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Scots Catholic

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Don't be afraid to speak up for the unborn

Posted on August 4, 2015 at 7:14 AM Comments comments ()
Why should we be afraid to speak up for this little one?
 
It was no surprise to see US President Barack Obama hogging the headlines yesterday in order to make his big pitch for a greener United States. This was, after all, the day on which the true evil of his great friend Planned Parenthood was debated in the Senate.
 
 
It was extremely sad, but at the same time fascinating, to watch the heated exchanges around the sale of baby body parts and the wider issue of abortion so passionately debated at this level for around three and a half hours.  The Republican side very much in favour of defunding Planned Parenthood; the Democrats preferring to retain the existing arrangement.  It made me a tad jealous when I think of the lack of passionate debate on the matter here in the UK.  While I firmly believe there are a number of pro-life politicians here in the UK, they appear too unwilling to stick their head above the parapet and speak up for the unborn.  Our country has become so secularised and so entrenched in a misplaced and misguided view of so called ‘equality’ that people are afraid to say even the slightest thing out of turn.  Not so in the US.  Their elected members are quite comfortable expressing their pro-life views and the views of the people they represent, even if it means speaking out against abortion in no-nonsense terms. 
 
 
Last year I wrote to former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy to express my deep disappointment at his claim to be a man of the Catholic faith yet also a man who believes in a woman’s right to have an abortion.  The two don’t go.  You cannot square being true to the ways of Jesus Christ and his Church at the same time as agreeing that another person should be entitled to make the decision that an unborn child should die.  Mr Murphy never responded to my letter.  But then, is this a surprise?  Of course it isn’t.  Mr Murphy is just like so many others.  He simply doesn’t have the guts to stand up for what is right. 
 
 
We have been fooled into thinking that it is not appropriate to tell people that we believe that human life begins from the moment of conception and that we believe all human life, including the unborn, should be protected.  We have also been fooled into thinking that being pro-life is simply a far right, conservative religious stance and is, therefore, of little worth to society at large. But this simply is not true. Consider the growing number of secular and atheist pro-life groups appearing on Twitter and Facebook. Indeed the entire pro-life case can be argued to great effect without any reference whatsoever to religion (consider Trent Horn’s book Persuasive Pro-Life for proof of this).  So, should we be afraid to be open about our pro-life views?  Certainly not!  Consider this….is it really weird and unreasonable to hold the view that we believe all human life is deserving of the same protection, no matter how big or small that human life may be?  That is the basic argument we are putting forward.  Isn’t it an incredibly reasonable proposition?
 
 
Yes, it would be fair to say that there are various ancillary arguments around the abortion debate such as an individual’s right to choose and the consequences of bringing children into social deprivation, but the end game is always the same.  It boils down to ‘what is the unborn’?  If the unborn is a human being then society is obliged to protect it as much as it protects born people.  If it isn’t a human being (and presumably just a blob of tissue) then aborting it is no more serious than cutting off a toenail.  As Greg Koukl once wrote: “If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary.  However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.”
 
 
In trying to figure out the answer to the question 'what is the unborn?' consider Steve Wagner's '10 second pro-life apologist' argument: if it's growing, isn't it alive?  If it has human parents, isn't it human?  And human beings like you and me are valuable, aren't we?.  It's very simple, but it does make a very important point.
 
 
Perhaps it’s time for all of us, politicians included, to really think about the unborn and what they really are.  If they are human beings then surely we all have an obligation to protect them from day one and to stand up for them and their most fundamental right to life.

Is there really no salvation outside the Catholic Church?

Posted on February 9, 2015 at 9:26 AM Comments comments ()
Is the Catholic Church the only way to eternal life?
 
Tim Staples, Director of Apologetics and Evangelisation at Catholic Answers, considers this most crucial question in his latest blog piece at catholic.com. 
 
