Tuesday, 31 May 2016

InFacts: Leave pledges to spend money it doesn’t have many times over

InFacts: Leave pledges to spend money it doesn’t have many times over

by David Hannay

"Some Leave leaders have already earmarked the whole of their fictitious £350 million a week to the NHS, leaving nothing for farmers, or for Cornwall, West Wales or Cumbria; and nothing for the Highlands and Islands or Northern Ireland; and nothing too for scientific research and innovation. Others, such as Boris Johnson, have promised to maintain the current level of support for farmers in perpetuity. Yet others, like the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, have said that that province will not get a penny less than it does now if we leave. Today, the three leaders of Vote Leave – Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart – promised in The Sun to scrap VAT on energy bills. This would cost around £1.6 billion, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies."

Monday, 30 May 2016

The Economist: Yes, we have no straight bananas

The Economist: Yes, we have no straight bananas

Brexiteers carp at European Union red tape, but how much of it would they tear up?

"Despite what Brexiteers promise, it is not clear that a vote to leave would mean a bonfire of EU regulations. Were Britain to seek close links to the single market from outside, like Norway and Switzerland, it would have to observe most EU rules without having a say in them (Norway applies 93 of the 100 most expensive EU regulations). Even if it left the single market and traded from outside, exporters to the EU would have to comply with most EU regulations—and that includes small firms that supply big exporters. If EU-US talks on a transatlantic free-trade deal succeed, most of the world is likely to have to adopt their joint standards.

In short, even if Britain left the EU, it would not find it easy to scrap many of its regulations. Open Europe puts the maximum feasible saving at around £12.8 billion. And Raoul Ruparel, its director, concedes it would be politically challenging to realise that much. Most of the gains would come from ending EU climate-change, financial-services and employment rules. Yet Britain has long supported the first two; and it seems fanciful to expect workers and unions to accept a dilution of employment rights that business is not even calling for.

One more point is lost in this debate: that the EU is proposing far fewer rules now. The European Commission’s better regulation agenda limits new regulations and even withdraws existing ones. Most EU members want less red tape. It is ironic that Britain should consider Brexit just when the EU has come round to a more competitive, less intrusive approach."

The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary




Almighty ever-living God, who, while the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying your Son in her womb, inspired her to visit Elizabeth, grant us, we pray, that, faithful to the promptings of the Spirit, we may magnify your greatness with the Virgin Mary at all times. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.



Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us God the Holy Spirit, ...
Holy Trinity, one God, ...

Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God, pray for us
Holy Virgin of virgins, ...
Mother of Christ, ...
Mother of Divine Grace, ...
Mother most pure, ...
Mother most chaste, ...
Mother inviolate, ...
Mother undefiled, ...
Mother most amiable, ...
Mother most admirable, ...
Mother of good counsel, ...
Mother of our Creator, ...
Mother of our Saviour, ...
Virgin most prudent, ...
Virgin most venerable, ...
Virgin most renowned, ...
Virgin most powerful, ...
Virgin most merciful, ...
Virgin most faithful, ...
Mirror of justice, ...
Seat of wisdom, ...
Cause of our joy, ...
Spiritual vessel, ...
Vessel of honour, ...
Singular vessel of devotion, ...
Mystical rose, ...
Tower of David, ...
Tower of ivory, ...
House of gold, ...
Ark of the covenant, ...
Gate of heaven, ...
Morning star, ...
Health of the sick, ...
Refuge of sinners, ...
Comforter of the afflicted, ...
Help of Christians, ...
Queen of Angels, ...
Queen of Patriarchs, ...
Queen of Prophets, ...
Queen of Apostles, ...
Queen of Martyrs, ...
Queen of Confessors, ...
Queen of Virgins, ...
Queen of all Saints, ...
Queen conceived without original sin, ...
Queen assumed into heaven, ...
Queen of the most holy Rosary, ...
Queen of Peace, ...

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God,
that we, Thy servants, may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body: and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.
Through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.



Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, that we may always sing of the victory of God.

Saint Elizabeth, pray for us, that we may always honour the Mother of our Lord.

Politics Home: Brexit economists reject £350m Vote Leave claim

Politics Home: Brexit economists reject £350m Vote Leave claim

And Ruth Lea, who used to chair Economists for Britain and has been a high-profile advocate of a Leave vote on 23 June, said the figure should not be used and that she had made representations to the campaign.

She told Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “I did indicate to one of the members of what is now the Vote Leave team in fact that £350m was a highly misleading figure, because it’s the gross contributions and at the very, very, very minimum the rebate should be deducted.

“And then possibly the public sector receipts and then possibly the private sector receipts and you’ll probably get down to £150m to £200m a week. So I’m afraid that figure is pretty fallacious.”

The Independent: Tory MPs are preparing to challenge David Cameron’s leadership – even if they know they’ll fail

The Independent: Tory MPs are preparing to challenge David Cameron’s leadership – even if they know they’ll fail

by John Rentoul

Let us just remind ourselves of the rules, though. To mount a leadership challenge, 15 per cent of Tory MPs must ask the Chairman of the 1922, in writing, to hold a vote of no confidence. That is 50 MPs. So far we know of one, Dorries.

There may be another 49 who dislike Cameron enough to write to Brady. The letters are confidential – unless you go on TV and announce them – and Tory MPs trust Brady to keep them so. Cameron is surprisingly unpopular for a leader who has delivered his party into government for at least 10 years. Nearly half of his parliamentary party want to leave the EU and will feel that Cameron has let the nation down by fixing it for Remain – that is, by running a ruthlessly effective campaign in what he sees as the national interest.

Then you get to the next stage, which is the vote of confidence itself. Maybe there are 50 Tory MPs who are headbangers, but are there 165? That would be the number required to produce a tie in the parliamentary party of 330. Formally, I assume a tie means that the status quo prevails, but in practice it would be the end of Cameron’s leadership.

But there are not anything like 165 Tory MPs who would bring down a leader who had just won a referendum and replace him with, in all likelihood, Boris Johnson, who had just lost it.

It's a wet bank holiday; Cameron is not going anywhere.

John Henry Newman: The Liturgy and the Breviary, by Donald A. Withey



Donald A. Withey, John Henry Newman: The Liturgy and the Breviary; their influence on his life as an Anglican, 1992 Sheed and Ward, London


Blessed John Henry Newman has not generally been associated with the field of liturgy; he was not a liturgical scholar and it was not a subject that was central to his writings. Nevertheless, as an Anglican, Newman had a deep love for the Book of Common Prayer and supplemented it with the Roman Breviary, for which he had an abiding enthusiasm. This somewhat loosely structured book offers some biographical details as to Newman's interest in the Roman Breviary.

A good chunk of this book deals with Newman's that great unfinished project of the Oxford Movement, the translation of the Roman Breviary into English. There seems to have been some ambiguity as to the purpose of this translation. Was it to satisfy intellectual curiosity or to offer a resource for private devotion. If the latter, then it made sense to remove 'objectionable elements' in the breviary, namely the veneration and invocation of Mary and the saints. This was the position of some associated with the project. While seeking to use the breviary as a devotional resource, Newman strongly opposed editing and purifying the breviary, feeling that it should be translated in its entirety. The book also details the practice of the daily office in Newman's Anglo-Catholic community in Littlemore. It also contains some of his translations of Latin hymns and a list of his works on the liturgy.

