Poll Shows Canadian Government Out Of Touch

Along with most of the liberal media hacks.

A new Environics poll shows a majority of Canadians want legal protection for the unborn child at some point before birth. This is consistent with survey results over the past seven years.

Canada remains the only country in the developed word with no legal limits on abortion throughout all 9 months of pregnancy. Yet, almost 6 in 10 respondents support legal protection for unborn children at some point before birth. Only 33% support the current situation of protection only after birth. Once again, women polled showed far more support for protection from conception on than men did: 33% versus 24%.

A majority of Canadians support informed consent requirements before an abortion that would be consistent with the informed consent expected and provided before any surgical procedure. Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents agree that women considering abortion should be informed of the risks and possible consequences of the abortion procedure.

“The hopelessly inadequate information most women receive before an abortion is appalling,” said Dr. Delores Doherty, president of LifeCanada, the group that commissioned the poll. “Many women who have had abortions feel betrayed by the doctors involved in their abortions and some are considering class action suits.”

The poll also asked how Canadians feel about tax dollars funding a procedure that is predominately performed for social reasons, rather than medical necessity. Only 3 in 10 support the current situation of tax funding for most of the roughly 100,000 abortions performed annually. Half prefer public funding only in cases of medical emergencies and two in 10 think payment should be a private responsibility.

“Despite years of polls consistently showing Canadians want changes in our abortion policy, elected officials in every party continue to ignore the issues or worse, shut down discussion and debate,” said Dr. Doherty. “This is a sad state for a democratic nation. It is past time for our political leaders to acknowledge and take action in line with the expressed will of their constituents. The issue is not going to go away!”...

But nevermind the people....Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't care...its not his "area of interest"!!


Catholic Carnival # 199

Hosted this week at "Living Catholicism"

Not Really A 'Win'

German Family Court rejected the State's evaluation of the 'fitness' of a German couple to parent their own children. The court did not, however, allow them to continue homeschooling - something they had been doing successfully, though illegally, for fifteen years.
LifeSite News:
....The Gorber children had been removed from the family home in January by officials of the Jugendamt, the German Youth Welfare Authority, because the family was homeschooling, a crime that has remained on the books in Germany since the Nazi period.

The HSLDA notes, “Homeschooling parents in Germany face these types of repercussions on a regular basis.” The Gorbers have homeschooled all of their children over the past 15 years. In January, youth welfare officers arrived at the Gorbers’ home in cars and vans to take all the minor children without any notice or hearing. The children were placed in state orphanages until August, when a court allowed a home visit.....

....German law requires all children to be placed in state approved schools, a requirement that has resulted in numerous cases of homeschooling children being removed by the state from parental care. In the majority of cases, such families are devout Christians who want a less heavily secularised education for their children, one that does not include the explicit and anti-family state-approved “sex-education.”

In a landmark legal case, started in 2003 at the European Court of Human Rights, a homeschooling parent couple argued on behalf of their children that Germany's compulsory school attendance endangered their children’s religious upbringing. They said specifically that the state-approved sex education clashed with their children’s right, according to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, that “the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”

Three years later, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the German ban on homeschooling, stating “parents may not refuse ...[compulsory schooling] on the basis of their convictions.”

Ah yes, the good old European Union. Can't wait 'til Cayman gets sucked into their 'vortex of evil' through the London mandated 'Bill of Rights'. Good Times Ahead!!

Bad News ?

(h/t National Post blog)


"Life Prizes"

Inaugural Year of the Gerard Health Foundation Honor Awards Pro-Life Movement's Greatest Heroes

Natick, MA - The Gerard Health Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its inaugural Life Prizes award, granted to six individuals or groups that have made unsurpassed strides in preserving and upholding the sanctity of human life. These winners have demonstrated their leadership and progress in pro-life achievements through public advocacy, scientific research, legal action, outreach and public discourse activities. The first award of its kind, Life Prizes is overseen by Executive Director Cathy Ruse who worked in conjunction with members of the Selection Advisory Committee to evaluate the more than 100 nominations submitted to the Foundation and select the recipient winners of the $600,000 in shared prize money. The four advisors comprising the Selection Advisory Committee have helped advance pro-life principles and practices in their advocacy and include Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput, the Reverend Dr. Alveda King, Ambassador Ray Flynn and Professor Hadley Arkes of Amherst College.

