Monday, 12 October 2015

Voice of the Family reflects on the first week of the Ordinary Synod on the Family

Voice of the Family offers below a selection of news and analysis of the first week of the Ordinary Synod on the Family.

Voice of the Family is an initiative of Catholic laity from 26 pro-life, pro-family organisations from all five continents. The coalition was formed to put our experience and resources at the service of the cardinals and bishops attending the two synods on the family. It was co-founded by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and Lifesite News:

International coalition issues manifesto as Vatican family synod opens

The Code of Canon Law secures to all the Christian faithful, “according to the knowledge, competence and expertise which they posses”, the “right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful.” (Canon 212)

In order to better fulfil this duty Voice of the Family has produced a manifesto, which presents the most serious concerns held by the members of our coalition. Noting “with alarm the increasing tendency of prominent figures within the hierarchy of the Church to promote positions contrary to the Catholic faith and the natural moral law”, Voice of the Family appeals to Pope Francis and the Church’s teaching authorities “to take all necessary steps to protect the integrity of Catholic doctrine and, by so doing, to protect our families from the ravages of the culture of death.”

The manifesto calls upon the Synod “firmly and unambiguously” to uphold the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the evil of adultery, the wrongness of homosexual unions, the sinfulness of contraception.

The manifesto is available in EnglishItalian; Spanish; French.

Leading African cardinal critiques Vatican spokesman Fr. Rosica (

South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, a leading cardinal on the organizing committee for the Synod on the Family, issued a pointed critique on Twitter of a controversial report on the Synod by the Vatican’s English-language spokesman, Fr. Thomas Rosica, in which the priest emphasized that the Church should “embrace reality” in dealing with sinful situations.

Rosica’s summary of Synod fathers’ addresses at Tuesday’s press briefing was criticized for its emphasis on liberal proposals and the strong language he used to describe them. The remarks fuelled ongoing concerns from last year’s Synod about the manipulation of the message by the Vatican press office and the Synod’s organizing body.

Liberal Catholic game plan: Let local churches decide morality (

The German Catholic Youth Organisation has called for local churches to decide on matters of doctrine. Its president told a conference:
"Therefore, we hope that the Synod accepts the cultural differences between local churches and that it puts more trust in the consciences of the faithful, rather than in the communication of individual norms of interdiction ... We work for the acceptance of same-sex relationships."
This call for the delegation to local churches was echoed in the report by the Synod's French B circle:
"Diversity requires an articulation of what is of a universal order and of a particular order, a strong common word able to respond to particular situations. In this respect the group proposes that the episcopal conferences hold a determined power to allow their pastors to be good Samaritans in their ecclesial service."
LGBT pre-synod conference gets strong episcopal backing

An international conference entitled Ways of Love: Snapshots of Catholic Encounters With LGBT People and Their Families took place last weekend in Rome. The conference was sponsored by the “Global Network of Rainbow Catholics”, a worldwide network of organisations that, in the name of “social justice”, demand inclusion and dignity for LGBT people and their families within the Catholic Church and society in general. The meeting was attended by Catholic pastoral leaders from around the world, who work in favour of LGBT people within their ecclesiastical communities. In addition to drawing up new action plans, a clear and stated objective of the initiative was to apply some pressure to the impending crucial Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. Among the speakers was a Dominican Bishop Raúl Vera López from the Mexican diocese of Saltillo.

Superficial synod reports give green light to attacks on life and family
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Last week cardinals and bishops attending the Ordinary Synod on the Family separated into thirteen small groups to discuss the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris and propose amendments to the document. The reports of their work, made public yesterday, reveal a striking failure to protect the family from the serious threats contained within the first part of this heterodox preparatory document.

Voice of the Family has published an analysis of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Ordinary Synod on the Family. Our other publications are available here.

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Sunday, 11 October 2015

I am honoured to receive Father Paul Marx Pro-Life Award from Human Life International

I was honoured to received the first Father Paul Marx Pro-Life Award  Human Life International (HLI) at their World Prayer Pro-Life Congress in Fatima on Tuesday last. I dedicated my acceptance speech to Josephine, my wife, who has given me unconditional support in my pro-life work since we married 31 years ago and I accepted the award in honour of SPUC, its staff, volunteers and supporters.

Human Life International does extraordinary pro-life work with affiliates and associates in over 80 nations worldwide.

As Fr Boquet, the president of Human Life International, presented me with the first Father Paul Marx Pro-Life Award, I was thrilled to stand beside Monsignor Reilly, my pro-life hero, the founder of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants which give witness and pray worldwide outside abortion clinics which he still does at the age of eighty-two. Fr Manfred Muller a great supporter of HLI Austria is on the left and my friend, Dietmar Fischer, the past president of HLI Austria is on the right who also tirelessly organises prayerful witness outside abortion clinics.

