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Looking back in anger, looking forward in hope

There is a special poignancy in our Irish Christmas this year. In some way it links aptly with this no less poignant famous picture of Joseph helping Mary and her unborn child along the road to Bethlehem, just over two thousand years ago.

It is Mary and Joseph on the Way to Bethlehem, from the Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes, now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

In it, The Guardian newspaper (believe it or not), tells us that we see Mary and Joseph who are on their way to Bethlehem through a rocky landscape. She has climbed down from the donkey, perhaps afraid of riding down such a perilous, ankle-breaking slope. Joseph, grizzled and weary, is helping her along with all his loving kindness, his actions (rather than her physical appearance) suggesting just how pregnant she is. He is doing everything he can, as husband and prospective new father, to protect his little family from hardship and danger.

In Ireland the unborn have now lost the protection of the State. The fatal decision was made by a majority of the Irish people last May. That they did so, many still find very hard to come to terms with. Legislatures, at one remove from the will of the people, pass laws like this – but that a people should directly ask it legislature to do so is in some way harder to comprehend. But comprehend it we must.

The antiphon to the second Psalm, a substantial portion of which constitutes part of the lyrics of Handel’s Messiah, proclaims:

“His kingdom is a kingdom of all ages, and all kings shall serve and obey him. “

These lines challenge us, challenge our faith in the word of God. When I look around me at our crazy world and my apostate nation, I have the temerity to question these words as so much self-delusion. I’m inclined to say, “Really? Serve and obey? Will they really? You must be joking.”

Credibly enough, the psalmist asks rhetorically, “Quare fremuérunt gentes, et pópuli meditáti sunt inánia?” Why this tumult among nations, among peoples this useless murmuring? Indeed the more direct translation, “thinking up inanities” might be better.

Tumult certainly; useless also; even self-negating – all that self-grandising posturing which we call identity politics, signifying nothing; hang-ups over ‘diversity’ to the point where the world is becoming a new Tower of Babel.

And the political classes, left, right and center? They also fit into this picture, personified by the royalty of a former age:

“They arise, the kings of the earth, princes plot against the Lord and his Anointed. They shout, ‘Come, let us break their fetters, come let us cast off their yoke.’”

There is certainly a great deal of that around. How else are we to interpret the abuse piled on those who dare to defend the rights of medical professionals whose consciences are being trampled on by their own elected representatives? For our “rulers” conscience is now a fetter, a yoke to be cast off.

“Carol Nolan TD (a member of the Irish Parliament) has received a lot vitriol abuse from fellow TD’S for opposing the abortion bill,” we were reminded courtesy of Facebook a few weeks ago.

But then comes an even harder bit for the beleaguered remnants of Israel to take on board.

“He who sits in the heavens”, we are told, “ laughs; the Lord is laughing them to scorn. Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage. It is I who have set up my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

But where is he, we ask, as the division bell rings in the Irish parliament and “the kings of the earth”, the “princes”, troop to the lobby to pass death sentence on thousands of unborn children? The estimate is that close to 10000 Irish babies will perish next year under the legislation now passing through the two Houses of Parliament – with only a few brave voices offering resistance.

We look around and see a crumbling civilization. I walk through the campus of a famous university; I pick up a student newspaper – free because it is printed with money from taxpayers, in the name of education. What do I find in it? Very little that is not advocating licentious hedonism. Irony of ironies, this university was dedicated to the Most Blessed Trinity over four hundred years ago. If I were an advocate of “safe spaces” for young people I would certainly not be recommending this university campus, my alma mater, as one of them.

But then, in the midst of all these temptations to doubt the sacred texts, we remember the crumbling of Christ’s cohort of followers. Just four are left at the foot of the Cross, while faithful Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus face up to the powers-that-be and prepare to take him down from the gibbet to lay him in the tomb prepared by one of them. That makes six out of all those who, less than a week before, the were hailing him as the Son of David.

Then we hear the psalmist say with utmost confidence:

“I will announce the decree of the Lord: the Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son. It is I who have begotten you this day. Ask and I shall bequeath you the nations, put the ends of the earth in your possession.’”

And the reckoning?

“‘With a rod of iron you shall break them, shatter them like a potter’s jar.’ Now, O kings, understand; take warning, rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with awe and trembling, pay him with your homage.

Lest he be angry and you perish; for suddenly his anger will blaze.”

Can all that really be balderdash? No. These words have been sung and believed in for more, much more probably, than three thousand years. They have also been scoffed at by kings, princes and peoples who delude themselves with “useless murmuring”. These words have been at the heart of the Christian transformation of the world foretold in the Old Testament and announced in the New. Strip away all that has come to us from these words and we will be left with a nasty and brutal world dominated by superstition and fatalistic myth, ruled by fools who think they can mold human nature into whatever shape they dream up or desire.

The final line of the psalm proclaims, “Blessed are they who put their trust in the Lord.” So, with those words, all doubt melts away – if trust in the Lord is the condition for Blessedness what more is there to say. If we were to value anything in the world over this then we make ourselves nothing more than useless murmurers and lackeys of the “kings of the earth”.

That trust, that Blessedness, will still be as real three thousand years from now, as real as it is today, as real as it was in the souls of Mary and Joseph as they struggled towards Bethlehem with the unborn child who is the saviour of mankind; and as real as it was three thousand years ago – in spite of the world’s Herods, dictators, pseudo-democrats and all the other varieties of rulers it offers us.

Is this what the denial of unconditional love for both really means?

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REJECTED IN THE NEW RACISM

Ireland is a country divided in a divided world. The Republic of Ireland is not a fraction as divided from those six counties of Ulster in the United Kingdom, as it is by the division  between the adherents of post-sixties modernity, and the adherents of a Christian culture which has been the hallmark of Western civilization for 2000 years. A cold, cold civil war continues unabated in Ireland. It is not a pleasant thought, but this conflict is nothing more or less than a race war, symbolized by the chilling rejection by two thirds of its voting electorate of the LoveBoth logo of the defenders of the right to life of human beings in their mothers’ wombs.

Any among the LoveBoth campaigners who happened to be able to endure the triumphalism of the victors in that historic referendum, will have wondered where their citizenship went last Saturday morning when they heard a (fairly) famous Irish journalist proclaim that at last Ireland was now “one nation”.

Yesterday, after a walk along St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, I posted what amounted to a kind of cry for help on social media, the only way I could find at the time of dealing with a troubling existential experience.

I admitted that I was unable to look at the faces of those who passed me. The thought that two in every three were prepared to allow the killing of children in the womb was too potent a spark for enmity for me to deal with. I just had to look away. God help us! I said.

It struck a chord with a good number of people. One in particular, from the other side of the divide, seemed to want to help me bridge the chasm I was facing.

“Can I ask a genuine question?” She said. “How do you feel Irish society can move forward together following the referendum as there are such strong feelings on both sides?”

For my part, I could only reply to this effect, “I just don’t know. I am doing my best to resist hostility – of which we are receiving so much it makes it very difficult. The objective moral reality of this is shattering.”

She responded, disclosing formally that she was “pro-choice” – which I knew already –  saying that what concerned her was the ongoing split and that there didn’t seem to be any answers. “I…would like to think there is some way forward for all that is less divisive than (what) is happening now. Hopefully for all our sakes a more harmonious future awaits!” I felt unable to offer that hope. Why?

One of the biggest obstacles Ireland – and indeed the rest of the Western world faces when it comes to this particular battle in our ongoing culture war – is that there is no basis for dialogue so long as one side refuses to engage with the other on the central issue of identity at its heart. Throughout the campaign in Ireland the pro-abortion side studiously avoided using the word “baby”, the word “child”, even the word “mother”. What we got instead, constantly and repeatedly at every turn, were the words “health”, “compassion”,  “choice” and “my body”.

At the evil heart of racism resides the irrational conviction that one category of human being is less than – or not at all a member of – our own species. History is replete with many sad examples of the consequences of racism: in another era, the English treatment of the Celtic peoples in general, and the Irish in particular, over many centuries; the enslavement of Africans over centuries of colonialism, working its way through the bloody American Civil War and only ending in that hemisphere – legally at least – with the civil rights legislation of relatively recent times, and with the end of apartheid in ours.

Wherever racism was rampant, for the length of time it took to overcome it, the members of the dominant strain of our species who fought against this evil force and identified with the oppressed, were abused and sometimes persecuted and murdered for their acceptance of the common humanity which they dared to proclaim. For as long as racism persists,  racists refuse to debate the central premise of those who oppose them – the undeniable human identity of those it wishes to ignore, oppress, or, as in the case of Nazi Germany, eliminate altogether.

In the Irish referendum just concluded we have just had the latest example of this phenomenon. The defenders of the unborn humans in the wombs of their mothers again and again, scientifically, instinctively, morally, presented the case for the human identity of the gestating child. Again and again their arguments were sidestepped and ignored. There was no debate. For one side the child in the womb was simply not human, not of our race, so therefore the constitutional right to life enjoyed by those already born could not and should not be extended to these essentially alien things, mere invading “clumps of cells”. Now Ireland’s lawmakers are getting ready, on the basis of a mandate from two-thirds of the electorate, to pass a law to facilitate the killing of any among these non-beings whom other human beings decide should not live. All those who resist them will be deemed not part of the Irish nation and sidelined – at best.

Am I wrong in equating this reality with racism? I may be. But until someone is prepared to come and talk to me about it, and show me the error of my ways, I cannot move from where I stand – for to me it seems exactly where we are.

The legend of Parsifal tells the story of a wound inflicted on mankind – in the person of King Amfortas. The wound festers and resists all attempts to heal it until the one true and pure knight, Parsifal, is found. He, the embodiment of truth, innocence and simplicity heals Amfortas and humanity.

Ireland, and indeed the secularist West as a whole, is inflicted with a deep and festering wound at whose heart lies the central issue in the debate over abortion, recognition of the human identity of the unborn. Until such time as a knight like Parsifal comes to our aid and gets us to face our willful cowardice in the face of this truth, then our crippling divisions will persist with all the pain that goes with them.

COMMENTS

This article also appeared on the website, MercatorNet.com, where it attracted the following comments:

There is and will be a way to bridge the split. It is the one being realized in every pro-abortion country. It is called pragmatism. Being pro-abortion does not and cannot work. Ireland once was abundant in energetic intelligent people. They were Ireland’s only natural resource but with that resource they outpaced many countries like the Ukraine that has all the resources but insufficient people. Because you cannot run a free market economy with a declining population, I assure you that Ireland’s economy will decline exponentially as its population declines. Moreover because an abortion is only and always detrimental to the health of a woman, Ireland’s health care budget will spiral up which will put increasing pressure on health care providers to give their elders an early, dignified of course, death. All this and more will be realized all too late to reverse the trend. Don’t believe me? Ask any citizen of a Nordic country.

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  • NOTE: The picture appears to be from a previous referendum held in 2002 which tried to tighten the laws around abortion.

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    “Am I wrong in equating this reality with racism?”

