Thursday 25 August 2011

Restore the (male-only) sanctuary

William Oddie has stirred up a hornet’s nest at the Catholic Herald by daring to suggest that the permission for girls and women to serve at the altar should be withdrawn.

I am, of course, with him on this, and indeed would go a lot further: I would make the sanctuary (remember when we used to have them?) a male-only area.

The hounds are already baying for Dr Oddie’s blood (mysoginistic, wanting to relegate women to serving the teas, aren’t we all equal in God’s eyes etc etc ad nauseam). So my notions will doubtless be interpreted as even more of a male assertion of the second-class status of women.

However, that is not my belief at all. If anything, I am inclined to believe that women are superior to men. One of the Fathers of the Church (possibly Augustine?) apparently pointed out that any artist creates the maquette first, the study, and then the finished work. Thus man was the rough draft and woman the masterpiece. Likewise, there is nobody, apart from Our Lord Himself, whom we esteem more highly than Our Lady. Moreover, I think there is a strong case to be made for the idea that Our Lord condescended to enter humanity at the lowest point possible: impoverished, un-homed, an unborn child, then a baby, and a male...

And for his apostles he chose the lowest: the fishermen, the tax collector, the men...

So it is not in any sense of male triumphalism that I assert the male-only sanctuary, but rather in deference to the wisdom of our God, who formed the people of the Old Testament, and then guided the development of the Church.

In the Old Testament we find that the Holy of Holies is approached through several courtyards: the Court of the Gentiles, which any may enter; the Court of the Women, which all Jews, male or female might enter; the Court of the men, and then the court of the priests. The male priesthood was also a central part of their formation as a holy people, despite both being a very matriarchal society and being surrounded by tribes that had women priests.

Likewise in the New Covenant, we find the all-male priesthood, and the tradition of a sanctuary, a space set apart for sacred rites and entered only by males. It was only very recently that this notion was abolished, the altar rails demolished, and the admittance of women into the sanctuary.

The truth, of course, is that women and men are different, and have different roles to play in the service of God and in attaining their own sanctity. Modern ideas of equality (when used to mean lack of any differentiation) and rights, and discrimination are not the right mental tools to use to analyse the practice of the Church.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

More on the 'Two-Minus-One Pregnancy'

Since blogging on this here, I have seen a few other things worth reading on the subject.

John Smeaton's piece I had read when it came out - and very good it is too. I had not seen either Pat Buckley's nor Patrick Clark's blogs, but again, both are worth reading.

Patrick Clarke quotes this from William Saletan on 'the main problem with selection is that it breaches a wall at the center of pro-choice psychology. It exposes the equality between the offspring we raise and the offspring we abort.'

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

Monday 22 August 2011

Where does it end?

Ever since I saw the link to it on James Preece's blog, I have been hoping someone else would pick up this piece and do the analysis. I simply found it too harrowing. However, nobody has, as far as I have seen. And it does need to be done.

The piece appears in the New York Times Magazine site, and is called The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy. It concerns what is euphemistically called 'pregnancy reduction' - that is aborting one or more children from a multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets) to leave only one to be born.

Here is an extract with my comments [in italics]:

As Jenny lay on the obstetrician’s examination table, she was grateful that the ultrasound tech had turned off the overhead screen. [Yes, who would want to see the reality of what she was just asking them to do...? - How much better to bury your head in the sand.] She didn’t want to see the two shadows floating inside her. Since making her decision, she had tried hard not to think about them, though she could often think of little else. She was 45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs and disappointment — and yet here she was, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish [what an interesting choice of words...] one of two healthy fetuses [another significant word choice], almost as if having half an abortion [or more precisely, exactly as if...] . As the doctor inserted the needle into Jenny’s abdomen, aiming at one of the fetuses, Jenny tried not to flinch, caught between intense relief and intense guilt [yes, we should pity - and pray for - this woman, caught between her conscience and what she has been educated to think is right...]

“Things would have been different if we were 15 years younger or if we hadn’t had children already or if we were more financially secure,” [there are always reasons, of course - but are any of these reasons to kill a child? Really?] she said later. “If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.” [this very clearly lays out the connection between the separation of procreation from natural human loving sexuality, and seeing the ‘product’ of conception as a consumer item, to be treated as any other product, depending on whether it is wanted or unwanted.]


