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Red Nose Day gives millions to those who support abortion: Catholics should boycott it

It is shameful that our bishops refuse to say the same thing

By on Friday, 18 March 2011

The London Eye during the launch of Red Nose Day (Ian West/PA)

The London Eye during the launch of Red Nose Day (Ian West/PA)

The Catholic bishops of North Dakota (there are two of them) have just issued a statement warning Catholics in their dioceses against supporting organisations (eg Amnesty International) which, though they may do some good work, also support what are to Catholics morally objectionable actions and beliefs. Their statement of principle is admirably put: and I quote a report of their words here at length, because of its complete applicability to Red Nose Day, which if you hadn’t noticed falls today:

“Catholics are compelled by the Gospel to responsibly promote the protection of human life, families, and the common good,” the bishops wrote. “We applaud the charitable giving and social justice efforts of our parishes, Catholic schools, and individuals.

“At the same time, we urge attentiveness to the possibility of endorsing an organization whose mission or affiliation may be morally objectionable or, at least, questionable. We call upon pastors, clergy, and the lay faithful to use guidelines based on the virtue of prudence and justice when making charitable giving decisions. “

Organizations that promote “abortion, contraception, ‘reproductive rights/family planning’ or embryonic stem cell research” or that seek to “redefine marriage” should not be supported by Catholics, the bishops said.

The two bishops pointed out that these principles were the same as those enunciated by the Vatican in 1996, when it suspended its annual contribution to the United Nation’s UNICEF programme because “activities that were once solely focused on child welfare now include contraceptive and abortion services”.

For exactly the same reasons, Catholics should now be boycotting Red Nose Day, which gives huge funds to organisations like Oxfam, which has a long history of support for abortion, which openly promotes the worldwide legalisation of abortion, and which, as John Smeaton of SPUC pointed out in 2009, received £1,000,000 from Comic Relief, according to its then most recent accounts. The African Women’s Development fund (AWDF), according to the same accounts, received £1,560,000. The AWDF is, it says, committed to “Freedom of choice and autonomy regarding bodily integrity issues, including reproductive rights, abortion, sexual identity and sexual orientation”.

So, why do our bishops shrink away in horror from any idea that they should warn their people against supporting Red Nose Day? Why? The reason is that they were glibly assured by Comic Relief that they did “not fund, and have never funded, abortion services or the promotion of abortions”: and the bishops simply accepted that assurance, without hesitation, and probably with some relief.

The point is disputed. SPUC and many others have argued that Comic Relief has funded abortion providers and that that they do continue to fund leading abortion promoters. Our bishops, however prefer not to dwell on that. Red Nose Day is a jolly sort of affair, popular with the public, and they don’t want to look like killjoys, always against things. And so, they would rather not only not warn against it, but actually get behind it. And this has been going on for a long time. Consider this priceless (by which I mean shameful) example, from 2005, as reported in the Guardian:

“I am afraid there has been a misunderstanding,” said the Rt Rev Mark Jabale, bishop of Menevia. “Comic Relief has assured the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales that they would be willing to hand over their books to us to check so that we could see that they do not support any abortion projects.

“I want to reassure parishioners that they can give money to Comic Relief without worrying that any funds would be given to support something contrary to Catholic teaching.”

Is this just a bishop being utterly naïf? Or is there something worse than that going on here? I don’t know. But it seems to me a simple-minded refusal to perceive an inconvenient reality. Comic Relief don’t support “any abortion projects” directly, of course: but they do support those who are likely to do so. So we of course shouldn’t support them. If you want to support some of those entirely unobjectionable organisations that Comic Relief also funds, then do it direct.

The simple fact is that, in John Smeaton’s words, “there is only one response to Red Nose Day. Abortion hurts women and kills unborn children and Red Nose Day funds organisations which promote it. Boycott it.”

Why won’t our bishops say the same thing? Why? It’s a real question. But for answer there will come a deafening silence.

  • Julie

    Mischeivous critics? Why labeled so? Spiritual evolution could not occur without constructive feedback from the Lived In world.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Thank God for people like Jane with an intelligent open Mind

    The Great Bede Griffiths believed (as I do) that Catholics should not just sit in armchairs (as many do) and read about issues and then intellectualise ad nausea. Who has given you permission to moralise about what other people should do? As Jane says, bible texts can be ambiguous and can be skewed to suit the person who claims to be in the right, as you seem to be doing. Are you a “Maynooth College” man, who was born with certainty as a right and a privilege?

    How many third world countries have you travelled to and talked to the people, and what actual suffering have you witnessed. Other than from Catholic text books and from subjective traditional heresy, what do you really know to be true, and gives you the arrogance to be so right? Your opinions are probably not even your own, but as a consequence of repeated Catholic indoctrination.

    Bede Griffiths advocated that people should experience things as much as possible, at first hand before they can prognosticate. He proposed that rather than doubt, condemn and criticise what we disagree with, we should find out with what we disagree and why we disagree with it. Moral authority and valid opinions must be derived through objective, scholarly activity or academic rigour.

  • AnthonyPatrick

    Thanks for the question, Julie. The adjective I chose was employed as a limited qualifier in the context of a conditional premise and should not be considered as applicable to ‘constructive feedback’ – nor to critics – generally. (That is why I deliberately did not begin the sentence with ‘Critics’ per se.)

    It was, moreover, specific to a particular oppositional/negotiated reading of the Blessed J. H.’s legacy that many of us saw and heard, in what were then recently (coincidentally?) published biographical comments and via (mostly negative, sometimes hostile) media broadcasting surrounding the build-up to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the UK and the beatification of J.H.N.

    Although effectively and comprehensively answered by Pope Benedict’s own recognition and deeper understanding of Newman’s spiritual gifts (besides the overwhelmingly positive impact of the Pope himself – as reflected in the subsequently altered tone of much media reporting), the often repeated interpretation of Newman’s position on conscience struck me as at best inchoate, at worst disingenuously mischievous given the aggressively anti-Catholic sentiments (seemingly encouraged on some media platforms at the time) by some of the people describing themselves as atheists, humanists or secularists.

    N.B. I am not inferring anything generic about atheism, humanism or secularism by saying this. Some of my friends … etc. !

    As an orthodox Catholic, I adhere to the mainstream Judeo-Christian conviction that all human beings are made with the capacity to apprehend the immanence of the divine. However, I am not sure I can wholeheartedly agree with your belief that “(s)piritual evolution could not occur without constructive feedback from the Lived In world”.

    Please don’t misunderstand me: I am not disagreeing that spiritual awareness can be fostered and developed, or restricted and even denied through the influences and impacts of cultural environments on the individual. But each one of us comes into this world already a fully-formed soul. This could not occur without it being anything other than a gift from God.

    So whether we are people of religious faith, antithetical faiths, other religions or none, our receptiveness or resistance (if I am reading you correctly) to the tangible reality of divine grace operative here on earth (what I, as a Christian, described as “the Living Word in the lived-in world”) is a matter of free-will and ultimately independent of worldly approbation/critique/analysis however positively (or otherwise) we may deem to construe it.

    God bless.

  • Weary Convert

    But vast numbers of Catholics do not agree that Vatican bans on contraception are “Catholic values” and have voted with their feet either to ignore them as misguided and anyway, ultra vires or leave the church altogether as an organisation so out of touch with reality. Yet time and again we read of the moaning Minnies of the ultras complaining of the emptying churches and trying to blame them on Vatican II when in reality, I believe that it is Paul VI’s foolish attempt at a ruling that is responsible at driving so many people away.

  • Julie

    Thanks for that AnthonyPatrick. I agree with you that each one of us comes into the world (as finite beings) with a fully formed soul; however without any external stimuli or nurturing/worldly approbation/critique/analysis etc… we could not survive at all physically or develop at all spiritually. Your circumscribed knowledege or understanding of language, religion, Christ etc… could not have been imparted to you at all. (?) So do I take it that when you used the word Logos is a previous post, you meant purely Christ the Logos or in it’s broadest possible sense?

