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Scots Catholic

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Pro-life? Then choose your charities carefully...

Posted on February 23, 2015 at 10:42 AM Comments comments (2)
 
Comic Relief's support of abortion is well documented and has been an ongoing topic of concern for a number of years among pro-life advocates.  Another charity well known for its abortion links is, rather ironically, Save the Children.
 
But did you know that Barnardos recommends Marie Stopes on its 'links' page 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?  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?
 
And while it would be fair to say that these charities provide much needed help and assistance in other areas of their work, there is very little doubt that some of what they do does not square with the pro-life view, a view that is non-negotiable if you are Catholic.
 
The truth is, there are plenty of other charities out there who do great work and who do not provide anti-life assistance to vulnerable people or provide funding for abortions or contraception.  Consider Mary's Meals, SCIAF, Aid to the Church in NeedSt Margaret's Adoption Society, Bethany Christian Trust, Wayside Homeless CharitySPUC, LIFE Charity, and the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative to name but a few.
 
There is no need to deprive needy people because you value all life from the moment of conception until natural death.  You can politely decline to become involved in anything relating to anti-life charities or you can respectfully agree to take part in activities but say that money you raise will be going elsewhere.  The fact is, nobody needs to be deprived of your genrosity.  You have alternative options available to you.  It's just a case of knowing which charities to support and ensuring that, in your charitable giving, you continue to protect all life.
 
 
Click here for a list of charities which have given SPUC cause for concern: https://www.spuc.org.uk/education/charities/
 
 
 

This Lent, Come Home to Christ

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 12:49 PM Comments comments (1)
 
Lent is now upon us and we can all hopefully look forward to spending much time reflecting on our faith and our relationship with Jesus as we embark on a journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
 
And while we have the option to develop our relationship with Jesus all year round, there is perhaps no better time than Lent to spend a little more time in the presence of Christ; one to one.  This Lent we are invited to get up and walk a while with our Saviour.  We are asked to pray more often than normal; to fast more; and to give more freely to those in need.  All of this can be achieved with the help of Christ.  If we take up his offer to walk with him he will give us the graces we need to make the most of this special season of Lent.
 
But what if you are far from the Church or have fallen away from the faith?  If this applies to you I would ask you to just consider taking a little time out this Lent to speak to Jesus.  It might be a prayer; it might be a question; it might be a concern or worry; or it might even be a simple hello!  The truth is, anything goes.  Jesus wants to give you the floor so that you can tell him everything that is on your mind.  The most important thing for Jesus is that you need him.  He wants to be the perfect friend; one who doesn't judge, who doesn't argue, and who doesn't impose any conditions on your friendship. 
 
Consider popping into a Church this Lent and spending some quality time with Jesus.  He is right there waiting for you in the tabernacle.  It's no illusion, no trick; he exists right there and he is waiting for you to come home to him.
 
And if your lack of faith relates to the Church, remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners not a club for saints.  If you feel disgruntled or even distrust towards the Church, remember that it is Christ who founded it and it is Christ who waits for you.  He is the most important element of our faith.  It is through him that we will learn to love God, to love one another, to become better people and, ultimately, to be united with the Father in Heaven.
 
This Lent, as you give up chocolate or alcohol, consider spending some quality time with your Saviour.  He has so much love to give and this love has your name written all over it.  Nobody can give the perfect love and peace that Christ can. 
 
Make a special effort this Lent to attend a very special appointment in your local Church.  You may not know it but Jesus already has your name in his diary.  The only question is, will you turn up....?
 
 
For further reading and to see what tips Pope Francis has for Lent, click this link: http://www.focus.org/blog/posts/what-should-i-do-for-lent-pope-francis-ten-tips.html
 

Finding Joy in Giving Christ's Great Gift (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 15th February 2015)

Posted on February 13, 2015 at 7:41 AM Comments comments (0)
The ultimate act of love
 
Sunday's Second Reading (1 Corinthians 10: 31-11:1):
 
'Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.'
 
 
This text from St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians is a real affirmation of Christ's call to love God and to love our neighbour.
 
If we do everything for the glory of God then we are showing Him that we love Him above all else.  And if we never do anything to offend and always try to be helpful to others, not because we want to derive some advantage from it but because we want the other person to benefit, then we will be loving our neighbour.
 
And while it might sometimes be hard to love God and to love our neighbour, these requirements are not negotiable. 
Yet, even though they are non-negotiable they should not be seen as a hindrance.  In fact, they are anything but a hindrance!  They are a joy because they seek the glorifying and praising of Almighty God and they elevate Him to top spot in our lives; where He belongs.  Further, they are a joy because they are a call to love others and to treat them with great respect, kindness and mercy.
 
Too often we see these calls to love as a cross to bear and too often we begrudge putting in the effort to love, opting instead to make life easy on ourselves and slot into society's ways of idle gossip and cynicism.  And in our self-centredness we fail to see that the cross of love is something that Christ has already carried on his shoulders and he did it so that we could love freely.
 
Brothers and sisters, we have been given a great gift; the gift to love God and to love one another without condition and without asking for anything in return.  Christ has already borne the cross of unimaginable pain and has purchased for us the gift of a pure and spotless love.  All we need to do is enjoy giving it to others. 

It's SCIAF Wee Box time again, and this year your money is being doubled!

Posted on February 10, 2015 at 9:13 AM Comments comments (99)
Picture: sciaf.org.uk
 
It's almost time for the SCIAF Wee Box to make its annual appearance in our local parishes and this year is going to be a bumper year for the charity, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
 
This year the UK Government will double all proceeds to SCIAF, ensuring the charity will be able to help even more people affected by poverty.  It is a gesture which should not be understated and it is an opportunity which should not be missed! 
 
Please remember to pick up your SCIAF Wee Box this year and keep it in your home.  You may even want to consider taking one to your workplace to raise money.  It's all going to a good cause and it's all going to be doubled!  And remember, if you can't get to a local Catholic parish, you can simply click the link at the bottom of this article to donate online.
 
SCIAF is the official aid and international development charity of the Catholic Church in Scotland.  In 2012 it spent an incredible £2.9 million on development programmes in countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.  It provides clean water to millions of people and provides care for families living with AIDS and HIV. 
 
Click this link to visit SCIAF's website and find out more about the great things they do with the money you donate: http://www.sciaf.org.uk/

Pope Francis warns against indifference to God and neighbour in his Lenten message

Posted on January 27, 2015 at 10:59 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Pope Francis, in his 2015 Lenten message, has warned people to avoid indifference to God and indifference to the plight of our neighbour.
 
The Pope said: “God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded. God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.”
 
The Pope then outlines three biblical texts for reflection, each relating to an aspect of Christian living; the Church, parishes and communities, and individual Christians.
Click this link to read the full Lenten message of Pope Francis: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-warns-of-globalization-of-indifference-in-len

The Kingdom of God is in your hands, now go forth and evangelise…. (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 25th January 2015)

Posted on January 23, 2015 at 7:47 AM Comments comments (22)
 
Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 1:14-20):
 
‘After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
 
As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
 
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.’
 
 
We are all called to be fishers of men, just as Simon Peter and Andrew were called byJesus.  And while it isn’t a particularly easy task, it is one which requires our endeavour and commitment. 
 
Jesus never asks us to do anything that isn’t worthy of the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, our need to evangelise is an important one and one we must take seriously. But as there are many different types of fish with different colours and coming in different shapes and sizes; so it is with people.  Every person has a distinct character which may make it easier or more difficult in encouraging them to follow Jesus.
 
There is no simple, exact science to evangelising.  There are many ways in which we can cast our nets out into the world in the hope of catching souls for God.  One may be a simple act of kindness to a poor person in the street; perhaps spending a little time with them.  A simple act like this may encourage that person to seek God and may even encourage others passing by to wonder why someone should commit such an act of kindness. That wonder may just lead them to think that God may have something to do with it.
 
