Tuesday, 28 December 2010

'Illustrissimi' by Albino Luciani - Letter to St Therese of Liseux

    Albino Luciani was born in 1912 in the small village of Forni di Canale (now known as Canale d'Agordo),situated between Venice and the Italian border with Austria.
             He studied at the seminary of Belluno, was ordained in 1935, and was then sent to the Gregorian University in Rome where he took a degree in theology. After several years teaching theology at the Belluno seminary, Luciani was appointed Vicar General of Belluno in 1948, and ten years later Pope John XXIII, who thought very highly of him, named him Bishop of Vittorio Veneto.  In 1969 he became Patriarch of Venice, and on 5th March 1973 Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal.
             On the death of Pope Paul, Albino Luciani was elected Pope on 26 August 1978, taking the name John Paul in honour of his two immediate predecessors.
              After only 33 days in office, Pope John Paul I died of a heart attack during the evening of 28 September 1978.

                                           Pope John Paul I

 The ‘Illustrissimi’ (the Letters) by Albino Luciani, were written  between the years 1969 and 1978 when he was Patriarch of Venice, and were published in the Italian Christian paper ‘Il Messagero di Sant Antonio’. The letters are addressed to various individuals, some fictional, some historical. He writes to legendary figures, to important scientific, historical and literal people, to characters from their books, plays, operas, poems, to saints and even to Christ himself. If the recipients are varied, the subjects he discusses with them are even more so. Although addressed to  many different characters, and related directly to their particular interests, the letters were meant for the ordinary person living in the 1970’s. They were written as a teaching device, as a means of proclaiming the gospel, of opening people’s minds and hearts anew to the message of Christianity.
          The papacy of Pope John Paul I lasted only 33 days, allowing little time for him to become known to his flock either in his public appearances or in his writings. However these letters reveal some of the character of the writer, a man rooted in the Gospel, but with his feet firmly on 20th century ground, calmly surveying the contemporary, tempestuous and troubled world, smiling at its absurdities, regretting its evil, and rejoicing in its good. A man firm in faith, hope and charity; humorous when musing on the follies and frivolities of people, yet firm in maintaining Christian ethics and moral standards. A man who understood people from within and who identified with them, yet a man to whom his faith was the breath of life and the source of joy.     (Basil Hume OSB, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.  October 1978)

Letter to St Therese of Liseux.
Dear Little Therese,
I was seventeen when I read your autobiography.
It struck me forcibly. You called it ‘The story of a little flower’. To me the will-power, courage and decisiveness it showed made it seem more like the story of a piece of steel. Once you had chosen the path of complete dedication to God, nothing could stop you: not illness, nor opposition from outside, nor inner confusion and darkness.
    I remember the time I was ill and sent to a sanatorium, in the days before penicillin and antibiotics, when death awaited pretty well anyone who was sent to hospital.
    I was ashamed of myself for feeling a little afraid. ‘At the age of twenty-three,’ I said to myself, ‘Therese, who until then had been healthy and full of vitality, was filled with joy and hope when she first spat blood. Not only that, but when her health improved, she got permission to end her fast with a diet of dry bread and water. And you’re almost trembling! You’re a priest! Don’t be silly!


Reading it again, on the centenary of your birth (1873 to 1973), what now strikes me most is the way in which you loved God and your neighbour.  St Augustine wrote: ‘We reach God, not by walking, but through love.’ You also called your road ‘the way of love’. Christ said: ‘No one comes to me unless my Father calls him’. You were perfectly in tune with these words, feeling ‘like a bird without strength and without wings’, and seeing in God an eagle who came down to carry you off on high, on its wings. You called divine grace ‘the lifter’, which carried you to God swiftly and easily, since you were ‘too small to climb the harsh ladder of perfection’.
    I said ’easily’, but let me make it clear: I meant it only in one way. In another …..,.. well in the final months of your life your soul felt as if it was going down a kind of dark passage, seeing nothing of what it had once seen clearly. ‘Faith’, you wrote, ‘is no longer a veil but a wall’. Your physical sufferings were so great that you said, ‘If I had not had faith, I would have chosen death’. In spite of that you kept saying to the Lord you loved, saying with your will alone, ‘I sing of the happiness of Paradise, but without any feeling of joy; I sing simply because I want to believe’. Your last words were: ‘My God, I love You’.
    To the merciful love of God you offered yourself as a victim. All this did not prevent you from enjoying what was good and beautiful. Before your final illness you loved painting, and wrote poetry and short plays on religious subjects, taking some of the parts yourself and showing quite a talent for acting. In the last stage of your illness, when you felt briefly better, you asked for some chocolates. You had no fear of your own imperfections, not even of having sometimes slept during meditation, out of weariness (‘mothers love their children, even when they are asleep’).
    Loving your neighbour, you tried to serve others in small, useful ways, but to do so unobserved; and you preferred, if anything, to do this for people who irritated you, those you understood least. Behind their un-likeable faces you sought the beloved face of Christ. And no-one noticed these efforts of yours. ‘How mystical she was in chapel, and at her work’, the prioress wrote of you, ‘At other times she was very amusing, full of fun and making us laugh uproariously at recreation’.
    Joy mixed with Christian love appears in the song of the angels at Bethlehem. It is part of the essence of the Gospel which means ‘good news’. It is characteristic of the saints. Joy may become perfect charity if it is shared, as in fact, dear St Therese, you shared yours at recreation in the convent.
    Therese, the love you gave God (and your neighbour for love of God) was really worthy of Him. This is how our love should be: a flame fed by all that’s great and fine in ourselves; a rejection of all that is refractory in us; and a victory that carries us on its wings and takes us as a gift to the feet of God.
    These few lines certainly don’t contain the whole of your message to Christians, but they are enough to point out a few things to us.

(From ‘Illustrissimi by Albino Luciani. The Letters of Pope John Paul I, published by Collins, Fount Paperbacks, 1979)


 'The Little Way'  by  St Therese of Liseux

 "Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires. I close the learned book which is breaking my head and drying up my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons; perfection seems simple; I see that it is enough to recognize one's nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God's arms. Leaving to great souls, to great minds, the beautiful books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because 'only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.' " 

"For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers.... I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me."

                                         St Therese of Liseux
"Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."

Today is the feast day of the Holy Innocents, massacred by order of  King Herod, intended to kill  the Child Jesus.  O Holy Innocents pray for us and for our Country, and we particularly ask your prayers that  legalised abortion  be recognised for the evil that it is, and banished from the Statute book.

Our Blessed Lady, Cause of Our Joy, guide and protect our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

'Vital-Organ Transplants' - 'Brain Stem Death' conceptually suspect and clinically dangerous'

                              Saint Panteleimon the Hermit (284 - 304)   

Recently in the Orcadian, our weekly local newspaper, the Scottish Executive published a large advertisement  promoting the human ‘organ donor’ scheme, and asking for more donors, ‘prepared to give the gift of life to others’. In the same paper, NHS Orkney published a half-page article endorsing its support for the Scottish Executive in promoting the scheme, and also asking for new donors, who could be as young as 13 years of age.  Both these items also mentioned that as there were insufficient donors to meet demand, a system of ‘presumed consent’ was being considered, whereby consent would be presumed for everyone unless there was clear evidence in writing to the contrary.

On reading these articles I was reminded that the question of ‘presumed consent’ had raised its head about three years ago, when the Prime Minister of the day, Gordon Brown, had suggested that this might be a suitable means of increasing the supply of usable human organs for transplant purposes. I remembered that at that time I was concerned about the ethics of organ transplants, and particularly so when it came to ‘presumed consent’, and I hasten to add that I am now even more concerned.

                                      Saint Luke - Guercino (1591-1666)

 I must say straight away that I am not any sort of doctor or medical person, and that my sole claim to fame is a First Aid certificate acquired nearly 50 years ago! However it is possible to glean considerable information from professional and trustworthy sources through official websites, which when balanced with the Church’s pronouncements on the subject, and mixed with a portion of common sense, enables one, I think, to have a reasonably balanced  view of the matter. I hasten to add that I have great sympathy for the sick, and I have generally great respect for the medical profession, and admiration for the continuing advancement in medical knowledge and technology when used ethically and morally for the good of humanity.

 As far as this post is concerned, it is necessary to make the distinction between   ‘transplants of vital organs, such as the heart, lungs and liver’, and  ‘transplants of lesser organs, tissues, and body parts’, and I must emphasise that  this post is only concerned with the former category, for it is in these cases that vital organs are removed from a live donor.

When this matter arose three years ago, I sent an email to the Guild of Catholic Doctors, requesting information on the nature and ethics of ‘organ transplants’ - particularly in relation to  the teaching of the Catholic Church,  to which I received the following reply;

From:  Guild of Catholic Doctors
To: Brian Crowe
 Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 8:17 PM
Subject: Re: organ transplants

Some organs are taken from very recently dead patients.  Most are taken from was is termed 'heart beating donors'.  These are donors who have been declared medically 'brain dead' and are kept 'alive' on life support machines until the organs are taken.  Obviously there is then the discussion to be had on what is the definition of death.  I am not sure which articles you have been reading but we have published some divergent views on this.  
The Church has not ruled on this.  In most matters the church, quite rightly, clearly lays down the moral principles, but then bows to science on technical matters, which are the remit of science. There is never conflict between truth, so if the science is valid and true (in the sense of being in agreement with the moral truth), the church will accept it. (See Pope John Paul II in his encyclical 'Faith & Reason')  In the 'old' days it was easy to tell when someone died - their heart stopped.  With modern science that is no longer a valid criterion for death as it is possible to get the heart going again and keep organs alive (including a removed heart, which continues beating) for some considerable time after what was previosly defined as death.  Para 2296 of the Catholic Catechism supports the principle of organ donation and also laying down the moral principles.  A significant number of our membership are transplant surgeons and physicians.
It is possible to remove one of the two kidneys from a healthy living donor, and now with surgical advances it is possible to remove half a liver from a healthy living donor.  The half left in the patient will regenerate to its normal size with a short period as will the half that is put into the new recepient.
I hope that helps
Signed Dr. ……………….

I was grateful for this reply but in truth, it raised as many questions as it answered. I followed this up at the time with an email to a certain member of the Scottish hierarchy, but received no reply. It may well be that my message failed to reach the intended recipient, but whatever the reason I heard nothing, and the matter receded into my mental 'in-tray' where it has since remained. It was only the recent publicity in the ‘Orcadian’ that reminded me of this outstanding correspondence, and persuaded me to look again at the details.

       Christ Raising Lazarus from the Dead - Studio of Tintoretto (1518-1594)

Reading the original reply from the Guild of Catholic Doctors, it appears that Catholic doctors themselves hold divergent views on the morality of organ transplants, a divergence based primarily on the question of ‘point of death’.  As I understand it, the crucial factor is that for a ‘vital organ’ transplant to have a chance of succeeding, the vital organs  viz. heart, lungs or liver,  have to be removed whilst the donor is still alive.  Inevitably in the process, the donor will die. Clearly to deliberately and knowingly cause the death of a donor by removing his/her vital organs for transplant purposes, is ‘murder’ and must be wrong. 

