Thursday 31 March 2011

India: Population rise slows, literacy grows, girls vanish

The Times of India reports...

'Census 2011`s provisional data, released on Thursday, affirms the India growth story — population growth slowing down and the number of literates growing, especially female literates. The census is the sole data base in India that the government uses to formulate its policies.

The Census also reaffirms another fact — a fact so disturbing that it could cast a shadow on the positive developments: Girls seem to have no place in India`s growth story. The data shows that the sex ratio for children below 6 years has dropped from 927 to a dismal 914 girls for every 1,000 boys. The gender bias yet again draws attention to a lingering societal flaw that economic growth is not being able to correct.

India`s literacy rate has gone up to 74% nationwide for people aged 7 and older, from 64.8% ten years ago. Offsetting the general gender bias is the fact that of the 217 million literates added, 110 million are women, outnumbering men.

Improved medical technology, education and improvement in quality of life in the last decade has resulted in the overall gender ratio improving from 933 women for 1,000 men to 940. The female population has risen by 18.1% and has reached 586.5 million.

However, improvement in technology and spawning of mini-vans with sex determination machines chugging across villages has meant that baby girls are more at risk than ever before. Registrar General of India C Chandramouli said, ``This is a matter of grave concern.``

The gender imbalance continues despite a ban on sex determination tests based on ultrasound scans and sex selective abortion. Union home secretary G K Pillai, who was present when the data was released, said the government`s policies aimed at arresting the declining child sex ratio needed a ``complete review``. He added, ``Whatever measures that have been put in place over the last 40 years have not had any impact on the ratio.``

Sounds rather like just banning "sex-selective" abortions is not the answer to India's unfolding demographic tragedy.

Study: Abortion Increases Suicide Risk

I posted some of this article on Tom Chivers' post for The Telegraph yesterday. The next time I looked at his comments section it had been wiped. I wonder why...

Study: Abortion increases suicide risk
13-year examination also finds higher rate of accidents, homicide
'Women who have an abortion face a 248 percent greater risk of suicide, accidental death or homicide in the following year, according to a newly released 13-year Finnish study. The survey also found the suicide rate among women who had an abortion was six times higher than for women who had given birth in the prior year and double that of women who had miscarriages.

The study was conducted by Finland's National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health and published in the European Journal of Public Health. The researchers studied data from the years 1987 to 2000 on all deaths among women of reproductive age, 15 to 49.

While the risk of death among women who had given birth in the prior year was lowest, death from suicide, accidents and homicide was highest among women who had an abortion in the previous year. Women who had been pregnant had less than half the death rate of women who had not been pregnant. The risk of death for women who had suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy did not noticeably differ from women who had not been pregnant.

The findings confirm other studies carried out in the United States, as well as Finland, that showed an increase in the death risk of women who have abortions. In 1997, a government-funded study in Finland found that women who had abortions were 3.5 times more likely to die the following year than women who had given birth.

Furthermore, researchers looking at death records linked to medical payments for birth and abortion for 173,000 California women discovered there was a 62 percent higher chance of death for aborting women than delivering women over the eight-year period that was examined. The study also found that the increase in the risk of death was from suicides and accidents. It showed a 154 percent higher risk of death from suicide and 82 percent higher risk of death from accidental injuries.

The main author of the California study, David Reardon, said record-linkage studies like this one are key to getting an accurate picture of pregnancy associated mortality rates. "In most cases, coroners simply have no way of knowing that the deceased recently had an abortion, which is why these new record-linkage studies are so important," Reardon said.

Government health officials in Finland found in a recent study that 94 percent of maternal deaths involving abortion could not be identified by merely looking at a death certificate. This discovery applies to the data published by the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.

Also, previous studies draw links between women who get abortions and an increase in substance abuse, anxiety, sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, psychiatric illness, relationship problems and risk-taking behavior, which could easily lead to death by suicide or accident.

Beyond that, authors of the new Finland study suggested there might be common risk factors between having induced abortion and dying from accidental injury. They called on medical professionals to be aware of these risks. "Women seeking abortions should be informed that abortion is associated with significant physical and mental health risks, and it also deprives them of numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with childbirth." Reardon said. He added, it's "especially important for health care providers to be aware of these risks and the risk factors which identify those women who are at highest risk. Providing women with the resources to help them resolve emotional issues relating to past abortions will not only increase their well-being but may possibly save their lives," he said.'

Strange, eh?

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Hot Cross Buns are Addictive

On offer at the moment on a 2 for 1 deal at Sainsburys. I'll bet these little beauties are selling like hot cakes. They are meant to be Lenten, I think, but personally I find them very moreish! I'm hooked and its getting sinful! If you really want to save money, you can make them, care of a recipe from our Delia.

Get a Jacuzzi in Your Bath!

A friend of mine has bought a jacuzzi for his bath. It looks rather frightening but it could be yours for just £64.99. Thought you could only get a jacuzzi in your bath by breaking wind repeatedly? Think again and buy it here.

Runner for Andrex Commercial

Tomorrow I am going to be a runner for an Andrex commercial being staged in Brighton. Bizarre but true. This could be my big break in TV. I don't know about you but I've always wanted to see the Andrex puppy in real life. I wonder if he is the same one from the 1980s and 90s. He's so cute when he runs off with the toilet roll!

Update: I've been told it is actually a Dulux commercial not an Andrex commercial. It is definitely not a Durex commercial. It is a Dulux commercial. So the question is, will I get to meet this dog?

Michael Voris on the 'Taliban Catholics' Slur...

You tell 'em, Bro!

Planned Parenthood Exposed...

It would be grossly naive to think Marie Stopes and BPAS are any better than this. It would also be grossly naive to think you can trust an organisation that kills human beings routinely, daily, with the task of providing women with information concerning the physical and psychological risks posed by abortion.

This video is something else. Incredible, in fact. The head of Planned Parenthood's 'operations' in the US says on national TV, that if federal funding is removed or cut, women will be denied access to mammograms - which would deny them not just abortion, but healthcare (even though Planned Parenthood usually couches abortion in the language of healthcare anyway...). LiveAction's Lila Rose got on the phone in the wake of the Cecile Richards interview to call loads of Planned Parenthood clinics and ask whether they provided mammograms. The answer? None of them do! Either the head of Planned Parenthood in the US is totally ignorant of the services her organisation provides or she is a whopping, great big decide!

H/T Creative Minority Report

Myra Hindley was 'pro-choice'...

...until she became a Catholic, that is, and became 'pro-life'. The only difference is that Myra Hindley exercised her choice to kill other people's children.

Tom Chivers has written a Telegraph blog post entitled 'Abortion and the Right to Know'.

In the post, he maintains...

'I don’t want to get into the abortion debate as a whole, especially. Regular readers will know I’m firmly pro-choice, but I acknowledge that, for people who believe (I don’t) that human life begins at conception, it is indistinguishable from murder. It’s an important debate and a serious one, but not one to be had here.'

That's convenient. Needless to say, however, the debate is being had there anyway, in the comments section. He has taken to task Frank Field and Nadine Dorris and others over a website advocating the 'Right to Know' of expectant mothers concerning the psychological trauma caused by abortion that affects a percentage of those who undergo the ghastly procedure. According to the website...

'The Right to Know Campaign is backing an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill being laid by Nadine Dorries MP and Rt Hon. Frank Field MP. The amendment would ensure that women considering an abortion would be guaranteed access to independent information and advice from someone who had no vested financial interest in the outcome of their decision.'

Quite how they would ensure access to this is anyone's guess. Would the Government not be relying heavily on the BPAS and Marie Stopes International to distribute this information? How compliant would they be with regulations such as that? Such a move might hit their abortion rates and that would mean less profit.

The percentage quoted on the website is that of '30% of women' who procure abortions and who are traumatised as a result. Tom asks what the source of the percentage is and tells us that a link to a study doesn't feature on the website. He is right. He therefore keeps the remit of his blog post very slim. The question is, does it really matter what the percentage is? Even if it were only 1%, that one percent of women deserve access to information so that they may know of the experiences of others. Abortion, yes, even in schools, is shrouded in secrecy. People tend not to tell everyone they're going to have one. It's not like getting a tattoo. And ,after all, abortion clinics themselves don't ask their customers to fill out a customer survey form asking whether they feel, post-abortion, a) uplifted, b) relieved, c) terribly guilty, d) depressed or e) traumatised. Perhaps someone knows different, but I doubt that post-abortion care is particularly caring.

The 'Right to Know' website looks very good. I expect that ultimately Field and Dorris wish to see a reduction in abortions, rather than the outright ban that the abortion industry truly deserves, but still, this is quite an important development in the debate that Marie Stopes and the BPAS wish to close rather than see open in the UK. Women do deserve to know the truth about abortion. Society makes light of an issue over which women have actually committed suicide. They also deserve to see the ultrasound scan of the little baby in their wombs, before they make the decision of whether or not to destroy their baby's lives and to do terrible damage to their own. Interesting, isn't it, that Tom Chivers decided to focus on whether the rate of trauma is 30% or not, instead of putting up this video, on the website, of one woman's story of the destructive personal effects of abortion? But then, the last thing that the abortion industry and those in the media who support its practice, want to slip out into the mainstream media, is the truth.

Monday 28 March 2011

Jesus of Nazareth II by Pope Benedict XVI

Well, I've just finished reading Jesus of Nazareth Part II by Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father's exploration of the Person of Jesus Christ is really quite fascinating, engrossing - I found it hard to put down.

The book is scholarly, displays the Holy Father's great erudition but is tenderly human as well, revealing a true Pastor's heart. Much of it is highly quotable - too much of it to quote really here.

As well as using this book as an opportunity to make a comprehensive account of the Faith of Christ, His Holiness also cuts like a surgeon's knife through so much modern theology produced by men and women (mostly Germans it seems!) that create confusion over the Person of Jesus. This the Holy Father does largely by rooting the portrait of Jesus in the Scriptures - not just the New Testament - but constantly referencing the Old Testament, pointing to Jesus as the one who was to come - the Messiah.

Several things leap out of the book. Again and again Pope Benedict XVI focuses on Jesus as the Suffering Servant spoken of in Isaiah. He manages to capture the whole, vivid drama of Our Lord's Agony in the Garden, as He confronts death and sin, and the whole of His Passion. His Holiness spends a concerted period delving into the mystery of the Temple's destruction and Christ's prophecy of its fate, with Our Lord becoming the new Temple, the new High Priest and the only Sacrifice which could atone for the sins of the World.

In all of this, the Holy Father is generous with those who look upon the historical Jesus with a quizzical eye of reason without the integrity of faith, but wastes no time in dispatching their arguments back to where they belong. It really is very interesting that he has written this book at this time - as if he realises all too well that it is when we do not understand the Person of Jesus Christ, that we do not understand either, the Church's Holy Teachings, Her Authority.

When we cannot believe in the Humanity and the Divinity of Christ, it is then that we really come a-cropper. As you read the book, it becomes clearer that this is what the Holy Father is at great pains to communicate - the God-Man, Jesus, who loved us so much that no amount of agony, no amount of suffering, pain, cruelty, rejection and torture was too much to bear for us - the God-Man who loves us still with that burning intensity. His beautiful exegesis of the one Person with two natures is exemplified here, when Pope Benedict XVI discusses Gethesemene...

'The two parts of Jesus's prayer are presented as the confrontation between two wills: there is the "natural will" of the man Jesus, which resists the appalling destructiveness of what is happening and wants to plead that the chalice pass from him; and there is the "filial will" that abandons itself totally to the Father's will. In order to understand this mystery of the "two wills" as much as it is possible, it is helpful to take a look at John's version of the prayer. Here, too, we find the same two prayers on Jesus's lips: "Father save me from this hour...Father, glorify your name" (Jn 12:27-28).

The relationship between these two prayers in John's account is essentially no different from what we find in the Synoptics. The anguish of Jesus' human soul [...] impels him to pray for deliverance from this hour. Yet his awareness of the mission, his knowledge that it was for this hour that he came, enables him to utter the second prayer - the prayer that God glorify his name; it is Jesus' acceptance of the horror of the Cross, his ignominious experience of being stripped of all dignity and suffering a shameful death, that becomes the glorification of God's name. For in this way, God is manifested as he really is: the God who, in the unfathomable depth of his self-giving love, sets the true power of good against all the powers of evil.. Jesus uttered both prayers, but the first one, asking for deliverance, merges into the second one, asking for God to be glorified by the fulfillment of his will - and so the conflicting elements blend into unity deep within the heart of Jesus' human existence.'

If you haven't bought it, buy it. It is a masterful work of spiritual literature and perfect reading for Lent. Pope Benedict is intellectual but not showy. He is humble, but not timid or afraid to ask difficult questions and to challenge perceptions. He reveals himself as a Pope who is ever, always seeking the Face of God.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Cuts Protest

Apparently there is a big anti-cuts protest going on in London today. I didn't think there was much point protesting because Labour bankrupted the country's finances, but after Libya I must say I have my doubts about the cuts because obviously someone in the Department of Defence found a few billion pounds in his trouser pocket a couple of weeks ago and exclaimed to his colleagues, "Well would you credit that!? I had enough money for another war in my back pocket all this time and I didn't even know about it! Thank God my wife didn't wash these!"

Chicken Kiev 'Back in Fashion'

Hmm...Delicious chicken kievs
Ever since I moved into my place in Brighton I've been eating chicken kiev on a regular basis. Today, The Telegraph reports that chicken kievs are back in fashion. I don't understand it when people say some food product in 'in fashion'. How can it be 'in fashion'? It's something you eat. Some things, like going for a Chinese, or making spaghetti bolognese, are surely perennial. You either like it or you don't!

Does this mean some people are eating chicken kievs only because its fashionable and that they don't really enjoy eating them, like people who wear really tight jeans even though they cut off their blood circulation? Why should we who have been as loyal to the kiev as we have to the Magisterium be considered as 'fashionable' now when we haven't even been looking at the food going on the catwalk?! To be honest I really only buy them because Sainsbury's consistently have it on offer as buy 2 for £3.

Anyway, just in case you live in a country where chicken kievs are unavailable, this is what a chicken kiev is. Above is a picture of what it looks like and yes, it tastes even better than it looks. What is the world coming to when people eat things because they think that doing so will make them 'cool'?

Soup runs for Westminster Homeless to Stay

Soup runs can continue in the piazza...
H/T A Reluctant Sinner

Good news and a victory for religious freedom and yes, even common sense. I still have to say, however, that I am getting sick and tired of news agencies, Councils, authorities, reporters and perhaps even homeless charities - all who are involved with the homeless - talking about them, but not to them and with them.

