Sunday 15 October 2017

More good news from Lancaster

Our venerable bishop, +Campbell, has published a blog post in support of the pro-Life movement.  In it he writes, inter alia:
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the (1967) Abortion Act in Britain, we recall we’re citizens of heaven first and we have pro-life obligations to the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the elderly and the refugee.  But abortion is foundational. There’s no way around it. It’s the cornerstone issue for any society because it deals with the most basic human right of all – the right to life.
He also takes a passing swipe at the Tablet, which has further degraded itself (who knew that was possible?) by publishing an attack on Catholic teaching on abortion.  +Campbell writes:
Some Catholics – including some periodicals and newspapers who claim to use that name – seem simply embarrassed by the abortion issue.
The Tablet's editorial is behind a paywall - and even if it were not I would hesitate to link to it - why encourage them?  However, I have read it, and it is described in brief here, which also contains an excellent response from another of our good bishops, +Davies.

+Davies also attacked the Tablet:

'Sadly there are journals which use the name "Catholic" but are not reliable guides to the faith and teaching of the Catholic Church.'
Damian Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of the Catholic Herald, asks (on Twitter) what the Tablet would have to do to get banned from Westminster Cathedral. However, I also note that so far it is Christian Today, and not the Catholic Herald, that carries +Davies' criticisms.

Nonetheless, the question is a good one: when will Westminster Cathedral set the lead and stop selling the Tablet?  And if it continues to sell it, why does it do so?

I haven't been to check, but I would be astonished to find that it is still being sold in either Lancaster or Shrewsbury Cathedrals, after the comments from the respective bishops - and I hope that all the churches in their dioceses (and, indeed, in others) follow suit. When good bishops lead, it behoves us all to follow.

Thursday 12 October 2017

Beyond the rhetoric

Those who style themselves pro-choice are fond of rhetoric. 

Some is simply silly (Keep your rosaries off my ovaries being a prime example).

But some sounds as though it might mean something. Who could argue with A woman's right to choose? But of course, that sentence is never finished. For most could argue with a woman's right to choose to kill a child.  And that is the choice in question.  Indeed, when people are audacious enough to offer other choices to women, as the Good Counsel Network does, they must be prevented, and the full weight of Officialdom will be brought to bear on them.

Listen to these women, who thought their only choice was to abort their babies, but who were offered an alternative:

 And of course, women who choose, as Clare McCulloch and her brave associates do, to offer such a choice to women in distress... why their choice is not valid at all.

And the reality of choice exposed by videos like this is that many women 'choosing' abortion are forced into it, whether by the circumstances of their life, or by the men in their life...  Some choice...

The other slogan that is particularly popular at present is Trust Women.  But of course, they are only to be trusted if they are doing what the abortionists and their fellow-travellers want them to do .  They are not to be trusted to offer support to other women in distress, to help them to find other solutions than the killing of their children. 

When confronted with reality, the rhetoric rings rather hollow...

Sunday 8 October 2017

The Silence of the Media

I quite enjoyed Damian Thompson's article in the Herald about the Catholic Cyberwars, though my regulars will realise I may have a slightly different take on this.

However, I think he misses a significant point: the reason the Catholic blogs have some traction in this country at least, is because neither the Bishops' Conference nor the Catholic Press are doing their job properly. And Thompson, as a director of the Herald*, really should reflect on that.

One of the striking aspects of the CES Scandal has been the near-silence of the media, both Catholic and secular. To be fair, the Catholic Herald has run a couple of pieces, but both very understated. For example, here Nick Hallett mentions the contradictory statements regarding funding, but does not press the point, still less do any investigative (errr...) journalism. Likewise, he writes: "sections of document appeared to have been lifted from materials produced by gay rights groups Stonewall and lgbtyouth Scotland." Had he taken the trouble to fact-check, he would not have written 'appears' - unless he is covering for the CES. There is no appears about it: the proof is evident for all to see.

But neither he nor any other Catholic journalist has pursued the questions in the way one would expect a journalist to. One would have thought this story was a gift to a journalist, with issues around funding, collusion with Stonewall etc, and the obfuscation and complete lack of openness and transparency of both the CES and CBCEW. So why are they asleep at their desks? 

In that enormous silence, 
Tiny and unafraid
Comes up along a winding road
The noise of the crusade...

(of Ben Trovato, Mark Lambert, et al).

(*amended later on 8.10.17 to report DT's role at the Herald accurately - had wrongly said 'editor'. Mea culpa and thanks to Bro Eccles for pointing out my carelessness)

Saturday 7 October 2017

Talking of unanswered questions....