"We were impressed by the exceptional caliber of all those nominated for the initial year of Life Prizes, and reminded of the heroism, sacrifice, and valor in the efforts of leaders from across the country," stated Cathy Ruse. "The six winners that were chosen are examples for us and for our children of the type of initiative and action that is needed to promote life throughout our country. We are thrilled with the work they have been doing and are excited to see how that work will continue."

The $600,000 in prize money will be divided among the following six winners:

* American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) - Association of pro-life physicians that saves lives by remaining steadfastly committed to life within a stridently pro-abortion profession and which conducts research, writing, and public advocacy especially on the negative impact of abortion on women.

* Richard Doerflinger - Associate Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, bioethics expert, consummate researcher, and has been involved in almost every major pro-life legislative initiative since 1980. He has contributed behind the scenes to all major pro-life statements from the Catholic bishops during the last quarter century.

* Margaret "Peggy" Hartshorn - President, Heartbeat International, a preeminent network of more than 1,000 pregnancy resource centers spread throughout the world that has directly saved the lives of innumerable unborn children and their mothers from abortion through vital pregnancy support.

* Jill Stanek - Nurse who first publicly exposed infanticide of abortion survivors, Born-Alive Infant Protection Act proponent and chief witness, and prolific writer who uses the media and her popular blog to continue revealing the truth about late-term abortion.

* Lila Rose - Founder of student pro-life organization Live Action and President of its UCLA chapter. She has launched several successful, undercover investigations that exposed the racism and statutory rape cover-up by Planned Parenthood.

* Kay Coles James - Founder and President of The Gloucester Institute, an outreach and education initiative for young African Americans focused on developing solutions for the challenges facing communities today, utilizing lessons learned from the civil rights movement, including a recognition that the first civil right is life itself. She and her husband, Charles James, have worked to advance the pro-life cause for three decades as advocates in the highest levels of government, including the Reagan and both Bush presidential administrations and as founders of a pregnancy resource center and Black Americans for Life.

"The accomplishments of these pro-life heroes are diverse, valiant, and nothing short of inspiring," stated Raymond Ruddy, President of the Gerard Health Foundation. "They are the movement's most successful champions of life and their achievements will inspire future pro-life generations to be bold and brilliant in undertaking the many challenges that lie ahead in spreading a culture of life."

After the initial nomination process made on behalf of more than 100 esteemed nominators, the Life Prizes' Selection Advisory Committee assisted the Gerard Health Foundation in the difficult job of narrowing the finalists down to secure the six prominent recipients. The awards will be given at a ceremony held in Washington, DC on January 23, 2009.

About Life Prizes
Life Prizes is a program that awards those who have succeeded in awakening the conscience of America to uphold and preserve the sanctity of human life through their leadership and advances in public advocacy, scientific research, outreach and public disclosure activities, legal action, and other noteworthy achievements. The award is named the "Norinne A. and Raymond E. Ruddy Memorial Pro-Life Prize" to memorialize Mr. and Mrs. Raymond E. Ruddy, strong believers in the pro-life cause and parents of Raymond B. Ruddy, a pro-life philanthropist who has long supported and donated to life causes and charities throughout the world. In addition to recognizing those on the front lines of saving lives and who have most significantly advanced pro-life principles and practices, the initiative seeks to encourage and inspire the next generation of youth to accomplish great things in the name of life.

(h/t curt jester)

One For Free Speech

France's Court of Appeals overturned a 'homophobic speech' conviction in a ruling that has put the homosexual community up in arms:(LifeSiteNews)

....Deputy Christian Vanneste was convicted in 2006 of "homophobic" speech after stating in 2004 that "homosexuality is inferior to heterosexuality. If it were universalized it would be dangerous for humanity." He also called the behavior of homosexuals "bigoted."

The French Court of Appeals overturned the lower court ruling, remarking that "if the disputed remarks were able to hurt the feelings of certain homosexual people, their contents do not go beyond the limits of freedom of expression."

The negation of the lower court's $4,000 fine for Vanneste's remarks was denounced by homosexualist organizations across the country.

"This decision of the Court of Appeals will unfortunately lead homophobes to believe that they can express their hate with complete impunity," complained the French organization "Gaylib" on their website. "This is precisely what the (anti-homophobia) law of 2004 sought by the government of Jean Pierre Raffarin was meant to fight."

"This decision could harm fragile gains" made by the homosexual movement, remarked representatives of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center of Paris. The organization lamented that "the struggle against homophobia is floundering."

France's "ACT UP" claimed that "the legislature gave the means to prosecute offenses based on sexual orientation precisely because society has begun to realize the impact of homophobia. The decision of the appeals court put all of that in doubt."