People talk of soup runs as causing dependence and the rest but once again, when news agencies want the views of homeless men and women on a subject like the effectiveness of soup runs, why do they never consider asking the homeless? They do, after all, have voices and views and opinions! Would that in itself not be a little bit of empowerment for those who remain voiceless? Why do people always think that the poor need spokespersons, but then never seek spokespersons among the poor!? Isn't it funny how its always a rich guy speaking on the poor guy's behalf? Always!

In all of the reporting on this issue, I did not see one quote, not one, from a homeless man or homeless woman who sleeps in the piazza. Anyone would have thought they were lepers or something. The Council want to know whether soup runs are 'effective' and who do they ask? The Libyan School of Economics! Reporters want to know about the impact upon the homeless of the proposal. Who do they ask? Housing Justice or some other charity! Meanwhile, the actual people the proposal concerns are sitting in the piazza.

Anyway, with all that said, well done to all those who both within and without the Cathedral, campaigned and worked behind the scenes to help Westminster City Council's Daniel Astaire and others to acknowledge that draconian legislation against the feeding of the homeless is probably not a concrete, fair, just, loving or even effective answer to the problem of homelessness around the piazza.

Courtesy of the Press Association

'Soup runs for the homeless will not be banned from a part of central London after a council U-turn, MPs have been told. Commons leader Sir George Young said Westminster City Council was now taking an "enlightened approach" and would allow soup runs for the capital's rough sleepers.

There had been protests against the local authority's plans, which it said were justified because the handouts from the area around Westminster Cathedral kept the homeless on the streets for longer than necessary. The council also sought to introduce a by-law to ban rough sleeping around cathedral. On Thursday, Sir George said the Tory-run authority was now seeking a "non-legislative approach" but soup kitchens were more desirable when operating from "established" buildings rather than on-the-street.

He told shadow Commons leader Hilary Benn: "The portfolio holder at Westminster City Council (Cllr Daniel Astaire) has made it clear he wants a non-legislative solution. He plans to have discussions with those running the soup runs. It is already the case that two soup run providers have agreed to provide their services within a more settled environment and I welcome that. You might also look at some of the comments made by those helping rough sleepers about the desirability of trying to focus the soup runs within an established building rather than having a magnet which attracts rough sleepers from all over the capital. I very much hope we are at one on rough sleepers and that we can support Westminster City Council and the enlightened approach which they are now taking."

The council's consultation on rough sleepers will continue until March 25.'

Thanks be to God, because if Westminster City Council had got their way, then you can rest assured other Councils all across the UK would have moved in the same direction as well.

In concession to A Relucant Sinner and all who wonder, quite reasonably, whether soup runs are the best answer to homelessness, I can't help thinking of Fr Joseph Wresinski, Founder of ATD Fourth World, who despised soup runs as an insult to the dignity of the poor. On this issue, he criticised the approach of Abbe Pierre of Emmaus who was working along these lines. He was sent as parish priest to a slum camp of shacks on the outside of post-war Paris. As his biography says,

'In 1957, Joseph Wresinski and the families of the camp founded the first association which was later to become ATD Fourth World. Responding to the demands of the families and working with them, the soup kitchen and the distribution of old clothes were replaced with a library, kindergarden, chapel and workshop. Volunteers came to join the action and a Research Institute on extreme poverty was created to bring together researchers from different countries and disciplines.'

His belief was that the poor needed encouragement to speak for themselves in a society in which they had become marginalised, that being active participants in society would help them to rediscover their dignity, that they themselves had the best knowledge of their own situation and that if the World was ever to combat the scourge of poverty, it would do well to learn from the knowledge of poverty experienced by those who were actually experiencing it. All this he knew because he himself had been born into poverty and had experienced its degrading effects at first hand.

The ATD Fourth World movement is now active in over 27 countries worldwide. According to a Zenit report in February of last year, 'The cause for the beatification of French-born Father Wresinski (1917-1988) is now in its Vatican stage.' Fr Joseph Wresinski is more evidence that some things are so simple that the World cannot comprehend them.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Hands Up for Hand Outs

John A. Bird, Founder of The Big Issue
I've been following the argument on A Reluctant Sinner's blog. He cites the founder of The Big Issue as an example of an organisation that offers people hope. The next time you see someone selling The Big Issue in the pouring rain, ask him whether he considers that selling The Big Issue really constitutes a 'hand up' not a 'hand out'.

Personally, I don't know anyone who buys it out of anything but sympathy for the seller. Buying The Big Issue is an act of kindness, like giving money to a beggar or that glorified beggar, the busker.

You don't hand over the money because you like what you've received. You do it because you know that acts of kindness like that are what makes the world go round. The founder did quite well out of it though, didn't he? It all rather reminds me of the slave trade.

The Poor Can Identify With Our Lord

The poor attract 'do-badders' as often as 'do-gooders'. They rarely attract people who are genuinely interested in them - in their stories, their experience and their gifts, sorrows and joys. Evangelical Christians want their souls, others want them for their bodies, but few people want them. This really is an issue not just in Westminster piazza, but in Brighton and in every city around the World.

Yet the very poor have much to teach us. On London Road, in Brighton, where many stand and sit drinking, there is no shortage of courage, love, compassion, friendship and to a degree, a sense of family - community. It is the only place they find these essential dimensions of human life. Amid the misery of alcoholism and addiction, there is also love, a common understanding, a common bond, friendship.

So, the question is why? It is a question in which the Police don't seem to interested. Neither the Council. Why are on average 10 - 20 men and women in Brighton standing by a taxi rank all day long, in Brighton. drinking Skol Super and talking? Is there really nothing better to do? Have these people given up on life? Or is this their only coping mechanism? Similarly, why are the poor camped outside Westminster creating a 'problem' for the Council?

These are the rejected of society. To us, it appears madness, but is it? Here is the only family they have. Their own families, mothers and fathers perhaps rejected them. Their own families and relationships ended in heartbreak, destruction and despair. Many have similar stories, some very different but what knits their lives together is the breakdown of their own families and the heartbreak that comes from that. Some experienced abuse in childhood that has shattered their adult lives. In a way, you could say that, in the light of the abuse scandal in the Church, the supposedly high percentage of heroin addicts who have suffered abuse in childhood gives more poignancy to their presence outside of a Catholic Cathedral in London.

What annoys me most about A Reluctant Sinner's approach to the subject of the poor in the piazza is that it amounts to denial of the God-given dignity of the men and women in Westminster, who sleep rough, who drink, who abuse their bodies with alcohol and drugs. He makes a suggestion that Christ is not present in them, suggesting that Christ referred only to members of His Body, the Church, when talking of the 'least of these my brethren'. I don't believe that Our Lord was only thinking of His Church. I much prefer Bl. Teresa of Calcutta's approach. She treated each sick and dying person who came into her care as Christ and almost certainly saw Christ in them, appealing to her for her pity and compassion. Just as the Lord Jesus's love for us is unconditional, so it is that we see in His poor an appeal for a reflection, even if it is but a small fraction, of that unconditional love.

The mystery of Christ's presence in the poor is a great mystery. We can't pin it down, that mystery, just like we can't pin down the Mystery of the Mass. We should not put restrictions on it. The Catechism of the Church tells us that Christ is present in some mysterious way in every human being, not just the baptised Faithful.

1702 The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the union of the divine persons among themselves.'

Of course, men are not angels and neither are the poor...

