Follow the money. The movie Fifty Shades of Grey grossed $76m in its opening weekend. That was in the United States alone. In 56 other countries, including the United Kingdom, it also topped the box office charts. The film is produced by Universal Pictures. Universal is owned by Comcast, the largest broadcasting and cable company in the world by revenue. Last year the firm’s chief executive, Brian Roberts, received a pay packet worth nearly $41m.
Science tells us that the unborn child is a human being. Take a look at the photograph on the right. That is the face of a child in the womb. Only three months old and yet his or her tiny face tells us all we need to know; it is the face of one of us! Indeed, if this little one is not human then no one is human.
Medicine tells us that the unborn child is a human being. From the day of our conception, our unique DNA and genetic information are set down. Within our first month of life our hearts are beating with our own blood. We have eyes, ears and a tongue. Our arms and legs are beginning to push out.
There is an understandable secular bias to the exam board specifications related to controversial issues. They reflect the attitudes of society as a whole, while conforming to political requirements on topics such as equality and discrimination. Although the Ofqual subject criteria are necessarily generalised, the exam boards translated them into a concrete syllabus with specific content which contains a degree of bias and unacknowledged assumptions. However, the Roman Catholic module exam questions almost invariably allow the Catholic view to be stated; therefore it is important to teach a robust apologetic for the Catholic world view, while also critically presenting the opposing arguments of contemporary society and liberal Christianity.
It can be difficult enough for us to accept this in our own life. How could God, who made the whole universe, be interested in me? When we do accept it, however, we begin to understand that it follows that God does not desire to enter into a relationship with one single human being, but with the whole of humanity. This is the meaning of the Church: she is the privileged place where God calls all of humanity together and speaks to them. She is also the place where God’s message can be interpreted authentically, allowing a genuine dialogue, a genuine relationship, to take place.
When Archbishop Oscar Romero is beatified sometime this year, it will not be because he is the “Liberation Theology” hero some have tried to make of him. Rather it will be because he was a man of God who proclaimed the gospel courageously, even at the cost of his life.
This year Humanum is exploring the theme of education. The first issue, which will go online sometime in March, deals with what it means to educate the person as a human being. The role of the family as the first educator of the child will be examined, as well as the educational theories of St John Bosco, Sofia Cavalletti and Luigi Giussani. The second issue will deal with schooling: what is an authentic pedagogy, the revival of classical education, home-schooling and new types of schools and colleges. The third issue will deal with sex education, and the fourth with education and technology. Running through all the issues is the concept of paideia, education that cultivates the virtues.
England and Wales are facing similar proposals that are being pushed by Lord Falconer. Inevitably, we have all been subjected to the hard sell by the BBC and others, who have used the cases of people such as Tony Nicklinson, Debbie Purdy, Kay Gilderdale, Terry Pratchett, Anne Turner, Diane Pretty to promote their agenda. So unstinting has been the effort to portray as virtuous the ending of the lives of the weak that it brings to mind Pope Benedict’s words to the College of Cardinals in 2012: “We see how evil wants to dominate the world,” he said, and how it uses cruelty and violence, but also how it “masks itself with good and, precisely in this way, destroys the moral foundations of society.”
A late starter at marriage and motherhood, I used to desperately wish for a large family. What a “large family” means for someone with one sibling is of a rather different magnitude than for someone who grew up in a family with eight or nine or 10 children. I prayed fervently to be blessed with what for me seemed like a large family. “Dear Lord,” I pleaded, “please can I have four children before I’m 40.” Really. That’s what I prayed with my firstborn son in my arms. I was 33.
Before the arrival of Pope Francis, the main themes of discussion in the Church had solid theological roots. Even the questions concerning the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and of homosexual couples – both topics of heated debate at last October’s Synod of Bishops – are in the end based on theological foundations, and deal with the application of doctrine. The criticisms aimed at the Pope’s plan for curial reform, the other issue at stake in this pontificate, are also founded on theological and juridical grounds.
We are in a war of world views; some believe that our universe is meaningless, or even, like Stephen Fry, positively malevolent. In such a situation, all we can do is to construct systems of meaning, or relationships and identities around ourselves, to warm and to illumine in this dark and cold world. Yet others hold that we have to be “heroic” in the face of meaninglessness and face squarely its bleak implications. Views of the universe as a closed system, which consists only of observable, material causes and their effects, have certainly led us to observations of regularity and of predictability, which have been useful for experimental science, but these abstractions have also robbed the world of its “enchantment”, its spontaneity and the possibility of moral and spiritual change.
Stephen Fry’s video, railing against a God who can permit a worm “whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind” has become viral. In fact, the African Loa loa worm in question affects very few humans (not that this mitigates the suffering). What Fry did not state is that diethylcarbamazine has been shown as an effective preventive for this infection.
This example is, indeed, a problem for creationists, who view all creatures as uniquely and individually created and designed by God, without evolution. The Faith movement’s perspective is, rather, that the “laws” of nature are a result of God’s Unity-Law in matter; they have their own dynamic and evolve in time and space, resulting in living and non-living things that, from a human perspective, may be harmful or beneficial.
Coll says that she has three main aims in her book. First, she wants us to understand the teaching that bishops have the fullness of the sacrament of ordination and so to understand the relationship between bishop, priest and deacon. Secondly, and with a significant leap, she thinks that from this we can understand the role of women within this sacrament, in order to find an official office for women that is recognised by all, with its own liturgical rite and duties described in Canon Law. Thirdly, she believes that ordaining women to the diaconate would go some way to marginalising the debate on women priests, thus helping to end the scandal of division among Christians (p xxi).
The United States has never been a Catholic country, of course, and today we are not even truly a Christian country, given the continuing collapse of traditional Protestantism – graphically demonstrated by the legalisation of abortion and the breakdown of marriage. In addition, there is the presence of pornography in the culture at all levels, degrading women and destroying families by the millions, not to speak of the Pill, which both poisons the woman and prevents new life.