It seems that over recent years, medical science has defined (some say invented) an hitherto undocumented human condition, now defined as ‘brain death’ or/and ‘brain stem death’.  Surprisingly, or perhaps not, it is at this stage that vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver, are removed from a donor. For some doctors, the ‘brain death’ or ‘brain stem death’ diagnosis legitimises the  removal of vital organs from  donors, although many other doctors do not share this view. I find this seriously disturbing, and wanting to find out more, recently visited several websites dealing with this subject.

Assuming that what I have found is truthful, and I have no reason to doubt it, the reality is shocking and worse than I could have believed. One particular site, that of Dr Paul A Byrne MD, past President of the Catholic Medical Association (USA), is totally condemnatory of so-called ‘brain death’,  which he describes as a cynical ploy to deceive; he also condemns ‘organ transplants’, which effectively destroy the life of the donor, because to be usable, organs have to be removed from a live person, who then dies as a direct result. Another site ‘The Life Guardian Foundation' (www.thelifeguardian.org)  incorporates much information on this subject, including a frank article by Dr Byrne MD in which his logic and conclusions appear indisputable. This website also includes an harrowing account of the devastating experience of a mother in the USA, whose 18/19 year old son accidentally shot himself in the head, and was taken to hospital where, in spite of positive medical  prognosis, it appeared that little real effort was made to save him. Instead, after various  medical 'procedures', he was certified ‘brain dead’ and his vital organs were then removed. It transpired that at some time in his short life, the young man had altruistically agreed to be a donor, which apparently was known to the hospital authority when he was admitted.

Below is a short extract from the Life Guardian website:-

For over forty years there has been a deadly code of silence pertaining to "brain death." Behind closed doors a controversy raged. Many of those in the medical field opposed this reinvention of death. The controversy continues.              
             "Brain death" was invented for the sole purpose of organ transplantation, living human medical experimentation, and a means in which measures to sustain life could be legally withdrawn. It was the first legal form of euthanasia in the US. This deadly code of silence has been broken.
               It is time to inform the Public of the Truth... (end of quote)

                      The Anatomy Lesson - Rembrandt (1606-1669)

In the UK the Royal College of Physicians reported in 1976 and 1977, rejecting the whole ‘brain death’ criterion as scientifically worthless, and adopting the notion of 'irreversible brain stem dysfunction' as an indicator of death.
‘The UK ‘brain stem death’ standard for the diagnosis of death on neurological grounds ignores evidence of persisting life and function in other parts of the brain, and has never been accepted in the USA – where the irreversible cessation of function of the entire brain, specifically including the brain stem (‘whole brain death’), is required'. The US President’s Council on Bioethics has recently described the UK standard as “conceptually suspect” and “clinically dangerous”.(Wikipedia -  Controversies in the Determination of Death : a White Paper by the President's Council on Bioethics. Washington, DC December 2008. www.bioethics.gov)
 ‘Organ donation’ is big business on a world-wide scale. Would-be recipients pay sometimes huge sums of money for organ transplants.  Donors, often from poor communities in the Third World, are driven by desperate financial need, to sell kidneys and lesser organs, for pitifully meagre sums of money. Although these  body parts are not in the donor 'category' that we are considering, one can appreciate the substantially higher  'market value' of vital organs, and the temptation to find donors at whatever cost, financial or moral.
‘Big business’ means big money, and we know that ‘money is the root of all evil’- no idle saying.  Regrettably but almost inevitably, where there is big business there is  corruption.

In many European countries, everybody is automatically considered to be an organ donor unless there is evidence to the contrary in writing. This principle of 'presumed consent' is being actively promoted in those countries in which it is not yet enshrined in law, which includes the UK.
I suspect that the European Parliament in Brussels, with its record of  anti-life legislation, and its own liberal and humanist agenda,  has much to do with the almost 'pro-active' promotion of this scheme, which appears so laudable and yet is shrouded by misinformation and suspicion of deception.

Of course it is right to remember the many principled, selfless,  and caring doctors and nurses, who take a stand against un-ethical practices, who honour and dignify their profession, and whose priority is always the good and well-being of their patients.

                                             The Pieta - Luis de Morales (1509-1586)

The evil of ‘vital organ transplants’, based on the premise that it is essentially murder to remove 'vital organs' from a live donor who will inevitably die as a result, in order that these organs be transplanted into a recipient to keep them alive, seems clear on rational and common-sense grounds alone. With regard to the condition of 'brain death' or 'brain stem death' - used to justify the morality of 'vital organ transplants', how can it be possible for a person to be alive and dead at the same time, or to be partly dead? It is like squaring the circle, an impossibility. At any one time we are either alive or we are dead, there is no in-between stage.  Please see the website of Dr Paul A Byrne MD, who writes so clearly and authoritatively on this and other related matters. 


St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) - philosopher and theologian            

With increasing pressure from local and government organisations, the ‘organ donor’ scheme is insidiously worming its way into the ‘things we ought to be doing’ charts. I doubt that many donors are aware of the full implications of their decision, particularly if the donor is a child of only 13 years of age. This appears particularly likely when considering the simple, and some might say inspired, design of the on-line donor application form (see below) which not only fails to differentiate between 'vital organs' and 'other organs and tissue', but in 'Section A' lumps them all together as one.
      St Philip Benizi(1233-1285)-Superior of the Servite Order.