"The communication tactics of the gay lobby are habitual," said Vanneste in an interview with the Evangelical Protestant Committee for Human Dignity. "They've been effective, and they're not going to stop using them."

"They consist in victimization, and distortions made in bad faith every time they meet an obstacle. The Court of Appeals seeks to say very clearly that I have expressed perfectly acceptable opinions within a framework of normal democratic debate," Vanneste continued. "I would like to add that they are founded on good sense, and they are shared by the majority. They consist in particular in saying that one can obviously judge behavior on a moral level."

In his defense, Vanneste's attorney brought forth philosophical, theological, and legal arguments in favor of his client, and called two philosophy professors and a pastor to the stand to testify.

"I made an exaggerated statement based on the categorical imperative of Kant," Vanneste said during the trial. "There are concepts that one can universalize and others that one can't. The first are the greater. That is a justification for the foundation of morality."

Vanneste also quoted Augustine's dictum that one must "love the sinner but hate the sin," and added that "homosexuality is morally inferior, according to the Christian concept of the family and matrimony."

No doubt Bash Back is buying their transcontinental flights right now. Close the borders!

In Canada, it wouldn't have been in court. It would have been a 'Human Rights' complaint, the victim (Vanneste) would have had to pay his own legal bills while the gov't agency usurped his rights to even a fair hearing. He would have been found guilty with no appeal to a 'higher' court, and a penalty would have been exacted. Like 'never speaking in public again' and perhaps apologizing for expressing Christian beliefs and paying a fine to be used for the sponsorship of Gay Marriage cocktail hour.


"Defending Against Unaccountable Power"


The pro-life movement in Britain just fought a losing battle against the scientific imperative. What lessons are to be learned?

…man, proud man, dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep ...
(Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene III)

Last month, with the final passage of the British government’s radical Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill pending, the Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Alan Moses, addressed a public meeting of the body charged with administering the law in this area. The law lord concluded his speech with the above quotation, for which he is to be very much thanked, even though it is difficult to understand what mischief he intended as, for the most part, his speech was an enthusiastic endorsement of his hosts.

For my part, I have never read a better definition of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. During 17 years of existence, its “little authority” has so gone to its head that it has usurped most of the real power in the contentious arena of assisted reproduction and embryo research. And, now that the bill has been passed and signed into law, I imagine that the said authority has never felt more reassured and smug. It surely is enough to make the angels weep.

Everything is now approved, every taboo is broken, every possible outrage against human dignity is now formally endorsed: animal-human embryos, artificial gametes, cloning using two maternal egg sources, germline manipulation, preimplantation diagnosis for eugenic purposes, posthumous conception, removal of the child’s need for a father, use of tissue without proper consent … The list goes on.

‘We lost every vote’

We fought hard against the bill. The Catholic Church, strengthened by its clear position on the right to life of the human embryo, was particularly vocal, and a great deal of activity was centred around other Christian churches as well. Many of the pro-life organisations grouped together under the banner Passion for Life, and, with a platform which included parliamentarians David Alton, Ann Widdecombe, Geraldine Smith and David Burrowes, travelled the land conducting rallies and encouraging the audiences to make their voices heard. Two million postcards of opposition were sent to MPs from around the country, and everyone was encouraged to lobby personally their individual representatives. There were protests in Parliament Square, briefings, debates, processions, prayers. And we lost every vote.....

"Who Will Define America"


I retrieve and open a large envelope from today's pile of mail.

Inside is a press release announcing "Chick-fil-A Founder to Receive 2008 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership."

I discover that Chick-fil-A founder is 87-year-old Atlanta businessman S. Truett Cathy. Reading about Cathy, amidst today's headlines, I am wondering if his story is what America is about, or was about.

Cathy built, and today is owner/operator, of the privately held Chick-fil-A fast food chain, with more than 1400 locations and sales of over $2.6 billion dollars. He's from humble roots in rural Georgia and opened the first Chick-fil-A store in Atlanta in 1967.

In contrast to stereotypes equating business, particularly big business, to greed, Cathy's life and work has been defined by service and Christian charity. The corporate mission statement of Chick-fil-A is "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."

Chick-fil-A stores are closed on Sunday to allow employees to devote the day to faith and family.

Cathy established a scholarship fund in 1973 for Chick-fil-A employees and to date around 23,000 have received more than $24 million in scholarship funds. In 1984 he established the WinShape Foundation which last year alone spent $18 million supporting a network of foster homes, camps, scholarships, and marriage counseling programs.

