Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pro-adoption bus signs go up

The latest campaign from Signs for Life was launched the other day. The Terry sign, as it is called, is now up in all 255 buses throughout Halifax/Dartmouth.

Terry's story is a remarkable one, and she is proud to tell anyone who wishes to hear it.

My name is Terry and when I was 21 years old, I got pregnant. I grew up in a large Catholic family so I don't have to tell you this was not an ideal situation!
But I do want to tell you this -  I have been where you are ......


We don't hear enough stories of the positive side of giving up a baby for adoption. We hear from many couples who have adopted a child and their lives are enriched by that. But we don't often hear from the brave women who gave up their babies, an act of incredible self-sacrifice.

If there are any more Terrys out there, please come forward and share your stories with us.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A brave woman - Mariam Ibraheem


"It is my right to be able to practise the religion I choose."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Confused about Pope Francis

I am waiting to see who is going to write about this first.

I sincerely hope that Father Longenecker writes about it, and Father Zuhlsdorf. I am not even sure that Michael Voris will tackle this, as despite his readiness to criticize much that is going on in the Catholic Church,Voris seems reticent to actually criticize the Holy Father himself.

But I just find it incredibly confusing.

As I find much of the Holy Father's actions confusing.

I have hesitated to write about Pope Francis before, and this is not a criticism per se. But it is really reaching a point where I can't just remain silent any more.

I have endeavoured to restrain making judgements on our Pope. In fact, a friend of mine said if I said one thing about him that was negative, she would never speak to me again!  Probably an idle threat, but I took it seriously at the time.

However, two things stand out in my mind that seem to be real problems with Pope Francis. First, he has a South American view of the world and economics and politics. That may bring to the forefront the ideas of social justice, which are certainly important. But name one South American country that is a success.  Precisely. Not a single country south of the equator has managed to have an economy or a political situation that is worth emulating. Therefore I conclude that Pope Francis' world view is somewhat coloured by his own experience, and I don't trust that experience. Enough said about that.

Second, Pope Francis breaks with tradition a lot, he speaks off the cuff with journalists (which leads to lots of misinterpretation by the media), he does things his own way and is somewhat unpredictable.
None of those things are bad in themselves; however the conclusion that I have come to is that he is a spontaneous individual, perhaps even impetuous.

Of course, marrying 20 couples at St. Peter's yesterday, was not impetuous but required lots of planning. But the idea was his and he probably got the event orchestrated while many of the clergy around him were probably more than a little concerned about the impact of such a ceremony.

Does Pope Francis consider the consequences of his actions? Does he really think that the interpretations and misinterpretations that follow such actions are not that important?  Does he not realise that many of us will be left trying to explain such actions to our non-Catholic friends, even to our Catholic friends.

Being an impetuous person myself, I have come to realise that sometimes actions should be carefully weighed before undertaking them.  I only wish that Pope Francis would listen to some good advice, whereas he seems to be following his own inclinations most of the time.

I won't say more, I will wait to read what people whom I trust have to say about this.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pro-Life Groups on Campus

A pro-life group at the University of Victoria BC was met with vandalism when they set up their table at the university's Clubs Day event. Those pro-choicers who objected to the presence of the pro-life group, stole their materials including expensive fetal models and dumped cat feces on the display.

It goes without saying that this is incredibly juvenile behaviour. Those who disagree with something should have the courage to engage in a conversation. The fact that these people resorted to using "cat poop" to make their statement shows that they really don't have a statement. They just have to shut down the pro-life voices.

This is because if they let those voices be heard, they may just have to face the terrible reality of what they or their friends have done, i.e. killed their own babies. This is the real reason for such action: they can't face the horrific truth of what they have done or condoned. The only way they can handle this reality is to block it out: out of sight, out of mind.

Here, in Halifax, the local crisis pregnancy centre has managed to have a table at both St. Mary's University and at Mount St. Vincent University on their open clubs days. And Heather, the director of The Open Door Centre, has either spoken to or given literature to over 450 students. However, Dalhousie University rescinded the Centre's permission to set up a table at that university today.

My guess would be pressure from South House, the new centre for women and for LGBT issues. The director there is quite hostile to anything pro-life and I can see her and her co-horts pressuring the student union to block The Open Door Centre from having a presence on campus.

Again, what are they afraid of? The Centre does not do any in-your-face pro-life advocacy. It simply speaks to individual students about their options should they find themselves facing a surprise pregnancy. Don't pro-choicers see the irony of not allowing that choice to the women they claim to be working for? 

The very acknowledgement that someone might consider carrying her baby to term is threatening to pro-choice advocates. It means recognizing that there is a life there, that abortion really does end that life. This is why even such a gentle presence as The Open Door Centre can't be allowed on the Dal campus.

It is simply too terrifying to have to face the fact that someone might have done something too awful to think about. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Does Conscience Trump Moral Authority?

For so many Catholics, the question of why don't bishops speak up on certain issues and why don't they correct those Catholics in public office when they stray from Catholic teaching, is a constant irritant. Some of us are left puzzled by our bishops' actions, such as the recent action of Cardinal Dolan with regards to the St. Patrick's Day parade (

In other cases, we wonder why our shepherds don't refuse Communion to pro-abortion politicians when this is specifically called for in canon law. The list goes on and the conclusion is that our pastors and bishops are weak and afraid to say things that are politically incorrect.