When visiting the ‘NHS blood and tissue’ website, I found the ‘on-line’ application form  for potential organ donors, a copy of which I have pasted below:-
I want to donate the following for transplantation after my death:
A  any of my organs and tissue
B  my
 kidneys   heart   liver   small  bowel
 eyes   lungs   pancreas   tissue

The first significant point of note is in the first line, namely the words  ‘after my death’; and the next point is the inclusion of heart, liver, and lungs, each with its own tick-box, in Section B below.
It is inconceivable that the wording ‘after my death’ is a mistake, or that the ‘heart’, ‘liver’ and ‘lungs’ have been included by mistake. But we know from eminent medical authorities, that these particular vital organs can only be usable if taken from a live donor, they are useless if taken from a donor already dead

 The question has to be asked:-                 
 ‘How can the NHS  invite potential donors to donate their heart, liver, or lungs, after their death, when  to be usable, they have to be removed before they die?’ 

Theoretically the relevant reply would seem to be that death is officially recognised when  ‘brain cell death’ is confirmed, legitimising the removal of vital organs, whilst at the same time ensuring that the heart remains beating and the body still functions, until such time as the vital organs are physically separated from the body, when the body then dies (as understood in pre 'brain cell death' days!) Although of course, it was already dead, wasn't it?

Some might well think that the wording used in the donor application form is seriously misleading, and represents justifiable grounds for accusing the NHS donor authorities of gross misrepresentation. There certainly appears a case to answer!  

    Saint Giuseppe Moscate (1880-1927)- Italian doctor and scientist

We know that many doctors and other medical and scientific experts, including the US President’s Council on Bio-Ethics (see above), do not accept the UK criteria for ‘brain cell death’, the latter describing it as ‘conceptually suspect and clinically dangerous’. Yet it is used today in the UK presumably with the backing of  powerful influences in the medical and scientific world, apparently without any effective public criticism or suggested action.
        Saint Martin de Porres (1579-1639) - Dominican Lay Brother

 There is a particular drive to increase the numbers of young ‘organ donors’, as apparently young organs are more likely to be successfully transplanted than those from older donors. During September and October this year, the ‘Organ-donor’ road-show visited 14 University campuses in the UK, using the ‘Superhero’ theme, with the addition of a female companion.’ and obtained a total of  5,472  new signatories.

                  Blessed Niels Stensen (1638-86) -anatomical scientist
Even as I write, I get the feeling that I will be accused of meddling in medical matters, which are not my business.
Yet it is my business as it is everyone's business, for it is my life or my wife's life or my children's lives or anybody's life that could be at risk. To me there appear genuine grounds for suspecting that all is not quite what it seems, and that fine words disguise the shadow of evil. I'm sure that there is good will and intention in many people involved in the ‘donor scheme’, but there are others perhaps who have their own agenda;  ambition, money, career, social advancement, or whatever, who are prepared to go along with the evil principle that 'the end justifies the means'. We know that deception is an art in which Satan, the master of all deceit, excels, especially so in matters of life and death.

We pray for loud and authoritative guidance on this matter from our Church, and ask that it will be sooner rather than later.
                        Our Lady of Good Counsel of Genazzano

‘Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us, and guide and protect our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI’
‘Saints Cosmas and Damien, pray for us’

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Scandal - £400 million grant for Abortion/Contraceptives in Third World

 On the economic and social front it has been a difficult week for the British people. The government have announced drastic - some would say draconian,  cuts,  affecting every aspect of society. Health, education, law and order, employment, housing, defence, you name it and it has suffered. But what's this, a government department unaffected by the economy drive, can it be true? Indeed it is, for the DFID - the 'Department for International Development' is apparently going ahead without so much as a sideways glance, in its stated plan to give £360,000,000 to the IPPF -the International Planned Parenthood Fund to fund 'sexual and reproductive health rights' aka 'widespread availability of contraception and abortion facilities', particularly for women in poor countries. 

Why should the British taxpayer foot the bill for such  a cause? What right has this government or any government to commit our money - £360,000,000 of it, and more, to a cause which many people consider positively evil? Why do those responsible think that this money is better spent on providing contraceptives and abortion facilities in third world countries - many of whom do not want them but are having them forced on them by Western powers in a form of (im)moral blackmail, rather than using the money at home where it is really needed for the genuine good of our own people?

 'Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places' (St Pauls letter to the Ephesians 6, 10-17)


£47,000,000 Grant over 5 years, by UK AID to fund ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights for all’ PLUS
£360,000,000 over 2 years, from UK, promised by Prime Minister, David Cameron, at G8 Summit 2010, for the same purpose. 

With the government looking  to save money, one department surely deserving of scrutiny must be the ‘Department for International Development (DFID)’, responsible for distributing UK Aid (taxpayer’s money) to worthwhile causes overseas. One particular organisation, little known to most people, the recipient of huge funding from the UK and other Western governments, is the ‘International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)’. 

‘IPPF is a global service provider and a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all’.  This rather grand statement translates as 'a global supplier of  contraceptives and  abortion facilities, and access to these - particularly for women in poor countries.' 
 Founded by the American birth-control activist and founder of the American Birth Control League, Margaret Sanger, in 1952,  IPPF has six Regional Offices, with headquarters in London, employing over 300 people, and with  a global network of Member Associations in over 170 countries.  It is no coincidence that the origins of IPPF can be traced back to the Eugenics movement of the early 20th century, when contraception and abortion were regarded  as a means of population control, especially in those countries now considered third world countries, and with euthanasia proposed for certain ‘mentally retarded and  criminal elements of society’.

Bitter opponents of the Catholic Church and ‘pro-life’ and ‘anti-abortion’ organisations, the IPPF presents a liberal and humanist ethos.  It receives financial support from the governments of most Western nations, particularly from the Scandinavian countries, from  the USA,  Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, with  wealthy  philanthropic organisations like the Bill Gates Foundation, providing a substantial and continuing flow of income.

