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Wednesday 11 March 2015

Sadly mistaken lady....


Remember how I have been saying he is the pope in St. John Bosco's vision...

This is cool

From John Smeaton's Talk in Cleveland, Ohio (Where M. Voris Is as Well)

Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015

 1 I’ve worked in the pro-life movement for 41 years, for 40 years at national level in the United Kingdom for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, SPUC, the first pro-life group to be established anywhere in the world, and the largest pro-life group in Europe. For 37 of those 40 years I have worked for the pro-life movement on a full-time basis, firstly, from 1978 as SPUC’s general secretary, and secondly, from 1996 until now, as the Society’s chief executive. SPUC was formed in 1966, and, 6 years before Roe v Wade, in 1967, abortion was legalised in Britain. I am also joint vice-chairman of the International Right to Life Federation, founded by Dr Jack Willke, whom many regard as the father of the pro-life movement worldwide. May God rest Jack, who died last month after a lifetime of service, and God rest Barbara too, his beloved wife. In my judgment, Jack and Barbara laid the prolife foundations worldwide on which the rest of us can continue to build with confidence. I feel blessed to be working this weekend in the State of Ohio, the scene and the domestic home, as it were, of so much of their truly historic pro-life work. When the pro-life movement came into existence almost fifty years ago, led by great pro-life leaders like the late Jack and Barbara Willke, it was in response to the legalisation, and rapid spread, of abortion around the world. Our task was to secure legal protection for unborn children. However in recent decades we have witnessed the culture of death expand into new areas of human life; including, for example, the most vulnerable unborn children of all, newly-conceived human embryos, who are more and more threatened by the giant, universal, anti-life in-vitro fertilisation industry, just as newly-conceived human embryos have been threatened for many decades by the pharmaceutical industry and by so-called “contraceptive” drugs and devices which also work by stopping newly-conceived embryos from implanting in the womb and thus killed; the culture of death, based on contraception and abortion has also expanded to our children at school who are threatened by destructive anti-life, anti-family sex education; it has spread more and more to targeting and eliminating the disabled, the sick and the elderly who are threatened by euthanasia and “assisted suicide”; and the very nature of marriage and the family, the exclusive lifetime union of a man and a woman, open to life and committed to the nurture and protection of their children, is being undermined and denied by those who hold power and influence. The consequences of all this is catastrophic, not only for millions of individuals, but for the whole of our increasingly globalised society. In November 2011 the national council of the Society for the Protection of Children, our organisation’s policy-making body, elected by its grassroots volunteers, passed, without opposition, a resolution to defend marriage and to oppose so-called “same-sex marriage”. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), as a pro-life organization, decided to fight against “same-sex marriage” legislation for two reasons. First, statistical evidence on abortion clearly shows that marriage as an institution protects children, both born and unborn. Secondly, “same-sex marriage” represents an attempt to redefine marriage, thus undermining marriage and family life, as a growing body of academic research clearly shows. It is this undermining that lessens the protection for unborn children that true marriage provides.Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 2 Legalising “same-sex marriage” is not a question of being kind to people with same-sex attraction and letting them get married if they want to. It is a question of the destruction of the family, the oldest human institution in the world, which protects the mental and physical wellbeing of men, women and children. No other grouping offers such a high level of that security and stability that human beings need to flourish. Research shows overwhelmingly that children growing up within marriage do better in terms of health, educational success, happiness, careers and their own marriages. It is precisely because children matter, that real marriage between one man and one woman matters so much. Research by Dr Patricia Morgan, a leading researcher in family policy, commissioned by SPUC and presented to the British Parliament, shows that in countries in which same-sex marriage has been legalised, real marriage and family life are undermined – thus undermining also the protection which marriage and family life provide to children, including unborn children. Based on research and data from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and the US, Dr Morgan concluded that redefining marriage to accommodate same-sex couples:  Reinforces the idea that marriage is irrelevant to parenthood  Accelerates the decline of marriage among heterosexual couples  Separates the concepts of “marriage” and “family” and triggers the dismemberment of family structures in family-friendly societies. Advocates of the redefinition of marriage, such as Teresa May, the British Home Secretary, the minister responsible for immigration, security and law and order, often claim that opening marriage to homosexuals will strengthen the institution of marriage as a whole, encouraging more heterosexual couples to embrace marriage. However Dr Morgan found, across all the countries that she analysed, that no causal link has been established to support the idea that so-called “same-sex marriage” prevents the decline of the institution of marriage. In fact, she argues that the redefinition of marriage is either the end-game of long-term strategy to destroy the family, such as in Sweden, or it is an early opening salvo in countries such as Spain in which family structures have, until recently, remained strong. Dr Morgan explains that Sweden has witnessed probably the most concerted attempt in history to engineer a liberated sexuality free from moral and social norms, the freedom of women from child care responsibilities, and the demise of the interdependence of husband and wife. This has been brought about through deliberate economic manipulation, social pressures and a massive campaign of public “re-education”. By the 1980s the boast was that Sweden was “moving faster than most other advanced industrialised countries towards a society of cohabiting individuals, temporary families, and single individuals with and without children.” Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 3 The culmination of such policies was that the Scandinavian nations became the first in the world to recognise homosexual unions, with Denmark in 1989, followed by Norway in 1994 and Sweden in 1995. The boast in Sweden, according to Dr Morgan’s research, is that the model society for the future is “cohabiting individuals”, “temporary families” and “single individuals with and without children.” Our opponents can only achieve this through the destruction of the traditional family, our families, and thus destroying the possibility of healthy and normal family life for our children and grandchildren, born and unborn. Spain provides a good example of how “same-sex marriage” is an effective weapon against the traditional family structure. In Spain family structures had remained relatively strong. However, the recognition of so-called “same-sex marriage” in 2005 was followed by a pronounced acceleration in the decline of real marriage. The annual number of marriages fell by an average of nearly 15,000 during the three years immediately following the legislation. For the next three years after that the annual fall was over 34,000. The destruction of traditional family structures has very grave consequences for all members of society, but it is children, born and unborn, who are especially vulnerable. Government statistics from the United Kingdom show that children conceived outside of marriage are 4 to 5 times more likely to be aborted than those conceived within marriage. There’s a website I looked up when I was preparing this talk called Rainforest Concern. Rainforest Concern tells us that half of the Earth’s wildlife and at least two-thirds of its plant species live in tropical rainforests ... These plants provide food and shelter for many rare animals that depend on the rainforest for their survival ... Destroy the rainforest and you destroy protection for that wildlife ... In the same way, the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman is the natural habitat of children, of unborn children. Indeed, the natural family is a pre-political and pre-Christian institution. Destroy that institution in society and you destroy protection for children, both born and unborn. Historically, our nations’ laws protected unborn children from being killed, and so, quite logically and rightly, pro-life movements worldwide have worked tirelessly to restore, or to uphold, such laws. By the same token, historically, families based on the indissoluble union in marriage of a man and a woman, have provided children, both born and unborn, with their best hope of life and fulfilment in life ... so, quite logically and rightly, pro-life movements worldwide must work tirelessly to defend marriage and the family. The pro-life movement cannot possibly succeed in its efforts to end abortion if the family based on marriage between a man and a woman is destroyed. What’s more, a major way in which the so-called “homosexual rights” lobby is actively undermining the family and the culture of life, is through targeting its message at little children in their schools including, in the UK, I am ashamed to say as a Catholic myself, in Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 4 Catholic primary schools. I have little doubt that the same pattern is repeated in other countries too. I am sorry to have to share with you that homosexual militants are being invited into schools in Britain, including into Catholic schools with the blessing of the local bishop, to train teachers how to educate little boys as young as four years old that they might grow up to marry a man rather than a woman – and the same with little girls. Catholic schools in Britain, and around the world, have long been complicit in the culture of death, providing access to abortion and contraception for the under 16s without parental knowledge. This is happening, to my shame as a Catholic, with the co-operation of the Catholic authorities. Now what happens when little Johnny at Our Lady’s School, say, in south London, says to his teacher: “Please Miss! Can boys who grow up to marry a man have babies like mummies and daddies can?” Without a shadow of doubt, very many teachers will say “Yes they can. In a different way ... but yes they can.” As you know, same-sex couples are now demanding the right to have children– making it even more difficult for pro-life groups effectively to oppose surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation. According to peer-reviewed research, for every baby born by IVF, 23 are either discarded, or frozen, or used in destructive experiments, or miscarry. Defending the right to life of unborn children will increasingly be viewed as an attack on the rights of homosexual couples. Thus, this is one of the most fundamental reasons why, as the title of my talk this morning states: “The pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat.” No wonder that Pope John Paul II made it clear that there’s no hope of building a culture of life without teaching young people the truth about human sexuality. I am a Catholic as was Pope John Paul II, you won’t be surprised to hear! But I quote the Pope Saint John Paul II in this context, in his role as prophet speaking to the whole of humanity, regardless of people’s religion or belief in God. He wrote in his pro-life encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, number 97: “In particular, there is a need for education about the value of life from its very origins. It is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not help the young to accept and experience sexuality and love and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection. Sexuality, which enriches the whole person, ‘manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love’. The trivialization of sexuality is among the principal factors which have led to contempt for new life. Only a true love is able to protect life. There can be no avoiding the duty to offer, especially to adolescents and young adults, an authentic education in sexuality and in love, an education which involves training in chastity as a virtue which fosters personal maturity and makes one capable of respecting the ‘spousal’ meaning of the body.”Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 5 It is important that we realise that the persecution of the Christian faithful and of all who adhere to the moral law written in our hearts, not least parents of school-age children, is not something to be feared for the future but it’s something which is already here. In Britain, our organisation, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, has been funding, at great expense, the employment tribunal battle of a Catholic teacher in a Catholic school forbidden by order of the Catholic authorities, including by the local bishop, from spreading the case against the legalisation of same-sex marriage amongst his fellow teachers. I am sure you are all aware of many cases across the western world in which individuals from all walks of life - bakers, hoteliers, firemen, policemen, florists, registrars – and no doubt many others – have had their livelihoods threatened and destroyed by an aggressive and intolerant homosexual lobby. One can see why, during the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976, the future Pope St John Paul II told those gathered: “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the antigospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…” Unfortunately such courage has often not been forthcoming. I do speak now as a Catholic. I am a pro-life leader who happens to be a Catholic and there’s no reason why I should hide that fact. Indeed, I believe there’s every reason for a pro-life leader to focus on the profoundly grave problems in his church and I intend to do so, for the sake of giving witness to Christ who founded the church, and for the sake of authentic church renewal. Throughout Britain, Europe, North America, and much of the world, the failure of Catholic bishops to teach their flocks on matters relating to sexuality and the fundamental right to life is directly responsible for great confusion and, consequently, for the failure of the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and lay, to provide truly effective resistance to the greatest legalized slaughter of human beings in the history of the world. Countless millions of unborn children are being killed each year and the policy of very many Catholic bishops in Europe and elsewhere is contributing hugely to this deplorable situation. Their policy in England and Wales, for example, as I have mentioned, includes complicity, clearly on record, with the provision, without the knowledge of their parents, of contraception and abortion advice and services to children under the age of consent attending Catholic schools. Britain is witnessing the fulfilment of the prophetic message of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's historic encyclical which celebrates its 50th anniversary in three years’ time. Speaking about the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse he wrote: “Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 6 affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.” When Pope Paul VI wrote these words, he was referring to governments imposing birth control practices on whole societies. His words apply, tragically, with terrifying consequences for our families, to Catholic bishops in England and Wales, who co-operate with the British government policy of imposing birth control practices on families like mine. Also in England and Wales, rather than offer steadfast opposition to the homosexual agenda, the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales has cravenly surrendered by producing scandalous equality guidelines which utterly betray the lay faithful, and especially parents who are trying to bring up their children in conformity with the natural moral law and the teaching of the Church. These guidelines from the Catholic bishops of England and Wales insist, for example, that Catholic institutions, including Catholic schools, must comply with British government and EU legislation requiring equal employment rights of male and female homosexuals and bisexuals and transsexuals. Indeed, the bishops’ policy statement welcomes this legislation, seeks to implement it within the Church, and promises to monitor its implementation including in Catholic schools. Since the bishops’ guidelines were published, a pro-abortion document prepared at the request of the European Union on conscientious objection, links rights relating to sexual orientation to other supposed rights, including the “right” to abortion and the “right” to euthanasia and assisted suicide. The EU Commission document quotes, in part, from the Diversity and Equality Guidelines of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in a generally approving way. Thus the policy of the Catholic bishops’ conference of England and Wales in its Diversity and Equality Guidelines is helping the British government to promote the homosexual rights agenda throughout Europe via a document from the European Commission which, in its turn, links homosexual rights to abortion rights. Pro-life movements around the world ignore these kinds of developments, which have massive geopolitical significance, at their peril. I am aware that you encounter similar evils in the United States. In fact the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Cardinal Nichols, has publicly stated that the Church may one day recognise homosexual unions. Despite this bold contradiction of the Church’s unchangeable teaching on this matter he was recently selected to serve on the Congregation responsible for the appointment of new bishops. He was appointed to that congregation at the same time that the great pro-life champion, Raymond Cardinal Burke was removed from it. By way of complete contrast, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks as a parent to the Catholic bishops of Nigeria.Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 7 Last year, they publicly thanked Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's president, for signing into law the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, which prohibits same-sex marriages, civil partnerships, and the promotion of homosexuality. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, president of the bishops' conference, commended President Jonathan for his: "decision...not to bow to international pressure in the promotion of unethical and immoral practices of same sex union and other related vices" And Archbishop Kaigama spoke of: "the conspiracy of the developed world to make our country and continent, the dumping ground for the promotion of all immoral practices, that have continued to debase the purpose of God for man in the area of creation and morality, in their own countries." Archbishop Kaigama and other African bishops also offered a courageous defence of the unchangeable teachings of the Church on matters relating to human sexuality at the Extraordinary Synod on the family held last October in Rome. I was at the Synod as co-founder of Voice of the Family, an international coalition of 23 prolife and pro-family groups, representing people from many nations and five continents. The synod was ostensibly called to find solutions to the crisis facing the family in our world today. In fact, as I am sure most of you are already very well aware, the synod threatened to make the situation a good deal worse. During the synod those faithful to unchangeable Catholic teaching had to defend marriage from assaults coming from within the Church by a well organised, highly disciplined group of senior prelates who were determined to undermine her immutable teachings. I must tell you, that our team personally witnessed scenes of dissent and manipulation, carried out by the official organs of the Holy See, on a scale that I could not previously have envisaged. Many of you will be well aware that half-way through the synod a scandalous document, containing very grave errors, was presented to the press, which purported to be an interim report reflecting the discussions of the synod fathers. In fact, as the Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Cardinal Napier, immediately pointed out, the report did not accurately represent the views of the bishops. Cardinal Napier said "The message has gone out: This is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic church is saying. "And it's not what we're saying at all.” George Cardinal Pell, Prefect for the Economy, stated that the document “didn’t represent accurately the feelings of the Synod fathers” and was “tendentious and skewed”.Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 8 He continued: “One father said to me... that he wouldn’t want his young adult children to read it because they’d be confused.” That is the gravity of the situation today. Catholic fathers do not want their children reading documents produced by authorities in Rome. It is crucially important then to get to grips with this document, especially Catholics but also non-Catholics, because it is nothing less than the manifesto of a group within the Church who wish to dismantle her entire edifice of teaching on human sexuality – which is such a crucial factor in our historic struggle to defend life and marriage. The document contains many gravely problematic aspects, but I wish to focus on what I consider the two major threats to marriage and the family contained within it. The first is the attempt to change the teaching of the Church on the question of the admission of the divorced and “remarried” to Holy Communion without amendment of life. Now, as we all know, the Catholic Church has clearly taught, since the beginning of her existence, that a ratified and consummated sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved by any authority on earth. This teaching has been repeated unceasingly by the Church for twenty centuries, without prejudice to the annulment procedure the purpose of which is to discover whether there was a valid marriage contract in the first place. So, we must ask, why is sacramental marriage now being challenged? Cardinal Pell has publicly stated that this proposal is a “stalking horse” being proposed by “radical elements” within the Church who want, and I quote the Cardinal, “who want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions.” Let us be clear: Cardinal Pell is telling us that there are figures, at the highest levels of the Church, who want the Church to approve of homosexual unions. Indeed, as I said earlier, this is already considered an open question by influential clerics, such as Cardinal Nichols of Westminster. It causes me great pain to say it but our families are now being directly threatened, not only by those who hold power in the state, but also by those who hold power in the Church. And we always need to draw a distinction here between those who hold power in the church and the Church itself, the bride of Christ. Let us reflect for a moment on those passages of the interim report, which suggest that the Church should identify and affirm positive aspects of gravely sinful relationships. The report states, and I quote: “A new element in today’s pastoral activity is a sensitivity to the positive aspects of civilly celebrated marriages and, with obvious differences, cohabitation. While clearly presenting Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 9 the ideal, the Church needs also to indicate the constructive elements in these situations, which do not yet or no longer correspond to that ideal.” It continues, in a section entitled “The discernment of values present in wounded families and in irregular situations”: “Some ask whether the sacramental fullness of marriage does not exclude the possibility of recognizing positive elements even the imperfect forms that may be found outside this nuptial situation, which are in any case ordered in relation to it.” There is obviously a great deal that could be said about such proposals, but I want to suggest a few key points for your reflection. It is the duty of the Church to lead people to life in Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life”. It is impossible to find true peace and happiness if we live in a way that is contrary to the truths of the moral law, which are accessible to us through the use of reason and in the authoritative teaching of the Church. It is therefore a solemn duty of the Church to teach the truth in love, “in season and out of season”. By focusing on supposedly positive aspects of objectively sinful unions we deny people the full truth and risk giving them a false understanding of their situation. We not only run the risk of giving them excuses not to change their lives but also seem to suggest that the Church in some way approves of their behaviour. The confusion only deepens when we turn to the section dealing with homosexuality. The document states: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing them a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation...?” It continues: “Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.” It goes on to say that “unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman”, which of course implies that there is a level on which they can be accepted. Perhaps most disturbingly of all, the document speaks of “children who live with homosexual couples” without giving any indication whatsoever that there is anything objectively wrong with this situation. Children are being sacrificed on the altar of adults’ “sexual rights”.Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 10 There is much that can be said about all these passages. Firstly, we should never tire of pointing out that the value and dignity of every human being, lies in our creation in the image and likeness of God, and our possession of a rational soul capable of knowing and choosing the good. It is offence against human dignity to say that the Church must accept and value a sexual orientation which the Catholic Church clearly teaches is “intrinsically disordered”. This is a false mercy, a false compassion, which shows no interest for the good of the individual, who is at risk of being confirmed in behaviour which the Catechism refers to as “great depravity.” Note well, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in this entire section which indicates that homosexual acts are sinful. I repeat: this is false mercy, false compassion, and one must question what is foremost in the minds of these clerics. Do they genuinely care about individuals struggling with homosexual tendencies, or those who are divorced or remarried, or is this rather a political act, the first step towards destroying the entire edifice of Catholic teaching on matters of human sexuality? His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke has stated: “You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church”. And, of course, it is primarily the good of children which is to be sacrificed. It was precisely for these reasons, because the gravity of the threat was realised, that many cardinals and bishops have spoken out strongly, not only against this document but against the entire way in which the synod has been conducted. Senior prelates have publicly protested against the consistent manipulation of the synod fathers by the organisers of the synod and against the censorship and distortion that they were subjected to by Vatican press office. Cardinal Burke said: “It is clear that whoever wrote the Relatio has an agenda and simply used the authority of a solemn meeting of Cardinals and Bishops to advance his agenda without respect for the discussion which took place during the first week of the Synod. He continued: “The fact that none of the interventions of the Synod Fathers were permitted to be published and that their content was filtered through the daily briefings organized by Father Lombardi facilitated the manipulation.”Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 11 Despite such protests the manipulation continues. A team from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, and other Voice of the Family colleagues, recently attended a conference on the Synod organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome. The conference was purportedly organised to allow lay groups to contribute to the Pontifical Council’s own input into the Synod. However it rapidly became clear to my colleagues that opinions which challenged the radical agenda were not welcomed by some of those persons responsible for the conference. Our team raised the issues of abortion, parental rights, euthanasia, assisted suicide, “gender theory” and many other important topics. Yet the relators of the English-language group failed to relay any of these contributions to the plenary sessions. Yet they were quite happy to relay contributions about such issues as “transgender rights”. I am also sorry to have to inform you that the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Mgr Vincenzio Paglia, not only refused, when asked, to uphold the Church’s teaching on Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried”, but in fact strongly indicated that he would accept such a change of doctrine. To those in the Church who argue that what’s being proposed is not a change of doctrine about marriage but simply a change in the Church’s discipline, here’s what Cardinal Burke had to say in an interview with Rorate Coeli earlier this month on 2nd March: “I think it's very important to address a false dichotomy that's been drawn by some who say, ‘Oh no, we're just changing disciplines. We're not touching the Church's doctrine.’ But if you change the Church's discipline with regard to access to Holy Communion by those who are living in adultery, then surely you are changing the Church's doctrine on adultery. You're saying that, in some circumstances, adultery is permissible and even good, if people can live in adultery and still receive the sacraments. That is a very serious matter, and Catholics have to insist that the Church's discipline not be changed in some way which would, in fact, weaken our teaching on one of the most fundamental truths, the truth about marriage and the family.” Thank God, I say, for Cardinal Burke. The Pontifical Council for the Family is at the present moment “a house divided against itself” and its current leadership is submitting to an agenda that will prove radically destructive of our families. Let’s never forget that fact. It’s our families, yours and mine, which are under attack by certain senior clerics in Rome and elsewhere. The situation at the Pontifical Council is, unfortunately, indicative of a wider situation in Rome, and in the Church as a whole. Faced with such a threat, to our faith, to our families, and to our children, what can the Catholic laity, and non-Catholics too I would say, do? Everyone has a stake in this matter.Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 12 In the first place we must follow the call made by the Latvian archbishop, the Archbishop of Riga, Archbishop Stankevičs, and commit ourselves to prayer. We must pray unceasingly for the Pope, for the cardinals, for the bishops, and for clergy, religious and laity that we may all remain firm and unyielding in our profession of the gospel. “But though we,” says St. Paul, “or an angel from heaven preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8). Secondly, we must remember that we, the lay faithful, have both the right and the duty to make known to our pastors our views about the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church. We have a right and a duty to require from our clergy unwavering obedience to the natural law and the teaching of the Church. No authority, not even the Pope, has the power or the right to alter in any way that which has been revealed to the Church by Almighty God. Canon 211 of the Code of Canon Law states that: “All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.” This is followed by Canon 212, which states: “The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires. “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” Please let me know if you would like to receive from me Voice of the Family’s full briefing on the Family Synod and the deeply disturbing developments connected to the Synod. And please consider writing to, or better still, visiting your local bishop and the bishops elected by the United States Conference of Bishops to participate in the General Family Synod in October this year. The most notable achievement of the pro-life movement is that we exist. Yes, pro-life organizations have enjoyed successes and saved lives. We’ve also had our setbacks. But, brutally realistically, we’re tiny – compared with the overwhelming reach of the culture of death, and compared with the universal reach of the Catholic Church in particular. That’s why Catholics here – and everyone here who has an interest in the common good – must study what’s happening at the highest levels in the Catholic Church and take action and we must have the maturity to speak out when things are badly wrong at the highest levels of the Church. In June, 2014, I had the privilege of addressing the Catholic bishops of Nigeria at a conference in Abuja on “Why the Pro-Life Movement needs the Catholic Church” and I have copies of my talk with me this weekend if any of you are interested are reading it.Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 13 Finally of course, we must strive to remain faithful in our own lives and strive, with God’s assistance, to lead our families, and all those with whom we come into contact, to life in Jesus Christ. The pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage or face defeat as the title of my talk this morning says – but, at this stage in history, this is not primarily a political or legislative matter albeit we must keep up the legislative battle and speak out politically as Cleveland Right to Life is doing so courageously and prophetically. Embracing the defence of marriage is primarily about handing on what we know to be the truth about the nature of marriage to the next generation upon whose shoulders the burden of the pro-life struggle is rapidly falling: that marriage is the exclusive lifetime union of one man and one woman which is open to life and committed to the nurture and protection of their children; I refer in particular, of course, to the inseparability of the unitive and procreative dimensions of the marriage act. Cardinal Burke, on 9 th October, 2010, at the World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome, said the following: “The attack on the innocent and defenceless life of the unborn has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act. The error maintains that the artificially altered conjugal act retains its integrity. The claim is that the act remains unitive or loving, even though the procreative nature has been radically violated. In fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union. The so-called ‘contraceptive mentality’ is essentially anti-life. Many forms of so-called contraception are, in fact, abortifacient, that is, they destroy, at its beginning, a life which has already been conceived.” Dear Fellow Pro-lifers, it’s never easy to say this but it’s never been more important to speak out: The use of contraceptive drugs and devices by so many Christians, including Catholics, which may, according to the manufacturers, cause an early abortion, is draining the pro-life movement of the support of the community most likely to support the battle against abortion. Couples who may be turning a blind eye to the practice of abortifacient birth control in the intimacy of their married lives may well find it difficult to support our unequivocal campaigns against abortion, IVF, human embryo research and euthanasia. This understanding of pro-life work – linking unequivocal defence of the right to life to the truth about the transmission of human life through the marriage act – must become the foundation stone of the pro-life movement in the United States and worldwide. I think in a sense, speaking on behalf of the oldest pro-life organization in the world, after nearly 50 years, our work is just beginning. Where do we begin? We begin with the family, with mothers and fathers as primary educators, whom John Paul II teaches that the church exists to serve. Parents, as the primary educators of their children, must find ways of teaching their children, including our older children who have fled the nest, the truth about the sanctity of human life and its transmission, the truth found in Humanae Vitae and in Evangelium Vitae and in Familiaris Consortio, because we have the right and the authority to do so and because, at this point in human history, the overwhelming majority of Episcopal leaders, who also have authority, are failing to do their duty. There’s nothing left out there – except the family, Why the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage and the family or face defeat John Smeaton, Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, Ohio, 7th March 2015 14 based on the marriage between a man and a woman, to pick up the billions of broken babies, the billions of broken lives, and start again. At this point in history, observing events in the Church and in the State we have much to be fearful of, yet we know that we can take comfort from the fact that history shows that no matter how grave the crisis, a time will come when the Church and Her teaching will stand vindicated, while error and sin will stand powerless and condemned. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, in his book Wind, Sand and Stars, writes: “Water is worth its weight in gold; the smallest drop kindles in the sand the green spark of a blade of grass. If rain falls anywhere, a great exodus brings life to the Sahara.” The modern west, and the Church in many other parts of the world, seems, like the Sahara, to be a lifeless desert. Yet, just beneath the surface, life waits to be given the opportunity to spring forth. Faithful Catholics, all faithful Christians, all men and women of good will worldwide, many of whom we are privileged to work with in the pro-life movement, are the seeds of this new life. Let us pray that the harvest will be very great in the months and years ahead. God bless America and the American pro-life movement. God bless Molly, her committee and her incredible volunteers. And God bless Cleveland Right to Life and its supporters.....

