Thursday, January 03, 2008

Shock! British Catholic bishops believe in teaching Catholicism!

Roman Catholic bishops are to appear in front of a powerful committee of MPs amid fears that they are pushing a fundamentalist brand of their religion in schools. Bishops have called on parents, teachers and priests to strengthen the role of religion in education. In one case the Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue, instructed Catholic schools across much of north-west England to stop 'safe-sex' education and place crucifixes in all classrooms.

He also wrote: 'Schools and colleges must not support charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.' In a 66-page document, O'Donoghue called on teachers to use science to teach about the 'truths of the faith', only mention sex within the 'sacrament of marriage', insist that contraception was wrong and emphasise natural family planning.

The Bishop of Leeds, Arthur Roche, sent a letter to parishes warning them that Catholic education was under threat following attempts by the local council to set up an inter-faith academy.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the parliamentary cross-party committee on children, schools and families, said he had heard of other cases and felt that behind the scenes there was 'intense turmoil' about the future of Catholic education. 'A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be useful to call representatives of the Catholic church in front of the committee to find out what is going on,' he said. 'It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked. It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers' money after all.'

Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, asked to meet Roche about the possibility of setting up an inter-faith school in the area. 'The bishop took a long time to agree to meet and eventually we set a date in May,' said Sheerman. 'But just before we were due to meet - during the May elections - he had a letter read out in every parish church in Kirklees and Calderdale, a really big area, accusing politicians of trying to dilute Catholic education. He said Roman Catholic education was under threat.'

In Fit for Mission, the document written for schools in the Lancaster diocese, O'Donoghue wrote: 'The secular view on sex outside of marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information ... parents, schools and colleges must also reject the promotion of so-called "safe sex" or "safer sex", a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against Aids.'

The bishop also called for any books containing polemics against the Catholic faith to be removed from school libraries. 'Under no circumstances should any outside authority or agency that is not fully qualified to speak on behalf of the Catholic church ever be allowed to speak to pupils or individuals on sexual or any other matter involving faith and morals,' he said.

The report has outraged non-religious groups, who accused the bishop of trying to 'indoctrinate' pupils. In a letter to Secretary of State Ed Balls, the National Secular Society wrote: 'What happened to a well-rounded education - which is what British state schools are supposed to provide?' Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the society, said: 'I do not think the state should be funding Catholic indoctrination.' He highlighted a poll released by the US group Catholics for a Free Choice showing that most Catholics across the world believed using condoms was pro-life because it prevented the spread of HIV and Aids.

Teachers expressed concern that the bishop's instructions could damage the health of teenagers who chose to become sexually active despite the church's teaching. 'Irrespective of the strongly held views of those in the Catholic faith, it is absolutely vital for the future of children's wellbeing, health and safety that they receive proper sex education,' said Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers. O'Donoghue said it was 'absolute rubbish' that what he was advocating was indoctrination.


Cardinal criticises UK homosexual laws

The senior Roman Catholic leader used his New Year message to praise marriage and deliver an implicit attack on the Government's gay equality laws. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Church in England and Wales, said most parents did not want their children to be taught that marriage was just "one lifestyle choice among many".

The cardinal said the traditional family remained central to the well-being of society but was being dangerously eroded. While society was slowly waking up to the dangers of climate change and pollution for the planet, it was still destroying the family, he said. "It has taken us a long time to realise that if we cut down trees, use cars with highly leaded fuels and build factories with toxic emissions, we were gradually destroying the ecosystem within which we live and breathe.

"Perhaps, however, it has been harder for us to admit those elements in our relationships or in our society which have contributed to the fragmentation of the family. "Yet it is equally true that we are rapidly moving the very structures on which society is built and on which humanity depends; we are gradually destroying the 'ecosystem' that supports the family."

The cardinal said he was aware that many people had suffered broken marriages or were "courageous" single parents and he understood their sorrow and hurt. However, he emphasised the Catholic Church's commitment to the home as the focus of family life and the centrality of Christian marriage. "Most parents do not want their children to be taught that marriage is no more than one lifestyle choice among many," he said. "They do not want to expose their children to the risk of becoming promiscuous or indulging in drug and alcohol abuse. "Many, many young people, when expressing their dreams and hopes, express the desire to one day be happily married and to have a family."

The cardinal's comments follow a series of clashes between the Catholic Church and the Government over the introduction of gay equality legislation and civil partnerships. Some Catholics have even questioned the Cardinal's role in the recent conversion of Tony Blair, the former prime minister, who was instrumental in pushing through many of the reforms.

In his message, the cardinal urged parents to bring God into their homes so that their children would carry Christian values into the next generation. "Our children are the messages we send to tomorrow," he said. "We can forget easily what is said in church, or even in school, but we don't forget what happens in the home. "Somehow, if we take God's Word into our daily life and try to live it, then we are scattering the seed ourselves for the younger generation and generations to come."


British credit-card chief forced to quit after making Shi'ite joke

We read:

"A director of Barclaycard has left the company in disgrace after making a joke deemed offensive to Muslims. Marc Howells, 42, who earned 200,000 pounds a year, was addressing senior executives about the credit card company's quarterly figures when he tried to make them laugh with the quip. Mr Howells said: "The results were like Muslims - some were good, some were Shi'ite."

Some outraged colleagues forced embarrassed laughs while others were stunned into silence, but Mr Howells seemed unaware of causing any offence. His pun was later reported to senior management, however, and after some discussion he left the company last month before any disciplinary process could begin.


Must not upset those delicate little Muslims. But Irish jokes still seem to be OK. I wonder why? The Irish have been known to blow people up too. Could it be that they are white and Christian?

Socialized medicine leads to dictatorship over your personal life

The endpoint of all socialism -- as Hegel gleefully foresaw

Patients could be required to stop smoking, take exercise or lose weight before they can be treated on the National Health Service, Gordon Brown has suggested. In a New Year message to NHS staff, the Prime Minister indicates people may have to fulfil new "responsibilities" in order to establish their entitlement to care. The new conditions could be set out in a formal NHS "constitution", Mr Brown says.

In his open letter to doctors, nurses and other health workers, the Prime Minister promises to press on with Tony Blair's reforms of the NHS, pledging more personalised care for all patients. He adds: "We will also examine how all these changes can be enshrined in a new constitution of the NHS, setting out for the first time the rights and responsibilities associated with an entitlement to NHS care."

Creating formal conditions for treatment would build on recent controversial developments in health policy. Despite the NHS commitment to provide free universal care, it is already common for doctors to set conditions on patients seeking treatment. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence already considers so-called self-induced illnesses in setting the criteria that determine which patients should qualify for new or expensive health treatments. And this year Leicester City Primary Care Trust was given Government approval to ask smokers to quit before they are given places on waiting lists for operations such as hip replacements and heart surgery.

Obese people also face more conditions from doctors who say being very overweight unnecessarily complicates many procedures. For example, fertility doctors have argued that very obese women should be denied access to IVF treatment.

Mr Brown has promised more "personalised" services from the NHS. He makes clear that his reforms will rest on people being more accountable for their own health, too. "We will describe how we will achieve our shared ambition of an NHS which is more personal and responsive to individual needs," the Prime Minister writes. "Personalised not just because patients can get the treatment that they need when and where they want, but because from an early stage we are all given the information and advice to take greater responsibility for our own health."

Katherine Murphy, a spokesman for the Patients Association, raised fears about the spread of conditions in the NHS. She said: "We would have concerns about this. Patients do have a right to access to care and we would be very concerned if people were to be denied access to care. "Is this being done for the patient, or is it just another way of saving money?"

Since becoming Prime Minister, critics say Mr Brown has sent mixed messages about his plans for NHS reform. But Mr Brown makes clear the NHS must change to respond more quickly and directly to the wishes and needs of its patients, just as businesses respond to their customers. "I believe these are steps vital to securing the health of the NHS for the next 60 years," Mr Brown says. "They will require a broadening and a deepening of reform to ensure that the NHS as a whole attaches the same priority to a personal and -preventative service as many of you already reflect in your own day-to-day decisions."


Unhand my patio heater, archbishop

British skeptic Jeremy Clarkson takes on the Church of the Environment in his usual mocking style. I have added as picture of His Grace below so that all readers will understand Clarkson's satirical allusions to beards and eyebrows

The Archbishop of Canterbury told the faithful on Christmas Day that unless human beings abandon our greed, we will be responsible for the death of the planet. Hmm. I'm not sure that I can take a lecture on greed from a man who heads one of the western world's richest institutions. As we huddle under a patio heater to stay warm while having a cigarette in the rain, his bishops are living in palatial splendour with banqueting halls, wondering where to invest the next billion.

And are the churches open at night as shelter for the homeless and the weak? No, they are locked lest someone should decide to redress the inequalities of western society by half-inching a candelabra and fencing it to buy Christmas presents for his kiddies.