For the period 1st April 2008 - 1st March 2013, the UK government  approved a Grant of £43,000,000  to support the ‘core work objectives of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).’ 
In addition, at the G8 Summit meeting this year, David Cameron pledged an additional £360,000,000 aid over 2 years.  
Additionally the UK government made a further Grant of £4,000,000  for the ‘IPPF Safe Abortion Action Fund’(SAAF)  for the period 01/03/2007 to 01/03/2009, a  fund  for the ‘increased utilisation of quality safe abortion and post abortion services, especially by young, poor, and vulnerable women’
 The IPPF is a registered UK charity, with eleven of its employees earning £60,000 plus P.A.,  seven earning £100,000 plus P.A., and the top earner on £228,000 P.A. 

The IPPF is not part of any government sector, and there appear to be no conditions attached to the grants. 
The funding is for ‘procurement of services relating to population policies/programmes and reproductive health care’ worldwide.
Its purpose and objective is geared to population control, with a projected policy of contraception and abortion for young, poor and vulnerable women, particularly in Third World and poorer countries.  
It has its own commercial arm dealing in the marketing and supply of contraceptives.           

An official partnership programme between DFID and IPPF has been set up, in which the DFID’s  Policy Division  ‘recognises the specific role of IPPF in implementing DFID policy in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights, AIDS and maternal health, requiring sustained high-level advocacy work and international leadership in a difficult policy environment’    
(N.B.. It appears from the DFID website that the current £47,046,525 funding went solely to projects in Bangladesh) http://www.dfid.gov.uk

I’m sure that most reasonable people would agree, that as a nation and where possible, we must help those less fortunate than ourselves. To provide funds to feed the starving, home the homeless, help those suffering from the effects of war or natural disasters, bring hope to the despairing, and other similar situations, are all clearly good causes. 
However the provision of ‘contraception and abortion facilities’, is not in this category. Tax-payers have a legitimate interest in the beneficiaries of these huge grants, after all it is their money that the government is giving away, and very many on religious and/or ethical grounds consider this an evil cause, as I do, with many others, on purely rational grounds, opposed to such questionable profligacy  in today's economic climate.

The government has previously asked for our views on saving their (our) money. A letter or e-mail to one of the Ministers listed below, complaining of :-
a) the use to which these very substantial Grants will be put;
b) the nature of the organisation to which the Grants are made; and  
c) the very significant sums of (tax-payers) money funding these Grants, money which could be better used supporting our own fragile public services such as health, education, housing, employment, etc. - would seem called for.
Secretary of State for International Development - Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP 
Minister of State for International Development - Alan Duncan MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development - Stephen O'Brien MP 

 ‘There are three kinds of lies -  lies, damned lies, and statistics' (attributed to various sources).

  The following statement was made by Gill Greer, IPPF Director General, concerning  promises of further financial funding made at the G8 Summit this year:-
 “This is a significant step forward in saving the lives of world’s most vulnerable women and children. Ideological motivations meant that life saving family planning was purposefully omitted from the Millennium Development Goals, and therefore many funding decisions, until 2008. In those eight years, the consequence of sidelining access to modern methods of family planning was the death of 5.1 million women and 1.2 million children. A further 4.8 million children were orphaned. The political leadership, and the funds that must surely follow, of the G8 and other countries will help prevent this human tragedy from ever occurring again.”

How can Gill Greer possibly guess, let alone present as fact, the mortality and orphan figures she quotes?   They appear as figures plucked from the lottery, impossible to check, impressive to those who want to be impressed, but otherwise wildly speculative.  
This quote, and the rest of the same IPPF report, throws out numbers like confetti at a wedding, and has the stamp of political spin. There is  no reference to the known adverse physical and psychological effects of contraception and abortion, or the moral or ethical issues involved.

To conclude, with thanks to ‘Eugenics-Watch’ website
‘On one side are the rich and powerful eugenicists, the followers of Malthus by way of Darwin. These Scrooges think that there are too many sick, too many old, too many inferior, too many Chinese, too many Indians, too many, too many, too many people. They want to take evolution into their own qualified, elite, wonderful hands; they don't believe in the sanctity of life or in democracy, its political expression; and they have learned nothing from the series of social disasters which their policies have inflicted on this century - except to be careful not to get caught. That's one choice.
‘And on the other side, there are the orthodox Catholics - and others of good faith (my italics), who believe that the world was made by a great and loving Creator on behalf of persons, all of whom are immortal souls from the moment of conception. Catholics believe that the world has a Redeemer, Jesus Christ; and a mother to teach it unselfishness - the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. Therefore they oppose that degradation of human beings which is eugenics, and support democracy. That's another choice.’

Recommended website for further information on Margaret Sanger, eugenicism, and the IPPF  -    http://www.trdd.org
The website  'Les Femmes - the Truth', also ran an interesting post on Margaret Sanger in June/July this year. 

Much of the above post appeared on my other blog-site 'umblepie' in July this year. At that time it was not clear exactly how  the Coalition government would deal with this, however it is now apparent from events in the House of Commons this week, that it has no intention of changing its stated policy in this particular matter.  £400,000,000 would go a long way in alleviating at least some of the hardships of our own people.

On August 10th this year I wrote to  the Ministers concerned, Rt. Hon.Andrew Mitchell MP, Alan Duncan MP, and Stephen O'Brien MP, through the House of Commons address, sending each letter separately by 1st class post, expressing my strong objections  and  requesting that the matter be reconsidered.   I received no reply and must assume that  my letters were totally ignored.
Maybe, if sufficient people were to make their opinions known to the appropriate Ministers,  perhaps also their own MP, some effective good  might be achieved.

'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing' (att. Burke)

'St George, St Andrew, and St David - pray for us and for our  Country'

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Updated Memories of a Wartime Childhood

For some reason I am finding it extremely difficult to compose a new Post.  This could be due to a variety of reasons:-  perhaps age  (mine that is);  the time of year - a time of mists and mellow fruitfulness, with a general slowing down in the natural world (which also includes me); or it could be a dose of 'post papal-visit syndrome', brought on by the great joy and happiness at seeing and hearing, and reading about, the recent visit to this country of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Whatever the reason(s) I am taking the easy way out, and am reproducing a slightly amended post from my older blog-site, 'Umblepie', which I wrote over two years ago, and which was for me, an admittedly self-indulgent trip down 'memory lane'. It may perhaps, bring back similar memories for you, or it may be a bit before your time - almost another world perhaps, either way I hope that you find it at least interesting, and at best interesting and enjoyable. 

Memories of a wartime childhood

Please be warned, in the nicest possible way, that this is quite a long post, I’m in nostalgic mood again, I must really be getting old!
       In September 1939 at the outbreak of the 2nd World War, I was not quite 3 years old and lived with my parents in south-east London. During the first 8 months of the war, a period known as the ‘Phoney War’ - because nothing really happened, I remained with my mother, after which time the bombing of London became more and more severe. In common with most young children, I was then evacuated to the country – in my case to a safe haven in Sussex, my mother remaining behind in London where she joined the Ambulance Service.

                             Evacuee boys with gas-masks
                                        (photo Imperial War Museum)
My destination was a very large and grand country house which had been taken over by the authorities for the purpose of housing ‘evacuee’ children from London. The house was at Chelwood Gate in Sussex, and in normal times, was I believe, the residence of the Macmillan family - Sir Harold MacMillan was later to become Prime Minister of Great Britain (1957-63). I can remember little about my stay there, except sleeping in a high cot in a large room where several other children also slept, and spending a Christmas there with my mother who was visiting me, and looking up at the clear, starry sky on a cold Christmas Eve night and imagining that Father Christmas would soon be coming down from the sky with his reindeer and my Christmas present! This no doubt seems fanciful and a product of an overwrought imagination, but truly this is the one significant episode of my life at that time that has remained etched in my memory!

                     Gateway, Birchgrove House, Chelwood Gate
               (© Copyright Dave Spicer and licensed for re-use under this Creative Commons Licence)
I remained at Chelwood Gate for no more than a few months, after which I was sent to a small residential school near Reading in Berkshire, which again was considered a reasonably safe haven for evacuees. I have virtually no memories of this establishment, but I still have one memento somewhere around, a photograph of a small boy with other small boys, all dressed up as pixies! It is the sort of photograph that doting mothers love and their children hate! The sort that either your best friend or perhaps worst enemy would love to get hold of, so that on reaching a 'landmark' birthday you suddenly see this photograph reproduced in your local newspaper under the caption ‘Happy -- Birthday ----!’. I don’t really know how I come to possess this, but probably Mum kept it during her lifetime, and when she died it passed to me.
       My stay in Berkshire lasted no more than a year, for my mother decided that she would prefer me to live with her sister, my Auntie Kaye, and her two young daughters who lived - wait for it - on the outskirts of Birmingham! I have recently read that apparently after London, Birmingham was the most heavily bombed city in England! I remember walking to school across a small Common, and playing marbles along the roadside gutter – you could do such things in those days for cars were almost non existent! Yes there was the occasional bus and of course quite a number of bicycles, but apart from the rare commercial vehicle the roads were remarkably quiet, although I don’t suppose things were quite like that in the centre of Birmingham!

                    Birmingham 'bull-ring' 1942,  after heavy air-raid
                           (photo Imperial War Museum)

About 200 yards from Aunty Kaye’s house was a large ‘Prisoner of War Camp’ where Italian POWs were interned. A wall and masses of barbed wire separated the camp from the roadway. The inmates could often be seen strolling around the open areas behind the barbed wire, apparently quite cheerful in spite of, or perhaps even because of, their restricted but relatively safe lifestyle!        

       My stay in Birmingham was again quite short, probably less than a year, as my mother succeeded in renting a small house in rural Surrey not far from Banstead, and she wanted me with her. She had worked as an ambulance driver in London until about 1942 living with friends or relatives, and she was on her own with my father serving abroad in the army. Much of his war service was spent in West and North Africa and I seldom saw him during these years. He very occasionally came home on leave and although I must have seen him briefly, I can remember little of these meetings. Once he sent me a surprise present, a fine, large wooden model boat, which he had arranged to be made by Italian POWs in Africa, and which was delivered to our new address in Surrey. It was a beautiful present for which I regret that I may never have fully expressed my appreciation. It was only much, much later, that I realised the trouble and expense that my father had been to, in arranging for me to receive this gift. At the time I had considerable difficulty in getting the boat to run. It was battery powered, but I didn’t seem able to make it work, and there was always the problem of where to run it. After numerous failed attempts, I rather lost heart and the boat was relegated to a safe place in our home, where it remained for many years. Of course the boat was made to be used and enjoyed, rather than just stored away, and eventually it went to a good home, an orphanage or children's home, where I'm sure it was received with great pleasure and delight. I know that my dear Dad would have been happy with this. 
        Once settled in rural Surrey, I had to attend the local school which meant a walk across fields and through woods, a distance of probably just under 2 miles. At this period of the war the countryside was covered in concrete ‘tank traps’, barbed wire, and similar obstacles, with all signposts removed, as part of home-defence contingency plans in the event of enemy invasion. 