The Simon Prize, which Cathy has just received, is awarded by the William E. Simon Foundation, established by Simon, who was the 63rd Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Like Cathy, Simon believed in America, in freedom and free enterprise, and was a man of faith. The giving themes of his foundation, as noted on the foundation's website, are in the areas of "education, faith, and family."

Unlike Cathy, Simon built his wealth in the area which is now quintessentially associated with greed -- finance. Before becoming Treasury Secretary in 1974, he was a Wall Street bond trader at Salomon Brothers. After, he set up firms dealing in mergers and acquisitions, financial services, and banking.

As Wall Street executives are dragged to hearings, to be mocked, blamed, and threatened by Democratic Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, it's worth quoting Simon, who passed away in 2000, as his creed appears on his foundation's website:

"The free enterprise system has blessed the United States of America with the greatest prosperity, the highest standards of living, and, most important, the greatest individual freedom known to man. If we can preserve this system, and our freedom, we can look forward to turning over to our children, and our children's children, an America that is more productive, prosperous, and stronger economically, financially, morally, and spiritually, than the one we inherited."

How, from this, did we become a nation of blame, bailouts, and entitlement?

Wal-Mart has just released its quarterly report showing sales and earnings up 7.5 percent and 9.8 percent respectively. Wal-Mart, founded and built by one of America's great entrepreneurs, has been under endless attack from the political left. Now, in tough times, Americans are happy to have a source of low priced, high quality merchandise.

Average nationwide retail gasoline prices this week are $1.95 less a gallon compared to July -- a drop of almost 50 percent. In a Gallup poll done last year, most Americans attributed high gasoline prices to oil company greed. Are they going down now because oil companies are becoming generous?

No doubt, these are hard times.

Here's my prediction. The more Americans believe that our future depends on politicians, political fixes, and bailouts, the bleaker our future will be.

If we see America as a country defined by men like S. Truett Cathy, Bill Simon, and Sam Walton, we'll re-establish firm footing on American principles and re-build our country, our prosperity, and our leadership.

I live in a strange land....

where Pirate and Christian alike can live freely, unmolested (more or less)! So far.

More Pirate pics at "cayside"

Catholic Cartoon Blog

UPDATE: 'Conservative' Policy Results

...P-203, which was passed by well over 90% of the delegates, is a resolution to remove authority from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal to regulate, receive, investigate or adjudicate complaints related to Section 13 (hate messages) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Critics of this section of the Act have long said that the clause creates the precise equivalent of a "thought crime." Under this section of the Act, Christian ministers have been prosecuted simply for defending traditional Christian teaching on marriage.

Prominent Human Rights Commission critic Ezra Levant said he was “delighted” with the vote. The message is clear, said Levant: “the party's grass-tops activists … support freedom of speech and thought, and now see the Canadian Human Rights Commission for what it is: a violator of rights, not a protector of them.”

Resolution P-207 is similar to former Conservative MP Ken Epp’s Unborn Victims of Crime Bill in that it seeks additional charges for anyone who harms or kills an unborn baby while attacking a pregnant mother. While P-207 is not binding, it is now official Conservative Party policy to recognize the rights of pregnant women by bringing to justice those who harm an unborn baby against their mother's will.

According to Canada.com, a delegate from the riding in Saskatchewan that proposed the resolution said, "Families who have lost their daughters, wives, sisters ... know there are two victims. They want the law to recognize that."....

I guess we'll all be impressed when Harper actually DOES something. Right.

Meanwhile, in Toronto ....Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Predergast spoke at the Humanae Vitae Conference, commemorating 40 years since the prophetic encyclical 'On Human Life', which reaffirmed Church teaching against contraception in the wake of the advent of the birth control pill:

...."We need to go back and embrace or re-embrace the prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae given through the Theology of the Body," he said. "There is no doubt that we need to do more to promote the teaching of Humanae Vitae," he added. "Many in our time do not understand the evil of the contraceptive act."

The Archbishop urged the faithful "to read the encyclical, to study it and embrace it." He noted that the "prophetic" encyclical which "time has shown … to be a gift from Christ to men and women everywhere," is "just as important today as it was in 1968." Prendergast quoted Cardinal Edward Gagnon as saying that Humanae Vitae is "one of the most important documents in the history of the church." He also prayed "for the conversion of those who are still resisting" the teaching of the encyclical.