1701 "Christ, . . . in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation." It is in Christ, "the image of the invisible God," that man has been created "in the image and likeness" of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God.'

So it is that the poor outside the Cathedral and the poor on London Road in Brighton, are disfigured by sin. But are they the greatest sinners? We are all disfigured in some way by sin. Begging itself connotes a degree of humiliation, humility. St Francis of Assisi saw a model in the beggar that he himself would come to imitate to glorify God. Could it not be that there are greater sinners in Westminster City Council or even in Westminster Cathedral, whose sins are hidden by status, prestige and human respect? None of this matters to the poor in Brighton or Westminster. They are who they are. In them there is little conceit, little human pride, no guile. They may live sinful lifestyles openly, they drink too much and take drugs, but they are the 'salt of the earth'. They have nothing, no possessions to speak of, but Jesus loves them and there will be some among them who know that very well.

While thinking of the Fourth Mystery of the Rosary recently, I wondered whether Our Lord, disfigured, bloodied, scourged, crowned with thorns may have appeared to those who spat upon Him as more than just a 'Man of Sorrows'. His poor Face dripping with Blood, running down his visage, will have made Him look more like the Devil himself, than the Incarnate God.

We know that many men and women turned their faces from Him in horror, in fright, while others derided Him, mocked Him along the way, as if, far from the Son of God glorifying His Father, this were the Devil being dragged to his death. He certainly will have appeared as the Son of Man stripped of all human dignity, of all human respect, His Face having the intense ghoulish red iconography that we associate with the Devil. He is 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World', but at the time of course, He is the scapegoat for 'the people'. None of the poor would claim to be innocent, but I am quite sure that quite a few of them can very much identify themselves with Jesus's treatment, with the denial of their human dignity. Many live close to Death. Many of their friends have died. They are treated like dust, like dirt, even. They need little reminding that to dust, they will return.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Vassula Ryden

Vassula tranfigures into the Blessed Virgin Mary
I don't know about you, but pictures of 'seers', 'visionaries' and 'mystics' 'transfiguring' and turning into the Blessed Virgin Mary before an audience of 6,400 people, to me personally, remove credibility from the 'mystic' rather than increase it. It is really very out of character for Our Blessed Lady to appear in like manner as is pictured left, through a 'visionary', in a conference hall before 6,400 people. It is really very out of character with those mystics whose private revelations have been deemed authentic and trustworthy by the Church to be used in such a way.

I'm not saying it is not possible, I'm just saying it is more than a little out of character with what we believe about those authentic apparitions, visions and devotions approved by the Church. My gut feeling is that the source of Ms Rydens message's is diabolical. That's why her message goes down so well with Anglicans who can, according to Vassula's gospel, remain comfortably in the Anglican communion even when Anglicanism is fragmenting so disastrously. The 'miracles' and 'apparitions' surounding her cult only lend more weight to that feeling.  I wonder what Vassula makes of the Ordinariate set up by Christ's representative on Earth, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, now gloriously reigning? I wonder what she thinks of the lifting of the excommunication of the SSPX bishops? What does she think about 'women's ordination' taking place in the CofE? I doubt, somehow that any of it matters to her, because the Church, to her, is a kind of shape-shifting old witch whose appearance changes to suit your particular denomination. You could say she has made the Church in her own image.

The cult surrounding Vassula is more disturbing than it is intriguing or convincing. The beguiling devotedness of many to her person, not just her really rather dull, vague, facile message on Christian unity, is tremendously cult-like and the attending religious mania that accompanies many of her followers is even more so. I've seen it myself from an Anglican who came to a Catholic parish Church spreading the huge volume of Vassula's writings and trying to force them upon the Priest before scarpering out of the Church like some wide-eyed evangelical nutjob.

There is one Priest in Leeds who devotes a seemingly sizeable portion of his time to defending Ms Ryden more or less as soon as someone publishes something negative about her via electronic media. I do hope he is as quick to defend Holy Mother Church, the Holy Father and the Magisterium, as he is Vassula Ryden. The day Vassula becomes a Catholic, comes into full communion with the Successor of St Peter and actually tells the World that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, the Ark of Truth and the Instrument of Salvation, encourages Catholics to frequent the Sacrament of Penance and proclaims the Gospel in its entirety to anyone who will listen, is the day I'll take her writings and messages a little more seriously...

For all you need to know about Vassula Ryden, click here.

Monday 21 March 2011

Soup Runs: For or Against?

"I'll give you my cloak when you've sorted your life out, mate."
A Reluctant Sinner has written a blog post that has surprised me somewhat, entitled 'Soup Runs: What would Jesus Do?'

It is not often I express criticism of other blogs written by Catholics who are loyal to the Magisterium. The following is not meant to be personal, just an attempt to address the question the blogger has raised. In the post, while commending the work of The Passage and The Cardinal Hume Centre, the blogger takes issue with other groups, which may contain Catholics, who give food and soup to the homeless in the Piazza, saying,

'Jesus never used others just to make himself look good - he really wanted them to be better people, to get well, to move on, to convert, to give up sin, to change! Sometimes, I fear, those who think they're helping rough-sleepers by handing out a sandwich and a cup-of-tea at midnight on Westminster Cathedral's piazza are actually doing the opposite - they are merely colluding to keep the poor, the sick and the vulnerable dependent upon their "charity".'

What an awfully tempting thought. Too tempting for the Council. I'm not saying that the blogger concerned is like this in any way, just that the train of thought he proposes really is an excellent escape route for those who simply don't want to give to and who actually resent the poor, for those who lament the sins of the poor, but are blinded to their own. Essentially, the theology that goes along with the argument is Protestant. It was this theology that saw the poor being turfed out of Catholic monasteries during the Reformation.

Independence is a wonderful thing when you've got it, but for how long do we really have it? We are dependent when we are young, we are dependent when we are old and for many what takes place in-between is marked by dependence. Further, it is not a sin to be dependent. I trust, for example, that we Catholics shouldn't be encouraged to seek independence at the hour of our death.

Let us remember that it was independence that Lucifer and his fallen angels wanted. They got it and boy do they now regret it! In fact, what Catholic theology teaches us is that we are all dependent, primarily upon God but also to a degree our neighbour as well. There exists a measure of interdependence for us all. First of all, we did not create ourselves. God made us and He made us for Himself. We are totally dependent on Him for our being and, indeed, for our Salvation. For what we have we are grateful to God. We depend on Him for a Happy Death. We depend on Him and we depend upon His Priests for the Sacraments, for Baptism, Confession and of course, the Mass. Priests, too, depend upon the Faithful for wages. If you take the aforementioned logic through, any Priest could turn around when we wish to go to Confession and say, "I don't think I should, because this is all feels a bit co-dependent to me. You keep coming back for God's lavish generosity and mercy every month/week/year and I think its all getting a bit much." Likewise, the Faithful could withhold Easter and Christmas gifts because the Priest is deemed ineffective and let's face it, in England and Wales, that would be quite a few poor Priests.