                         'Pill-box'- widespread in the countryside

To a small boy such things were quite exciting – and dangerous! One day whilst returning home from school, I was testing the depth of the puddles in the middle of the wood -like small boys do, when I found not a puddle, but a large open manhole into which I fell. The hole was much deeper than I was tall, I could not swim and was alone, and the only thing to hold onto was some grass and soil around the circumference of the hole, but nothing strong enough to enable me to pull myself out. My Guardian Angel was certainly looking after me for I had reached the stage when I had begun to panic, when an older boy also on his way home from school through the woods, saw me and was able to pull me out. This boy whose surname I still remember, 'Richards', took me to his house, and his mother dried me off in front of the fire and gave me some warm, dry clothes, and some tea. This boy certainly saved my life and he is always remembered in my prayers.

                                     One form of 'tank trap'
Our house was virtually on the flight path for enemy aircraft from Europe to London and Southern England, and it was quite common for unused bombs to be jettisoned by these aircraft on their return journey home. There was a large crater in the field opposite our house caused by one such bomb dropped earlier in the war, and a favourite boyhood activity was searching the surrounding countryside for shrapnel of all shapes and sizes from exploded shells, bombs, and damaged aircraft. During this period of the war, the V1 ‘Doodlebugs’ were in vogue and often these passed almost directly over our house. One day I was with a friend in the hilly countryside behind our house, watching a doodlebug flying in the distance, when its engine suddenly cut out and it dropped like a stone, exploding on impact with the ground. It was impossible to see whether it had caused any damage but I suspect that fortunately it had fallen in open countryside. The sound of the ‘doodlebug’ engine was unique, once heard, never forgotten! It was a steady and consistent loud, droning, noise, which you grew to recognise instantly. If you were in an air- raid shelter at home or in the garden, the thing you dreaded most was if the engine cut out when ‘the beast’ was directly overhead! The ‘doodlebug’ was a pilot-less aircraft, and I believe the RAF developed a technique for either destroying them in mid-air or even turning them around so that they returned from whnce they came.

                                     VI Flying-bomb (doodlebug)
       Our house was quite near to both an American and Canadian army camp whose inmates would have been involved in ‘D Day’ operations. We often investigated these camps from outside, and became adept at obtaining chewing gum and candy from generous and good natured GIs. This was very rewarding for us because strict rationing was in force, and we were only allowed three quarters of a pound of sweets per month which could only be bought with ‘ration books’.

                            Shopkeeper cancelling coupons in a 'ration book'

One of these camps occasionally invited the local people to their weekly film show, which invitation included a lift in a jeep to and from the camp. I recall that my mother took me to one of these evenings, and it was very exciting to be travelling in this open American Army jeep, driven by a real American soldier, in true American army style!!

       In common with many households in that area, my mother provided accommodation for service personnel.  Servicemen stayed for quite short periods, and once we had an RAF man who was a brilliant pianist, possibly a concert pianist in civilian life, who regularly played on our modest, but cherished piano, to the delight of my mother. 
        At one time I found a wristwatch lying somewhere in the house, and removed the back in order to see how it worked. Unfortunately having taken the back off, I found to my horror that I couldn’t get it back on again. Being only 6 or possibly 7 years old and terrified of returning the watch without a back, to its original location, I quite irrationally decided to hide it – under the stair carpet!! Don’t ask me why the stair carpet – but that’s where it ended up! Understandably the owner of the watch was rather upset when he couldn’t find it, and I was too frightened to own up to my misdeed, with the result that the village policeman was summoned. His mere presence was enough to break me, and with profuse tears and apologies the wristwatch was retrieved from beneath the stair-carpet – fortunately none the worse except that the back had been removed. I suspect that I was forgiven by the serviceman rather more quickly than by my mother, who no doubt had been rather embarrassed by the whole incident. Still I didn’t go to prison - as I feared I might; the watch was duly recovered and restored to its rightful owner – I can’t remember whether this included the back or not, although I like to think it did; and the policeman returned home to his house in the village satisfied with a job well done! I’m sure that it wasn’t very long before Mum forgave me – for it really was a case of genuine childish curiosity that went wrong! I must admit that throughout my life I’ve found it very much easier to take things apart than to put them together again! Things don’t seem to change!       
        Any resemblance to a ‘normal’ life-style must have been very hard for wives and mothers during the war, with husbands and fathers away, not seen and perhaps not even heard from, for weeks, months and sometimes years at a time, and sometimes not at all. My two sisters were born after the war, so that at that time, I was an only child living with my mother and our dog Bobbie, a pretty brown and white spaniel/ cross bitch, with a lovely temperament - my mother’s faithful war-time companion. 
        When I was safely esconced at school for the day, my mother sometimes travelled to town, which necessitated a long walk to the Station, and then an even longer train journey. One summer day, on one such trip, she was late returning. I had arrived home from school, and as time went on became very upset when she failed to materialise. I resolved to go to meet her, and whilst walking along this interminably long country road and still not having met her, I became even more upset. A lady walking in the opposite direction, stopped as she passed me, and asked me why I was crying. When I told her that my mother hadn’t come home, she gave me a 6d piece (known as a ‘tanner’ in those days), to cheer me up. This was a considerable sum of money to a small boy and certainly was some compensation for my distress, particularly as very soon afterwards I met my long-suffering Mum on her way home!
       Although food was severely rationed at that time, living in the countryside had certain compensations. In the summer we enjoyed plenty of fresh fruit, with apples and succulent Victoria plums available from the farm orchard nearby. I seem to remember that you could buy a bag of plums for 1d, and even now when I think of them,I fancy that I can still taste them! 

                            Victoria plums at Id a bagful!

We lived a long way from our nearest Catholic church and we didn’t have a car - nobody had a car, and there wasn’t any local transport available, so I’m afraid that we didn’t often get to Mass. Additionally the continual demands on my mother caring both for ourselves and our live-in military guests, must have been exhausting and time consuming.
         I was nearly 8 years old when my mother decided that I should go to a Catholic primary school. The nearest was about one hours journey away, being part of a larger school taking in older boys. The journey involved a long walk (or bike ride) to the Railway Station, a train journey of 10/15 minutes, followed by a short bus ride and a final walk to school. The journey did not worry me, in fact it was quite exciting. Paradoxically, in spite of being at war, England was a much safer place for children in those days than it is today. The most dangerous part of the journey was crossing the main road near the school, as events were to prove! One day my Guardian Angel was working overtime, for after getting off the bus to walk the final stretch to school, I foolishly ran across the main road in front of the stationary bus, straight into the path of a car. Fortunately the car must have swerved slightly, for I ran into the side of the car rather than the car running into me, with the result that I bounced back off the car, ending up in the roadway in front of the bus, which happily for me, had not yet started to move. All I suffered was superficial bruising and hurt pride, for which I truly thank my Guardian Angel. I suspect that today, the idea of an 8 year old travelling alone on train and bus to and from school, would be condemned as ‘irresponsible’. However in those days, even though we were at war, children generally were safer, were more able to enjoy their childhood years, and I believe happier than most children are today. It is not that children have changed, it is not the children’s fault, it is the society into which they are born and in which they grow up, it is this that has changed. 

       Our secular society has spawned a secular  government, the fruits of which can be recognised by much of the legislation introduced over recent years. The Abortion laws  have allowed the murder of over 7 million unborn babies in the UK alone, to which must be added the millions of human embryos discarded in the cause of 'medical' and 'scientific' research. Materialism, undue self-interest, and greed, have been nurtured by a  faithless,  humanist State education system, where God is generally ignored and immorality is taught and 'normalised' under the guise of morality, with obligatory ‘sex education’ for all children, even those at primary school.  Traditional family values are so often denigrated, with pornographic and indecent literature and films  readily available, and with legal recognition of same-sex marriages and sodomy, making that which was previously unthinkable, unmentionable, and unlawful, now socially acceptable! God has been sidelined, if not totally dismissed by much of society, and  many children today know nothing of Him. Sadly so many children have become victims of a materialistic and manipulative culture, which promises so much but delivers so little; promises which without God, are totally illusory and unattainable.  Yet life is good and truly precious, and God's presence and love is all around us, if only we open our eyes and look. 'Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you' - words spoken by Jesus.    
       We remained in Surrey until early 1945 when we went to live with Auntie Kaye who had moved to Eastbourne in Sussex. She had rented a very large 1st floor flat over a butchers shop situated near to the Town Hall, and Mum and I and our dog Bobby moved in with her and her two daughters. I was just 9 years old, and attended the Catholic primary school which was a bus ride away at the far end of the town.

                           'Our Lady of Ransom' Church, Eastbourne

My principal memories of this time are of the lovely Catholic church of ‘Our Lady of Ransom’ which we attended for Mass, which was only a short walk away; watching the Town football team play at ‘The Saffrons’, a superb Sports Ground adjoining the Town Hall. I can still remember the name of my hero, goalkeeper ‘Bob Mallin’; and with my friends, exploring the numerous bombed-out houses and buildings that were everywhere to be seen.         The war came to an end later in 1945, and it became necessary for people to plan for the future – something I suspect few had dared contemplate until peace actually arrived! I was dispatched as a boarder to Westminster Cathedral Choir School which re-opened that year, and within a few months my mother and father, recently demobbed from the army, moved to a small house in a country village outside Eastbourne. In hindsight, I suspect that it took months, if not years, for my parents to re-adjust to life in peacetime England. Times were still very hard, with industrial unrest, unemployment, and strict food rationing, compounding the widespread physical and psychological problems commonly experienced as a result of 6 years of war, with spouses and whole families growing apart through absence, separation, and all too often - death.
        We were very fortunate as a family, having been spared so much during the war. Even so, my parents had lost lifelong friends, both military and civilian. During the latter part of the war my mother took me to see two elderly ladies - 'aunties' to me, who lived in a large house in south-east London. As a present they  gave me a toy,  comprised basically of a round metal hoop about 26” in diameter, with a solid handle fixed to the outside. In cross-section the hoop was about 2" wide, convex in shape, rather like the inside of an old-fashioned bicycle mudguard, and the challenge was to rotate a table-tennis ball placed on the inside track of the hoop, round and round the track at a fast speed without allowing it to fall to the ground.This was done by holding the hoop, usually horizontally, by the handle, and moving it quickly backwards and forwards. It sounds and was very simple, probably a very popular Victorian/Edwardian toy giving endless hours of fun to countless children! It certainly gave me a great deal of pleasure. Anyway, these dear ladies, who were close personal friends of my mother, were both killed instantly when a V2 rocket scored a direct hit on their home late in the war. The V2 was silent, with a range of 234 miles and travelled well in excess of the speed of sound, giving no time for the usual air-raid warnings and people to take shelter. 

                                      V2 Rocket - replica

They were fired from huge mobile platforms in secret, camouflaged sites deep in the hinterland of Europe, and if the war had not ended when it did , weapons such as this, together with others being developed, particular the supersonic warplane, could have totally altered the whole course of events, certainly in the short to medium term.                                                                                     

   Today, 70 years on, the world is still bleeding from the wounds of ongoing war and hatred. Many people and nations reject God and His Commandments, denying the divinity  of Christ and ignoring His teachings.  The Catholic Church instituted by Christ Himself, is subject to constant persecution.
'Render to God the things that are God’s, and  to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s', and 'seek ye first the kingdom of God and all things will be added to you';  then indeed will the world know true peace, the peace of Christ.  

Thank you for sharing these memories, I hope that you have at least found something of interest, and at best have enjoyed reading them.
'Our Lady, help of Christians and Queen of Peace - pray for us and guide and protect our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI'