Saturday, December 02, 2006

Servers' Winter Trip

The servers' winter trip took place today. This year we made a visit Farnborough Abbey. 27 servers, together with helpers, made the hour long journey south whilst watching the animated film 'Joseph: King of Dreams'. Upon arrival we were greeted by Br Thomas the guest master who brought us into the Abbey church. We then celebrated a votive mass of Our Blessed Lady. The Abbot of Farnborough, Don Cuthbert Brogan, gave us short talk on the monastic life and a tour of the monastery. We visited the crypt where the Emperor Napoleon III is buried. After praying the the divine office with the community we had a short lunch in the south lodge just by the monastery farm.

Before setting back we had time to stop for ten-pin bowling at Bracknell. Much fun was had by all. On the way home we prayed the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The day we a great success with a good balance of activities. We now look forward to the summer trip...

The Miraculous Medal

During the week over 200 'miraculous medals' were distributed to the pupils of the Holy Ghost School. These were donated by the Legion of Mary. The design of the medal of the Immaculate Conception (the official name) was given by Our Lady to St Catherine Laboure in 1830 during an apparition in Paris. It is the most widespread devotional medal in the Catholic Church today.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sexual Orientation Regulations

You will have seen a lot of concern from Christians about the Sexual Orientation Regulations currently being forced through by the Government without debate. You can read the regulations for yourself by clicking this link.

Christians believe in tolerance and freedom. So why are they opposing these regulations? Recently the parish newsletter has carried an advert from some parishioners advertising a room to rent in their home that would suit a 'practising Catholic'. Under these new regulations they wouldn't be able to place that advert unless they were willing to accept into their home someone who applied who was a practising homosexual (see paragraph 6 of the Regulations).
We don't let out Visitation House but if I were to and the Society of Militant Transexuals (I don't think there is one!) wanted to use it, I wouldn't be able to reject them on the grounds that they're ethos isn't in accord with the Church's understanding of human sexuality.
In our Catholic schools we seek to present the ideal of marriage as a faithful, monagomous union between a man and a woman. Under the proposed regulations, as we have seen recently with Christian Unions in some universities, this could be challenged as discriminatory. For further information about how the regulations would affect what is taught in schools it is worth clicking here to download an explanatory document from the Christian Institute - you will be surprised!

At present not all discrimination is illegal. Nor should it be if we are all to live in freedom.

Universities Ban Christian Unions

In our parish we have a group who carry out a very specific mission: their task is to see how we can be more effective in our influence in the local area and in society in general. The group was formed in the wake of the emergency appeal from the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to defend our schools against an attempt to force them to take non-Catholic children. The Group invites us to be aware of what is happening in society today. Recently they drew my attention to the fact that four universities have now banned Christian Unions. Here's an article on the issue from Independent Catholic News:

LONDON - 20 November 2006
Christian Unions seek legal advice after campus ban
Dan Bergin

Christian Unions in four British universities are seeking legal advice after they were banned or restricted for not meeting with equal opportunity legislation.

Exeter University's Guild of Students said the Christian Union (CU) is not open to all, because members must sign a form saying they follow Christ. The university has temporarily suspended them from the official list of student societies on campus. The Union has also had its bank account frozen and has been banned from free use of students' guild premises or advertising within guild facilities. Exeter University's student guild claims the CU constitution and activities do not conform to its equal opportunities policies.

The 150-strong Christian Union in Birmingham was also suspended this year after refusing to alter its constitution to allow non-Christians to address meetings, and refusing to amend its literature to include references to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and those of transgender sexuality.

Christian Unions at Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Birmingham universities say they have been accused of excluding non-Christians, promoting homophobia and discriminating against those of transgender sexuality. Edinburgh University has banned an event run by the Christian Union called PURE which promotes a traditional biblical view of personal and sexual relationships. The university defended the ban, saying that PURE was in breach of its equality and diversity policy because PURE claims that any sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage is not God-ordained.

Last year Edinburgh university banned copies of the Bible in its halls of residence after protests from the Students' Union. Exeter Christian Union said on Thursday that it would take legal action after 14 days if it was not fully re-instated as a student society by the guild with full rights and was allowed to call itself the Christian Union. Emma Brewster, CU representative at Exeter University told the BBC: "This is a fundamental issue of freedom of speech and of common sense. Legal action is the last thing we want to take, and we certainly don't relish it, but we are fully prepared to stand our ground for truth and freedom."
© Independent Catholic News 2006

Advent Pastoral Letter

Archbishop Kevin McDonald has published a Pastoral Letter to be read at all Masses on the first Sunday in Advent. In it he announces a period of reflection and consultation throughout the diocese during Lent next year. The Archbishop recognises that "fears for the future persist and they centre particularly on the fact that over the next few years we will have fewer priests than we have been used to having in the past". He encourages us both to pray for vocations to the priesthood, "strongly" recommending "the practice of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for an increase in vocations", and to discern plans and strategies for living with fewer priests. He wants us to focus particularly on three particular issues: alongside facing the future he asks us to reflect on how we might grow in communion and reach out in mission.
The Archbishop's Pastoral Letter will appear in a few days on the diocesan website. You can access it by clicking this link.