The conclusion of this book addresses the overall impact of the breviary on Newman's development and conversion to Catholicism. Newman found in the Roman Breviary true catholicity as a living tradition. In Anglicanism, he could only find such catholicity in the abstract. This ultimately led him to embrace the Catholic Church.



InFacts: Boris, Gove are pots calling Cameron kettle over migration

InFacts: Boris, Gove are pots calling Cameron kettle over migration

by Hugo Dixon

"Despite Johnson’s and Gove’s protestations to the contrary, EU migrants contribute to our society. They pay more in taxes than they consume in public services such as the NHS and schools. They help create wealth that could be invested in these vital services so there aren’t waiting lists and crowded classes. It is our government that has failed to make this happen.

But Johnson and Gove – and Gisela Stuart, the Vote Leave chair who also signed the open letter to Cameron – are conning the voters by saying his “promise is plainly not achievable as long as the UK is a member of the EU”. They want the electorate to believe that the target can be achieved if we quit.

But leaving the EU is most unlikely to slash net migration to the tens of thousands. For a start, net migration last year from outside the EU was 188,000. So even if the net flow from inside the EU fell to zero, we’d still be almost double Cameron’s target."

The Guardian: Slurs on David Cameron will backfire for Brexit camp, says Frank Field

The Guardian: Slurs on David Cameron will backfire for Brexit camp, says Frank Field


“I think it would be very good for our out campaign to actually concentrate on issues and not on the integrity of the other side.”

Tory peer Danny Finkelstein said that while claims by rebels in his party that they could muster the 50 signatures needed to force a no confidence vote in Cameron were probably true, it would be much harder to bring him down.

“I think it will not be difficult to find 50 people who are discontented with David Cameron at the end, probably more,” Lord Finkelstein told the BBC.

“But I think it would be very hard to produce a majority of the Conservative party that wanted to remove him.

“And that I think will make even those who are against him think twice before they start a letter campaign that might end up strengthening him, not weakening him.”


By attacking Cameron before the referendum is over, his opponents are making themselves look ridiculous. The public will not warm to their histrionics. I have no doubt that if there is a confidence vote, Cameron would win it without a sweat.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Where are they flocking from?

The Guardian: There’s nothing a Brexiter loves more than a good conspiracy

The Guardian: There’s nothing a Brexiter loves more than a good conspiracy

by Nick Cohen


"What am I saying – “wrong”? The Brexiters can never concede that a bearer of unwelcome arguments is debating in good faith. They are not just wrong. Wrong is too weak a word. They are lying. They are corrupt. No critic, however outwardly pure, is free of a sickly compulsion to deceive us.

After the Institute for Fiscal Studies said leaving the EU would damage the public finances so badly it would extend austerity, Vote Leave did not attempt to dispute its figures. I have always found the institute to be the most fastidious organisation in British public life. But Vote Leave knew better. It could see through the mask of impartiality to the rottenness below. The IFS was the “paid-up propaganda arm of the European Commission”, engaged in a conspiracy to mislead the British people for the most base of motives.

The conspiracy it has joined includes so many, it is amazing that it has been able to work in secret for so long, The governor of the Bank of England is in on it. Mark Carney warned about a collapse in the pound and a fall in investment. His forebodings appeared reasonable. Britain is knitted into the EU. Leaving would require an unravelling of relationships in every area of economic, constitutional, diplomatic and cultural life. Questions from whether we will need visas to visit the continent to whether foreign firms would continue to invest demand urgent answers. But Vote Leave offers only threats and conspiracy theories."

A Catholic Redemptive Reading of KJV-Onlyism



Protestant Fundamentalists who adhere exclusively to the King James Bible are often quite mean-spirited people who use very harsh language. Calvinists who take more moderate position, defending the Textus Receptus underlying the KJV tend to be quite anti-Catholic. Nevertheless, I want to suggest that there is something positive in fundamentalist loyalty to the King James Bible.

When I was a student, I attended a Reformed Baptist church for a while. They instilled in me a love for the King James Bible. Students are prone to adopt extreme positions and for a while I was a radical KJV-Onlyist and a fan of Gail Riplinger. As I matured, I drifted to a pro-Textus Receptus position and then to a position favoring the Byzantine Majority Text. As a Catholic, I read both the KJV and the Douay-Rheims Bibles along with modern versions. Catholic scholarship accepts the Critical Text, though I still feel slightly inclined towards the Majority Text.

Despite the repulsiveness of KJV-Onlyism, I think there is something positive in Protestant support for the King James Bible. At a basic level, it is a rare example of Protestant Evangelicals thinking aesthetically. Protestant Fundamentalists are not renowned for their aesthetic sensibilities, yet here we find them appreciating and defending a beautiful work of English language.

The King James Bible is also undeniably part of the Anglican patrimony. King James fundamentalists cannot forget or ignore this. In fact, there is a fundamentalist organisation called the Dean Burgon Society, named after a High Anglican defender of the Byzantine text of the New Testament (it has been questioned whether Dean John Burgon would be allowed to join the society bearing his name if he were alive today). I am sure there must be some King James Bible Believers who have come to an appreciation of Anglicanism via the KJV. One who loves the KJV will feel very at home with the language o the Book of Common Prayer.

There is also the fact that the Textus Receptus is of Byzantine origin. This led me to take a certain intellectual interest in Eastern Orthodoxy as a fundamentalist Protestant. The argument for the authority of the Received Text holds that God preserved His New Testament through the hands of believers. That was somewhat troubling to me, as I viewed the Eastern Orthodox Church as being in apostasy. How could the Byzantine Church preserve God's Word while being in apostasy? This dilemma about how to deal with pre-Reformation church history eventually broke down my Protestant assumptions. Behind the concept of the providential preservation there is an underlying assumption of catholicity and tradition. This is perhaps a potential tool to develop for Catholic apologists.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

That Dodgy Figure

Campaigning in Stevenage with Vicky Ford MEP



Yours truly on the left, Vicky Ford MEP on the right.


Having been out with Stronger In recently, I was campaigning in Stevenage for ConservativesIN. I was joined there by Vicky Ford MEP, who was keen to make the case that Britain is stronger and safer in the EU.

There is a bit on unhappiness about immigration in Stevenage, so I was expecting a bit of hostility, but it was actually a lot more positive than I expected.

Caroline Lucas MP on Immigration

Mirror: Vote Leave rapped again over £350million figure in Brexit battle

Mirror: Vote Leave rapped again over £350million figure in Brexit battle

Britain's statistics watchdog has again rapped Vote Leave's use of figures in the EU referendum campaign.

UK Statistics Authority chairman Sir Andrew Dilnot accused the official Out group of using “misleading” numbers in the countdown to June 23.

Controversy centres around the £350million Brexiteers claim the UK sends to the EU every week .

Critics point out the figure does not take account of the British rebate from Brussels, nor cash returned from the EU to be spent in the UK.

Melanie Phillips



When you promote fear and distrust, you create a climate that can only lead to violence.

CatholicHerald: Vatican liturgy chief urges priests to celebrate Mass facing east

CatholicHerald: Vatican liturgy chief urges priests to celebrate Mass facing east


The Vatican’s liturgy chief has called on priests to celebrate Mass facing east.

In an interview with the French Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne, Cardinal Robert Sarah said that the Second Vatican Council did not require priests to celebrate Mass facing the people.

This way of celebrating Mass, he said, was “a possibility, but not an obligation”.

Readers and listeners should face each other during the Liturgy of the Word, he said.

“But as soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted.”

Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, rejected the argument that priests celebrating Mass facing east are turning their backs on the faithful “or against them”.

Rather, he said, all are “turned in the same direction: towards the Lord who comes”.

A Vote is a Vote

Friday, 27 May 2016

InFacts: Times overshoots with “EU army plans”

InFacts: Times overshoots with “EU army plans”

by Jack Schickler

"Contrary to what the Times headline shouts, the proposal appears to fall well short of plans to create an “EU army” under unified EU command. Describing what it calls ‘steps towards creating a European Army,’ the Times article quotes the draft as urging the EU to “step up its contribution to Europe’s security and defence”, and for a more joined-up foreign policy. According to the Times, proposals include “new European military and operational structures, including a headquarters.”

The Times article quotes a spokesman for the author of the plan, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, as saying it would “in no way aim to set up the EU army”. It goes on to say: “Mogherini shared British suspicions of creating European military structures and had a preference for “soft power”, noting that economic sanctions against Russia showed Europe’s best role. She would rather use treaty clauses to let groups of EU states pursue military operations with the blessing of the rest of the EU, a mechanism Britain does not oppose.”

The Times article doesn’t offer much support for the assertion in its headline, and any threat of the UK being dragged into an army project it doesn’t support is far off the mark. Not only can the UK veto EU foreign policy decisions, but any decision on common defence or an EU army would also require another UK referendum."


I remember the first leader of UKIP (remember him?) talking about an EU army. Twenty years later there is still no EU army.

The Feast of Saint Augustine of Canterbury



O God, who by the preaching of the Bishop Saint Augustine of Canterbury led the English peoples to the Gospel, grant, we pray, that the fruits of his labors may remain ever abundant in your Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.



Litany of Saint Augustine of Canterbury


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.

God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us.

Holy Mary, devoutly honored by Saint Augustine,
Pray for us.

Saint Augustine,
Pray for us.

St. Augustine, glory of the Catholic Church,
Pray for us.

St. Augustine, chosen vessel of the Holy Ghost,
Pray for us.

Great Apostle of England,
Pray for us.

Renowned Apostle of Gentiles,
Pray for us.

Glorious defender of the Catholic Faith,
Pray for us.

Worthy confessor of Christ Our Lord,
Pray for us.

Thou faithful son of the holy Father St. Benedict,
Pray for us.

Thou honorable disciple of thy holy master St. Gregory,
Pray for us.

Thou perfect contemner of the world,
Pray for us.

Example of humility,
Pray for us.

Lover of poverty,
Pray for us.

Strict observer of the holy Rule,
Pray for us.

St. Augustine, curing the blind,
Pray for us.

St. Augustine, restoring health to the sick,
Pray for us.

St. Augustine, preaching the Gospel to our forefathers,
Pray for us.

Zealous patron of immortal souls,
Pray for us.

Powerful in need to all who take refuge in thee in their wants,
Pray for us.

Powerful intercessor in Heaven, Thou our patron saint,
Pray for us.

In all our wants of body and soul,
Help us by thy intercession.

In all dangers,
Help us by thy intercession.

In all tribulations,
Help us by thy intercession.

In temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Help us by thy intercession.

In case of sickness,
Help us by thy intercession.

In poverty and famine,
Help us by thy intercession.

In danger of losing the Catholic Faith,
Help us by thy intercession.

In the hour of our death,
Help us by thy intercession.

That God may humble the enemies of the Catholic Faith,
make intercession for us.

That all heresies may be extinguished,
make intercession for us.

That the spirit of infidelity may be checked,
make intercession for us.

That all prodigal children may return to the true Church of Christ,
make intercession for us.

That our faith may never cease,
make intercession for us.

That our hope may continually increase,
make intercession for us.

That we may perpetually love God with a sincere heart,
make intercession for us.

That the English nation may return to the Catholic Faith
which thou hast preached to their forefathers,
make intercession for us.

That we may escape eternal condemnation and the everlasting fire of Hell,
make intercession for us.

That we may be saved through Jesus Christ,
make intercession for us.

That we may be taken up to Heaven to see the eternal Glory of God,
make intercession for us.

That we may never lose the grace and love of our heavenly Father,
make intercession for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us, O Lord.

V. Intercede for us, O holy Augustine, great Apostle of England,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray

O God, Who in the conversion of the Gentiles,
hast mercifully granted the pious prayers of Saint Augustine,
Thy Confessor and Bishop,
vouchsafe to grant through his merits
and intercession that we,
bewailing our sins,
may be consoled by the gift of Thy graces,
through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen


Saint Augustine of Canterbury, pray for us and for England.

"We just don't know"

Thursday, 26 May 2016

NATOSource: Estonia Calls for Patriot Shield to Deter Russia in Baltic Region

NATOSource: Estonia Calls for Patriot Shield to Deter Russia in Baltic Region

In an interview with the Financial Times, Lieutenant General Riho Terras, Estonia’s commander-in-chief, said an inadequate air defence capability made the Baltic region vulnerable to a Russian lightning attack. Nato needed to consider increasing the number of warplanes it has based in the region, and plan for the deployment of Patriot batteries.

“Of very great importance is our self-defence capability ... what we need [for that] is air defence capability,” said Gen Terras. “We need to be ready and we need to look at what we need to do. Russia behaves opportunistically. If they have the opportunity, they’ll jump through the window to take it....”

The Guardian: The eight big questions on migration the leave campaign must answer

The Guardian: The eight big questions on migration the leave campaign must answer

by Jacqui Smith

I predict that the leave campaign will not have the first idea of the answers to these questions. Yet our country is being asked to vote for an economic shock, higher prices, lower wages, a permanently poorer country, weaker security cooperation and a less influential Britain on the world stage – all in return for some unspecified new immigration policy that the leave campaign haven’t even bothered to think through. The big question for the British people on 23 June is: is this remotely worth it? I believe their verdict will be damning.

Ground Troops



The Remain side seems to be running a really efficient and powerful campaigning operation. Drawing on an army of seasoned canvassers from Labour and the Lib Dems (and some of us Tories!) helps.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Savchenko Freed!



BBC News: Russia frees Ukraine servicewoman

Russia has freed jailed Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who became a symbol of resistance against Moscow.

"I am free," Savchenko told a crowd of reporters and politicians as she arrived in Kiev as part of a prisoner swap with two alleged Russian soldiers.

She was sentenced to 22 years in jail for killing two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine, charges she denied.

The two Russians - Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov - were earlier flown from Kiev to Moscow.

Savchenko was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin before her return to Ukraine.

Mr Putin said he had acted after meeting relatives of the two Russian journalists, who had asked him to show mercy to Savchenko.

In Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko pardoned the two Russian nationals.

The Guardian: What if Turks talked about Britons the way Vote Leave talks about Turkey?

The Guardian: What if Turks talked about Britons the way Vote Leave talks about Turkey?

by Liz Cookman

While Turkey has had more than its fair share of troubles of late, much of the ire from leave campaigners has been pointed directly at the Turkish people. All of Turkey’s 76 million population – mostly criminals, terrorists and gangsters apparently – are preparing to relocate to the UK on the off-chance it will stay part of the EU and their country will, by some miracle, achieve accession to the union sometime soon. This is quite something considering fears of a Cyprus veto, and when only 10% of the population even have a passport.

The Independent: Two thirds of the British public support a universal basic income, poll finds

The Independent: Two thirds of the British public support a universal basic income, poll finds

A strong majority of the British public in principle support the introduction of a so-called Universal Basic Income, a new poll suggests.

An opinion study asked respondents what they thought of “an income unconditionally paid by the government to every individual regardless of whether they work and irrespective of any other sources of income”.

Having it explained that the income “replaces other social security payments and is high enough to cover all basic needs”, 62 per cent of the UK population said it would support such a policy.

Morning Star: Why I won't accept the Politics of Gender Identity

Morning Star: Why I won't accept the Politics of Gender Identity

by Jennifer Duncan


"But the politics of transgenderism that are sweeping North America right now are bringing along with them a multitude of problems for women and girls.

One of the issues for women is the loss of sex-segregated spaces, such as public bathrooms and changing rooms.

When bathroom use is based only on a subjective belief that one is a woman, this effectively allows men to claim a gender identity and enter women’s spaces any time they want to.

There are already many North American schools and recreation centres allowing males to enter female spaces because of their “gender identity,” and this is causing distress for women, who do not feel safe undressing in front of strange men.

In transgender politics, the physical anatomy of the body can be reinterpreted based on the subjective identity that one has — for example, a male body can be referred to as a female body if the man has a gender identity as a woman, and vice versa.

This is a problem for women and girls because our female biology makes us vulnerable to men, regardless of how we identify.

The fact that we are generally smaller, have less upper-body strength, and can become pregnant make us physically vulnerable, and we are also vulnerable socially due to widespread sexual abuse of women by men that is based on our female anatomy.

Seeing a man in a private, female-only space such as a locker room is uncomfortable for women, regardless of how strongly he feels about his gender identity."


The first time I have linked to an article in the Morning Star.

The Spectator: Are we about to see the return of the Kings?

The Spectator: Are we about to see the return of the Kings?

by Ed West

"Brazil, a young country in the new world, might not strike us as obvious monarchy material, but it might also be just the sort of society that benefits from a king: huge in potential, it’s also huge in corruption and low in the social solidarity that creates what the Americans used to call ‘republican virtue’.

Monarchies are proven to help build social solidarity, creating a sense of continuity and togetherness around one family; they are also a healthy way for a country to project patriotic feelings, which otherwise might turn nasty. Monarchs serve as relatively neutral figures, especially useful in societies that are beset by class, clan, ethnic, religious or linguistic divide. No wonder then that whether you have a safe, secure life in the Middle East depends almost entirely on whether you are ruled by a monarch or president. And no wonder then, that, restoration of the Libyan monarchy is not a totally improbable idea at the moment."

Brexit would Decimate Public Services

The Feast of Saint Bede the Venerable

O God, who bring light to your Church through the learning of the Priest Saint Bede, mercifully grant that your servants may always be enlightened by his wisdom and helped by his merits.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Saint Bede, pray for us, for England and for all historians.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Feast of the Finding of the Body of Saint Philomena



Litany of Saint Philomena

Lord,have mercy on us.
Lord,have mercy on us.
Lord,have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God.
have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins
pray for us.
Saint Philomena,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, filled with abundant graces from your birth,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, faithful imitator of Mary,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, model of virginity,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, temple of perfect humility,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, inflamed with zeal for the glory of God,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, victim of love for Jesus,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, example of strength and perseverance,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, invincible champion of chastity,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, mirror of most heroic virtue,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, firm and intrepid in the face of torments,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, scourged like your Divine Spouse,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pierced by a rain of arrows,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, consoled in chains by the Mother of God,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, miraculously healed in prison,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, comforted by the Angels in your torments,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who preferred torments
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who converted witnesses by your martyrdom,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who wore out the fury of your tormentors,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, protectress of the innocent,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, patroness of youth,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, refuge of the unfortunate,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, health of the sick and infirmed,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, new light of the Church Militant,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who confounds the impiety of the world,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who rejuvenates the faith and courage of the faithful,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, whose name is glorious in Heaven and feared in Hell,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, made illustrious by the most splendid miracles,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, powerful with God,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who reigns in glory,
pray for us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world;
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world;
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world;
have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O Worker of Wonders, Saint Philomena,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O Lord, through the intercession of Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, whose eminent purity and practice of every virtue was most pleasing to you, pardon our sins and grant us the grace of_______________



Saint Philomena, pray for us, that we may be faithful unto death.

CatholicHerald: Why St Augustine wouldn’t vote Leave

CatholicHerald: Why St Augustine wouldn’t vote Leave

by Fr Ashley Beck

"In the past thirty years there has been a been a great revival in study of St Augustine, and much of it has concentrated on his political theology. To cut a long story short, what has become clearer through this scholarship is Augustine’s very negative evaluation of the ‘earthly city’, the civitas terrena. It is a den of thieves, an empire which has nothing really to offer because it does not honour the one true God.

Rowan Williams has summarised Augustine’s view in The City of God as follows: “A state may claim to possess the necessary concord as regards the objects of its dilectio; but what degree of stability can such a society possess? It is doomed to vice (XIX, 25) and its security is transitory (XIX, 26). In short, while it may be empirically an intelligibly unified body, it is constantly undermining its own communal character, since its common goals are not and cannot be those abiding values which answer to the truest human needs.”

It seems to me that the view of the nation state put forward by the Leave campaign is rather like what Augustine is questioning and attacking, above all in its pretensions to absolutism and the obsessive wish to restore functions allegedly lost to the UK Parliament. In Catholic social thought, although democratic structures are favoured, the Church is keen to stress that these don’t give states the power to do what they want in moral terms. The State becomes an idol.

Arising from this is one issue which I think is crucial. It seems to me that migration is a distinctive Catholic moral issue: for this reason alone, the fear-based anti-migrant rhetoric of the Leave campaign, riddled with inaccuracies, does not envisage what the bishops call a ‘culture of acceptance’: it is not only inconsistent with Catholic teaching but something which should be condemned as sinful."

As I have said before, I cannot understand or empathize with Catholics who advocate Brexit.

Brexit and Your Holiday

The Telegraph: Schoolchildren with no shoes on 'do better and behave better in the classroom', research shows

The Telegraph: Schoolchildren with no shoes on 'do better and behave better in the classroom', research shows


Schoolchildren who attend their lessons wearing no shoes are likely to obtain better grades and behave better than those who wear them, a decade-long academic research has revealed.

‘Shoeless’ children are more likely to arrive to school earlier, leave later and read more, according to new research by Bournemouth University.

Researchers have observed tens of thousands of children who leave their shoes outside the classroom and found that pupils are more engaged in their lessons, which in turn leads to better academic attainment.

The research is in line with policies introduced in schools in England where children who go to class shoeless – following the steps of schools in Scandinavia in an effort to improve their academic standards and behaviour.

The study is based on observing and studying tens of thousands of children in over 100 schools in around 25 countries over the last ten years.

Apart from countries in Scandinavia, researchers have visited schools in New Zealand and Australia. The longest project has taken place in West London where children’s behaviour and academic results were analysed all the way through to university.

For decades children in northern Europe have learned with their shoes off because they are left at the school door arrival due to snow, ice or slush.


The Nordic way is best! There is a lot we can learn from our Scandinavian neighbors, especially how they run schools.

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Guardian: 'No Muslims allowed': how nationalism is rising in Aung San Suu Kyi's Myanmar

The Guardian: 'No Muslims allowed': how nationalism is rising in Aung San Suu Kyi's Myanmar

by Poppy McPherson

Recent weeks, however, have brought a surge in nationalist activity. Scores rallied outside the US embassy in Yangon last month to demand diplomats stop using the word Rohingya to describe millions of Muslims confined to internal displacement camps and villages in western Myanmar. Nationalists insist the group are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The few public comments Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has given on the issue have not been encouraging.

Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly instructed the new US ambassador not to use the term “Rohingya”. The new minister for religion, the former general Thura Aung Ko, recently called Muslims and Hindus “associate citizens”.

The fact that nationalist rhetoric has gone unchallenged – and has in some cases been echoed – by the new government has left some wondering what place the country’s minorities have in its future.


Some people have this idea that Buddhism is always a really peaceful and tolerant religion. Unfortunately the ideal that people in the west hold of Buddhism does not always fit actual Buddhists.

Mail Online| Dan Hodges: Every time his enemies think they've caught him, Osborne breaks free. Now it's Boris's turn to find out why they call George... The Great Escaper

Mail Online| Dan Hodges: Every time his enemies think they've caught him, Osborne breaks free. Now it's Boris's turn to find out why they call George... The Great Escaper


"This referendum was supposed to represent the final nail in George Osborne’s coffin. It was going to drive an unbridgeable wedge between him and Tory party activists, drive a similar wedge between him and his parliamentary colleagues, and see Boris Johnson cement his reputation as the man who could reach those parts of the electorate other Conservative politicians simply couldn’t reach.

But quietly and skilfully, Osborne is starting to use the campaign to redefine himself, and in so doing redefine the terms of the Tory leadership race.

At this week’s press conference, Ed Balls came out with a remarkable statement. ‘Say what you like about George Osborne, at least he’s putting the country’s interests before his own on this issue, in contrast to some of his rivals.’ Given the personal history between the two men – Balls once came within a hair’s breadth of marching around the Dispatch Box and punching Osborne during a furious clash over the Libor rate-rigging scandal – it was a staggeringly generous intervention.

But it also perfectly encapsulates Team Osborne’s strategy. To paint George Osborne as the man who sees tough choices, confronts them head on and puts the country first, while painting Boris Johnson as the man who sees tough choices, tells a humorous anecdote about them in Latin, then puts Boris Johnson first."


EU Democracy in Action

Pro-Brexit MP blasts Vote Leave arguments

InFacts: EU economy isn’t shrinking

InFacts: EU economy isn’t shrinking

Myth: EU economy is shrinking while the rest of the world grows.

InFact: The EU grew 2% last year, while the eurozone grew 1.6%. Both will grow at around the same pace this year and next, according to the International Monetary Fund. In the first quarter of 2016, the euro zone grew 0.6% – that was faster than Britain’s

Wall Street Journal: Will Any More European Powers Contribute to NATO’s Eastern Force?

Wall Street Journal: Will Any More European Powers Contribute to NATO’s Eastern Force?

by Julian E. Barnes

"Now that the U.S. is only sending one—not two—battalions for the alliance military force on the eastern flank, there is a big question regarding which country will fill the void.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been working on a plan to step up its deterrence of Russia by creating a force of about 4,000 troops, a battalion for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Germany and the U.K. have said they will each provide a battalion. The U.S. still will contribute one battalion, of roughly 1,000 troops. But American officials told alliance officials last week that other allies needed to step forward to contribute the final 1,000 soldiers—part of an effort by Washington to make Europe to take more responsibility for its own defense."

Sunday, 22 May 2016

BBC News: Brexit 'could damage NHS', health boss warns

BBC News: Brexit 'could damage NHS', health boss warns


Leaving the EU could damage the NHS if it puts the economy at risk, its chief executive Simon Stevens has warned.

He said he took "very seriously" warnings of possible recession in the event of Brexit, adding that would be "very dangerous" for the service.

"When the British economy sneezes, the NHS catches a cold," he said, adding it would be a "terrible moment" at a time when the NHS needed extra investment.

The Leave camp says a Remain vote would have "huge consequences for the NHS".

Asked about the impact of EU migrants on the health service, Mr Stevens said: "It clearly is the case that where those migrants are paying taxes that is contributing to the revenues that can afford an expanding NHS.

"When the NHS was set up in 1948 we had a population of 50 million - we're at 65 million now - and the NHS has perfectly, successfully coped with a 15 million expansion in our population - provided it is properly resourced from the proceeds of economic growth it can do that."

Mr Stevens also said the NHS "has benefited enormously" from having doctors, nurses and care workers from the EU working within the health service.

There would be an impact if any of those 130,000 staff chose to leave the NHS because of uncertainty over work visas if the UK leaves the EU, he added.

It could also be difficult for the UK to "get the treatments we need at an affordable price" if the pound were affected by Brexit, because many drugs are priced in euro and dollars.

The Independent: David Cameron questions Penny Mordaunt's judgment over Turkey veto claim

The Independent: David Cameron questions Penny Mordaunt's judgment over Turkey veto claim


David Cameron has hit back at one of his own ministers over her claim Britain would have “no say” over whether Turkey joined the EU.

The Prime Minister said such a move would happen “in about the year 3000”, rejecting a new warning from the Vote Leave campaign that “Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU”.

And Mr Cameron said Penny Mordaunt, the Armed Forces minister, was “absolutely wrong” to say the UK does not have a veto on whether Turkey is allowed to accede to the bloc.

Ms Mordaunt has been accused of “flat out lying” after she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Turkey is set to join the EU in the next eight years and the UK will be unable to block the move.

Speaking to ITV’s Peston on Sunday a short while later, Mr Cameron said: “Let me be clear, Britain and every other country in the European Union has a veto on another country joining.

“That is a fact, and the fact that the Leave campaign are getting things as straightforward as this wrong should call in to question their whole judgment in making the bigger argument about leaving the EU.”


The post-referendum reshuffle is not going to look too bright for Penny Mordaunt.

A Leap in the Dark

ἀναστόμωσις: Quicunque vult

ἀναστόμωσις: Quicunque vult:


"The Prayer Book commends that at Christmas, Easter, Whitsun and no fewer than ten other feast days there shall be said or sung at Morning Prayer, instead of the Apostles' Creed, a confession of our Christian faith, 'commonly called the Creed of Saint Athanasius' ...
It seems to me that the Creed confronts us with three facts which we are extremely reluctant to recognize, and to which the prevalent mood of our age and society renders us particularly allergic.
The first fact is that Christianity is an intellectual religion ...

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Campaigning in Harpenden



Yours truly, wearing the blue t-shirt, campaigning in Harpenden

Today I was in Harpenden campaigning with a lovely team of volunteers from Stronger In. The weather was a bit dismal, but we had plenty of people telling us they would be voting for Britain to stay in the EU.

I was surprised to find that the volunteers in Harpenden were not active with any political party. All the Stronger In campaigners I have met so far have been seasoned activists with political parties, mostly Labour and Liberal Democrat. I think one advantage that the Remain campaign has is that it can draw upon an army of seasoned canvassers from the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

ConservativeHome| Justine Greening: The single market. World engagement. A brighter future for young people. Why I will be voting Remain.

ConservativeHome| Justine Greening: The single market. World engagement. A brighter future for young people. Why I will be voting Remain.


"That’s why Margaret Thatcher set about getting the Single Market in place – so that British companies could get on with competing – and they have done that very successfully, which is why we export so much to the rest of Europe. Our car manufacturers – now a net exporter for the first time since the 1970s – need that level playing field, not to be at a disadvantage with tariffs trading from outside it. I can’t see the point of leaving the Single Market and the level playing field to then try instantly to rejoin it. If you’re not in a club, you’re not going to be given the same benefits as others who are – otherwise what would be the point?