  • Anonymous

    Julie, I am glad we are in agreement about the soul and, yes, I do mean Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Logos of God. I understand the coherence of your argument (external stimuli/nurturing/survive/knowledge/understanding/imparted) and recognize the paradoxical element in my own, but I think we might be in danger of being unnecessarily at cross-purposes.

    In the linkage “spiritual evolution … Lived In (sic) world” there is for me a paradox; something similar happens where “survive … physically” is conflated with “develop … spiritually”: the linguistic constructions suggest axiomatic dependent relationship. But do they prove it?

    It isn’t that one of us is right and the other wrong. It’s more like Bob Dylan sang in “One Too Many Mornings”: you are right from your side …

    Defining objectivity as the basis to ‘absolute’ truth, 19th century scientific positivists believed that a complete and exact understanding of the physical universe was ultimately attainable. During the 20th century, in the wake of Freud and Marx, psychologists, social scientists and atheist-geneticists pressed the case for complete determinism: free will was simply an illusion.

    Where did that get us (apart from Marxism, Nazism, Stalinism and Man as God)?

    - An intellectually black and white universe in which Reason is right and Faith is wrong.

    Does this worry me?

    I should say so.

    But not unduly: I don’t know about you, but for me as a Catholic there is such a thing as the Absolute Truth that is God, which can be distinguished from the ‘absolute’ truth permitted to the rationalist-scientist and whose tangible reality is unaffected by states of mind on the part of finite creatures who intuitively accept or reject it; which was before time began, is now and ever shall be, and is independent of temporal sensory perception. God Is.

    But God does not exist. You and I exist. Things exist. God is not a thing. God is no thing. Nothing is real.

    Mysterium Fidei: Absolute Truth is a paradox.

    Consider Jesus. And Mary. And Joseph.

    It’s very late.

    Nunc scripsi totum pro Christo da mihi potum.

    God bless.

  • Julie

    Thank you Weary, it’s nice to feel appreciated & also to read your eminently sensible evaluations. I certainly feel it’s important not to celebrate the Abortion Act however, nor to discourage the Pro-life stance. It’s a sad state of affairs that it’s deemed necessary at all. The medics know all too well that it would be attempted anyway, in desperation. They also realise that women would & have inadvertantly killed themselves in the process & attempt to balance these statisics too. Still, it’s as sad as our war-mongering & weaponry. Our extremes of poverty & suffering & also I must add, as sad as a magesterium continuing to make dangerous & condemning assertions amidst theologically complex smoke & mirrors. (Fortunately, the UN are creating what is said to become a more universal & democratic ‘moral magna-carta’ & I was also pleased to discover recently Seechange.org; a Catholic group lobbying for the diminishment of holy see’s government status within the UN).

    Which is one of the great beauties of our (yes difficult) pluralistic society. Choice, free-will & the ability to nail our colours to any number of divergent masts; theologically or aesthetically: safe in the knowledge that we do so with & for God. I also find it heartening that the ‘death of the family’ is a problem equally as prevalent in the mind of Grayling say, as it is within the church. People with true faith will see this as a change we simply had to go through, painful as it is. And it’s more important than ever not to panic or let our fears & vulnerabilies be manipulated or exploited.
    Regarding patriarchic inertia through lack of relational tension, (why it may take 500 years to apologise for instance); Eugene Halliday speaks most convincingly in the Tacit Conspiracy. Worth a look. http://www.eugenehallidaysociety.org/works/Eugene%20Halliday/Written/v3-tacit_conspiracy.pdf#zoom=100

  • Julie

    Thank you. I don’t understand Latin, but appreciate the thought.

    I am SO glad you can recognise the paradox & that also (as you stated in an earlier post) “someone always gets hurt in scriptural shoot-outs, and its usually the innocent bystanders”.

