left and my friend, Dietmar Fischer, the past president of HLI Austria is on the right who also tirelessly organises prayerful witness outside abortion clinics.
Speaking about the Family Synod in Rome, to which I returned after the HLI Congress, I said, amongst other things: "Acceptance by Synod Fathers of contraception in the kind of language used in the Instrumentum Laboris risks intensifying the current abortion holocaust which, it is estimated, has already cost the lives of more children in the womb than there have been lives destroyed in all the wars throughout recorded history". (Voice of the Family has published a widely-praised analysis of the Instrumentum Laboris.)
I took the opportunity of explaining why Catholics have a moral obligation to oppose the direction being taken in the Instrumentum Laboris, as well as reporting along with other national representatives from around the world about pro-life work in Britain.
Whilst in Fatima I took part in the Rosary and procession at the shrine. May Our Lady of Fatima protect the Church and especially the Church’s doctrines on marriage, the family and life which are under such attack in Rome this month. May She uphold those bishops who are determined to defend our families by defending the faith without counting the cost for their ecclesiastical positions.
Maria Joanna Madise, manager of our Voice of the Family team, working here in Rome to lend support to faithful Synod Fathers during the Family Synod, and I, were delighted to run into Cardinal Burke at Living the Truth in Love, an international conference and resource event to address pastoral approaches toward men and women with homosexual tendencies*.
Cardinal Burke has travelled the world defending Catholic faith on marriage and on the truth about human sexuality. Our friend and collaborator in Voice of the Family, Fr Giordano, new head of the Rome office of Human Life International, stands behind the good cardinal. We believe that Cardinal Burke would happily lay down his life to defend the truth of Catholic teaching on the family and on the sanctity of human life.
Why are we here and why did SPUC co-found and decide to give a lead to Voice of the Family? The answer can be found in the Gospel reading at Mass earlier this week from Matthew Chapter 18,6-7: "But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh."
In view of what appears in the working document, the Instrumentum Laboris of the Family Synod, on cohabitation, that Gospel reading could not be more relevant to the work of our group. The relatio synodi of last year's extraordinary Synod on the family stressed the so-called "positive aspects" of cohabitation in its various forms, at the expense of a clear presentation of the sinful nature of fornication, and the resultant harm caused to individuals and society. This approach is extended and endorsed in the Instrumentum Laboris, on which Voice of the Family published a widely-praised analysis by Matthew McCusker, a member of our SPUC and Voice of the Family team.
This is the workplace to which we will be returning for our Voice of the Family "desk work" and meetings during this busy month in Rome. The card on the table is a most welcome Mass card from Jacek and Caroline Zdziarski, tireless SPUC supporters in Nottingham.
Our Voice of the Family team got under way with a strongly-worded manifesto as the Family Synod began last week. The manifesto opens: "Noting with alarm the increasing tendency of prominent figures within the hierarchy of the Church to promote positions contrary to the Catholic faith and the natural moral law, Voice of the Family appeals to Pope Francis and the Church’s teaching authorities “to take all necessary steps to protect the integrity of Catholic doctrine and, by so doing, to protect our families from the ravages of the culture of death.”
At the same conference at which we ran into our good shepherd and friend Cardinal Burke, I had the opportunity of having a brief word with Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. He was speaking on "God or Nothing", an address reflecting on the challenges of Christian life in the modern world and how the teachings of Christ and His Church remain unchanged, a point he underlined during question-time. The Voice of the Family team is praying hard and working hard to try to ensure that many many Synod Fathers take Cardinal Sarah's position at the Family Synod itself.
Tragically for our families and for our pro-life work, the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the Family Synod, contains language (paragraph 8) which appears to suggest the possibility of giving approval to same-sex unions on some level. For the sake of our families, for the sake of our pro-life work, and for the sake of true mercy which is found in the truth about human nature and the Church's unchangeable teaching on the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual acts, our prayers and prudential speaking out boldly, have never been more important. (Please drop me a line at my email address below if you would like a full explanation as to why upholding and teaching the natural law on homosexuality is so fundamentally important for our pro-life work.)
Cardinal Sarah raised fears about the manipulation of the Ordinary Synod which opened last Sunday, 4th October. In the recently published book Christ’s New Homeland Africa: Contribution to the Synod on the Family by African Pastors, His Eminence wrote: "We also see communications strategies being implemented; it would even seem that new methodologies for the synod assembly are being examined in order to give a voice to some lines of thought while endeavoring to make others inaudible, if not to silence them completely. Everything leads us to believe that the next synod assembly will be for many people a synod with high stakes. The future of the family is indeed at stake for mankind today.”
Cardinal Sarah's warning is timely and justified. The Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the Synod, clearly undermines the core teaching of the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. Given that experienced pro-life campaigners as well as leading academics have long concluded that the acceptance of contraception is a basic building block of the culture of death, a view held too by St Pope John Paul II, such confusion generated by the Vatican can only lead to a renewal of the abortion holocaust which, it is estimated, has already cost the lives of more children in the womb than there have people killed in all the wars throughout recorded history. That's why SPUC is in Rome as co-founder of Voice of the Family for this Family Synod. As Cardinal Sarah says: The stakes are high.
We begin our day by praying the Rosary at 9 am daily. Do please join us.
*Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on sexual ethics important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.
Voice of the Family’s work in Rome has begun in earnest. Yesterday I met Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.
His Eminence has raised fears about the manipulation of the Ordinary Synod, which will open on Sunday 4th October. In the recently published book Christ’s New Homeland Africa: Contribution to the Synod on the Family by African Pastors, His Eminence wrote: "We also see communications strategies being implemented; it would even seem that new methodologies for the synod assembly are being examined in order to give a voice to some lines of thought while endeavoring to make others inaudible, if not to silence them completely. Everything leads us to believe that the next synod assembly will be for many people a synod with high stakes. The future of the family is indeed at stake for mankind today.”
Cardinal Sarah's warning is timely and justified, as Voice of the Family makes clear in their first post from Rome on the eve of the Synod.
The Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the Synod, clearly undermines the core teaching of the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, as Voice of the Family's analysis shows.
Given that experienced pro-life campaigners as well as leading academics have long concluded that the acceptance of contraception is at the foundation of the culture of death, a view held too by St Pope John Paul II (see Evangelium Vitae, 13), such confusion generated by the Vatican can only lead to a renewal of the abortion holocaust which, it is estimated, has already cost the lives of more children in the womb than there have people killed in all the wars throughout recorded history. That's why SPUC is in Rome as co-founder of Voice of the Family for this Family Synod. We begin our day praying the Rosary at 9 am. Do please join us. As Cardinal Sarah says: The stakes could not be higher for unborn children than they are at this Family Synod.
Our Voice of the Family team here in Rome for the Family Synod attended a lecture today from Cardinal Pell at the Angelicum, "Living the Truth in Love", an international conference and resource event to address pastoral approaches toward men and women with homosexual tendencies.
In a powerful, compassionate, address, His Eminence said:
"Too little is known about the Church's teaching on homosexuality*".
Quoting in full the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357 - 2359, Cardinal Pell said:
"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."
Cardinal Pell emphasised that the Church's teaching doesn't end there and going on to paragraphs 2358 and 2359 from the Catechism. His Eminence said:
"2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated hfomosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."
Cardinal Pell concluded that for people to say these things (i.e. Catholic doctrine) nowadays is tantamount to "societal heresy" but the Church must continue say it.
*Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on sexual ethics important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.
Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, has issued a press statement today in defence of pro-life pavement-counsellors, under attack by the BBC:
London, 30 September 2015: BBC journalists have revealed that they are planning to join the attack on pro-life pavement-counsellors who operate peacefully and lawfully outside abortion businesses. The BBC have said that they intend broadcasting this item today (Wed 30 September). Pro-life pavement-counsellors offer pregnant women help to avoid abortions. A campaign to prevent women receiving such help was launched by a major commercial abortion provider earlier this year. Prayer-vigils, which often involve only small numbers of people, are dubbed “protests” by the BBC and pro-abortion campaigners.
At one point the BBC said there had been allegations of women being assaulted, and asked a pregnancy support group: "Would you like to condemn assault?".
Commenting, Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) www.spuc.org.uk said: "The unprofessional behaviour of the BBC betrays a clear one-sided agenda. Asking people to disown violence which the pro-life life movement has have never espoused or practised is like the devious lawyer's question: 'Have you stopped beating your wife?' Pavement-counsellors provide help to women facing such problems as abusive partners and homelessness, problems which abortion providers simply don't address.
"The BBC says it has seen a report about pavement-counsellors based on abortion clinic records. Abortion clinics lose an average of about £600 each time a woman chooses to keep her baby, so they are hardly an impartial source of data. This is only one half of the story. Hundreds of women find the help, sympathy and support they need to continue their pregnancies from pro-lifers outside abortion clinics. Despite being offered information about these women, the BBC has refused to report their perspective.
"The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) campaigns for the right to life of the unborn to be upheld in law, and we do not run pavement-counselling activities, but we recognise the great work that groups like Good Counsel Network, 40 Days for Life and the Helpers of God's Precious Infants undertake outside many abortion centres to help women and babies", concluded Mr Tully.
Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) www.spuc.org.uk can be contacted on mobile 07939 178719, landline 020 7820 3127, email email@example.com
Congratulations to SPUC's tens of thousands of supporters, to pro-life leaders and colleagues in other organisations, and to Catholic leaders in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland on the overwhelming defeat of assisted suicide legislative proposals brought forward by Rob Marris MP.
Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, explains:
The Bill was defeated on 11 September by a very substantial margin. The vote was reported as 118 for the bill, 330 against. One MP, Dr Rupa Huq, voted in both lobbies – effectively an abstention. Given that two tellers are appointed on each side for the division, the most precise indication of voting on the bill therefore is 119 for, 331 against, 1 “abstention”.
As there are now 650 seats in the House of Commons, the 331 MPs opposing the bill represents an overall majority (51%) of MPs. The proportion of MPs voting (almost 70%) reflects the depth of interest in the debate, and the strength of the majority is of course very decisive.
Among many outstanding speeches against the bill, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, a breast cancer surgeon, said: "I have never considered as a doctor that death was a good treatment for anything".
Other notable speeches against the bill included those by Jonathan Reynolds (Labour, Stalybridge & Hyde) and Dr Philippa Whitford (SNP, Central Ayrshire). David Cameron's opposition to the bill may have been a significant factor for some conservative MPs who voted against the bill. The front bench speeches, which are made at the conclusion of any debate, were surprisingly partisan. The opposition spokesman (Andy Slaughter) supported the bill and the government minister (Mike Penning, the Justice minister), while saying that the government did not hold a position on the bill, expressed his opposition to it on a personal level. Usually, on a free-vote issue, front-bench spokesmen would not express such explicit personal views.
The effectiveness of the campaign may be attributed to the fact that it was a strongly united effort, in which we all supported each others' endeavours, involving:
SPUC sent a special mailing to our 20,000 most active members, as well as various other mailings to key groups. As a result of our mailings, electronic alerts and website campaigning, approximately 27,500 briefings on the Bill were ordered and hundreds of supporters informed us about the voting intentions of hundreds of MPs. Readers of SPUC's Pro-Life Times, which has a circulation of 110,000, also opposed the Bill. Many supporters will have received similar messages about contacting their MP from a number of groups. MPs were getting the same message from a variety of constituents: vote against the bill. Faith leaders spoke out against the bill (in particular Catholic leaders from both Britain and Northern Ireland) and events such as vigils to encourage prayer for protection against the bill were organised in some places.
On the day of the Bill's defeat SPUC's Paul Tully told the media:
"This was an important victory for true compassion. It is a vote of affirmation for all those healthcare staff looking after terminally ill people. It will be a great relief to those with disabilities, chronic conditions and degenerative illnesses. The threat to them has been averted for now.....
