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Sunday 18 May 2014

From John Smeaton

Thank God for Northern Ireland Protestant politicians for defending marriage


Friday, 16 May 2014

Thank God for Northern Ireland Protestant politicians for defending marriage

Caitriona Ruane (centre in white)
On 29 April, the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont debated a motion by Sinn Féin which called for the recognition of same-sex marriage. Thankfully the motion was defeated by 51 votes to 43. The votes in favour of same-sex marriage came from Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of Sinn Féin, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Alliance Party and the Green Party, plus two members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and two members of NI21, a liberal Unionist party . The votes against same-sex marriage came from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the UUP, plus two Protestant MLAs of the Alliance Party who thus voted against their party's policy. 6 SDLP MLAs abstained or were absent. Thus, no Catholic MLA actually voted against same-sex marriage.

Thank God for the leadership of members of the Protestant community in safeguarding families and safeguarding marriage as the permanent exclusive union of a man and a woman. I say that as chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which passed aresolution opposing same-sex marriage legislation on the basis that real marriage between a man and woman has been proved to be protective of unborn children. And I say this too as a Catholic father who is deeply worried about the lack of anything approaching powerful Catholic witness, except on the part of exceptional bishops in Britain and elsewhere, in defence of marriage and the family.

Northern Ireland has now rejected calls for the legalisation of same-sex marriage three times, thanks entirely to its Protestant politicians. The Social Democratic and Labour Party, the principal nationalist party in Northern Ireland, traditionally seen as representing the Catholic community, supports the redefinition of marriage, as does Sinn Féin. The stark Protestant-Catholic divide on this issue clearly reflects a deeper problem within the Catholic world.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC communications manager, has prepared this most helpful analysis of the Stormont debate last month:
The day before the debate, the Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland published anopen letter to the Assembly. They said (inter alia) that the motion :
"misuses the principle of equality. It is a fact of nature that same-sex unions are fundamentally and objectively different from the complementary sexual union of a woman and a man which is of itself naturally open to life."
Caitriona Ruane, the Sinn Féin MLA who moved the motion, attacked
"wild nonsense peddled about incest and polygamy".
However, polygamous unions have already occurred in Massachusetts and Brazil. And some advocates of same-sex marriage also advocate abolishing laws against incest.

Ruane also derided the argument that same-sex marriage threatens family values, claiming that this argument was used to justify the Magdalene laundries and anti-miscegenation laws under the apartheid regime. Ruane is clearly unfamiliar with the concept that that two wrongs don't make a right. Towards the end of the debate, Megan Fearon, another Sinn Féin MLA, confirmed Sinn Féin's contempt for the family, saying:
"The old narrative that a child needs a man and a woman to be raised properly is totally incorrect."
Ruane went on to deride conscience also, saying:
"We are not here to legislate according to our consciences; we are here to legislate on the basis of equality."
I suggest that Ruane familiarise herself with the life of St Thomas More and the importance of the role of conscience for a legislator.

Mervyn Storey, DUP, opposing the motion, said:
"Marriage has only one definition. It is the lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. That has been the accepted position since the dawn of creation. It is a creation institution."
Mr Storey also pointed out that:
"The European Court and other legislators have ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human rights issue."
Importantly, he said:
"During the campaign for civil partnerships, we were told that those partnerships would ensure equal rights in law for same-sex couples and that there would never be any campaign for full marriage. Here we are today"
Danny Kennedy (UUP) said:
"Redefining marriage would have far-reaching consequences for our entire society. Furthermore, I do not believe that there is widespread public support in Northern Ireland for such a proposal."
Chris Lyttle (Alliance Party) implied that retaining legal marriage as a heterosexual institution would be to impose religious belief on the civil law. He said:
"I take very seriously my responsibility as a democratically elected representative to uphold not only the principle of freedom of religion but freedom from religion, and equality before the law for all citizens ... The proposal before us is that state-provided civil marriage be extended to same-sex couples..."
This argument was echoed later by Daithí McKay of Sinn Féin:
"People, of course, have the freedom to disagree with same-sex marriage on the basis of their individual religious views. However, as legislators, we have to legislate for everybody. The legislation we are proposing will not cover religious groups; it is civil marriage ... They say that marriage is sanctity, but marriage is what you make of it. Marriage is unique to each and every one of us. "
Paul Givan (DUP) said:
"The Assembly has voted conclusively on two previous occasions — I trust that it will do so again today — to uphold the institution of marriage as the union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. That definition of marriage has been the foundation of our society, predating Governments. However, over time, Governments have recognised that union, because of its undeniable benefits, as opposed to creating the institution ... Marriage being between a man and a woman is not discriminatory; it is the recognition of the natural truths that men and women are different and complementary, and the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman."
Lord Morrow (DUP) argued that same-sex marriage is about:
"redefining marriage, thereby bringing about a societal change in the understanding of what marriage is. This would be a radical redefinition of society's most fundamental institution and a radical deconstruction of the institution of marriage. The terms "husband" and "wife", and, indeed, "father" and "mother", would become meaningless ... Marriage would be redefined for everyone... That new definition of marriage would become the norm and would be taught in our schools as being the norm, even to young children, thereby interfering with parents' rights to pass on their own values to their children ... Redefining marriage as a genderless institution would mean merging two things that are radically dissimilar under the single word 'marriage'."
Bronwyn McGahan (Sinn Féin) confirmed that her party supports an elastic redefinition of the family:
"All family forms should be given equal respect and value in law. The traditional family form based on marriage should not be given higher status in law or practice than any other family form. Law and social policy should recognise the diversity of family life in Ireland. All families, including unmarried families, have the same rights to respect, care, support, protection and recognition."
Like Caitriona Ruane, Colum Eastwood (SDLP) tried to enlist past controversies in a fight against today's upholding of natural marriage in law:
"Marriage is an institution that has evolved over time. One hundred and fifty years ago, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland could not be married at all; now they can. Marriage used to be a property transaction rather than an institution in which two people loved each other and wanted to commit to each other. It used to be the case that, if a man was accused of rape, it would be all right if the victim was his wife. That is how far we have come in society. Adultery used to be a criminal offence. Divorce in Ireland was not legal."
Basil McCrea (NI21) echoed Caitriona Ruane's attack on conscience:
"I think that it is really wrong that we allow personal morals to influence what should be a legislative assembly. I do not think that this should be a free vote. I think that it should be a proper whipped vote..."
Simon Hamilton (DUP), the Minister of Finance and Personnel, pointed out that protections for clergy against same-sex marriage:
"do not protect the religious beliefs of others, such as teachers or registrars, and it is entirely possible that faith organisations in Great Britain will be precluded from accessing public funding, services or public buildings because they object to same-sex marriage."
Megan Fearon (Sinn Féin) attacked:
"hetero-normativity...and distinct gender roles"
and made the flamboyant claim that:
"The battle for LGBT rights is the equivalent of the civil rights movement for my generation".
Thankfully the majority of Unionist MLAs were not fooled by such false rhetoric coming from the Marxist revolutionaries of Sinn Féin, and the motion was defeated.
As a footnote, I would just add this: At one point in the debate Michael Copeland, one of the two Ulster Unionists who supported the motion said:
"I do not consider myself to be a worthy person to sit in judgement, moral or otherwise, on the emotions of other human beings."
This is a mantra being increasingly echoed, in all kinds of inappropriate contexts, around the world.

Judging is what legislators do for a living. They judge what is for the common good of humanity – beginning with the common good of the family. As article 16 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”
Michael Copeland is judging. He is judging that same-sex marriage serves the good of society – despite overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary.

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Note from Kathy Sinnott

Three significant reports were voted in parliament this year....Estrela, Zuber and Lunacek. None of our sitting MEPs in the Republic consistently voted for life, marriage and religious liberty. Only Diane Dobbs of Northern Ireland never compromised.

Of course Labour, former Labour and Socialist MEPs have a voting record worse than other.

I know Theresa Heaney personally. She has campaigned to protect life and the family. I would urge you to support her with your number 1 vote. Also Ronan Mullen.

God bless


Watching one’s language is a clue to pursuing holiness. I have found that people who dwell on negativity speak negatively most of the time, complaining about everything. I have found that people who want to be saints, speak of God, and His love for us all.

Pay attention to your own speech patterns. Are you falling into habits of whinging? Are you trying to build up those around you by being positive as to their good habits?

Are you thinking of Christ first, in all conversations?  Are you concentrating on the goodness of those around you and not merely their faults?

To create a community of faith, one must be practicing the virtues of faith, hope and charity, not only towards God, but towards one’s companions.

Think well of others. Anticipate that they mean well unless it is obvious that someone is living in malice.

Encourage good behavior in yourself, your spouse, your children.

When someone begins to speak negatively about another, change the subject or, even better, think of some positive characteristic of that person and share that. Better yet, do not talk at all about others and their faults.

As we say in Iowa, Mind Your Own Business.

St. James writes about the tongue. 

James 3:1-12

New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters,[a] for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature,[b] and is itself set on fire by hell.[c] For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters,[d] this ought not to be so.11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,[e] yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

When should one keep praying?

Recently, in the past several weeks, I wrote many posts on when to persist in catechesis or evangelization, and when to walk away.

Now, someone has asked me when do we stop praying for someone or something?

This is not an easy question to answer. Sometimes, rarely, God does speak to one’s heart and one hears loudly and clearly, “Stop praying.” This has happened to some holy prayer warriors I know concerning people for whom they were praying who had died.

“Stop praying” for a certain dead person may either reveal that the person is already in heaven, or worse, that they have chosen hell. But, none of us know for sure who is in hell.

As long as people are living, or one has a strong sense that a person is in purgatory, one should not stop praying.

However, this can happen-that one’s prayers change as one prays for a person.

For example, a person may be praying for one thing, one request, on intention for another, and find out that the prayer is really about something else entirely.

I have prayed for years for some aspect or situation in a friend’s life, only to discover over a period of time, that the prayer is really aimed at a totally different aspect or situation.

For example, I was praying for months to get back to Europe, and gradually, I discovered in prayer that I should be praying that all obstacles which are keeping me from living there be removed.

That emphasis slightly changed my prayers, as the key to getting back is not what I can see, but what I cannot see. These obstacles may even be in me, as God might want me to return in a state of His living grace higher than where I am now.

One may be praying for someone to be healed of cancer, and in those long days of prayer, the prayer may change to one of asking God to bring that person closer to Him.

Do not stop praying for those who have breath. Do not stop praying for those in purgatory, unless you have a sense the person has been freed.

Pray in the Will of God, but ask for specifics. St. Teresa of Avila noted that those who do not ask for specifics insult God. These people lack faith and hope in Divine Providence.

If something is on your heart and mind, pray, pray, pray. Trust that God has put the desire for good in your soul.

To be continued….

One of My Loves

Some people fall in love with individuals. Hopefully, this love bears fruit and the two people involved get married.

But, sometimes, people fall in love with a family. I have witnessed this type of love several times, especially in the young. But, even those who are older can fall into a love for an entire clan. Many moons ago, Americans had a love affair with the Kennedys. Some Catholic loved the von Trapp family.

Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisted fell in love with a family.  I know another young person who fell in love with a family, as he had practically no family at all. If the good families recognize this love, they invite the person to become part of the family.

One can fall in love with God’s family, the one, true, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. One of the gifts that God has given me for almost my entire life, as long as I can remember, is a great love for the Church.

I am passionate about the Church.

I love the Mystical Body, the Body of Christ in all the glory of God, and even in the darkness of certain times.If one loves the Church, one does not merely love the ideal, but the reality of the Church.

