Author Archives: Anthony Phillips

Document on Euthanasia

SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

DECLARATION ON EUTHANASIA

 

INTRODUCTION

The rights and values pertaining to the human person occupy an important place among the questions discussed today. In this regard, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council solemnly reaffirmed the lofty dignity of the human person, and in a special way his or her right to life. The Council therefore condemned crimes against life “such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful suicide” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, no. 27).

Document on euthanasia

Scottish Assisted Suicide Bill lost by a substantial margin

The Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill has been defeated in a free vote by 82 votes to 36 in the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill proposed a system loosely based on that which operates in Oregon (USA) with trained licensed facilitators but with scope for mentally competent adults with a ‘terminal or life-shortening illness’ or a ‘progressive and terminal or life-shortening condition’ who have concluded that their ‘quality’ of their life is not worth living..

The Bill has been heavily criticised for its definitions, poor reporting provisions, minimal penalties, a ‘saving’ clause protecting doctors acting in ‘good faith’, no specification of ‘means’ of suicide and the absence of a conscience clause.

Oral evidence was taken earlier this year and Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon that she would not support the bill. In addition over 15,000 Scots signed a petition against it.

The Health and Sport Committee which scrutinised the Bill had previously written a damning view of its shortcomings.

TRAVEL FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN

On Friday, 22 May 2015  the Hon Mr Justice Wyn Williams, Presiding Judge of the Wales Circuit, issued a judgment in a test case affecting thousands of Swansea school children. It will also have repercussions for the way local authorities throughout the UK arrange school transport to faith schools, particularly when considering austerity-driven service cuts.

The judgment rules that Swansea City Council acted unlawfully in July 2014 when making changes to its school transport policy. The amended policy indirectly discriminates on grounds of race by maintaining free transport to 12 Welsh language schools where the intake is overwhelmingly White, whilst withholding it from prospective pupils of the county’s six faith schools, five of which are Catholic and the remaining one Church in Wales. Their pupils are far more likely to be from Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) backgrounds than the average Swansea child. The net result, Wyn Williams J holds, is:

“BME children will be at a particular disadvantage as compared with White British children as a consequence of the amended policy even on the basis of the most favourable statistical advantage open to the Defendant… a BME child is 3.65 times more likely to be disadvantaged than a White British [child]” (paragraph 65).

His judgment goes on to hold that the Council had been ignorant of the discriminatory effects of the amended policy despite completing an equality impact assessment (paragraph 77), the policy could not be justified (paragraph 80), non-discriminatory alternatives including means testing the transport service had not been properly considered (paragraph 78) and that Council officers had misadvised members of the full Council who took the decision by telling them that they had an absolute duty to provide free school transport to Welsh language schools (paragraph 93). The judge went on to ‘quash’ the new policy (paragraph 81). It now has no legal effect and the previous, non-discriminatory transport arrangements will apply to the new pupil intake in September.

The test case was brought by Bishop Vaughan School, Child W, a prospective pupil whose siblings are already there and the Diocese of Menevia. The School’s Bursar, Laura Howden Evans, said today:

“The Court’s decision has brought tears of joy and relief to the eyes of parents, staff at the school and the wider faith community. Throughout the consultation process, we repeatedly warned the Council that its actions would have unintended, but very serious, racially discriminatory consequences. Our concerns were simply brushed aside. Had the new policy stood, children from some of the poorest families in Wales would have been denied a faith-based education for the very worst of reasons. It will now remain open to them. We feel truly vindicated.”

Bernard Stuart, Director of Education at the Diocese of Menevia said:

“The judgement recognises and upholds the legitimate needs of those in the community for whom the suitable school is a church school.”

The solicitor who brought the case, John Halford of Bindmans LLP, said today:

“Starting with the earliest US civil rights cases, the law has persistently demanded equal treatment of those who use state-subsidised transport, particularly when they are school pupils. Whilst Swansea Council certainly had no intention of discriminating on grounds of race, that was the obvious effect of a policy which maintained free school transport for pupils at 12 schools whose pupils are overwhelmingly white and withheld it from six schools whose pupils’ backgrounds are far more diverse. The failure to appreciate these effects was an egregious error of judgment which the Court has now, quite rightly, corrected.”