"It is important to recognise that the defeat of the bill does not mean that people in severe pain will suffer more – in fact the bill included no mention of pain. Palliative care specialists can nearly always provide effective pain relief, even for very severe pain, and this is rarely cited as a reason for contemplating suicide."
In other words, we must not rest on our laurels. Contact me to find out how you can help to continue the campaign against assisted suicide. And for SPUC's part, we remain absolutely committed to building a united effort between pro-life groups and church leaders with a view to achieving further victories in the future.
Antonia Tully is interviewed by Polish national TV
Antonia Tully of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children reports on a mass rally in Warsaw of Polish parents who want to protect their children from corrupting sex education
The Polish government has backtracked on introducing explicit sex education into the nation's schools after parents started to mobilise. Polish parents gathered in Warsaw in their thousands last Sunday to protest against proposed changes to the current pro-family school subject WDZ (Family Life Education).
A coalition of 26 pro-family groups came together to oppose changes to WDZ, announced on 9 July by Education Minister, Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska. Polish family groups want to keep WDZ as it is. "Upbringing for Family Life" is a more literal translation of the Polish and, say the family groups, expresses the good values which currently underpin the subject, which prepares young people for marriage and family life.
Before the rally took place, Ms Kluzik-Rostkowska told the pro-family coalition to "stop misleading parents"; that the government is "not introducing WHO standards" and that "work on changing the WDZ curriculum hasn’t started yet", (emphasis added).” However, Polish parents have not been pacified by the Education Minister and are under no illusion that their children remain at risk.
Ministry officials from the education department have already met with LGBT activists to talk about introducing so-called "anti-discrimination" education. As elsewhere in the world, education claiming to tackle discrimination is a smokescreen for introducing teaching programmes which promote contraception, abortion, premature sexual intercourse and homosexuality. This, say the family campaigners, is destroying young people for family life.
The coalition of family groups came together under the leadership of Magdalena Trowanowska, who has been running a campaign to protect Polish children from sexualisation in the classroom for the past two years. She has a website - stop-seksualizacji.pl - and organises local campaigns around Poland to raise awareness among of the sex education menace.
Polish parents are staying on their guard as the gender lobby pushes forward with a conference scheduled for 10 September convened by the Equalities Minister on the theme of "Gender in Text Books". Other participants in this event are the research group which produced a report with the conference title and the Feminoteka Foundation, which is behind the "Equality in Nursery Schools" project in which pre-school children act and dress up in clothes of the opposite sex.
Estimates put the number of people supporting the rally, "Stop! Deprawacji Edukacji" ("Stop! Corruption Education"), at around 14,000. The organisers counted 140 coaches which brought in people from all parts of Poland.
The pro-family demonstration in Warsaw began with the Holy Mass, during which there was a re-enactment of St John Paul ll's dedication of the world to Divine Mercy in 2000. The church was packed and hundreds more knelt outside. It certainly was an inspiring sight to see so many families with their children, coming together to make a powerful statement to protect their children.
I was privileged to share a platform with expert speakers from Poland, France, Germany and Italy. My main message to Polish parents was to resist school sex education right now.
I also spoke of a "revolution of parents". I told the rally about UK parents whose opposition to compulsory school sex education in British schools has resulted in a government report, published in July 2015, which confirmed that sex education would remain a non-compulsory school subject. We achieved this despite huge pressure for change from the powerful, government-funded sex education lobby.
In the ever-present shadow cast over Poland by St John Paul ll, I asked Polish families to continue to uphold the values we have lost in western Europe. All eyes were on Poland on 16 October 1978. We are looking to Poland now.
The rally was covered on Sunday 30 August on the 6pm national news and included Antonia talking about the damaging sex education in UK schools. (See picture above)
The picture to the right shows the vast rally protesting against World Health Organisation (WHO) standards of sex education being introduced into Polish schools. WHO standards advocate, among other things, sexual rights for children and sexual experimentation in young people.