    Which proves you are not insensible to the dangers also within your own singularly circumscribed system “par excellence”, as the magesterium posits its own scriptural positions & claims them absolute truth. (Although the rhetoric can seem rather glorious & impressive & I’m sure many are inspired by it).

    Define Faith though. Surely when we CAN recognise that all faiths are right from their point of view, as within Monism etc… (therefore forgoing our own personal & institutional ego-identifications as much as we can etc…) do we truly have a chance of working toward global peace & unity. As in the symbiotic panentheist vein.

    Let’s also consider GOD the Logos & that we are ALL of God & within GOD. Every working toward a will for the highest potential of a soul from birth onward is Gods Love.

    “An intellectually black and white universe in which Reason is right and Faith is wrong.” It’s not quite as simple as that is it?

    As Kierkergard said “Once you label me you negate me”, and also words to the effect but I can’t find it (in Fear & Trembling); that it is simply bad manners to assume others do not possess Faith, or they simply would not carry on.
    This is why sadly, there is no place for me within Catholicism. Which is a great pity, because it has so much potential!

    Consider Logos as One God. Consider a more universal global unity.

    All love to you & thanks for your time. Again, I am heartened that you are not insensetive to the dangers also within your own faith system & I can see you are a very committed individual.

  • Julie

    Thank you for your illuminating & comprehensive reply & I am glad you can recognise the paradox, along also with the dangers of selectively positing scriptural & doctrinal absolutes: (As you stated in an earlier post) “someone always gets hurt in scriptural shoot-outs, and its usually the innocent bystanders…”

    I also respect & share your concern for our furtures. “An intellectually black and white universe in which Reason is right and Faith is wrong…” though? I’m not sure it’s as simple as that is it? We still have our religions, the arts, beauty, literature etc…

    And define Faith also. Surely when we CAN recognise that all faiths are right from their point of view, as within Monism etc… (therefore forgoing our own personal & institutional ego-identifications as much as we can etc…) do we truly have a chance of working toward global peace & unity. An expression of as universal a human dignity as is possible. As in the symbiotic panentheist vein.

    Let’s also consider God the Logos & that we are All of God & within God. Jesus, Mary & Joseph also. I thank you for the reminder.

    But as Kierkergaard said “Once you label me you negate me”, and also words to the effect but I can’t find it (in Fear & Trembling); that it is simply not polite to assume others do not possess faith, because they simply would not carry on without it.

    All love to you. God Bless & thanks for the discourse. You are obviously a most committed person.

  • Weary Convert

    Julie – thanks for your comments. I have looked at the Seechange website and fully agree that it is absurd for the Vatican (however it describes itself) to ape the trappings of a state. Baldwin’s “power without responsibility” comment comes to mind. As everyone knows, the Vatican Satte was set up by with the agreement of Mussolini to sort out the internal Italian problem created by the final taking away in 1871 of what was left of the Papal States which, with the possible exception of the brigands of Albania and Montenegro, were the worst governed “state” in Europe. Of course, subsequent Italian rule – still so influenced by the Papacy – is sometimes not much better! As has been seen in the Irish clerical child abuse scandal, the diplomatic status of the Vatican was considered more important to the Nuncio than obtaining the truth of what priests and religious were up to. I’ve no idea what all this Ruritanian diplomatic status costs but would have thought the money could be far better spent in helping the poor for which the Vatican claims to have such concern. I appreciate that the Italian postal system is awful, but if the Pope and his associates wish to communicate with local hierarchies, they could always use email: much cheaper than nuncios and the rest!

  • Anonymous

    Dear Julie,

    Thank you. This will be my last post.

    I respect your opinions – with the substance of which I am familiar – and appreciate your intentions.

    I am happy that you have shared your differing interpretations of my position, and for acknowledging the sincerity and openness of my responses to you and others.

    I believe that candidly professing what one believes, and why, is not the same as indulging in scriptural trade-offs at the expense of another or another’s beliefs. I am always willing to offer the former and believe that it is disingenuous to try to ensnare others using catechetical or intellectual ploys.

    All the paradoxes in my posts were intentional, by the way, and part of my conscious awareness and deliberate expression of the way many people throughout history have been, and continue to be, drawn to intuit the mystical interplay between the rational truth of creation and the mystery of faith.

    Some people might indeed think there is a dichotomy between faith and reason: Catholics (like many more people besides, whether of faith or no faith) do not.

    Catholics are not polytheists. We believe in the One God of Judeo-Christian tradition.

    Recognizing the One God as the Holy Trinity expresses our tangible sense of the Divine Mystery of God acting in the temporal and extra-temporal realities of His Creation, through the operative grace of His Logos, by the working of His Holy Spirit.

    That is what we mean by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: three divine aspects (“Persons”), but only One God.

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph, whom, when contemplated together, we describe as the Holy Family, are not the Holy Trinity.

    Catholics do not worship, and have never worshipped, either Mary or Joseph.

    Mary is especially venerated in the company of the Saints in recognition of her humble acceptance of the God-given role and suffering she endured for our sakes. Likewise, Joseph is honoured among the Saints as having been the devoted husband of Mary and fatherly guardian of Jesus, the incarnate Logos of the One God. We do not question God’s divine plan. We co-operate with it.

    Love and Peace.

    God bless

  • RJ

    I wonder if there is any mileage in the idea that God has the right to take life and humans do not. Come to think of it: humans do have the right to take life (in self-defence against a deliberate aggressor or to protect others against the same), but what gives one human being the right to decide when someone other than the above should die?
    Another argument against what you have said above: we are all going to die. So is God ‘guilty’ of our deaths (or is this the result of original sin: through one man’s sin death came into the world)?
    Another question: we are all going to die. Millions of people die naturally every day.: so does this mean it’s ok to kill people, e.g. the defenceless?

  • DBMcGinnity

    This is really good. You have thought this through and presented accurate information and backed it up. I liked it. Too many contributions are facile with ill thought out ideas and with empty piety, suppossition, inuendo, allusion and literally ignorance. Thank you again. It might be a good idea if people stopped talking petty nonsense about pro life issues (this has got to do with control and domination of women) and original sin; what piffle Look at a baby sleeping (how the hell can there be original sin?).

    As an old man, for me it is academic, but I would be more worried about Shria Law, that is on the way, and if I were the Pope, I would have all Christians, of all sorts “in the tent” soon. How do I know? According to the Muslims the Koran contains the words of God. The Koran is to be read as if God Himself had spoken these words stated in it. It is important to emphasize this point because if Koran is the word of God and does not contain any errors and it should hold true for all times. It cannot be a changed and it cannot be doubted. I had a debate recently with a medical doctor, and he was a dangerous Muslim fundamentalist, and if one-half of what he said is true, then the Pope must become organized and get his act together.

    If you read on, and take academic instruction on this subject, as I have done. you will discover that The Koran says: It is the will of God that the message of the Prophet cover all the earth. If rumour is right, then it seems that some very powerful people mainly Shia Muslims like The Ayatollah Khomeini are quietly waiting for the Middle East and North African rulers to be deposed, and then they will move in.

    However, I am an old man, and I am probably “off my head” but I feel glad that I am an old man for the reasons suggested.

  • Dio

    You´re not very bright, are you? God GIVES life, and he takes it when it pleases HIM, that is the catholic position. We ALL die, eventually, so according to your “logic”, God is a killer worse than Hitler, Stalin and Mao combined, and killing anyone was quite alright since God, after all, kills us all anyway. I don´t think so.

  • Ian

    Secular tyranny? Are you stupid?

  • Anonymous

    If God chooses when we die he certainly is neither merciful or loving in the way he does it. Are you really suggesting God plans the deaths of those who die of starvation, cancer and ethnic cleansing?

    Also, the foetus – a human being, and therefore created with original sin, and without repentance is surely destined for hell. At least living humans have the chance to make it into heaven through devotion, prayer and good-deeds – an innocent foetus has no chance.

    Just where are GOD’s morals?