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JULY 15 2011 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Lord Alton: state should record cost of abortions
BY MARK GREAVES
THE GOVERNMENT is failing to record how much it spends contracting abortions to private clinics, Lord Alton of Liverpool has revealed.
About 60 per cent of all taxpayer-funded abortions are carried out privately, the crossbench peer said, yet their cost is unknown.
Lord Alton said: “For a Government which preaches so much about the prudent use of public money and austerity this is a disgrace.”
Lord Alton made his comments in a speech at the Cruise for Life, an event on the Thames organised by the campaign group Right to Life and attended by MPs Jim Dobbin and David Amess and supporters of Right to Life, the organisation run by Phyllis Bowman.
In his speech he also criticised the Government for not knowing how much of taxpayers’ money is spent on IVF treatments that end in abortion.
Dozens of women every year abort babies conceived through IVF, according to figures released after a Freedom of Information request. In the private sector, one cycle of IVF costs about £3,500.
Lord Alton said last week that he was “engaged in a battle to discover how much taxpayers’ money goes toward abortion”.
He has repeatedly questioned Earl Howe, the Health Minister, about the cost of abortions to taxpayers.
In response, Earl Howe said that abortions carried out by the NHS – only 40 per cent of the total – cost £83 million last year. But data is not collected for abortions contracted to private clinics.
Earl Howe said that gathering such data is “not currently an explicit requirement of the reference cost collection”.
Lord Alton said: “Such is the unwillingness to admit this on the part of the Government that they have resorted to nonsense language so obscure and jargonised that it even embarrassed the Health Minister, Earl Howe.”
In an impassioned speech Lord Alton said the right to life was “the very foundation of civilisation: the value without which organised society has no meaning and law no legitimacy”.
He said the pro-life battle was being fought on three fronts: embryology, abortion and euthanasia.
Britain, he said, was the
The Department of Health said that it does not collect data on taxpayer funded private abortions PA photo only country in the world to allow scientists to create hybrid animal-human embryos. He said more than 150 such embryos had been manufactured by February this year. “This brings great shame to Britain,” Lord Alton said.
He pointed out that such embryo research had not brought about a single breakthrough. This contrasts with adult stem-cell research, he said, which does not require the destruction of embryos, and which has resulted in about 800 new treatments.
But Lord Alton claimed that pro-experimentation campaigners were gripped by an “ideological fervour” that pushed them beyond rationality. He said: “So much depends on fooling ourselves that life in the womb has no value that the HFE [Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act] deliberations almost became about securing a restatement of that fact.”
He added that “it’s not all hopelessly bleak”. Germany, he said, had forbidden the patenting of human embryos, and the General Medical Council had “at last shifted more funds to adult stem cells”.
On abortion, Lord Alton recounted that seven million babies had been aborted in Britain since 1967 and that at least 120 million girls had been aborted worldwide because their parents wanted a boy. He said: “This is an absolutely horrifying statistic and, if it were any other topic, we would be filling the streets. But... doing so would mean facing up to what we have done, so we plod on with our fingers in our ears.”
Lord Alton criticised the Government and the United Nations for providing “technical and strategic help” to China’s family planning unit. He talked about opponents of the country’s one-child policy being beaten, imprisoned and hiding in fear of their lives.
Lord Alton also criticised the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for not amending guidelines on the medical risks of abortion in light of new evidence. For instance, he said that women who have had an abortion are 73 per cent more likely to give birth to a premature baby.
On euthanasia, he accused the BBC of becoming “cheerleaders for assisted suicide”producing five programmes in favour in the past three years and failing consistently to present the other side of the argument”.
But Parliament had always “comprehensively” rejected any change to the law, he said.
Lord Alton said it was “not enough” to oppose abortion, euthanasia. Pro-lifers must create a “culture of life”, he said, by helping pregnant women, providing hospices, and seeking ethical ways to achieve medical breakthroughs.
“The killing of children in the womb is the most unconscionable crime against humanity any civilisation has ever faced” he said.
Sacked Catholic mental health worker sues NHS
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A MENTAL health worker sacked after she showed an anti-abortion booklet to a colleague is suing the NHS.
Margaret Forrester, a Catholic, said she was “bullied out of a job” six months after she engaged in an informal conversation with a colleague about abortion.
