news-2


Sunday 12 April 2009

Cardinal challenges "stifling political consensus"

In a hard hitting Easter message Cardinal Keith O'Brien has called on Scotland's politicians to stop passing "frenzied regulation" and instead" educate a new generation in morality and objective truth."

The message is contained in the Cardinal's Easter Sunday Homily and in an opinion article in a Sunday Newspaper. Cardinal O'Brien who is President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland claims that too often public policy deals with the symptoms of social breakdown rather than the causes.  

He states, that too many politicians " take the view that bad behaviour whether it be public drunkenness, health-threatening overeating or teenage promiscuity are all immutable and unchangeable. The urge and desire to commit acts of this type cannot be curbed far less removed therefore public, social and health policy must all be orientated towards mitigating the effects. "

By contrast he calls for action to address the root or underlying cause which he claims is marriage breakdown and the fracturing of family life stating; "Scotland has one of the highest divorce rates in the Western world we also have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates and STI statistics, which are both alarming and growing. These trends are connected they are not coincidental. A report published in 2007 revealed that if you have experienced family breakdown, you are 75% more likely to fail at school, 70% more likely to be a drug addict and 50% more likely to have alcohol problems."

Cardinal O'Brien concludes with a call for more investment in marriage preparation reconciliation services and tax reform, saying;

" For couples intending to marry we should offer at public expense universal access to marriage preparation courses, for those facing difficulties in their marriages we should ensure remedial and reconciliation services are easily and quickly available. The cost benefits of preventing breakdown hugely outweigh the gargantuan costs of dealing with the after effects.
As a matter of urgency, we must (also) reform the tax credit system"

The Cardinal's full text is shown below.

ENDS


Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168
07968 122291  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org

Easter Sunday Message 12 April 2009

In recent weeks much coverage has been given to the decision by the Scottish Government to limit sales of alcohol to young people by increasing the selling price through restrictions on a variety of retail offers and by asking Local authorities to consider raising the age for alcohol purchases.

This policy mirrors the approach taken by this and previous administrations to drug use, vandalism, anti social behaviour, obesity even promiscuity and might usefully be called the command and control model of public governance. Advocates of such a model take the view that bad behaviour whether it be public drunkenness, health-threatening overeating or teenage promiscuity are all immutable and unchangeable. The urge and desire to commit acts of this type cannot be curbed far less removed therefore public, social and health policy must all be orientated towards mitigating the effects.  

It is an approach, which is deeply flawed and utterly discredited. It is also however the logical destination for a polity that resolutely refuses to judge or differentiate between actions conducive to the public good and those, which threaten it.

When our fellow citizens err and lapse we seldom focus on them or ask why they behaved as they did. Rather we rush to impose legal restraints on such action forgetting dangerously that no external restrictions can ever match the effectiveness of self-restraint.


When a toddler is shot with an airgun we regulate the sale of such weapons, alcohol abuse by our young people is met with legislation to restrict sales and sexual promiscuity with regulations aimed at ensuring contraception and abortion are widely available. In every instance we seek to mitigate the effects of bad behaviour and perhaps place barriers in the paths of such acts. We do not as a society take action to tackle the underlying motivation; instead we limit our action to blunting the impact of our excesses. We obsess over the symptoms and ignore the cause.


Scotland has one of the highest divorce rates in the Western world we also have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates and STI statistics, which are both alarming and growing. These trends are connected they are not coincidental. A report published in 2007 revealed that if you have experienced family breakdown, you are 75% more likely to fail at school, 70% more likely to be a drug addict and 50% more likely to have alcohol problems. Further studies have shown that children born to married parents are twice as likely to spend their childhoods with both their parents than those born to cohabiting couples. The children of cohabitees are more likely to experience disruptions in family life, do less well at school and suffer from emotional problems.  

In the face of all this evidence our parliament has enacted legislation making divorce easier and quicker and giving greater legal recognition to cohabitation, while our taxation system ruthlessly penalizes long-term legal commitment. These attacks on marriage and stable family relationships have caused unimaginable misery, pain and life-long failure for thousands of children. They have led to disastrous social and economic consequences for our nation. As Robert Whelan of the think tank Civitas said, There are strong links between marriage and economic performance, educational achievement and alcohol and drug abuse. Academics have known this for a long time. But politicians continue to insist that marriage doesn't matter.  


The drug and alcohol fuelled promiscuity; hedonism, vandalism and outright nihilism of so many young people today represent a whirlwind will we reap for a long time to come. We have denied them security, stability and morality we have contrived to hide from them objective truth. We have failed them and we are paying the price for that failure in shattered lives and broken, often suicidal children.

As the human debris of our failure accumulates a stifling political consensus seems to compel our parties and our Parliament into further frenzied regulation. Like the manic sorcerer whose spells have gone disastrously wrong they cannot control the urge to cast yet more spells upon the chaos. The alternative is far too frightening and fearsome “ to admit they were wrong!

Is remedial action too late? Can Scotland come back from the brink of social collapse? Or should we assume that offering abortions to schoolgirls, knife amnesties to schoolboys and clean needles to students are now the business of our brave new society?

