Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Voice of the Family team leaves Rome inspired by Epistle at Mass today

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.
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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

More human beings killed by abortion in 40 years than in all wars in recorded human history

This is a tragic day in British history

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.

It's estimated that more human beings have been killed by abortion worldwide in the past 40 years than people have been killed in all the wars in recorded human history.

We simply have to act

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.

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I am interviewed on BBC's Today programme about Family Synod

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.

The Pope

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.

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Sunday, 25 October 2015

Participant's account of a Synod compromising between good and evil, truth and a lie

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.

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