    No, good point – and, similarly, in equating it to slavery too where one individual exists for or at the convenience of the other.

Ireland goes the way of the world – for now

Demonstrators take part in a 'Pro-Life' rally, ahead of a May 25 referendum on abortion law, in the centre of Dublin
LOVING BOTH IS REJECTED

The words of James Joyce, which were once an offence to the people of his country, now, over one hundred years later, have become stunningly real for the estimated one third of Irish people who vainly tried to halt the tide of a modernity hostile to the unborn in the referendum which took place there on Friday.

In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus, talking about his country with his friend: “Do you know what Ireland is? asked Stephen with cold violence. Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.” Too strong? No, says pro-life Ireland. What other interpretation is there when the majority in a country knowingly, willfully, declares that the deliberate killing of the unborn in the womb is permissible for no other reason than that it interferes with an individual’s comfort, convenience or life-style?

The Irish Government, willingly bowing to pressure, national and international, proposed to the electorate that the right to life of the unborn, guaranteed in its Constitution since 1983, be removed. This was to allow the legislature of the State to enact laws to facilitate unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks gestation and up to 24 weeks on grounds which, in practice, will be abortion on demand. Needless to say, the proposals as presented were less stark than that, but given the pattern of what has happened in every other country with a liberal abortion law, the reality will inevitably be termination on demand. All the dissembling in the world will not change that.

Among the slogans of the pro-abortion campaigners were “Trust women”, “Trust doctors” and “Trust politicians” – that last somewhat bizarre given the economic debacle Irish politicians visited on their country just ten years ago. With regard to the two former, campaigners for the right to life of unborn children were a little baffled by both women and doctors asking for trust with those very lives which they were claiming the right to choose to terminate. They complained that logic or reason played very little part in the pro-choice armory and that all the emphasis was on emotional exploitation of the hard cases – rape, incest, limited life prospects of the baby in the womb and more. The human right to life, the human nature of the child in the womb, even its very existence, the avoidance of the very word abortion, they complained, characterized the pro-choice campaign throughout.

But the truth is, the Government which put this proposal to the people cannot be blamed anymore. This result has now clearly shown that it is the express will of the majority of the people of Ireland – about 90% of its young electorate – that the child in the womb not be constitutionally guaranteed a right to life. Choice is the supreme moral norm. The good or evil of what is chosen is, apparently, a matter of indifference. What has shocked the dissenting third of the Irish people is that so many have failed to see that the killing of the unborn is an evil thing.

Once again, for a world which has habitually looked on Ireland as a bastion of family values and marriage, all this comes as a surprise. The first sign of this upheaval came just three years ago. Then, when a similar majority voted in a referendum to change the very meaning of marriage to allow gay people to marry, there was one question, “How did this happen so quickly?”

Many explained away that rejection of one of the social foundations binding a community They read it firstly as a sympathy vote for a minority. Secondly, it was thought of as the result of a failure to grasp the social consequences which pro-marriage campaigners warned of. Again, reason and logic were trumped by emotion and a deceitful misuse of the concept of human equality.

It was not seen by the majority as an out and out rejection by the people of the teaching of the mainstream Christian churches. This, however, is different. This can hardly be seen as anything other than an upfront rejection by the majority of the Irish of the Christian teaching on the sacredness of human life, from the womb to the tomb – and beyond. There is no ambiguity here. There is little basis for a benign response, “they know not what they do.” It has all been done with astounding willfulness.

In this instance the Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic leaders were almost all unanimous in the guidance they gave to their followers on the matter of the sacredness of life. On 16 May the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin, explained in a statement:

“The Church must always be pro-life.  That means that the Christian community must be a beacon of support for life especially at its most vulnerable moments and a beacon of support at vulnerable moments of any woman or man along their path of life.

“Christians must be pro-life when it comes to the unborn and those who are vulnerable at the end of their lives.”

The significance of all this in Irish history is twofold. She has now abandoned the principle held for at least 1500 years that all human life is sacred. She has joined the community of secularist nations where relativism rules the roost and life is allowed to flourish only on the basis of the choice of someone other than the living subject in the womb. This is where Ireland now stands – and if anything good might be said by pro life people about this, it is only that it is good to know where one stands.

The second and more general significance which this revolution has is what it says about Catholicism and the Christian Faith in Ireland. What is now clear is that the Irish people’s traditional culture, derived from Christian culture, is now rudderless. Its values with regard to life, the family – and its grasp of the Catholic Faith which has held firm for centuries in the face of “fire, dungeon and sword” – have now “all changed, changed utterly”. For many – well for approximately 32% – something other than “a terrible beauty” has dawned on them. They now face the challenge of starting again. But one third of a population is not the weakest of bases from which to start. This will be the challenge for all the Christian churches to take up, as it picks up the pieces.

There was evidence throughout this campaign of anti-Catholic sentiment – despite the efforts of the pro-life organizations to present their arguments on predominantly rational grounds, grounds of scientific evidence of the human nature of the child and grounds of natural rights and justice. A Catholic priest, an American working in Dublin, made this interesting response on social media to a correspondent who said that the vote was nothing more or less than a vote against the Catholic Church.

“Yes, the vote was a vote against the Church. To my mind, a strange way to think about human rights.” Then, after reflecting for a moment on the undoubted failures of the Church on many levels, and remarking on its servants’ sad record when it  “always found the temptation to wed itself to power irresistible”, he concludes, “The Church arose in a pagan culture by being willing to die for truths, not kill for them. Profound humility and joyful witness to the good life is the way forward. The only way forward for the secular West is to figure out how to argue for love when it announces a loveless universe, and for the Church to live love so attractively it is irresistible despite being powerless.”

For the hard-working campaigners for the unborn who have sweated it out on the streets and the doorsteps of Ireland’s cities and towns for the past four months – a truly marathon run-in to a poll – there may echo in their ears the dying words of Hildebrand, that great medieval campaigner for truth and rights under the law, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity. Therefore I die in exile.”

On Friday, perhaps appropriately, the Catholic Church celebrated his feast day. To be a Christian in Ireland just now will, for many, have the taste of exile about it. It will demand not a little of the mettle of Hildebrand to begin again the mission to which all of them after all, by the very terms and conditions of their contract, are indeed committed.

A triumphant liberal pro-abortion columnist in yesterday’s Irish Times declared that “Middle Ireland” was dead. Now there is just Ireland. Without even thinking about the totalitarian implications of that proclamation, one third of Ireland probably begs to differ. They are already promising to make their voices heard loud and clear. Perhaps they will remain in exile for a while, strangers in a wilderness of moral social values. But they believe that eventually, by “living love so attractively that it will be irresistible, despite being powerless”, in the face of the secularist West and its “me, me, me” selfish and loveless universe, they can hope to triumph. They know that if it happened before it can happen again.

Listen to both sides

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The new news and opinion website, Front Page  has just published an op.ed feature by a venerable Irish journalist, Bruce Arnold. It seems that some restrictions have been placed on Front Page by social media providers. Links to it on Twitter are being responded to with a 404 error message saying that the page does not exist.

Pending getting to the bottom of whatever glitch – or conspiracy, if that is the case – is behind this, this important and urgent analysis by Arnold is being published here on Garvan Hill in full.

It has been said that abortion pits a mother against her own child. If that is so, the law must act as a referee between them. In the vote on Friday next, we are that referee, because we will have to set the terms of our basic law. We are asked just one essential question. The unborn child is currently entitled to be recognised as a human life and protected as such by the law. Should we remove that constitutional protection, yes or no?

How should we decide? The first requirement of a referee or lawmaker is that she or he be fair. The referee must listen to both sides and judge impartially between them.

The basic case made on behalf of the Yes side, for removing constitutional protection from the unborn child, is that a mother wishing to abort her child has personal rights which must be always respected, whereas her child (at least up to 12 weeks gestation) can have no important rights at all. Even if a child could have some nebulous statutory right to life after 12 weeks, it must always yield to the right of the mother to protect her mental or physical health.

The case made on behalf of unborn children is that they also have real human lives, already fully formed at 12 weeks, and that their lives are as much entitled to protection and respect before the moment of birth as afterward. Their right to life is already compromised by the established right of a mother to abort her child in cases of serious risk to the mother’s life, including a risk of suicide. The proposed amendment would remove all remaining elements of the right to life of the unborn child.

The act of ending, prematurely, a born human life is very widely considered to be an unjust act, although assisted suicide and euthanasia increasingly challenge this universal norm. In the case of the unborn child, however, ending its life will be seen differently by those convinced that it is inferior to a human being until birth, and by those convinced that its right to life must be considered as essentially equal to that of a born person.

The proponents of the 36th amendment argue that, in cases of rape or incest, some women “need” to end a pregnancy and that it is impossible to decide quickly, or in a short space of time, on the validity of these claims. This cannot happen at present because of the 8th Amendment. They propose, therefore, not just that every claim of rape or incest should be accepted without proof, but that any and every woman should be entitled to end her pregnancy, at least up to 12 weeks.

How are we to evaluate this proposition? If the concern is about incest or statutory rape, the proposed law could have restricted access to abortion on that ground to young women under the age of, say, eighteen. It does not. If it is about the rape of an adult woman, why wait until 12 weeks? And why not require the woman seeking an abortion to identify the perpetrator, as a pre-condition, and have the law pursue him afterward? If the General Scheme of the proposed legislation were serious about providing for “hard cases,” it could have specified various ways of reducing or eliminating the number of abortions which have nothing to do with these special circumstances.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that these “hard cases” are being used once again as a wedge to try to force open the door to a widespread availability of elective abortion in Ireland. The rational and scientific difficulty for the Yes side, in arguing that unborn human lives only become entitled to legal protection after they have successfully survived an unprotected life in the womb, is manifest.

An emerging position among pro-choice advocates, therefore, is to acknowledge that abortion does indeed involve the deliberate ending of a real human life, which is horrific in itself, but that this “reality” will happen anyway and that what is proposed is just a way of ameliorating the risks to women associated with unregulated or foreign abortions. It is even argued that legalising abortion in this way will lead eventually to a reduction in the total numbers of abortions.

Is this a morally acceptable approach to a fundamental law of the State? It has been tried and found wanting in Britain and elsewhere. Almost nine million deaths later, the 1967 abortion law in the UK has been shown to be an unmitigated disaster. Even the recent fall in the total numbers of abortions is due to the falling birth rate, not to any improvement in social attitudes.

It is not just wrong in practice, however, it is profoundly wrong in principle. Once we admit the reality of the human life of the unborn child, we begin to see the full horror of the choice being presented to us. Hard cases aside, we are asked to allow the willful ending of very many young lives (without so much as a nominal excuse) simply because their continued existence is regarded as burdensome to those responsible for bringing them into existence.

The stage of development of the unborn child does not mitigate the horror. Each of us is changing all the time. The question is, who or what is developing? That it is a “somebody” and not a “something” is a matter of scientific fact, confirmed by a natural moral sense and by virtually all moral authority.

No Christian can ignore the Word of God on this. It is perfectly clear in Scripture that a person is in relation with God from the first moment of his or her existence. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). The encounter between Mary and Elizabeth is first and foremost an encounter between John the Baptist (who ‘leapt in the womb’ at 6 months) and Jesus (at 2 weeks gestation in the womb of his mother). On the basis of rational scientific evidence confirmed by the authority of divine revelation, the matter is settled beyond dispute for a Christian.

At a time when slavery was acceptable, many believed that a slave was sub-human and could be maltreated or even killed by the person who owned him or her. Christians, voting on a law prohibiting the abuse or killing of slaves, could never accept the argument that, because others do not agree that the slave is a ‘person,’ they should refrain from ‘imposing their views’ on society. It would be profoundly immoral for a Christian to vote to permit such abuse, knowing as he or she does that a slave is indeed a human person.

It follows that a Christian cannot vote to exclude the unborn child from the protection of the law, even if the person proposing to kill the child does not accept that the child is a person. To deny the authority of reason and of faith on such an important matter would be to renounce one’s claim to be a Christian.

Try here for original

 

The practice of (biased) journalism

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The Radio Times, the BBC’s mass circulation listings magazine, promotes a programme on the issue of abortion this week with the following introductory paragraph.

There are few topics as delicate or contentious today as abortion. From Donald Trump’s global gag rule, which sparked international outrage earlier this year, to Ireland’s forthcoming referendum on whether to repeal its abortion ban in 2018, it is one of the most polarising issues of our time

The word “delicate” is ok. I think we can all accept the objectivity of “contentious” as well. But when we move to Trump’s “global gag rule” we begin to feel a little unsure of our ground. No one likes being gagged and people who gag others are generally objectionable. Then there is “international outrage”. Was there no support for his policy move? The final blow to our confidence in the BBC’s honesty, fairness and integrity comes with the Irish reference.

The Irish are not going to the polls next year to repeal or not repeal an “abortion ban.” They will be deciding whether or not to continue to vindicate and defend the right to life of the unborn, whether or not to remove from their constitution the article which says:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Am I playing wth words? No, I am trying to do what the BBC is failing to do – use words as objectively as I can, stating the facts without the colour of my opinions attached. My effort at trying to describe what the BBC programme is hoping to do would go something like this.

There are few topics as delicate or contentious today as abortion. From Donald Trump’s policies on Planned Parnthood funding, which sparked international outrage among pro-choice supporters earlier this year, to Ireland’s forthcoming referendum on whether to repeal its law on the right to life of the unborn  in 2018, it is one of the most polarising issues of our time.

No matter what your personal opinion on the issue might be I would hope that you would be reasonably comfortable reading that ‘intro’ to the subject. You might still detect something of my personal opinions there but I would also hope that you would detect something of my respect for your right to an opposing opinion. The Radio Times simply  clobbers me over the head with its strident language. Sad.

On reading that opening paragraph in the magazine who could have any expectation that what this programme will present will be anything other than another apology for abortion on demand?

And sadly this is just one small example of the rampant abandonment by so many journalists of any effort to present facts dispassionately when they at the same time proclaim a commitment to that very ideal. The consequence of all this is that they not only destroy our confidence and trust in a great public institution but they undermine the strength and value of their own opinions. If we cannot trust them to give us the facts honestly then we cannot place much value on the opinions which they are calling on those “facts” to support.

 

Something “abhorrent to any civilised society”

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Pawns in a pro-choice game

The chilling implications of the underlying philosophy of those advocating the repeal of Ireland’s constitutional protection of the right to life of all human beings were laid bare last week in the Irish parliament. Currently a committee of elected members is hearing evidence from those proposing and those opposing repeal.

Professor William Binchy, an expert in constitutional law, challenged both those advocating repeal and the legitimacy of international pressure being put on Ireland to make this change.  Clearly the implications for civilization of an argument which gives one human being the right to choose to end the life of another innocent and defenceless human being brings us back to not just the dark ages but to one of barbarism  where right and wrong are no longer rooted in reason but on the whims of individuals.

Human rights, Binchy explained to the members of the Committee – some of whom seem incapable of comprehending the truth of what he was saying – are based on the inherent and equal worth of every human being. “Human beings have human rights, not because they are given by legislators or courts, but by reason of their humanity.” Commenting on what advocates for change are saying, he claimed that, if accepted, they would make it lawful to take the life of a child on request, with no restriction as to reasons, and also where the child has a significant foetal anomaly. “If human rights are to have any meaning, one human being should not be entitled to choose to end the life of another, innocent and defenceless, human being. The idea that our law should authorise the taking of a child’s life with ‘no restriction as to reasons’ is, frankly, abhorrent to any civilised society.”

A big effort has been made by the campaigners for abortion in Ireland to put focus on the cases of rape and on cases where children in the womb are diagnosed with disability. They say that a law which does not allow abortion in such cases is “inhuman”. Binchy addressed this, saying that “terminating the life of a disabled child because of the child’s disability is not consistent with respect for the child’s equal right to life.” Our society, he went on, has been founded on the value that no one has the right to choose to hurt, let alone kill, another innocent human being . Professor Binchy explained that on the basis of the supremacy of choice, the philosophy behind “right to choose” with “no restriction as to reasons” – these are the terms of the law being proposed to Irish legislators – implies the right to take the life of another human being.

On the campaign tactic of the Irish abortion lobby to enlist the support of UN agencies and monitoring committees – which are peopled with die-hard “right to choose” advocates,-  he stated categorically that the international human rights treaties which Ireland has ratified do not provide for a right to abortion. If they were in conflict with the Irish Constitution they would not have been ratified by Ireland. Any comment from the monitoring committees of the international treaties does not change the meaning of the treaties. Their members, Professor Binchy maintained, are earnest supporters of the “right to choose” philosophy and Ireland has no obligation to change its Constitution to get it in line with their views.

He was also highly critical of the submission of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission on the issue. He himself was a member of this Commission in the past. He said that if the proposals were implemented, they would involve abortion with little or no restrictions in practice, i.e. a regime of abortion on demand. “Throughout its Policy Document, the Commission never addresses the entitlement of children before birth to be protected from having their lives ended. It offers no reasons why such a profound discrimination against them should be proposed. Alarmingly, it presents no objections from a human rights perspective to late term abortions.”

In Ireland, David and Goliath meet again

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The forces of so-called progress, namely “progressiveism”, and the forces of reason are mustering on the Island of Ireland. The war has not yet been formally declared. It will be when the Irish Government finally sets a date for a referendum on its Constitution, now due to take place in May or June next year.

Ireland’s progressivists are an embarrassed lot – feeling out of step with their compatriots in the United States, the Island of Britain and the continent of Europe. Among this enlightened elite, poor backward Ireland is still living in the dark ages, continuing “against the tide of History” to regard the child in its mother’s womb as a human being. The international media is keeping up the pressure – hoping that they will see Ireland go from the back of the class right up to the front again, as it did 3 years earlier when it became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage by a popular vote.

It is all shaping up to be the greatest and most unequal contest since David faced Goliath. On one side you have the international forces of the United Nations, assorted NGOs led by a shadowy manipulator masquerading as a philanthropist, George Sorros,  by that betrayed organisation, Amnesty International, whose Irish branch is now totally dedicated to the cause of abortion – and about ninety percent of the national media. On the other side you have a very committed but numerically limited and terribly underfunded platoon of pro-life action groups defending the unborn.

Pope Francis is expected to visit Ireland in August next year. The clever progressives in the Irish Government have been very careful to ensure that he was not going to get a platform to speak his mind on the issue in any way that would have a serious impact on the result. For that reason the referendum will take place in the first half of 2018. They have no such reservations about letting the un-elected United Nations quangos have their say on the matter.

But the pro-life workers know the story of David and Goliath. They also know that in their sling they have a small still voice more powerful than anything this Goliath can throw at them and the unborn. They have the truth, the truth about our nature and about our humanity. They feel that if they can tell the story of life then the deception of abortion will be exposed – along with the untruth that choice and freedom are synonymous. All this, they hope, will be seen by the people of Ireland to be the lie that it is.

“Only the freedom which submits to the Truth leads the human person to his true good. The good of the person is to be in the Truth and to do the Truth”.

The denial of the truth inherent in the pro-choice ideology, a denial made in the face of human nature and science, enslaves its adherents – even as they demand their false autonomy.

That quote above is from Saint John Paul’s Veritatis Splendor.  It speaks not just to the Christian but to all mankind.

He also spells out, in the same magna carta on behalf of Truth, the reasons for the cul-de-sac into which progressivism has led us, and it’s dire consequences.

“This essential bond between Truth, the Good and Freedom has been largely lost sight of by present-day culture… Pilate’s question: “What is truth” reflects the distressing perplexity of a man who often no longer knows who he is, whence he comes and where he is going. Hence we not infrequently witness the fearful plunging of the human person into situations of gradual self- destruction. According to some, it appears that one no longer need acknowledge the enduring absoluteness of any moral value. All around us we encounter contempt for human life after conception and before birth; the ongoing violation of basic rights of the person; the unjust destruction of goods minimally necessary for a human life. Indeed, something more serious has happened: man is no longer convinced that only in the truth can he find salvation. The saving power of the truth is contested, and freedom alone, uprooted from any objectivity, is left to decide by itself what is good and what is evil.”

So let the battle be engaged. Nine months – the likely span of time between now and this crucial moment of truth for the Irish people, and indeed the watching world, is a symbolic duration. The great art historian, Kenneth Clark, from the precipice of Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry, long before Star Wars arrived there, once spoke of Western civilization hanging by its fingernails from those rocks. Perhaps history will repeat itself.

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The scramble for Africa – 21st century style

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Nearly two hundred years ago, in the aftermath of what came to be known as the Peterloo massacre, Britain’s close shave with murderous revolution and mayhem, these lines of poetry were penned by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

I met Murder on the way –

He had a mask like Castlereagh –

Very smooth he looked, yet grim;

Seven blood-hounds followed him.

On the 16th of August 1819 the huge open area around what’s now St. Peter’s Square, Manchester, played host to an outrage against over 60,000 peaceful pro-democracy and anti-poverty protesters. An estimated 18 people, including a woman and a child, died from saber cuts and trampling. Over 700 men, women and children received extremely serious injuries.

The Massacre occurred during a period of immense political tension and mass protests. Fewer than 2% of the population had the vote, and hunger was rife with the disastrous corn laws making bread unaffordable. The elites of the time had their own views of how the world should be and ordinary people could and should have no say in the matter.

Move on another 150 years or so and another elite forces its will on a people.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States, by a 7-2 majority, discovered a sweeping constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and struck down abortion laws across the country. Within five years, the number of abortions in America annually climbed above a million, where it would remain for 20 years.

To be pro-life, to regard abortion as obviously a form of murder and all those millions of dead unborn as its nameless victims, is to believe that the Roe v. Wade decision was a moment of deep moral rupture in the history of the republic.

