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Scots Catholic

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Jo Cox death should herald a turning point in public/political relations

Posted on June 20, 2016 at 11:43 AM Comments comments ()
Jo Cox in the House of Commons


The death of Labour MP Jo Cox has shocked not only the world of politics in which she worked, but also the British nation as a whole.  The horror of what happened in the town of Birstall last Thursday will be a permanent scar for the MP’s family and is something they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.


But what does it mean for the relationship between MPs and the general public?  Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who has himself received death threats, lamented the influence of social media in relations between the public and MPs, criticising the “vitriol” that is often expressed towards politicians.  I for one agree with him.  Whilst our elected representatives’ role in public life is such that they are very much open to criticism, that criticism should be constructive and measured, and it should be expressed with politeness.  It should not be unjust or whimsical, and it should not be expressed with any degree of hatred or be threatening in any way.  Politicians have the right to do their job in safety and without abuse.  Isn’t that the legal right of every worker?  Why should politicians be any different? 


Very few politicians are actually in the job to make people worse off or to act selfishly.  They are in politics because they genuinely want to make a difference.  Yes, there will be bad apples in there; just like there is in any walk of life.  But as with any bad apple, we need to pray for them and we need to trust that our peaceful system of democracy will ultimately win the day.


The hate directed at poor Jo Cox as she walked through her constituency last week was of the worst kind.   It took her life and has thus caused immeasurable pain to her family, friends and colleagues.  But underneath all of that is an unhealthy undercurrent of hate and cynicism which exists throughout our country and is often directed at many in officialdom, including politicians.  This is especially the case on social media, where the abuse and hatred spewed forth has the potential to fuel the anger in certain individuals predisposed to dangerous actions. 


Jesus Christ called us to love all people; even those that we perceive to be our enemies.  Our politicians need our support and prayers.  They work in an incredibly testing environment in which they are under increasing fear for their own safety and wellbeing. 


May the sad and unnecessary passing of Jo Cox herald a change in attitude across our nation so that we come together as one, and in a spirit of brotherly love may we work with and support our politicians in striving for peace, equality, tolerance and prosperity for all people.

Peace must reign as yet more precious lives are lost

Posted on June 14, 2016 at 7:03 AM Comments comments ()
People gather to mourn the dead


The tragic events in Orlando provide yet another glaring example of man’s inhumanity to man.  Very few of us can even begin to imagine what was going through the minds of the hundreds of young partygoers in Pulse nightclub as the horrid truth about what was unfolding became clear.  It wasn’t a case of exuberant pyrotechnics or sophisticated indoor fireworks.  It was the crackling of gunfire and the flash of bullets as one hate-filled individual felt compelled to walk into the club and shoot dead 49 innocent people and injure many others.


Islamic State militants have claimed that Omar Mateen acted on their instruction.  Whether he did or not is perhaps not important because, at the end of the day, both Islamic State and Omar Mateen are callous murderers, with no consideration for their fellow man and woman, and little thought to the pain and hurt that their actions cause.


The cries of parents, siblings, and friends have rung out from the devastated city of Orlando ever since Mateen decided to walk into the Pulse nightclub early on Sunday morning and shoot unashamedly at his unsuspecting victims.  The world has joined them in mourning their precious loved ones who have been taken so suddenly and without warning.  Little did they know that when they waved the young revellers off on Saturday night, it would be the last time they would see them alive.  It is truly horrific.


At this time of great uncertainty with no little hate flowing through our world it is important that we Christians stand firm with all people of goodwill to continue to promote peace.  There is no life that isn’t precious in God’s eye.  This is our fundamental belief and we must fight hard to promote the sanctity of human life, be it the unborn child, the frail old woman, or the young lad enjoying quality time with his friends in a nightclub.  All life is precious and worthy of protection.


We pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of the dead, and we pray for their families that they will find some comfort in knowing that their loved ones are at the mercy of a loving Father. 


We also pray for those who are inclined to such violence, that their hearts be changed to see the inherent value of all people, even if some of them do not conform to their own beliefs.

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.

Westminster Genocide debate - write to your MP now!

Posted on April 15, 2016 at 8:56 AM Comments comments ()
When will the West listen?

A motion is to be put before the UK Parliament next week calling on the House to recognise that Christians and other minority groups in the Middle East are facing genocide.


The terror being wrought by ISIS is well known to all, though the fact that it is mainly targeted towards Christians is not so well documented in the West.


This is an opportunity for the UK government to take a stand against ISIS by declaring their actions to be a genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities.  As Pope Francis said: "It is wrong to look the other way, and remain silent."  We all know the situation in the Middle East, and now is our chance to act and to speak up.


Please, please contact your MP today and encourage them to take part in this debate which will take place in Parliament next Wednesday 20th April.  Aid to the Church in Need UK has helpfully drafted up a letter and included a link to obtain the contact details of your MP.  You can find it all by clicking here.


We can no longer allow innocent blood to flow under our feet while we do nothing.  We need to act to stop this murder.  Please, help the helpless and write to your MP today. 

Catholic Church spokesman: Media deceiving public on child abuse

Posted on April 14, 2016 at 11:17 AM Comments comments ()
The Church will implement all recommendations
from the McLellan Report

Peter Kearney, Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, has called for fairness by the media in reporting the issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church. 


Mr Kearney suggests that official figures show that the problem in the Church is tiny compared to the problem as a whole across Scotland.  Indeed, it is believed that only 0.3% of abuse complaints over the past ten years were against Catholic clergy and volunteers.  Yet, despite this figure, the media appear determined to castigate the Church as offender in chief when it comes to the awful reality of child abuse.


As Peter Kearney says, the “robust attention” of the media around this issue is to be “welcomed” as it “serves to strengthen the resolve of those working within the Church to be as transparent and accountable as possible.  Survivors deserve that.”  But there appears to be a disproportionate focus on the Church, especially when you consider the figures quoted.


As we have said before, the Catholic Church in Scotland should now be the safest place for children given the work it is doing to ensure that deplorable mistakes from the past are not repeated.  Following the McLellan Commission’s report last year the Church accepted all eight recommendations of the Commission in relation to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable persons and expects all eight to be fully implemented by the end of 2017.   


Perhaps one of the biggest moves by the Church has been to release an annual audit of all abuse allegations against its clergy and volunteers.  This is made public thus ensuring transparency and easy access to the figures for the media and the general public, all of whom have a vested interest in this issue.  Sadly, such transparency is not forthcoming from other churches in Scotland.  Indeed, no other organised church in Scotland releases data in this way.  And they are not alone.  The NHS, Police Scotland, local authorities and national youth and voluntary groups have thus far failed to step up to the plate and release audits of abuse allegations.


As Peter Kearney says, “All abuse is utterly wrong and must always be condemned”, but “narratives suggesting the Catholic Church has a disproportionate problem and wider society hasn’t, is a terrible deception.  Survivors deserve better.” 


Click this link to read the full article at Scotsman.com: http://www.scotsman.com/news/comment-the-church-deserves-balanced-reporting-1-4097241

Clarifying the pope’s comments about contraception

Posted on February 19, 2016 at 4:36 AM Comments comments ()
Another in-flight interview, yet another media frenzy.  It seems that every time Pope Francis takes to the skies there is more and more controversy, particularly from those who seem to have a strange interest in changing Church teaching.


This time one of the more interesting comments from the Holy Father was on the subject of contraception.  The pope was asked a question about the Zika virus and whether abortion [as the lesser of two evils] or avoiding pregnancy would be acceptable courses of action for women to take.  In response the pope stated that “Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil.”  So that is pretty clear.


But it’s what he then went on to say that may be a cause for concern for some.  He said: “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.”  He added later: “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”  Francis is, of course, referring to Pope Paul VI, one of the greatest and most outspoken proponents of Catholic teaching on sexuality.  So is the pope suggesting that the use of contraceptives is okay? 


In order to tackle this question it is perhaps best to give due consideration to Church teaching on the matter.  Firstly, by referring to ‘avoiding pregnancy not being an absolute evil’ the pope isn’t necessarily referring to contraception.  For some time the Church has accepted the use of natural family planning by married couples.  This is where a couple recognise their own pattern of fertility and use this knowledge to plan a family in order to give them the opportunity to raise their children in the best environment possible.  Natural family planning is not contrary to the teaching of the Church in the same way as contraception because, unlike contraception, natural family planning is still open to new life during each sexual encounter and the couple also give themselves completely to the other.  With contraception there is a clear barrier between the man and woman which prevents one giving him or herself completely to the other and there is also a distinct lack of openness to new life.          


As Catholics we are called to give ourselves completely to the other in marriage.  And as sexual union is part of our marriage then we must be prepared to give ourselves completely to the other each time we embrace that act. We have to be a gift to our spouse.  Totally and unconditionally.  If we do not do this i.e. by using contraception, then we are acting contrary to Church teaching.  This is why contraception is immoral. 


So what about the nuns in Africa?  In these cases there would have been no voluntarily act of self-giving on the part of the nuns.  The nuns did not desire to participate in this sexual encounter.  As a result the use of birth control in this instance is not viewed as being an immoral barrier between the self-giving love of one spouse to another with the accompanying openness to new life.  Rather it is seen as an act of self-defence on the part of someone upon whom a criminal act is being perpetrated.  Further, the sexual encounter in this case was not within the realm of marriage i.e. it was not conjugal.  Therefore, it actually falls outwith Church teaching on the issue (an issue tackled by Jimmy Akin here).  This, I expect, is why Pope Paul VI sanctioned their use in these circumstances.


This, of course, is entirely different from the situation surrounding the Zika virus.  Here we are talking about women who are voluntarily engaging in sexual relations but who are using contraceptives to prevent new life.  This is clearly immoral and contrary to Church teaching.  These women do, however, have recourse to natural family planning, which is very much in accordance with the Church and is not immoral.


Let’s be clear, Church teaching on contraception is not about to change. 

Petitioner seeks to legalise incest between consenting adults in Scotland

Posted on January 26, 2016 at 4:10 AM Comments comments ()
The petition will be debated in Holyrood


Scottish MSPs will today discuss a petition calling on the government to make incest legal between consenting adults over the age of 21. 


The petition, by Richard Morris, claims that the existing law is “inappropriate, unfair, ineffective and discriminatory” and suggests that public “prejudice and bigotry” about incest was caused by ignorance.  He has also apparently likened the issue to historical treatment of homosexuals.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear on the matter of incest and states the following:

‘2388Incest designates intimate relations between relatives or in-laws within a degree that prohibits marriage between them. St. Paul stigmatizes this especially grave offense: "It is actually reported that there is immorality among you . . . for a man is living with his father's wife. . . . In the name of the Lord Jesus . . . you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. . . . " Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality.’


We are left in no doubt by St Paul’s words.  Incest is destruction of the flesh and is mortal sin.  Indeed all instances of sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful and must be avoided.  And look how St Paul uses the name of Jesus to hit home the severity of incest.  It is not in St Paul’s name that an individual guilty of incest is to be delivered to the devil, but in the name of Jesus. 


It’s interesting that the petitioner Mr Morris cites the treatment of homosexuals to support his case.  The Catholic Church’s stance on homosexual acts is clear, and many people in the Church and indeed others who believe such acts to be wrong, have stated their concern that increased liberalism with respect to homosexuality will open wider the floodgates of a deeply disturbing and increasingly sickening new sexual revolution in our society.  I believe Mr Morris’s petition is evidence of this.


Our Blessed Mother Mary, when she appeared to the children in Fatima in the early twentieth century, stated that more people go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other sin.  That’s the Mother of God speaking.  It’s not the view of some radical religious nut, or priest, or bishop.  It’s not even a pope speaking.  It’s Mary, the Mother of our God and Queen of Heaven.


So let us pray that Mary’s voice will be heard and that our MSPs decide to reject this petition and retain existing laws on incest in our country.

Show of unity as Muslims and Christians come together to fend off gunmen

Posted on December 21, 2015 at 11:02 AM Comments comments ()
It has been reported that a group of Muslims protected Christians by refusing to allow themselves to be split up into groups when their bus was ambushed by gunmen.


The incident happened in the village of El Wak in Kenya, near to the country's border with Somalia.


This as an extremely brave gesture and we commend those who stood strong in the face of violence. We are all God's children and we must resist such despicable and unnecessary violence. 


Click here for the full story at bbc.co.uk: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-35151967

Another pope, another prophecy: Pope Benedict was right about Islamic extremism

Posted on November 16, 2015 at 6:47 AM Comments comments ()
Pope Benedict at the University of Regensburg
 
When Pope Benedict started speaking at the University of Regensburg in 2006 there was little clue as to the controversy that was about to unfold.  The pope would use the lecture to respond sternly to increasing instances of violence by Islamic extremists across the globe, a move that many westerners felt most uncomfortable with.
 
 
While I would not wish to delve into the intricacies of Pope Benedict’s lecture, his fundamental message with regard to Islam is that, unlike Christianity, Islam (or at least some of its members) does not appear to link God to reason.  This, Pope Benedict suggested, could lead to fundamentalism. He was quick to state that he was not saying the Muslim God is insane or irrational but, rather, that he is not bound by a reason accessible to human beings.
 