Father Xavier One More Time

The reference to memory involves the purification of the imagination, which I have written into the perfection series.

First of all, stop putting things into your imagination which are evil. Remember, things are either good or bad, there is no neutral in the spiritual life.

Second, use custody of the eyes and ears.

Third, control curiosity and see my posts on this and some reposts.

Fourth, ask God to enter into your memory to purify it and take away images. Images are used by demons to tempt us and remind us of past sins.

Today's Gospel refers to not even committing venial sins, which also feed our imagination as well.

Matthew 5 DR

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

On Memory Again--Some More Retreat Notes

One of the points of this past weekend's retreat was on the cleansing of the memory and the imagination. I have written on this before on this blog from

Father Xavier talked about the sensitive memory which is the image which one imagines, or what we have seen like on TV and in movies, or in life, which are physical--seen.

One must pray for the grace of forgetfulness of past sins and even temptations.

It helps you not to recall those things which will cause you to sin.

A friend of mine has experienced this as a complete gift; but most of us have to ask for this.

This is the gift of forgetting past sins we have committed so that the demons do not use these memories to tempt us or to discourage us from pursuing virtue.

Someone brought this up after the retreat so I wanted to write about this again from my notes.

St. Ignatius, may I add again, has the prayer, "Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me."

I hate the song, as it trivializes the experience which follows the prayer.

Giving God one's memory is serious business It means He has control over all our memories. Those which are connected to sin can disappear if we really become serious about being detached from that sin. 

Giving God our liberty means that we do not make any decisions outside His Will. We mean it when we say, "Thy will be done." Our liberty may be valid things we can do, but choose not to do as these things are not in the Perfect Will of God.

Our understanding, as Father Xavier noted, is marred by sin, and we must have that purified to that only the truth remains.

Liberals Denying the Sacraments--Hypocrisy!

Ruminating on Rebirth

2001: A Space Odyssey, was the cult film of my youth. Many young people saw it as hope for mankind to become renewed, going beyond technology into the mysterious. Some people have seen masonic symbolism in the movie, which I have not pursued as a study. The movie meanings could include supernatural intelligence helping man or merely natural religion, as with the masons. However, there are some key archetypal images for even the Catholic.

Lately, as I sit and read and pray in a house by myself, I have been thinking of the ending scenes when the character, Bowman, (an evocative name), sees himself in a high French Baroque room at different ages, aging until he is an ancient man dying in a bed.

The scenes show Bowman watching himself age in silence. Everything is prepared for him, food, comforts, and so on, until he dies and is resurrected a some newly perfected fetus, who seems to return to Earth.

Not withstanding the various atheistic interpretations, what has been brought forward in my memory is the similarity between the cleansing of the soul, moving into Illumination and finally Union with God and these scenes. One looks clearly at one's entire life of sin while one is in the silence of the Dark Night.

Silence and complete detachment for all humans and the commerce of humans leads Bowman to reflect on his life in stages. Like the person going through the Dark Night of the Soul, being purged of all sin, including venial sin, and becoming someone new, Bowman sees himself only in silence and in being alone, without the comfort of others. He is being prepared for some type of purification which is symbolized by the perfect fetus.

