Fri 18th Apr 2014 | Last updated: Thu 17th Apr 2014 at 22:10pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

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.

  • Anonymous

    I did boycott the events at work today. This even included refusing to buy some rather delicious muffins. We really ought to make it clearer that we cannot support this event and why this is so, and not wait for the bishops to do it for us. Anyone who knows anything about (most of) the current English bishops knows that to it is vain to hope for anything from them.

  • http://ccfather.blogspot.com/ Ben Trovato

    We now have a default position of only giving to charities we know to be sound, having discovered through bitter experience that some seemingly innocuous ones which we used to support were supporting a range of activities against Catholic moral teaching, ranging form Embryo experimentation (eg Cancer Research) through to contraception (CAFOD) and abortion (Amnesty).

    It’s tough telling the kids they can’t support Red Nose Day, and why, but that’s real education…

  • Weary Convert

    Surely, the good done by Comic Relief and similar charities far outweighs whatever might be given to abortion activities. But what is the position of William Oddie and these bishops on paying taxes to the NHS where some of those taxes are undoubtedly – not possibly – used to fund abortion? Have he and the bishops refused to pay these taxes and more particularly refused to accept any NHS treatment which uses such “tainted” money? If so, they have a strong moral position; if not, it seems a bit cheap to single out for a boycott charities whose main purpose is to help the poor and distressed?

  • Peter

    As members of Churches Together, our parish contributes to the local Christian Aid fundraising initiative. This has been going on for several years. Do Christian Aid support abortion activities? If so, ought we not disassociate ourselves from such fundraising events?

  • http://ccfather.blogspot.com/ Ben Trovato

    I used to support Christian Aid, then read SPUC’s report (below) and I no longer do.

    Christian Aid claims not to support abortion, but it has taken an equivocal position in practice. In 1993, Rev Michael Taylor, the charity’s director,
    wrote:
    “We cannot give you any categorical assurance that the organisations we work with and the programmes we fund are not involved in abortion or
    sterilisation. We are of course adamantly opposed to any element of coercion… in our support for Mother and Child Health programmes, we do
    not rule out abortion; and it would be surprising if some of those programmes do not at least refer women for abortions.” (Letter from Rev
    Michael Taylor, Director of Christian Aid, 14/1/93)
    Mr Taylor later sought to clarify Christian Aid’s position on abortion by quoting a “Board minute” from 1994 which stated that:
    “…We believe people in poor communities, as part of broader health programmes, should have access to the same information, advice and
    opportunities as people have here, and then be free to choose” but that “Christian Aid does not support abortion clinics and does not promote
    abortion or regard it as a desirable form of birth control…”
    However, to promote access in the developing world to the same “opportunities” and freedom of choice which people have here would include
    access to abortion.
    More recent statements by Christian Aid have shown similar equivocation. In 2000 the official Board position of Christian Aid was that it:
    “does not support abortion clinics and does not promote abortion or regard it as a desirable form of birth control. Christian Aid works hard with
    partners overseas to remove or alleviate the extreme conditions of poverty that can sometimes lead people to consider abortion as an option.
    Christian Aid has given a categorical assurance to supporters that it will not use Christian Aid Week income to fund health programmes
    anywhere which could in any way give rise to concern.” (Statement by Christian Aid, 16/5/00)
    There remains cause for concern until Christian Aid provides categorical assurance that the organisations they work with and the programmes
    they fund are not involved in providing or referring for abortion.
    Christian Aid November 2001 Statement on Population Issues includes the following references: “provision of adequate reproductive health
    services … for poor women is crucial so they can limit the number of children they have in a safe and informed way”; Christian Aid supports “all
    people having access to reproductive health services” and “warmly supports appropriate family planning education”; Christian Aid “has funded
    organisations that provide support to poor women in crisis, including the provision of counselling services to inform victims of their legal rights,
    both in terms of advice on legal abortions as well as the risks of illegal abortions.”
    “Christian Aid acknowledges the continuing rapid growth in the world’s population has serious implications for developing countries”.
    etc etc

  • RJ

    In the case of taxation, I think this could be called ‘material cooperation’. We contribute to the funding of the government, which is a necessary good, even though we know that a fraction of what we contribute will be used for evil purposes, which we do not will (if we did, it would be ‘formal cooperation’ and we would be morally guilty).
    I would guess we have a moral obligation to make our objections known, however.