To love the Church is to suffer pain. To love the Church is to love the Bride of Christ which is not always as perfect as she could be. But, Christ sees the Church pure, spotless, in all eternity as the great Love He bestowed on the is earth for our benefit.

No matter if there are blemishes, Love sees with the eyes of faith and hope. From love flows faith in the Church as Christ’s creation for our salvation on earth. From love comes hope for her renewal.

I cannot tell you, I cannot put into words the love I feel for the Church. It is almost a “priestly” love, a love of the celibate, a love which has no bounds. Perhaps this is one reason I pray for seminarians and why I have many priest friends.

A long time ago, my mother asked me why so many of my friends were priests and nuns. I thought about this and realized that it was the Church I loved, and these chosen ones were clear representatives of my Love. Another person in my family got sick of my pre-occupation with the Church. Do we not become “full” of the person we love?
Do we not want to talk about our beloved all the time? Do we not think of our loved one constantly and want to be with him and serve him?

Christ founded the Church for me, for you, for all humans.

Can you not love the Church passionately as well? Love covers a multitude of sins.

Beautiful Rosaries

I must praise the work of the rosary creator, Tigga Wild. Her work is incredibly beautiful. I highly recommend her rosaries.

Thank God for Coffee Shops-And, The Creche of The Church

Someone said to me that people are born saints. I remind them through this post that only two people were born without Original Sin. The Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Immaculate Conception, and St. John Baptist, who was cleansed of sin and filled with the Holy Spirit will in the womb, at the Visitation.

All the rest of mankind has had to deal with concupiscence, the tendency to sin, as well as the results of Original Sin, such as a weakened will, a clouded intellect and the rule of the passions.

That some people are given tremendous graces early in life cannot be doubted. St. Padre Pio and St. Gemma Galgani were blessed with graces as youth.

Some saints experienced great life in God only later, such as St. Benedicta of the Cross, a convert or St. Mary Magdalen, a reformed sinner.

Firstly, one should never compare states of holiness. Not only is this a waste of time, but severely damages one’s perspective and interferes with one’s natural growth in grace.

The Holy Spirit, given to us in baptism and further stirred into our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies in confirmation, comes to us a “substantial manner” which Henry Edward Cardinal Manning reminds us in his wonderful book, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Spirit, is found in the Church.

To be a saint, secondly means, that one is in the Church, where one has access to grace, from babyhood on to the end of one’s life.

Manning writes this, “Wherefore they who do not partake of Him (the Spirit) and are not nurtured into life a the breast of the mother (the Church), do not receive of that most pure fountain which proceeds from the body of Christ, but dig out for themselves broken pools from the trenches of the earth, and drink water stained with mire, because they turn aside from the faith of the Church, let they should be convicted, and reject the Spirit let they should be taught.”

What a condemnation of those who have been given grace, but have deliberately walked away from the sacraments, the life of grace in the Church.

Thirdly, becoming a saint requires work and attention.  Again, Manning is helpful here, when he quotes Tertullian on our creedal statement at baptism:

“But forasmuch as the attestation of (our) faith and the promise of our salvation are pledged by three witnesses, the mention of the Church is necessarily added, since where these are—that is, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—there is the Church, which is the Body of the Three.”

To begin to be a saint, therefore, begins with the Creed, the assent to the primary teachings of the Catholic Church.  The Indwelling of the Trinity reveals these to each baptized person, and guides each person who seeks, to find the Truth.

How does one become a saint?  By cooperating with natural law, which is “permanent and immutable”, as Manning writes, and by moving into the life of grace given to the Church by Christ Himself for our salvation.

Salvation is not merely the first rung on the ladder of perfection. It is the beginning of the life of adventure which marks the saint. All things then come together for the good of the person, in Christ, through Divine Providence, and with the oversight of Mother Church.

Few are born saints. Most are bred in the nursery of the Catholic Church. Those who want to love God first, seeking the Bridegroom, will not be turned away. The Church is like the Pole Star, a fixed mark which guides us home to heaven.

to be continued…