Friday 31 July 2009

The Catholic's Guide to Gay Pride

Today is Gay Pride Day in Brighton, a day when homosexuality, lesbianism, transvesticism, transexuality and bisexuality, but mostly homosexuality, are celebrated openly in broad daylight in front of the public, including small children. Scandalous! Every good Catholic knows that this kind of thing is meant to be kept behind closed doors, if it is to be kept anywhere. Preferably, the doors are closed tight on a closet in the attic which has been sealed under lock, key and reams of gaffa tape. Of course, we've got Oscar Wilde and his Bosie who died having embraced the Holy Faith and we honour them, because even if they had a steamy love affair, they wouldn't have been seen dead at a Gay Pride march and thanks be to God for that! They had class and a sense of decency!

O Christian soul! You have been called from Darkness into the Light of Christ. Armed with the weapons of Faith, Hope and Charity you must fight the good fight and do battle with the roaring lions of London Road, in order to defend Holy Mother Church and win souls to Christ, knowing He loves every man, woman and child He has made. So then, take the Gospel not just to the pagans, but lo, to the gays as well! Here then is your Catholic guide to Gay Pride Day...

1. Arise early in the morning, make the Sign of the Cross and say your prayers. You could be ripped limb from limb by the gays this very day, or worse, be embroiled in a dance routine to Kylie with a sexually licentious throng of overly sexed men, the wild animals that they are, so these prayers may be among your last. Pray to St Stephen, Proto-Martyr of the Church for the Grace to forgive your persecutors should they lose their temper with you or try and convert you to their sordid lifestyle.

2. Take a blessed Crucifix and holy water for your travels. Leave your hot pants, your Frankie Goes to Hollywood 'Relax' t-shirt and your feather boa at home because for today at least, you won't be needing any of them. Even if, Heaven forbid, deep down, you yourself are strongly attracted to members of the same sex, this marching nonsense must stop and pronto! The only processions men and women should be involved with in this town are processions of the Blessed Sacrament on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and that is a scientific fact. Ask Richard Dawkins and even he will agree.

3. Approach the hoards on London Road as they march upon their descent into the heart of Brighton, hold aloft your Crucifix and cry out, in a loud voice. "Behold, gays, bis, lezzas and trannies of Brighton! I come to bring you the Good News of the Gospel! Why are you so hard of heart!? God loves you and Our Blessed Lord died for you so that you may place your trust not in the baser aspects of our fragile, fallen human nature, but in He who is Truth and Love Itself! Yes! We all struggle in one way or another with mastering our passions and our sexuality, but the Lord has sent me to tell you not to place your trust in vain and empty things, but in Him. Look! Here in my hand I have the Confessions of St Augustine, let me read you some...Look! In a Milanese Garden! I called out and You shattered my blindness!" Unfortunately, none of them can hear you because the first float is playing 'I Will Survive' by Gloria Gaynor at ten decibels, so your words are not heard. Few people have even noticed you standing there because they're all chatting to each other, cavorting shamelessly and having a good time. Hell-bent heretics!

4. Your initial evangelisation has failed. It was too general. You need to gain the attention of one or two people personally in order to preach the Gospel. So, during the march you sidle up to a couple of men blowing whistles and tell them about the riches of Christ and His Holy Gospel. Explain to them gently how you disagree with this kind of thing but God has sent you to preach to them the Good News of Salvation and that God is rich in mercy and in love, how Christ died for our sins but that He was raised and now longs us to be with Him in Glory. They have never heard the Gospel being preached so eloquently and with such tenderness and immediately are won over to the Church. "Thank you for telling us all about Our Lord," they say, "We just thought the Church hated us because we're queer, but now we can see the Love of God. We'll see you at Mass on Sunday and let us know when the RCIA course starts, sweetie!"

5. You have won converts to the Holy Faith through your sublime humility and trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say, which He did. But, did Our Lord just quit after a few converts?! Did St Francis?! No! So get stuck in and win more souls to Christ! You and your converts to the Holy Faith hijack a float by stealth and switch off Abba's'Winner Takes It All' and take the mic. "Oi, you reprobates...I mean...Brothers and Sisters! I'm glad to now have your attention! See these brothers here now wish to join the Holy Faith of Christ and become members of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They know that God loves them and wants them in Heaven with them and nothing but a short period of instruction, Baptism and a hearty Confession stands in their way of their path to Eternal Glory! Who knows!? If we pray for it we might be martyred or live lives of heroic virtue and miss out on Purgatory altogether! They now know that the love they seek lies not in the vanity of sin but in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Lord who is made present on the Altar at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Isn't this true, converted couple?!" The converted couple reply, "Err...yeah." A portion of a crowd has been won over. The rest are on ecstacy and love you whatever you say. Things are going well.

6. The march takes a route through the centre of Brighton, irritatingly stopping all daily, routine functioning of the town. Inspired by the Holy Spirit you disembark from the gigantic pink flamingo float and rearrange several diversion signs in order to direct the path of the march to your local parish Church. Liaise with your parish priest to organise a Traditional Latin Mass so that the poor lambs can pop in at will and be witness to the sublime beauty of the Latin Mass. At least half of the marchers will be converted by the Majesty of the Tridentine Rite and will be literally gasping for the forgiveness of Christ. Those who aren't touched by the Mass will be converted by the splendour of the Sacred Vestments and the lacy alb worn by the parish priest, because, if there's one thing gays can appreciate and love, its aesthetics, fashion and impeccably embroidered clothing. You have won now nearly 5,000 gay brothers and sisters over to the One True Faith, even the ones who already attend Mass regularly at your local parish Church on Sunday.

7. The march has been going on all day now but you still don't want to relent on preaching the Gospel. You realise that it is 7 'o' clock and the soup run is being held on the seafront. You know that gays are compassionate because that's what everybody says about the two men who live next door. So, divert the crowd once more so that all the LGBT fraternity can see the poverty of those living in Brighton and that while they're getting shitfaced on pills, coke and booze, the Lord Jesus's little ones are queuing up just for a cheese sandwich by the Peace Statue near the West Pier. The gays are moved to tears by the plight of the poor, even the really hard gays from London, and well over half the marchers recant their heresy and publicly state their desire to devote their lives in service of the poorest and lament their selfishness. "Yes!" they say, "The Lord is Compassion and Love! He takes pity on us in our weakness and shame! We too should take pity and give to His poor!" Many are heard saying, "I'm either going to become a missionary in Africa helping AIDS victims there or perhaps a Carthusian and seek the Face of God for the rest of my earthly existence."

8. The march is swinging in your favour. You send new converts to your local Church to gather all the CTS pamphlets, papal encyclicals and Latin Mass english/latin translations they can to disseminate among the entire flock of the marchers so that the truths of the One True Faith can be taught openly among the crowds. The majority love the Catholic Faith for they had thought that it was just a load of old mumbo jumbo that meant they were damned merely for their sexual orientation. But now they see the Holy Father is right and that the ecology of the human race is threatened by damaging and dehumanising ideologies concerning the reduction of our humanity to sex and its commodification. What is more most now agree that not only society but the Sanctity of Marriage and the Family are at stake here. Inspired by the Holy Spirit they sing God's praises like little blackbirds at morning's break.

9. The path of the march returns towards Preston Park. Enthusiastic gays have ran back to the tents to cancel the DJs, happy hardcore music and vendors of poppers, condoms and lube, so that they may be replaced with Eucharistic Adoration, recordings of Pope John Paul II saying the Rosary and inspiring talks from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal on the Blessed Virgin's status as Co-Redemptrix of the World. Many of your brothers and sisters now converted are organising Gregorian Chant workshops both for this festival and those in years to come. Those not fully converted to the Faith are content to sit and listen to Ronan Keating singing 'You Raise Me Up' on the stereo. Give these little ones time. They will come around eventually.

10. You are a gay icon and you revel in it. Hundreds of souls are now gay as a result of your work, but in the original sense of the word, in that they are happy because you have brought them to the Lord Jesus who loves them unconditionally and alone can make them truly happy with His teaching and His Church. Your work here is done. You can let your hair down and dance with the gays all night long singing 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' and 'Club Tropicana' with great hilarity and joy. Hundreds turn up to Mass the next day and lapsed gay Catholics are queuing up for a pre-Mass Confession...yourself included.

Holy Father Signed to Geffen Label

Courtesy of The Times

He is a debut artist with an established global following, a strong sense of style and a unique selling point that could make him a contender for the Christmas Number One album: he is the Pope.

Geffen, the record label that brought you Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses and the disco shimmer of Donna Summer announced yesterday that it will release an album of litanies and popular chants in November with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on lead vocals.

The project apparently has the full weight of the Pope’s personal support and the proceeds will be used to provide music education for underprivileged children around the world.

If it connects to even a small percentage of the world’s billion Catholics it should blow the likes of Jay-Z, Robbie Williams and Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent out of the water in the race for end of year here for more...

Thursday 30 July 2009

IVF and 'Screening'

I was in the car driving to do some gardening today listening to Radio 4. You can listen to it in BBC IPlayer here. It was an interesting piece on IVF and 'Screening' in a programme called the 'Inside the Ethics Committee'. I understand that as Catholics we do not necessarily agree with IVF anyway. Leaving this to one side, however the programme raised some important issues. It ended up as a focus of the case as it should really be presented. An examination of eugenics in IVF and the medical profession as a whole.

As the BBC IPlayer website notes it is a series in which Joan Bakewell is joined by a panel of experts to tackle the ethics involved in a real hospital case.

They examine the case of Ayesha and her bid to receive fertility treatment. Ayesha has a genetic condition which causes muscle weakness and curvature of the spine. She is in a wheelchair and heavily reliant on her husband and others for day-to-day tasks such as getting out of bed, having a shower and going to the toilet.

By law, the welfare of any child born through fertilty treatment has to be assessed, and Ayesha's case is no exception. But how does her disability and future health affect the welfare of a child? Is it ethical to put the needs of someone who doesn't exist yet above those of someone who does? Should a fertility treatment request be treated any differently if one of the parents has a disability rather than a life-threatening illness like cancer? Whose job is it to decide what makes someone adequate parents? (Well, quite!)

There is a 50 per cent chance that her condition will be passed on to any future child. It is possible to screen out the condition in affected embryos. But Ayesha says she would accept any child regardless of its condition and wouldn't want any screening (her actual words were, 'every child is a gift from God!) The law says you cannot screen in a disability, but says nothing about screening one out. Is it ethical to consider screening for embryos in effect with the same conditon as Ayesha's if she was offered fertility treatment?

The most impressive speaker on the 'ethics committe' was a lady called Alice who had much to say regarding the idea of parents being a 'burden' to their children who may have the same condition as them, the hypocrisy over disability that politically correct society often displays and the simple and true assertion that she is angry that IVF clinics are basically saying they would rather 'screen', terminate, or eliminate people with the same condition as her. Go on, girlfriend! You flippin' tell them! Anyway, have a listen, if you are interested.

Neglect? Or Poverty?


The Daily Mail today highlights the story of how a mother-of-four who 'let her children live in appalling conditions' who has been 'spared' jail. How kind of the court not to imprison a mother who has in all likelihood just lost all her children!

'The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was handed a suspended jail sentence after she admitted four counts of child cruelty at Hull Crown Court. The children, aged two, four, six and eight, were discovered dirty and lice-infested in their home after teachers at their school became concerned for their welfare.

An investigation by Social Services found that living conditions on the first floor of the Hull house were 'appalling'. The children's bedding was soaked with urine and the beds broken, with springs sticking out of the mattresses. They were forced to sleep without covers as no proper bedding was provided, and there was excrement on the floor and in open trays on the landing. In addition, the floors were strewn with rubbish and debris, and the rooms infested with flies.

The children were described as 'unkempt' and 'incredibly dirty' when they were found.
They were lice-ridden, and there was a lack of food provided for them. Prosecutors described the living conditions as entirely unsuitable for young children and hazardous to their health and welfare. Conditions on the ground floor, where the mother is believed to have slept, were said to be 'a little better'. The mother was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking after the sentencing on Monday, Jon Plant, head of safeguarding and development at Hull City Council, praised the school for raising their concerns about the children. He said: 'In this case, the swift action of the school meant that children's social care and the police were informed as soon as possible and able to take action to protect the children. 'The teachers' actions must be praised and this is an example of how agencies across the city work together to safeguard the well-being of children and young people in Hull.'

At ATD Fourth World we heard from many, many mothers who had experience of living in squalor like the pictures above and who raised children in it. In years gone by, the squalor and degradation generated by grinding poverty was the focus of such great writers as Dickens and Orwell. Their writings were fused with compassion for the poor. The grinding poverty they described evoked shock in the British audience at the time that such living conditions could exist. Yet they still exist. But that was then? This is the 21st century! Perhaps what shocks polite society is that squalor exists still today and that the very poor still exist, yes even in the United Kingdom. Living on next to nothing is not easy. Living in poverty is not easy. The mother of these children may have had serious depression and could not cope with the responsibilities of raising her children. 

Yet Social Services in this case might have quite a lot to answer for. Social services are now the enemy of every poor family struggling to raise their children, of every family whose children are 'at risk' of neglect according to social services. These children have doubtless been taken into care and 'rescued' from an 'unfit' mother.  Yet, not only have these children been removed from their mothers care and probably been put into foster care with strangers, or worse a care home, but the poor mother had to stand trial for neglect of her children and only narrowly escaped a jail sentence. 

What I wonder, did social services do for the family? What support network did they put in place for the mother? Where was the home help she needed? Where was the counselling and medical help for depression? Where was the help?! Social services remind me of the Pharisees who Our Lord rebuked so strongly for putting heavy burdens on the poor and who 'don't even lift a finger to help them'. I expect, having heard so many stories from mothers who have had all their children taken into care due to 'neglect' that social services did nothing to support the mother who in all likelihood could not cope. What they probably did do was barge into the home and swipe the children away only to spend money that they could have spent in family support on paying a foster carer or a care home instead. Add onto that the amount of money the State will have spent in actually prosecuting this desperate and now publicly maligned human being and you have a serious amount of cash that they could have spent in trying to keep the family together. Did they bother? No, they did not.

Mothers and families are afraid of social services now. Even if mothers and fathers ask for help, it is often when they ask for help that they fall into a system which actively works against them, which instead of helping and assisting them in areas in which they are struggling to care for their children, grinds them down even further, forces them into a corner and then finally takes the children away when certain conditions and criterion have not been met. These social services workers will have judged only by appearances. They are unjust judges who look at the living conditions of the poor, and instead of evoking within them some compassion for the family, and the mother who is finding it hard to cope, only see the protection of the child as a priority and swipe them away, leaving both the children and the mother absolutely devastated and heartbroken.

The Mail also reports on a mother who is now having her 13th child, having had her previous 12 children removed by social services, most probably at birth. Mail readers, of course, are condemning her, as do the social services, for continuing to try to be a parent. Doubtless middle Britain wants 'people like that' sterilised so they cannot have children. Yet, all she wants is to be a mother and fulfill the right to have a family, after so many years of having her children taken away and put into care. Social services do not allow people the grace to be able to change, or improve their parenting abilities. Like the Mail almost always does with the very poor, they blame the poor for their own plight, condemn them and do all the things Our Blessed Lord told us not to do. 

I could bang on about this for a good hour or two and then some. Suffice to say, we have not progressed as a society as long as we continue to blame the poor for their living conditions created by grinding, deep and long-term poverty. At the End of Time, social workers, as well as myself and all will stand trial before the Face of God at the Last Judgment. What, I wonder, will Our Lord say, to those who ripped apart families when they could have given the family support in order to keep them together? Instead, they chose the 'easy' option. Do not the tears of mothers and children ripped apart from each other by a callous mob of judges cry out to Heaven? Do not the tears of the very poor ascend to the Throne of God who has compassion for the poor?

