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Peaceful and prayerful: 40 Days for Life returns to Scotland this Lent

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 6:40 AM Comments comments ()

During the season of Lent, a number of people will gather outside four hospitals in Scotland in quiet, prayerful vigil to stand up for the inherent dignity and value of human life. The 40 Days for Life vigils will be held outside the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, the Royal Infirmaries in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and Ninewells in Dundee. It is peaceful, it is calm, and there is certainly no aggression or scare tactics adopted, despite what the mainstream media try to portray.

 
For those who claim that the 40 Days for Life event is anything but peaceful and prayerful, I urge them to attend the event and to see for themselves precisely the manner in which this so called ‘protest’ is undertaken by those involved. There is no desire to harass anyone, and there is certainly no desire to be abusive. It is better to witness first hand the reality of the situation, rather than buy the lies of those who would prefer that this vigil was something that it clearly isn’t.

 
There will, of course, be times when someone has recently undergone an abortion or suffered a miscarriage and, in coming across the vigil, they experience distress and upset. I don’t think anyone attending the event would feel anything but sympathy and compassion for those in such a situation. The pro-life movement would not be in keeping with its belief that all human life is precious if it did not feel for those who suffer and did not offer them support and consolation. The question is then whether or not, given these instances of distress, the vigil is appropriate. We can put forward a number of arguments for and against, and this will tend to be guided by which side of the abortion debate we sit on. But the reality is this…science is almost entirely settled on the fact that a distinct new human being with their own DNA comes into existence from the moment of conception. This human being is alive and is growing. The baby's brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form a mere 2/3 weeks following conception. This is why people participate in the 40 Days for Life vigils. They genuinely do not think that it is acceptable for the state to allow for the untimely death of an innocent, defenceless human being at its most vulnerable stage in life.

 
These vigils are peaceful and the only desire of participants is to see that all human life is given a chance. A chance to be someone: to see their very first sun rise; to feel the first snowflake on their hand; to experience the nervous excitement of that first day in school; to get behind the wheel of their first car; to find the love of their life; to perhaps even have children of their own. They may even be lucky enough to grow old and enjoy the perfect smiles of their grandchildren at Christmas time. This is life and this is what we seek to protect.



Because the state supports the killing of unwanted children in the womb, 8.7 million human beings in the UK never got the chance to experience these simple, yet poignant moments in life. No matter how much we try to deny or distance ourselves from that reality, we can never hide from the truth that abortion extinguishes the life of a beautiful, precious little human being who simply wants to be loved.

 
The 40 Days for Life is a worldwide movement and it will take place at the four Scottish hospitals throughout Lent from 1 March until 9 April. There will also be official opening and closing events, including one in George Square, Glasgow on 25 February. Click here for full details.

Vice President Mike Pence tells pro-life campaigners that 'life is winning' in America

Posted on January 27, 2017 at 3:44 PM Comments comments ()

Mike Pence at March for Life

Today Vice President Mike Pence spoke to hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates gathered for the annual March for Life on the National Mall. He is the first Vice President to address the March in person. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway also spoke at today’s March.

Vice President Pence’s remarks reflected his deep roots in the pro-life movement and the Trump-Pence Administration’s commitments to the right to life cause:

“Today, because of all of you and the many thousands who stand with us in marches like this all across the nation, life is winning again in America. That is evident in the election of pro-life majorities in the Congress of the United States of America. But it is no more evident in any way than in the historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who I proudly say stands for the right to life, President Donald Trump. “President Trump actually asked me to be here with you today. He asked me to thank you for your support – to thank you for your stand for life and for your compassion for the women and children of America.
“At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue we are in the promise-keeping business. That’s why on Monday President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy to prevent foreign aid from funding organizations that promote abortion worldwide. That’s why this administration will work with the Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers, and we will devote those resources to health care services for women across America. And that’s why next week, President Donald Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution.
“I have long believed a society can be judged by how we care for our most vulnerable: the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn.
“Life is winning through the steady advance of science that illuminates when life begins more and more every day. Life is winning through the generosity of millions of adopted families who open their hearts and homes to children in need. Life is winning through the compassion of caregivers and volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers and faith-based organization who minister to women in the cities and towns across this country. And life is winning through the quiet councils between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables and over coffee at college campuses. The truth is being told. Compassion is overcoming convenience and hope is defeating despair. In a word: life is winning in America because of all of you.”

Kellyanne Conway said:

“It is such an honor to stand with the Vice President of the United States and with so many leaders, families, and students from places near and far to defend the unborn. Your courage, your conviction, your resolve and your faith are impressive and consequential. . . . It is no coincidence that the first right stated in the Declaration of Independence is the right to life. It is not a privilege. It is not a choice. It is God-given. . . . This is a new day, a new dawn for life. . . . To the March for Life 2017, allow me to make it very clear: we hear you, we see you, we respect you, and we look forward to working with you. And, yes, we walk, we march, we run, and we endeavor forward with you.”

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, onsite at the March for Life, offered the following comment in response:

“Today’s pro-life march is a very clear and unified call to protect unborn children and mothers. It comes from a diverse group: conservative, liberal, young, old, believers, non-believers. It grew organically over decades out of frustration with the Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton mandate of abortion on-demand, up until birth. The March for Life is not a singular burst of energy. It is a consistent and persistent insistence that our government live up to our nation’s promises to the vulnerable and those who live in the shadows.

“We are so proud of our friends and longtime allies Vice President Pence and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway. Being pro-life and speaking out for the voiceless is part of their core beings. Their leadership in the White House is an outward sign of the strength of the pro-life movement. It is why pro-life grassroots nationwide worked so hard to elect this administration. Together, we are in position to make great gains, but only if we see the mission through. President Trump has made four commitments to the pro-life movement but all require the continued involvement of activists across the country, calling on their representatives and Senators, to make it happen. The mandate laid out at the election must continually be repeated.”

(from Susan B Anthony List)

Ronaldo and Santos keen to recognise God's place in Portugal success

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 9:14 AM Comments comments ()
Cristiano Ronaldo


First it was Ronaldo encouraging team-mate Joao Moutinho to take a penalty and telling him that the outcome is “in God’s hands”.  Now we have Ronaldo and the Portugal head coach Fernando Santos thanking the Creator.


Ronaldo, who was stretchered off injured after just 25 minutes of the Euro 2016 final against France, told journalists after the game that he “asked God for another chance”, a reference to previous failed attempts to win a major title with Portugal. 



Fernando Santos
His boss Santos was no less enthusiastic about God’s part in Portugal’s success, stating that “I’m very happy, of course.  First of all I would like to thank God for being with us, my wife, my mother, my grandson, my father - wherever he is, he is probably having a few beers.”


This type of witness should never be underestimated.  God should always be on our minds, day in, day out, no matter what we are doing.  Whether we are in Church, sitting at our work desk, or even on a football pitch, He must always be first.  While I wouldn’t pretend to know the depth of faith of these two men, one thing is clear: they both have God at the forefront of their minds and they aren’t ashamed to admit it.

We Christians will be known by our love

Posted on April 26, 2016 at 9:03 AM Comments comments ()
Pope Francis heard Confessions in the days leading up to the Mass


Pope Francis has given a lesson in love and freedom during his homily at the Jubilee Mass for Young People in Rome.


The Pope, speaking to thousands of youth in St Peter’s Square, said that Jesus himself declared that Christians would be known “by the way they love one another.”  The Pope continued saying, “love, in other words, is the Christian’s identity card.”


The Pope then tackled the meaning of love, stating that love is something you give.  He also added: “it [love] is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them, and waiting for them.”


Francis then challenged the young people on the true meaning of freedom, stating that “freedom is not the ability to simply do what I want.  This makes us self-centred and aloof.”
Freedom” he said “is the gift of being able to choose the good: this is true freedom. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort, even if it is not easy.”


He then called on the young people to grow in love and told them how they could do this: “the secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgiveness and peace in Confession.”


The Pope’s call to the young people can be summed up nicely in the term ‘free love’.  He wants Christians to give themselves freely to others in love, and he wants us to choose to do this as it is pleasing to God.  He then tells us that the nourishment we need for this task can be found in the Holy Mass and in the Sacrament of Confession. 


Let us be under no illusions.  Our mission as Christians is to spread the love of Christ throughout the world.  We must let his Truth be known to all people and we must deliver this Truth in a spirit of love; a love that is freely given and that always has the other person’s best interests at its core.  This message is not just for our young, but for all Christian people. 


The Christian message is one of great hope, mercy and peace for all people.  But, above all, it is a message of love.

 

Click this link for the full text of Pope Francis’ homily: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-jubilee-mass-for-teens/

Strangely muted reaction to Commons genocide vote

Posted on April 21, 2016 at 4:01 AM Comments comments ()
I am astonished and no less disappointed to see that few of the major UK news outlets have covered yesterday’s House of Commons vote, when MPs voted 278 – 0 in favour of declaring ISIS/Daesh atrocities against Christians and Yazidis as genocide. 


If the Holocaust were to occur today, would the media recognise the atrocity and label it as genocide?  If the massacre of Srebrenica were to occur today, would the media recognise the suffering people of the city and label it as genocide?  And what about Rwanda in 1994?  Would today’s media be prepared to state that this is genocide?


As I write I see that the Guardian, the Telegraph and Reuters are all at least now covering the story.  But still no BBC, no ITV, and no Sky News coverage among many others.  These outlets are no better than the Conservative government which has to date epically failed to declare the murder and violence wrought by ISIS as genocide.


Is it fear?  Is it an anti-Christian mentality?  Who knows?  But one thing is certain, if genocide isn’t news we might as well all pack up and head for the hills.

Pope Francis a world leader in love as he gives hope to twelve Muslim migrants

Posted on April 18, 2016 at 7:25 AM Comments comments ()
Pope Francis welcomes some of the migrants to Rome

Pope Francis has once again thrust the Catholic Church into the spotlight; this time by bringing a group of twelve Syrian migrants from the island of Lesbos to live in Rome.  The families travelled with the pope back to Italy after he made a visit to the small Greek island last weekend.  It is understood the three families, all Muslim, were fully prepped for the move ahead of the pope’s visit.


The finer details of how all of this will pan out remain to be seen, but the gesture itself is one of great love and generosity on the part of Francis.  It is dynamic, reactive, and challenging.  In many respects it bears the hallmarks of Christ himself. 



And while he had to leave huge numbers of migrants behind in Lesbos, Francis left them in no doubt that he loves each and every one of them as he told them: “you are not alone”.  He later followed this up with a call to Western leaders to do more to accommodate the migrants.   


Yet the challenge set down by the pope is not just for political leaders.  Each one of us is called to rise to his challenge and to show similar love and compassion to the poor and needy in our communities.  So before we criticise others for their failure to act, we need to think about what we ourselves are doing for the good of humanity.  It might only be small gestures of love or kindness, but remember, each little gesture creates another building block for the Kingdom of God.

   
For all of the criticism Pope Francis attracts, particularly from his own household, he has the knack of showing great love to all people, especially to those in great need.  In all honesty, I wish I could have even a tiny percentage of the compassion, mercy and humility that this man clearly has in abundance.  He is, in many respects, a world leader in love.  Isn’t that precisely what God’s representative on earth should be?



Tim Stanley appreciates Amoris Laetitia for what it really is: a wise lecture on love

Posted on April 18, 2016 at 7:14 AM Comments comments ()

Tim Stanley, in his latest blog post, gets to the heart of post-Synod exhortation Amoris Laetitia, bypassing all the drama and criticism, and appreciating the document for what it truly is: ‘a wise lecture on the meaning of love that is built entirely on Catholic teaching’.


He sums it up saying: ‘there’s an ideal family, there’s a broken reality and the bridge between the two must be the Catholic Church’.


Click here to read Tim Stanley’s blog post.

'Families must be seen as an opportunity, not a problem' says Pope Francis in new exhortation

Posted on April 8, 2016 at 9:11 AM Comments comments ()

In his new exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis has expressed the need to view the family unit as an opportunity rather than a problem, and has encouraged the Church to be more understanding and compassionate towards those who experience difficulties in family life.  There is a real sense of challenge in the document; a challenge to a deeper, less self-centred love towards all people, coupled with a deeper sense of humility.


The document, which runs to 264 pages, also speaks highly of the value of children and the need for married couples to be open to the prospect of new life.  It emphasises the need to see the family unit as a church and provides insight into the various reasons that have contributed to the breakdown of the family in our world today.  He was also critical of those who are narcissistic and irresponsible in relationships saying: "We treat affective relationships the way we treat material objects and the environment: everything is disposable; everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye. Narcissism makes people incapable of looking beyond themselves, beyond their own desires and needs. Yet sooner or later, those who use others end up being used themselves, manipulated and discarded by that same mind-set."


As expected, the pope has not made any moves to change Church teaching and matters such as contraception, same-sex marriage, abortion and holy communion for the divorced and remarried have not been given the liberal treatment that many media outlets had hoped for.  This, of course, was never in doubt. 


However, Francis has encouraged the Church to give consideration to how it can best serve those who do not live in accordance with Church teaching, especially when it comes to reconciling them to God.  Bishops, priests and Catholic lay people are all being challenged to be the merciful face of Christ to those in difficult situations, while ensuring that the beautiful teaching of the Church is preserved.  There is also a challenge to be more positive about Church doctrine, to present it in a way that reveals its true beauty and goodness.


While we are not yet in a position to go into detail on the exhortation we will be posting a number of related content on our Facebook and Twitter feeds over the coming days.  We also expect to publish more posts here on our blog so please do check it regularly. 


In the meantime, here is a reasonable early summary of the document from the National Catholic Register: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/popes-family-document-amoris-laetitia-tackles-complex-pastoral-challenges/


I would also urge you to consider reading Jimmy Akin's '12 things you need to know and share' about the exhortation: http://www.catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/pope-franciss-new-document-on-marriage-12-things-to-know-and-share


Will you wash the feet of those closest to you tonight?

Posted on March 24, 2016 at 7:00 AM Comments comments ()
In today’s Gospel we hear about the washing of the apostles’ feet by Jesus.  Peter was very resistant to this as it seemed completely absurd to have Jesus do such a thing.  This was, after all, God made man, the Saviour of the world!  It should surely be the other way round would have been Peter’s thinking.


Yet Jesus makes it clear that this is something he must do.  Firstly, he makes it clear that “unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”  This is a clear link to our Baptism and its fundamental importance in our salvation.  It is also a link to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we are once again clothed in the white robe of our Baptism and brought to new life.  Our inheritance, it seems, is dependent on living in accordance with Christ’s teaching, and this is achieved through our acceptance of and living in the Sacraments of his Church.


Christ’s washing of the apostles’ feet is also a sign that he is here to serve rather than be served.  It is also considered by many to be an important sign of the priesthood and its role in taking the love of God to all people.  And this is what I would like to focus on for a moment.  Despite being in the knowledge of the intolerable pain and suffering he was about to endure, Christ took time out to perform this simple but critical act of love.  And that is what we need to take from this special moment between Jesus and his apostles.  It was an act of selfless love; a visible sign of how man should treat man.  Jesus wanted to show this love to his apostles so that they would then do the same to others.


This Holy Week, are you prepared to wash the feet of those closest to you?  While we may participate in the washing of the feet during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper we must also remember that our homes and families are small churches too.  So after tonight’s Mass when you get home, consider washing the feet of your family and perhaps take turns doing so.  And while this is something that can be initiated by any member of the family, perhaps those of you who are fathers can take the lead.  Men are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and tend to their own flock in the same way that Jesus did.  And what better way to do this than to replicate Christ’s actions and wash the feet of those closest to you?  While simple, this act of love carries with it an incredible power, the power of Christ who makes all things new.  And for those of you with children in your household, it will create a real sense of intrigue among them and they will no doubt want to learn more.  It’s a great opportunity to explain to them, in simple terms and by action, just how much Jesus loves them and how much you love them too.




Comic/Sport Relief and Abortion

Posted on March 15, 2016 at 1:15 PM Comments comments ()

Comic Relief and its spin off Sport Relief certainly do get the nation’s charitable juices flowing at this time of year.  It also causes much debate among Catholics as to whether or not we should be contributing to such a charity and allowing our schools and children to participate in the fund raising frenzy.  It seems that every year we face the same dilemma, yet the goalposts haven’t moved for years.  Comic Relief (and Sport Relief) is a charity that gives great cause for concern when it comes to Catholic morality.


Firstly, Comic Relief is a bucket fund.  This means that the organisation’s hierarchy decides how the money raised is spent, including which charitable organisations and causes it wishes to give cash to.  We can never be certain where our cash will go and this itself creates a significant degree of risk for those who would rather their donation went to a specific cause or charity.  Secondly, Comic Relief has been known to pass on funds to charities involved in the provision of abortion services.  Consider its grant of £374,694 to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in January 2011 for work in Swaziland, Ethiopia and Mozambique.  IPPF’s own report confirmed that they had carried out over 1.5 million abortion procedures that same year.  Money donated to Comic Relief may very well have been used to provide those abortion services.

 
Another charity known for its abortion links is, rather ironically, Save the Children, which also promotes the use of contraception.  Did you know that Barnardo’s recommends abortion provider Marie Stopes on its 'links' page and provides free condoms to youngsters, or that Childline promotes abortion as a 'legitimate choice'?  Did you know that the British Heart Foundation has assisted in raising £12m for stem cell research involving human embryos?  And did you know that UNICEF promotes chemical and surgical abortion and provides confidential sexual and reproductive health information and services to children from 10 years of age?


Thankfully there are a number of charities out there that are not bucket funds and so are clear on the charitable activities they undertake.  They are also in line with Catholic moral teaching.  A list can be found here.

 
Please do give serious consideration to all of the charities you donate to and explore precisely where your money will go and whether this compromises basic principles such as the right to life.  Remember, there are always charities out there that will not spend your money on contraception, abortion, the destruction of human embryos, and other immoral activities. 

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