She was sacked for gross professional misconduct and will now take her former employer, the Central and North West London NHS Trust, to an employment tribunal. Besides claiming unfair dismissal, Miss Forrester, 40, of London, will use human rights laws on freedom of religion and free speech to sue the Trust for “direct and indirect religious discrimination, direct and indirect belief and discrimination, and harassment on the basis of religion and belief”.
She said that the misconduct blemish on her record had made her nearly unemployable and she wanted the decision reversed.
“The punishment here is incommensurate with the crime,” Miss Forrester said. “It is in my interest to resolve it. There is also this issue which we need to expose, which is the behaviour and the bullying within the NHS.
“Basically, on the question of abortion they are not holding a neutral stance at all, it is very much a pro-abortion stance. Those people who are saying ‘there is another side to this, there are other options we can give to people’ are being bullied and maltreated.”
The Trust argues, however, that Miss Forrester was sacked for an unauthorised absence. “The Trust simply dismissed a member of staff who refused to come to work,” said a spokeswoman.
Disciplinary procedures were first brought against Miss Forrester in November after a conversation with a member of staff at the South Westminster GP Practice in Pimlico, London, where she was working as a Psychological Well-Being Practitioner.
She suggested to an employee whose job it was to arrange abortions for patients that some women might benefit from independent counselling rather than referrals.
She showed the woman a booklet called Forsaken, which she had bought at a pro-life rally outside Parliament to mark the 43rd anniversary of the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act.
Forsaken tells of how five women underwent abortions then suffered adverse psychological consequences.
Miss Forrester was sent home on full pay and was later accused of “distributing materials which some individuals may find offensive”.
She was offered a new post which she accepted. But she found that her role involved working with psychotic and sometimes dangerous patients for which she had no training. She was soon signed off work ill by her doctor.
The Thomas More Legal Centre, which is representing her, argues that the key issues underpinning her treatment relate to freedom of speech.
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MP demands inquiry into BBC ‘euthanasia bias’ Pay abuse victims with property and land, orders told
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
JIM DOBBIN,the Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, is leading a group of Parliamentarians who are calling for a full inquiry into alleged BBC bias in favour of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Mr Dobbin has written to Lord Patten, who chairs the BBC Trust and to Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC urging them, “not to delay in establishing an inquiry at the highest level” given that the corporation’s Royal Charter requires it to take an “impartial stand on all issues of public policy”.
Mr Dobbin, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary ProLife Group, wrote in the letter: “We know that you are both men of the highest honour – but whatever your intentions, we know from experience that the BBC is riddled with men and women determined to promote abortion and euthanasia.
“We are determined, however, to do everything we can to ensure that an inquiry at the highest level is established.”
Mr Dobbin is the primary sponsor of an Early Day Motion tabled in order to alert the Government to alleged BBC bias, which is gathering support from other MPs. The motion claims there is a “strong campaign waged by the BBC network” to propagate euthanasia, noting that in the last three years five programmes have been broadcast in favour of changing the law while none have been aired which examine the other side of the argument.
The MPs concerned note, for example, that while the BBC gave airtime to euthanasia campaigner Sir Terry Pratchett, the publicly funded corporation gave no coverage to the criticism of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Commission by the British Medical Association.
In a separate letter sent to Lord Patten last week Lord Alton of Liverpool reminded him that the BMA conference was told by its deputy chairman that “assisting patients to die prematurely is not part of the moral ethos or the primary goal of medicine. If the legislation were to be changed, it would have serious negative consequences on the relationship between doctors and their patients”.
Lord Alton added: “Given the wall-to-wall coverage given to Mr Pratchett et al we were therefore surprised to see no reference to the BMA’s motion or votes on any BBC news coverage. If the Corporation’s rationale for broadcasting the documentary equivalent of ‘snuff’ movies is ‘public interest’ might the public not also have been interested to learn the views expressed by their doctors?” ............................................... Jim Dobbin: Page 9
BY MICHAEL KELLY
THE IRISH government has asked religious congregations implicated in the 2009 Ryan Report on abuse at Irish institutions to transfer land and properties worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the state as part of a revised package to compensate victims.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn insisted that the almost £419 million already offered by the 18 congregations was not enough. He said he expected the congregations to pay almost £599 million and, if they were unable to do so, they should transfer the ownership of many of their schools to the state.