Then we must ask how much old Rowan really understands about the implications and causes of global warming. He thinks that taking a holiday in Florida and driving a Range Rover caused the flooding in Tewkesbury this summer. But then he also believes it's possible for a man to walk on water and feed a crowd of 5,000 with nothing more than a couple of sardines.

Hmm. Well here are some facts that Rowan might like to chew on over his fair-trade breakfast cereal. The Alps are enjoying good snowfalls this year, in much the same way that the Alps in New South Wales enjoyed healthy snowfalls last summer. The hurricane season finished a couple of weeks ago and, contrary to all the scaremongering from Al Gore's mates, the number of severe storms, for the second year in a row, was slightly below average.

Closer to home, Britain did not, as was predicted by the BBC's hysterical internet news site, bake this summer under record-breaking temperatures. It was wet and soggy, much like in all the summers of my youth. And the only reason Tewkesbury flooded is because we've all paved our drives and built houses on the flood plains so the rainwater had nowhere else to go apart from Mrs Miggins's front room.

In the light of all this, I would like Rowan Williams to come out from behind his eyebrows and tell us how many people have been killed by greed-induced global warming. Because even the most swivel-eyed lunatic would be hard pressed to claim it's more than a few dozen.

Meanwhile, I reckon the number of people killed over the years by religious wars is around 809m. I tell you this, beardie. Many, many more people have died in the name of God than were killed in the name of Hitler.

Between 1096 and 1270, the Crusades killed about 1.5m. Way more than have been killed by patio heaters and Range Rovers combined. Then there was the 30 years' war, which reduced Europe's population by about 7.5m. And the slaughter is still going on today in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine and Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto was killed by a religious nut, not a homeless polar bear.

We have been told by those of a communist disposition that if we return to a life of sackcloth and potato soup (bishops excepted) and if we meet all the targets laid down by the great scientist John Prescott at Kyoto, then Britain will be a shining beacon to the world. Others will see what we have done and immediately lay down their 4x4s.

Rubbish. America and China and India will ignore our lunacy and our economic suicide and continue to embody the human spirit for self-improvement (or greed, as Rowan calls it).

No matter. Old Rowan will doubtless applaud the move. This is a man who was arrested in the antinuclear protests of the 1980s. Who refused to call the 9/11 terrorists evil and said they had serious moral goals. Who thinks that every single thing bought and sold is "an act of aggression" on the developing world. Who campaigns for gay rights but wouldn't actually appoint a homosexual as a bishop. And who recently said in an interview that America was the bad guy and that Muslims in Britain were like the good Samaritans. In other words, he's a full-on, five-star, paid-up member of the loony left, so anything that prevents the middle classes from having a Range Rover and a patio heater is bound to get his vote.

If, however, he really wants to bring peace and stability to the world, if he really believes Britain can be a force for good and a shining beacon in troubled times, then I urge him to close the Church of England. If we can demonstrate that we can survive without a church - and when you note 750,000 more people went online shopping on Christmas Day than went to church, you could argue we already do - then, who knows, maybe the mullahs and the left-footers will follow suit.

Daft? Not as daft as expecting the government in Beijing to renounce electricity because everyone in Britain has swapped their Range Rover for a mangle.

But better? Well yes. I genuinely believe we are born with a moral compass and we don't need it reset every Sunday morning by some weird-beard communist in a dress. I am, as you may have gathered, completely unreligious, but it doesn't stop me trying to be kind to others, and I'm never completely overwhelmed with a need to murder madmen in pulpits. Slightly overwhelmed sometimes, but never completely.


Brits trounce Taliban: "British commandos launched a devastating blitz on the Taliban - as the evil terrorists held a party to celebrate Benazir Bhutto's murder. The dawn raid was staged after messages were intercepted about the sick knees-up in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Royal Marines crept into position as the fanatics partied the night away just hours after Ms Bhutto was killed in Pakistan. The terrorists were pounded with mortars, rockets and heavy machine guns. Two bloodthirsty revellers trying to creep towards Our Boys in a trench were spotted by thermal-imaging equipment - and targeted with a Javelin heat-seeking missile. The 65,000 pounds sterling rocket - designed to stop Soviet tanks - locked on to their body heat and tore more than a kilometer across the desert in seconds. Troop Sergeant Dominic Conway, 32 - who directed mortar rounds - grinned: "It must have had quite a detrimental effect on their morale." Sgt Conway, from Whitley Bay, Tyneside, said of the Taliban lair: "It used to be their backyard and now we've made it ours."

No comments: