Wednesday 30 March 2011

Adopt an Abortionist

Inspired by...

on the one hand, the Adopt a Priestess project (you haven't adopted your priestess yet? - hurry on over to Acts of the Apostasy at once and do so!), and...

on the other hand, Anthony Ozimic's excellent presentation to the International Pro Life SPUC conference (H/t Discover Happiness - go and take a look)...

I have decided to launch a parallel Adopt an Abortionist project. There are many abortionists who have repented, most notably the late Bernard Nathanson. Nobody is beyond the power of God's grace. Therefore we can and must pray for current abortionists.

Unlike the priestesses, we don't have a list of names. I suggest we simply allocate a number, and a country designation.

I will pray for UK#1 - God will know who that is. If you want to join this initiative, drop by the combox and let me know what country you want your abortionist to be in and I will allocate a number.

I have found that praying for 'my' priestess has been very good for me: I can no longer think evil of her or her kind, only pity them for being so deluded by the devil. I hope that this will be similar as I pray daily for 'my' abortionist, UK#1.

We could agree to use the HLI (Human Life International) Prayer for Abortionists (below), as well as any other prayers you wish to offer (Rosary recommended!)

Prayer for Abortionists

St Michael the Archangel,
Come to the rescue of men
Whom God has redeemed at great price
From the tyranny of the devil.


Tuesday 29 March 2011

An interesting sidelight on abortion

A friend of mine was reporting a conversation with someone he knows that was very interesting. She (my friend's acquaintance) did a research project many years ago operating out of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. They were investigating the impact of different approaches to supporting women who had attempted suicide.

This involved interviewing several hundred women at length, and recording the data they were looking for. However, she also noticed, after 20 or 30 interviews, a piece of information they weren't interested in for the research. Practically every one of these women who had attempted suicide, when asked about their suicide attempt and subsequent life, referred to an earlier abortion (ie before the suicide attempt). Having noticed this, she listened out for it subsequently, and with practically no exceptions, without being asked specifically about it, all the remaining women in the study mentioned the same thing.

Of course, there could be sociological explanations for some aspects of this: women who attempt suicide and women who have abortions may come from similar socio-economic backgrounds and so on. However the link was so hight that she suspected - and now strongly maintains - a causal link: not least because of the womens' evident need to talk about this, even, in some cases, decades later.

Strangely, I know of no formal academic research into this correlation....

Great First Sentences

The inimitable Fr Z has a great post going on the best first sentences of books.

Which reminded me of a story I remember from years back: the students were taught that the best openings of stories should contain as many as possible of the key elements of dramatic fiction: religion, sex, mystery, a person of rank...

So one student crafted the perfect first line:

'My God!,' cried the Duchess, 'I'm pregnant! I wonder whodunnit?'

Unfortunately as it's apocryphal, I can't post it in Fr Z's comments - so I put it here instead. Fewer readers, but I strive for quality not quantity...

Monday 28 March 2011

Catch 'em early

As you can imagine, Pink News is my favourite news outlet. I was particularly intrigued by this article which includes the memorable sentence:

Young people could be asked if they can define themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, queer, pansexual, genderqueer, a sexual, pan-romantic or trisexual.

But this is not something Pink News has invented: this is guidance offered by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

And just to be really clear, this is about schools being required to ask these questions of children from the age of 11 up.

In particular, schools are forbidden from suggesting that any pubescent or adolescent emotional phase may be just that - a phase. Never mind the evidence on the development of children, never mind the common experience of most of us - the ideology is clear: we want kids to commit to being queer early and for that commitment to be supported in every possible way.

We live in terrible times.

Prayers are essential.

H/t John Smeaton

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Update from the Vaughan Parents' Action Group

A quick update on the affairs of the Vaughan Parents' Action Group:

We have outgrown our old website and are pleased to be able to launch a brand new website where we will be posting all the campaign news from now on. Our new website can be found at:

Our list of distinguished patrons is growing at a great pace. We are delighted to announce that the eminent QC, Anthony Speaight, Judith Mossman, Professor of Classics at Nottingham University, and the distinguished composer, Colin Mawby (former Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral) have all done us the honour of accepting our invitation to become patrons in the past few days.

For short biographies of all our patrons, please go to the patrons' page of our website

· We are still awaiting the outcome of the 9th March Appeal Court hearing about the composition of Cardinal Vaughan's Governing Body, at which judgment was reserved. Win or lose, our campaign to save the Vaughan will continue until the Diocesan director of education, Paul Barber, is removed from the Governing Body and two parents, with children at the school, are appointed as foundation governors.

· Our next event is on Wednesday 6th April, when the Governing Body meets at the school to discuss, among other things, the appointment of a new Headmaster. We will hold our second vigil of prayer and music, from 6.30pm - 8.00pm outside the school gates on this day. We intend the occasion to be a great celebration of the Catholic faith and of our commitment to the school. Do please join us if you possibly can. 89 Addison Road, London W14 8BZ. We are asking the chairman of the governors, John O'Donnell, to meet parents beforehand, to answer their questions about the future direction of the school.

· Toby Young, who founded the West London Free School which opens in September, has written about the Cardinal Vaughan dispute in the March 19th edition of the Spectator magazine. His article can be found here:

· We are gathering signatures for a petition of support for our aims which will be presented to Archbishop Nichols in due course.

The Vaughan Parents' Action Group is determined to preserve the Vaughan's distinctive Catholic ethos, its London-wide intake, and its academic, musical and sporting excellence and will pursue its campaign to ensure this relentlessly and by every possible means.


Prayers, please!

Monday 21 March 2011

(Nut) Case Law

One of the features of the British Way of Doing Things is that a large amount of our law is made by judges deciding how existing laws apply to new situations.

This by-passes parliament in ways that may seem undemocratic, but as, historically, our judges have often been wiser than our politicians, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

However, they now seem as bad or worse in some cases. The Johns case, deciding that disapproving of homosexuality made you unsuitable to be a foster parent, and declaring Christianity to be inimical to civilisation (or whatever weasel words they used) sets an alarming precedent.

I predict that it will not be long before the following are decided and imposed on the British people, not by their politicians following due process, but by judges:

Parents who do not agree to submit their foster daughters for abortions in the face of unplanned teen pregnancies will be deemed not suitable;

Parents who do not agree to submit their foster daughters for long-term contraceptive implants will be deemed not suitable;

Parents who do not agree to allow their foster children to indulge any sexual whim will be deemed not suitable;

Parents who do commit to teaching their foster children historic Christianity, as the truth, will be deemed not suitable.

Good job it's Lent: we need lots of prayer and fasting and almsgiving...

Sunday 20 March 2011

Cant't get enough?...

Oddly, I have not been inundated with requests to post more frequently, as people can't bear the wait for my next words of wisdom. I assume that's because all my readers are shy and retiring folk who don't like to admit their total addiction to this blog...

Notwithstanding, I thought I should let you know that you can get a regular dose of CCF thinking over at Catholic Dads. I blog there on the weekly column Keeping Your Kids Catholic, and have done so for seven months or so. So if you've not been over there, there's some 30 article for your delight and delectation. Also several other regulars and more who post from time to time: much of it very good stuff indeed.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Maryvale News

I received the Maryvale Newsletter today.

Maryvale is one of the brightest parts of the Catholic Church in this country. They are exciting and orthodox: a winning combination.

Amongst the many good things on offer in this newsletter are a day on Art and Music in RE, featuring Dr Lionel Gracey on Teaching Christ through Art, and Jeremy de Satge on Learning Gregorian Chant (30 March), and a lecture on 18 June by Bishop Jean Lafitte: Love at the heart of the mystery of marriage and the family.

For details or to book:

Cosmic Relief

Tomorrow, as you will all doubtless be aware, is Red Bishop Day.

All over England and Wales, priests and people will don little red plastic mitres, and skip into Mass to the familiar sound of the unofficial theme tune of the Bishops' Conference: Bring on the Clowns.

This is part of the annual fundraising event, Cosmic Relief.

Some extremists have objected to Cosmic Relief, as some 10 % of the money raised has been used to purchase Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Bishops' Conference have a two-fold answer to this:

1 - It is not true (or so they have been assured);
2 - Even if true, the other 90% goes to good causes, so surely that's OK.

As the Conference Spokeswoman quipped: The only Mass we're interested in destroying is the old Latin One. (Mass Destruction - get it?) What a wag!

So join in the fun and feel virtuous about supporting all sorts of good causes - and only a few profoundly evil ones.

Friday 18 March 2011

Irrational rationalism

I heard some uppity physicist and an aged philosopher talking on the tail end of the Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday.

I call the physicist uppity as he was claiming that science could answer all the big questions, and declaring non-scientifically that the question 'why are we here' was a non-question as it was simply an accident.

Silly man! He failed on two counts - one making a philosophical declaration (it is simply an accident) when claiming to be basing his thinking on rational and empirical sciences; the second failing to recognise that believing in empirical evidence is also a philosophical stance. For example, i could easily maintain that we are programmed by some malevolent (or benign) programmer to think that we can experience reality, but in fact we don't; that position is simply not able to be addressed empirically: the evidence would look the same either way.

It's the fact that such scientists don't even get how limited their view of reality is that really irritates me - that and the way they are adulated by the media and others with a secularising agenda.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Lenten Alms - but not to CAFOD

On this the first Sunday of Lent we are yet again exhorted to 'give up so that we can give.' In particular so that we can give to CAFOD. Yet again, we won't be be giving to CAFOD, but rather to other charities that are more consistent in their Catholic Identity, such as Aid to the Church in Need.

In case anyone doesn't know of the reasons for concern with CAFOD, I summarise them here.

First, here is a blog post I posted 2 years ago:

CAFOD (the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development - supported by the Bishops of England and Wales) has a policy statement available from its www site which states clearly:

"It is important that people understand that abstinence and being faithful to one life-long partner in marriage, when both know they do not have HIV, are the surest ways to avoid infection through sexual activity," and further: "that CAFOD neither funds nor advocates the supply, distribution or promotion of condoms."

This is all, as CAFOD proudly proclaims, because "CAFOD seeks to exercise a role consistent with its Catholic character."

All well and good, the Catholic in the pew (who funds CAFOD on the basis of its being Catholic) might think.

But on the same site, we find another document (HIV Prevention From the Perspective of A Faith-Based Development Agency by Ann M. Smith, Jo Maher, Jim Simmons, Monica Dolan) which states, inter alia:

"abstinence can be used to mean:
Delaying the age of first sexual encounter. Evidence suggests that the abstinence aspect of ABC campaigns has been most successful among young people, for whom delaying the age of sexual debut was an important risk reduction strategy
Not having sex until the person is in a more stable relationship
Choosing to have sex only within a long-term committed relationship
Not having sex until marriage
As a mutually agreed and free choice (one of a number of possible options) by and between HIV discordant couples
As a preferred option for a specified period in a person’s life ."

Be Faithful "might mean fidelity to:
A single, mutually faithful partner, whether in marriage or in a long-term committed relationship
Serially monogamous relationships (provided a degree of stability exists within these relationships. What this means for individuals will vary, depending on current practices and alternative possibilities)
A strategy of reducing the number of partners
A strategy of reducing the instances of casual sex
A strategy of consistency in condom use if this is a person’s risk reduction option, given that condom failure is more often attributable to their inconsistent or incorrect use."

"The available evidence suggests that condom promotion has been particularly effective for identifiable groups at highest risk of HIV infection (e.g. sex workers) and who may have few if any other options for reducing risk.[snip] Thus an important component of this third strand of a nuanced ABC must be that C also stands for Choice. An imperative that becomes “Choose what you can change today; choose what you want to change for tomorrow” is informed by sound epidemiology and also compatible with the gradualist theological understanding referred to earlier. "

Is it me, or is there in fact a degree of promotion of condoms in the foregoing?

And is not 'abstinence' so proudly touted in the first policy document given a wholly new - and wholly unCatholic - meaning in the second?

I'll be choosing other Catholic charities for my alms this Lent...

Second, here is a summary of some of the other reasons for concern:
  • For years, the faithful were funding (to the tune of some £60,000 a year) the life of Julian Filochowski as Director of CAFOD, who was in a 'committed' homosexual relationship with an 'ex'-priest , and homosexual activist, campaigning against Church teaching;
  • Filochowski's successor was found, despite earning a significant salary (doubtless justified as living in London is so expensive) to be living rent-free in the house of a Labour MP - the expenses of which were being paid by the tax-payer;
  • CAFOD's prayers are regularly very flakey, eg last year's Lent prayer: 'Spirit of God... Work through us so our vision becomes reality.' Contrast with 'Thy will be done...' which is what Christ taught us to say;
  • CAFOD has recently appointed Damian McBride to run their media operation: best known for his outrageous smear campaigns against opposing politicians while working for Gordon Brown (which caused his untimely departure from No 10);
  • CAFOD has a habit of cosying up to the Labour Party generally, not known as the greatest bastion of support for Catholic Social or Moral teaching.
So as I say, I think alms could better be sent elsewhere, notwithstanding the heroic work of many CAFOD workers: overall the organisation simply isn't trustworthy. There's something about taking money under false pretences, (ie pretending to be Catholic but then re-defining that to mean something other than what people in the pew believe it to mean),that I find truly repugnant.

Saturday 12 March 2011

The School Replies

I have just received a very civilised and sensible letter from the school in reply to the one I blogged about recently.

They thank me for raising my concerns, and assure me that they understand the issue, that the text had slipped by them without their realising the implications, and that they will correct it for next year.

Now if we could get that kind of response when we brought things to the attention of our bishops...

Lying - removing the taboo

Lying is perfectly normal, and all the evidence shows that nearly everyone does it. So it is inappropriate to make children feel guilty about this completely normal human behaviour, merely because of some fantasy Victorian code.

Of course, some people may choose not to lie, for religious, ethical and other reasons, and that's perfectly OK too - nobody is suggesting that lying be made compulsory. But for those who choose not to lie to try to impose their morality on others is completely unacceptable in a democratic secular society.

For the majority, lying is an enjoyable activity, and the repressions of a few fanatics should not make the rest of us feel guilty about it.

I'm thinking of organising Lying Education for primary schools, Lie with Pride marches, and a complete ban on any negative stories in the media about lying (given how many journalists lie, surely that is the ultimate hypocrisy.) We will present the public with a range of really tough choices and hard cases to help to educate them about this (not all of which need be true of course, as we lie with pride...)

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Vaughan School latest

The Parents of the Vaughan School sent me this update (for which many thanks)... [NB They sent this yesterday during the day, so I am assuming item one happened - it was in the future tense when I received it].

· Yesterday evening, March 8th, Sir Adrian FitzGerald, former chairman of governors at Cardinal Vaughan, delivered a talk to invited parents on the background to the current dispute between the school and the Diocese, at 57 Tufton Street, SW1P 3QL from 7-8.30. Michael Gormally (the former Headmaster) and Patti Fordyce (former chairman of governors) was on hand, along with Sir Adrian, to answer questions. wine flowed. After the talk and the questions, those who wished to, walked to Westminster Cathedral and said some prayers outside for the future of the school, on the eve of the legal appeal. A version of of Sir Adrian's talk was first delivered on 25th January to the Order of Malta.

· Today, Ash Wednesday, March 9th at 10am. Appeal scheduled to be heard at the Law Courts. The case, brought by the five elected parent governors, is about the refusal of the Diocese of Westminster to appoint parents among the foundation governors at CVMS and the imposition of its own director of education on to the governing body. The judgment could be reserved. I will keep you informed of developments.