And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last few years, it’s that the intractable problems that our world faces – like the Syria conflict, ebola in West Africa, or the impact of climate change – will be there whether or not Britain is in the EU. They are best dealt with, however, by working together with our neighbouring countries, in partnership. That can be exceptionally difficult, since we often have very different views about the best course of action, but that’s all the more reason to be a voice round the EU table having our say.

Why put ourselves at a disadvantage? How Europe responds collectively affects us. Europe is our continent: that’s a geographical fact, not an option. It’s why Europe is such a huge part of our history – it’s a continent we’ve shaped as much as it’s shaped us. This will be the same for our country’s future too. Britain’s voice matters and should stay at the table. We will keep winning the debates by being in them."

National Catholic Register: Wives of Priests Reveal Their Unique Vocation as Spiritual Mothers

National Catholic Register: Wives of Priests Reveal Their Unique Vocation as Spiritual Mothers

by Peter Jesserer Smith

"The vocation of the priest’s wife comes from the fact that the Catholic Church has both married and celibate clergy traditions among its 24 sister Churches that are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. In the Eastern Churches and in the Latin Church, only celibates can be ordained bishops, and priests can never marry after ordination.

Most of the Eastern Catholic Churches — with the exception of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches — follow an ancient tradition of ordaining both married men and celibate men to the priesthood. In this tradition, ordained celibates live together in the monastery, while ordained married men, with their wives and families, serve a parish."

Good on the National Catholic Register for giving recognition to these wonderful presbyteras. The role of the priest's wife in Eastern-rite (and Anglican rite Catholicism) is much forgotten, but vital.


Kremlin Diplomacy

Key Moment in Kosovo

InFacts: US-EU trade deal isn’t threat to NHS

InFacts: US-EU trade deal isn’t threat to NHS

by Jack Schickler

"One major worry is that the deal might mean NHS services have to open up to private competition. American companies, according to this line of thought, might take us to court under the arbitration mechanism TTIP sets up, and in effect force privatisation. Others fret that TTIP might lead to a change in NHS drug pricing policy – since US pharmaceutical companies often argue that the NHS sets prices too low.

These fears are overstated. Ensuring competition in public procurement does not mean putting public services in jeopardy. The EU has tough rules in this area but, after 40 years of UK membership of the bloc, the NHS sails on.

TTIP negotiators have been clear that the pact would not prevent governments from providing health services. In a joint statement, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and US Trade Representative Mike Froman said “no EU or US trade agreement requires governments to privatise any service” – nor prevents them renationalising those already privatised."

Prospect Magazine: 24th June—the Conservative Party reacts to Brexit

Prospect Magazine: 24th June—the Conservative Party reacts to Brexit

It is the 24th June 2016—the Conservative Party wakes up to the news that Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Months of rancourous political argument, poisonous infighting and downright rudeness have come to an end. Life-long political friendships lie in tatters. It has been one of the worst-tempered campaigns in British political history.

And then things get really bad.

A telephone call is made. David Cameron answers. It is Boris Johnson. “Prime Minister,” says Boris, “you have just lost the most important vote for a generation. It’s time for you to stand aside. What’s more, there are over 100 of your own MPs who want you to go.” The PM’s response is as furious as it is straightforward: “Last year I won a General Election with an overall majority. I’m not going anywhere.” “In that case,” the reply comes, “you will face a vote of no confidence in Parliament.”


An extremely disturbing set of predictions. If you vote Leave on the 23rd June, you could make this happen.

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Feast of Saint Constantine and Saint Helena



O Lord, thy disciple Emperor Constantine, who saw in the sky the Sign of Thy Cross, Accepted the call that came straight from Thee, as it happened to Paul, and not from any man. He built his capital and entrusted it to Thy care. Preserve our country in everlasting peace, through the intercession of the Mother of God, for Thou art the Lover of mankind.


Today, Constantine with his mother Helen present the Cross, the most precious wood. It shames unbelievers. It is a weapon of faithful kings against their adversaries. A great sign has come forth for us which is awesome in battle.





Saint Helena, pray for us, for Great Britain and for all mothers.

Saint Constantine, pray for us and for all monarchs and rulers.

Six Years

Thursday, 19 May 2016

InFacts: Sun overstates foreign worker stats

InFacts: Sun overstates foreign worker stats

by Jack Schickler

"The Sun get their 4 in 5 figure by dividing the year-on-year rise in foreign-born workers – 330,000 in the 1st quarter of 2016 – by the annual rise in UK employment – 412,000 in the same quarter. But someone can be born abroad without being a foreign national – Boris Johnson, born in New York, being a good example. The ONS release states “non-UK nationals working in the UK increased by 229,000”, which constitutes 56% of the total rise in employment, not 80%.

So did 56% of the “British jobs” created last year go to foreign nationals? No. The 412,000 new jobs number is a net one, setting jobs lost against new ones created. Most of those who take up a new post have just left another. The ONS figures show that as a proportion of the total 31.58 million people in work in the UK, non-UK nationals represented 3.34 million, or 10.6%.

Although more recent data is not available, Jonathan Wadsworth of London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance put the proportion of new hires filled by non-UK born workers in 2014 to be about 17.5% – but even this may include UK nationals born abroad."

Exercises in Estonia

ConservativeHome| Risky and radical. Why voting to leave the EU is un-conservative.

ConservativeHome| Risky and radical. Why voting to leave the EU is un-conservative.

by Garvan Walshe

"Authority is indeed stacked in favour of Remain, but you don’t have to agree with Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings, who thinks Whitehall got everything wrong since Bismarck, to acknowledge that the conventional wisdom can sometimes err. Yet to have a conservative disposition is to think the conventional wisdom usually right, and that the burden of proof lies with those who want to overturn it.

Patrick Minford’s claims about Britain’s superior economic performance outside the EU fall apart because they rely on politically unrealistic radical deregulation. Is any British government really going get rid of banking regulation, climate change policy and maternity leave?

Far worse, not to say disreputable, is the Leave campaign’s attempt to link immigration and terrorism. Though it’s reasonable to argue that countries without border controls need much closer police and security cooperation that those that impose checks, we’re not in the EU’s border-free area: we already have border control."

Pro-European Poles

A Less Safe Europe



Brexiters may crow at the prospect of a weakened EU, but it could mean trouble and instability ahead.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Naturalis Historia: Reflections on the Death of Toads and the Edenic Perfect Paradise

Naturalis Historia: Reflections on the Death of Toads and the Edenic Perfect Paradise

"How would a toad pond in the middle of a field of flowers work in a perfect paradise? Just look at the pictures of the toads above. They are clearly “designed” to reproduce with all species having internal structures perfectly suited to producing masses of thousands of eggs. Look at the hundreds of thousands of tadpoles. Does anyone doubt that only a small fraction will survive to become adults? But in the perfect paradise every tadpole is alive and could not die. This pond would produce a hundred thousand toads. But where would they have gotten the resources to survive? Clearly some special biological rules were in operation in Eden that we can’t identify today. Or is the YEC image of a perfect paradise in error. Must the death of a tadpole represent the effect of sin? I think not. The creation was “good” and is still “good” as testified to by scripture. The YEC view of perfections is not a Biblical concept but rather a man-centric definition of perfection that imposes conditions on the creation that God must follow.

Continuing with toads…. if the tadpoles all lived to maturity and then were to have lived forever after that and reproduced, what of all the creatures that eat tadpoles today? Herons, some ducks, fish, water snakes, etc.. benefit to varying degrees from tadpole protein in their diet. But in the YEC perfect paradise these animals had only plants to eat. So they also must have lived by radically different ecological rules.

Many creationists will concede that insects may not be living and thus stepping on one in Eden would not have caused death though even that point isn’t always conceded (see: Did Adam Step on an Ant Before the Fall?). It is one thing to argue over insects but tadpoles are “living” by any creationists’ measuring stick. How could ducks eat water plants and dinosaurs step into the water without accidentally squashing a tadpole? And even if there was some special protection such that they just would not die, how could there be enough resources – including living space – for all the tadpoles to grow into adults?"

NATO's Open Door

The Feast of Saint Yared

O Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy Saints and didst raise up thy servant St. Yared to shine as a light in the world: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may shew forth thy praises, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvellous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Saint Yared originated the form of the sacred music of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.


Saint Yared, pray for us, for Ethiopia, and for all musicians and composers of church music.

The Feast of Blessed Alcuin

O Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy Saints and didst raise up thy servant, Blessed Alcuin, to shine as a light in the world: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may shew forth thy praises, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvellous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Blessed Alcuin, pray for us, for all teachers and for the city of York.

The Feast of Saint Celestine V

I chose my confirmation name of 'Celestine' after Pope St. Celestine I, but Pope St. Celestine V was a good pope too.


O God, who hast raised blessed Peter Celestine to the supreme Pontificate, and also taught him to prefer the virtue of humility, mercifully grant that following his example, we may despise the things of this world, and so merit to attain those rewards which Thou hast promised to the humble of heart.


Saint Celestine, pray for us and for Pope Francis.

The Guardian: The Conservatives need to accept the Human Rights Act, and move on

The Guardian: The Conservatives need to accept the Human Rights Act, and move on

by Keir Starmer


"The problem for the Tories is that it is impossible to draft a bill of rights worth the name without replicating the rights set out in the European convention on human rights. That is because those rights are merely the regional articulation of well-understood and universally accepted fundamental norms repeatedly affirmed by nation after nation around the world.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is the global equivalent of the European convention on human rights, has been ratified by 160 countries; the UN convention against torture – signed for the UK by Margaret Thatcher – has been ratified by 153 countries; and the UN convention of the rights of a child – signed for the UK by John Major – has been ratified by a colossal 193 countries.

If the UK were to step away from this universal human rights framework by refusing to replicate the European convention on human rights in its proposed bill of rights, we would stand isolated and condemned in the world."

A Catholic Mom in Hawaii: The Rosary in Maronite Spirituality

A Catholic Mom in Hawaii: The Rosary in Maronite Spirituality

by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

"Unlike some Eastern Christians who erroneously consider the Rosary foreign to Eastern spirituality, Maronites have emphasized the prayer of the Rosary for centuries. On a visit to Maronites in Lebanon in 1580, Jesuit Father Eliano recorded that he brought them “about one thousand rosaries.”

Early on, the Rosary was a common method of prayer in the East among Christians and non-Christians. Even though it came to us through Western missionaries, it was and still is an easy and rich method of prayer to help the faithful fathom the mysteries of God along the journey of salvation. And we do so with a special companion, the Mother of God and our Mother. Praying the Rosary, particularly in the family, is an excellent method of bringing us together in the faith under the protection of her who always and everywhere intercedes for all people. Let us spare no effort to remain close to her."

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

InFacts: EU is far from being a superstate

InFacts: EU is far from being a superstate

"The Leave campaign’s standard operating procedure is to exaggerate the EU’s actual powers, to allege creep in their exercise and to cast doubt on the British government’s ability to block any extension of those powers. Hence, frequent references to the “Brussels octopus”. Hence, too, the reiterated citing of non-legislative documents (their current favourite being the Five Presidents’ report ) whose recommendations have not been accepted by the member states and are unlikely ever to be so.

Let us look first at those policy areas where decisions can only be taken if the British government agrees to them. These are all highly significant matters – treaty change, enlargement negotiations (which would give Britain a veto on Turkey joining the EU), common foreign and security policy, European defence policy, and any lifting of the EU’s revenue ceiling or changes in the UK’s budget rebate.

Moreover any proposal to shift the boundaries between provisions requiring unanimity and those that can be decided by Qualified Majority voting would need treaty change and would, in all likelihood, trigger the requirement for a new referendum in the UK, as provided for in the 2011 European Referendum Act – the “double lock” to which the government often refers. How likely is it that any British government in the years ahead would set out down that course; or that any group of EU member states would try to persuade them to do so?"

Crux: Beware of ‘trans movement’ as patriarchy in disguise

Crux: Beware of ‘trans movement’ as patriarchy in disguise

by Pia de Solenni

"Despite these advances, today’s “trans movement” (particularly the transwoman sector) inadvertently takes us back to a time when women were valued based on their appearance, and whether they fit someone else’s preconceived notion of femininity. In essence, all it takes to be a woman today are [fake] breasts and good hair.

As a culture, we are telling women that the feelings and sentiments of a particular group of men – in this case, men who regard themselves as women – matter more than they do. That’s patriarchy by definition, even if women happen to agree to it."

New Atlanticist: High Time for Privatization in Ukraine

New Atlanticist: High Time for Privatization in Ukraine

by Anders Aslund

"Last year, the Ukrainian government recorded 1,833 operating state-owned companies, and another 1,700 that were standing still. These 3,500 companies do not yield any profits; instead, they cause the government vast losses. Any profit is stolen. Sensibly, the government focused on cutting losses and improving corporate governance in 2015. Now, this obsolete junk should be privatized.

Ukraine’s privatization discussion has dealt with a few major enterprises of great value—primarily, the largest fertilizer manufacturer, Odesa Portside Plant, and Centrenergo, the only remaining electricity-generating company—in the hope of reaping large state revenues. However, anything sold just after a crisis will be cheap. Any aspiration to yield large state revenues fast is unrealistic.

Instead, the first objective of privatization today should be to improve the functioning of the economy, freeing it from excessive state interference. Second, the pervasive corruption within state companies must be halted. Third, due to national security concerns, strategic infrastructure and key armament companies should not be sold. Fourth, the few truly valuable state companies should be sold when the economy has normalized and asset prices have risen."

AP Interview: Polish ex-foreign minister sees Brexit dangers

AP Interview: Polish ex-foreign minister sees Brexit dangers

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Radek Sikorski, a former Polish foreign minister with longstanding ties to Britain, said he is "very worried" British voters could opt to leave the European Union, fearing it could weaken a political arrangement that has given Europe its longest-ever period of peace and prosperity.

Speaking to The Associated Press on Monday, Sikorski argued that a weaker EU would be particularly risky for nations like his own, which has historically been at the mercy of its large neighbors Russia and Germany. He also argued that it threatens to leave Britain more isolated and economically weaker.

"I think Britain's membership has been hugely beneficial to the people of Britain," Sikorski said. "So I hope they stay with us. We would miss them."

****

Sikorski, who has also held the position of defense minister and speaker of parliament in Poland and is now a senior fellow at Harvard University, argued that a weaker EU would help Russia.

"There is no surprise that Russian media, Russian troll factories, Russian money is supporting Brexit," said Sikorski. "It makes sense that Russia would like to deal with Europe one-by-one and not with the European Union as a whole. That would strengthen Russia's negotiating position vis-a-vis every member state. What surprises me is that some people in smaller countries don't see that."

Monday, 16 May 2016

Aleteia|The Little Office of Our Lady: Through the Days at Mary’s Side

Aleteia|The Little Office of Our Lady: Through the Days at Mary’s Side

by Joanne McPortland

"What does this have to do with Mary, and her “Little Office”? It turns out that, from the Middle Ages on, it was the custom in many places to add a second, shorter set of prayers, readings, and psalms focused on the story of salvation as seen through Our Lady. The practice is said to have begun with the Benedictines of Monte Cassino in Italy, and soon spread to other communities, especially among women religious. When Pope Pius V standardized the prayers of the Church as part of the Council of Trent’s reforms, he mandated that a version of the Little Office of Our Lady be prayed by all clergy and religious on Saturdays, the day associated with Mary.

But the laity have always been called to sanctify the daily-ness of life by praying, too—and have found their way through Mary. The rosary, with its original 150 Hail Marys, was a means for lay people, who were often illiterate, to pray the Psalter—the cycle of 150 biblical psalms that formed the basis for the earliest Divine Office. The Angelus prayers, said in the fields and on the streets to the sound of the same church bells that called religious communities to Sext, None, and Vespers, fostered that same blessing of the day and its work. And during the Middle Ages, those of the laity who could read—royalty, the wealthy—commissioned Books of Hours for their own prayerful use, many centering on the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. Richly illustrated with miniatures, decorated capitals, and gold leaf, these “illuminated” manuscripts contributed powerfully to the devotion to Our Lady that marked the age."

The Telegraph: The Leave campaign is really the Donald Trump campaign with better hair

The Telegraph: The Leave campaign is really the Donald Trump campaign with better hair

by William Hague

"Donald Trump does not have the encumbrance of policies, with details attached, costs identified and implications analysed. He only has general statements, which he modifies or abandons as necessary: a recipe for an easy campaign and a catastrophic government. Similarly, the Leave campaign does not have an agreed alternative to put into action following a victory on June 23; the consequences will somehow be sorted out later. Any plan has been quickly abandoned when criticised: first we were going to be like Canada, then like Albania. Now we are just going to have “access to the single market”, which means: be like all the countries whose goods have to clear EU customs, have EU tariffs added to them, and are subjected to EU standards, without having any influence over what they might be. The Leave campaign is really the Trump campaign with better hair."

Kosovo Here to Stay

HeraldScotland: Why Scotland should stay

HeraldScotland: Why Scotland should stay

"For those concerned with personal and national safety, we will stress the measures that states in the EU have agreed. The European Arrest Warrant has allowed us to arrest and deport criminals across previously difficult frontiers in Europe. Fundamental rights for all of the EU’s 500 million citizens are guaranteed, and expected of any country applying to join. At the same time, the EU’s development and humanitarian aid budget helps secure the lives of the world’s most vulnerable, and bring them up towards our own standard of living.

The Leave side inflates figures on costs, and ignores that for every £1 we put into the EU we get almost £10 back through increased investment, trade, jobs, growth and lower prices. That represents a good deal.

Voters in Scotland will have a very clear choice come June 23. They will have the whole range of rights and responsibilities built up over decades, or the policy void and political aspirations of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and George Galloway.

Scotland Stronger In Europe is confident that Scots will consider themselves to be stronger, safer and better-off in Europe. We will make every effort to win each vote for Remain. In doing so, voters in Scotland may well make the difference in keeping all of the UK’s nations and regions in Europe."

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Divine Simplicity as Negative Theology

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Divine Simplicity as Negative Theology


"In its negative function the doctrine of divine simplicity does not commit one to a specific construal of the trinitarian unity and aseity. It does not commit one, for example, to a Thomist understanding of the divine essence (God is his existence), as opposed to a Scotist understanding (God is infinite Being); nor does it automatically exclude Byzantine formulations of the distinction between the divine essence and energies. Nor does it render unsayable essential Christian assertions, such as the dogma of the Holy Trinity. What it does do is enable us to conceive God as God and not as a godlet or demiurge.

Hence we are not dealing here with an arcane piece of philosophical speculation irrelevant to the gospel. In his essay “The Simplicity of the Living God,” Christopher Franks protests the way contemporary philosophers and theologians have addressed the topic, the former treating it as a metaphysical conundrum, the latter as a non-biblical accretion. Both have failed to see how the doctrine flows from and undergirds a specifically Christian understanding of God as Creator and Redeemer: “Simplicity teaches us how to think about a God who is the fully Living One, the one who lives so fully and completely that this Life is uncontradictable. This God is the source of life for others, and precisely as cause of being, this God is fully free to create (or not to create), free even to enter into union with creation, even the intimate union of the Incarnation, without abandoning that Life” (p. 276)."

BBC News: Prominent Czechs urge UK not to quit EU in referendum

BBC News: Prominent Czechs urge UK not to quit EU in referendum


More than 30 leading public figures in the Czech Republic have signed an open letter urging the UK to vote to stay in the EU in next month's referendum.

The letter says the UK plays a key "balancing role" in European politics and a British exit from the EU "would be disastrous".

It is addressed to the Czech-born British playwright, Sir Tom Stoppard.

The signatories include Cold War-era dissidents, supermodel Eva Herzigova and renowned conductor Jiri Belohlavek.

The list is topped by Michael Zantovsky, a former Czech ambassador to London who was spokesman for the late Vaclav Havel, the man who led the 1989 Velvet Revolution that swept the Soviet-backed communists from power. Mr Zantovsky now runs the Vaclav Havel library.

Havel's brother Ivan is also a signatory, as are Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague, and former gymnast Vera Caslavska, who won seven Olympic gold medals.

They Agree

Sunday, 15 May 2016

National Review: McCain Faces Unexpectedly Tough Reelection Fight in Arizona

National Review: McCain Faces Unexpectedly Tough Reelection Fight in Arizona

"John McCain knows what makes this election cycle so different from years past: “Angry voters.”

McCain offered that blunt assessment of the road ahead last month. He is seeking reelection to his sixth term in the Senate and by rights he shouldn’t be worried: Since he first won the seat with a 21-point victory in 1986, no primary or general-election opponent has come even that close to knocking him off. He has all the advantages of incumbency — the deep political network, the massive war chest, the sky-high name ID — in a state that has gone Republican in every presidential election since 2000. And yet he finds himself facing perhaps the strongest challenger of his career in a year when Donald Trump has complicated the task facing down-ballot Republican candidates everywhere."

Let's Build Alliances

The Independent: Boris Johnson's comparison of EU and Nazi superstate shows Leave campaign has 'lost its moral compass'

The Independent: Boris Johnson's comparison of EU and Nazi superstate shows Leave campaign has 'lost its moral compass'

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, described the former London Mayor's comments as "offensive and desperate".

"Leave campaigners have lost the economic argument and now they are losing their moral compass," he said.

"After the horror of the Second World War, the EU helped to bring an end to centuries of conflict in Europe and for Boris Johnson to make this comparison is both offensive and desperate."

Former Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper joined the condemnation and called on Mr Johnson to not play "political games with the darkest and most sinister chapter of Europe's history".

"The more he flails around with this kind of hysterical claim, the more he exposes his shameful lack of judgement, his willingness to play the most divisive cynical politics, and the emptiness of his arguments," she said.

"One week it is dog whistle attacks on President Obama. Now he is trying to liken the institution that has kept peace on our continent for decades with Hitler, who pursued the genocide of millions of innocent people.

"All because he is desperately seeking headlines for a desperate campaign."

St. John Paul II on the Message of Fatima