As we prepare to go to the polls in the General Election on 12 December, it is worth reflecting on Church teaching and the principles which should guide us in deciding how to use our vote without violating God’s law.
Click here to read a guide prepared for American Catholics, which seems to be fairly comprehensive. I’ve not studied everything on that [EWTN] site, but I have checked out some key topics and I think we will all find it useful, and a source for fruitful discussion.
Below, a video clip from the trial of St Thomas More, saint and martyr, patron of lawyers and politicians, who has been an inspiration to many, including many who are not Catholics, because of his strong, conscientious insistence that God’s law must always be above any law created by man.
If the voting guide given in the introduction above still leave you with unanswered questions or doubts, feel free to ask for clarification on this thread.
Here, at Catholic Truth, we are apolitical and we discuss politics only in the context of our Catholic duty to be decent members of society, contributing, where possible, to the common good. Please, therefore engage in discussion in a spirit of respect, bearing in mind that the Church exhorts us to adhere to certain principles but does not dictate that we should support (or not) any particular political party. Our overall aim must be to take care not to offend God in the way we vote; not to support the transgression of His Moral Law. To this end we pray…
St Thomas More, intercede for us, and for all the politicians participating in the forthcoming election; guide and inspire us in the weeks ahead… Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.
Education Secretary John Swinney will today announce he is to repeal the controversial ‘Named Person’ laws which were rejected by the Supreme Court two years ago.
The Herald understands he will scrap parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People Act of 2014, which provided for a ‘named person’ to ensure the wellbeing of every young person in Scotland. Click here to read more and here to read the report from the Christian Institute.
President of Scotland’s Catholic Bishops asks First Minister to protect freedom of conscience
The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert has written to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to express his
Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB
concerns at the attacks launched against the SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron (right) following her vote against an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill that would have lifted the legal protections presently afforded to the unborn child in Northern Ireland.
In his letter on behalf of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Bishop Gilbert calls on the SNP leader, on behalf of all those “who cherish freedom of conscience within the public square” to provide an urgent reassurance that freedom of conscience will be protected within the SNP and valued in Scottish public life, at every level.
The full text of the letter is shown below.
Letter to the First Minister
Dear First Minister,
I write following recent public comments made by Dr Lisa Cameron, SNP Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow.
On Tuesday 9 July, Dr Cameron voted against an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill that would have lifted the legal protections presently afforded to the unborn child in Northern Ireland. It is a long-standing parliamentary convention that votes on such ethical issues are considered matters of conscience and, thus, are not subject to the party whip. Indeed, this was confirmed in writing to Dr Cameron prior to the 9 July vote by the SNP Chief Whip, Patrick Grady MP.
In the days following the vote, however, Dr Cameron has been subject to a significant degree of hostility from many quarters, including ordinary members and officer bearers of the Scottish National Party, some of which she describes as being “nothing less than vitriolic” in nature. She adds that according to local officials it may “now be incompatible to hold pro-life views and be a SNP MP, candidate, to pass vetting or be elected in any capacity”. She further notes that, despite prompting, she has presently received no public re-assurance from the leadership of the SNP that this is not, in fact, the case. I therefore am writing to you as Leader of the Scottish National Party to seek such a public re-assurance. [emphasis added – Ed.]
I believe I write on behalf of all who cherish freedom of conscience within the public square and hold in high regard those in public life who remain true to their conscience, even at the expense of personal popularity or political advantage.
“Moral courage is readiness to expose oneself to suffering or inconvenience which does not affect the body,” wrote the co-founder of the Scottish National Party, Sir Compton Mackenzie, in 1962, “It arises from firmness of moral principle and is independent of the physical constitution.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter First Minister.
I await your reply with anticipation. In the meantime, please be assured of my continued prayers and good wishes.
On this occasion, we are pleased to thank the Bishops of Scotland for their public support of Dr Lisa Cameron – and we await the response from Nicola Sturgeon with nothing akin to bated breath 😀 Predictable assurances of respect for freedom of consciences to be expected.
To offer your support to Dr Cameron MP, you can email her email@example.com – for more contact details and information click here
Quite a big difference when they fall over themselves to decry imaginary prejudice against Muslims and homosexuals.
Of course, only silence from Archbishop Tartaglia and co.
It is Gabriel Syme’s last point that should catch our attention. Why on earth would the Scottish Bishops, so quick to rush out statements of concern about refugees, asylum seekers, perceived discrimination against every non-Christian and anti-Catholic group you care to name, why on earth do they remain silent about this grave injustice against Catholics?
In the name of safety, and in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in England, the Scottish Government is changing the law to require every home-owner in Scotland to install fire and heat alarms all over the house – and it doesn’t matter if you live in a tiny flat, the same rules apply. As one reader who does live in a one-bedroom flat points out, it’s bad enough when one smoke alarm goes off, but if, as this new law requires, there are umpteen around the place all interlinked, this is likely to be a real nuisance, day and night. As a Catholic, she wonders if she is within her rights to refuse to comply – because the local authority has the power to enforce this law and she’s not sure what that would mean and if it might entail causing public scandal if her non-compliance is reported in the media.
Here’s the BBC reporton this change to Scottish Law, which the Government claims has come in “after consultation” but I, for one, can’t find anyone who was consulted. And it’s interesting checking out what the electricians are saying; certainly the Government’s claim that the basic cost to each home-owner should be around £200 seems to fall very far wide of the mark. Electricians are likely to make a fortune out of this latest intrusion into family life by the Scottish Government – remember, they’re not forking out to pay for this; home-owners are left to foot the bill.
Is our reader right to worry about causing scandal by refusing to comply with this new legislation? Or is the Scottish Government, yet again, intruding into family life, this time in the name of safety standards, as the Named Person Scheme is justified in the name of child protection?What next? What if the Scottish Government decides – in the name of improving mental health – that we all ought to learn a musical instrument and so we must all install a piano in the living room? Might seem like a crazy analogy but we live in crazy times!
On a serious note… Can any Government do that? Tell us what to install in our homes, post-purchase? Surely, it is up to each of us to decide what we want to place in our homes? Are we soon going to have to install burglar alarms? Are homes in London going to be required NOT to have knives, as part of the attempts to end the knife-crime epidemic there? Just where does the authority of politicians end, and the rights of the individual take precedence? Does the “woman’s right to choose” what happens to “her body” only apply to abortion? What about my female neighbour’s right to choose not to have a bunch of interlinked smoke and heat alarms installed to protect her body… Doesn’t she have that right to choose? Share your thoughts – and any legal expertise you may have lurking under your belt…
And to our readers in other parts of the UK – this is very likely to come to your neck of the woods as well, so, think on, as they say south of the border 😀
The review is charged with considering whether existing hate crime law represents the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will or prejudice..
Commenting on the review, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan who submitted a detailed response on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said:
“This process is an opportunity, ultimately, to ensure that the legislation is just and that every group is protected. This does not have to be a “zero sum game” where one group “wins” and another “loses” but rather could be an opportunity to rationalise and simplify legislation. A desirable outcome would be a single aggravation such as section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. Applied to all protected characteristics equally, it would be a simple and straightforward “message.” which would foster harmony in that all groups would be treated equally in the eyes of the law.”
Mr Horan added:
“It is important that any legislation, preserves judicial discretion recognising that Scotland has a Criminal Justice System populated by highly trained prosecutors and Judges. They are best placed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual cases and should be free to do so in the absence of their decision being “politicised” by legislation which creates a perceived “scandal” where none exists.”
The Church response also highlights Scotland’s long history of anti-Catholicism and urges Government recognition be given to the historic roots of present conflicts. Pointing out that for over twenty years successive Scottish Governments have dedicated significant resources into programmes and projects designed to tackle the symptoms of sectarianism. The submission adds, that in the same period the growth in such funding has been matched by an increase in religious hate crime.
The response notes, that “an opportunity exists to acknowledge that anti-Catholic sectarianism is qualitatively and quantitatively different from other types of religious hate crime in Scotland. Instances of anti-Catholicism outnumber all other type of religious hate crime combined, in a country where Catholics represent only 16% of the population. This is a product of the Reformation Parliament of 1560 and its condemnation of Catholic doctrine and worship including the ban on the celebration of all Catholic sacraments. No other religion or belief has ever been so proscribed in Scotland, the legacy of this proscription continues to the present day. A recommendation by this review, that the Scottish Government consider issuing a collective, retrospective apology could go some way towards building, repairing and renewing bonds between communities harmed by historical wrongdoing. It could also be the first step in addressing historical iniquities.” ENDS
Click hereto read the full text of the Church’s response to the Hate Crime review
We can’t speak for lapsed Catholics, but it is simply not possible for a truly practising Catholic to be filled with hate and that’s what defines bigotry. Many of us, myself included, count members of non-Catholic communities among our families and friends. There is no way that I can even begin to comprehend what it must be like to hate someone for any reason – let alone on account of their religion. Christ told us to go out into the whole world and convert – not kill, not hate. He explicitly told us that it is just not possible to love God if we hate our neighbour (1 John 4:20).
The fact is, though, that there is much hatred directed against Catholicism, and it is sadly true that anti-Catholic behaviour is tolerated in Scotland – to the point where it is effectively institutionalised. Below, a short video clip showing an annual public demonstration of this institutionalised bigotry – the Orange Walk(s) which take place throughout the summer. These events, which are permitted by the local political authorities and supported by the police, testify to the tolerance of anti-Catholic sentiment and behaviour by the powers-that-be in Scotland. The participants sing offensive songs – some of the lyrics of one of the most popular Orange songs is placed under the video, to give a flavour of what goes on during these marches, although the one on film below is relatively mild.
As you watch, ask yourself if such a hate-march would be permitted against Muslims. Ask, yourself, too, if the Editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer was right to invite the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge to write a column in the paper a few short years ago… Is that really what Catholics want to take home and leave lying on the coffee table? Albeit in the name of fostering ecumenical relationships? Howzabout the Grand Master cancels the annual Orange Marches in the name of ecumenism?
“The Sash My Father Wore” Lyrics Sure I’m an Ulster Orangeman, from Erin’s Isle I came To see my Glasgow brethren all of honor and of fame And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore All on the twelfth day of July in The Sash My Father Wore. Chorus: It is old but it is beautiful, and its colors they are fine It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne. From my orange and purple forefather it descended with galore It’s a terror to them Papish boys, The Sash My Father Wore. [emphasis added].
Click here to read about the Scottish Government’s plans to ban smacking. Parents who choose to discipline their children with a timely smack, are to be criminalised – although we’ve yet to find out exactly how this crackpot law will be enforced. Below, a letter written by our blogger, Athanasius, which was published in The Scotsman Newspaper:
LETTER from blogger, Athanasius (Martin Blackshaw) published in The Scotsman…
The arrogant interference in family life by Scotland’s political leaders is again on display as a recent ComRes poll, reported in the Scotsman, shows them at odds once more with parents, this time in the matter of smacking children.
Having already ignored the will of parents and the Supreme Court by forging ahead with their State-usurping Named Person scheme, it seems the next step in eradicating parental authority is to criminalise so much as a slap on the hand or the leg of a child.
They say it’s all in the interests of child safety and wellbeing, a red herring argument backed with endless liberal psychobabble about how smacking can scar the mind of a chastised child for life.
These are the same politicians who dismiss traditional Christian moral teaching in State schools, choosing instead to rob Scottish youth of its innocence at a vulnerable and tender age through sex education. That too is backed up with psychobabble despite a shocking decline in youth morality since the almighty switch from God to government began in the 1960s.
Well I have some news for our politicians, it is that I was smacked countless times by my parents when I was growing up and I love them for those corrections. Children, like adults under the law, have rules to obey if they are to enjoy true liberty. Parents understand this and that’s why they enforce the rules with the threat of physical punishment if breached. It’s a tried and tested method both privately and publicly over many millennia by authorities who actually had children of their own and truly cared for their welfare. Holyrood hippies take note! END.
Given that the majority of the politicians are childless who are leading this drive to criminalise loving parents for their choice of discipline, albeit that it may be a rare, even one-off, occurrence, it seems like a monumental cheek for them to set themselves up as experts in any aspect of childcare. How unreasonable is that?
Parents, on the other hand, tend to be even handed, reasonable to a fault when it comes to disciplining their offspring. Some of them have even launched a group emphasising this parental reasonableness. Click here to reach their website. It’s great to see parents leading the fightback by refusing to accept this latest bullying attempt by the Scottish Government to take control of the nation’s families.
It’s time that the Scottish Bishops did the same, time that they exercised their duty to support parents in the raising of their children, by objecting, publicly, to this latest State intrusion into private family life. But, will they?