The archbishop of Canada’s national capital stressed the importance of a new document from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, released this year. That document, called "Liberating Potential," was released in September and contained nothing but praise for and faithful adherence to Humanae Vitae. LifeSiteNews.com coverage noted that the new CCCB document contained not a mention of the Winnipeg Statement or a hint of its dissenting slant on contraception (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/sep/08092909.html).

The archbishop urged faithful Catholics to "work for a better future by moving ahead and leaving the past in the Lord's hands." Concluding, he said, "I want to thank all of you who over the past 40 years have kept the truths of HV before us. I know that God will bless you for your efforts and your suffering and I ask that we all go forward now with the task of building the culture of life and love here in Canada."

The conference was sponsored by Campaign Life Coalition, Priests for Life Canada, the Natural Family Planning Association, the Catholic Doctors Guild and LifeSiteNews.com. Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition told LifeSiteNews.com that he was thrilled with the conference and that the sold-out crowd was very enthusiastic. "To see that there are bishops willing to speak out on this prophetic document bodes well for the future," said Hughes.

Certainly the Church has many encyclicals and documents to aid in the understanding of its teaching in this area. We also have Pope John Paul II's work on the 'Theology of the Body'. What lacks is access, by which I mean that most Catholics have never even heard of most of these things. Priests and Bishops need to promote better education in the faith amongst their people. RCIA and Marriage Prep. classes, not to mention our deplorable public Catholic schools (not all of them- just most), might be a place to start.

Audacity of Pope

Comments at Curt Jester, on Doug Kmiec's latest utterings:

(Clayton)I attended the talk as well, but haven't blogged about it yet. The presentation was intellectually disappointing and morally disturbing.

I don't doubt (Kmiec's) sincerity, but I do believe he has deceived himself, and it's sobering to think of the way he may have caused others to stumble.

He spent the first ten minutes praising the Vincentian Fathers (who hosted the event) by telling friendly stories about their community, the priest after whom the lecture series was named, etc.

The he talked about how he first met Barack, and how he had challenged him on several occasions about the life issues, but from there it devolved into a personal testimony about Barack's greatness. He had three stories, each of which I found not only unimpressive, but actually unsettling. One story had to do with Barack's response to some evangelical asking him if he thought Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life. Barack shook his head and said no. When asked for clarification, Barack said, "I would say that Jesus is MY way, but not THE way" and went on to say that he couldn't fathom that his mother, a virtuous non-believer, would not be going to heaven. Kmiec was quite taken by this response to the "fundamentalist."

Kmiec is, quite literally, an apostle for Barack. And he gave the impression that those who disagree with Barack just don't understand him, while he, as an eyewitness, can testify on his behalf....

....In response to a question, he did say that if Pope Benedict were to clarify his note about "proportionate reasons," and told him that he (Kmiec) had interpreted it wrongly, he would recant his position. But why should he require such a thing? I wish he demanded as much of Barack as he seems to demand of Benedict.

We all wish that Clayton. We all do!

Thomas Peters Rips Planned Parenthood Richards

American Papist:

Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood. Now that Obama is president-elect, her organization is set to profit handsomely from windfall pro-abortion initiatives. "We have been communicating with [Obama's] transition staff almost daily", Richards boasts. "We expect to see a real change."...

... "At Planned Parenthood, we work to prevent unintended and teen pregnancy. We provide more than 2.4 million women each year with family planning services -- but nearly another 15 million go unserved due to lack of affordable access."

Come again? That's just rich. Richards is trying to somehow imply that Planned Parenthood is prevented from carrying out its mission of mercy because - wouldn't ya know it? - they just don't have enough money....

In fact, see: "Planned Parenthood's Obscene Profits":

"In April, the annual report for Planned Parenthood Federation of America revealed that the abortion giant had a total income of $1.02 billion -- with reported profits of nearly $115 million. Taxpayers kick in more than $336 million worth of government grants and contracts at both the state and federal levels. That's a third of Planned Parenthood's budget."

Forgive me if I hold back the tears. Evidently in this underdeveloped economic corner of the healthcare market, despite desiring so sincerely to serve more marginalized individuals, Planned Parenthood has still managed to make huge profits, with taxpayers eventually footing a third of the bill.
The hubris and deceptiveness required to pen an editorial like this really takes my breath away. But as you can see, demolishing Richards' arguments takes only about as much effort as blowing down a house of cards.

(Don't forget to support Thomas in the 2008 Student Blogging Awards !)

Bishop Of Lancaster Speaks Out

Telegraph UK:
The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church's teaching they are "hedonistic", "selfish" and "egocentric", he said.