Jenny’s decision to reduce twins to a single fetus was never really in doubt. The idea of managing two infants at this point in her life terrified her. [Yes she has been well-educated in fear.] She and her husband already had grade-school-age children, and she took pride in being a good mother. She felt that twins would soak up everything she had to give, leaving nothing for her older children. [This is one of the great lies of the modern age: propagated above all by those who lack the generosity of spirit to have a large family. You will rarely hear mothers of large families saying anything like this.] Even the twins would be robbed, because, at best, she could give each one only half of her attention and, she feared, only half of her love. [Again, experience shows that more the more children one has, the more love there is to go around. Paradoxical, perhaps, but true; and I write as the youngest child of a large (8 kids) family]. Jenny desperately wanted another child, but not at the risk of becoming a second-rate parent. [No, only on her terms...] “This is bad, but it’s not anywhere as bad as neglecting your child or not giving everything you can to the children you have,” [yes, of course, killing one of your children is not anywhere near as bad as ‘not giving everything you can to the children you have’] she told me, referring to the reduction [another significant lexical choice...]. She and her husband worked out this moral calculation on their own, and they intend to never tell anyone about it. Jenny is certain that no one, not even her closest friends, would understand, and she doesn’t want to be the object of their curiosity or feel the sting of their judgment. [Poor, sad woman: she knows she is doing something terrible.]

Pray for her, for her children living and dead, and for all who place themselves, or find themselves, in such a terrible place.

And pray especially for the medics who collude with this, and corrupt their vocation and themselves, so that they cannot see how contrary to their calling this killing is.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Normalising Paedophilia

One of the (many) arguments I have deployed against 'Gay Marriage' has been the philosophical problem inherent in re-defining marriage to include same sex couples. Because if one does that, why stop there? If marriage is no longer about procreation as a key element, why not allow polygamy, paedophilia and so on.

People regularly dismiss this argument, as they are illegal. But so was homosexual behaviour until recently.

Moreover, there are serious attempts being made to 'normalise' paedophilia. The first step, as with homosexuality, is to get it removed from the category of 'disorder' so that it becomes simply a 'minority' issue. Then it can claim the victim status, tolerance and so on that minorities demand - just as the gay lobby has done.

That is already underway, as the programme of this conference reveals.

H\t Lifesite News.

Friday 19 August 2011

Charlie has seen the writing on the wall...

We had a great family night out, last night, celebrating Bernie's exam results. Charlie was on good form, entertaining us with magic tricks and mime. But the significance of Bernie's success was not lost on him: while we were celebrating her exceeding Ant's results, he mumbled something about the bar being raised all the time. His only consolation was the thought that if he does manage to match or beat Bernie's succeses, that will make it even tougher for Dominique...

Thursday 18 August 2011

A Level Results

Bernie got her results today - 3 A stars, which was better than she had expected, so we are all very pleased. So she'll be leaving us for University in the autumn. As I mentioned here, her childhood was not the easiest, and Ant was a tough act to follow, so I am particularly delighted for her.

Tuesday 16 August 2011


This was posted as a comment and I am happy to feature it as a post.


Newham Borough in East London has the highest abortion rate in the U.K. (39.9 per 1000 women) and has the sixth highest number in Europe, with 2,341 abortions taking place every year. BPAS have recently opened a new abortion centre in the area, and so the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children will be doing a pro-life outreach there on Saturday 20th August. We aim to inform the local public about the positive pro-life services available, raise awareness about exactly what is happening in the area, and campaign against the new opening. Join SPUC this Saturday as help is needed to man the stall, distribute pro-life literature and engage with the public.

Meet outside Stratford Tube Station at 10.30am. We will finish no later than 2pm. Other details are on our facebook event:¬if_t=event_wall

Hope to see you there!

Any queries please contact: 0207 820 3140

Daniel Blackman –

Anna Gomes –

Frances Roxburgh –

Daniel Loughnane –

Paul Smeaton –

Please advertise this on your blog. Thank you.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Revealed: Root causes of the riots

There has been much discussion of the causes of the recent riots in London, and other English cities, with various politicians' knees jerking as they interpret what has happened through the lenses of their pre-existing prejudices and seek to make political capital as best they may. Much has been written - and some of it sensible - about the multiple causes.

However, I can now reveal the root causes of these riots. They are three: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.

The World has been prominent in much of the discussion. Someone coined the phrase 'shopping with violence' as a way of describing the consumer mentality of many of the looters. Others have pointed to the complete lack of morality of the rich and the governing classes as a part of the mix, along with media which have abandoned any of the values articulated (say) at the establishment of the BBC, and instead panders to the popular, with ratings as the most lauded criterion of success. The World inhabited by the rioters is almost incoherent. Their aspirations are conditioned by consumerism and greed, their poverty almost decreed by their parents' (especially absentee fathers') lack of engagement with them, and their social identity formed more by street and gang culture than any family formation.