The woman concerned cannot be named for legal reasons. I, for one, would be very interested to know what her side of the story is. I fear, however, that I have heard it so many times before. 

Congrats to Fr Tim Finigan on Your Jubilee

Yes! I was there too and in esteemed company! Mulier Fortis, Fr Ray Blake, Fr John Zuhlsdorf of WTDPRS fame and many other Catho-bloggers turned up to Fr Tim's Jubilee Mass. It was superb, a beautiful Mass and incredible grub with a choir singing polyphony. I sneaked a desert into Fr Richard Biggerstaff's car on the way home and had to have a peppermint tea when I returned to Brighton to soothe the stomach ache. It was a night of indulgence on two counts since I believe I was in receipt of a plenary indulgence by merit of the fact I attended Mass at this Jubilee. Thanks be to God! I don't know why, but it has something, I think, to do with the fact it is the Year for Priests. What a year it is for some of these wonderful priests God has given us who are celebrating 25 years since their ordination! We are truly blessed to have these Priests.

I was glad to see there were more gladioli than you could shake a stick at in the splendidly large, white tent erected to house all the attendees. Look, there's me in the tweed jacket talking to a very charming and fine man called Matthew who has just got married. I believe this was the point when I discovered he was a musician, teaching and playing piano. "Oh," I said, "You're a proper musician!" He was lovely and what is more, is a little Brother of the Oratory in London. So we had a good chat about that. Look! The tall priest is Rev Dr Alcuin Reid of liturgical splendour fame! Everyone there was very effusive about Fr Tim. He is well-loved by his parish and deservedly so. He made a cracking speech afterwards and raised a toast to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, who he rightly pointed out as the man who has made the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass not just a possibility, but something to be encouraged to the Church. Congratulations once more, Fr Tim. May your ministry continue to fruit, flower and blossom for many years to come!

Monday 27 July 2009

The Government's 'Sin Bins'

The Telegraph reports that tens of thousands of the 'worst families in England' are to be put in "sin bins" to improve their behaviour, under a government scheme.

The Government, still mired in corruption allegations following the expenses scandal, a Government so morally impeccable that they vote for abortion on demand, embryonic experimentation, gay civil partnerships and adoptions, dish out condoms to kids and a Government that is doubtless paving the way for euthansia laws to be implemented soon, have suddenly decided to believe in sin.

But the only sinners in the UK, as far as the Government is concerned, are 'problem families' who suffer poverty, exclusion and suffer from the associated drug and alcohol problems so often present in 'sink estates'. Oh, and people who put chewing gum on the pavement...these are the worst sinners of all. This Government only believe in any kind of morality when it suits them and they are far more shameless than any of the families that they look down upon.
'Under the Government scheme, members of "Shameless" families are given intensive 24-hour supervision to make sure children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Parents are also given help to stop them leading dysfunctional lives and to combat drug or alcohol addiction. Around 2,000 families have gone through Family Intervention Projects, but ministers intend to increase its scope to 20,000 more in the next two years – each costing between £5,000 and £20,000.

Ministers hope expanding the scheme will reduce the number of youngsters who become drawn into lives of crime because of their chaotic family lives. The projects are operating in around half of all council areas, but Children's Secretary Ed Balls said he wanted every local authority to fund them.

"This is pretty tough and non-negotiable support for families to get to the root of the problem," he said. "There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need that support."

Expanding the projects is part of moves aimed at reducing youth crime revealed in the Government's Youth Crime Action Plan.'
24 hour supervision? Families will have their own live-in 'supervisor'? At ATD Fourth World, families were crying out for state support. That is support of a caring nature, rather than belittlement or humiliation. The support that ATD Fourth World offered, in the absence of real help or support from social services was a lifeline to families in London and beyond. The organisation was set up by Fr Joseph Wresinski, who had himself been raised in deep poverty.

Of course, nobody is suggesting that all is well in poor families or communities blighted by poverty. It just sounds as if the Government is about to launch a War on Poverty, which like every war the Government launches, like the 'War on Terror', or even the 'War on Obesity', will doubtless result in, if not bloodshed, then more pain and suffering for families, rather than actual family support of any good whatsoever.

Think I am over-reacting? Well, this is from the Home Office website detailing the plans...
'The use of sanctions is an important lever for motivating families to change. Demoting tenancies or gaining possession orders suspended on the basis of compliance with the projects or, for some, the very real prospect of children being taken into care, can provide the wake up call to take the help on offer. Too often these families have been told that action will be taken but is then not followed through, creating a sense among family members that they are untouchable.'
The great problem with secularism, the great poverty of secularism is that it always fails to treat the weakest and most excluded with dignity and it always ends up in a War on someone. Secularism fails to attribute to whole communities, nevermind individuals and families, their true dignity as children of God. That is why this Government will fail in every attempt to wrestle with poverty and social exclusion. It is happening already of course, but more and more, the very poor will be criminalised, and yes, this will result in an increase of children being removed from their families, being placed into care and put up for adoption. I have a good interview on this subject coming up with a lady I met living in Moulescomb coming up and will post it soon. The true stories of people living in poverty must be told and this is as good a place to tell it as any.

Friday 24 July 2009

Gonorrhoea Down, Herpes Up!

The BBC Reports...
'The number of gonorrhoea and syphilis infections has fallen, latest figures for the UK show, although diagnoses of genital warts and herpes are up. Statistics from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed the number of new gonorrhoea (goneinyourear!) infections was the lowest in nearly a decade.

Overall sexually transmitted infections was up last year by 0.5%, mostly due to the increase in herpes and warts. Those aged between 16 to 24 are still disproportionately affected by STIs. While just 12% of the UK population falls into this age group, they account for more than half of all new STIs diagnosed in the UK.

They saw 65% of new diagnoses of chlamydia (nice name for a daughter), which remains the most common STI - with a total of 123,018 cases. However the rise in the number of infections with this disease, which can cause infertility if not treated, has slowed markedly.

The HPA suggested the significant rise in the number of herpes and warps diagnoses was probably down to the the greater use of more sensitive tests (rather than rampant sexual activity among the young!).

"Early detection is vital for both men and women as some infections, particularly chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital herpes, can often have no symptoms. This means people may be unaware that they are infected and can pass the infection on to others," the HPA said in a statement.

"We need to continue to encourage safer sex, including condom use, to help reduce the spread of STIs. We also recommend that anyone with a new or casual sexual partner gets tested regularly at a GUM clinic or through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme."'
I see. How interesting. Shouldn't someone tell the HPA, otherwise known as the Herpes Purveyors Association, and perhaps the BBC as well, that condoms do not protect anyone from catching herpes or genital warts, since it is not transmitted through penetrative intercourse but is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, especially during intimate sexual contact. This includes kissing, oral sex and contact with the genitals or anus. The herpes virus may sometimes be transmitted through a cut to the skin. I know this because I just looked it up on some website and Fr Tim Finnegan told me so last week.

But we'll ignore the facts shall we and just keep telling kids to use condoms anyway even though they're utterly useless in combating the most common sexually transmitted disease in the UK?

Thursday 23 July 2009

Polish Franciscan Monks Singing Vespers

Andrew, another altar server who serves at the Latin Mass on Fridays and the third Sunday of every month at St Mary Magdalen's, and I, are very keen to start a Sunday Vespers at St Mary Magdalen's with Fr Ray. Listen to these Polish Franciscans singing it. Very beautiful and quite hypnotic.

Soup Run Queue is Growing

Everybody knows times are hard, work is growing more scarce and the cost of living is high. For the past few weeks I have noticed that the soup run queue on the seafront has been getting steadily longer. Yesterday, for the first time, I noticed a family in the queue for the sandwiches and coffee including two little girls aged around 7 to 9 years of age.

When a mother and father are struggling to feed their children, you know that times are very hard. This is the reality of poverty in the UK. For fathers, poverty and unemployment is humiliating, for couples poverty is a source of conflict and arguments, for parents poverty can mean going without to feed your children. For children, poverty can mean social exclusion and bullying at school.

Ed West of the Catholic Herald is coming to St Mary Magdalen's today to talk about poverty and the Faith with me. I feel slightly uncomfortable about it. I think that the experts on poverty are people who are truly poor or at least have experience of it. True poverty results not merely in financial insecurity, but exclusion from society. The Gospels bear witness to this in, for example, Our Lord's healing encounters with those suffering leprosy. Poverty can result in a kind of social leprosy.

People living in long term poverty are often stigmatised and made outcasts. In the parish of St Mary Magdalen's we have one lady who lived a long time in 'cardboard city' in London but was able thanks be to God to find help and support to escape homelessness. I have an hour or two before the interview and will endeavour to get the gist of Caritas in Veritate in preparation for it. Say a prayer that I may not say anything too dumb and that I may give God glory.

The experts on poverty are those living in poverty. People living in poverty do not need well-meaning spokesmen or women, when they can speak for themselves...if somebody takes time to ask. One of the effects of poverty is that people feel without a voice. At ATD Fourth World, it would take sometimes months of encouragement to enable families who are enduring poverty, even in the midst of widespread affluence and wealth in the 'good times', to talk about their experience in a microphone and share their experiences. Some of these families went on to be able to explain poverty to thousands at commemorations, at policy forums with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty and even at the United Nations. That, I feel, says a lot more than I could possibly say. Still, I will do my best.

Hold Your Unborn Child

See The Telegraph, here, for a picture gallery which details a new scanning technique allows expectant mothers to hold a life-size model of their unborn child. Jorge Lopes, a Brazilian designer, developed the ground-breaking technique for his PhD at London's Royal College of Art. "It's amazing to see the faces of the mothers. They can see the full scale of their baby, really understand the size of it," said Dr Lopes.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

"I'm Not a Saint"

"I'm too sexy for this job, too sexy for this job..."

Silvio Berlusconi, under mounting allegations, no pun intended, has come out in the press and said, 'I'm not a Saint' in his defense.

It's an interesting phrase and one that I've used myself quite a few times when a friend or two has been shocked by something I have done. "I'm only human!" or "I'm no Saint!" are jolly good a point. Yet, there is something rather defeatist about the statement. Our private falls are humbling and remind us of our need for God's mercy. When someone in public life, 'falls from Grace', it must be very humbling indeed, perhaps a little humiliating, because its all over the papers. To be frank I feel sorry for anyone who has their private life turned over in public. It's pretty grim, I'd imagine. Wake up in the morning, look at The Times, 'Oh, my sex life is all over the front page again. Darling, have you seen my glasses? Darling? Darling!'

Clearly, Mr Berlusconi has a sex addiction and being very wealthy, popular and powerful, there is plenty of temptation around him which on various occasions he has given into. My sins are many in number and kind and I wouldn't judge Mr Berlusconi on his weaknesses. But somehow, saying, 'I'm not a Saint' is missing something. I suppose the problem with the statement, 'I'm not a Saint' is that it can express a certain defiance, a kind of, 'This is me and you can take it or leave it, because I'm not going to change' attitude, because 'I'm not a Saint'. Secondly, it is a lot easier to say, 'I'm not a Saint' than it is to say, 'Pray for me. I have screwed up royally this time. Bigtime! I am a poor sinner seeking the Mercy of God'. Thirdly, a man could commit heinous crimes against women, children and men, slaughter whole villages, eat their babies for breakfast and then turn around to a horrified public and say, 'Well, what do you expect? I'm not a Saint!'

St Paul says that as Catholics we are 'called to be Saints'. Our Blessed Lord told us to 'be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.' The standard of the Gospel, the standards of Christ are so high and indeed we do fall short. For 'all have fallen short of the Glory of God'. But God is Good and God is Mercy and Love. Our Lord picks us up when we fall, longs to embrace us again and wipe away our tears. He knows and loves Mr Berlusconi and all of us possibly more than we can know or truly appreciate in this life.

In other words, Mr Berlusconi may say to the Italian public, 'I'm not a Saint', but the reality is that Sainthood is something to which he and every Catholic is called. Mr Berlusconi may not be a Saint. I may not be a Saint. But both Mr Berlusconi and I have been called by Christ not to defend our vices by negating that Glory to which we have been called, but by saying, 'Lord, I am a poor sinner, make me into a Saint!" Then, after he's been to Confession and told the Lord all about his misdemeanours he can walk out of the Church having done his assigned penance and say to the press, "Listen you cockroaches, the Lord has just taken away all my sins because He loves me and died for me. Why don't you think of doing the same yourselves, you toerags?! I'm off home to go and try and patch things up with my wife and kids and as for you, go and look at yourselves before judging me! I may be a poor sinner, but I know that my Redeemer liveth and with His help, with His Grace, I will be a Saint!"

Well, that's what I would say, if I were famous and ever caught with my pants down in public.

Franciscan Knights: An Order for True Romantics!

Keep praying sisters! Sterling job! We brothers are going down the pub...I mean to feed the poor!

Inspiring article on Catholic Online

In medieval days, knights were men who were elevated by their king and consecrated to a position of trust. These noble and faithful men would pledge to give their very lives to the service and protection of their lord and his kingdom.

Today, members of the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, a vibrant community of consecrated young men deeply committed to the Catholic faith, provide that very service for their Lord and King, Jesus Christ, through their work at the magnificent Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Angels Monastery in rural Hanceville, Ala. Situated on 400 acres of lush farmland along a remote country road some 45 miles north of Birmingham, the Shrine receives thousands of pilgrims each year who seek to nourish their faith amid this sacred and peaceful environment.

The Shrine and monastery, home to a cloistered community of Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, were founded by Mother Angelica, the beloved nun who entered religious broadcasting in 1981 on little more than a prayer and developed the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), the largest and most popular religious media network in the world. EWTN is headquartered some 50 miles to the south in the Birmingham suburb of Irondale, where the nuns resided in the original monastery until their relocation to the present site in 1999.

The Knights of the Holy Eucharist represents part of the resurgence of vocations in the Catholic Church developing from the “new evangelization” promoted by Pope John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict XVI. Its members have as their primary focus the fostering of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament as well as the assistance and protection of the nuns of the monastery. Along with maintaining the grounds and facilities, the Knights host clergy, brothers, and seminarians on retreat; serve as acolytes at Shrine liturgies; and provide assistance for pilgrims.

Community members live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience but do not profess public vows. In their daily work and personal contact with pilgrims, the Knights also seek opportunities to evangelize by performing works of charity and providing instruction and comfort when necessary. Putting aside the things of this world, they live by the motto of their patron, St. Francis of Assisi: “My God and my All.”

The Knights strive for a structured balance of work and prayer. In addition to their assigned labors, Knights participate daily in Mass, the Rosary, Morning and Evening Prayer, and two hours of scheduled adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. They also take formation classes three days a week, make a Holy Hour on Thursday evenings, and plan a monthly one-day retreat.


Check out Fr Ray's blog for a picture St Mary Magdalen dressed to the hilt in gold, purple and white. She looks fantastic!

Tuesday 21 July 2009

World's Elderly to Overtake Number of Infants

Could the answer to this trend lay in a decrease in the number of these?

Courtesy of The Telegraph
The world's population is becoming steadily greyer with the number of people aged over 65 on course to overtake the number of infants for the first time in history, a study has found.

With every passing month, another 870,000 people turn 65 and the world's cohort of pensioners becomes larger still. Thanks to rising life expectancy, their ranks will soon be growing by almost two million a month and, by 2040, their numbers will have doubled to 1.3 billion.

This will reduce the size of the working population and impose huge new pension costs, threatening to reduce the overall growth of the world economy.

The US Census Bureau predicts pensioners will soon overtake the number of infants under the age of five because old people are now increasing faster than the very youngest human beings. The lines on the graph will cross within a decade, marking a decisive moment in the greying of the globe.

Richard Suzman, from the National Institute of Ageing in Maryland, which commissioned the new study, said: "Global ageing is changing the social and economic nature of the planet. The fact that, within 10 years, for the first time in human history there will be more people 65 and older than children under five in the world underlines the extent of this change."