But an interesting analysis of this problem is offered by Father Mark Pilon in yesterday's The Catholic Thing. He tackles the question of following one's conscience as opposed to following church teaching and it certainly explains a lot about the ambivalence one finds in the bishops towards speaking out publicly when faced with a moral problem.

I suppose the bishops could be suffering from political correctness. Or they have a misunderstanding of the relationship between church and state. But it is likely that most bishops have effectively adopted a subjective notion of conscience, that conscience in the end trumps the moral authority of the Church. This is what seems to be behind their failure to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion. They assume that they can never judge the responsibility of these politicians for their actions. Canon Law doesn’t require any such final moral judgment to deny Holy Communion, but only when there’s been a judgment that certain Catholics are guilty of an objectively scandalous and public action contrary to the moral law in a serious matter.
But I think the problem goes even deeper than this obvious misreading of Canon Law. Many bishops, following the lead of numerous theologians rather than the bishops leading them, think that a person can have a morally good and upright conscience even when it is objectively in error – and where they are well aware that the Church’s teaching authority has consistently judged a particular moral action to be gravely evil. In other words, one’s subjective formation and judgment of conscience will always trump moral authority in determining moral responsibility when there is a conflict between the two.

This approach to moral conscience has been the theoretical basis for the “pastoral solution” to the massive rejection of the Church’s teaching on contraception for the past fifty years. Ultimately, of course, such a position will totally subjectivize the moral law, as Protestant Churches have learned. And that’s why we are where we are today when it comes to the responsibilities of the Joe Bidens and Nancy Pelosis. They seem to be continuing blindly on their path to Hell, while bishops continue to keep their silence and refuse publicly to admonish their flock. Can this really be pastoral charity?

Perhaps we need to remember the advice of the catechism about developing an informed conscience. This means a conscience that is informed according to the teachings of the Church, not a conscience that is a reflection of one's own moral leaning.

Fr. Mark A. Pilon, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Santa Croce University in Rome. He is a former Chair of Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary Seminary, a former contributing editor of Triumph magazine, and a retired and visiting professor at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. He writes regularly at 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Reach of Materialism

One of the issues that is always simmering in my head is the reticence of young couples to have children, particularly to have more than just the average two children per family.

In talking about this with my son-in-law, he told me of a young woman who has "given in" to her boyfriend's wish to buy a house before they get engaged. A year ago, it was their goal to get engaged and married by this year. But the plans have been shelved and she has agreed to move in with her boyfriend in a new house, get engaged, and then save up enough money for the wedding they wish to have.

Of course, this means a huge compromise for this young woman. She never intended to "live with" her boyfriend; she wanted to realise her dreams of engagement, marriage, and living together in that order.

So what changed?  Did the boyfriend put pressure on her to move in together?  Did she fear that she might lose him if she didn't?  Is fear the real problem here?

As usual, when I talk with my husband about such things, he always presents a different take on it. I said that living together necessitates contraception and that is the problem. Giving in to the sexual lifestyle of everyone else is what is driving this couple. But my husband shook his head. "No", he said, "It is materialism. They want stuff and it is easier to get that stuff when you aren't married and there is no chance of a child messing that up".

Two generations ago, young couples courted and married, without the thought that they must buy a house first. Some will say, it was easier to buy a house back then and a house was within the range of the average couple. But it is still within the range of the average couple. The problem is that the house they dream of has changed.

No longer is a three-bedroom bungalow the house that they move into. If they do buy such a house, it is called a "starter home". Yet, when I grew up, most families on my street lived for years in the same three-bedroom bungalow regardless of how many kids came upon the scene.

Most of us have much more than our parents ever had. And still it is not enough. The drive to have more and more stuff does push couples into a lifestyle where a double income is considered absolutely necessary. Rare is the couple who believes that they can make do on one modest salary.

But isn't that what previous generations did? For example, across the street from our house, is a small three-bedroom house. The first two bedrooms are small by modern standards, possibly 10 by 12 feet. The third bedroom can only hold a pull-out couch and a television set. Yet, the lady who lived in that house until recently, was the mother of two children. As well as a family of two adults and two children, they also had her mother and father living with them, as well as her sister who was single. Her mother and father died in that house, as did her sister. When I met Mary Clare, she was living alone in that same house at the age of 89. She was buried from that house that held three generations. She told me stories of how her children would peek out from their bedroom on Saturday night to listen to the adults singing around the piano downstairs. It sounded pretty happy.

When she died, her son sold the house to a young couple who have since raised the house to build a full size basement. They live there with their dog. There will be no children.

So what is really driving the move towards smaller and smaller families, or families that consist of just a couple with no kids? I sense that my husband is right: it is materialism, plain and simple. We just want more and more for ourselves, before we can consider sharing it with anyone else. The trouble is that, the more we get, the less inclined we are to share it with anyone. Least of all children who place such constrictions upon our ability to get more stuff.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's in a sign?

A whole lot of theological confusion, that's what is in this sign. 

Spending a few days in Parry Sound, Ontario I passed a church with a sign that says "God loves diversity".

I know what they are referring to, the same thing that is meant by the rainbow on the United Church sign in my hometown: gays are welcome within.

Part of me wants to become a night-time graffiti artist writer. And spray paint under those words, these

                                                "God has no part with sin."

Because that is where the confusion is. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

The problem is that we are hesitant to call anything sin these days. I bet Jesus wouldn't have a problem with that.