None of the 18 religious congregations concerned would speak on the record about the latest proposal. But, a number privately expressed reservations about the land transfer.
Mr Quinn is to seek a meeting with the congregations to assess their views. “The congregations’ total offers fall well short, by several hundred million, of the approximate £599 million contribution they should bear toward the cost of institutional residential child abuse,” he said.
A spokesman for the Irish Department of Education said that Mr Quinn “proposes to seek the congregations’ agreement to a legal mechanism which would ensure that title to school infrastructure properties would be transferred to the state, at the state’s request, and that title to such properties could not be altered, whether by sale on the open market or by transfer into any trust arrangement, without the prior consent of the department.”
The government is also asking the congregations to transfer their properties that are rented by the state and properties that are identified as being of specific interest to the state.
Mr Quinn said: “I believe that this approach affords the congregations involved the opportunity to shoulder their share of the costs of responding to the horrendous wrongs suffered by children in their care while at the same time, recognising the legitimate legacy of their contribution to Irish education.”
The government also announced that it would establish a so-called “statutory fund” to distribute further compensation to former residents. Some victims’ groups have consistently argued that the earlier payouts received by their members were inadequate to compensate for the suffering they endured.
The Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse led by Justice Sean Ryan heard from thousands of former residents of state-supervised, Churchrun reformatories and institutions and found that abuse was widespread and sexual abuse endemic in some institutions.
NEWSBULLETIN Equality quango takes side of Christians against courts CHRISTIANS who disagree with new equality rules should have the freedom to follow their conscience, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said.
existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.”
The quango said that judges should not have backed employers who pursued Christians for wearing crosses or for refusing to give sex advice to gay couples. “The way
The EHRC, which costs the taxpayer £80 million a year, backed Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy in their action against Christian hoteliers. It opposed exemption for Catholic adoption agencies to stay open.
Women of the Year named MARIA Albrecht, Mary Vaughan, Sister Amadeus Bulger and Jean Sykes have been chosen as Catholic Women of the Year 2011.
The Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon will taks place in London where the “unsung heroes” of the Catholic Church will be celebrated. The women are selected by secret ballot by a committee with representatives drawn from different Catholic groups and organisations.
Mrs Albrecht runs the Catholic Worker farm which welcomes refugees and asylum seekers. Miss Sykes runs a charity shop which raises over £25,000 each year for local projects, and organises an annual Christmas party for old people in the town, collecting gifts for this throughout the year to ensure that everyone attending receives a gift. Sister Amadeus helps men training at seminaries or discerning a vocation to the priesthood and Miss Vaughan has taken up the cause of US prisoners on death row.
New clash over Fawley Court FAWLEY COURT, an estate sold by Polish Marian Fathers last year, is at the centre of a £5 million High Court dispute. The estate, near Henley in Oxfordshire, was bought by investor Aida Hersham for £13 million. Another developer, Richard ButlerCreagh, claims he bid £22.5 million for it and agreed to let Miss Hersham “step into his shoes” for a fee of £5 million. Miss Hersham denies his claim.
Belfast bishop calls for peace BISHOP Noel Treanor of Down and Connor has appealed for Catholic and Protestant residents to prove to the world they can live together in peace after fresh sectarian violence flared during the region’s contentious Protestant marching season.
He appealed to both sides to show restraint and respect toward police after 22 police officers were injured on Monday.
Adoption tsar issues abortion plea WOMEN pregnant with unwanted babies should be given the option of adoption rather than abortion, the Government’s new “adoption tsar” Martin Narey has said.
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Bishop Evans loses struggle against cancer
BY ED WEST
BISHOP Michael Evans of East Anglia has died after a long battle with prostate cancer.
The 59-year-old bishop passed away on Monday evening in hospital six years after he was diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive strain of the disease. Throughout his illness he continued his work right up until his admission to hospital a few days before his death.
His death was greeted with sadness across the Catholic and wider Christian community, with Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark saying: “Bishop Michael will be very much missed by so many people in the Archdiocese of Southwark and the Diocese of East Anglia – family, friends, laity, religious and clergy.”
Born on August 10 1951 in south London, Michael Charles Evans grew up in Kent and attended Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury, going on to study for the priesthood at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, in Surrey.
He was ordained in the Archdiocese of Southwark in 1975 and spent two years as assistant priest at St Elizabeth’s in Richmond, London, and then studied for a theology degree at London University before going back to St John’s Seminary, where he lectured in doctrine.