Hmm...Interesting. These figures are not just due to rising life expectancy are they? What are the yearly figures on abortion again? Ah yes, approximately 43 million abortions worldwide, every year. Is the human race aging while less children are being born? Yep! Incredibly, observers are looking at Obama's 'Health Care Reform' plan thinking that this trend looks set to continue...unless, that is, Obama is considering a more pro-active approach to the elderly population by introducing a more euthanistic 'health service'. He couldn't be, could he? Catholic Online suggest this is very likely.

St Anthony: The Saint With A Finger in Every Pie

When he is this close to God is it any wonder He hears him?

I sometimes wonder whether Heaven gets irritated by St Anthony of Padua. As patron of lost items, he is often called upon by the Faithful at times when keys are missing, mobile phones are under couches or when people are looking for stuff in general. He has a broad CV of miracles to present before the Throne of God and God is notoriously fond of him and enjoys glorifying him on Earth and in Heaven, for his great virtues. Yesterday, my friend asked me to open his can of spam which he was having difficulty opening. I asked jokingly who the patron saint of can opening was and he didn't know.

I think, in these areas of confusion over which saint intercedes for which necessity, St Anthony seems to be a good and reliable fall back saint. If I don't know who intercedes for something I go with St Anthony because he is a safe bet. He tends not to disappoint.

So, in my heart I said a quick prayer to St Anthony and hey presto the can of spam opened easier than a lid off your tub of margarine. But other saints must get a little irritated that St Anthony is on their turf intercession wise. "That's my speciality!" some other saints must say. "Oi, Anthony! Stick to finding stuff will you!" or "I could have opened that spam if only someone had asked me, but oh no, its Anthony this, Anthony that! I don't know, other than continuously praising, adoring and worshipping the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity I sometimes wonder why I am here. I only get about 50,000 prayer requests a day, whereas he get well over 50 million."

Meanwhile St Anthony stands there smiling saying, "I think I'll handle this...Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Your Heavenly Father rolled away the Tomb at Your Glorious Resurrection. Please now, in Your Great Mercy, do the same for this spam."

Good St Anthony of Padua, pray for us in our needs that we may always rejoice in your holy intercession. The lady in my life is suffering back pain and I have had a scout on the internet for the patron saint of back pain. Is there one listed? No! So, you know who I'm going to pray to for her, don't you? In the absence of anyone else coming forward with a speciality in back pain..."Oi, Anthony..."

Fr Z is in Town!

Fr Zuhlsdorf, priestly starlet of 'What Does The Prayer Really Say?' blogging fame is in Brighton! Look! To prove it, he has even posted a picture of a chinese meal which he ate in Seven Dials! Yes, I'd recognise that chinese anywhere! I hope he drops by for a slavishly accurate interpretation of the liturgy at St Mary Magdalen's over the next few days!

Correction: This was Seven Dials in London. However, I can report Fr Z is to be in Brighton very soon!

Correction: He's not coming to Brighton, he's off to Eastbourne!

Monday 20 July 2009

Masses of Masses

Missa Cum Jubilo

Missa Orbis Factor

Missa De Angelis

On the third Sunday of every Month, St Mary Magdalen's has a Tridentine Mass. My friend and fellow parishioner, John, and I, yesterday 'had a bash' at singing the Missa Orbis Factor, as well as singing psalm tones to propers. Our choir leader, Clare is away at the moment, but we thought we would have a go while the choir takes a break.

Unfortunately, we made a dogs dinner of the Gloria and the Sicut in holocausto. Once we had lost our footing in the Gloria we panicked and this only made it worse. Apologies to the congregation and Heaven that had to listen to it! For the time being we are being encouraged to stick with the Missa de Angelis until we feel confident enough to sing the Orbis Factor, or possibly the Cum Jubilo one day. It is great that there are so many resources on the web on singing the Mass. The trick is to rehearse and to do it prayerfully so that one day we can sound as sweet as the monks in these videos...Now there is a challenge!

Sunday 19 July 2009

Social Services: The Hounds of the Family

The way in which Social Services judge families is often based upon prejudice and is often marked by unfair and unjust judgmentalism. I knew so many poor families at ATD Fourth World who had experienced this at the hands of Social Services. Social Services are on the front line of the erosion of the second most fundamental right after the right to life - the right to live as a family...

Article by Christopher Booker courtesy of The Telegraph

Two weeks ago I reported as shocking a story as this column has ever covered. It described how a loving family was torn apart when the parents were arrested by police on what turned out to be wholly spurious charges, so that their three children could be taken into care by social workers. As reported on another page, it now seems this awful episode has come to a happy ending.

However a new case has lately been surfacing, if anything even more shocking. This also involved the arrest of two parents and the abduction of their child by social workers, in a story so bizarre that, at last week's Prime Minister's Questions, Gordon Brown was asked about it by the family's MP, Charles Hendry, who has long been concerned with the case because the mother is a vice-chairman of his local Conservative Association. The family's horrified GP says that, in 43 years of medical practice, he has never "encountered a case of such appalling injustice".

I first planned to describe this case in April, but was pre-empted by the draconian reporting restrictions on family cases, which, for reasons which will become tragically clear, have now been partly lifted.

The story began in April 2007 when "Mr Smith", as I must call him, had a visit from the RSPCA over the dog-breeding business he ran from the family home. He had docked the tails of five new-born puppies – a procedure that had become illegal two days beforehand. Unaware of this, he promised in future to obey the new law.

Three days later, however, at nine o'clock in the morning, two RSPCA officials returned, accompanied in cars and riot vans by 18 policemen, who had apparently been tipped off, quite wrongly, that Mr Smith had guns in the house.

Armed with pepper spray, they ransacked the house, looking for the nonexistent guns. The dogs, released from their kennels, also rampaged through the house. When Mr Smith and his wife, who was three months pregnant, volubly protested at what was happening, they were forcibly arrested in front of their screaming five-year-old daughter "Jenny" and taken away. Two hours later, with the house in a shambles – the dogs having strewn the rabbit entrails meant for their dinner across the floor – social workers arrived to remove the crying child.

Held for hours in a police cell, Mrs Smith had a miscarriage. When she was finally set free, she returned home that evening to find her daughter gone. It was the beginning of a barely comprehensible nightmare.

Her husband was charged with various offences connected with the dogs, including the tail-docking, but was eventually given a conditional discharge by a judge who accepted that he was "an animal lover" who had not been cruel to his dogs.

Far more serious, however, was that the social workers seemed determined to hang onto the child, now in foster care, on the sole grounds that they had found the house dirty and in a mess (the "animal entrails" played a large part in their evidence). This was despite the testimony of a woman Pc (who had visited the house a month earlier on a different matter) that she found it "clean and tidy". Two hundred horrified neighbours, who knew the couple as doting parents of a happy, well-cared-for child, were about to stage a protest demonstration when they were stopped by the police, on the social workers' instructions that this might identify the child [ here for more...]

Thursday 16 July 2009

Vatican Says 'Wilde Was on Our Side'

Oscar Wilde, an example of a proper 'gay marriage', even if, like so many fathers, he made errors and mistakes and gave into his temptations. I am quite sure that if Wilde were alive and well and living in Brighton today, he wouldn't be seen dead at a Gay Pride march. He'd be attending Mass at his local parish Church...

Courtesy of The Times

In life, he was about as likely to get an audience with the Pope as Pontius Pilate. Now, more than a century after his death, Oscar Wilde has been claimed by The Vatican as one of its own.

Wilde, who died in 1900 after finding God and converting to Roman Catholocism on his deathbed, has long been regarded by the Vatican as a dissolute homosexual who was sentenced and imprisoned for acts of gross indecency over his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas.

However in a review of a new study, The Portrait of Oscar Wilde by the Italian writer Paolo Gulisano, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said that Wilde was much more than “an aesthete and a lover of the ephemeral”.

He had been “one of the personalities of the 19th century who most lucidly analysed the modern world in its disturbing as well as its positive aspects”, the review said.