The Christian response to the 'problem' of homelessness is what Christ commanded. Merciful love, generosity and compassion to His poor. The Christian, in striving to reflect the Beatific life, strives to mirror the Beatitudes and reflect something of what God is like. In the words of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, he or she begs God to make 'every action something beautiful for God', praying for virtues of humility, charity, continence, ardent love for the poor and for Christ Crucified. Why? Well, firstly He identified Himself with what we do or do not do for the poor in whom He is mystically hidden. Secondly, Christ is so generous to us that far from desiring to hold back our love, time, money and food from the poor, we give lavishly, recklessly even, because Our Lord is so generous to us! The Lord is nothing if not generous, sending His Only Begotten Son to die for us upon the Cross and He is nothing if not patient in waiting for our repentance. The Christian's response to the poor is both generous and patient, long-suffering even, knowing that the Lord spares him so graciously what he truly deserves. We can keep showing the poor Jesus Christ. The poor show us Jesus Christ. We meet Him in them.

Do Soup Runs keep the poor dependent upon the rich? Quite possibly. But then, you can't depend on your local Council and it has to be said that the rich are dependent upon the poor as well. "What for?" I hear you cry! Why, for their salvation of course! For it is not the poor who must walk through the 'eye of a needle' to enter into Heaven, but the rich! For the poor, the door is wide, but for the rich, it is narrow indeed! When we are on our death beds, perhaps being nursed and find ourselves totally dependent on the care of others, we shall not be turning away help, be it spiritual or temporal, saying, "I'm sorry, but you should leave me be. Don't come and feed me, give me water or bring me Communion because I want to get in charge of my life. I think I should sort it out now that I am 89 and bed bound."

No. The idea that we are all independent is illusory. Let us remember our end and remember the pattern of life of Our Blessed Lord who actually depended upon the generosity of others during His Ministry when foxes had holes, bird had nests but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head. Let us remember also that He allowed Himself to be dependent on His neighbours, His creation, who crucified Him.

Of course the Lord wants the poor to turn to Him and leave sinful lifestyles, but, by God, I am a sinner and the Lord is nothing but patient and generous with me and my sins. Until the rich leave their sinful lifestyles and devote themselves steadfastly to serving the poor in humility why should the poor leave theirs? Almsgiving, something that we're actually meant to do in Lent by the way, isn't meant to give us a warm glow inside, though 'in giving we receive'. It is meant to serve as penance for our sins, to help us to turn away from ourselves and to turn to Our Lord Jesus Christ, upon Whom we are nothing but totally and utterly dependent. It is worth reminding ourselves, also, that Lent is a time that teaches us that we are indeed sinners, addicts who need God's mercy and grace and that the line that divides us from street drinkers, heroin addicts and beggars is not so thick as we had thought and that in God's eyes, the line does not exist because before God nobody is pure in His sight. We are all dependent upon Him.

Bizarre Big Questions Debate in Brighton

Catholic writer and broadcaster, Christina Odone
Thanks to All the Little Epsilons for drawing my attention to this. BBC's 'The Big Questions' was held at Patcham High School in Brighton this week, an event that passed me by completely, with combatively biased Nicky Campbell hosting a three-pronged debate among a throng of eccentric characters including guest speakers, Peter Tatchell, Sussex clergyman Rev Peter Owen-Jones and our own Christina Odone. Incredibly, all three guests either defended or promoted same sex unions of one kind or another with Christina expressing tentative 'concern' over  homosexual marriage because it goes against the 'rules' in 'my' Church.

The debate had the appearance of your average Church of England synod, with the voice of truth clamouring to be heard only to be drowned out by a veritable tsunami of liberal detritus. No surprises there. That is what daytime TV debates are all about. What was surprising was the woefully ineffective performance of our own Christina Odone. Having more or less praised Civil Partnerships, or at least failed to point out any moral problems that the Church has with homosexual unions and having repeatedly having made use of that hideous refrain, 'my Church', when speaking of the Church that belongs to Christ, Christina comforted the Ordinariate-considering Canon Beau Brandie of Forward in Faith during this little exchange with the show's presenter...

Nicky Campbell: "Christian Odone. 2011. The tide of modernity and modern values, British values, as the Prime Minister recently called them, liberal values comes to wash over many church men and church women. Are there other Churches, are there other denominations, other religions that need to change?"
Christina Odone: "Well, I'll tell you what I am concerned about is...that if you are coming to the Catholic Church because you don't want women bishops in the Anglican Church, the concern is, because of the evolution of theology, we may have women bishops too and what you will find is a Church that is exactly like the one you have left behind on that issue."

Oh dear. The whole show is penitential viewing to say the least. At 27:35 mins, following a lengthy debate on the ethics of the 'humanitarian' war in Libya, Christina pretty much takes a hatchet to the Church's teaching on sex, marriage and the need for the latter for the former to be sanctified. It isn't so much that she's trying to hack away at the Church's teaching so much as she's just not looking where she's swinging. She gives an Ivereighian defense of same-sex Civil Partnerships before failing abysmally to reach out to poor Canon Beau Brandie, drowning in the Church of England's relativism while still holding fast to sacraments and orders that have been declared 'utterly null and totally void'.

Still, at least Canon Brandie believes in Sacraments and defended the Resurrection and Virginity of Our Blessed Lady. Speaking of the Anglican Church (though let's face it, he could have been talking about the Catholic Church), the impressively sound Canon Brandie, in stark contrast to the self-styled Sussex celebrity vicar (who comes across as if he is smoking weed every moment the camera is off him) and the militant gay Peter Tatchell-in-clerical-collar-Anglican vicar who wants to get married in an Anglican Church, said, "We've always had people who denied the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection."

So have we Canon Brandie! So should you join the Ordinariate then I am sorry to say that you will still find these heretics in the Catholic Church, but the difference is that God has promised that the Gates of Hell shall never prevail against His Church built on Peter, the Rock and the Church in Her teaching, cannot err. The Holy Spirit has guided Her into 'all truth' and all Her Sacraments are valid. Rome sweet home! The grass really is greener, Canon Brandie, but there will always be weeds! We've also always had some abysmal public spokespersons for the Catholic Faith, though we seem to have more of them now than ever before. The truly strange debate on this topic begins at 45:30 mins. The disappointing message from Christina Odone (who should perhaps consider doing the dishes or the laundry next time she's invited to defend the Church on national TV) to those disaffected Anglicans considering a move to Rome then: "Don't bother joining the Ordinariate because liberal theologians are running the show in the Church and, you know, we'll maybe end up with women bishops too!"

Well done, Christina! Great work! Good grief! Whoever gave you the idea to say that!? Has the Vatican issued some press release on women's ordination that I missed? Does this 'evolving theology' of the Church have anything at all to do with the theology of the Successor of St Peter?  I don't think so. Not only that, but His Holiness is going to extraordinary lengths to send helicopters to disaffected Anglicans crying out to be rescued from the swamped carnage of their fragmenting battered church. His predecessor, Ven. Pope John Paul II, made the Church's position on this matter quite clear. On the nature of Christian marriage, on the inherent evils of same sex unions and on those conditions necessary for ordained ministry in the Church, the Church has spoken. Unlike some Catholic commentators, Canon Brandie, I'm no clairvoyant, but whatever Christina Odone may prophesy, it is highly, highly, highly, HIGHLY unlikely that the Church will ever ordain women as either Bishops or Priests. Nothing in Her Apostolic Tradition suggests that this will ever occur. This is the problem with people who use the phrase, 'my Church', when discussing the One True Church. They think that their pronouncements on daytime TV shows carry Magisterial weight!

Sunday 20 March 2011

Evangelium Conference 2011

Just in case you had not heard, this years Evangelium Conference will be held on 5th - 7th August at Reading Oratory School. You can join the Facebook Group here.

