THE CATHOLIC HERALD OCTOBER 28 2011
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Widdecombe challenges Cameron over aid policy
Former Minister tells Coalition: persecuted Christians deserve same protection as gay people
BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE GOVERNMENT is tougher on countries that persecute gay people than on those that persecute Christians, Ann Widdecombe has said.
Speaking at the annual conference of international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) last Saturday, Miss Widdecombe accused the British Government of double standards in its international relations.
In her keynote speech in Westminster Cathedral Hall the Catholic convert and former Conservative minister said: “David Cameron’s Government has threatened to cut the overseas aid budget for countries which persecute homosexuals. Fair enough. But what about Christians? When do we qualify for such protection? Or don’t we?”
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell cut Britain’s aid to Malawi after two gay men were sentenced to 14 years hard labour, she said, and cited newspaper reports that the Government has threatened to reduce British aid to other African countries accused of persecuting gays.
Yet there has been no Government reaction to the recent killing of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and Britain’s aid is set to double in Pakistan, where Christian labourer Asia Bibi is threatened with execution for blasphemy, a charge which she denies.
“If David Cameron is tough on governments which persecute gays, why can’t he be tough on those who persecute Christians?” Miss Widdecombe asked.
“I’m patron of the Hedgehog Protection Society and it’s very easy to get people excited about the fates of hedgehogs – and I regularly do so – but try exciting people about the persecution of Christians,” she said.
“First of all there is a great degree of ignorance. Second, there is a great degree of shrug, because people tend to say, ‘Well they must bring it on themselves, they don’t have to be overt do they?’... But if as a country we shrug then we actually deny help. So we need to be galvanised and we need to start to take action.”
Miss Widdecombe told the conference that there had to be a build-up of awareness.
“In the last 10 years, how many debates have there been on the persecution of Christians, how many government statements on the subject?”
According to a report by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, 75 per cent of all religious persecution in the world is directed against Christians. Other research by Massimo Introvigne of the Centre for Studies on New Religions, based in Turin, claimed that tens of thousands of Christians are killed every year for faith-related reasons.
Miss Widdecombe appealed to the British public to call on the Government to make
Miss Widdecombe said it was easier to get people excited about the fate of hedgehogs than the persecution of Christians www.acnuk.org defence of religious freedom a foreign policy priority.
“Today we should all begin to act. Each of us should pick one country, pray for it, donate to the Church there, write to William Hague and our local
MP,” she said. “We should make it our business to follow reports about persecuted Christians - especially through the work of Aid to the Church in Need.”
Miss Widdecombe became
Special Envoy to ACN on Religious Freedom in March this year. The conference, entitled “The Arab Spring: A Spring or Autumn for Christians?” addressed the problem of sustaining the Christian presence in regions where church-goers are emigrating en masse. In Iraq, ACN say, the Christian population has plummeted from 1.4 million to barely 150,000, while according to a report last month more than 100,000 Christians have fled Egypt since the fall of President Mubarak in February following an increase of violence against religious minorities.
“Everywhere we look today, across the world, Christians are being asked to take up their cross. And we should not imagine for one moment that persecution is limited to those countries where there are fundamentalist Islamic regimes and only a very tiny proportion of the population is Christian - it is vastly more widespread than that,” Miss Widdecombe said.
She said that in Belarus, where 73 per cent of thev population is Christian, the state is transforming churches acquired during Communism into secular buildings such as hotels. Visas for visiting clergy are difficult to acquire and there are fines for holding religious events in your home.
“In Saudi Arabia people have been arrested for taking part in a private Mass,” she said. “It’s an objection to private practice that can result in action by the state.”
In response to Ann Widdecombe’s speech a Government spokesperson said: “The British Government is at the forefront of work to promote human rights around the world, and regularly criticises governments which violate those rights. This includes working to end religious intolerance, and persecution and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexuality.
“As the Development Secretary has stated, our new approach, set out in detail in July this year, means we only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty, respect human rights, improve public financial management, fight corruption and promote good governance and transparency.”
Doctor advises Catholics on how to avoid assisting vasectomies
BY SIMON CALDWELL
CATHOLIC TRAINEE doctors may be able to avoid assisting in vasectomies by using European human rights laws, or by telling their employers that they are willing to take a pay cut, new advice claims.
As part of their training junior physicians are obliged to work for four months in a hospital urology department where men wish to be sterilised. But the Catholic Church teaches that sterilisation, unless for medical necessity, is “against the moral law”, bringing such trainees into conflict with the demands of their profession. A senior Catholic doctor is now offering his junior counterparts a blueprint of how to avoid onthe-job training sessions.
Dr Mike Delany tells them to be open about their conscientious objections from the outset and by spelling out their positions in a letter to the consultant urologist they will be sent to work with.
They are advised to accept a loss of pay for any hours of operative or pre-operative care they miss but promise to undertake all the class work and to look after patients after their operations.
They should also inform their employer that their r ights to conscientious objection are upheld by the European Convention on Human Rights, Dr Delany said. Writing in the November edition of the Catholic Medical Quarterly, Dr Delany said: “It is pretty inevitable that you will f ind yourself working for a consultant who regularly performs vasectomy as part of NHS services.
“You do have the option, of course, to ‘duck and dive’, dealing with problems as they arise but experience has shown that this is generally an imprudent strategy which will irritate or anger your boss who, quite understandably, may view you as obstructive, not to say inconsiderate and discourteous,” he says in the article entitled “How Do I Avoid Assisting in Vasectomies?”
Instead, Dr Delany, who works as a GP in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, recommends a letter explaining the belief of the trainee that a vasectomy would not be in the best interest of the patient.
In a draft letter he has prepared, junior doctors should say they are “aware that a disruption to the day- to- day working of the firm might be anticipated by virtue of my employment and that it might seem that I expect a lighter workload”.
“However, I would be quite prepared to take a commensurate pay cut in respect of the services I would not be providing while continuing to work the same hours as other junior doctors of my grade,” the letter says.
It adds: “My sincerely held beliefs are based upon scientific, philosophical and religious positions which I understand to be compatible with the r ights afforded to me by the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Trainee doctors are reassured that “most, if not all” consultants would see their position as a “non-issue” and would grant their requests.
“One benefit of the l iberal times we live in is that there are many true liberals in consultant posts who will view your position as simply one more among many,” Dr Delany said.
Both the Catholic and Anglican Churches held traditional moral objections to sterilisation and contraception, but the Church of England reversed its position in the 1920s. In 1968 Pope Paul VI, against the wishes of his advisers, published Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical forbidding married couples from regulating their fertility by such practices.
Doctors did not have a right to object to involvement in vasectomies until the passage of the 2010 Equalities Act, which gives legal protection to “philosophical beliefs”.
Earlier this year an NHS Trust backed down from trying to force two Catholic nurses from assisting in chemical abortions after their lawyers invoked the provisions of the 2010 Act in defence of their “pro-life” convictions and thr r ight to freedom of conscience.
Congregation elects first British head in 300 years BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A BRITISH NUN has been elected general superior of the Congregation of Jesus for the first time since the 18th century.
The worldwide congregation elected Sister Jane Livesy on Sunday, with more than 60 members gathering in the sanctuary of St Ignatius, in Loyola, Spain. Representatives of the congregation came from orders in Argentina, Zimbabwe, Mongolia and Cuba.
The Congregation of Jesus described the day of Sister Jane’s election as one of “gratitude and joy”.
Sister Jane said: “These are exciting times for us. With challenging opportunities opening up in parts of the world where the need for evangelisation is urgent.
“With vocations beginning to pick up in Mary Ward’s own country as well, it feels good to be part of a religious life that is open to the call of today and tomorrow.”
Prior to the election, delegates prayed in silence for half an hour in order to discern with Christ the best person “suitable today to carry this weight of responsibility for the future”.
Before becoming provincial superior in Britain, Sister Jane was headmistress of St Mary’s School in Shaftesbury, Dorset, between 1985 and 1998. The independent Catholic boarding school is founded on the principles of Mary Ward. On its website their mission staement declares: “We are concerned with all that a girl is and could become.”
The society’s noviciate in England is based at the Bar Convent in York, where the sisters have been dedicated to the northern city for over 300 years.
The order was founded in 1609 by Yorkshire woman Mary Ward, who was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, the first step on the road to sainthood. The last English women to be general superiors of the Congregation of Jesus were Anna Barbara Babthorpe (1697-1711) and her sister Mary Agnes (1711-1720). Both were related to Mary Ward’s cousin and early companion, Barbara Babthorpe of Osgodby, Yorkshire.
Mary Ward’s foundation exists today worldwide under two names – the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The societies have approximately 3,000 members, with Sisters in 44 countries and across five continents.
Do you share our love for small human beings? Are you creative? Could you produce a short video [1 – 3 mins] expressing your enthusiasm for early human life?
The ProLife Alliance invites you to enter
A Christmas 2011 Pro-Life SHORT FILM CONTEST Celebrating early human life any time from conception to a baby’s first birthday
1st prize £1,000 2nd prize £250 3rd prize £100
Just pick up your camera and get going * It is all up to your imagination and creativity but we suggest some of you might like to look at the prize-winning film ‘Babies’ to get an idea of how absolutely delightful small human beings can be. There are no other rules. Anybody can enter. Launch: 27 October 2011
Entries by 15 December 2011 Winners will be announced on 31 January 2012
*Each entry must last between 1-3 minutes. Only original entries accepted. No copyright infringements. And of course absolute respect for human life and dignity. Please look at our website [prolife.org.uk] for more information and rules of entry.
ProLife Alliance, PO Box 13395, London, SW3 6XE
t: 020 7581 6939 e: email@example.com Facebook/PLAChildLike and twitter @PLAChildLike
& Inserts Sales:
call James Quantrill on 020 7448 3610
CIEL UK Annual High Mass and Conference at The Oratory, Brompton Road, London SW7
on Saturday 19 November 2011
12 Noon: High Mass in the Usus Antiquior
Break for lunch
2.30 pm (in St Wilfrid’s Hall): Conference with principal speaker, Fr Cassian Folsom OSB, Prior of the flourishing new Benedictine Abbey in Norcia, Italy.
Fr. Cassian’s topic:
“The Roman Missal, organic growth and development, 1570 to 1962; the changes in the 1970 Missal and the Pope’s motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum”. Our second speaker will be Revd Dr Alcuin Reid, from the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon,
who will speak on “Refining ‘The Organic Development of the Liturgy’ the fundamental principle for assessing the reform of the 1970 Missale Romanum”.
(Also, a special one-day outing to the historic and architecturally outstanding chapel at Wardour will be announced for next Spring.)
Cost: £5.00 payable at the door. All are welcome
5.00 pm (in The Little Oratory): Benediction Followed by an informal gathering with wine for all in St Wilfrid’s Hall.
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