Sunday, 18 March 2018

How it works

A local charity provides support for families that are struggling in one way or another. That is, in fact, their focus and their purpose.

One of their volunteers recently wrote to one of the paid coordinators, about a particular family, when it became apparent that the mother was proposing to walk out on the father, taking their young boy with her. The question the volunteer had, was whether anyone had suggested other options to the mother, in terms of support for, or improvement of,  the relationship; or had even told her that this might not be in the young boy's interests (given that this charity is dedicated to family support). The volunteer mentioned that research tended to support this view.

In response he was told that research can be used for many purposes, and while in an ideal world a child would tend to fare better with two parents at home who have a good relationship, if the relationship has broken down, the child would be better off if the parents separate.  And then the kicker: Those of us in the office who have been through divorce, feel it would have been to the detriment of our own children to remain in an unhappy marriage.

There is so much to unpack here. The first is the statement that research can be used for many purposes.  Of course it can. That's not the point at issue: the question is, is the research reliable? And what does it suggest?  For, whatever other uses research might be put to (such as inducing guilt, which I suspect lies behind this comment) an appropriate use is precisely to inform policies of agencies such as this.

The second is the false antithesis: a child with parents in a good relationship, versus a child with parents whose relationship has broken down. That suggests that relationships can be so categorised, in the first place; and secondly that a relationship that has been deemed to have broken down is necessarily beyond saving.  Both are very questionable propositions.

Of course, a child doesn't want his parents fighting all the time. But we know that the vast majority of children want their parents to stay together. So why is it so unthinkable to explore the option of staying together and making the relationship work?

And the clue to that is in the last sentence: because I have had a divorce, and my friends have, it must be acceptable. 

Dismissing research, and then using such an argument is extraordinary. Any researcher knows about confirmation bias: that tendency to notice and lend weight to things that support what we want to believe. And of course a mother who has left her children's father has a strong psychological interest in justifying her decision to herself. She knows she is not a bad person, and would not choose to do anything to the detriment of her children. So of course she looks for (and finds) evidence to support that belief.

Moreover the women in the office have jobs and stability - to some extent they can shield themselves and their children from the consequences of their decisions. But their clients, people who are already struggling to hold their fragmented lives together much lower down the social scale, are in a very different position.

But rather than face the facts - or at the very least, the implications of the research - they flee into denial. The rich and the middle classes indulge their vices, and the poor suffer - just as with pro-abortion campaigning.  That's how it always works.

Sunday, 4 February 2018


I have long been incensed at the effrontery of 'Catholics for Choice.' The 'choice' for which they campaign, of course, is the choice to kill the unborn.  To call themselves Catholics whilst proclaiming this Satanic doctrine is an oxymoron of the highest order. Abortion is a sin of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

I was reminded of this when I learned of Catholic Schools that are proclaiming themselves 'Stonewall Schools.' Whilst Stonewall presents as an organisation that aims to promote equality and address bullying, its underlying philosophy, ethos and anthropology are all contrary to Catholic beliefs.

That reality comes to the surface from time to time, revealing Stonewall’s profound antipathy for Catholicism.  Cardinal O’Brien was awarded the title ‘bigot of the year’ by Stonewall, for standing up for Catholic teaching about marriage; and Stonewall was behind the legislation on adoption that forced the closure of Catholic adoption agencies.

The fundamental point of disagreement, of course, is Stonewall’s belief that homosexual and other non-procreative sexual behaviour is a positive good, and their mission to normalise and gain acceptance for such behaviour. That stands in stark contrast to the Church’s teaching, founded on the words of Christ Himself, that human sex is only good in marriage, when it expresses the nuptial union of a man and a woman, in love and open to life.

That then leads to very different approaches to, for example, the practical issue of education to prevent bullying. Stonewall’s approach is to teach children that 'gay children' (for example) should not be bullied because 'gay' is natural and good.

The Church, of course, teaches that nobody should be bullied, whether we approve of their behaviour or not, as we are all made in the image of God, and none of us is free from fault or defect, due to Original Sin.

So Stonewall’s anti-bullying work is at the service of their larger agenda, which is in contradiction to the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. The construction and promotion of the notion of a ‘gay person’ as an identity is philosophically and anthropologically unsound, and leads children (and indeed adults, including teachers) into error.  That error is compounded with the assumption that ‘being gay’ (ie subject to homosexual desires) can only find authentic expression in the indulgence of such desires. That error then leads people into sin and depravity.

 It is for that reason that it is incompatible for a School to be both Catholic and a ‘Stonewall School.’ And it is for that reason that I am delighted that the lamentable CES document 'Made in God's Image' is being quietly re-written. Let us hope that the next version is Catholic, not oxymoronic.

And let us hope and pray that the relevant bishops have a quiet word with the heads of the 'Stonewall Schools' and put them back on the straight and narrow; for the broad and popular Stonewall path leads somewhere quite different.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Panic Over

Those with long memories and an interest in chant may remember that some time ago, I was ecstatic about an online chant tool (here for example).

Imagine my horror, then, when today I clicked on the link and got the message that 'The requested URL /propers.html was not found on this server.'  I searched around for some time, with no luck.

But with a little help from Google, I found where the wonderful tool is now hosted: it is here.

Panic over....

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Fear and Abortion

The driver behind many abortions is fear.  Time and again, women speaking to counsellors say that they are afraid that they will not be able to cope, that their relationship will be put under too great a strain, that their parents will be unsupportive (or worse), that their education or career will suffer if they have a baby at this time, and so on.

All of these fears are about imagined futures.  But we do not know the future.  And further, if we choose one course of action (say, an abortion) we will never know what would have happened if we had not.  Moreover, we have a psychological investment in validating our decision, so we will tend to assume that all that we feared would indeed have come about, had we not had the abortion.

So we now have huge numbers of women in society who have a need to believe that their fears were well-founded, and that their abortion(s) saved them from some terrible fate.

But experience suggests that is not the case. Women who proceed with their pregnancies, even in very difficult circumstances, do tend to cope. Hardly any seem to regret their decision, and large numbers look back and say with hindsight that the (at the time unwanted) pregnancy was in fact a blessing in disguise.

This is an example of a larger phenomenon: very often we think in advance, that we won't be able to cope with some new change or challenge; yet more often than not, we do, when the occasion arises. As my mother used to say, we never get the grace until we actually need it...

But the abortion industry and its advocates thrive on fear.  Young women are taught to believe that an unintended pregnancy is the worst possible disaster; that a handicapped child would be impossible to cope with; that they will know when it is the right time to have a baby, and that any other time is the wrong time and will wreck their lives.

If we are to win the war against abortion, we need to discover how to combat these fears. In part, that means continuing to provide  (and better publicise) the support that so many women have already benefitted from. But we also need to challenge educational projects that inculcate these fears, and protect girls and young women from those aspects of popular culture that indoctrinate them. And, which will be even more difficult, we need to find ways to enable those who have had abortions to view them differently, and to be allowed to confront their loss and their grief.

For unless we convert hearts as well as the minds, we will never make real progress on this issue.

The urgent task, as I have blogged recently (here and here), is to resist the abortion lobby's push for Abortion on Demand; but we will also need to turn our minds to the truly important longer-term task of making abortion both (demonstrably) unnecessary and completely unthinkable, rather than the apparently easy option it appears to be today.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

What's the Agenda?

Further to my recent post about the concerted effort to 'De-Criminalise' abortion, I want to consider what the real agenda may be here.

Since I wrote that, we have witnessed the fury of BPAS and their allies at the appointment of Maria Caulfield as CCHQ Vice Chair for Women.  The ostensible reason for their fury is that she 'supports the criminalisation of women who end their own pregnancies.' The charge arises from her opposition to the bill to 'De-Criminalise' abortion.

In fact, the number of prosecutions of women for ending their own pregnancies is miniscule. The abortionist apologists' efforts are disproportionate: so what is their agenda?

I think there are a few things, some defensive and some aspirational (if one can use that word in this context).

On the defensive side of the ledger, I think there are (at least) three issues that worry them.

One is that very few doctors want to perform abortions. This is a problem they discussed at the meeting in the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists last year. One doctor there, who performs abortions, said that no doctors want to do this; and his proposed solution was simply to pay them more.

But if they can get 'De-Criminalisation' through, they will be much better placed to enforce abortion practice on trainee doctors and young doctors - 'normalising' it for the next generation. They will also remove all conscience clauses (as these are part of the hated 'legislation') and thus be able to compel compliance by medical and nursing staff - and keep those horrid Catholics out of the professions.

A second is that, for all their noise, they are not winning the debate. ComRes polling last year suggests that most people, and women in particular, think that there should be more, not fewer, restrictions on the availability of abortion.  This Bill is quite out of step with public opinion.

So I think that they are trying to use legislation to change social attitudes (as happened with so-called Gay Marriage).

Their third worry is a sub-set of the second, but quite focused: the pro-life movement, and in particular the younger generation of the pro-life movement, is getting strong.

So they want both to curtail its activity, and impose an educational framework that indoctrinates children early about the 'good' of abortion: 'De-Criminalisation' is a step towards that goal.

On the aspirational side, of course, the abortion providers would love to be free of all constraints on their businesses.

And there are those, such as Ann Furedi, who seem genuinely to believe that it is an essential element of women's rights, and so want to ensure no legislative interference. It is worth engaging with Furedi's thinking, as she is coherent and consistent: she is quite clear, for example, that what she wants is the right to abortion up to birth, for any reason, with no restrictions whatsoever.  She is also clear that this involves killing living human beings, but believes that the self-determination of women is more important than the right to life of their unborn children.

And as I mentioned previously, there is a desire to use the UK as an exemplar to the rest of the world, and so export our murderous practices to all countries, with the weight of the UN and many wealthy countries behind this drive.

So for those who may be wondering why this is a big issue, given that we already have, in practice, abortion on demand in this country, those are some of the issues at stake.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A Momentous Year

2018 promises to be a momentous year in the UK, and one with global ramifications.

I am not thinking here of Brexit or other (relatively) trivial political issues. Rather, it is the year that the abortion industry has been planning for - the year in which they plan to push for Abortion on Demand.

As a clever piece of marketing, they are using the expression 'De-Criminalisation' to describe their aspirations. After all, who wants to 'criminalise' either women in desperate circumstances, or doctors?

They have also ensured that the various Colleges (of doctors, nurses, midwives etc) are all lined up - regardless of the wishes of their members.

There is a draft bill ready and waiting, and a huge campaign ready to be launched.

So we need to understand what 'De-Criminalisation' is likely to mean, and to consider what we can do to oppose it.

'De-Criminalisation' will mean that there is no legal framework surrounding the provision of abortion in this country.  It will be treated purely as a medical procedure, and any guidelines will be at the discretion of medics and in practice (judging by the way the Colleges have operated recently) based on the wishes of the abortion providers.

The probable consequences of this will be:

  • Abortion on demand, up to birth, for any reason.  That will include abortion for being the 'wrong sex' (typically female), as well as for any reasons of social convenience.  
  • The removal of any rights of conscience for medical or ancillary staff to refuse to participate in abortions.
  • The inclusion of abortion as a compulsory part of medical training for medics entering Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
  • The removal of safeguards for those taking abortifacient medicines: ie DIY abortions, at home.
  • The inclusion of aggressive pro-abortion 'education' in our schools

It is quite conceivable that the work of pro-life organisations will be dubbed 'hate crime' and made illegal. The current campaign for 'buffer zones' around abortion clinics, in the absence of any evidence of intimidation or harassment, shows the direction of travel here.

In a country where abortion has already been implicated in various Serious Case Reviews as facilitating the abuse of young girls in Rochdale etc, removing abortion from any kind of legal framework seems particularly perverse.

And the UK is being used as the pace-setter: the goal is to use the UK as an exemplar to all other countries in the world, and make abortion a universal right, the denial of which will lead to severe sanctions (again, we can see the ground work being laid for this already).

So it is imperative that all people of good will, who believe that human life is inviolable, should do whatever they can to oppose this evil movement this year.  I hope and expect that the various pro-life organisations in the UK will be mounting various educational and political campaigns; and they will need as much support as we can muster.  If we fight, it will be hard work, but we may conceivably stop the spread of this evil. If we do nothing, we are sacrificing future lives not only in this country, but globally.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Medieval Christmas Poetry (ii)

My favourite medieval poem for Christmas is this Hymn to the Virgin. The trick of inserting rhyming Latin into rhyming English, whilst making the meaning quite clear, really appeals to me.

This is from about 1300.

Of on that is so fayr and bright
Velut maris stella
Brighter than the day is light
Parens et puella
Ic crie to the, thou see to me,
Levedy, preye thi Sone for me,
Tam pia,
That ic mote come to thee,

Al this world was for-lore,

Eva peccatrice
Tyl our Lord was y-bore
De te genetrice
With ave it went away
Thuster nyth and comes the day
The well springeth ut of the

Levedy, flour of alle thing

Rosa sine spina
Thu bere Jhesu, hevene king,
Gratia divina
Of alle thu ber'st the pris,
Levedy, quene of paradys
Mayde milde, moder es

Well he knows he is your Son,
Ventre quem portasti
Your prayers to him he will not shun,
Parvem quem lactasti.
So kindly and so good he is
That he has brought us all to bliss
And shut for ever the foul abyss

What do you mean, it is not obvious?  OK, here are some clues:

on - one; levedy - lady; thuster - dark; pris - prize.

Velut maris stella - like the star of the sea

Parens et puella - mother and maiden
Eva peccatrice - by Eve's sin

Ventre quem portasti - whom you bore in your womb
Parvem quem lactasti - the little one whom you suckled

Ask in the comms box if anything else needs elucidating (and correct all my errors…)

For historic reasons (see last December's posts) the last verse is translated by Brian Stone, unlike the others, (I've forgotten my source for them).

This has been set to music often, with varying success… A quick visit to Youtube will give several examples.

Here is Benjamin Britten's: