Dennis Sewell Why Americans reject evolution
FEATURE, PAGE 8
Peter Frankopan The Crusades split the Church in two
FEATURE, PAGE 8
Freddy Gray The world’s most silly new religion NOTEBOOK, PAGE 12
Archbishop presses May on same-sex marriage
BY MARK GREAVES
ARCHBISHOP Peter Smith of Southwark met the Home Secretary Theresa May on Monday to discuss the Government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage.
The archbishop said that he wanted to clarify why the Government believed such legislation was needed.
He said that he could not see the point of the legislation given that civil partnerships already offer broadly the same legal rights as marriage.
But during their 40-minute meeting, he said, Mrs May seemed unable to answer his question. “I suspect the Government hasn’t really thought out why the definition of marriage should be changed,” he said.
He explained that a steering committee of the bishops’ conference was to meet on Wednesday to plan how to campaign against the Government’s plans.
He met the Home Secretary alongside William Fittall, secretary general of the Church of England’s General Synod. The meeting had been suggested by the Church of England.
During the conversation Mrs May clarified that the Government intended to introduce same-sex marriage and that the consultation, scheduled to begin in March, was to help with the “nuts and bolts” of the legislation.
Archbishop Smith also asked Mrs May about reported comments by Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove and Portslade, that churches which refuse to marry gay couples should be stripped of their marriage licences.
Mrs May said that was “not Government policy at all”, according to the archbishop.
He also said that Mrs May was “happy to continue the discussions” and that they would meet again after the contents of the consultation had been published.
The archbishop, who is the chairman of the bishops’ Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, said the move to redefine marriage raised “a fundamental question for the whole of society”.
Over 20,000 pilgrims attend vigil for life
MORE THAN 20,000 pilgrims attended the National Prayer Vigil for Life in Washington DC this week.
The vigil, held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, included two Masses,
Confessions, the rosary, night prayer in the Byzantine Rite, six holy hours led by seminarians, Lauds and Benediction.
In the homily at the overnight vigil Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston urged young people across American “not to be compromised” in their dedication “to the protection of life of each human person, born and unborn”. News: Page 5
January 27 2012 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Cardinal wants Government to block abortion advertisements
BY SIMON CALDWELL
ENGLAND’S most senior Catholic cleric has accused regulators of “encouraging abortions” by allowing private clinics to seek business through television and radio advertisements.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor severely criticised the Advertising Standards Authority for loosening the rules to allow clinics which carry out abortions for profit to advertise their services through the broadcast media.
He said that the move, introduced under pressure from the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), would lead only to an increase in the number of abortions in a nation already shamed by a high rate of terminations.
“I utterly oppose anything that leads to more abortions,” said Cardinal MurphyO’Connor, the Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster.
“We have 200,000 a year,” he said. “This seems to be encouraging more people to have abortions and I think that’s a terrible thing.”
He added that it was vitally important for Christians to do all they could to oppose the deregulation.
“Anything we can do to influence public opinion and to influence the Government we should do it,” he said.
The cardinal spoke after delivering a sermon on Christian unity to a congregation of nearly 700 people in Chester’s Anglican cathedral.
In his homily he urged Christians to persevere in defending human life from conception until natural death.
“Time and time again, together, we must proclaim, in season and out of season, the dignity of the human person
We have 200,000 abortions a year. This seems to be encouraging more people to have them
For the latest Catholic news, visit CatholicHerald.co.uk made in the image of God from conception to the end of life,” the cardinal said.
Encouraging the faithful to withstand the pressure of aggressive secularism, he added that Christians must also assert that “all that is implied in our belief in God is alive, active and relevant in today’s secular society”.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, 79, led the Catholic Church in England and Wales from 2000 to 2009 when he retired on grounds of age.
He was a frequent critic of Britain’s abortion laws and in 2006 he met Patricia Hewitt, then Labour’s Health Secretary, in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Government to give MPs a free vote on lowering the upper time limit of 24 weeks for abortions.
The cardinal is still a serving member of Vatican dicasteries and is eligible to vote at any conclave for the next pope until he turns 80 in August.
The changes in the advertising rules on abortion are understood to be opposed by Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, but he is reportedly unable to over-ride the independent advertising regulator.
They have also angered pro-life groups. Mark Bhagwandin, spokesman for Life, the pro-life counselling charity, said: “Our principal concern about advertising abortion services is to do with the normalisation of what is, by any measure, a serious procedure.
“Whatever one’s opinion of abortion, the fact is that it ends the life of an existing human individual and we ought therefore to resist any measure that tends to trivialise it, or to make it appear as inconsequential as other consumer choices. Editorial comment: Page 13
Pope tells US bishops: secularism is threatening religious freedom
BY FRANCIS X ROCCA AND SARAH DELANEY
POPE BENEDICT XVI has warned US bishops that “radical secularism” threatens the core values of American culture and called on Catholics to render “public moral witness” on crucial social issues.
The Pope was speaking to a group of bishops who were in Rome for their ad limina visits.
Opening with a dire assessment of American society, Benedict XVI said that
“powerful new cultural currents” had worn away a traditional moral consensus which was originally based on faith and ethical principles derived from natural law. Whether they claim the authority of science or democracy, the Pope said, militant secularists seek to stifle the Church’s proclamation of these “unchanging moral truths”. Such a movement inevitably leads to the prevalence of “reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society”. The Pope contrasted current “notions of freedom detached from moral truth” and Catholicism’s “rational perspective” on morality, founded on the conviction that the “cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning”. Using the “language” of natural law, he said, the Church should promote social justice by “proposing rational arguments in the public square”.
Coming at the start of an election year, Pope Benedict directly referred to “that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion”.
The Pope said that bishops had told him of “concerted efforts” against the “right of conscientious objection... to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices” – an apparent reference to the decision by the US government that all private health insurance plans must cover sterilisation. Vatican Notebook: Page 4 Report: Page 5
Pope: only in silence can God’s love sink in
BY CAROL GLATZ
AMID the deluge of information and chatter in today’s media, the Church must help people find havens of silence, Pope Benedict XVI has said.
He made the comment in his message for World Communications Day, which is celebrated on May 20. In silence, he said, “we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth”. Benedict said that silence was also key to evangelisation, and that only in silence can God’s grandeur, love and mercy sink in.
He also hailed the potential of social media and said that “profound thoughts” could be communicated in concise phrases. Books: Page 15
Actor Robert Carlyle to give up coffee for Lent
BY ED WEST
CATHOLIC actor Robert Carlyle is giving up coffee for Lent to help the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund’s “Wee Box, Big Change” campaign.
The fundraising drive also supported by singer Susan Boyle and Rangers manager Ally McCoist helps the poor in developing countries through direct aid.
Mr Carlyle, the star of Trainspotting, The Full Monty and Angela’s Ashes, said: “Sciaf give a hand up, not a handout, providing practical help such as seeds, tools and training so that people can feed themselves and their families, not just today but in the future. This Lent, I’m giving up coffee and putting the money I save into my Wee Box.”
Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith Why I long for the good old days of ecumenism P20
Mary Kenny The bishops are right to block welfare cuts P12
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