Monday, 17 August 2009

Population control

I was drawn to this issue by an item on Spirit Daily(see link at sidebar) and a reference to Jonathan Porritt. Until earlier this year, Jonathan Porritt had been Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee (SDC), a Government advisory body reporting directly to the Prime Minister on matters of sustainable development. I linked into Mr Porritt's blog and there he refers to a report from the Optimum Population Trust (OPT) proposing future limitations on the number of children per family in the interests of population control and for the betterment of the whole planet. Mr Porritt begins his comments thus " absolutely love the new campaign from the your bit for climate change by having fewer children - or no children". Mr Porritt is no linger Chair of the SDC but he is a Patron of the OPT. The item can be read at

I then went on to the OPT website and looked at a report from July this year. The researcher quotes the 1968 UN Declaration which says "individuals have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and timing of their children." The report contradicts this and denies the right of the individual to take this control. It suggests that reproduction should take more account of wider social, economic, environmental issues and that the public duty aspect of planning a family is greater than the right of the individual. Two quotes iillustrate: " There is no unlimited right to have children....." and " individual right here is said to be balanced by public responsibility". OPT also link increasing population with the inevitability of human conflict.

In its section on population policies OPT states " Every country should act urgently to improve women's rights, including removing barriers to women's control over their own fertility".
It advocates a lot of the familiar policies of the pro-abortion and anti-life agendas: more sex education, free family planning ( they talk about using ordinary commercial outlets to avoid "medical barriers", greater use of media in storylining and reporting to promote the OPT agenda and so on.

Throughout they use the word "volountary" and to be fair they do not, as far as I can see advocate coercive measures. But what if volountary doesn't work? What is their fall back position? Bearing in mind some of the apocalyptic rhetoric in the climate change arena, one could ask: is there sufficient time for volountary measures to work? That being the case, the issue of Plan B is very relevant. There are clearly agendas here that are anathema to pro-lifers and
certainly very much outside Catholic doctrine. But putting aside those issues, there is still a very worrying move towards increased social control and diminution of human rights and personal liberty. But, if you paint the picture black enough and ratchet up the scare tactics, then people might well agree to all sorts of things. Indeed, we have already surrendered much of our privacy and personal liberty. It seems, though, that things have only just begun.

None of the political parties in the UK have definitepolicies on this issue, but OPT and the SDC are clearly influential in devloping political thinking with very good access to politicians and the media. Expect things to change.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Feast of the Assumption

This is a great feast that celebrates humanity and God's final plan for all the those who do his will. Mary did and as a result salvation came to the world. She was honoured for her faithfulness. I understand this Feast better today because of two excellent homilies by our parish clergy. I know this feast poses a problem for non-Catholics and even for some Catholics and that is sad. But if we realise that God is giving us a message of hope and that His message comes directly out of Scripture and the events of the lives of Mary and Jesus then we can begin to appreciate the wisdom of Pius XII in promulgating this doctrine of our faith.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Kingdom of God

The world's in a mess, the Church is failing etc. This is a great time to be a Christian. It is a wonderful time to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Forget the doom and gloom of statistics, abandon the woeful planning for "downsizing", do not listen to counsels of despair. Remember: this is the favourable time of the Lord. Is God any less with us? Is Jesus Christ no longer our Risen Lord and Saviour? Are we not the recipients of His wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit?
Do we not recall His words that He would be with us till the end of time? Do we not have faith any more?

This is a wonderful time to be a Christian. We should thank God for being alive at this time in the history of salvation. God is seperating the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats. This is a time of choice: are you for the Lord or against him? To be for him means a whole hearted committment, an act of faith not just belief in teachings and doctrines, not just Sunday observance. We are asked to choose to follow the living Lord. We are being asked to take up our cross each day and sometimes that taking up of the cross will involve loss; loss of things familiar and comforting.
But what is being stripped away is not the reality of God, the truth of His saving power or humanity's need for Him. We are losing non-essentials, things that have served their purpose, things that no longer point to Jesus but have become an end in themselves. We will lose buildings, stuctures, systems, people both clergy and lay. We see the "power" of the Church brought low in worldly terms. Hallelujah! We will become the Church of Christ and not the compromised Church that we have become. "My Kingdom is not of this world".
We cannot build His Kingdom. Only Jesus can do this by the power of the Holy Spirit and the submission of those who truly call him Lord and do His Father's will.
So it is great to be a Christian. The old is passing away. The new is being born.
We are like the Christians at the beginning: persecuted, few in numbers, lacking power and influence in the world; but filled with the mighty power of God's Spirit and becoming a holy nation, a royal priesthood, living by faith. Praise God for what he is doing in out time.

Purification (2)

Then there is the world. It's in an economic mess. There are wars, threats from terrorism, erosion of personal and civil liberties in the name of security, increasing centralisation and globalisation. We have epidemics and threats of epidemics and we have governments willing to pass legislation contrary to God's law of life and to make life increasingly difficult for Christians to practice their faith. And these are democratic states not repressive dictatorships. Militant secularism and militant atheism have more political and cultural clout now than the Church or religion generally. The indifference and hostility of many towards religion and Christianity in particular and the advance of nonsensical New Age beliefs make it difficult to see how the churches can recover lost ground, let alone advance into new territory. The world no longer needs or heeds the Church.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


What is happening in the Church and in the world? Well, Churches are not what they were. Congregations falling, vocations disappearing, an increasingly elderly clergy and laity profile, younger generations indifferent or hostile, divisions within different Christian denominations as well as the historical differences between them. The Christian Church has fallen from its pre-eminent position in society, particularly in the West, to one of marginalisation and increasing secular and legal hostility. In short the Church is no longer an influential member of the establishment, having lost much of its corporate, political and social influence.

Under pressure from secular legislators and the myriad temptations of popular culture, it is fading to become nostalgic memory , rather like the Elves at the end of the Lord of the Rings. Will the Church quietly, metaphorically sail into the West, leaving just memories and the world to the new age of Man? Maybe, if Christians continue to see the Church as it has been, instead of looking to build the Kingdom of God as Jesus intended and commanded.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Vanity ......

By following the link to you will be able to read an unpleasant and disturbing article about the lengths that some people will go for the sake of beauty and rejuvenation and the lengths that others will go to cater for them and make money in the process.

One of the "by-products" of an aborted child is thought to be helpful in reversing the physical effects of ageing. There are clinics around the world that now offer a service to women who put vanity and personal appearance so high on their list of values. I say women but I dare say there are more than a few men who might want to look younger.

So abortion isn't enough. There is the dubious use of embryonic material for stem cell research, which at least has , as its objective, health improvement, however dubious the means of achieving this; but then we have the use of embryonic material for pure vanity. In a utilitarian age, it is not surprising that re-cycling can descend to such wicked depths. It seems odd that the re-cycling of body parts of their victims by the Nazis for medical and scientific purposes was rightly condemned, yet we take embryonic material for beauty purposes.
Is there a difference?

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Downing Street petition

There is a petition on the Downing Street website opposing any change in the curresnt law on assisted suicide. This is av important opportunity to record opposition and is also part of our ongoing spiritual warfare.
The link is:

Padre Pio and solar power

A report in the Daily Telegraph says that a 200ft statue of Padre Pio is to be built which will have the ability to trap sunlight and convert it to energy. Well, I have to start somewhere, so I'll start with the statue itself.
200 ft high? Grandiose and tasteless come to mind. Perhaps also something about graven images. Yes, I know the Church has statues and has a good case for that; but 200 feet? ( Hope I don't run out of question marks). When does the messenger become more important than the message; or more to the point than the sender of the message. There is an unhealthy feeling of adoration and cultism around some of the Padre Pio activity. No human being is worthy of such representation, particularly if that human being is allegedly a humble servant of God, dedicated to a life of poverty. Even St Francis doesn't have anything like this and I wonder if he would approve. No, I don't need to wonder. Why is money being raised for this when ......... well is there any point listing more worthy reasons for this 21st century version of Franciscan begging.

So onto solar power. I suppose this is a PC nod to the climate change agenda. Maybe if the statue has a practical function then it might be easy to get permission to build, make it more generally acceptable etc. But, if you want a solar energy provider, don't mix it up with spirituality. I know someone will be saying that the green agenda, saving our planet etc. is a perfect practical, Christian response and maybe it is. But there is also the danger that linking with the pseudo-religion of some environmentalists and their Gaia worship is far from Christian. We do not need to bend the knee to environmentalism if we are living a truly Christian life. We know God created all things, holds all things in being and gave man dominion over his Creation. It's not something new as it is for the climate change lobby. True we could have done a better job but we don't need to be told how to be good stewards. Like so many of the wonderful truths of our faith we just need to work harder at being better in making them reality.

So, if you want another statue of Padre Pio, then keep it life-size; or better still slightly smaller. And if you want a solar power, build a windmill.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The bigger picture.

I was thinking the other day about inner city problems and gang violence. There had been something on the news again. Listening to the item, it struck me that the focus is always inwards; what can we do in the community, gang, individual etc. Whilst there are clear practical and material needs to be met, this approach looks incomplete. Maybe the problem is that these communities and the individual people in them are too enclosed, too detached from the bigger picture, the world beyond. It's well known that individuals who seperate themselves from wider social interaction run the risk of eccentricity or worse still actual mental health problems. So groups and comunities that are not nourished by or feed into the wider community eventually have nothing to grow on and nothing but there own narrow experience to base their lives on. If such communities are materially and economically deprived to begin with then it is hardly surprising that development and growth can be limited and often maladaptive.
So, in addition to input to develop infrastructures and personal input to help individuals, maybe we should be adding the need for"output", a contribution to the wider world, not when things are better but during the process of change.
Maybe churches have a role in encouraging individuals to think beyond themselves as a means of changing things for themselves. Jesus told us we had to die to self and to take up our cross daily. I don't think He meant that as an act of Christian self-improvement. His words are for all and offer life to all, not just those who have done RCIA. His words are spirit and life and we should help others to apply His wisdom in their lives whether or not they are believers. Applied, this word becomes deed and the Gospel lives.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The writing on the wall

Fr Val Farrel on his blog has a post about praying for vocations. He begins, a little frustratedly, by musing as to whether the Christian religion is really finished, not on the basis of falling numbers but on the worried response of Church leaders and the view that the answer is to pray for more priests. He suggests maybe the present situation is God's response, His plan; and it is our human arrogance that makes us seek our own response instead of His will.

I have a lot of sympathy for the points he makes. We are so locked into "traditional", even automatic responses and behaviour that we probably don't think much let alone seek to discern the will of God. Well,we have the promise of Jesus that the Father will give us all that we need so firstly we need to go back to trusting in the word of our Lord. But Jesus also said that those who have ears to hear should listen and that is what we are not good at. The lay faithful are pointed in the direction of saying a "traditional" prayer in response to the vocations need. Why not just listen and try to discern what the Lord is saying.

It might come as a surprise to some that the Holy Spirit does not just speak to and through professional clergy or canonised saints i.e. dead professional clergy, but to and through every faithful Christian according to the promise of Christ and to the prophecies in the Old Testament.

There are clearly going to be much fewer priests for the foreseeable future but that is not a recipe for disaster: it is an opportunity for the Church to walk in faith to be led by the Spirit and to cast off the old ways that are no longer part of God's plan. I'm not calling for Vatican 111 or anything ridiculous, simply suggesting that the laity need the clergy and the clergy need the laity. Remember St Paul's teaching about our being members of the one body.
And we all need the Holy Spirit.

Much will have to change: attitudes, local, parochial and deanery structures need shaking up. But first let us just pray as a group of faith-filled Christians in the Deanery of Blackpool and the Diocese of Lancaster for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and then listen.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Assisted suicide

So the bandwagon builds up speed. A day after her "historic victory" as the impartial BBC presenters put it, Debbie Purdy was saying that she should be allowed to die in England. Within 24 hours what she had wanted had changed to something else she wanted. Additionally there is a Labour backbencher hoping to introduce a Bill into Parliament on this issue. His chances of success would have been slim but today, Harriet Harman, Leader of the House, makes positive noises on the subject. With Government support the Bill would have a much better chance of succeeding and, with a Government in desperate need of popular support, it's unlikely they will fail to jump on this populist bandwagon.

Today the Director of Public Prosecutions indicates that any change to clarify the law on assisting suicide abroad will also apply to assistance at home. And of course there is the Human Rights Act Article 8 which seems likely to be invoked as giving a right to die as part of the right to live. In addition, the Royal College of Nursing(RCN) have moved from opposing assisted suicide to a neutral position following "extensive" consultation. It would pay a visit to their website to see that the next move is likely to be a more pro-active stance.

Reading the comments on an article in today's Daily Telegraph shows a level of support and also an arrogant and contemptuous dismissal of the position of religious thought and morality on the issue. The article argues that it is unfair that rich people can trip across to Switzerland whilst the poor have to stay at home and die miserably. It also use the arguments that were used for abortion: that the present arrangement is a mess and needs to be tidied up. We all know where the limited objectives of the Abortion Act ended up.

So the process has begun and it will have just one conclusion: the increasing introduction of different levels of euthanasia. There is considerable public support, there are key public bodies pushing the agenda, their are weak political parties influenced by party interest, pragmatism and anti-Chrisitian agendas and there is a Christian Church which cannot speak with one voice and cannot be sure of its authority over its own members let alone the great mass of unbelievers.

All we have left is God. So let us continue to pray and to intercede for this country which has deliberately set its face against God and all he stands for.

It is our duty, as today's first Mass reading tells us, to remind the sinner of his sin and it also our duty to plead for the sinner before the throne of God. The victory of euthanasia when it comes will be a hollow one. We have the victory of the Cross and a mighty deliverer in Christ.