The Flesh has also played its part. On the most immediate level is the instant gratification of 'I want it and I can take it, there fore I will,' with no heed for the implications or consequences of actions. The Times carried a revealing interview with a young woman who had taken a television just because she could. The (unregulated) Flesh is also responsible for the excitement young men feel when in a mob or gang: the surge of adrenalin and power that makes indulging the passion of the moment (assaulting a policeman, starting a fire, destroying a bus...) hugely exhilerating. And stepping back a bit, the Flesh is also responsible for the breakdown of family life and the predominance of kids brought up with no relationship with their father that forms a large part of the background of this situation.

And behind all that, the Devil also has a role. Many accounts by rioters wondering how they got involved revealed a sort of surrender of the self - and when one surrenders one's self, the Devil is quick to step in. When one sees young men drive a car into other young men, whom they don't know, something diabolical is going on. Likewise when a pensioner is beaten to death for trying to put out a fire; or when a young man with a broken jaw is helped to his feet and then relieved of his possessions, with threats...

There are no sociological or political solutions that will heal this fractured society unless founded on sound spiritual understanding: we must pray and we must educate as best we can...

Saturday 13 August 2011

Legal and right are not the same thing...

You would think - after the unedifying sight of MPs justifying their snout-in-trough behaviour by saying it wasn't against the rules - that people would understand that legal and right are not the same thing.

I was arguing against proposed legalisation of gay marriage and asking why, if marriage could be re- defined to mean two people of the same sex shacking up, it could not also include incest, bigamy etc. One response is that homosexuality is legal, whereas the others were illegal and therefore wrong.

So, one more time: any action may be
Legal and right - such as helping an old person across a road
Legal and wrong - such as abortion
Illegal and right - such as following your informed conscience (eg as the owner of a BnB in the UK)
Illegal and wrong - such as setting fire to a shop or looting it.

Legality tells us little about right and wrong: it offers some clues, which may be more or less accurate depending on the civilisation of the society in which we live. But to argue something is right because it is allowed, tolerated or even encouraged by the State is ludicrous.

Friday 12 August 2011

Great News for Nurses (and the unborn)

Neil Addison, a Liverpool barrister, reports on his Religion Law Blog that he has 'recently successfully represented two Roman Catholic Nurses who were told that they could not refuse to work at a weekly Abortion Clinic run by their Hospital.'

Go on over and read the whole piece which is both fascinating and inspiring.

H/t to Echurch blog and @Blondpidge whose tweet alerted me to the article.

A bit confused...

Today is St Clare's day. Or at least it was. I understand that yesterday is now St Clare's day.

Monday is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. Or is it? In our parish bulletin, Sunday is listed as the Feast of the Assumption. I understand the obligation to attend Mass has been moved to the Sunday as the Feast falls on a Monday - does that make Sunday the Feast (this year) and then the 15th the Feast again next?

I do not think the constant changing of everything pertaining to the practice of our Faith is conducive to a strong Catholic identity.

As St Paul said: Hold fast to that which is good...

Wednesday 10 August 2011

The bastards are rioting

I thought a bit about the headline for this post. Should it be "The black bastards are rioting?" I decided not. Although the riots in London and elsewhere started with young black men, following the shooting by a police officer of a young black man, (from a police unit dedicated to addressing armed crime by young black men with guns) I do not think race or skin colour are key issues in these riots.

I considered "The poor bastards are rioting" but again rejected it. Given that the riots seem to be coordinated by Blackberry messaging, and other social media, implying smartphone and computer ownership, I think that would be misleading, and insulting to the genuinely poor.

But I stick with bastards. Certainly in Tottenham, where it is reported that 80% of families have no father living with them, I think bastardy is a real issue.

Of course it is not a very acceptable word, and we should not be prejudiced about an individual because of his or her parents' behaviour. Nevertheless, at a societal level, high numbers of children raised without fathers, in a culture where men can have women as they want, dump them as they want, and assume no responsibility for their progeny... well perhaps that helps us to understand some of what we have been witnessing.

The poverty is there, of course, but it is a poverty of understanding and of aspiration. These youths are not seeking social change, justice, equality or any other noble aspiration that might, at some level, raise these riots to a degree of worthiness. No, they are seeking the kicks of arson, the thrills of getting their own back on the police, and the free loot they can take from the shops they are targetting.

But the primary responsibility, it seems to me, lies with the absent fathers, and with a society that has allowed (and indeed encouraged) this culture to develop, whereby there is no stigma attached to the fathers of bastards, and no serious attempt made to address the consequent subculture of feckless young men intent only on their own gratification.

As I had cause to remark recently, we have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind - and the worst is yet to come.

So pray for them all - and for us all, who have failed them so badly...


I just saw these: Guido Fawkes has blogged on the same theme, and Fr Finigan's comments are worth reading, as always, and touch on this too.

Saturday 6 August 2011

All in a day's work

As I got to my office, on the 42nd floor at Canary Wharf, I noticed the window was open. Slightly surprised, I looked out. There was a young chap stood on the narrow ledge.

"I can't take it any more!" he said. "My savings have been wiped out, my girlfriend has left me, my mum's dying of cancer and the police are after me for dealing."

"So what do you want to do?" I asked.

"I want to end it all - but I don't dare jump."

So I gave him a helping hand - having checked there was nobody below whom he might hurt - and closed the window, happy to have put an end to all that human suffering.


Actually, that's not true. Apart from anything else, I don't work in Canary Wharf (but then you knew I was mendacious if you've troubled to read my profile)... But if your response was that I should have tried to find other ways to help, you could be right.

But that is what, in effect, Brook, bpas and the others do. They seek out women in a state of distress, normally for complex reasons, and offer them a single way out, which certainly does not resolve all their problems (and incidentally involves the taking of a human life) - moreover they charge a fee for it, either to the woman or the tax-payer. And doubtless, many of them truly believe they are helping. And of course, they campaign...

But the mere fact that at a moment in time someone thinks that he wants to commit suicide, or that she wants an abortion, does not mean that the humane response is to agree that is the best solution and facilitate it.

We know in the case of suicidal people that more often than not they change their mind with time and support. But the abortion industry does not want women to take time. There are medical reasons for that - but also psychological ones... and business ones.

Decisions taken under the duress of stress and others' influence, and without due reflection and support are often those which haunt us...

Lots of prayers required just now as the abortion providers step up their campaign against the pro-life camp.

Friday 5 August 2011

Lifting the curtain

While I have been querying Life's NDC policy quite strongly, I would hate it to be thought that I am not on their side.

So I have been having a look behind the scenes at Education for Choice, the people complaining about their counselling. Strangely, their Website is shy of identifying them. There is a page labeled 'Who we are' but it gives no names of any directors, trustees or staff.

However, their Website does make their biased position very clear. They proclaim:
We call for all young people to get accurate information and good quality education about abortion, and impartial support with pregnancy decision-making whoever they are, whoever they ask and wherever they go:

  • Abortion is free on the NHS
  • 90% of abortions take place in the first 12 weeks
  • About half of pregnant teens choose to end their pregnancies
  • If you have an abortion, you can still have children in the future
  • Women under the age of 16 can have a confidential abortion
  • Everyone has the right to confidential health services
  • Abortion is safe in the UK (in fact it's safer than pregnancy and childbirth)
  • There is no link between abortion and breast cancer
  • 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime
  • Although the pregnancy decision is the woman's young men have feelings and can also access support
  • The legal time limit for abortion in the UK is 24 weeks
  • If you have an abortion you can still have children in the future.
Now it may just be me, but it seems that they have a view on the kind of choice they think a pregnant young woman or girl should be making.

Then on their Help page there are links to (you guessed it) Brook, fpa, Marie Stopes, bpas and the British Association of Adopting and Fostering. I make that a ratio of 4:1:0 in favour of abortion:adoption:keeping the baby.

And we are supposed to believe that they are the right people to make any kind of objective evaluation of Life's counselling services?

Doubtless there will be a huge hue and cry, led by the Guardian on behalf of Brook and the others to vilify Life. But so far there has been not even been any evidence produced that these mystery shopping visits took place. The Guardian should perhaps look to that first.

Make no mistake, the gloves are off, and it is the pro-choice (or more accurately pro-abortion) lobby's fury that Life have a seat at the policy table that sits behind this attempt to discredit them.

Regular readers will know that I am not an uncritical friend of Life - and indeed if the 'mystery shopping' took place as described there are certainly organisational issues that need to be addressed - but this attempt to demonise and then sideline them should be firmly resisted.


I have just found that EFC have 5 promotional videos on Youtube that also shed light on their approach to impartial information giving and education... Search on Educationforlife

Wednesday 3 August 2011

More on NDC and Life

Blondpidge pointed me at an interesting article in the Guardian. Pro-choice advocates did some 'mystery shopping' at Life and other Crisis Pregnancy Centres and did not like what they found.

From this it is quite clear that there is no neutral position available on abortion. Amongst the complaints were that counsellors talked about "the child".

The alternative is of course to use some other terminology, or avoid talking about the child at all.

But to do that is not neutral: it is actively denying humanity to the weakest of the weak at precisely the moment they need their humanity affirmed.

If that is the price Life and others pay to have their BACP membership, I think it is too high a price.