Speaking about the Family Synod in Rome, to which I returned after the HLI Congress, I said, amongst other things: "Acceptance by Synod Fathers of contraception in the kind of language used in the Instrumentum Laboris risks intensifying the current abortion holocaust which, it is estimated, has already cost the lives of more children in the womb than there have been lives destroyed in all the wars throughout recorded history". (Voice of the Family has published a widely-praised analysis of the Instrumentum Laboris.)

I took the opportunity of explaining why Catholics have a moral obligation to oppose the direction being taken in the Instrumentum Laboris, as well as reporting along with other national representatives from around the world about pro-life work in Britain.

Whilst in Fatima I took part in the Rosary and procession at the shrine. May Our Lady of Fatima protect the Church and especially the Church’s doctrines on marriage, the family and life which are under such attack in Rome this month. May She uphold those bishops who are determined to defend our families by defending the faith without counting the cost for their ecclesiastical positions.

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Stakes are high for unborn children at Family Synod

Maria Joanna Madise, manager of our Voice of the Family team, working here in Rome to lend support to faithful Synod Fathers during the Family Synod, and I, were delighted to run into Cardinal Burke at Living the Truth in Love, an international conference and resource event to address pastoral approaches toward men and women with homosexual tendencies*.

Cardinal Burke has travelled the world defending Catholic faith on marriage and on the truth about human sexuality. Our friend and collaborator in Voice of the Family, Fr Giordano, new head of the Rome office of Human Life International, stands behind the good cardinal. We believe that Cardinal Burke would happily lay down his life to defend the truth of Catholic teaching on the family and on the sanctity of human life.

Why are we here and why did SPUC co-found and decide to give a lead to Voice of the Family? The answer can be found in the Gospel reading at Mass earlier this week from Matthew Chapter 18,6-7: "But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh."

In view of what appears in the working document, the Instrumentum Laboris of the Family Synod, on cohabitation, that Gospel reading could not be more relevant to the work of our group. The relatio synodi of last year's extraordinary Synod on the family stressed the so-called "positive aspects" of cohabitation in its various forms, at the expense of a clear presentation of the sinful nature of fornication, and the resultant harm caused to individuals and society. This approach is extended and endorsed in the Instrumentum Laboris, on which Voice of the Family published a widely-praised analysis by Matthew McCusker, a member of our SPUC and Voice of the Family team.

This is the workplace to which we will be returning for our Voice of the Family "desk work" and meetings during this busy month in Rome. The card on the table is a most welcome Mass card from Jacek and Caroline Zdziarski, tireless SPUC supporters in Nottingham.

Our Voice of the Family team  got under way with a strongly-worded manifesto as the Family Synod began last week. The manifesto opens: "Noting with alarm the increasing tendency of prominent figures within the hierarchy of the Church to promote positions contrary to the Catholic faith and the natural moral law, Voice of the Family appeals to Pope Francis and the Church’s teaching authorities “to take all necessary steps to protect the integrity of Catholic doctrine and, by so doing, to protect our families from the ravages of the culture of death.”

At the same conference at which we ran into our good shepherd and friend Cardinal Burke, I had the opportunity of having a brief word with Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. He was speaking on "God or Nothing", an address reflecting on the challenges of Christian life in the modern world and how the teachings of Christ and His Church remain unchanged, a point he underlined during question-time. The Voice of the Family team is praying hard and working hard to try to ensure that many many Synod Fathers take Cardinal Sarah's position at the Family Synod itself.

Tragically for our families and for our pro-life work, the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the Family Synod, contains language (paragraph 8) which appears to suggest the possibility of giving approval to same-sex unions on some level. For the sake of our families, for the sake of our pro-life work, and for the sake of true mercy which is found in the truth about human nature and the Church's unchangeable teaching on the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual acts, our prayers and prudential speaking out boldly, have never been more important. (Please drop me a line at my email address below if you would like a full explanation as to why upholding and teaching the natural law on homosexuality is so fundamentally important for our pro-life work.)

Cardinal Sarah raised fears about the manipulation of the Ordinary Synod which opened last Sunday, 4th October. In the recently published book Christ’s New Homeland Africa: Contribution to the Synod on the Family by African Pastors, His Eminence wrote: "We also see communications strategies being implemented; it would even seem that new methodologies for the synod assembly are being examined in order to give a voice to some lines of thought while endeavoring to make others inaudible, if not to silence them completely. Everything leads us to believe that the next synod assembly will be for many people a synod with high stakes. The future of the family is indeed at stake for mankind today.”

Cardinal Sarah's warning is timely and justified. The Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the Synod, clearly undermines the core teaching of the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. Given that experienced pro-life campaigners as well as leading academics have long concluded that the acceptance of contraception is a basic building block of the culture of death, a view held too by St Pope John Paul II, such confusion generated by the Vatican can only lead to a renewal of the abortion holocaust which, it is estimated, has already cost the lives of more children in the womb than there have people killed in all the wars throughout recorded history. That's why SPUC is in Rome as co-founder of Voice of the Family for this Family Synod. As Cardinal Sarah says: The stakes are high.

We begin our day by praying the Rosary at 9 am daily. Do please join us.

*Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on sexual ethics important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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