Now, only God, the Trinitarian God, can make one perfect and new. But, Christ Himself had an answer to the old question of renewal.

Bowman reminds me of Nicodemus, who asked how a man could enter his mother's womb again to be reborn.

In my own life, this imposed exile which I am experiencing, is the death of self and the complete detachment of all things I love. I have learned to love in detachment, in objectivity. As one's body grows older, one's soul should be made younger. As one intelligence is quicken by grace, one sees more clearly the role of Divine Providence in one's life, even in using sin to bring about God's glory.

To live in silence, except for spiritual direction or necessities, reveals one's complete reliance on God.  Like Bowman, I have to rely on God for all my needs, all.

Like Bowman, one must have no anticipation for anything but God.

It is interesting to me that some people who have the last name of Bowman have adopted an ancient motto for their families. This motto is Numine et arcu, meaning God's Providence and my bow.  The archer is an ancient symbol of independence, like the yeoman, and one who seeks to find the center of the bull's eye. As in my earlier post yesterday, keeping focused is a necessity in the spiritual life.

Bowman is born again. So, too, are we, if we keep God's Providence and our bow, which means our own skill or gift, together. The gift is life, and the Giver is God. 

Of course, one can be aiming for the wrong thing, like Isabel Archer in the novel, Portrait of a Lady. She missed the center of the target by choosing money and status over love. We can do the same without detachment and silence. Her name is ironic, as she over-arched herself and ended up unhappy in her wannabe choices.

Let us be like Nicodemus, becoming humble in the night, asking God the real question of life--How can I be reborn?

John 3 Douay-Rheims 1

And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him.
Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?
Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.
Wonder not, that I said to thee, you must be born again.
The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered, and said to him: How can these things be done?

10 Jesus answered, and said to him: Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony.
12 If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not; how will you believe, if I shall speak to you heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting.
16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him.
18 He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.
20 For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved.
21 But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.

Subject Came Up repost of a repost

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Scheduling; one of many posts

One of my priest friends told me not too long ago that he appreciated this post. I repost it for those who may have missed it.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Sanctity and Schedules

Now, a disclaimer. As an INTJ, I am scheduled. I get up at the same time everyday and I have regular habits of eating, praying, writing.

I do most of my work in the morning.

When I was in Ireland, living alone for months and months, I could pray four to six hours a day, as I was living in silence and solitude.

I love this.

But, even though it was just me, I was scheduled.

Daily Mass same time, prayers, writing, etc. only interrupted by parties at night in the flats next door, or personal illness.

Same in Malta, even though for most of the time I was sharing a flat with one other person. Daily morning Mass, prayers, breakfast, and so on....Dinner was always about the same time as well.

Recently, living with other people without schedules, people who are not INTJs but ESFPs or variations of unscheduled types, I am observing something which the ancient fathers understood. One good thing about living in community is that those who naturally gravitate towards schedules can help those who do not.

Those who are more easy-going can help with the obsession some may have with schedules.

It is much harder for those without schedules to become holy. Going from one activity to another as these present themselves to the mind does not allow for prayer or reflection. Merely reacting to things rather than planning or reacting to situations on impulse are methods of living which impair the way of holiness.

Holiness demands scheduling.


Prayers, the reading of Scripture, the reading of holy books, daily Mass, or Adoration demand planning.

Those who have never had schedules, or who have avoided scheduling do not plan formation into their days.

Every semester when I was teaching college, the first thing I did was introduce my students to Time Management Skills.

I would, in some extreme cases, find up to 40 wasted hours in one week of 168 hours. I would mostly find between 17-27 wasted hours, enough time for my students to really study. They all had too much "down time" or just wasted time.

Waste is a sin.

Wasting time can create a habit of avoiding God and holiness.

Wasting time can lead one to hell.

A few days ago, I was speaking with a person who use to read the Scriptures daily for at least a half-hour.

He no longer does this. He is "too busy", "too tired".

He works, and he works hard, but his home life is not scheduled and never has been. He goes out a lot. He is single.

I see many, many elderly people out and about here-and they have lively social lives. There is nothing wrong with that, but one must face preparation for death. They are not scheduling in prayer, the rosary, meditation or contemplation, silence.

Sanctity must be a cooperation between work and grace. Without a schedule, it is hard, perhaps impossible to find out who one is and who God is.

Schedule. Follow the tag for more posts on scheduling.