In a thoroughly detailed and considered view on the matter, Tim comes to the following important conclusions:
 
1. No one who knowingly and deliberately rejects the truth will be saved. It doesn’t matter how good of a Muslim, Jew, Baptist, or anything else he may be. If anyone rejects the truth of Christ and his Church—even one definitive teaching—they will be lost.
 
2. Religions that have as tenants of their respective faiths the rejection of Jesus and his Church have no power to save anyone. It is “the truth that makes us free” (cf. John 8:32), not falsehood.
 
3. In the case of one who is ignorant of the truth of the Catholic Faith, “through no fault of [his] own,” he can be saved, if he is truly “invincibly ignorant, [is] given the supernatural virtue of faith and [has] perfect charity in [his heart]” (cf. Instruction of Holy Office of Dec. 20, 1949).
 
4. We must remember that we are not the judges of salvation. God is the sole and final judge. We do not know who is truly “invincibly ignorant” and who is not. Therefore, we must be careful to “evangelize all men” as the Catechism commands us and leave the judging to God.
 
5. “Whatever good or truth is found amongst [other world religions] is considered by the Church to be ‘a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life’” (Lumen Gentium16). And if they seek the true God given the light they have received, they have the possibility of salvation.
 
6. This does not mean they are not in need of the Eucharist! Without the grace that comes from the sacraments, one is at a decided disadvantage to get to heaven. And if one has rejected the truth, then there is no way he can merit heaven apart from repentance and the acceptance of the truth. The Church makes very clear: “The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God” (CCC 1445).
 
 

Poll suggests that Brits and Americans are light years apart on the origins of life

Posted on November 17, 2014 at 10:05 AM Comments comments ()
 
A recent YouGov poll has unearthed an astonishing difference in attitudes between British people and American people when it comes to the origins of life. 
 
In answer to the question ‘How do you personally think life on Earth began originally?’ a paltry 15% of Brits polled said that life was created by God.  This is compared to a much more respectable 53% of Americans.
 
In another interesting statistic, 19% of the Britons polled said that life was brought to earth by an older, alien civilisation from elsewhere in the universe.  10% of Americans polled believed in this explanation.   
 
The results are a damning indictment on the state of religion in the UK today, especially Christianity which is believed to be the most prominent religion on our shores.  However, it undoubtedly ties in with a significant downward trend in faith in the UK in recent years, with more and more people turning away from God and dipping into new age and relativist cultural movements.
 
Yet while this is the case in the UK, it is clearly not the case in the United States.  Why?  I would hazard a guess that people are more comfortable speaking about their faith in the US.  They tend to be more inclined to be open about God and have infinitely more Christian influence on their TV sets, radio and local web pages because people are more willing to take on such valuable ministries.  They are also not afraid to have public conversations about faith; to tackle the big issues head on.  All of this reinforces confidence in faith. 
Here in the UK the Christian influence is not so widespread and people do appear to be less comfortable talking about God; often preferring to speak in more relativist tones, encouraging people to be at peace with the self first and foremost, and to then try to roll it out to all people in a seeming spirit of inclusiveness and equality.  And while inclusiveness and equality are positives, we can never use it as a cover to exclude God.
 
This is a serious wake-up call for the United Kingdom.  It appears that we can no longer speak about a ‘general’ Christian culture in the western world.  Rather, we have a two-tier culture of western Christianity, with countries like the United States striding ahead with a clearly stronger belief in God and His Creation, where faith is built on rock.  And then we have places like the United Kingdom, an island cocoon of relativist self-absorption where faith is increasingly built on sand, lagging way behind.
 
 

Religious Freedom Increasingly Under Threat According to New Report

Posted on November 13, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments ()
 
Aid to the Church in Need has released a report which it claims is a 'comprehensive assessment on the threat to religious liberty today'.
 
The report, which can be accessed using the link below, states that the fundamental right to religious freedom 'is the most critical need in a divided world where, in some parts there is a religious revival, and in others, a trend towards religious indifference and atheism.'
 
Of the 196 countries in the world, a total of 81 (or 41%) were identified as places where religious freedom is impaired or in decline.  A total of 35 countries, including the United Kingdom, were classified as having some religious freedom issues that are 'of concern' but with no deterioration in their status.
 
Of the top 20 countries where religious freedom is at highest risk, 14 experience religious persecution linked to extremist Islam, while in the remaining 6 the persecution is linked to authoritarian regimes.
 
A very interesting finding, and one which I think really hits the spot, particularly with regard to our experience here in the UK, is the rise of 'religious illiteracy among both Western policy makers and the international media' which is in turn 'hampering productive dialogue and effective policy making.'
Given the embarrassingly poor quality of reporting on religious matters by our mainstream media in the UK and the tendency to avoid the real issues in order to attack religion, and principally the Catholic Church, this finding is no real surprise.
 
The report also suggests a decline in consensus on the rights of conscience of religious believers while discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and sexuality increase.  It also notes a growing conflict between traditional religious and the 'progressive' liberal consensus on issues such as faith schools, homosexual marriage and euthanasia.  This, it is claimed, creates a 'hierarchy of rights' where the rights of homosexual or gender equality campaigners take precedence over the rights of religious believers.  The report cites the example of UK Catholic adoption agencies that refuse to place children with homosexual couples and ongoing attempts to force them to change their rules or close.
 
Western democracies are also seen as a significant contributor to the difficulties experienced by religious in our world today.  The report states that 'Western democracy - once so admired and emulated - is no longer automatically seen as the preferred role model for developing countries.  So the argument goes, if Western liberalism leads to abortion, contraception, immodesty, family breakdown, gay marriage and huge national and personal debt, then traditionally-minded religious groups want no part of it.'
 
In conclusion, the report calls on religious people to make a stand for religious freedom.  It states: 'The clear lesson from this research is that the urgent call to reverse the violence and oppression towards religious minorities must come, first and foremost, from within religious communities themselves....The necessity for religious leaders to use their pulpits and the media to loudly proclaim their opposition to religiously-inspired violence, and to re-affirm their support for religious tolerance, is becoming - in the present climate - ever more urgent.'
 
As Pope Francis says: 'Reason recognises that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity.'
 
 
 
 

It's not just Christians who are pro-life

Posted on October 31, 2014 at 8:25 AM Comments comments ()
Secular pro-lifers
 
People often assume that to be pro-life you need to be Christian.  Indeed, many pro-abortion campaigners can often be heard claiming that pro-lifers are simply trying to 'impose' or 'force' their faith on others.  Such claims are however well wide of the mark when you consider the growing number of secularists and atheists taking up the pro-life cause.
 
In this fascinating article, Monica Snyder of Secular Pro-Life, talks about being pro-life in a secular setting and how she stands up for the pro-life cause using biological arguments.
 
Click here to read the article at zenit.org: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/not-religious-but-pro-life
 
 

STOP PRESS! Pope Francis accepts Evolution and Big Bang Theory!

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments ()
Well okay, so the Catholic Church has never disputed the process of evolution (provided it is not based on a materialistic and atheistic foundation) and a Belgian Catholic priest by the name of Georges Lemaitre actually penned the Big Bang Theory.  But hey, why let the facts spoil a sensational headline that's just perfectly designed to get the secular juices flowing and make the Catholic Church look like it called it wrong?
 
Here is exactly what Pope Francis had to say on 'humanity in creation' (which was the proper title of his talk at the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences):
 
“God and Christ walk with us and are also present in nature. When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magus, with a magic wand able to make everything. But it is not so. He created beings and allowed them to develop according to the internal laws that He gave to each one, so that they were able to develop and to arrive and their fullness of being. He gave autonomy to the beings of the Universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality. And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a conjurer, but the Creator who gives being to all things. The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a supreme Origin that creates out of love. The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve”.
 
The Pope continued, “With regard to man, instead, there is a change and something new. When, on the sixth day of the account in Genesis, man is created, God gives the human being another autonomy, an autonomy that is different to that of nature, which is freedom. And he tells man to name everything and to go ahead through history. This makes him responsible for creation, so that he might dominate it in order to develop it until the end of time. Therefore the scientist, and above all the Christian scientist, must adopt the approach of posing questions regarding the future of humanity and of the earth, and, of being free and responsible, helping to prepare it and preserve it, to eliminate risks to the environment of both a natural and human nature. But, at the same time, the scientist must be motivated by the confidence that nature hides, in her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities for intelligence and freedom to discover and realise, to achieve the development that is in the plan of the Creator. So, while limited, the action of humanity is part of God's power and is able to build a world suited to his dual corporal and spiritual life; to build a human world for all human beings and not for a group or a class of privileged persons. This hope and trust in God, the Creator of nature, and in the capacity of the human spirit can offer the researcher a new energy and profound serenity. But it is also true that the action of humanity – when freedom becomes autonomy – which is not freedom, but autonomy – destroys creation and man takes the place of the Creator. And this is the grave sin against God the Creator”.
 
The net effect of the Pope's words?  A simple reinforcing of long-held Catholic belief.  It is not news that the Catholic Church accepts the Big Bang Theory.  Nor is it news that the Church accepts the role of evolution in our world.
 
Perhaps now would be a good time for the mainstream media and others who are ignorant of Catholic teaching to take a crash course in Church teaching on these very issues.  I recommend the link, below, which will take you to an excellent article at Catholic Answers....
 
 
 
Some may also be interested to read more on the Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world.  You can find out more by clicking this link which will take you to the Vatican Observatory website:
 
 

Richard Dawkins: 'immoral' to allow Down's syndrome babies to be born

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 7:02 AM Comments comments ()
Picture: telegraph.co.uk
 
Richard Dawkins, the outspoken atheist/agnostic (we aren't quite sure), has sparked a furious reaction after he suggested that women pregnant with a Down's Syndrome baby should 'abort it and try again'.  He further suggested that it would be 'immoral to bring it [a baby with Down's Syndrome] into the world if you have the choice.'
 
This type of comment shouldn't come as a surprise to those who know Dawkins and know of his determined fight against any kind of religious influence on society.  While the pro-life movement is far from an exclusively religious group, it does, in part, stem from values held by certain religious groups.  And it is very often those religious groups who bear the brunt of Dawkins' tirades.
 
This latest attack does, however, suggest a callous disregard for the lives of people with Down's Syndrome.  It is a step up, even for Dawkins. 
 
Nobody can surely point to a Down's Syndrome child in the womb and suggest that it is 'moral' for that child to be aborted.  Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, surely no abortion can be explicitly moral. 
 
Dawkins' disregard doesn't only attack innocent, defenceless children in the womb; it also disregards the mother for whom an abortion must be a traumatic experience, by flippantly suggesting abortion is a simple matter.
 
 

Is atheism always a sin against the First Commandment?

Posted on August 4, 2014 at 7:07 AM Comments comments ()
Atheism is not a sin if a person has learned nothing about God or has examined the question about God’s existence conscientiously and cannot believe.
 
The line between being unable to believe and being unwilling to believe is not clear.  The attitude that simply dismisses faith as unimportant, without having examined it more closely, is often worse than well-considered atheism.
 

Court Allows Cross to Remain at Ground Zero Despite Atheist Lawsuit

Posted on July 30, 2014 at 7:28 AM Comments comments ()
 
The US Federal Appeals Court has rejected arguments from an atheist group claiming that the iconic cross at the Ground Zero site in New York offended and marginalised atheists.
 
The Court rejected the argument stating that “displaying the cross at Ground Zero to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular.”
 
To find out more about this story, click this link (Catholic News Agency article): http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/court-allows-911-cross-to-remain-standing-at-ground-zero-96571/
 

Love of Christ is the Key to Conversion

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 7:59 AM Comments comments ()
 
Catholic convert Jennifer Fulwiler talks about her leap of faith away from atheism to a belief in God, citing the love of Christ as being key to her conversion.
 

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