| | Briefings, Blogging
8 October
Oct 8
8th October 2007

Life begins at the moment of conception. If we hadn't been conceived we simply wouldn't be here. This is a simple scientific and medical fact. If life doesn't begin at conception then when? Abortion is the taking of a unique and unrepeatable human life. If you are pregnant, you're having a baby. If you terminate a pregnancy (abortion), you take a baby's life. Abortion is an irreversible decision - you cannot get your baby back. Abortion has many victims. The baby is the first and most obvious victim. Its life is taken. The mother is also a victim. She is told she has the right to choose and yet women are never shown the consequences of the choice they make. Her child is spoken of as a foetus, embryo, nothing yet, or products of conception. She would seldom, if ever, be shown her child on an ultrasound scan or even still pictures of the baby in the womb. A woman often opts for abortion because she can see no way out of her crisis. She aborts for social reasons, owing to lack of support, lack of finance, worry about her relationships with the child's father or her parents or peers. If they were given real choices the majority of women would not choose abortion. There must be and are other alternatives, other choices. Many women suffer from post abortion syndrome. They are grieving for the child they have lost and their lives, relationship and family life can be very badly affected. Abortion can also have physical consequences, including problems with future fertility and childbearing. Abortion also affects fathers who under the present law, have no rights in an abortion decision even if they are married. It also affects other family members and siblings. Statistically conception after rape is very rare. To abort in these circumstances is to punish the victim, not the perpetrator - it does not undo the crime....

| | Briefings, Christianity
27 August
Aug 27
27th August 2005

The sick, the frail and the physically and mentally handicapped deserve our particular respect. They should rally our support and focus our thinking, because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Must we, in the case of terminal illness, do everything and anything possible to stay alive, despite the condition we may be in? The answer to this is cleary NO. There is no civil or religious law which says that we must stay alive at any cost. What is never permitted, however, is any act or omission which causes, or is intended to cause, death, in order to remove a person from suffering. This is euthanasia, sometimes called mercy killing. It is not necessary nowadays for anyone to die while suffering from intolerable, overwhelming pain. Effective palliative care and hospice care is increasingly available and improving. We never have sufficient evidence to know that a dying person's request to be killed is rational, enduring and genuinely voluntary. A request to die may not reflect an enduring desire to die. Some attempts to commit suicide reflect temporary despair. According to the doctrine of double effect, it is permissible to alleviate pain by administering drugs like morphine which, it is foreseen may shorten life (the intention being to ease distress). To give an overdose or injection with the direct intention of terminating a patient's life is morally indefensible. If society allows voluntary euthanasia we will have set foot on a slippery slope that will lead us inevitably to non-voluntary euthanasia. Since the publication of the 1991 Remmelink Report into euthanasia in Holland, it has been shown that legally protecting voluntary euthanasia is impossible without also affording protection to non-voluntary euthanasia. Of those assisted to die under Dutch law, a little over half were clearly cases of voluntary euthanasia. Of the remainder, the vast majority of cases related to patients who at the time of the assisted death were no longer competent. The deaths of some of these were brought about by withdrawal of treatment, others by interventions such as lethal doses of anaesthetics. "Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of 'over-zealous' treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2278)....

| | Briefings, Christianity
3 March
Mar 3
3rd March 2003

There are certain teachings which the Catholic Church does not have the power to change. The law on the indissolubility of marriage is one of these areas: "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (cf Matthew 19:6-9). The Church has consistently upheld this belief for 2000 years. From St John Chrysostom to John Paul II the teaching remains constant. Annulment is not divorce. Annulment is a decree that no marriage ever truly existed owing to lack of consent, understanding or defect of form. Catholics who are in an abusive or unhappy relationship are not forbidden from obtaining a divorce, which is a civil procedure. They are committing no sin by getting divorced and should continue to play a full and active role in the Church. Catholics who have divorced and remarried, however, are in a different position. Since the first marriage remains intact, there can be no valid second union. These people, owing to the fact that their irregular state is continuous (unlike a one-off sin which can be repented and forgiven) and objectively contradicts the teaching of the Church, may not go to Communion. They are, however, encouraged to come to Mass and participate as fully as their state allows. Marriage is in crisis. UK figures show that in 1969 there were 51,000 divorces; in 1995 there were nearly 160,000. As things stand almost half of all new marriages will end in divorce. Preparation for marriage is therefore very important. Children are the main victims of divorce. Research carried out by sociologists like Professor Halsley, Norman Denis and Patricia Morgan, as well as journalists like Melanie Phillips, consistently shows children that are from broken homes die earlier, have more illnesses, do less well at school, have poorer nutrition, suffer more unemployment and are more likely to commit crime and repeat the cycle of unstable parenting....