Perhaps you are at work and colleagues start to gossip and bad mouth another colleague.  This is your chance to step up and discourage such behaviour!  Such a simple act may make your colleagues wonder why you would think that a bit of gossip could be wrong.  That wonder may just lead them to God.
 
The list of possibilities is endless when it comes to evangelising.  There are so many opportunities for us to evangelise and it doesn’t always need to be the blindingly obvious.  While directly encouraging someone to pick up a Bible or to go along to Mass are other valid ways to evangelise, we need to be aware that there are a whole range of ways to bring people to God. 
 
And to be successful as a ‘fisher of men’ we don’t need to achieve immediate results for our endeavours.  Rather, our job is often a case of throwing the seed of faith out there and letting the Holy Spirit do the rest.  If we can just tee things up for the Spirit to work its magic, we will be helping Jesus in his mission to bring people to God.
 
The Kingdom of God is indeed at hand, for the Kingdom of God is in your hands.  Go out and make disciples of all nations and be a fisher of men and women by your simple acts of love for others!
 

Allow Jesus to work in you and through you for the benefit of others (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 23rd November 2014)

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 12:08 PM Comments comments (0)
 
Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46):
 
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
  ‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
  ‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”
  ‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’
 
 
It’s hard to pick your favourite scripture passage.  All of it is the Word of God after all!  But this passage always has a habit of really grabbing me and giving me a right good shake!  The passage provides a harsh lesson yet it is also so undeniably beautiful and perfect in its love.
 
There is perhaps no greater test in life than treating each and every person as if they were Jesus.  Yet that is precisely what we are called to do. 
 
Jesus is living.  He is as alive today as he has ever been.  He is alive in your family, he is alive in your friends, and he is alive in your work colleagues.  He is alive in the beggar sitting on the street corner, he is alive in the elderly person sitting in the nursing home, and he is alive in prisoners. 
 
But perhaps something we fail to grasp from this passage is that Jesus is alive in you.  That is why Jesus expects you to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned.  We can do none of this without the help of Christ.  His love burns inside us and wills us to do all of these things for the good of others and, ultimately, for the good of the Father’s kingdom.
 
Let Jesus flourish in you today and every day.  Let him take over.  Let him be the one in charge.  Let him take your hands so that he may use them to give food to the hungry.  Let him use your arms to wrap them around and welcome a stranger.  Let him help you to clothe the naked.  Let him take you into the homes of the sick and into the cells of the prisoner so that they may feel his love through you. 
 
We are all called to be missionaries for Christ.  We are all called to take his love to the four corners of the earth and to bring people closer to him through our example.

Synod Fathers Set an Understanding Tone as Mid-Term Report is Published

Posted on October 14, 2014 at 8:47 AM Comments comments (1)
 
If I could sum up in one sentence what is contained in the Synod on Family Life’s mid-term report - as presented by the Synod’s General Reporter Cardinal Erdo - I would say: ‘Imitating the loving gaze of Christ to appreciate the difficulties experienced by many people and recognising the need to offer them companionship, in the hope that together we may experience the joy of the Gospel of the family.’
 
There are numerous reports circulating about the document, many of which are suggesting a significant change in tone with the possibility of changes in Church doctrine.  While there is no real possibility of the latter it is fair to say that there is a change in tone.  The tone is definitely more understanding with a focus on healing rather than condemnation, all the while adhering to traditional Church teaching.
 
Perhaps we should firstly set out the context of this report.  To give it its proper title, relation post disceptationem, the document seeks to summarise the discussions held at the Synod thus far.  The document will be agreed by the Synod in the days ahead and the intention is then that the document, which contains a number of reflections on the discussions, will be used to ‘raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches’ in the year between now and the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place in October 2015.
 
The document covers many interesting topics around the central consideration of the synod; that of the family.  Divorce, homosexuality and contraception are but a few of the issues discussed and there are interesting reflections on all of these topics.  In this article we will consider the main points arising from the mid-term report and try to make sense of what is actually being said rather than going down the road of an over excitable tabloid reporter with the sole of intention of producing a headline grabbing story suggesting a sea change in Church doctrine.
 
Not to Condemn, but to Heal
 
In fleshing out the general theme of greater understanding, we can perhaps start with Cardinal Erdo’s opening comment when he spoke of how Jesus Christ, ‘the Truth, became incarnate in human fragility not to condemn it, but to heal it.’  He used the example of how Jesus taught that marriage was indissoluble but still showed understanding of those who didn’t live up to this ideal.  The crux of this is that we must work to help others to be healed and accompany them on their journey with the hope that they will come to full appreciation and acceptance of the Gospel of the family.
 
Indeed, one outcome of the first week’s discussions is to urgently address the need to more effectively proclaim the Gospel of the family.  The report states that the ‘Church has to carry this out with the tenderness of a mother and the clarity of a teacher’ and always bearing in mind the mercy of Christ.  It encourages all the faithful to spread this Good News stating ‘Evangelising is the shared responsibility of all God’s people, each according to his or her own ministry or charism.  Without the joyous testimonies of spouses and families, the announcement [of the Good News], even if correct, risks being misunderstood or submerged by the ocean of words that is a characteristic of our society.’
 
The report makes it clear that in proclaiming the Gospel of the family we must make known that it is a ‘joy that fills the hearts and lives, because in Christ we are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness’.  We are also encouraged to proclaim in a language that is meaningful and avoid simply ‘presenting a set of regulations’.  Rather, we are invited to put forward values that will address people’s real problems.
 
The Threat of Individualism
 
A significant threat expressed in the report is the threat of ‘exasperated individualism’ which the Synod suggests ‘distorts family bonds’.  This, according to the Synod, leads to isolation of the various components which make up the family unit which in turn leads to the ‘prevalence of an idea of the subject formed according to his or her own wishes, which are assumed as absolute’.  In a nutshell, there is a significant threat posed by narcissism and the modern ideal of individualism and selfishness.  This, the Synod suggests, is central to the modern day break up of the family unit.
 
In order to tackle this problem the Church, through this report, suggests a two pronged approach in supporting people in their search for God.  Firstly, it suggests making the teachings of the Church better known.  And secondly, this teaching should be accompanied by mercy.  In making this point the report refers to Jesus who ‘looked upon the women and the men he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God’. 
To be fair, this direction isn’t out of sync with current Church teaching though the benefit of reemphasising it at this time is obvious.
 
Marriage between One Man and One Woman
 
In turning to marriage the report refers to Jesus’ reaffirmation of the indissoluble union between a man and a woman.  It then states ‘God consecrates love between spouses and confirms its indissolubility, offering them help in living in fidelity and openness to life.  Therefore, the gaze of the Church turns not only to the couple, but to the family’.  Here we see the important link between marriage and the family.
 
The Synod did, however, acknowledge that new forms of union exist in our world and while the Church expresses ‘the value and consistency of natural marriage’ some members of the Synod have raised the possibility of ‘recognising positive elements in the imperfect forms’ of other unions.  For those who are in other forms of union, such as civil marriage or cohabitation, the report states that ‘the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings’.  So, while Church doctrine on Christian marriage between one man and one woman isn’t going to change, the Church must increase its understanding of alternative forms of union and seek to find positives from them.  Indeed the Synod goes further to state that the Church must ‘accept the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation’ while taking into account due differences between them and natural marriage.  However, this acceptance and understanding is always accompanied with the goal to bring such unions to the sacrament of marriage in the Church. 
The report states: ‘Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterised by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage’. 
So, while the Church will likely continue to recognise only one form of union, the faithful must appreciate those other forms of union where the qualities of stability, deep affection, strength in unity, and a responsible attitude with regard to children are present.
 