 
The pope, in an attempt to make sense of what he was teaching, used a late 14th century quotation from the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
 
 
It’s quite a quote!  But fast forward to this very day, in the wake of the horrific attacks in the city of Paris, and you begin to see what Pope Benedict was getting at.  Like so many popes before him, including Paul VI, John XXIII and John Paul II, Pope Benedict was not afraid to tackle the big issues head on and ultimately get it right. 
 
 
Of course, this isn’t the whole story.  While the mainstream media were frantically thinking up headlines to make the pope look like some kind of anti-Islamic barbarian, he gave some crucial context to his use of the quote when he added more words of the Emperor Manuel.  He said: “The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable….violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.” He then added: “God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats. ... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm or weapons of any kind or any other means of threatening a person with death ...”
 
 
It is important to clarify, as Pope Benedict did, that the roots of such extremist violence come from a perversion of the Islamic faith and not from Islam’s authentic theology.
 
 
And while so many in the western world cringed at the words of Pope Benedict, more than 100 Muslim scholars from around the world signed an open letter wherein they respectfully took on board the comments made in the pope’s Regensburg lecture.  Perhaps even more remarkable is that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia would visit Pope Benedict in Rome a year later and he would, in 2008, organise an interfaith conference to which he invited Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus in an effort to tackle religious extremism.
 
 
As Pope Benedict suggested in his lecture, the first victims of Islamic extremism are Muslim people themselves.  It then spreads to other peoples, other religions and other countries, and before we know it, every part of the world is on edge fearing the next attack.
 
 
No religion can justify the use of such violence as that being wrought by Islamic State at present, be it in Paris, Syria or Africa, where so much damage is done on a daily basis with little coverage from the western mainstream media.  We need strong leadership from religious leaders as well as from political leaders. We also need strong religion from those who profess their faith in a peaceful way, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and also those of no faith who live by peaceful means. 
 
 
As Christians, we need to show the world what living a life of faith is really about.  For us, it is about praising God by loving Him and by loving all of our brothers and sisters with whom we share our planet.  And while we may often fail in that regard, we must never forget that this is what Christianity teaches us and that is the message we must take to the ends of the earth.  There is no place for violence in our religion.  Pope Benedict, despite being ridiculed and derided by many in the western world, wasn’t afraid to stand up for peace by speaking out against violence. We should be similarly brave in our approach.
 

Tales of lions, leopards and dogs but to hell with the humans

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 12:39 PM Comments comments ()
 
I have become quite intrigued by the significant increase in news stories about animals in recent times, particularly in mainstream media outlets.  I might be forgiven for thinking it stems from the furore over Cecil the Lion but I’m fairly certain it was all happening before the story of the now famous Cecil broke.
 
 
And although it would be fair to say that these stories are indeed of some interest it is quite disturbing that they seem to rank ahead of the wellbeing of human beings in the headline pecking order.  Consider one of the main stories over in the United States right now, that of Planned Parenthood and the serious allegations against them that they are selling aborted baby body parts for profit.  Not only that but there is now evidence that they are tearing apart foetuses and removing their brains whilst they are still alive.  
 
 
But alas this simple little tale of human woe is not deemed to be in the interests of the British public. Well not as far as the mainstream media is concerned.  The BBC it seems only has interests in the non-human variety of creature, preferring to focus on the plight of African lions, dogs left at the side of the street or the horror of a Fife man allegedly selling leopard parts.  The plight of the tiniest, most vulnerable human beings is supposedly not worthy of our attention.  Do you see how ludicrous that is?
 
 
For some reason the UK media does not want to tackle the issue of abortion.  They do not want to reveal the brutality of the abortion industry and what it really does to people.  Whether this is down to money or fear of pro-choice activists I really don’t know. But whatever the reason, the lack of coverage is deeply disturbing.
 
 
And while the media must take its fair share of the blame it only dishes out what it thinks the people want to hear.  So please, express your concern with the mainstream media outlets and encourage them to cover atrocities against humanity such as the Planned Parenthood scandal. Social media has made this all the easier!  There is no way on this earth that this story should not be covered by the main media outlets in the UK.  There is simply no excuse for its lack of coverage, especially in the face of a surge in animal welfare stories.  It is up to us to make our voices heard so that the media wake up to the clear inhumanity of the abortion procedure.
 
 
I ask you this....what on earth is this damned world coming to when the welfare of a lion or a dog is deemed more important than a human being?
 

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