He spent two years as vicerector at the seminary, with the then Mgr Peter Smith, later the second Bishop of East Anglia and now Archbishop of Southwark, as rector.
He then served as parish priest at St Augustine’s in Tunbridge Wells for eight years before Pope John Paul II appointed him as the third Bishop of East Anglia in 2003. On his appointment he said he was “astonished” and felt “unworthy”.
In 2006 he was told that he was suffering from an aggressive form of prostate cancer, which affects many men in late middle age. But he continued to work tirelessly in the diocese despite worsening health.
In January 2011 Bishop Evans broke the news to his diocese that he did not have long to live. He wrote: “Rather than resign, I would like to continue among you as your bishop and the father of our diocesan family until this stage of my life ends. I do not know how long that will be. I am most grateful for the ways you have cared for and so prayerfully supported me in recent years. You remain very much in my thoughts and care.
“As I live now under the shadow of death, my prayer is very much that of St Paul that I may know something of the power of Christ’s Resurrection and a share in his sufferings, trusting that the Lord is with me. I pray that even now I can joyfully witness something of the good news we are all called to proclaim.”
Archbishop Smith said: “As a priest of the archdiocese, Michael was totally committed to his priestly ministry both as a pastoral priest and professor of theology for many years at St John’s seminary.
“Having known him as a fellow student, a friend and brother priest involved in the formation of future priests, I was delighted when he was appointed as the third Bishop of East Anglia. There Bishop Michael continued that dedication, emphasising the bishop’s role as a teacher of the faith and spending himself in building up the diocesan family of East Anglia.
“He was unstinting in using his time and great talents in the service of the clergy, religious and people of the diocese.”
He added: “Even during his long period of ill-health, although increasingly restricted in what he was able to do, he refused to give up. I have no doubt that he will be greeted by the Lord he served so faithfully, with the words: ‘Well done, good and faithful
Bishop Evans persevered in service as a bishop even in the later stages of his cancer Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk servant, enter into the Kingdom prepared for you.’ ”
The Rt Rev Stephen Conway, Anglican Bishop of Ely, also paid tribute. “I am very sad to learn of the death of Bishop Michael Evans,” he said.
“Like Pope John Paul II, Michael’s living with his illness was more eloquent than any sermon about living through human weakness the joy of Christ’s Resurrection.
“He will be remembered in our prayers across the Diocese. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
A regular writer of articles and pamphlets on theological issues, Bishop Evans always focused on ecumenical dialogue as an important part of his ministry.
From 1991 he was a member of the British Methodist/Roman Catholic Committee and in 1997 was appointed by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity to be one of the eight Catholic members of the International Joint Commission for Dialogue.
Bishop Evans was also one of the four Christian co-presidents of the ChristianMuslim Forum established by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
A life-long supporter of Amnesty International, he left the organisation in 2007 after it came out in support of abortion, saying that “it cannot expect those of us who are just as passionate about the human rights of the unborn child to feel at ease being part of such an organisation”.
Much of his priestly ministry was spent working with young people, especially older teenagers and young adults, and every year from 1984 he spent a week’s retreat at the ecumenical community at Taizé in France, and as a bishop invited young adults from the diocese to accompany him.
From 1989 to 2003, he was a member of the Catholic bishops’ conference Committee for priestly formation, and from 1995-2003 he was chairman of the Archdiocese of Southwark justice and peace coordinating committee.
Thanksgiving Mass marks closure of Cheshire church
BY MARK GREAVES
BISHOP Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has closed a 1960s church in Cheshire after repair costs escalated to more than a quarter of a million pounds.
As The Catholic Herald went to press Bishop Davies was scheduled to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Raphael’s church in the Millbrook area of Stalybridge yesterday to mark its closure. Priests from across the diocese were expected to attend.
The bishop closed the church after consulting parishioners over whether they felt they could raise the £250,000 needed for urgent repairs.
He celebrated Mass at the parish in May and said in a homily that the church could stay open if parishioners were able to raise the money for repairs themselves.
The roof and fabric of the church, built in 1963, were extensively damaged partly because of the area’s heavy rainfall.
It was feared that electrical systems may be exposed to the rain and that the building would become unsafe. There is, as yet, no plan for the building – it may be demolished.