Marriage and Cohabitation
 
In considering the importance of marriage, the Synod focused on the Church becoming more deeply involved in Christian marriages, especially those in their infancy.  It suggests a greater involvement of the whole Christian community with respect to marriage preparation, including pastoral accompaniment in the form of more experienced couples.  It also suggests the importance of couples being ‘encouraged towards a fundamental welcome of the great gift of children’ and the importance of ‘family spirituality and prayer’. 
Further, the report suggests a move (where it doesn’t already exist) toward more ‘meaningful liturgies, devotional practices and the Eucharist celebrated for families’. 
 
While cohabitation remains an issue for the Church, the report sets out a clear understanding of the difficulties faced by couples such as financial difficulties.  While many couples simply reject the idea of Christian marriage, others wish for it but simply cannot afford to have it for one reason or another.  The Synod suggests pastoral accompaniment for such couples must start with the positive aspect that they desire a Christian marriage.
 
Separation and Divorce
 
Another significant issue is the separated, divorced, and the divorced who have remarried.  Firstly, the Synod has set out that ‘Each damaged family first of all should be listened to with respect and love, becoming companions on the journey as Christ did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus’.  It suggests such accompaniment must be at a steady and reassuring pace which reflects our ‘closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life’.  It also states reassuringly that ‘What needs to be respected above all is the suffering of those who have endured separation and divorce unjustly’ and emphasises the need to avoid children becoming an ‘object’ to be fought over.
 
With respect to nullity a number of propositions were put forward by members of the Synod.  Among those put forward was the suggestion that the administrative responsibility for annulments could be under Diocesan Bishops and a proposed ‘summary process’ in the case of clear nullity.  All proposals will, of course, be considered in the months ahead but the report did state that in all cases with respect to annulment, the principal consideration is ‘ascertaining the truth over the validity of the obstacle’. 
 
The report states that ‘Divorced people who have not remarried should be invited to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their state’.  It then goes on to consider those who have been through divorce and remarried, saying such a situation ‘demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behaviour that might make them feel discriminated against’.  In a reassurance to Catholic tradition the report then states: ‘For the Christian community looking after them [those who are divorced and remarried] is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring’.  The suggestion here is that Church doctrine will not change on this issue but there is an undoubted call for the Church to provide respectful accompaniment and care to those affected.
 
In terms of divorced and remarried people sharing in the sacraments, the Synod members were in disagreement with a number of views being put forward.  However, the report suggests that ‘fruit of discernment’ could be applied on a case-by-case basis ‘according to the law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances’.  The aim here would appear to be to provide the support necessary to allow divorced and remarried faithful to grow in holiness over time with the possibility of future participation in the sacraments.  This, however, is not set in stone and the report suggests that a greater theological study may be undertaken to consider this issue in more detail.
 
Homosexuality
 
Homosexuality is a subject well known to the Catholic Church, particularly in recent times with the advent of same-sex marriage.  However, before we set out the views of the Synod on this topic it is important to note that the Church has not given (nor will it give) any indication that doctrine is about to change on this issue.  Indeed the Synod has stated that ‘The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman’.  However, the report does state that ‘Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community’ and begs a number of questions to the Catholic faithful about how welcoming we are to people with same-sex attraction without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony.  The report also seeks to take positives from same-sex unions while clearly stating there are moral problems connected to such unions.  It states: ‘Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners’. 
 
The Synod’s discussions on homosexuality are perhaps worthy of the largest slice of our attention.  While there is no movement away from Church doctrine which states homosexuality as being ‘disordered’, there is a clear attempt to accentuate the potential positives which could be brought to bear by same-sex unions.  While it does not condone homosexual acts (as such acts close the sexual act to the gift of life), the Church appears to be acknowledging the support through sacrifice given by one partner to the other in same-sex unions.    
 
Perhaps this is a useful juncture to reinforce the Church’s views on homosexuality.  While homosexual acts are sinful there is no sin in same-sex attraction. The Church believes such tendencies towards same-sex attraction are a trial in the same way a single person lives a trial by being called to live a chaste life. 
 
