Friday, 23 May 2008


A variety of factors are being blamed for the state of faith, religion and morals in the UK prompted by the HF&E Bill debate. Secularism, relativism, apathy, hedonism and a host of other 'ism's are often (rightly) blamed.
As you were warned this blog would have a Benedictine twist, I would identify another villain of the piece, murmuring.
'Murmuratio' is a word which is difficult to translate directly into a modern English word; Columba Stewart notes
Endemic to organisations and communities of every kind, this resistant and whiny attitude creates black holes of has destroyed individuals and communities...he proclaims an absolute ban on murmuring (RB34.6 40.9)
For example, Catholics are generally right behind the Church's concern for the poor, the importance of liturgy (of whatever hue) and even if there are those who do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there is no 'Catholics for only a symbolic presence movement'.
When it comes to Catholic teaching on sexuality, the level of murmuring is often deafening. Cherie Blair's admission on contraception is simply the latest example of dissent in the areas such as contraception, homosexuality and divorce.
Murmuring on Catholic sexuality has not only weakened the faithful, it weakens our witness to others. I know many non-catholics who admire the Church on much of its work but shake their head at it's teaching on sexuality. "Not even your own people believe it" I've been told.
So perhaps the best path if you don't accept a teaching of the Church (whatever it is) is to work it through yourself, not to loudly voice dissent. Whatever the effect on yourself, what is it saying and doing to others?
For Benedict, murmering was about being obedient but complaining about it. Much of the above is about dissent but, as in the Cherie Blair example, claims of being an obedient Catholic are made except for..., or murmering on one issue is mixed with dissent on another, a heady cocktail.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Plan to Drop age of consent rejected

As we dust ourselves down from the disapointments of the HF&E divisions we can partially console ourselves with the news one piece of proposed mad legislation has been headed off at the pass this week. Regretably this proposal got the stamp of approval from the Church of Scotland, John Knox doubtless birling in his grave. To be fair I have no doubt a large number of the kirk in the pews don't agree with this.

THE Scottish government has rejected a proposal to decriminalise sex between consenting partners under the age of 16.
Children’s commissioner Kathleen Marshall was among those backing the change, which would have effectively lowered the age of consent among couples as young as 13.
It was proposed last year by the Scottish Law Commission as part of reforms to sexual offence laws aimed primarily at improving the low conviction rate for rape.
The commission proposed decriminalising sex between 13 to 15-year-olds — ending all prosecutions provided sex was consensual and the age gap not more than two years.

Plan to drop age of consent rejected

Catholic leaders back adult stem cell research with grant
Published 18/05/2008
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Catholic leaders back adult stem cell research with grantThe presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ conferences of England & Wales, Scotland and Ireland today announced the award of a £25,000 grant, funded from a special Day for Life collection, to support adult stem cell research in the UK. The donation has been made to Novussanguis, an international research consortium on cord blood and adult stem cells for therapeutic aims that was launched in Paris on 14 May, 2008.“We support scientific research that seeks to cure disease and suffering,” said the Cardinals.“The HFE Bill has focused on embryonic stem cell research. In fact, much greater progress has already been made towards clinical therapies using adult stem cells. Other emerging techniques hold potential for good, without creating and destroying human embryos. We are making this donation as a sign of the Church’s commitment to science and human good.“We also welcome the positive engagement with scientists and ethicists last Friday, which identified the need for continued dialogue. This meeting re-enforced the fact that there are profound questions both about the scientific efficacy of proposed techniques and their ethical justification. “In particular, we would ask:• What ethical considerations should limit bio-medical research?• Should the government be taking the dramatic step of legalising research on cybrid or hybrid embryos just as new techniques are emerging which would make the use of such hybrids in research redundant?• To what extent is the UK in danger of neglecting more promising therapies by focusing too much on embryonic stem cell research?“Not nearly enough time has been given to discussing these issues and these questions require answers before and not after legislation.”

Catholic leaders back adult stem cell research

Called to Love

Called to Love is the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) relationships and moral education programme that is set to be rolled out in Scotland following piloting in a number of Scottish secondary schools. I was at one of their training days last week. Like any new resource it will need to be reviewed and polished but it is set to allow Scottish Catholic schools to deliver a comprehensive, stimulating for pupils ( a lot depends on the teacher delivery of course!) and orthodox programme from S1 - S6 on relationship and sex education. SCES have managed to get the Scottish Government to realise that relationships and sex are indisolvable, they now realise that even in non-denominational schools that teaching relationships and sex independently is artificial.

The programme recieved a glowing endorsement in a letter from the Vatican. It has attracted interest from the U.S, Eire, England, Norway and the Called to Love training has been attended by staff from non-denominational schools.

A couple of taster pages to give you a flavour - Key Messages, How far is too far?

HF&E Clause Defeats

It will be easy to find extensive coverage of, and opinions on, the HE&F Bill elsewhere, - a few personal observations.

Firstly, my Catholic MP generally voted the right way on Monday but was absent on Tuesday. Look forward to getting an explanation why.

Some of the media coverage has been partisan to put it politely. The example that sticks in my mind is a BBC presenter standing outside parliament. His closing remark was (possibly slightly paraphrased) “MP’s will have to think long and hard before ignoring the advice of British scientists” while staring at the camera with a disapproving expression.

The argument over abortion will not be won on its own. Abortion has to be fought as part of a Catholic vision of human life as a whole – All men and women made in the image and likeness of God, the complimentary difference between men and women, marriage and sexuality (more in my next post), the dignity of life from conception to natural death. On contentious areas such as abortion, divorce and contraception I am asked about I rarely start on the issue itself but contextualise it in Catholic teaching in the above areas first.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

HF&E Bill Debate

HF&E Bill Debate

Surfing the web just now? Then listen and or watch the debate, if you are in the UK at the above link.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

Brown urges Embryo Bill support

There will be key votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on Monday & Tuesday. If you have not already done so there is still time to e-mail your M.P. to let them know your views. Some MP's claim they have not had much mail on this issue. Check out how they voted at The Public Whip then encourage or berate them prior to subsequent votes.

On BBC iplayer you can currently listen to Embryology - The Science and the Ethics where Archbishop Peter Smith and John Haldane do an excellent job refuting the accusations the Catholic Church shows a lack of compassion and has lied in this debate.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

How the west was lost

With a Benedictine twist, 'How the west was lost' will look at how to win it back again . If you have blundered upon this blog you are warned my comments may be ill informed, not particularly insightful, a rant or indeed all three.