These are the words of New York Times columnist, Ross Douthat, written in another context but in any context a valid description and judgement on what America has done to itself.

We are a long way from 1819 now, but we hope that our response to murder is no less one of outrage than it was for Shelley.

Now, not satisfied with perpetrating a “deep moral rupture in the history of the republic”, the forces of “progressive individualism” in America and its Western Allies – predominantly Great Britain and the European Union, with their captive bureaucracy at the United Nations, want to spread this contagion into the Third World. Their first big target is the continent of Africa. A modern Shelley might now write;

I met Murder on the way –

He had a mask like UNFPA –

Very smooth he looked, yet grim;

Seven blood-hounds followed him.

A few years ago a conference took place in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.  This one conference attracted 11 very wealthy, and mostly western sponsors —  the UK Department for International Development, United States Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund, among them.

Any one of them could have single-handedly sponsored a conference in any part of the world. Why did 11 of these giants gather for one little conference in Nigeria. This conference was not convened out of great necessity and it was not conceived in Nigeria. Rather it was convened at the behest of what many now see as the forces of cultural imperialism. It was conceived in the hearts of powerful western social engineers who are the same people who are promoting abortion around the world.

Alongside these sponsors were also about 25 powerful organizations listed as the “corporate partners/planning committee” of the conference. These included major organizations well known in Europe and America for their single-minded radical pro-abortion and anti-life stance. These included International Planned Parenthood Federation, Marie Stopes International and Ipas – an international non-profit organization with a “mission to reduce maternal deaths and injuries due to unsafe abortion and to increase women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.”

Yes, all of them gathered in Abuja to nudge and prod Nigeria toward “family planning.”

American billionaire, Melinda Gates, and other Western philanthropists are now pouring astronomical amounts of money into projects that, at their roots, will drastically reduce the fertility in Africa.   Abortion legislative proposals have been introduced throughout Africa, and stringent population control measures are being strongly proposed around the continent under the influence of these powerful Western agencies.

In response to all this, when the Gates Foundation moved from its initial mission of targeting malaria, Nigerian-born Obianuju Ekeocha wrote an open letter to Melinda Gates opposing this initiative.  Her argument was that the underlying attitude towards human sexuality and life inherent in these programmes will “undoubtedly start to erode and poison the moral sexual ethics that have been woven into our societal DNA by our faith”.

Obianuju Ekeocha is a 32-year-old Nigerian woman who for the past six years has been living and working as a biomedical scientist in Canterbury, England. Most of her family and many friends still live in Nigeria.

Ekeocha has set up an organization, Culture of Life Africa, which is now one of the front-line defences for the continent in the face of this new colonisation, this 21st century version of the old 19th century imperialist “scramble for Africa”.

Speaking at a conference in Dublin, Ireland, earlier this week, she said she was inspired to write an open letter to Melinda Gates after learning of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s move to inject $4.6 billion worth of contraceptive drugs and devices into her homeland.

The moment these huge amounts of contraceptive drugs and devices are injected into the roots of our society, she said, they will undoubtedly start to erode and poison the moral sexual ethics that have been woven into our societal DNA by our faith. Even at a glance, anyone can see that the unlimited and easy availability of contraceptives in Africa will surely increase infidelity and sexual promiscuity as sex is presented by this multi-billion dollar project as a casual pleasure sport that can indeed come with no strings – or babies – attached. Think of the exponential spread of HIV and other STDs as men and women with abundant access to contraceptives take up multiple, concurrent sex partners.

And of course there are bound to be inconsistencies and failures in the use of these drugs and devices, so health complications could result; one of which is unintended abortion. Add also other health risks such as cancer, blood clots, etc. Where Europe and America have their well-oiled health care system, Ekeocha points out, “a woman in Africa with a contraception-induced blood clot does not have access to emergency response, an ambulance or a paramedic. No, she dies.”

“I see this $4.6 billion buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of the innocent chatter of children. I see it buying us disease and untimely death. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children.”

What Africa does need, she continued in her letter, suggesting that The Gates Foundation could provide for these, are:

– Good healthcare systems (especially prenatal, neonatal and paediatric care).

– Food programs for young children.

– Good higher education opportunities

– Chastity programs

– Support for micro-business opportunities for women

– Fortify already established NGOs that are aimed at protecting women from sex-trafficking, prostitution, forced marriage, child labour, domestic violence, sex crimes, etc.

Addressing Melinda she says, $4.6 billion dollars can indeed be your legacy to Africa and other poor parts of the world. But let it be a legacy that leads life, love and laughter into the world in need.

“The worst part is that no one in Africa (meaning the average African woman or man) knows that Melinda is about to bequeath us her ‘legacy’ which can and most probably will stifle love and life in our continent,” she said.

With reference to that aforementioned Abuja conference Ekeocha says “Family Planning” is a term that is (or should be) self-explanatory. It should mean the planning of one’s family. ”It should be a term that by default points to married couples who have a family to plan. It should be family-centred and it should connote self-mastery and self-discipline (for every good plan should undergirded by discipline).

“Family planning should be a good, healthy, pure and beautiful concept. Couples, guided by the spirit of openness to love and life, can plan their family together while understanding that any life conceived by their union is a gift of enormous value. Family planning should be natural and healthy for both husband and wife. It should not be destructive or detrimental to the health of mind and body, as many if not most of the artificial contraception available is.”

She warns that if Nigeria and other African nations do not wake up now, “we will surely fall off a cultural cliff and suffer the destruction of marriage and family life.

“We may be poor but we have our dignity.  So let us not fail or fall for what the 21st century cultural imperialists have surreptitiously labelled “family planning” or falsely imagined to be the most ‘unmet need’ of Africa.

 

Ekeocha speaking to the United Nations and appealing for respect for Africa’s nations and their people.

Five finger exercise

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Who gives the UN the right to lecture the Irish on their laws protecting the life of an unborn child? Is our Government cowering before a group of self-important UN busy-bodies who just speak for themselves?

These are questions which need to be answered. At last it seems as if someone is prepared to speak up on behalf of our sovereignty as a nation. When will someone show us the faces of these arrogant bureaucrats at the UN Human Rights Committee who last week declared that Ireland’s protection of the equal right to life of women and their unborn children amounted to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” and instructed us to remove this provision from our Constitution. Are these people nothing more than agents of Abortion International, who are abusing the agency of this useful but flawed organization to try to snuff out the lives of human beings on the pretext of a very partial definition of human rights.

Here at last we have someone from within the political establishment calling this out for the outrage it is. He is Barry Walsh, a member of the Fine Gael Executive Council who was president of Young Fine Gael from 2007-2010. We are told that he writes in a personal capacity. That’s OK. We can live with that. He has the courage to challenge his party on this. “It is high time, he says, “that our ministers, TDs and Senators had the courage and the sense of leadership to stand over our record as a society that respects the right to life and which provides a standard of care for mothers and their babies which is second to none in the developed world.”

He adds that unfortunately the Government has made no public attempt to defend Ireland against this arrogant UN quango, let alone to query what legal basis or moral authority it has to make them.

The pro-life organizations have been complaining about this self-appointed tribunal’s dangerous posturing since it issued its obiter dicta over a week ago. The political establishment just goes on ignoring them. Now, however, perhaps we see a chink in  the dark facade of Fine Gael’s cowardly behaviour surrounding this whole issue.

Let us have a proper media investigation as to who exactly these 18 UNHRC people are. Let us examine their back stories so that we might get a better understanding of what their agenda is. Then we can ask them fairly and squarely how exactly they define humanity and see what the basis of their argument is for excluding millions of human beings from that definition – sending them to the charnal houses of abortion clinics worldwide. If your understanding of human life is flawed how can you even begin to talk about human rights?

The muddled thinking which allows this woolly definition of humanity to persist is what allows our society to continue to accept this human carnage. If we just cleared our heads and let the scientific evidence speak for itself we would bring this lethal confusion to an end. The fingers before me, hitting this keyboard, were already there in my mother’s womb. This “I” to which these fingers, moved to do what they are now being guided to do by whatever intelligence  I have, was there from the moment of “my” conception. What is so difficult about that? Hello!

 

“Parents are well aware a moving child in the womb is a human being”

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The fact that Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s new minority Government is somewhat lame does not seem to be stopping him pushing ahead with what he thinks is a populist demand to further liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws. He has announced that he is going ahead with the  Citizens’ Assembly promised by the last Government – which he also led – to prepare the ground for this change.

For those who recognise the humanity of the child in the womb, awaiting birth, this is just another piece of window-dressing of shameless political manipulation. It is an attempt to sell to the Irish people something which in their hearts they abhor. A similar strategy was used three years ago with a hand-picked “expert group” was setup by health minister, James Reilly to give pre-ordained advice to him which resulted in an earlier liberalisation of the law.

The Irish Pro Life Campaign describes this decision to bring forward the setting up of the Assembly on abortion is “a knee-jerk reaction to the disgracefully one-sided report last week from the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) which set the rights of the unborn child at zero and ignored the devastating after-effects of abortion for many women.”

Last week, the UN Human Rights Committee commented on a complaint brought by an Irish woman who was unable to have an abortion in Ireland when she was told that her baby would not survive to birth, or very long afterwards.  In those comments, the UNHRC said that the Irish State had subjected her to “intense physical and mental suffering”.

Commenting on yesterday’s announcement from the Government, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said:

“This Assembly is being set up with one purpose only and that is to pave the way for a referendum to strip the unborn child of its last remaining Constitutional protection. Every member of Cabinet knows that the UN Committee that commented on Ireland’s abortion laws last week has a track record in only pushing abortion and has never once taken a stand against the appalling abuses internationally in the abortion industry. For example, the UN Committee in question has never brought countries like England and Canada to task over the barbaric practice of refusing to give medical assistance to babies born alive after botched abortions.”

The public campaigning for this change in the Republic has been relentless since ‘liberal’ Ireland’s gay marriage victory last year. The pro-abortion pressure groups have the media in their pockets for this one as well. The ratio of pro-abortion stories being run on radio and in print is still in the region of the 30:1 bias exposed last year. It bears no relation to the actual balance of public opinion on the matter. The figure for that which is now routinely trotted out is a pro-abortion one from a poll run for Amnesty International. That organisation’s Irish arm is now the country’s highest profile campaigner for abortion. For some reason its fundraisers on the streets do not seem to as ubiquitous as they were heretofore. One wonders why? Could it be that too many shoppers are seeing them as collectors for Abortion International?

Colum Kenny, an Irish  Times columnist, in an balanced article in that paper earlier this month – a welcome but rare enough event for that paper – suggested that the “entry of Amnesty International into this domestic debate is problematic. Its rationale for sidelining the rights of the unborn, on the basis that human rights only begin after birth, is unconvincing.
Even permissive abortion regimes recognise it is not appropriate to terminate a foetus after a certain point sometime before birth. Parents are well aware a moving child in the womb is a human being. Has Amnesty no policy on the healthy but defenceless foetus that might be aborted only for personal or state convenience?”