Young adults (18 to 35) are invited to attend the fourth Evangelium weekend residential conference on the theme of explaining the Catholic faith in the modern world:

  • dynamic talks by excellent speakers
  • mix with other young people who share your faith
  • discuss and talk informally with our speakers
  • daily Mass and eucharistic adoration
  • opportunities for confession
  • relax in the beautiful grounds
  • opportunities for sport and evening entertainment

The Conference this year, organised by the Evangelium Project and sponsored by the Catholic Truth Society, is also delighted to welcome Rt Rev. Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, as a principal celebrant and homilist:

Confirmed speakers to date:

  • Rt Rev. Mark Davies - Bishop of Shrewsbury
  • Steve Ray - World famous Catholic evangelist and former Baptist
  • Dr Caroline Farey - Head of the Maryvale Institute Catechetical Team
  • Fr Jerome Bertram - Oratorian and writer
  • Dr Andrew Nash - Expert on Bl. John Henry Newman
  • Rev. Ed Tomlinson - Priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
  • Joanna Bogle - Broadcaster, writer, author of Feasts and Seasons
  • Fr Thomas Crean OP - author of A Catholic Replies to Professor Dawkins
  • Fr Marcus Holden - Co-founder of St Anthony Communications; co-author of Evangelium
  • Fr Andrew Pinsent - Oxford University Theology Faculty, former particle physicist at CERN

The Reading Oratory School was founded under the supervision of John Henry, later Cardinal Newman, in 1859, and is today one of the top independent boys' schools in the United Kingdom.

Further information:

Call: 01834 812643 or 07563 351734

Libya: Is it so different to Iraq?

How is that Nobel Peace Prize looking on your mantelpiece, President Obama?

Look, I'm no expert in diplomatic relations or the geo-political scene of the middle east. I know that Gaddafi is a brutal tyrant and all the rest, but isn't this 'humanitarian war' starting to look a little bit more like just another war? I pray that I am wrong, but I still don't believe that heavy artillery and bombing brings 'peace and stability' to the region. Any region. Like Iraq, do we really expect Libya to be a peaceful, serene city after the 'job' is done and 'mission' is 'accomplished'?

We know that Gaddafi has had the West over a barrel, a barrel full of oil, for many, many years. We know that he promised to cut off his new enemies (the West) and give new contracts to his friends (China and Russia). Sensing blood, or perhaps sensing the running dry of the oil tap, the West now steps in to once more 'liberate' the people with the Arab League in tow to justify it to those who were suspicious. We know how much money there is to be made out of war for certain companies. We know that the military industrial complex in the US and the UK is still strong.

Further, we know that our leaders are convinced that might = right. We know that Iran will henceforth consider itself encircled by pro-Western governments which will delight the Western governments. We can be assured that after this war, another war will be looming as more, hostile, middle eastern states fall into line in the 'new world order'. All that is needed is the right excuse with which to sell it to the people of the West. Let us not be so naive as to think that Western coalition bombs only hit pro-Gaddafi forces and somehow miraculously miss civilians. If they want to 'take out the tyrant', why can't they just take out the tyrant! How much blood will be spilled in an effort to get to him!? After we have blown up thousands of his men, can we take the moral high ground!?

Let us also not be so naive as to think that the scene pictured above is what a 'no fly zone' looks like, as the Arab League have been quick to point out. Good for them for standing up and saying it, but doubtless they will see themselves as having been deceived. Let us not be naive. Our Governments do not go to war to 'liberate' peoples of the World. Governments only go to war when motivated by self-interest and just because Obama is the US President doing it, just because Cameron is the British Prime Minister doing it and just because Sarkozy is the French President doing it, does not change the motivation - self-interest.

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for instance, has been starving and crucifying his own people for ages. No 'regime change' there. And while we're bombing another sovereign nation, we're just arming another group of 'rebels' with whom we have sided.  This isn't a Mother Teresa war. This is just another war and just because the Nobel Peace Prize winner is involved (that's Obama by the way, not Bl.Teresa of Calcutta) it doesn't make it holy or just. It is worth reminding ourselves that another winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was Henry Kissenger, that other 'man of peace' who, said of the Egyptian uprising: “This is only the first scene of the first act of a drama that is to be played out.” Still, it appears, even he didn't see this one coming...

Let's face it. One of President Obama's first acts upon assuming office was an act of war. Which war? The war on America's unborn children. As one winner of the Nobel Peace Prize so rightly said, "Abortion is the biggest destroyer of peace". Before we try and end tyranny in other lands for dubious reasons by dubious means, let our elected leaders at least strive to end tyranny in our own. The other famous Executive Order signed by Obama was the one commanding the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Funny how that one wasn't followed up with quite the same zeal and enthusiasm. It remains as open for business as it was under his predecessor. Two presidents. One was a blithering idiot, another a dithering idiot. Not too much difference between the two really, just that this one plays more golf than the last one.

Friday 18 March 2011


Lent is a time when the bellies of the rich should grumble, as they seek God's mercy, and the bellies of the poor should be full, as they find it.


...Jews have more reverence then, than do Catholics today, for the Holy of Holies?

Thursday 17 March 2011

The 'Rubrics' Cube

Look. This is your average parish Novus Ordo 'rubrics' cube. So confusing! What's going on!?

And look, here is the 'rubrics' cube of the Traditional Latin Mass. That's more like it. Everything fits into place...

Hey! Look Who it Is!

Commemorate St Patrick's Day by buying this 4 inch statue of the Saint who brought the Faith to the Irish. St Patrick is being sold on a special St Patrick's Day offer for just £3.49. That's right! £3.49!

I found him yesterday, so give a Saint a home, get him blessed and he will surely bless you. Ah, to be sure, to be sure!

Happy St Patrick's Day.


Tuesday 15 March 2011

Christ in the Wilderness

Christ in the Wilderness by Ivan Tramskoy
Before even His Cross and Resurrection, before even the beginning of His Ministry, the nature of God's love becomes manifest in Christ's 'exile' in the wilderness.

While 'normal' life is continuing in the rest of the land, Our Lord fasts for 40 days and nights. The Gospel of St Luke tells us, '...he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry.'

He sacrifices his own bodily needs, for He is fully human. Already, He is sacrificing himself, his self -  for being fully human - we know that He has a self. It is a self that He will eventually lay down upon the beams of the Cross.

So, why? Why does He do this? Who is He doing it for? For His Heavenly Father? For us? For both? Is this act of self-offering for 40 days and nights, to the Eternal Father, borne out of a different motivation to His Passion or is it the same? Is this not already, in some sense an interior Passion that prefigures His Cross? He has no need to do this! He has committed no sin! He is united to the Heavenly Father, always, as the Son. Is He keeping the Lent that we cannot keep because we are not Him? Is He already taking upon Himself our sins, our greed, our disobedience? Is he undergoing the hunger of the starving and poor 'in solidarity' with them?

Though fully human, He is God and He 'always does what is pleasing to the Father'. At the end of it, He will meet the Devil, the Evil one. At His weakest, He will be offered earthly glory and power and He replies, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." This is the answer that He gives to the Devil. It is also, conversely, the answer that He gives to us. Only God can satisfy the human heart. Only God can grant Eternal Life, immortality.

He is able to say this because it was from the mouth of God the Heavenly Father, alone, upon which He fed for that time. It is this that prepares Him for His confrontation with, temptation from and refusal of, the Evil one. The Devil is bold before Jesus, he does not appear afraid of Him, even though He is God, even asking if He will 'bow down and worship' him! In his Pride, he is deluded! How can he think that God will worship him?! Yet, we can say that if there were not a chance of it, because Jesus can be tempted, like us, and can choose, like us, then the Devil would not have asked it! Because Jesus is so weak and surely desperately hungry, presumably in a wretched bodily state, he thinks that this is his chance to thwart God's plan! 'He knows what hunger is like, so how can He allow this for His people, His creation?' thinks the Devil!

Yet, in His total weakness, His fragility, the answer comes back. "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." The Devil is confounded not by Christ's strength, for the Devil was not kind enough to offer Him food, but by His total trust in His Heavenly Father, in a condition of total and utter weakness! It is not 'will-power' that prompts Our Lord to reject the proposal to 'feed the World'. It is His total love, total trust and total obedience to His Heavenly Father. How furious the Devil must have been that day! And yet, He will be more furious still, apoplectic with rage, when Christ will humble Himself further, will be even weaker than after His time in the wilderness and will entrust Himself once more to the Heavenly Father. The Devil will be scorned once more, in his Pride, for the Lord of Lords, through One 'through Whom all things were made', will humble Himself further, totally, yes, 'even unto death, death upon a Cross'! In His filial love for the Father, the Lord will defy Evil and overcome it, destroy its power, through His suffering and death. It is what His Martyrs will do also to achieve victory over the Devil. It is a crown His Saints will wear through patient suffering and love.

If we will place all of our trust, our hope in Jesus then He will invite us one day into Heaven, the Heavenly City of Jerusalem. The invitation is extended to all of us, in our weakness and even when we are in sin, but the Devil is still scorned because he knows that his name is not on the invitation list.

Monday 14 March 2011

Census 2011

As a supplement to Fr Ray's post on the 2011 Lockheed Martin Census. Click on the image to enlarge.

H/T UK Indymedia

Invitation to Oxford Newman Society

The President of the Oxford Newman Society  who happens to read this blog, has invited me to be on a panel possibly speaking about the issue of homosexuality in the context of the teaching of the Church or maybe something on the Church's social teaching. Details are sketchy at the moment, but will update when I know more...

If anyone read the original draft of this post, they will find the revision of it to be very amusing indeed...

Saturday 12 March 2011

"Where is the Justice?"

Justice by  Raphael Sanzio
A couple (let's call them 'Sarah' and 'John') who I know have been evicted from a squat onto the street. Currently, I believe they are staying in a youth hostel. I'll relate to you what I remember of what I have been told so far.

The couple were made homeless a year ago following rent problems in a flat nearby the squat. The case of the couple was not helped by a misunderstanding in which their housing association was complicit. The result was still their eviction.

They discovered an empty property (one of many in Brighton) and moved in. The place was a dive, having been empty for over 11 years. Rat faeces were everywhere, bins of rubbish were everywhere, it was filthy. Rotting food ran out of the refrigerator. They cleaned it up to make it tenable. Though not paying rent, as squatters, they paid Council Tax on the property. They bought and installed a boiler. I assume they paid for heating and electricity. I know that squatting is an illegal activity, but having been made homeless they were desperate. They made the flat their home. The couple are not 'trouble-makers' and neither are they on drink or drugs. They didn't cause disturbance, just found shelter there. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite how other residents saw it.

One resident took a particular dislike to the couple because they were squatters. John was beaten up outside the flat by one of the other residents, kicked in the ribs and face. The police arrived and handcuffed him. Towards the end of their tenure they had a brick through the window. As it turned out, after the 11-12 years of the place being formally unoccupied, someone finally came forward to claim that flat as their own, the whole building having been left to him in a will. The couple bear no grudges against the owner since it is his property. Perhaps he will sell it or live there himself, it is unknown, but for the time being it will be boarded up once more, a court order having been secured and bailiffs notified to have the couple evicted.

Brighton and Hove City Council's 'Diversity' logo
So far, so predictable. What John and certainly Sarah were not expecting was what happened next. On going along together to the Housing department of Brighton and Hove City Council, they waited, as most do for five hours to be seen by someone. Having already been brushed off by one advisor Sarah was finally seen by a Council official.

The official told Sarah that because they were not formally a couple that they would be treated individually. This, too, Sarah more or less expected. What she didn't expect was for the Council official to tell her that the Council was under no legal obligation to house Sarah by means of either temporary accommodation or a hostel.  She was told that there are no hostels for women in Brighton, which is true, but there are mixed hostels. Sarah has no problem with a 'local connection' because she has children living in Brighton. So, why is the Council under no 'legal obligation' to house her? Simply because as a woman with no substance misuse problems, she is not a 'vulnerable person'.

"So, do I have to have a smack habit to get housed?" Sarah is left thinking. "Don't get me wrong," she says, "I don't judge the alcoholics and drug addicts in Brighton. I just can't understand why, as a woman, sleeping rough, with no accommodation, when a rapist is roaming around Brighton, if John got housed and I didn't, how am I not a vulnerable person? Where is the justice? I know we've been squatting the past year, but I've contributed quite a lot to the economy when I was working as a Probation Officer. I pay Council Tax. Where are the Council when you finally actually need them? It's an insult. They told me to sleep out rough and allow the 'rough sleepers' team to find me. It is still really cold out there at night!"

These are, I think you will agree, valid questions. Why is a woman on the streets not classed as a 'vulnerable person' who the Council decide can just leave on the streets and claim they have no duty to provide her with shelter or assistance? Why should she be at the bottom of the pile for housing and so many others be seen as a priority need in her place? Should she turn up for her next appointment with the Housing department with needle tracks in her arm and a can of Special Brew? Would it help if they were, and I hate to say this, immigrants? Would it help their cause if John turned up in drag and said he was waiting for a sex change or Sarah said she was a lesbian? Will the Council help pay housing benefit for a bed in a youth hostel, even though its five pound less than for your average hostel? All I'm saying is the answer to the last question is probably no.

For his part, John was advised to go to St Patrick's Night Shelter in Brighton. The couple have enough money to stay in a youth hostel for a week, but already John is trying to access a 'crisis loan' from the DWP to try and raise money for the next week. One of the couple, Sarah, is a Catholic. Please say a prayer for them that God may help them find somewhere soon. I know its not like having your home swept away in a tsunami and miraculously surviving only to find out that the local nuclear power plant has blown up, but still, it isn't nice losing your shelter and being told not that you are in the queue behind immigrants and drug addicts, but that you aren't in the queue at all and that even though you are from Brighton, you belong on the streets.

Fathers-to-be Should Stop Smoking to Protect their Unborn Child

Smoking bad for baby, aborting baby is okay though...
Perhaps they should stop pressuring the mothers-to-be to dump their unborn child in an abortion clinic bin as well. That said, some fathers are never given a 'choice' concerning the life of their unborn child.

It appears that this University of Nottingham study seems more concerned with the 'perfectness' of the baby in question, out of a desire not to see any babies born with cleft palate, club foot and other imperfections. Of course, if these imperfections exist, then abortion is recommended in order to protect society. The whole study would fit in well as subject matter for a Galton Institute (formerly British Eugenics Society) meeting chaired by Professor Steve Jones, the good friend of Dr Richard Dawkins.

According to the BBC's report...

