Showing posts from November, 2010

Bishop Kieran Conry's Pastoral Letter for Advent

As promised (and with thanks to Prayers for the Bishop) here is His Lordship's pastoral letter for Advent...
'My dear brothers and sisters in Arundel and Brighton,

One of the most striking paintings in the Millennium exhibition of images of Christ was that of the English painter Stanley Spencer. It was an image of the resurrection of the dead on the last day. But it was taking place in his home village of Cookham on the Thames. It shows people waking and stretching, the joy in their faces as they recognise their family and friends, and the fact that they are alive again. They then walk down to the Thames and get into the boats that take them to the promised land of heaven.

You might say that this is a rather fanciful and even frivolous image, but it is one of the common Christian understandings of the experience of death, that one day the dead will all hear the call of the Lord and rise from their graves.This notion of a final day of resurrection is also expressed in today’s go…

Impassioned Muslim Speaks Out in Defence of the Poor of Brighton

At the BUCFP today, I met Mohammed Asaduzzaman, a Muslim and former manager of 'Goa Spice of Life' restaurant in Brighton. He has decided to volunteer at the BUCFP to cook once a week for the poor and unemployed of Brighton, which is a marvellous thing.

I had my video camera on me and he was very interesting to talk to so I decided to interview him on video for the blog. He says he wants to make a documentary about homelessness in Brighton to 'shame the Council'. I think that's a very good idea.  With all the stories we hear about Islamic militancy in Iraq, Pakistan and other countries around the World, it was wonderful to hear what Mohammed had to say about love, justice and peace. May God bless him.

A New, Homeless Arrival in Brighton

Actually, make that two, at least. The picture on the left is of a homeless man, Ray Slater, who was told by Brighton and Hove City Council that he cannot pitch his tent in a Brighton park.

In early November, The Argus apparently reported that Mr Slater was 'issued with a notice from a park ranger telling him he is breaching a bylaw and trespassing.'

Well, I don't know what happened to Ray. I pray he is okay, but it really is very cruel of the Council to issue such a notice to someone who is otherwise without shelter and is totally exposed to the elements. What are they saying? That he can sleep in the park but can't be protected by any form of waterproof material that you can peg into the ground? The Council are fully aware that as a Liverpudlian, Ray will have had no recourse to local housing or access to a hostel place because he will not have had a local connection. In other words, "You're not from round here, are you, son?"

Well, it just so happens t…

Nature's Law

A band try to explain Church teaching on natural law...

The Default Setting of Society is Eugenic

Ed West has written a piece on eugenics, labelling it a creation of the 'left' rather than the 'right' in his piece, 'Eugenics is not right wing', written in the wake of Lord Howard Flight's remarks that the poor need to stop 'breeding', or something such like. Hatred of the poor and the weak is not a 'left'-'right' discourse. It is a human discourse.

Eugenics is still around, it never went away, having received a bad reputation when millions of Jews, mentally handicapped, homosexuals and brown-haired 'non-aryans' were exterminated by the Nazi regime. It didn't go away, just moved on and called itself something else. Ed is right to draw attention to one of its disguises in 'family planning'.

Of course, it is true to say that eugenics is a danger when a society disregards the sacred and worships the profane, but the Old Testament and New Testament bear a true witness to societies that were inherently eugenic. The e…

'Pandora' Pope Can Restore Our Hope

Rorate Caeli, instead of combing exhaustively (as many of us have) through the Holy Father's words on condoms in his interview for Light of the World, and leaping to his defence/calling for his head, has posted a rather beautiful illustration of Pandora opening the box.

Obviously that's what some Catholics think. With 61 comments and counting, there are some absolutely scathing 'anonymous' comments about the Holy Father's remarks, so it just goes to show that traditional Catholics can do nasty cowardice too.

Anyone would have thought that His Holiness had just gone on a visit to the Holy Land and blown up the Church of the Nativity. The key accusation, levelled at the Successor of St Peter, that springs out from the page, is 'imprudent', a word used by one or two commentators.

The dust will settle. I don't think many brothels around the World tonight are throwing Pope parties and ordering in stack loads of assorted condoms now that they've finally b…

Abortion Rates for Under 20s on the Rise

Not much time for a blogpost today (working day, you know!), so I thought I'd draw readers attention to The Telegraph article on abortion.

In an article written by the 'Consumer Affairs Editor' (which goes to show the degree to which abortion is now treated as a service as much as a child is treated as a commodity), one gets the distinct impression that the whole 'safe sex' message is not yielding good fruits.  Of course, all we need to do is build a condom factory on the outskirts of each town and both teenage pregnancies and the resulting abortions will be halved by 2014...right?

Does the Principle of Double Effect Work for Infertility?

Yes, indeed it does.

If one of a married couple is infertile or becomes infertile, the principle of double effect comes into operation and holds theological water, in stark contrast to condoms.

This is because while the outcome of sexual intercourse is known not to result in new life due to one partner lacking fecundity, no practical attempt has been made, either through intention or application, through the employment of a barrier between spouses, to thwart the creation of new life or to restrict or inhibit total self-giving in marriage.