Background

  1. The test case was heard at a special hearing of the Administrative Court in Swansea’s Civil Justice Centre on 10 and 11 February 2015.
  2. It was jointly brought by Bishop Vaughan Catholic Comprehensive School (the only Catholic secondary school in the area), ‘Child W’, whose siblings currently attend the school using free school transport that would have been withheld from her and the Diocese of Menevia, which supports five of the six affected schools. It is a Roman Catholic diocese based in Swansea, serving South West Wales’ 27,500 Catholics.
  3. The new policy would have meant that, from September this year, the Council would no longer provide discretionary free places on the school buses currently used by pupils attending six voluntary-aided Catholic and Church in Wales schools in Swansea. Some children travel for up to an hour and 50 minutes on the buses to reach school each morning. However, at the same time, the Council would have maintained free school transport on a parallel school bus network used by pupils at all of the county’s 12 Welsh language schools, regardless of the financial circumstances of the families who would benefit.
  4. Barristers instructed by Swansea Council had defended the policy on the basis that it needed to save money and that there was no discrimination because the affected children were ‘statistically insignificant’.

Teaching Sexuality Following the Mind of the Chur ch a lecture by Louise Kirk – Book now!

a lecture by

Louise Kirk

on Thursday, 18th June, 2015 at 6.30 pm

at Trafalgar Hall, Notre Dame University

1 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HG

 

Louise Kirk is UK Co-ordinator for the international PSHE programme Alive to the World and author of Sexuality Explained: a Guide for Parents and Children. She serves on the Commission for the New Evangelisation in Shrewsbury Diocese and writes and speaks regularly on topics promoting family life and true education in sexuality. She is married with four children (aged 23 – 17).

The last decades have seen an explosion of ideas about human sexuality which can make it difficult to give young people clear guidance which makes sense of their Catholic faith. Louise will give an optimistic picture of how recent science backs up Church teaching, offering young and old alike a deeper understanding, than has ever been known before, of the truth of the human person. She will suggest ways of teaching which confirm the parents as prime educators while involving the active support of school and parish within current sex education guidelines.

 

Admission to the lecture is FREE but, if you wish to attend,

please return the application form below to the

Catholic Union office, St Maximilian Kolbe House, 63 Jeddo Road, London W12 9EE,

as accommodation is strictly limited.

You may also apply by phone or email to 020 8749 1321 or info@catholicunion.org.uk

 

The lecture will be followed immediately by a short reception at which light refreshments will be served.

 

 

APPLICATION

I will be attending the lecture to be given by Louise Kirk at Trafalgar Hall, Notre Dame University, 1 Suffolk Street, London on Thursday, 18th June 2015 at 6.30 pm.

 

Name:……………………………………………………………………………..

 

Contact details:…………………………………………………………………….

 

Email:……………………………………Tel no:…………………………………

.

CU Education LouiseKirk flyer June 15

 

Restoring Faith in Public Life Press release

The votes of faith communities could be decisive 

The Catholic Union of Great Britain has said that the run-up to the Election provides “a time for reflection and careful consideration of how public policy issues… impact upon our common welfare and good.”

In a leaflet called “Restoring Faith in Public Life”, which was sent out to nearly 1,500 parishes in time for Low Sunday (11th/12th April), the Catholic Union highlights several issues that should affect the way Catholics vote. The four-page document also seeks to help voters consider how they should cast their ballot on 7 May, by raising important issues, asking faith-led questions and suggesting points of reflection.

CU Election May 15 Press Release

CU publishes Restoring Faith in Public Life Pamphlet

The Catholic Union of Great Britain has produced a pamphlet entitled ‘Restoring Faith in Public Life’ with the forthcoming General Election in mind. The pamphlet is a reminder on the issues facing Catholics today. It is aimed at helping to prompt and remind us of the questions we should be considering when we come to vote on 7 May. As Christians we have a duty to reflect and carefully consider how public policy will impact on our life and the common good.

 

This pamphlet has been sent to over 1,400 parishes across the UK. Click here to view v5

Extract from the Parliamentary record; EDUCATION REGULATIONS AND FAITH SCHOOLS

Extract from the Parliamentary record;

EDUCATION REGULATIONS AND FAITH SCHOOLS

SIR EDWARD LEIGH (GAINSBOROUGH) (CON): I beg to move,

That this House believes that Ofsted should respect the ability of faith
schools to teach their core beliefs in the context of respect and
toleration for others.
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing the time of these debates, and
a number of colleagues, including the hon. Members for Southport (John
Pugh) and for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt), would have liked
to have taken part in this important debate, but they have unmissable
commitments in their constituencies. I am grateful to those of my
colleagues who are here to support me.
Faith schools do a marvellous job. That is why parents love them, and I
am one of those parents. Of course, when we say faith schools, we are
overwhelmingly talking about Church schools. In the state sector there
are almost 7,000 faith schools, of which 4,500 are Church of England,
almost 2,000 are Catholic, 48 are Jewish, 18 Muslim, eight Sikh and four
Hindu. Last year, of the 693 best-performing state primary schools, 62%
were faith schools—a staggering percentage—even though they account
for only a third of primaries nationally.
Church schools are great motors of social mobility. They perform well
whatever the background of the pupils. Faith schools are ethnically
diverse. About a quarter of pupils of faith schools have an ethnic
background other than white British. In my son’s school it is over
60%. Far from preaching intolerance, these schools, because of their
strong, unifying, religious ethos, do more for social cohesion than a
thousand Home Office initiatives.
Many people’s experience of the Church of England or Roman Catholic
school at the end of their road is that it is a delightful haven of
well-behaved pupils from all backgrounds and highly motivated teachers
putting their heart and soul into the school and its community. But it
is faith schools that are under attack from the forces of intolerance,
so we must recognise their great contribution and encourage them to
carry on doing what they are doing so well.
Groups such as the British Humanist Association would like to ban faith
schools. They do no seem to care how much parents and pupils love them
or how well they perform—the very definition of intolerance. They try
to smear faith schools with what happened in Birmingham with the Trojan
horse scandal, but we all know that none of the Trojan horse schools was
a faith school. Faith schools should hold their heads up high and not
engage in the pre-emptive cringe and kowtow to the latest fashion. They
should stand by the principles that have made them such a success: love
of God and neighbour, pursuit of truth, high aspiration and discipline.
We do not want any dumbing down. Jewish schools should teach the Jewish
religion, and Christian schools should teach the Christian religion.
That is likely to give their pupils a better idea of their place in the
world, of their potential and of their obligations to others. Yes, they
should learn about other religions, which is necessary not only for
being a good citizen, but for being culturally aware, but that can take
place in the context of the school’s faith ethos. Of course pupils can
accept or reject the school’s world view, whether religious or
> secular. There are plenty of Christians in secular schools and plenty of
atheists in Christian schools. The law guarantees freedom of conscience.
But by the same token, governors, teachers, parents and pupils who want
a religious education also have freedom of conscience, and we must guard
their freedoms carefully.
MRS MARY GLINDON (NORTH TYNESIDE) (LAB): I congratulate the hon.
Gentleman on securing the debate. Does he agree that what is important
is the teaching of religious education in all schools so that all
children can understand religions and non-religions as they progress
through school? We should have proper RE teachers to give young people
the wide breadth of knowledge they need to understand everyone else in
the country and all those who live in their communities.
SIR EDWARD LEIGH: Yes, of course I agree. It is very important that RE
is a rigid academic discipline. Children must be aware of other faiths
and of comparative religion, but they must also have a firm grounding in
their own faith’s teachings, because that gives them a sense of
belonging and place.
KEVIN BRENNAN (CARDIFF WEST) (LAB): The hon. Gentleman rightly talks
about the need for a firm grounding. Is not the line that must be drawn
that no taxpayer-funded school should ever be involved in proselytising
or indoctrination?
SIR EDWARD LEIGH: I absolutely agree. I mentioned the thousands of
Church of England and Roman Catholic schools. I do not think that there
is any evidence that any of those schools are creating Christian
jihadists. I have six children, and they have attended faith schools in
the state and private sectors. The thought that any of those primary
schools in the maintained sector, whether Catholic or Anglican, is
teaching intolerance is completely absurd.

Link

The Catholic Union has set up a charitable arm called The Catholic Union Charitable Trust which is officially launched at a reception being held on Tuesday 10 February 2015 at Archbishop’s House, Southwark courtesy of His Grace, The Most Rev, Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark.  Press Release – CUCT Launch

Pope’s Message for Lent 2015: “Make your hearts firm”

The following is the full text of the Holy Father Francis’ message for Lent 2015, entitled “Make your hearts firm”. The document was signed in the Vatican on 4 October 2014, the festivity of St. Francis of Assisi.

“Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a ‘time of grace’. God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us’. He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure. Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I do not think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalisation of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.

When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalisation of indifference.

Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.

God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love. But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded.

God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.

  1. ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together’ – The Church

The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realise that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have ‘a part’ with him and thus can serve others.

Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy’.

The Church is the communio sanctorum not only because of her saints, but also because she is a communion in holy things: the love of God revealed to us in Christ and all his gifts. Among these gifts there is also the response of those who let themselves be touched by this love. In this communion of saints, in this sharing in holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others. And since we are united in God, we can do something for those who are far distant, those whom we could never reach on our own, because with them and for them, we ask God that all of us may be open to his plan of salvation.

  1. ‘Where is your brother?’ – Parishes and Communities

All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors?

In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways.

In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: ‘I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls’.

We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.

In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people.

Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth. In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!

  1. ‘Make your hearts firm!’ – Individual Christians

As individuals too, we have are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?

First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The ’24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative, which I hope will be observed on 13-14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer.

Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organisations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.

Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.

As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart. A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realises its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.

During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: ‘Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum’: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalisation of indifference.

It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you”.

 

Source VIS Rome