'Fathers-to-be should stop smoking to protect their unborn child from the risk of stillbirth or birth defects, scientists say. University of Nottingham researchers found that pregnant women exposed to smoke at work or home increased their risk of stillbirth by 23% and of having a baby with defects by 13%.

They looked at 19 previous studies from around the world. A UK expert said it was "vital" women knew the risks of second-hand smoke. The studies used to pull this research together were carried out in North America, South America, Asia and Europe.

All the studies focused on pregnant women who did not smoke themselves but were passive smokers due to their proximity to a partner who smoked or work colleagues who smoked. The combined data from the studies suggests that being exposed to more than 10 cigarettes a day is enough for the risks to be increased.

However, the University of Nottingham study did not find an increased risk of miscarriage or newborn death from second-hand smoke - only an increased risk of still birth and birth defects. The results did not point to a link with any specific congenital birth defect.'

Does that make any sense? The study found an 'increased risk of still birth and birth defects. The results did not point to a link with any specific congenital birth defect'. They sound like contradictory statements to me, but then I guess I'm just a simpleton. In an abortive society, it is pretty much impossible to claim that it is unborn children themselves that are the centre of this study's concern. If they really wanted to protect unborn children they would condemn abortion outright. The twisted logic only makes sense in a Dawkinsian society.

Many Waters Cannot Quench Love...

So pray for the victims, living and dead of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Is CAFOD our only way of donating?

Thursday 10 March 2011

Infant Child of Prague

I found this plastic Infant Child of Prague. I know this isn't a very lenten thing to do, but I have been updating my Bones Store with some nice things. Just thought I'd keep people updated with it. Other items include a crucifix necklace, a Catholic devotional bracelet and a 'Pieta'. I've posted some of the history of the Infant Child of Prague on the store also.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Ten dead in Egyptian religious clashes

Picture courtesy of AFP
'Ten people were killed and 110 wounded in religious clashes Tuesday in Cairo, the health ministry said, as Egypt's mew military rulers struggle to steer the post-revolution country through  a transition.
"The total number of injured received by hospitals after the violence (Tuesday) in the areas of Moqattam, the Citadel and Sayeda Aisha is 110, while 10 people were killed," said Sherif Zamel, head of emergency services at the health ministry, without specifying if they were Christian or Muslim.
Earlier a Coptic Christian priest said at least six Copts were shot dead and 45 wounded by gunfire in the clashes between Muslims and Christians.
"We have at the clinic the bodies of six Copts, all of them shot," local priest Samann Ibrahim told AFP, referring to a medical centre attached to his church. The clashes between Christians and Muslims erupted in the poor working class district of Moqattam mid-afternoon Tuesday when at least 1,000 Christians gathered there to protest the burning of a church last week. A hospital official had late Tuesday initially reported one person dead. "We also have 45 people who were injured, all of them, without exception, hit by gunshots. Others who were injured have been taken to other hospitals," said Ibrahim.
He said some among the crowd of Muslims had opened fire on the demonstrators, adding that they had also petrol-bombed local houses and workplaces. Several plastic recycling shops and warehouses storing cardboard boxes had been torched.Fighting broke out when dozens of Muslims showed up in Moqattam, inhabited by Copts who work as garbage collectors and who had blocked a main north-south artery in the capital.
People threw rocks from both sides and witnesses said soldiers at the scene fired shots into the air in a bid to disperse the crowds. Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million population, complain of systematic discrimination and have been the target of several sectarian attacks. Ahead of the incident in Moqattam, Copts had protested in central Cairo against the burning of a church south of the capital after deadly clashes between Christians and Muslims.
The protest outside the radio and television building came a day after at least 2,000 angry Christians demanded that the torched church be re-built, and that those responsible be brought to justice. The Shahedain (Two Martyrs) church, in the Helwan provincial town of Sol, was set ablaze on Friday after clashes between Copts and Muslims that left two people dead.
The violence was triggered by a feud between two families, which disapproved of a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman in Sol. "Problems escalated in the village when a group of Muslims headed to the burned-out church and conducted a mass Islamic prayer there," Maged Ibrahim, a Christian resident, told Egyptian state television.
The violence comes during a fragile transitional phase after the overthrow of strongman Hosni Mubarak, who handed power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. On Monday, the military council vowed to have the Sol church rebuilt and to prosecute those behind the arson attack.
There is a long history of tension between Copts and Muslims in Egypt, though there have been recent signs of a rapprochement following a deadly New Year's Day bombing of a church in Alexandria and during the recent popular revolt that unseated Mubarak.
Twenty-one people died and dozens more were wounded when what was believed to be a suicide bomber blew himself up just after midnight on New Year's Eve as worshippers left a church in Alexandria.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which came after an Al-Qaeda-linked group said it was behind a deadly October 31 Baghdad church hostage-taking and threatened Coptic Christians as well.'
Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

Sex and Cigarettes

Two stories worth comparing today, aside from the article that leaves us wondering whether Prime Minister Cameron is just Caroline Lucas in a clever disguise...

1. The Government is to stop cigarettes being displayed in shops, in an effort to cut the numbers of young people and children smoking.

2. Children as young as five years of age are being exposed to "shocking" and "explicit" sex education through literature and films.

So, basically, the Government doesn't mind encouraging little children to have sex as soon as they hit puberty. They just don't want them lighting up afterwards because that's not "healthy".

The Daily Mail has more on the sex education for five-year-olds story. Is it just me, or is one of the books a little more 'pro-life' than we would expect...

Tuesday 8 March 2011

The Holy Father is to be Interviewed on Italian TV...

Reaching out: The Holy Father will answer questions on TV
Courtesy of The Telegraph

'For the first time in the history of the Vatican, the Pope will respond to questions about his faith on a television programme.

Benedict XVI is expected to speak mostly about Jesus – he has just written the second of two volumes on Christ's life, "Jesus of Nazareth", due to be published on Thursday. He will appear on a religious affairs programme called "In his image", which will be aired on Good Friday - April 22. It will be broadcast at 2.10pm in Italy (1.10pm GMT), the time recognised by the Catholic Church as the moment that Christ died on the cross after being crucified.

A special website will be launched on Sunday to which Catholics can send suggested questions, from which just three will be chosen and put to the German-born pontiff, who was elected in 2005. The programme, on Italy's state broadcaster, RAI, will be pre-recorded at the Vatican a few days before, either in the Pope's study or his personal chapel.

It is expected to be rebroadcast by television networks around the world. It will be the first time that a pontiff has appeared as a guest on a television programme. Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, came closest when he phoned into a popular Italian current affairs show in October 1998. The first pope to appear on film was Leo XII in 1896. Italian television was first allowed into the Vatican in 1961 to profile a day in the life of Pope John XXIII.

Excerpts of Benedict's new book on Jesus were released last week by the Vatican. In it, he insisted that blame for Christ's death lay not with the Jewish people as a whole, as stated by some of the Gospels, but with the small number of Jewish priests and "aristocracy" who demanded his crucifixion. Benedict was underlining a position adopted by the Catholic Church more than 45 years ago, but his unequivocal exoneration was nevertheless welcomed by Jewish groups and Israel.

"I commend you for forcefully rejecting in your recent book a false charge that has been a foundation for the hatred of the Jewish people for many centuries," Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, said in a statement. Ronald Lauder, the director of the World Jewish Congress, said: "Two thousand years after the event it really was high time that the head of the Catholic Church made a clear statement on this."'

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...