It is not the sin of the couple that means that no new life will come about, because they are fulfilling the unitive purpose of sexual intercourse within marriage.

Furthermore, the couple do not defy God's sovereign power or the supernatural gifts of God, in as much as history bears witness to the power of the intercession of the Saints in granting, by their prayers, to a number of couples, the number of which is not negligible, who piously adhere…

Does the Principle of Double Effect Work for Condoms?

I am in touch with a Priest who advocates the use of condoms in marriage when one partner is HIV positive, in contradiction of what Catholics understand to be the teaching of the Church.

His defence is an appeal to the principle of double effect. In other words, because the intention of the HIV positive partner is not to transmit the virus to his or her spouse, the use of the prophylactic is not intended to exclude God's place as Creator in the act of union, but to strive to reduce significantly the chance of infection of his spouse.

The fact that every single time (assuming that the condom does not fail) he makes love to his wife, the outcome may be to exclude God's creative purpose in lovemaking is, he holds, an unintended side effect, thereby not just mitigating, but removing the guilt that would have been his.

The example cited by Church theologians is that of a doctor who gives more morphine to a patient than usual with the intention of relieving pain. Even if that dose o…

Condoms Packets Tell the Truth About Condoms

Here is what it says on the back of a packet of condoms:

'No method of contraception can give you 100% protection against pregnancy, HIV or sexually transmitted infections.'
That is why Durex is never sued because, despite condom use, HIV has been transmitted to sexual partners in some incidences, the number of which is not known.

Therefore, even if a married man who is HIV positive were to use a condom, he still places the future health of his wife at some considerable risk, despite the fact that the risk is difficult to quantify.

Therefore, even if the Holy Father were to have suggested that condom use in marriage, where one partner is infected with HIV, was justified (something that His Holiness definitively did not say), Durex themselves advertise on their product that their condoms are not 100% effective and that no contraceptive method can provide 100% protection.

What loving husband would be willing to 'reduce' the risk of transmitting HIV to his wife by using a …

That Condom Interview: Full Book Excerpt from BBC News

BBC has the full excerpt of the interview with the Holy Father which discusses the Church's position on the use of condoms.

Peter Seewald: "On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican's policy on Aids once again became the target of media criticism. Twenty-five percent of all Aids victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church's traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church's own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms."

Pope Benedict: "The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on Aids. At that point, I really felt that I was being p…

Why Pope Benedict XVI's Next Visit Will Not be Sponsored by Durex

The Telegraph reports today on the Holy Father's interview preceding the publication of his new book, Light of the World. It has been leaped upon by the media, and Catholics of a liberal disposition, as a ground-breaking and seismic shift in the Church's position on artificial contraception. It is anything but.

Pope Benedict XVI's words only serve to underline his pastoral concern for the salvation of souls, his hope for the redemption and the temporal and more profoundly spiritual rescue of the very vulnerable. It amounts to a humble prayer for those in peril, for their discovery of Christ's redeeming love. Here are the words that have caused controversy.

"There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be ... a first bit of responsibility, to re-develop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes," Benedict was quoted as saying."But it is not t…

US Couple's Vote on the Life or Death of an Unborn Child

A shocking story, here. A couple in the US are putting it to an online vote to decide whether to have their baby or to abort the child. Pete and Alisha Arnold decided that deciding upon the life or death of their child is a bit like that moment in the gameshow 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' when you get the chance to 'choose 50:50', 'phone a friend' or 'ask the audience'. The baby, of course, only gets one lifeline.

Pictured (left) is a scan of the baby at 18 weeks. According to the site, named, shamelessly,, 'December 9th is the last day we could legally get an abortion in our state. This vote will remain open until 2 days prior to allow for the procedure if decided.'

Interestingly, the couple have been posting 3-D ultrasound scans of their unborn child, describing the image of the unborn child at 16 week as 'our little alien'. How touching. Still, credit where it is due, they do acknowledge, at least, that this is …

If only the 'Religion of Peace' had a Spiritual Leader Like the Pope...

It is very easy to denounce Islam in the light of the cold-hearted, bloodthirsty fanaticism that resulted in the horrific destruction of human life witnessed at Our Lady of Salvation, Baghdad. The question is, is it fair?

Watching Fr Nizar Semaan, an Iraqi Catholic Priest in the United Kingdom, speaking of his hope that Iraqi imams might issue a fatwa on those who actively seek to kill Christians, it struck me that Islam suffers from a lack of hierarchy and spiritual leadership.

Islam, as we can see from the violence in Iraq between Sunni and Shia Muslims, appears to be as schismatic, if not more so, than Christianity and Judaism. Yet, from evidence in recent years, Islam also appears to be the most violent religion on Earth, or, at least, the religion which appears to tolerate violence the most, the religion which seems to foster the seeds of violence in disaffected, young men, be it in Iraq, or indeed, Wakefield.