Wilde was often celebrated by the gay world as an example of an artist persecuted because of his homosexuality, but another Wilde was coming to the fore, “not just a non-conformist who loved to shock the conservative society of Victorian England” but also “a man who behind a mask of amorality asked himself what was was just and what was mistaken, what was true and what was false”.

Even in his famous comedies such as The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde had shown himself to be a troublesome and irritating social critic who preferred common wisdom to the false certainties of his time, the Vatican paper said, quoting his aphorism that “the things one feels absolutely certain about are never true”.

It went on: “The existential path which Oscar Wilde trod can also be seen as a long and difficult path toward that Promised Land which gives us the reason for existence, a path which led him to his conversion to Catholicism, a religion which, as he remarked in one of his more acute and paradoxical aphorisms, was ‘for saints and sinners alone — for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do’. "

Wilde had always been in search of the good and the beautiful, and had embraced God after his dramatic experience in prison, L’Osservatore Romano said.

Moves to rehabilitate Wilde began two years ago when his aphorisms were included in a collection of maxims and witticisms for Christians published by Father Leonardo Sapienza, head of protocol at the Vatican. It included such Wildean gems as “I can resist everything except temptation” and, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it” — not exactly orthodox Catholic teaching.

Father Sapienza said that Wilde was a “writer who lived perilously and somewhat scandalously but who has left us some razor-sharp maxims with a moral”.

Pope Benedict XVI, a vehement opponent of gay marriages or civil unions, has reinforced Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a disorder. Men “with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” are banned from training for the priesthood under Vatican rules. On the other hand the Pope has often belied his reputation as a dogmatic hardliner since his election four years ago, for example devoting his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, to spiritual and physical love.

Wilde, who was married and had two children, was arrested and tried in 1895 over his relationship with Lord Douglas (known as Bosie), son of the Marquess of Queensberry, who had accused Wilde of sodomy. The writer sued Queensberry but lost, and was sentenced to two years’ hard labour and imprisoned in Reading Gaol.

He displayed a long fascination with Catholicism, once remarking: “I am not a Catholic — I am simply a violent Papist.” He was born in Dublin to a Protestant family but fell under the spell of Catholicism at Oxford. He even made a journey for an audience with the Pope but declared: “To go over to Rome would be to sacrifice and give up my two great gods: money and ambition.”

He died at the Hotel d’Alsace on the rue des Beaux-Arts in November 1900, with a Catholic priest administering the last rites. He is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Fame At Last!

I've been asked by someone from the Catholic Herald if I would like an interview. Bizarre! I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact my parish priest offered the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for my intentions yesterday. Hoping against hope that I was just about to be rescued from financial ruin by someone other than my ever-forgiving parents, I assumed it was an offer of a job interview, rather than an interview with me for the paper itself, because, aside from updating a blog along with a veritable army of other Catholic lay bloggers, being a book-keeper for St Mary Magdalen's Church and a rather shambolic amateur busker in Brighton, I'm really not much of a story...Hmm...this Polish beer is nice. I could get used to this!

Anyway, I digress. What I enjoy about blogging is that I can preach the Gospel, rather than my Gospel. I can defend the Church, rather than my Church. I can proclaim the Faith rather than discuss my Catholic faith. I say that not because I believe in any other Gospel than the one proclaimed by Holy Mother Church, but because it appears that all that public Catholics seem to want do is discuss 'my Catholic faith' rather than the Catholic Faith, cough, Cherie Blair, cough. What I enjoy about being a layman is that I can do so with perhaps more freedom than one who has entered the Church.  This means that I can cause offense without having to, say, worry about what some Bishops might think, say, if some of them were not preaching the Gospel of Christ or defending the Deposit of Faith given to the One True Church.

That, I think, is why I feel uncomfortable with the idea of an interview. If someone actually asked the question, "So Laurence, tell us about yourself," then I would really struggle. Don't get me wrong. I do have a 'story', but then don't we all.  Mine revolves around broken relationships, homosexuality, the search for true meaning, suffering, God's unconditional love for me and all our brothers and sisters, gay or straight or indeed, whatever colours of the rainbow you feel called upon to mention and the Christian vision of true happiness to be found in selfless service in the vocation of...Well, I'm still searching.

I just got off the phone with my Polish girlfriend. I've come so far in the devout love of God that I managed to forget her birthday even though she texted me to warn me it was her birthday the very day before. Clearly, I was so rapt in ecstatic prayer that I forgot about it entirely. It isn't because I'm a self-centred fantasist at all, no...I don't know what she sees in me. I'm broke, bent, unemployed and right now, not even maintaining my personal hygeine. While it is true to say that I'm so in deep into the closet that I'm convinced I have found Narnia, I do fall in love with ladies. She is such an adorable creature. Secretly, I'm hoping it is God's will that we marry and have 25 children in reparation for the contracepting couples throughout Our Lady's Dowry and we live happily ever after in a cottage some place. I don't think God has found out that's what I am secretly hoping for yet. Other than my Eternal Salvation, I'm not quite sure what God is hoping for with regard to me.

You see what happens if you start talking about the intricate and complex details of your life in public? Mayhem! That is why, ultimately, when we are called upon to bear witness to Christ and His Church, it is God that should be glorified and exalted, rather than ourselves. We must preach the Gospel, 'in season and out of season'.

I had some quite moving comments on a recent post regarding the issue of homosexuality. Holy Mother Church in Her teaching does not exclude anyone from Her membership. She teaches that we exclude ourselves from the Banquet of the Lord when we fall into mortal sin. God is still calling men and women with complicated lives, objective moral disorders, messy pasts, difficult presents and insecure futures, broken reeds into the One True Faith.

If Holy Mother Church altered any teaching on the issue of homosexuality then She would be lying. If she said that the condition of homosexuality was not an 'objective moral disorder' then She would be lying. If She said the act of homosexuality was not a sin, She would be lying. I and others I know understand well the pain and shame of discovering that your sexuality is not what you had thought it was. It is heartbreaking and many do take their lives because of it very tragically. Not only that but as Archbishop Vincent Nichols said in his interview with Channel 4 on the very issue, it is not a matter of "success" with regard to the daily struggle in overcoming our sins. It is Grace. It was the Grace of God that called us into Baptism. It is the Grace of God that calls us to the Sacrament of Penance. It is the Grace of God that permits us to receive Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist and ultimately, with regard to our temptations and trials it is a case of there by the Grace of God go I. God does not deal with us according to our sins. He deals with us with great and tender mercy. 

Holy Mother Church proclaims Salvation to all. In union with the Holy Father, the Bishops and Priests and the Religioius Brothers and Sisters, we Laity are called upon to pray and bear witness to the truth that God is Compassion and Love and to proclaim the Gospel firmly and with charity always. At St Mary Magdalen's many people, myself included do not necessarily 'fit' the mould. Many of us are living complicated lives and there are many people with 'issues'. This is Brighton, after all. I don't know, maybe we've just got a good and kindly parish priest, but all we are ever given at St Mary Magdalen's is the Gospel of Christ. Deep down, the Gospel of Christ and yes, to know that God is Love, is all that every person wants, whatever his or her sexuality may be.

Dignitas Membership Card

In light of the news that famous conductor, Sir Edward Downes, 85, and his wife Joan, 74, tragically opted to travel to the Dignitas clinic to have themselves put down, I discovered on The Times website that almost 800 people are now members of Dignitas. The clinic charges €4,000 for assisted suicide. That is, they take your cash and then they kill you. Dignitas are the kind of clinic who describe killing people in the same way a gangster might describe 'taking out' a rival gangster. They 'help you along'.

Above is a possible membership card for the organisation. I was also wondering what other perks and benefits being a member of Dignitas can bring. I don't know, perhaps a monthly magazine containing interviews with now dead people who only have good things to say about their imminent date with their Maker at the hands of the clinic. Perhaps a death roll of all the people who have been killed this month with the Star Employee award for the nurse who has helped knock off the most 'patients' or 'members'. Or perhaps one of those novelty tourist t-shirts. "I went to Dignitas and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and a lethal cocktail of barbiturates. It's even more useless to me now that I'm dead."

As far as I can see there are no benefits to being a member of Dignitas. The only rewards are financial and the only ones who reap the rewards of membership of Dignitas are, well, Dignitas. They must be the only organisation who leap for joy when their membership is actually declining...ker-ching...

History is littered with men and women who 'helped people to die'. Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Jack the Ripper...Heck, those guys enjoyed helping people to die so much they didn't even charge.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Man Dies in Bin Outrage

A body found at a Newhaven industrial waste site was crushed to death, a post-mortem has revealed.
One would have thought that two Brighton men having very recently narrowly escaped death by crushing in one of the town's refuse lorries would have served as ample warning to bin men to check each communal bin for human life. It would seem the warnings went unheeded. Outrageous and scandalous!

Courtesy of The Argus
Union bosses have renewed their calls for urgent action over the safety of Brighton and Hove’s new communal bins following the death of Scott Williams. The GMB raised concerns earlier this year following two cases in which rough sleepers escaped death after sleeping in communal or business wheelie bins.

Now, it appears Mr Williams, 35, was not so lucky, being crushed to death after having been in a communal bin when it was loaded onto a refuse lorry. It is calling for investment in safety checks and condemning cuts to the refuse budget which mean no loader is now employed to check nobody is inside the bins before they are automatically emptied into the crusher.

Robert Macey LLB, GMB Organiser said: “This was obviously a tragic accident and we would wish to express our condolences both to the family of the deceased and the employees who found him.

“Since the Conservative administration began cutting the budget for the refuse service and introducing communal bins we have been warning that that this was an accident waiting to happen. There had already been two near misses earlier this year before this latest tragic accident. Whether the bins are owned by the council or private contractors, measures now need to be taken to ensure that all communal bins in the city are made safe and secured in a way that prevents people entering them and putting their lives at risk
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said:
"This is a tragic incident. The council has warned people not to get into our bins and have put stickers on the 700 street bins. We are also putting them on the other 1,000 bins we have in bin stores to remind everyone of the dangers. In addition we have worked with groups across the city to raise the issue with vulnerable people. We really hope the message gets across so that this isn't repeated."
This sounds like a rather flowery way of saying, "This is not our fault. I mean, we put stickers on the bins, so it was his fault he got crushed to death. He should have read the sticker."

Let's be realistic here. This IS the Council's fault because two men nearly died and now one man has died, horrendously. As well as putting stickers on the bins warning people not to sleep in them, the Council should have sent round firm instructions to the employees to CHECK THE BINS before emptying them, to ensure nobody is sleeping in them. It might make the job a bit longer, but hey, at least no poor individual gets crushed to death. Just a thought.

I Knew She Was Faking It!

As soon as you leave the room, this is what cats do. This is a couple dancing to Prince's 1980s hit 'Purple Rain' album. Just out of camera shot are the empty bottles of wine and overflowing ash trays. Parasites! We think they're cute just because they purr, as if they love us, but all the while they're thinking, 'Ha-ha! Suckers!' Expect a backlash against the cat community in the wake of this shocking news...

Courtesy of BBC News

Cat owners may have suspected as much, but it seems our feline friends have found a way to manipulate us humans. Researchers at the University of Sussex have discovered that cats use a "soliciting purr" to overpower their owners and garner attention and food.

Unlike regular purring, this sound incorporates a "cry", with a similar frequency to a human baby's. The team said cats have "tapped into" a human bias - producing a sound that humans find very difficult to ignore.

Dr Karen McComb, the lead author of the study that was published in the journal Current Biology, said the research was inspired by her own cat, Pepo. "He would wake me up in the morning with this insistent purr that was really rather annoying," Dr McComb told BBC News.

"After a little bit of investigation, I discovered that there are other cat owners who are similarly bombarded early in the morning."

While meowing might get a cat expelled from the bedroom, Dr McComb said that this pestering purr often convinced beleaguered pet lovers to get up and fill their cat's bowl. To find out why, her team had to train cat owners to make recordings of their own cats' vocal tactics - recording both their "soliciting purrs" and regular, "non-soliciting" purrs.

"When we played the recordings to human volunteers, even those people with no experience of cats found the soliciting purrs more urgent and less pleasant," said Dr McComb.

For more click here.

Monday 13 July 2009

Equality?! My Arse!

I managed to talk with two different couples this weekend in Brighton who have experienced at first hand the full force of secular 'equality' recently. One heterosexual couple complained of having been to a seafront gay club in Brighton and having got down and partied on the dance floor, having being told, in no uncertain terms, that they were not welcome in the club, by a severe looking security guard.

When I told another couple that I had heard this story over the weekend they told me that they had experienced similar reactions to their heterosexuality in a gay club and were given unwanted attention by the security guards.

I think, in gay clubs, for I have a little 'experience', you are welcome to enter if you are a woman, but only if you go as a 'fag hag', or perhaps, if you make it clear you are a lesbian, or perhaps if you are with your platonic girlfriends on a girly night out. It appears that as soon as you give away the fact that you are in a heterosexual 'partnership' and express your sexuality, then you are a threat to the established and prevailing tide of the club - that is, namely, the culture of homosexuality.

The couple I talked to, fresh from having been more or less ejected from a gay establishment, basically for the crime of being heterosexual and unashamed of it, were furious having spent quite a bit of money in the club. Until the bouncer asked them to leave in a kind of, 'Your type aren't welcome around here', manner, they were having a great time.

"I can't understand it," said the lady, "All we did was have a dance and a bit of a snog and the guard couldn't take it. We've been to gay pride marches and the rest and always supported their cause. All we wanted to do was go out and have a good time and they treated us like that. I found it shocking because the gay community were suppressed for so long...Now it feels like we're the ones being subjected to suppression."

It isn't wholly surprising. The gay scene relies heavily on a basis of exclusion, rather than inclusion. The stereotypical secular view of the gay scene is one of warmth, openness and a lively sense of community. All the colours of the rainbow stuff. Yet, I guess, as happens with all communities, there will always be outsiders and if you don't fit the mould then doubtless you will be viewed as a threat. Therefore, the gay scene relies on the protection of the group, at the expense of individuals. This is just one reason why gay pride marches are so vulgar. A sense of individuality can easily be lost in a largely ideological sub-culture, no matter how much this sub-culture has been absorbed and accepted into the mainstream.

In the Catholic Church, while a sense of community exists, in that we are the Body of Christ, there is no subsuming of the individual into the whole. Our individuality is never usurped by the community. As St Paul says, we are members of the Body of Christ, literally, as in limbs or parts of a human body, each serving a different function, each special, unique, different and important to the Body of Christ.

The Church is viewed with great suspicion by the 'gay community', concerned that the Church rejects the outsider or the homosexual person. Yet this is false, no matter what prejudices some individuals within the Church may have about the issue. Sexuality is a struggle for every individual, as is self-control or a struggle with our passions. The writings of the Saints bear witness to these struggles.

It is very sad that the 'gay community' is not so confident enough in itself as a culture that it can embrace society as a whole, but instead resorts to a state of perpetual victimhood that sees heterosexuality as a threat to its very existence. But then, perhaps the great undoing of the homosexual culture is that it is not grounded in nature or in goodness, but sets itself up against nature and against goodness and in a way, against society. That is why the claims for 'rights' still continue vehemently even though, short of gay people getting married in Church, there really is not very much for which the 'gay rights movement' to fight.

Still, this aside, the great scandal of what I was told by the 'straight' couple is that such incidents make a laughing stock of the Government's 'equality' legislation, because, lets face it, if these kind of incidents were reports from gay men getting booted out of straight clubs, it would probably be splashed across the front page of The Pink Paper, or perhaps, who knows, even The Guardian.

This is just another example of how unworkable and how terrifically skewed the Government's 'equality' legislation is and it just leaves me thinking, 'Equality? My arse!"