As ever hope does remain. Recently, the government released findings from a survey by YouthLink Scotland on attitudes, interests and aspirations of young people in Scotland. 2685 children and young people aged 11 to 25 were surveyed. When asked to identify those they most trusted and respected, encouragingly the vast majority put parents at the top of the list. Today s children are tomorrow s parents. To help and sustain them in their parenting we must urgently restore support for marriage. Marriage remains an ideal to which most people aspire, and it still provides the surest foundation for strong and healthy families.   Marriage encourages families to support each other and work together to the lasting benefit of society. Families need all the help they can get “ now more than ever! And families who stay together should not be financially penalised for their commitment and loyalty to each other.

For couples intending to marry we should offer at public expense universal access to marriage preparation courses, for those facing difficulties in their marriages we should ensure remedial and reconciliation services are easily and quickly available. The cost benefits of preventing breakdown hugely outweigh the gargantuan costs of dealing with the after effects.

As a matter of urgency, we must reform the tax credit system, which presently favours children who live with a lone parent rather than with both parents. This couple penalty actively discourages low-income couples from living together and making their commitment unambiguous by marrying. Additionally, transferable tax allowances for married couples would recognise the stability that marriage brings and acknowledge that such partnerships are foundational to stable and law abiding societies.


Unless we reverse course as I have outlined our divorce rate, teen pregnancy rate, STI numbers and alcohol and drug dependency problems will grow and multiply. We cannot micro legislate or regulate our way out of this situation. We cannot possibly predict every conceivable aberration and prepare a parliamentary response to it. Instead we must educate a new generation in morality and objective truth. As the Chinese proverb has it; Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Rather than giving our young people a law a day to keep excess at bay we might try to impart what Pope Benedict has described as true values which give life a foundation."  

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 151 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Bishops welcome Review Group’s Annual report

| 26th June 2020 | Blogging

Bishops welcome Review Group’s Annual report Friday 26 June 2020   The Second Annual Report of the Independent Review Group (IRG) monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of the McLellan Commission by the Catholic Church in Scotland has been welcomed by the Bishops’ Conference. The report, published on 26 June is available at: https://www.bcos.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/IRG%20Report%20June%202020.pdf   Commenting on the publication, Bishop Joseph Toal, President of the Commission for Pastoral and Social Care said;“On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, I thank the IRG for their work and welcome the publication of their second annual report, which will be given careful consideration.”   Bishop Toal added;   “Safeguarding remains at the heart of the church’s mission and the maintenance of high standards is only possible through independent scrutiny of an autonomous body like the IRG that works separately from the Catholic Church.”   ENDS Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org      ...

Bishops appoint new Vice Rector for Scots College

| 12th June 2020 | Blogging

Bishops appoint new Vice Rector for Scots College 12 June 2020   A new Vice Rector has been announced for the Pontifical Scots College in Rome. Fr Nick Welsh (36) was chosen for the post by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and is expected to begin the role in September.   He is currently parish priest at Our Lady and St Andrew, covering Galashiels, Melrose and Selkirk, and Vicar Episcopal for Education for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.   Commenting on the appointment, Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh said: “The Bishops thank Fr Nick for accepting this role and acknowledge the big change in having to leave his parish to move to Rome. “I am confident he will do an excellent job in forming our seminarians. It’s both challenging and rewarding and, when he returns, our diocese will greatly benefit from his experience.”   Fr Nick attended the college as a seminarian between 2007-14 and has a licence in Theology.   Reacting to his appointment, Fr Nick said: “To go back to Rome is certainly an exciting thing for me. I love being a priest and it is life-giving to be around people who want to be priests. I look forward to contributing to the formation of the seminarians and helping them become good priests. But I will also leave the Borders with a heavy heart and wish to thank all parishioners there.”   College rector Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick said: “We look forward to welcoming Fr Nick who will have a key role in the day-to-day running of the seminary and accompanying students as part of their formation. He succeeds Fr Stuart Parkes who gave us three years of service and enjoyed contributing to the life of the college. We wish him all the best on his return to the diocese of Motherwell.”   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org   Note to Editors:   An image of Fr. Nick Welsh is available to download here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/albums/72157714673928877  ...

Catholic Bishops say Immigration Bill will “drastically alter opportunities” for migrants

| 09th June 2020 | Blogging

Catholic Bishops say Immigration Bill will “drastically alter opportunities” for migrants. Tuesday 9 June 2020   In a strongly worded joint statement sent to opposition party leaders at Westminster, Catholic Bishops from Scotland and England & Wales have encouraged the UK Government to consider amendments to the Immigration Bill currently before parliament.   The Bishops’ call for; a time limit on detention, together with “a significant permanent reduction in the use of detention will allow us to properly protect people’s health and human dignity”, they also propose, that the minimum income threshold for family visas should be reduced and for repeal of the offence of illegal working, since “fear of prosecution currently deters people from escaping abusive employment practices or presenting themselves to the police”.   The statement also calls for changes to the clergy visa system. Scotland’s lead Bishop for migrants and refugees, Bishop William Nolan, said; “Most Catholic dioceses previously used Tier 5 Religious Worker visas for priests to come here on essential supply placements, allowing Catholics to continue attending Mass, the new Tier 2 visas have more than doubled the costs incurred by parishes arranging supply cover.” “Furthermore, seminaries that conduct formation in English are not necessarily recognised by the Home Office as meeting the English language requirement under the Tier 2 route, meaning that many priests who have been educated to post-graduate level in English are nevertheless required to take a language test with extra logistical and cost implications.” Bishop Nolan concluded; “We strongly urge the Government to accept amendments addressing these important issues and hope that MPs from all parties will take this opportunity to help create a more just and humane immigration system.”   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org     Note to Editors:   The full text of the statement is shown below: Catholic Church statement on amendments to the Immigration Bill The Immigration Bill currently before parliament will drastically alter people’s opportunities to build their lives here and contribute to our society. The UK’s Catholic population is made up of people from across the world including a significant number of European citizens. Around 60% of Europeans living in the UK are Catholics. We therefore recognise the profound impact that ending free movement will have on so many families and communities. While we do not agree with the principle of making European citizens apply for their existing rights in the UK, the Church is working to raise awareness of the Settlement Scheme and help those who are at risk of losing their status. However, no scheme will reach all European citizens in the UK. Even if a small proportion do not make an application by the June 2021 deadline, this could leave thousands of people without legal status. We encourage amendments to the bill that will create a meaningful safety-net including options to extend the deadline. At the same time this bill and the development of new rules present a chance to make several positive changes to our immigration system: Introducing a time limit on immigration detention The UK remains the only European country without a time limit on detention. This has devastating consequences for the wellbeing of vulnerable individuals who find themselves detained including some victims of torture, survivors of trafficking and people fleeing religious persecution in their home countries. It also has a significant impact on families who are separated with no indication of when they might be reunited. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted serious health risks in crowded detention centres. While we are grateful for the emergency steps that were taken to reduce infection and save lives, only a significant permanent reduction in t...

Scotland’s Bishops Publish Parish Reopening Guidance

| 06th June 2020 | Blogging

Scotland’s Bishops Publish Parish Reopening Guidance 6 June 2020   In a Pastoral Letter sent to Scotland’s 600 Catholic Priests, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland have issued a series of guidance documents, which will govern moves “towards the reopening of churches and the resumption of public worship”. In a Pastoral Letter which accompanies the guidance, the bishops explain that their aim “is to act in harmony with the guidance of the Government and the health authorities, with whom we are in conversation, and to return to our normal liturgical and devotional practice in a safe and phased way.”   The letter signed by all eight of Scotland’s Catholic bishops, stresses that “it is important that we act together as the Catholic Church in Scotland, in step with one another, and clear about what is legitimate and prudent at each stage of the process.”   The bishops conclude with encouragement to the Catholic community, “to remain united in faith, hope and love and to keep responding to our current circumstances with confidence and creativity, assured by the promise of the risen Christ, “I am with you always to the end of the world” (Mt 28:20).”   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org   Notes to Editors: The full text of the letter is shown below.   Together with the letter, the church has also published seven guidance documents which can be downloaded here: https://www.bcos.org.uk/COVID19/tabid/127/Default.aspx       COVID-19 Infection Control for Churches Advice on COVID-19 and Infection control protocol for parishes Preparing for re-opening of churches Guidance on how clergy and parishioners can prepare for a phased re-opening of churches Embracing Hope - a route map for pastoral ministry a route map for pastoral ministry in parishes during the COVIOD-19 pandemic How ready is your church to re-open? This is not a document but a simple on-line assessment tool which parishes can use to assess their readiness for re-opening. Safeguarding guidance for recruiting volunteers Guidance for parishes on Safeguarding requirements when recruiting volunteers as stewards Volunteer Application Form A Form to be completed by current volunteers who will act as stewards Volunteer Application Form B Form to be completed by new volunteers who will act as stewards                 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Peace be with you! For several weeks now, we have all been living through something we did not expect and for which we had no time to prepare ourselves, no real precedents to guide us, no previous experience to reassure us. A microscopic virus has thrown the whole world into disarray, including our normal Catholic life. In these circumstances we, the Bishops of Scotland, want to address you as we are reminded that Jesus alone is our great Hope. First of all, we want to express our closeness to those of you who have lost friends or family to Covid-19 and have not been able to grieve for them in our accustomed ways. We think, too, of those who have been unwell or have felt the pain of isolation in recent weeks, of their loved ones who have not been able to tend to them because of restrictions and also those whose treatment for other conditions has been delayed. We are mindful especially of those of you who are alone, or in care homes, or in hospitals. We hope you have found comfort and consolation. Though public worship has been suspended, the sacrifice of the Mass has still been offered, and Jesus our High Priest “is always living to make intercession” for us (Heb 7:25). God does not abandon his people. So, even in the midst of all this, we can thank the Lord and you for so many good things. We think of the clergy and religious who have been so assiduous and innovative in keepi...