· We are collecting patrons at a phenominal rate, including some very distinguished Catholic journalists, authors and academics. This is the current list (subject to almost daily updates): Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Patti Fordyce, Professor Luke Gormally, Michael Gormally, Lord Grantley, Paul Johnson, Edward Leigh MP, Lord Lexden, Charles Moore, Cristina Odone, Professor Thomas Pink, Piers Paul Read, Dr John Martin Robinson, Professor Mark Watson-Gandy. For short biographies of our patrons, please go here:

· Through our correspondence with our patrons and our leafletting activities at parishes and primary schools, we are becoming aware of just how much support our campaign has among Catholics generally, not just those with connections with the school. We are also aware that there are a great many Catholic priests among our supporters (though we are being careful to protect their identities). We are hugely encouraged by this and we are all absolutely determined that, whichever way the appeal goes, the campaign to preserve the Vaughan's distinctive Catholic ethos, its London-wide intake, and its academic, musical and sporting excellence, will be pursued relentlessly and by every possible means.


Please remember the Vaughan School in your prayers today and throughout Lent.

Thursday 3 March 2011

A Letter to School

As there is no Catholic school nearby (in fact the nearest good Catholic school is hundreds of miles away...), Bernie, Charlie and Dominique go to the local secondary school. It is generally very good, but every now and then something arises...

Dear Mr X

I was distressed to see, on reading one of Dominique's Year 7 RE handouts, (Unit 3 - Jesus) that it included the following:

‘He (Jesus) lived with Mary and Joseph and his brothers and sisters in Nazareth until he was baptised by John the Baptist.’

This is a highly contested, Protestant, point of view, and from a Roman Catholic position has been formally condemned as heresy as early as the First Lateran Council in 649.

The English translation of ἀδελφός ‘adelphos’ as ‘[blood] brother’ in the Gospels sits uncomfortably with its application to Lot and Abraham, and to Laban and Jacob in Genesis. Likewise, Jesus’s assigning Mary to John from the Cross clearly implies there were no blood relatives to take his place as her son.

In fact the semitic languages had no variant words for cousins and nephews, and the same word was used for all (cf Genesis examples cited), then translated into Greek as ‘adelphos’ leading to this ambiguity.

The Protestant insistence on a literal meaning of ‘[blood] brother’ for this word in the Gospels (though not in Genesis...) is a deliberate rejection of the Catholic (and Orthodox) teaching on the perpetual virginity of Mary - and is therefore also a minority view within Christianity.

I think it unfortunate (to say the least) that this should be presented as a simple fact, in passing, in a text that is not avowedly Protestant. It would be far more helpful, and more honest, to explore the divergence of interpretations - or simply to omit the contentious statement all together. I really dislike having to tell my children that what they have been taught in school is wrong...

I hope that the RE Department will look into this and decide an appropriate solution - and I would be interested to hear your response.

Yours sincerely

Ben Trovato

Jews and Christians

On the Today programme this morning, I heard the tail end of a discussion about relationships between Catholics and Jews. I do not know who the Catholic representative was, but he made the point that both Pope John Paul 2nd and our current Holy Father had apologised for Catholic mistreatment of Jews through history, based on a wrong interpretation of the words in St Matthew’s Gospel: ‘His blood be upon us and our children’s children.’

The female rabbi concluded the discussion by saying ‘Every time this is mentioned there should be an apology.

That struck me a slightly strange.

I make no excuses for the persecution of Jews through the centuries, but it did strike me that what the Rabbi was saying was that present day Catholics are accountable for the sins of their fore fathers. It’s a tenable position. But the context within which she was saying it, that present-day Jews could not be held accountable for the sins of their fore-fathers struck me as slightly self-contradictory.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Adopt a priestess

Larry over at Acts of the Apostasy has a great project: you adopt a priestess and commit to pray for her conversion regularly. God will surely answer these prayers - in His own time and His own way as ever.

They're selling like hot cakes so go on over before he's sold out!