I don't know...Perhaps this incident lends more weight to the psychological argument that homosexuality is not rooted in a deep sense of male-male attraction, but in the wholesale rejection of women, a crippling fear of female sexuality and deep-rooted misogynistic tendencies...but then, hey, what do I know? I can only speak from personal experience.

Sunday 12 July 2009

National Hell Service More Like!

So remember kids, sex is just like football, netball and hockey. It's a sport that keeps you fit and healthy! You should orgasm twice a week for a healthy heart either on your own or with someone else. Now run along and don't go getting anyone pregnant or contracting STDs!

Courtesy of The Telegraph

NHS guidance is advising school pupils that they have a "right" to an enjoyable sex life and that regular sex can be good for their cardiovascular health.

The advice appears in leaflets circulated to parents, teachers and youth workers and is meant to update sex education by telling students about the benefits of enjoyable sex.

The authors of the guidance say that for too long, experts have concentrated on the need for "safe sex" and committed relationships while ignoring the principle reason that many people have sex.

Entitled Pleasure, the leaflet has been drawn up by NHS Sheffield, but it also being circulated outside the city.

The leaflet carries the slogan "an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away". It also says: "Health promotion experts advocate five portions of fruit and veg a day and 30 minutes' physical activity three times a week. What about sex or masturbation twice a week?"

Where on earth do the NHS get off telling the nation's kids what to do with their genitals anyway?! Do parents have any say in the education of their children on matters of sex and morality anymore?

Obama's 'Science Czar' Even More Scary than Obama

'Forced abortions. Mass sterilization. A "Planetary Regime" with the power of life and death over American citizens. The tyrannical fantasies of a madman? Or merely the opinions of the person now in control of science policy in the United States? Or both?' - Zombietime

Creative Minority Report
has taken up a story on John Holdren, the 'Science Czar' in the Obama administration and co-author of the 1977 book, EcoScience. Prison Planet appear to have taken up the story as well as Zombietime, the website linked by Creative Minority Report. This is the kind of ideological dogma that leads to not only mass sterilisation, forced abortion and absolute Govenmental control of populations but death camps.

Of course, people change and hopefully John Holdren will distance himself publicly from some of the more 'radical' ideas expounded upon in EcoScience:

• Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
• The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food;
• Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
• People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" -- in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
• A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives -- using an armed international police force.

In co-authoring the book, the guy displayed an eagerness to turn the US...and doubtless the rest of the World, into China. Hopefully the words of Dignitas Personae will sink in to the US administration...before its too late.

Papal 'Hint! Hint!' to Obama

Obama: ", in conclusion then, that is why you can now see that all of those Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, were in fact referring to me. I know its hard to believe, but, heck, when I realised I could hardly believe it myself! Also, do us a favour and cover up that image of the Resurrection will you?"

Pope Benedict XVI: "May I give you some light reading?"

Pope Benedict XVI gave a warm and charitable reception to the Obama couple on Friday. Obama, who has courted the most controversy in US political history in the context of abortion and life issues, was given Dignitas Personae as a Papal gift which reaffirms clearly the fundamental right to life of every human being.

The Holy See released the following statement:
“This afternoon, Friday 10 July 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in Audience the President of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Barack H. Obama. Prior to the Audience, the President met His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and also His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

“In the course of their cordial exchanges the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.

“Reference was also made to immigration with particular attention to the matter of reuniting families. “The meeting focused as well upon matters of international politics, especially in light of the outcome of the G8 Summit. The conversation also dealt with the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was general agreement, and with other regional situations. Certain current issues were then considered, such as dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, and the problem of drug trafficking. Finally, the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted.”
However, the real story was broken by Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service. It appeared on the CNS blog. She reported that Pope Benedict XVI gave his own gift to the U.S. President, a copy of the extraordinary document entitled “Dignitas Personae” (”The Dignity of a Person”). This instruction was released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on September 8, 2008. It is a passionate defense of the dignity of every single human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

Deacon Keith Fournier takes up the story here on Catholic Online...

Friday 10 July 2009

60 Years Anniversary of Kind Hearts and Coronets

40 Years since Humanae Vitae last year. This year, 60 years since Kind Hearts and Coronets. Sir Alec Guinness was a good Catholic chap you know. He wrote beautifully about his conversion in his biography. Enjoy!

Abuse! Call Liturgical Services!

"Yeah, we got a case of Eucharistic abuse in East Sussex. It's serious, get me all the squadrons you have."

Yesterday I got into a fight with both a Berberis and a gigantic Ilex with only a pair of shears and a ladder as weapons and managed to come out on top. In the evening I headed back to base. I stopped in at a Church on the way as the doors were open. I was delighted when I looked at the weekly newsletter and discovered that if I waited for a little while, there would be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

I must point out to anyone reading this who is not a Catholic (unlikely I know) that Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is when the Eucharist, which we Catholics believe is the Real Presence of God, the Body of Christ, the Blessed Host, is placed in a Monstrance, and we give Him praise, reverence and worship, knowing that we are in the Presence of God Himself.

Whenever I have been at Adoration before, it has always been a Priest, dressed in the Sacred Vestments of the Church, who has entered the Sanctuary and unlocked the Tabernacle, with a great sense of awe and reverence, and placed the Host inside the Monstrance to be exposed to the Faithful for adoration.

On this occasion, however, I waited to see a Priest emerge. But he didn't. Then a lay lady got up and walked over into the Sanctuary, unlocked the Tabernacle and performed the duty of the Priest. 'Where is the Priest?' I thought. 'Surely, he would not encourage the lay faithful to touch the Holy of Holies and to be responsible for something which by all accounts is the awesome responsibility of the consecrated Priest?' Yet he was nowhere to be seen.

I am not sure how common this is but it did not seem to me to be very fitting at all with a true sense of piety and certainly not in keeping with the Tradition of Holy Mother Church. Certainly, all present were aware of the Real Presence. I tried to remain calm and not say anything that would detract from Our Blessed Lord made present on the Altar. A lady sang into a microphone, 'O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine'.

Yet, the faithful were mere yards away from Our Lord. Was there really any need for a microphone? Public prayers were then poured out to Our Lord, prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for healing for others and the microphone was passed to every member of the Faithful present. Some of these prayers seemed to go on for an eternity. The microphone was passed to a man next to me who refused it. I too refused it, thinking, 'But Our Lord can hear me quite well without a microphone and I am already praying to Him!'

A pious lady echoed my sentiments when she said very humbly, "Dear Jesus, I love You and I know that You see and hear everything that goes on in my heart. You know what I need, Lord. I do not need to say anything. Help me to love You more."

I don't know, perhaps I am over-reacting. I was just glad when the lady with the microphone said, "And now we will have 15 minutes silence before singing the Divine Praises." 'Thank God for that!' I thought. I tried to put away any uncharitable thoughts, knowing I was in the presence of Our Saviour and knowing He is All Good and All Forgiving. Yet, I couldn't help thinking afterwards that my parish Priest would not do that at St Mary Magdalen's. I couldn't help thinking that St Pio of Pietrelcina, whose biography the lay faithful had earlier been reading aloud, would not countenance the lay Faithful undertaking the entire ceremony of Adoration, unguided, without his spiritual leadership as an ordained and sanctified Priest.

It strikes me that Social Services are (usually) very responsive to rumours of abuse. Perhaps each Diocese could have a Liturgical Services team, who go around, sniffing out liturgical abuse and imposing strict guidelines on parishes that do not follow canon law properly. I suppose in this case it is not so much a case of abuse, so much as what Social Services describe as 'neglect'. I have always thought that if the laity are allowed to run anything without the wise and prudent guidance of a Priest, it almost always goes wrong...or at least becomes more about us than about Him.

After all, don't Social Services say to parents, "Clearly, you do not know how to look after your child. If you do not look after him, there is the risk we will remove him, until you demonstrate you can look after him well." Liturgical Services could say, "Clearly, this parish does not know how to look after Our Lord. If you do not look after Him, there is a risk we will remove Him, until you demonstrate you can look after Him well."

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

It has been a long time since I have put finger to keyboard to write about our holy Catholic Faith, something I regret, but which I put larg...