The report then tackles the matter of children living with same-sex couples, stating that ‘The Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasising that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority’.  This is perhaps a suggestion that the sacraments will not be denied to children who live with same-sex couples.
 
Contraception
 
Contraception is a matter of great significance to the Church as the Church teaches that ‘being open to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love’.  Contraception in any form is therefore deemed to be contrary to the Will of God as it closes off the possibility of receiving God-given life.  With this in mind the Synod suggests that ‘what is required is a realistic language that is able to start from listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional opening to life as that which human life requires to be lived to its fullest’.  The report then continues, ‘it is on this base that we can rest an appropriate teaching regarding natural methods’.  The Synod then reinforces the message of Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae which ‘underlines the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control’.
 
Sadly, I have already witnessed a considerable degree of misreporting on this section of the report.  It must be clear that the dignity of the person refers to humanity.  In this sense, the person we are speaking about is a potential new life.  So, birth control must be morally evaluated with the ideal of openness to new life at the core of any considerations.  It is not, as some media outlets have suggested, a call for the Church to respect the dignity of individuals using forms of birth control.  Contraception, in all its forms, will continue to be rejected by the Church.  The Church does, however, allow for Natural Family Planning as this method does not close off the possibility of life.  While it allows a couple to plan for pregnancy (and the Church allows for a certain degree of sensible planning with respect to the creation of new life) it is a method which is always open to the possibility of a child.  It never closes off that possibility and that is why the Synod has suggested that it should be taught more widely.
 
And so there we have it; the mid-term report of the Synod of Bishops on Family Life 2014.  The Synod will continue for a few more days and will then leave the issues raised to be considered by local Churches and faithful ahead of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place in October 2015.
 
While we need to take these matters into our hearts and minds and ponder them, no decisions will be made until October of next year at the earliest.  There is, therefore, a lot of work still to be done and the initial excitement surrounding this report must be balanced with patience and appreciation for the long process being embarked upon.  However, that does not mean we cannot start to implement the spirit of understanding which runs throughout the report.  This spirit of understanding must fuel our work in the months ahead and, while we must continue to adhere to the beautiful teachings of the Church, our desire to enlighten the world to Truth should be accompanied by a tone of mercy and compassion. 
 
As the report concludes: ‘the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all’.  Amen.      
 
 
 

Pope Francis warns of dangers of vanity and suggests "only the truth gives us peace"

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 8:46 AM Comments comments (3)
 
Pope Francis delivered yet another incredibly powerful homily today as he tackled the issue of vanity.
 
The pope stressed that "only the truth gives us peace" as he warned of the dangers of vanity.  He cited the example of "those who put on too much make-up, and then are afraid the rain will come and all that make-up will come streaming down.”  The pope suggested that these people are never at peace and that they must seek the truth if they are to find peace.
 
The pope also warned people that when they help the poor, they mustn't "sound the trumpet".  On the contrary, "do it secretly. The Father sees it, and that is enough”.  What beautiful, and true, words from our Holy Father! 
 
 

UK Government Pledges to Make SCIAF Wee Box Twice as Big!

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 9:17 AM Comments comments (2)
 
Many of us will be well aware of the SCIAF Wee Box, a little bit of cardboard that sits in our homes every Lent collecting pieces of copper, silver, and even the odd note.  It has been a part of our Catholic tradition in Scotland for many years now and has resulted in an incredible amount of money being raised and put to good use by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund.
 
This is all good, but can you imagine if the money you put in your Wee Box was to be doubled?  In fact, imagine all of the money deposited into every Wee Box being doubled!  Well, that is what is going to happen in 2015 – the year of SCIAF’s 50th anniversary - thanks to the UK’s Department for International Development.  The government department has pledged to match all monies raised in next year’s appeal in order to help women farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Rwanda to grow more food, boost their incomes and have a bigger say in their communities.
 
To read more about this great news and to visit the SCIAF website, click here: http://www.sciaf.org.uk/latest-news/the-wee-box-twice-as-big.html