What would be fantastic, of course, is if Islam had a figurehead and a…

Economic Disasters 'R' Us

From the international to the national, to all too close to home, the economic crisis is claiming victims. I've looked at my bank account today and exclaimed, "S**t! It's an financial crisis!"

My personal situation would be improved considerably if Verde Plants, the company who employ me to maintain Jury's Inn Hotel's flowerbeds on a monthly basis, paid me the £315.00 for work hired until the end of September, now rising to £350.00 for work hired until the end of October that they owe me.

For literally weeks I've been calling the company, asking the man who hired me, politely, to pay me, or at least to tell me when I will be paid, as my current financial situation is starting to mirror the cartoon pictured (left), as it is for so many. Who knows? I mean, I might want to buy some Christmas presents or something! I half-wonder if they're deliberately putting me off because they've ran out of money themselves. I'm sure there's something in th…

4thought on Abortion

A reader has kindly sent me some information on '4thought', Channel 4's public forum on real life stories. Impressively, for a mainstream media outlet, the channel is showing a series of small films covering individuals whose lives are or have been touched by abortion.

The first film clip is here. Yesterday, Rachel Bass discussed her abortion under the title, 'Is abortion ever justified?'. Members of the public are free to comment on the film.

The Pro-Life Alliance is highlighting the series of films. In the first one, practising Christian, Rachel Bass, decided to have an abortion after discovering her baby was severely disabled, but believes that God understands the difficult decision she had to make. Upon watching it, I have to say that the idea of arguing that 'God understands the difficult decision', despite having commanded us not to destroy innocent human life, is morally and theologically, extremely problematic. I'd like to say it is the result o…


Paul, a chap who until relatively recently was living homeless in Brighton and using St Mary Magdalen's Soup Run, dropped by to my flat last night. We talked about the benefits proposals of Iain Duncan Smith and together we watched Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire and chuckled when we saw ourselves on TV.

Paul was on TV twice, once at the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project (BUCFP) and at the Soup Run. Karla Lena of St Mary Magdalen's Church was also filmed dispensing soup to the homeless. I was on camera, very briefly, looking a bit shifty, asking for a cup of tea at the canteen of the BUCFP and wearing a silly black hat. We had a job search together online, as we're both out of work. While searching for jobs I came across this one, which seemed quite lavish in terms of public spending, given that we are at a time of economic crisis...

Job No: BWH/32327Employer Reference: SG0029Wage: GRADE M10/M11:£29,236 TO £35,430Hours: FULL-TIME 37 HOURS PER WEEKLocation: …

The Problem with Vassula

The other day after serving at Mass, I was just about to change out of my cassock and cotta, when I was approached by a slim, black man with a package in a big white envelope.

He asked me to give it to Fr Ray Blake, saying it was a "gift" and so give it to him I did. Fr Ray, in the sacristry opened it. It was a book that looked like a kind of weird new Gideon's Bible with a CD and flyers for 'True Life in God'. The fact that this book was presented as a Bible was, to put it mildly, disconcerting!

'True Life in God' is a massive book, a voluminous collection of writings, claimed, by Vassula Ryden, to be a collation of intimate conversations between her and Our Blessed Saviour, emerging through 'automatic writing'. She puts pen to paper and, according to her, Christ speaks to her everyday and, through her, to the entire listening World. Crikey! Such a claim demands thorough investigation, since if this is true the writings may be both important and …

Joe Cocker Sings Dylan's 'Dignity'

Good song. Here Joe Cocker takes up one of the themes often discussed by the Holy Father.

Draconian Britain: Is Cameron Envious of the China Model?

The Telegraph today highlights a new development in the Coalition Government's far-reaching 'reform of the reform' of the benefits system. The article says...

'Anyone claiming unemployment benefit will have to sign a "three strikes and you're out" contract setting out punishments for the work-shy. Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, will announce a "claimant contract" which will set out the sanctions against those refusing to take up offers of work.
Those who fail to accept a job offer, or refuse to apply for a position recommended by an employment adviser will, on the first occasion, lose their £64-a-week Jobseeker's Allowance for three months.If they do it a second time their benefit will be halted for six months. If they refuse for a third time they will lose the benefit for three years.Those who refuse to take part in unpaid community work, which will become mandatory as part of the Government's new welfare-to-work pla…

In the Absence of God, the State becomes God

Ed West has written an excellent article on a new study that belief in God may be inversely correlated to belief in Government.

I think every generalisation is open to accusations that one is being crude, but it seems that there is a certain strand of atheist on the 'left' who replaces God's Divine Power and Sovereignty over human affairs, with the State. In the absence of God, as V.I Lenin asked, 'What is to be done?' Unfortunately, when the State has too much power over individual freedom and liberty, things usually get messy, even with the best of intentions. Above is Jonah Goldberg, whose book, 'The Rise of Liberal Fascism', Ed cites in his article, talking about why fascism is a product of progressive movements of the 'left', rather than the 'right'. Brighton is one of the most left-wing towns in the United Kingdom. It is a town well known for its 'liberalism' and yet the State rules with an iron fist over the poor. Here is Jaso…