... we have never had a satisfactory answer about the funding of Made In God's Image. The CES has issued contradictory statements, but failed to explain the contradiction.

Not surprisingly, rumours persist that the CES accepted money from Stonewall.

That, of course, is one of the inevitable results of the policy of silence: people will fill in the gaps, and not always in the way one would wish.

That is one of the practical reasons the Nolan principles are so important. There are ethical considerations, too, of course, but perhaps we shouldn't set our sights so high...

And in practice, it means that when (as is inevitable) dribs and drabs of information seep out, and pesky people like me start to comment on them, energy and attention are focussed on seeking whom to blame and excoriating people for the leaks, rather than focussing on the real questions, such as: have we actually got this wrong? What should we do to put it right?

If those questions had been addressed earlier, we might not now be in a situation where backtracking risks a real loss of face, and, (far worse) where some schools reading the cues that Stonewall et al are the authorities on these issues, have developed and imposed immensely harmful policies of trans affirmation.

And still the rumours about funding persist: did Stonewall fund the distribution of Made in God's Image? If not, who did? And if nobody did, why did the CES proudly announce that they had "received funding to cover the printing and distribution of a hard copy for each school"?

Thursday 5 October 2017

Too little, too late

If it is true that Made in God's Image is to be revised, to bring it more closely into line with Catholic teaching, that is good news. And if that is the result of bishops realising the deficiencies of the document, and demanding that such changes be made, that is more good news. On top of the restoration of (some of) our holy days, it suggests that the bishops are moving in the right direction.  However, due to the culture of silence that pervades the CBCEW, we don't actually know...

But in the meantime, great harm is being done. Several Catholic schools, such as Sacred Heart, Hammersmith (the school my sisters attended many years ago) are now adopting trans-positive policies. Is there a connection between this and the CES's apparent endorsement of the Stonewall agenda? It seems probable. Note the head mistress' language on the topic: 'Every child at our school is made in the image of God...' Whilst a self-evident truth, the use of that phrase in this context suggests the baleful influence of the scandalous CES document.

This is very bad, for both theoretical and practical reasons. At the theoretical level, Stonewall's philosophy is antithetical to Catholic truth. You cannot serve both God and Tatchell...

But at the practical level, not only is there the issue of corrupting the consciences of young people, but further, of laying the Church open to serious claims of harm in the future. For the affirmation of young people in transgender identities is something that the professionals are very wary of, and they are also wary of Stonewall's passionate advocacy of this approach.  I have quoted this previously, but I unapologetically quote it again, and in more detail, as it is so important. It comes from a meeting hosted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health:

Peter Tatchell’s human rights rallying call after lunch felt incongruent after we had seen the sobering reality of what is actually done to the bodies of young people who ‘persist’ in gender dysphoric feelings. It was out of place in an event specifically about children and which was otherwise encouraging of alternative viewpoints. Who would dare raise any objections to the ‘affirmation’ approach after his tirade against ‘transphobia’ 
The presentation by Mrs Terry Reed, Trustee of the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) in the morning similarly jarred in its certainty that transgenderism has a biological cause, during an event where professionals consistently emphasised the uncertainty in both the explanation for, and the treatment of, gender dysphoric youth. 
It begged the question of the place of advocacy groups at a medical and clinical conference such as this. Three of the breakout workshops after lunch were led by such groups, GIRES, Mermaids and the Intercom Trust, all groups certain of the need to ‘affirm’ trans-identified children.
For, as the report also notes: 
 There were also questions about the huge jump in referrals of teenage girls to the Tavistock, the group most likely to both suffer associated mental health problems and to progress to adult services. Absent an agreed etiology for ‘gender dysphoria,’ the question implicitly raised about these young people is: are they really ‘trans’ or are they simply non-conforming young people who have been presented with a new way to conceptualise their problems and a new tribe to join which provides them with acceptance and approval? 
The issue was inadvertently touched on by Professor Stephen Whittle of the Manchester Law School, showing slides of young people with slashed arms and commenting that this “didn’t happen in my day because it wasn’t presented as a possibility” and that “now kids learn quickly from social media.” It is only political sensitivities which prevent us from considering the same explanation for the sudden unprecedented number of teenage girls who bind their breasts and identify as boys. 
Professor Katherine Johnson, Reader in Psychology at Brighton University, showed slides of interviews with young people which were revealing of what a ‘trans’ identity means for teenagers: “Cis people think you should conform” said one interviewee. The binary of ‘cisgender’ and ‘transgender’ has come to represent ‘conformity’ v ‘non-conformity’ in the minds of young people: is a trans identity now the only way for teens to distinguish themselves as not conforming? In which case, what self-respecting teenager would want to identify as ‘cis’?
And perhaps more troubling still:
One of the leading researchers in this area, Thomas Steensma from VU University, Amsterdam, confirmed in his afternoon presentation that there is ‘no true data’ to support an ‘affirmation’ approach above one of ‘watchful waiting’ and that only a minority of gender dysphoric children persist in those feelings. He stressed the ‘need to be balanced and honest,’ admitted that ‘we don’t know a lot,’ advised that ‘we should keep all possibilities open’ and suggested a less prescriptive approach.
(Source: the whole piece is well worth reading.)
So the experts don't support the 'affirm' approach which Stonewall advocate, and which now some Catholic Schools are imposing on parents and children. 

This is important, as there is evidence that between 80 - 95% of children with Gender Identity Dysphoria find that these feelings decrease or disappear in time - unless they are put on puberty blockers, in which case (in the one study I know of) 100% went on to physical surgery. As children as young as 12 are being treated with puberty blockers, you can see that the risks of affirmation are serious and irreversible.

What do we know about trans-regret?Unfortunately, the research cannot be done, as it is politically incorrect. That in itself shows the way in which this agenda is being pushed for political reasons, not on the basis of any evidence. It is shameful that Catholic Schools - and indeed the CES - should have been swept along by Stonewall propaganda, rather than consulting the medical and psychological experts in the field; and even more damningly, without consulting the truths about human nature and human well-being of which the Catholic Faith is the guardian.

It will not be long - inside ten years, I dare wager - before troubled young adults are bringing actions against their schools and the Church for putting them on a path to transitioning that has permanently damaged them, physically and mentally. Apart from the huge injustice to the children (and also their peers, corrupted by this false ideology), this will be yet another blow to the credibility of the Church in this country.

Our bishops need to be aware of this likelihood, and take much more decisive action. Quietly amending Made in God's Image will be too little, too late. Please write to them, in charity as ever, and ask them to address this issue as a matter of priority.

And pray for them, as ever.

Monday 2 October 2017

The Power of Silence (3)

In this third post, I consider a further aspect of Silence. In the first, I reflected on its positive powers; in the second, on the evils of imposed Silence with regard to the truth. In this one, I am concerned with Silence from our bishops and their agencies (one may also read across from this to silence from our Holy Father).

When the scandalous document Made in God's Image first came to my attention, I wrote to several bishops and the Director of the CES, as did others. Their responses fell into three categories (with one exception). Most simply did not reply. A few told us that we were writing to the wrong person. And from the remainder, we got the famous Q letter (see here and here).  Given that Q addresses none of the issues raised, I think that counts as Silence - a refusal to engage with the issues.

Given that I thought this important, I wrote again to +McMahon as head of the relevant bishop's committee, and received an assurance that he would discuss the matter with the head of the CES. That could be read as a sincere next step, or a brush-off. So I wrote again, asking for an assurance that when he had done so, he would communicate the outcome: as the issues are important, I should be told if I am wrong, or changes should be undertaken if I am right. The response (you guessed it) Silence.

In the meantime, I heard that several bishops had refused to allow Made in God's Image to be issued in their dioceses. But oddly, I could find no public reasons for that. So I wrote to them, asking about that, and asking whether my making a noise about all this was unhelpful in some way I didn't know, and whether I should, therefore desist. (Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I have been silent about this for a while: I was awaiting responses to these various letters.)

Three of them have not replied; one, my own good bishop, has done so. He did not address my questions head on, but instead referred me to +McMahon.

So how am I to read all this Silence? If several bishops believe the document is not in conformity with Catholic teaching, why will they not say so? Surely considerations of a facade of unity are less important than the corruption of Catholic teachers and children by wrong teaching?

It may be, of course, that their are tactical reasons for their silence, as they seek to address the issue behind the scenes. But I specifically asked if I should shut up about this, and not one of them said I should.  So I interpret that silence as tacit permission to keep making a noise about it.

And now a rumour reaches me that the CES has announced to the bishops that the document will be revised and reissued. Is that true? If so, does it concede there is something wrong with the first iteration? If so, teachers deserve to be told.  But d'you know what? There will be Silence.


With all respect to their Lordships, this is a very unwise path to tread. Whilst I understand the positive Power of Silence as alluded to by Cardinal Sarah (see the first post in this series), the Silence of teachers when error is promulgated (or of leaders when evil is perpetrated)  is not discretion, but dereliction.

Episcopal silence has already done tremendous damage in this country, and the culture of Silence (I had almost written omertà) has facilitated the unfortunate Conry episode,  the deception of the faithful about the leadership of CAFOD, and countless cases of abuse; quite apart from the silence about all the difficult parts of Catholic teaching over the past 50 years (with a few honourable exceptions).

Pray, then, for our bishops, that they may all be worthy successors to St John Fisher.

Sunday 1 October 2017

The Power of Silence (2)

Yesterday I posted about the power of silence in its most positive manifestation. Today, I am concerned with another aspect: the power of imposed silence.

One of the reasons I am troubled by Made in God's Image, and the ideology it implicitly (and at times explicitly) pedals, is that it imposes silence.  There are certain things that may not be said; and in particular, certain truths that may not be told.  For a resource for Catholic Education, that is a very serious charge; so here is why I am making it.

The language of Made in God's Image pre-supposes certain things that Catholics do not believe, and stigmatises the expression of beliefs that Catholics do hold. Right at the start, we read: 
Homophobic bullying is bullying that is based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people. Homophobic bullying may be targeted at students who are, or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay or bi. It can also suggest that someone or something is less worthy because they are lesbian, gay or bi. 
This is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, it reifies, or treats as real, categories such as 'lesbian, gay or bi people.' This is language (as indeed is the very term homophobic) that has been wrought to further the ideology of organisations such as Stonewall, and LGBTYouth Scotland whose work is copied and pasted into this document in large quantities. Yet the Church does not categorise people in this way. 

More worrying still is the idea that any expression of negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people is bullying, and therefore a disciplinary offence. Likewise suggesting that someone or something is less worthy because they are lesbian, gay or bi becomes a disciplinary offence. 

Thus it becomes impossible to say things like: 
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 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. (CCC §2357)

I find it particularly interesting that serious medical professionals, meeting to discuss these issues, should find the interventions of pressure groups problematic: 
Peter Tatchell’s human rights rallying call after lunch felt incongruent after we had seen the sobering reality of what is actually done to the bodies of young people who ‘persist’ in gender dysphoric feelings. It was out of place in an event specifically about children and which was otherwise encouraging of alternative viewpoints. Who would dare raise any objections to the ‘affirmation’ approach after his tirade against ‘transphobia’ 
The presentation by Mrs Terry Reed, Trustee of the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) in the morning similarly jarred in its certainty that transgenderism has a biological cause, during an event where professionals consistently emphasised the uncertainty in both the explanation for, and the treatment of, gender dysphoric youth. 
It begged the question of the place of advocacy groups at a medical and clinical conference such as this. Three of the breakout workshops after lunch were led by such groups, GIRES, Mermaids and the Intercom Trust, all groups certain of the need to ‘affirm’ trans-identified children. (Source: the whole piece is well worth reading.)
Yet it is precisely to such pressure groups that the CES has turned for advice and it is their definitions and their case studies, designed to silence any debate or dissent ('Through discussion, make clear that all of these scenarios are homophobic in different ways'
  - p22)
 that they are touting in Made In God's Image

Having recently read Gabriele Kuby's well-researched book, The Global Sexual Revolution, I am much clearer than previously that this muzzling of opposing viewpoints, the imposition of silence on those who disagree with the new (im)morality, is part of a very deliberate and all-pervasive strategy, which is called 'gender mainstreaming.' 

If you have not read Kuby's book, you should. Pope Benedict XVI said: 'Mrs Kuby is a brave warrior against ideologies that ultimately result in the destruction of man.'  She highlights the Yogyakarta Principles (YP), which seek to overturn the established morality of Western Civilisation (that of all the Abrahamic religions, for example) and replace it with a new hedonism, based purely on subjective feelings of identity. 

It is, perhaps, typical that the YP wwwsite states 'The result was the Yogyakarta Principles: a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. ' Whereas the (referenced) relevant line in Wikipedia reads: 'These principles have not been adopted by States in a treaty, and are thus not by themselves a legally binding part of international human rights law.[2] '

Kuby explores the purpose and methods of those behind these Principles, including their explicit intention both to obfuscate their own goals, to prevent genuine research into these issues (see here, for example) and to silence, or failing that to criminalise, those who disagree with them.

It is in this context that I believe that the bishops in our country have gravely erred in admitting Made in God's Image into our schools: a document that both misrepresents reality, and imposes silence on those who would present Catholic teaching. This is all so much bigger, more organised, and better funded (by the UN, EU, Gates, Soros, etc etc) than I had realised initially.  That is why I believe I cannot keep silence on this issue.

Pray for our schools, the teachers and the children; as well as for our bishops, and the CES who have been the dupes of this powerful propaganda movement.