    In the case of charities, whose work is also necessary, we have the opportunity to give to those which do equally good work but are not involved in dubious practices. In other words, the necessary good can be achieved without contributing to the evil in question (abortion). We can help the poor and distressed without victimising the most vulnerable – the unborn.

  • RJ

    I have taken the same approach. There are equally effective (and morally preferable) charities available.

  • Jane

    I cannot believe christian people can be so black or white about this issue. Surely you can’t even imagine what its like to be in some of the positions of these people with issues such as Aids/HIV.There is something to be said for the greater good isnt there? Ben I think its time you came out of the medieval times!

  • RJ

    We each have a responsibility.

  • RJ

    That would be true if there weren’t perfectly good alternatives.

  • Weary Convert

    The fact is that people who give millions to Comic Relief etc. may not be likely to fund CAFOD and similar organisations approved by the Catholic hierarchy. So the end product will be that the money is spent on other things and the poor and needy lose aid that could have saved or changed their lives. All this to give those with tender consciences a warm glow of satisfaction, perhaps?

    Regarding Nytor’s comment on the bishops, for many years I was a footslogger member of SPUC. I joined marches, wrote letters, lobbied the MP etc. and one occasion attended a rally at Central Hall. There I must say I was shocked by the shrill and hurtful remarks from those on the stage and the reception they got from many in the audience – it was more like a North Korean rally than anything I had expected. However, I carried on. But one thing that was absolutely clear at that time was that whatever one’s political views, it was patently clear that the only chance – and that a slim one – of “improving” the Abortion Act was under a Conservative government. The views of most of Labour and the Liberals would probably have made things worse. Then, as the Thatcher/Major government drew towards its close, the position of the Catholic bishops became more and more left-wing. Cardinal Hume for example was notorious for his loathing of Mrs Thatcher. Then as the election approached, the hierarchy issued a manifesto of guidance for Catholics in which the anti-Tory and left-wing bias was obvious. And, of course, Blair won the election with a landslde. Shortly afterwards, Hume and some of his colleagues went to Downing Street to ask for a review of the Abortion Act and of course, and as they must have known would happen, got nowhere. However, it doubtless looked good on their CV’s. It was at that stage I realised that, politically, SPUC was pointless and I drifted away.

    And people wonder why I call myself “Weary Convert”

  • Rose

    I am wondering, reading all this, whether Catholics have a firm grip on the authority and hierarchy in the church? If the bishops have declared Catholics need not boycott this, then who else, other than cardinals and the Pope can actually dispute the assertion? Those extremists, whatever their motive, will not hold authority in my mind.
    Oh and another thought: tax payers in this country have supported abortion on the NHS here for years.

  • http://ccfather.blogspot.com/ Ben Trovato

    Jane: as for black and white, we follow Christ, who was pretty black and white: He who is not for me is against me. I am proud bo be black and white about abortion: killing children is wrong.

    I cannot see how compassion for those suffering is best demonstrated by pushing abortion on them, nor how that contributes to the greater good.

    If that’s medieval, so be it – I think it is timeless truth.

  • Anonymous

    “tax payers in this country have supported abortion on the NHS here for years.”

    Not voluntarily, but through the coercion of the secular tyranny.

    Comic Relief, however, is voluntary, and it is inappropriate for Catholics to give money voluntarily which might go towards abortion.

  • Anonymous

    Rose
    I am wondering, reading your comment, if you have a firm grip on reality. Just because someone is a bishop or a cardinal does not make their every thought, word or action infallible, as the history of the Church has clearly shown all too often. And I would hardly call John Smeaton an ‘extremist’. He is the Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children – one of the largest, if not the largest, pro-life charity in the UK.

  • jane

    So a girl who is raped and thus falls pregnant must see this to be a gift from God, and therefore be reminded of the most harrowing experiece of ones life every time she looks at her child? I am not saying that I agree with abortion as a form of ‘willynilly’ contraception however there are some pretty formidable situations and arguments for this action.
    The bible which you are quoting from is full of contradictions e.g. the book which you so blindly believe in (respect to you by the way for having the powerful faith you have) says “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even unto the tenth generation..” (Deut. 23:2). Is this what you would want for a child without a legitimate father? Furthermore there are several places in the bible that refer to life as breathing, considering a fetus does not breath in biblical terms it is not life.
    What I am saying is that snip its from a book can be twisted into whatever point you want to get across.
    My overall point is that the main message the bible tell us all is to ‘love thy neighbour’ so instead of getting hooked up on mere symantics can’t we possibly help people who need it?

    p.s. please don’t take this as a slight on your faith, as said above I have a lot of respect for those with faith, I myself am a christian and have faith in a God that I know would not discriminate against any of the creatures he has made in his image.

  • Noelfrancis

    At some point, as has already been pointed out, we (nearly all I would guess) support financially, organisations including central government that are in direct opposition to our Catholic moral teaching. However standing back and saying no to Comic Relief and instructing/educating our kids to do the same comes across as a very negative response. Does the greater good not matter? Give your money and you may well be paying for children to be aborted – or don’t give and be certain that children will die as a consequence of your refusal to donate? What a choice. No wonder we get such apparent conflicting messages from all Catholic quarters.
    I never hear any guidance from our Catholic leaders whether we should cut up our credit cards since a large amount of the astronomical profits that these companies make is instrumental in supporting the production and dissemenation of pornography and all the evil arteries associated with it – paedophilia, prostitution, violence etc. etc. What are we to do – stop using credit cards? Almost impossible in this day and age.
    I think it is very hard to cherrypick our way through life making the morally correct choices where, if you dig deep enough, you will find you are activly working with, or supporting an orgainsation that conradicts our Catholic moral teaching.
    OK – so don’t donate to Comic Relief and donate instead to Cafod perhaps via Mastercard and truly understand that they also profit from the huge misery that I mentioned above. Your choice.

  • http://ccfather.blogspot.com/ Ben Trovato

    Jane, if a girls is raped that is evil. However, that does not legitimise the further evil of killing a resultant child. Why should the child be punished for the sins of the father – that strikes me as more medieval than my stance!

    There is evidence from the experience of many women that having a child as a result of rape is not ‘a constant reminder’ but rather drawing good from evil: that seems to me the work of God. By contrast adding the trauma of abortion to rape is very damaging.

    There are many many women who regret having abortions, often forced on them by men, and very few who have had children and subsequently wish they had aborted them.

    Charity demands we look at these difficult situations honestly and in the light fo God’s grace.

  • http://ccfather.blogspot.com/ Ben Trovato

    Or donate to a charity that is trustworthy… why is that such a hard choice? Because we cannot avoid all evils does not mean we should not avoid the ones we can.

    I think it is far from ‘negative’ to make my kids aware of the moral difficulties we face in the modern world. Would you prefer me to keep them in ignorance?…

  • Anonymous

    Just to be clear, are you actually declaring that Benedict XVI and cardinals (generically) are “extremists”? And are you presuming that, by definition, “tax payers” is synonymous with “virtuous”. Or are you merely showboating as a Red Nose comedian?

  • http://ccfather.blogspot.com/ Ben Trovato

    The trouble is, I have a sneaky suspicion that if 10% of Comic Relief funding went to supporting Weapons of Mass Destruction (see my blog post…) or Racist organisations etc, people would not use this argument to justify giving.

    And what that implies is that they don’t really believe abortion to be a moral evil…

  • Anonymous

    Jane, in response to your rhetorical question, how about adoption, or the support of the girl’s family (and friends), loving her and the child (and each other) all the more devotedly while carrying their shared cross in imitation of Christ? Surely it is the child’s life, in and of itself, that is the gift? And who are we to pre-empt what good shall come of it?

    Also, unlike Muslims and some Protestants, Catholics should never see themselves as simply followers of ‘The Book/Bible’. We are followers of The Word, Our Lord Himself, whose crucifixion is the sign of contradiction par excellence, and whose teaching contradicted the traditionalisms, the liberalisms and the extremisms of the day. To recognize His Truth it would be better if one were neither a modernist nor traditionalist, as it were, for their own sake. When Christ said that not one jot of the Law would be changed, I don’t believe he was thinking of stand-offs with bible quotations at ten-paces: someone always gets hurt in scriptural shoot-outs, and its usually the innocent bystanders.

    Moreover, whilst I never interpreted your words as in any way being a slight to the faith, may I point out that when devout Roman Catholics adhere to the unfolding tradition and magisterium of the Church – which is not an ‘ism’ – out of free-will, they do not do so because they are the incurably incurious canon fodder of the hierarchy (as appeared to be inferred in a posting by Rose before yours).

    A common fallacy to be observed in critiques and, more generally, in the thinking of critics of Catholicism is the erroneous/prejudicial identification of the Papacy – and, in lazy journalism, ‘the Vatican’ – as the dictator of what the Church believes, rather than what it in fact is, which is the custodian and defender of what She believes.

    The Papacy (the Apostolic continuum) is the rock upon which The Church is founded. The Pope is a man: if a pope (a man) were to have pronounced ex cathedra in error, it having subsequently come to pass that The Church (the universal body of Christ) is in agreement that he was in error, it is then incumbent upon the Keeper of the Keys to loose or bind accordingly. That is the divinely appointed prerogative and responsibility of the Office. It is not something determined by the temporary vagaries of a temporally instituted democracy.

  • jane

    This will be my last message today as we all have I’m sure a lot to do. I think your reply to me was fair and gentle in putting your point across.
    I just would like to stand by my belief of a God that would love everyone no matter what for those that do repent.
    I feel embarrassed that I got into a bible quoting stand off it was to prove that words can be twisted, but I must agree that, that was not what the book was meant for, although this point does go both ways with non believers and believers.
    I thank you for your opinions and for once it is I think a sensible option to agree to disagree on this point as both will not be moved from their stance.

  • Anonymous

    You are welcome. May the divine assistance always be with you.

  • Cadellpost

    If salt should lose its taste…. the bishos are shooting themselves in the foot. I thought Friday was lenten family fast day, Cafod will be losing thousands as a result of the Bishops condoning red nose day. I’ll be sending my money to Mary’s Meals as I know I can trust them. Fiona

  • Anonymous

    Give to CAFOD? You can’t be serious! Please read this article http://protectthepope.com/?p=2638 and check out the links in the comments afterwards. I wouldn’t give a penny to CAFOD. A truly Catholic aid organisation is The Little Way Association in London – well worth supporting.

  • Anonymous

    +Vin still hasn’t done anything about the Ss John & Elizabeth hospital giving abortion referrals and prescribing abortifacients [despite it being many years since +Cormac was ordered by His Holiness to make it stop.

    The CESEW has signed off on Connexions in Catholic schools - which arranges abortion referrals, provision of the morning-after pill, contraceptive provision and advice on using them plus a wide diversity of sex and sexual relationship guidance to the underage [i.e. conspiring in the sexual abuse of minors]. They also have a confidentiality clause which means that once a student discloses something to connexions the school’s hands are tied and they may not inform a parent – so we are now in a situation where a teenager years below the age of consent may be given contraceptives, sex tips, treatment for venereal disease, the morning after pill or even go through an abortion or may even have attempted suicide or be self-harming – all without informing parents – under the ‘protection’ of a Catholic school…

    How did Bishops’ Conference petition parliament during the formulation of HFEA bill and the Mental Capacity bill? What did Archbishop Smith say again?

    Let’s make this very clear: Bishops’ Conference conspires with the Culture of Death: It is not pro-Life and has not been so for years.

  • Anonymous

    If you would never discriminate then praytell why you wish to terminate an innocent life which is entirely blameless itself. It is the rapist or the illegitimate parent responsible for the pains of pregnancy; this is no excuse to murder the child to escape the consequences.

  • Peter

    The best way for a parish community to contribute, I would imagine, is for the parish to enter into a twinning arrangement with a parish in Africa,for example. The funds go directly where they are needed and are administered by the parish priest with the support of his local bishop. Sadly not all parish priests over here are enthusiastic about twinning.

  • Christina

    AnthonyPatrick, I respect and agree with all the points you have made, and admire the courteous manner in which you have made them. However, I am puzzled and must surely be misunderstanding you when you say “if a pope were to have pronounced ex cathedra in error”. In accordance with Christ’s promise to Peter, a Pope cannot err when he pronounces ex cathedra.

  • Christina

    I have been in a parish where this was done, and agree that it is certainly the best way, both materially and spiritually, for a parish community and Catholics in general to contribute.

    One of the things that I abhor about Red Nose Day, and similar celebrity-led charitable romps, is that the spiritual dimension of charitable giving is lost sight of and children learn to see ‘Charity’ not as a means of giving from their own abundance to those less fortunate than themselves, but as a self-gratifying way of having a rip-roaring good time. Admittedly, in these self-obsessed times, huge sums could not be amassed for the relief of the poor by any other means, and I have no answer to this objection which is bound to be made. However, for myself, I will have nothing whatsoever to do with Red Nose Day, CAFOD, or any of the other charities who contribute to the culture of death in any of its many forms.

  • Peter

    We have church collections for Cafod. What’s wrong with Cafod?

  • Christina

    Peter, because it is known to support contraceptive services, and it is because the hierarchy turns a blind eye to this, and so tacitly approves the providing of these services against the teaching of the Church, that we have these collections in our parishes. In the parish I referred to above the priest was wise to this, and so on the Sunday when the CAFOD collection was made he, with the full knowledge and approval of his parishioners, instead made a collection for a poor parish in India run by an order of priests who work for the poor and are obedient to the teachings of the Church.

  • Anonymous

    Please see my post above in reply to Noelfrancis. Check out the link I gave and the links on that page. There is PLENTY wrong with CAFOD.

  • Hadrek

    i find the best place to pull females is waiting outside abortion clinics

  • Lisa

    Sadly, you are right.

  • Lisa

    Are you for real? So yes, a woman has been raped, let’s encourage her to go through another death experience like abortion so that she will have nightmares, panic attacks and depression. Sounds good to me.

  • Peter

    A case of a rich parish giving directly to a poor parish with the added assurance that the funds are spent in line with Church teaching. Surely this must be the way of the future.

  • Peter

    Thankyou, very enlightening.

  • Weary Convert

    Is there not in Mattew’s Gospel the warning of blind guides who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel? An apt description of so many of the tender consciences that have been commenting on this issue. Comic Relief has raised £74 million in one night, the vast majority of which will go to the deprived in the Third World. So, instead of endlessly whining and splitting hairs, people should rejoice at this success. But when ever did “Ueber-catholics” do thar?

  • Tiggy

    They are better in Scotland, at least on this issue. We had a peaker from SPUC at Mass yesterday with the full permission of the BIshop. Looks like he got a great collection too!

  • Info2

    I boycotted Red Nose Day on this basis and one which is far more important for me, personally.

    Charity should always remain voluntary – the school my kids go to makes it compulsory (ie dress down day for £1, which will be donated to RND).

    In places I have worked, there’s been a form of enforced charity-fascism, as in “..and how much will you be giving today”, to which the reply would be “Nothing. You cannot and should not force charitable giving”.

  • Julie

    Surely “ueber-catholics” are trained to polarise & moralise from birth, if what I have been reading on the Vatican website is anything to go by. Fortunately, in these relativistic times, many of us can spot psychological projection a mile away & understand clearly that the flaws within society are equally reflected within christianity & the catholic church. Those who wish to believe the church & ‘her’ teachings morally inferior; can find equally compelling evidence to support their claims & would not donate a penny to charities approved of by the catholic hierarchies. I fail to feel reassured however, that scapegoating, blame, & humiliation are not yet dead & that most of us are guilty of it. Christina may do well to have a “self-gratifying” look in the mirror, as might we all. Bless her.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your response, Christina, and apologies if the comment in question similarly troubled anyone else unduly and unnecessarily. I was in no intentional sense suggesting anything other than what the entirely hypothetical nature of the imaginary situation might allow and which was, besides, absolutely conditional, and in addition contingent upon my (quite possibly imperfect) understanding of the Catholic acceptance and comprehension of free-will (cf. ‘pro multis’ in the Roman Canon/Eucharistic Prayers, for example).

    Why I felt obliged to do so in the particular contexts surrounding that post perhaps requires more explanation, so further apologies if what follows appears prolix.

    Some of what has been posted is apparently founded on a presumption in favour of a relativist and ‘horizontal’ (about-ourselves-and-with-each-other-) sense of morality, and consequently infers the diminution or debilitation of a ‘vertical’ one (inspired by the divine Logos and with God). For myself, as a Catholic, I believe in a Personal God, but not in the sense of a ‘personal’ service. Christ’s saving work is primary; His grace is operative; our role (including a pope’s) can only be co-operative with His.

    The patristic tradition has handed down the sense of the spirit that the bishop or priest has received in ordination, acknowledged in the people’s reply at Mass: “Et cum spiritu tuo”. (Thank goodness – and the Holy Father – for the revised translation of the Missal!) Also, in his homily on 2 Timothy, St. John Chrysostom, referring to the indwelling Holy Spirit, says: “… there is a twofold assistance, the grace of the Spirit, and God helping it. And otherwise God will not be with us … “.

    Under constraint of time (more on that in a moment!) I was extrapolating, as further evidence of this, from the fact of the acceptance of the Universal Church (I am not thinking of special interest groups) that the Supreme Pontiff (Latin etym. pontifex: high priest; literally, bridge builder; from Etruscan: road maker, way finder) is acting in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only with such faith and consensus freely given to the rock of its foundation that the Body is in accord with the divine work of its Founder – the perfect Word that is its Head.

    The incarnate Christ established His Church for our sake once and for all (both temporally and extra-temporally, so to speak). However, unlike the primary saving work of the divine Logos, our co-operative participation with His work – like our existence – is temporal and dependent upon His operative grace. This requires us, in accordance with the Catholic understanding of Christ’s Church, to be united in the Faith with the Vicar configured so to Christ, and under the guardianship of which (i.e. through Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit) the flower of His Truth unfolds here through the Church on earth.

    Regarding my allusion to (strictly hypothetical) erroneous ex cathedra pronouncement, we might agree that under the influence of the preaching of the Gospel, in the unfolding of time, there has been incremental progress in the earthly Church’s understanding of the Heavenly Church of divine Truth. Just as it is ‘in’ history, rather than ‘by’ history, that the plan of salvation is accomplished, so the distinction between temporal and spiritual things has become progressively clearer.

    (I suppose what I am trying to say is that time exists for us, but probably only as part of our finite perception of the universe; the present is an illusion of time, being simultaneously the past and the future, while what we call time is God’s way of revealing to our finite minds what already is. And so may it continue to be revealed.)

    When St. Robert Bellarmine affirmed a definition of the Church as a society, with the pope as head of a body in his role as vicar of Christ, he was responding with his contemporaries to Gallicanism and royal absolutism. In other words, the idea of papal infallibility was developing at the same time that understanding of Catholic fidelity was becoming more closely bound to the on-going development of the apprehension of the Church as a hierarchical ‘society’ and earthly counterpart to the heavenly one.

    In other words, it is in praxis impossible for the Protestant/secular sense of ‘individualism’ and ‘subjectivism’ of conscience derived from Luther ever to determine an actual ex cathedra pronouncement of a pope of the Catholic Church properly understood. Such a judgement would inevitably be liable to error in matters of the Faith. On the other hand, ex cathedra pronouncement on the Church’s understanding of the Living Word in the lived-in world, being wholly informed by the collective tradition and magisterium of the Church, is infallible in the unfolding and handing on of the Faith. Once again, apologies if I had previously appeared to be contradicting this truth.

    Post scriptum:

    Mischievous critics of the Church miss the point if they think they are undermining the papacy when they mistakenly call John Henry Newman as witness in their case for the superiority of individual conscience over official pronouncements of the Pope in matters of faith: in the first place, the conscience they are referring to is a properly formed Catholic one; secondly, the Blessed John Henry clearly saw its prior operation deferring to the primacy of the Pope as earthly head of the universal body of believers, not the other way round.

  • Weary Convert

    I certainly appreciate Julie’s comments. Looking again at Christina’s posting, one of her points against CAFOD is that “it is known to support contraceptive services” and the hierarchy turns a blind eye to this. Well done the Bishops! Christina makes the standard Uber-catholic (I can’t find an umlaut on this keyboard) position of failing to differentiate between contraception and abortion. On contraception, in the West and the more educated areas of the world, the Papal position on this issue is generally ignored, not only because it is silly in itself but because it generates the unpleasant thought of priests wanting to peep through bedroom keyholes. The British bishops generally (unless they are hoping for promotion) seem to appreciate this and have the sense to keep their mouths shut rather than stating the obvious i.e.that Papal pronouncements on contraception are ultra vires and have no more authority than pronouncements on the Copernican theory, despite the burning of Giordano Bruno and the persecution of Galileo, or, at the other extreme, the offside rule in soccer. It is another a case of priests and Popes arrogating to themselves “authority” that does not exist.

    A further problem caused by the Uber-catholics bundling together contraception and abortion as two sides of the same “culture of death” as they like to call it, is that Catholic strictures against abortion get completely lost in the absurdity of linking it to the totally different issue of contraception. So the public – who are not all fools, much as many priests would like them to be – understandably conclude that these people do not know what they are talking about and hence can be ignored on both counts. If the Church ever wishes to have any effect on reducing abortions, it must first admit it is wrong on contraception. And as it is far too arrogant to do that (or would like to wait 500 years to apologise like theGalileo case), its influence on abortion laws will continue to be virtually nothing at all.

  • Anonymous

    It can be irritating. Living in a city I constantly manage to get tackled by people working for charities like amnesty international and unicef. You feel like your personal choice to give has been violated if you give in.
    Nonetheless for the benefit to humanity, a small annoyance in my otherwise comfortable life is nothing. These guys are just very persistent – they are polite enough not to PRESUME a donation though.

    Where a donation is presumed in advance I would say in terms of simple human psychology that more money would likely be raised if it was voluntary and not assumed. If I am forced into a donation I do not feel like giving a large gift.

  • Anonymous

    Largest abortion provider in the world? God – according to Catholic teaching.
    According to research carried out by professor John Opitz of the university of Utah, testifying for the American council of Bioethics, 60% of embryos that have developed for 7 days or more are flushed out in the menstrual blood. From conception the percentage is higher at 80% or above embryos that are destroyed. The Catholic definition of abortion is the destruction of human life from conception onwards.
    Maire Stopes performs around 150,000 abortions each year in the UK. Whereas God allows over 4,000,000 to occur.

    You no doubt will argue that their is a difference between abortion – as intended killing, and God’s passive role. This would be a fair argument if we looked at God in human terms – the Church claims however that God is omnipotent and therefore he has the power to prevent millions of forced abortions. Furthermore, if God is the designer of the human body, and the human womb – he has knowingly created a machine of death for 80% of its residents.

    Is the designer of a lift that fails killing its occupants 80% of the time not responsible for their deaths?
    Is an airplane manufacturer that has created a plane that will crash 80% of the time not morality accountable for its passenger’s deaths?

    Additionally with the analogies above there is presumed innocence on the part of the airplane and elevator companies. We assume that neither company, actually knew that deaths would result. They may have been negligent, but they did not know their products were going to fail. God, on the other hand knew that the womb would abort 80% of the time if he is all-knowing and all-seeing – either believe that, or doubt his omnipotence. Not only did he know this, it was what he DECIDED to create! In essence according to Catholic beliefs he created the womb as a forced-abortion clinic inside each woman. His design has forced the majority of women to have a forced abortion – the majority of Catholic women will have had many forced abortions in their lifetime.

    If faced between the possibility of being in a fatal plane-crash or being a newly created embryo – you are much safer statistically in managing to escape from the resulting fireball and mangled metal than your own mother’s womb.

    As a final point I would like to add that approximately half of the embryos terminated are abnormal and would not survive. This reduces God’s indifference to the slaughter of the unborn children to only 2,000,000 a year in Britain. Nonetheless, if God indeed follows the same morality he subjects us to, then he simply cannot be let of the hook for the 2,000,000 abnormal fetuses, as the Church does not allow abortion of any kind – be it for abnormalities of the fetus, nor incest, nor rape. Following the Church’s rules he is accountable for 4 million abortions in the UK EACH YEAR. If I was to work out the number for all of mankind’s existence throughout each country – the numbers would be too large to comprehend. God, according to the Catholic teaching on abortion – would be (literally) many Billions of times worse than Hitler.

    If you object to the way I have expressed the facts – I am happy for you to come to a more logical definition of what life is, and at what point it gets rights. Simply ‘being alive’ is not the same as life. If you took a guillotine to my head and took it clean off – and then took my body to a hospital where you sewed my neck up and then attached me to life support machines I could be kept alive indefinitely – but would I be considered ‘life’?
    If you want to remain consistent you HAVE to believe in: 1.) keeping a headless bag of organs alive indefinitely 2) that God is many billions times worse than the most ruthless dictators and despots ever seen – the largest murderer by a huge order of magnitude.

  • Anonymous

    An argument against Catholic absolutism on abortion:

    Largest abortion provider in the world? God – according to Catholic teaching.
    According to research carried out by professor John Opitz of the university of Utah, testifying for the American council of Bioethics, 60% of embryos that have developed for 7 days or more are flushed out in the menstrual blood. From conception the percentage is higher at 80% or above embryos that are destroyed. The Catholic definition of abortion is the destruction of human life from conception onwards.
    Maire Stopes performs around 150,000 abortions each year in the UK. Whereas God allows over 4,000,000 to occur.

    You no doubt will argue that their is a difference between abortion – as intended killing, and God’s passive role. This would be a fair argument if we looked at God in human terms – the Church claims however that God is omnipotent and therefore he has the power to prevent millions of forced abortions. Furthermore, if God is the designer of the human body, and the human womb – he has knowingly created a machine of death for 80% of its residents.

    Is the designer of a lift that fails killing its occupants 80% of the time not responsible for their deaths?
    Is an airplane manufacturer that has created a plane that will crash 80% of the time not morality accountable for its passenger’s deaths?

    Additionally with the analogies above there is presumed innocence on the part of the airplane and elevator companies. We assume that neither company, actually knew that deaths would result. They may have been negligent, but they did not know their products were going to fail. God, on the other hand knew that the womb would abort 80% of the time if he is all-knowing and all-seeing – either believe that, or doubt his omnipotence. Not only did he know this, it was what he DECIDED to create! In essence according to Catholic beliefs he created the womb as a forced-abortion clinic inside each woman. His design has forced the majority of women to have a forced abortion – the majority of Catholic women will have had many forced abortions in their lifetime.

    If faced between the possibility of being in a fatal plane-crash or being a newly created embryo – you are much safer statistically in managing to escape from the resulting fireball and mangled metal than your own mother’s womb.

    As a final point I would like to add that approximately half of the embryos terminated are abnormal and would not survive. This reduces God’s indifference to the slaughter of the unborn children to only 2,000,000 a year in Britain. Nonetheless, if God indeed follows the same morality he subjects us to, then he simply cannot be let of the hook for the 2,000,000 abnormal fetuses, as the Church does not allow abortion of any kind – be it for abnormalities of the fetus, nor incest, nor rape. Following the Church’s rules he is accountable for 4 million abortions in the UK EACH YEAR. If I was to work out the number for all of mankind’s existence throughout each country – the numbers would be too large to comprehend. God, according to the Catholic teaching on abortion – would be (literally) many Billions of times worse than Hitler.

    If you object to the way I have expressed the facts – I am happy for you to come to a more logical definition of what life is, and at what point it gets rights. Simply ‘being alive’ is not the same as life. If you took a guillotine to my head and took it clean off – and then took my body to a hospital where you sewed my neck up and then attached me to life support machines I could be kept alive indefinitely – but would I be considered ‘life’?
    If you want to remain consistent you HAVE to believe in: 1.) keeping a headless bag of organs alive indefinitely 2) that God is many billions times worse than the most ruthless dictators and despots ever seen – the largest murderer by a huge order of magnitude.

  • Richard

    Christian Aid does not share Catholic values on matters such as abortion and contraception.

  • Julie

    Who is teaching you to ‘abhor’ Christina? I’d be tempted to ask for my money back.