Ahead of the Thanksgiving Mass Bishop Davies said: “It is always a sad moment to see a church closed. I was grateful to be able to meet with the people of St Raphael’s as we faced this difficult decision together.
“On Thursday we gather with feelings of sadness but most of all to give thanks for this church building and the great purpose for which it was built almost 50 years ago. This purpose continues as we look forward to the continuing mission of both parish and school.”
Fr Bernard Forshaw, the parish priest of neighbouring St Peter’s
Church in Stalybridge, will now celebrate a Mass at St Raphael’s parish hall every Sunday at 5pm.
He has been overseeing the parish since May when its former parish priest, Fr Paul Hughes, resigned on health grounds.
Fr Forshaw said: “We are all very sorry to see St Raphael’s church having to close so quickly due to the rapidly deteriorating condition of the building and the escalating costs to put it right.”
He said he was “looking forward to working with the parish and [primary] school community at St Raphael’s and to caring for their spiritual needs”.
The Millbrook area was originally served by St Peter’s church but the new parish was set up in 1958 by Bishop John Murphy after Catholics in the area had been worshipping at a canteen for about 12 years.
The canteen at Staley cotton mill had accommodated a weekly Mass for 50 or so Catholics at the courtesy of the mill’s director.
In 1958 Fr James Fraser arrived in the area and began to celebrate Masses, hear Confessions and perform baptisms from a rented house called Red Croft and later from a wooden parish hall.
Work on St Raphael’s church started in 1961 and it was opened two years later at a cost of £69,500 (about £1 million in today’s money). The primary school was added in the 1970s.
Its distinctive features include a dome and a 60ft-wide stainedglass window depicting the Old Testament encounter between St Raphael, one of the three Archangels named in the Bible, and Tobias.
Stalybridge is an old mill town in the foothills of the Pennines with a population of 22,000 people.
The closure comes just a month after another church in the diocese, Ss Peter and Paul in New Brighton, the Wirral, was reopened by Bishop Davies.
The church had been closed in 2008 by the previous Bishop of Shrewsbury, Bishop Brian Noble, amid rising repair and maintenance costs.
Bishop Davies partially reopened the church in March, introducing a weekly Friday Mass in a side chapel. Last month it was announced that a traditionalist order of priests, the Institute of Christ the King, will take over the church and turn it into a centre for Eucharistic devotion.
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Farm Street says parking fees will deter worshippers
BY ED WEST
A GROUP of central London churches are under threat from a plan by Westminster Council to charge for Sunday parking.
The churches include the Jesuit Farm Street church and St George’s Anglican church in Hanover Square, and are based in Mayfair, Soho and Marylebone, the districts that the council plans to start charging for later in the year.
Church representatives met council leaders at Westminster City Hall last week after the consultation period ended on June 23. The council cabinet will vote on August 1.
Some churches say they could lose up to half of their congregation, with parking costing £4 an hour in Mayfair and £3 an hour in Marylebone.
Fr William Pearsall, parish priest at Farm Street, said: “The churches will be extremely damaged. Some will lose considerable number of congregations. Our representation was very serious.”
Fr Pearsall said the council was being sympathetic but that “the churches are not being considered as special cases, Sunday is not being treated as a special day.
“They don’t seem to take into account the churches’ social capital or civic value or their role in social cohesion. This is going to damage the congregations and work of the church. It comes at the same time as the Coalition White
Paper on localism and the sharing of civic responsibility.
“The Church is the largest voluntary body in the country. Every point raised in the meeting, from the Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists, emphasised that we serve the community. We teach the Gospel love of neighbour and self-sacrifice, and we train children in their values.”
Sunday trading was introduced in 1994 and since then there has been a large increase in traffic. “We understand why the council has to do something,” Fr Pearsall said, “but to quote one Salvationist: ‘The heart of our church community will be ripped out.’”
He added: “Like most city centre churches, our congregations will come outside our parish boundaries. Disabled people, those who don’t want to deal with British weather, or those with families, will find it a struggle.”
A spokesman for Churches Together in Westminster, an organisation representing the parish churches affected, said: “Every culture has a day set aside for rest and for freedom from the claims of commerce and the state. This is a necessary space for any healthy society. For historic reasons, Sunday is the day set aside in our country, and people consider this to be part of their way of life. On that day there is freedom to rest, to visit friends and family – and to support a church community.”
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