In particular, the bishop complained that influential Catholics in politics and the media were undermining the Church.

While not naming names, he suggested that such people had been compromised by their education, which he said had a "dark side, due to original sin".

Prominent Catholics in public life include Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister.

Bishop O'Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to "sickness in the Church and wider society".

"What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history - resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives," he said.

"However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.

"Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.

"It shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior."

The bishop said that Catholic graduates had rejected the reforms made in the second council of the Vatican, which introduced fundamental changes in issues such as liturgy and doctrine.

"The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics who have had a university education -- that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age," he said. "These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church."

Mr Thompson, who went to Oxford University, has this month been embroiled in a row over broadcasting standards in the wake of the scandal over offensive telephone messages left by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. Under his command the BBC broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera, considered blasphemous by many Christians, and was forced to pull a cartoon called Popetown set in a fictional Vatican over concerns it would cause offence.

Mr Blair, also Oxford-educated, became a Catholic last year but has received Mass for years. As Prime Minister he oversaw the introduction of laws on gay rights and abortion which the Catholic church opposed.

The bishop said that influential Catholics had set a bad example and corrupted the faith of those who had not gone to university.

"This failure of leadership has exacerbated the even-greater problem of the mass departure from the Church of the working-class and poor," he said. "For example, the relentless diatribe in the popular media against Christianity has undermined the confidence of the ordinary faithful in the Church."

Although the influx of immigrants from Catholic countries in Eastern Europe has buoyed Mass attendance in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of indigenous, working-class Catholics.

Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, representing a drop of 40 per cent since 1963, but it fell further to 960,000 in 2004. The number of priests in England and Wales has slumped by nearly a quarter in 20 years, from 4,545 in 1985 to 3,643 in 2005.

Bishop O'Donoghue has produced a report, Fit for Mission? Church, examining the current problems facing the Church and designed "to enable Catholic men, women and children to resist the pressures to compromise, even abandon, the truths of the Catholic faith".

He says that he supports Catholics receiving a university education, but urges they should be "better-equipped to challenge the erroneous thinking of their contemporaries".

Nicholas Lash, the former Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, called the bishop's comments "extremely grave".

Writing in this week's Tablet - a respected Catholic journal - Prof Lash says: "If he had named a particular university or universities, or particular individuals, he might well have had a series of libel actions on his hands.

"Quite what constructive purpose could possibly be served by such irresponsible and wholesale scapegoating of the educated, I have simply no idea."

Well, I think they went a bit far calling the "Tablet" a respected 'Catholic' journal. Its not particularly respected or Catholic, only somewhat respected by nominal Catholics.

Nominal Catholics . That's the problem. And the problem does come from their mis-education and obtuse refusal to accept Truth and Authority. I don't think it can be all laid at the feet of higher education. Surely the Catholic schools,seminaries, priests and Bishops played a role ? I think this could maybe be categorized as 'reaping what you sow'... (The Bishop of Lancaster is a fresh breeze of Orthodoxy !)

In an interview as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Pope answered the declining numbers of faithful (FAITHFUL) by accepting that the Church may have some suffering ahead, and speculating that the remnant would be FAITHFUL. He wasn't worried about smaller numbers- he had hopes that the youth would be FAITHFUL, joyful Catholics. (He also defined FAITHFUL.)

I think something that the American elections has accomplished for the Catholic Church, is that it has affected a sort of separating of the 'wheat' from the 'chaff'. Here's praying that I end up in the right pile!


The Straight Goods On Fr. Newman

Joseph Bottum has the facts at first things.

I Have Irish Blood Too...

An Irish joke for a Sunday...
George Bush is flying around the world making visits to other countries. He goes to the Vatican and notices a gold phone on the Pope's desk. He asks about the phone and the Pope tells him it's a direct line to God.

Bush asks if he can call. So he gets on the phone, talks to God for about 5 minutes and hangs up.

As Bush is leaving to get on the plane he gets a bill for $543 for his phone call to God. He pays the bill and then takes his plane on over to Ireland.

While in Ireland he finds himself stopping into a small rural parish. There on the priests desk is a gold phone. Bush asks if this phone goes straight to God. The priest says it does and allows Bush to make a call.

Bush is on the phone for about 5 minutes and hangs up. As he is getting ready to leave the priest hands him a bill for $1.79. Astonished, Bush asks why he had to pay $543 for a call to God from the Vatican and only $1.79 from this little parish in Ireland.

The reply..."It's a local call here of course."

(shamelessly lifted from Catholic Mom of 10)