Monday, 19 January 2015

Which Bit Of "Impossible" Is So Hard To Understand...?


Another poor, deluded soul...

My blog had its fifteen minutes of fame after I posted a cri de coeur about the dreadful dress-sense of your average womynpriest candidate (masterfully answered by Fr. Z, as it happens), in which I was bemoaning the dearth of tasteful Roman vestments being sported. But now I wonder if there is a case to be made for cause and effect? A ridiculous suggestion, but no more ridiculous than the womynpriests' claims to being ordained to the Catholic priesthood...

In his 1994 apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis Pope John Paul II declared definitively that it was impossible for the Church to ordain women to the priesthood. Despite this, twenty years later, there are women who continue to claim that they have been validly ordained. And, as I noted before, they all seem to wear the most awful stuff.

This leads me to wonder what it is about the wearing of floaty, outsize polyester and/or tie-dye vestments which renders the wearer incapable of rational thought?

One cannot rationally claim that one is ordained to the priesthood of the Church when that Church declares that it is not so. For ordination to be valid, the recipient has to be male. Gender reassignment surgery doesn't cut it either (sorry, couldn't resist!) The Church has stated that this reservation of the priesthood to men is to be held as a definitive truth of the Faith by all of the members of the Church. For any rational human being, that ought to be enough.

Then there is the irrationality of claiming that the ordination is valid because they have a "calling to the priesthood." Lots of men feel called, but that doesn't mean it is so: the years of formation in seminary are also a time of discernment. If the Church doesn't confirm the feeling of vocation by ordaining you, then no amount of "feeling" will make you a priest.

Is it just that they feel like they can do the job? After all, I have a scientific background, and a keen interest in medical matters. I am frequently able to tell my mother what she's likely to be suffering from, if she tells me her symptoms. I always wanted to be a doctor. If I really and truly feel that I have a calling that way (and lots of people have told me that I'd be good at the job) does that allow me to set up as a GP? No rational individual would be surprised when my excuse of "feeling that I could do the job" was thrown out of court.

The claim that it is all about equality for women is equally irrational. I firmly believe that men and women are equal but you won't see me asking any men if they have a spare Tampax. I also do not consider it to be a matter of inequality that men cannot give birth, and I, talented though I am, cannot father a child. The basic, incontrovertible truth is that men and women are different. To say that different means unequal is irrational.

What the womynpriests (and their supporters) appear to believe is that it is necessary to be a priest in order to be able to exercise power and influence in the Church, and this is what they mean by "equality". The mistaken idea that the priesthood is purely about power and influence is one of the strongest arguments against letting such women be ordained - it is clericalism of the worst kind.

Finally, there is the irrational "outrage" or, worse, "deep sadness" when these women go through a mock ceremony (which is sacrilege in itself) and get a letter telling them that they have been excommunicated. The bishop concerned hasn't excommunicated them, he is merely pointing out the consequence of their actions. They incurred an automatic excommunication. In other words, they separated themselves from the Church and the Sacraments when they went through the ceremony.

So, given the absence of any rational arguments justifying the womynpriests' claims to being validly ordained, and given the preponderance of tie-dye and polyester floaty vestments seen in photos of womynpriest types, I can only assume that the attraction of wearing ghastly vestments erodes the ability to think in a rational manner.

Admittedly, a correlation does not prove a cause, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Let it serve as a salutary warning to any priests who have predilections towards such gruesome attire on the sanctuary. And remember, Reverend Fathers, every time you say Mass without a maniple, God kills a kitten... So watch it, or I'll send the Cardinal and Monsignor round to sort you out...

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions...

It is only 10 days into the New Year and I have already failed to keep my New Year's Resolutions. Blogging has not been happening! I started well - New Year's Day commenced with the Veni, Creator Spiritus and Mass. But I was decidedly under the weather the following day with an upset tummy, and blogging about that would have been unpleasant for everyone...

On Sunday, my car had a conniption. It has been troublesome of late. Back in October, I had the heater unit replaced. Then, just before Christmas, the exhaust started to make the most awful noises, and I needed to get it replaced. On Sunday, after driving around happily during the day, I stopped at a local shop for milk for me and some tuna as a treat for the kitties, and the car inexplicably refused to start up again. The breakdown chappie who attended wouldn't believe me when I said that it wasn't the battery. Having ascertained for himself that it wasn't the battery, he proceeded to whack the car engine with a hammer...

The car promptly started up. "It's the started motor!" was his conclusion. "You need to take it to a garage as soon as possible..."

There not being any garages open at 8pm on a Sunday, I made a note of the advice, and drove home. The next morning, the car started without any problems, and I resolved to get it to a garage at the weekend, as I wouldn't be able to get it there in school hours. Monday evening, on my way home from school, I stopped off at the shops... and then found, once again, that my car wouldn't restart.

A new breakdown chappie arrived, and promptly administered a couple of sharp taps with a hammer somewhere in the bowels of my car engine. It was dark, and I couldn't identify exactly what he was hitting. He also warned me that it wasn't guaranteed to work. I drove home, not daring to stop anywhere else, and arrived home four and a half hours after I left school.

On Tuesday morning, I didn't dare to take my car, and used public transport. Leaving just before 6am ought, I thought, to allow plenty of time to get to school. I arrived with about a minute to spare - a journey time of  two and a half hours. Unfortunately, my journey home took even longer, and by the time I had called the breakdown people again to restart the car, driven to the garage, dumped it (by arrangement) on the forecourt, and gotten myself home again, I just had time to heat some hot dogs, swallow them and go to bed.

On Wednesday, I left ten minutes earlier (to catch the first bus) and tried a slightly different route, involving three buses and a tube journey. It took a little less time than the first route, but still involved a journey of just over two hours. After teaching for six solid hours, with a brief break for lunch (I was on break duty in the morning) I was not in the best of moods. My journey home was only two and a half hours, but it was somewhat marred by the fact that, after one bus driver failed to pull up close enough to the kerb, I put my foot in a hole getting off and twisted my knee and ankle.

After a week of this, you can imagine how delighted I am to have my car back again...

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Margate Missa Cantata

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There was a superb Missa Cantata for the Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury at St. Austin & St. Gregory's Church, Margate, yesterday. The church itself is very pretty, and I took a few photos, which are now up on Flickr.

Unfortunately, my camera phone, which is normally wonderful, can't quite cope with the low lighting levels inside the church. I shall have to make greater efforts to get to grips with my proper digital camera. I don't suppose anyone knows how to reduce the shutter noise on a Fujifilm FinePix S9500...?

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Who Am I To Judge...?

This weekend, in the Archdiocese of Southwark, we had a Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Smith instead of a sermon. I have to admit that I groaned when I discovered this, as his letters are long-winded, badly-constructed and rather tedious; his last letter was particularly dire.

As it was read out, I started to feel rather guilty. The letter was still too long, but I noted with pleasure that the family unit was clearly and unequivocally described according to Catholic teaching, stating that children are undoubtably brought up most successfully within the stable union of a man and a woman in marriage. I was sure that this must have taken some courage to write, as it is bound to attract flak from the more liberal wing of the Catholic press, when they get to hear of it. Archbishop Smith then went on to explain that the Church's views are seen by many as illiberal, restrictive, authoritarian, irrelevant and arrogant.

Up until that point, I was feeling rather encouraged by his words, and berating myself for my previously critical attitude. Alas, the second part of the final paragraph undid all that...
"In particular we need to give a new start to those families which have been broken and grievously wounded through separation or divorce. For these especially we must all have the greatest love, respect, gentleness and compassion. These are our brothers and sisters, deeply wounded and suffering. Let no one judge them. Welcome them within the community of the Church..."
I'm no theologian, but nowhere in the Catechism do I recall reading that the families which have experienced separation or divorce are to be shunned. And I am also unaware of any Church demands that those who are separated or divorced are excluded from the Sacraments. The people who are excluded from the reception of the Sacraments are those individuals who have married civilly after a divorce, or are living together in a state of sin.

Since such people do not usually walk around with "adulterer" tattooed on their foreheads, I am not aware of any judging which might go on just because they do not approach the Communion rail. Curiously enough, it is within more traditionally-inclined circles that a failure to present oneself for Communion would attract least judgmental attention, as there are many times when a person might refrain from receiving: the stricter observance of the Communion fast being an example.

And anyway, as for "not judging" - really? Are we supposed to look on indulgently while a man who has heartlessly ditched his wife and family proceeds to "shack up" with a bimbo half his age? Or to smile encouragingly if a woman decides to abandon her spouse and go off to "find herself"? Of course we should judge - at least the actions! It is possibly the lack of society's negative judgement of such behaviour which has allowed it to increase.

So please, do not tell me I should not judge. Right judgement is, after all, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit...

In The Kitties' Bad Books...

I overslept this morning.

Ordinarily, it being my Christmas holiday, this wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, as I'm leaving the house for work so early these days, Cardinal Furretti and Monsignor Miaowrini have become accustomed to being fed at about 5am on weekdays, with a little leeway at weekends allowed to about 8am.

Waking up at 10:50am today obviously meant that I was seriously overstepping the mark, according to my feline overlords. They were definitely not amused...

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*gulp*

Friday, 26 December 2014

Happy Christmas...

A little later than anticipated, but still well within the Octave... I would like to wish all my readers a very blessed and joyful Christmas.



Sunday, 21 December 2014

Advent (Part 2) ...


I love the season of Advent. I particularly love the way that it develops. The Advent wreath marks the passing of the weeks, but it starts off with a sombre tone reflected in purple vestments. Gaudete Sunday brings a relaxation of this tone, demonstrated by the switch to rose vestments for that one day. And the octave before the Nativity is marked by the recitation of the "O" antiphons at Vespers. It all helps to stress that we're getting closer to the amazing feast celebrating Our Lord's birth.

My mother, being German, always insisted on decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. When I was a child, the trees didn't last very long, and, unless you wanted bare branches with a pile of pine needles underneath, a real tree had to be brought inside as late as possible.

I don't often bother with a tree now (having two cats who might dismantle it for me acts as a deterrent!) but the pressure to not set up for Christmas too early remains. So my crib gets brought out once the "O" antiphons start, and not before. The baby doesn't get placed in the crib until Christmas Eve (after Midnight Mass) and the Wise Men only start their journey around the room on Christmas Eve, not arriving at the crib until Epiphany.

This year I was delighted to find out that there was a special blessing for crib figures of the baby Jesus. I dutifully brought my two Bambini along to church, and, after Mass, they were liberally sprinkled with holy water. And now I feel that I'm ready for the big day!


(In case you were wondering, I have two Bambini because I have two cribs - one in the oratory, and one in the sitting room.)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Happy Feast Day!


The TLM celebrated at St. Mary's, Chislehurst, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which was a wonderful treat. I was rather tired, and so didn't manage to get my normal number of photos, which was a shame, as St. Mary's is beautiful. There will, no doubt, be plenty of other opportunities...

... And when I got home, Miaowrini was waiting proudly to present me with her latest mouse!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Complementarity Of The Sexes...

I have argued for many years against the prevalent wisdom of the day which declares that equality of the sexes means that they are the same. As a teacher, I have had plenty of opportunity to observe differences in the attitudes (and aptitudes) of the boys and girls I teach, and, while recognising that there is a "nurture" effect, I also note plenty of evidence in support of the argument that men and women are very different by nature. Dr. Joseph Shaw has an excellent article on how the sexes complement each other.

On a purely biological plane, this complementarity is obvious, and I am not merely referring to reproductive systems. The proportion of muscle in a man's body is higher than that of a woman's - and the proportion and distribution of fat in a woman's body is very different to that in a man's body. This means that men and women are not equal in physical strength or ability.

The truth of this is recognised even in the sporting arena - there are very few sports where men and women compete on totally equal terms - men's tennis matches, for example, are longer, and you don't have men and women on the same football team... or, if you do, this is very much the exception to the rule, and the women concerned have had to work very hard indeed to overcome any disadvantages they have due to the differences in muscle mass.

I got to see this difference in ability in action yesterday and this morning. One of my friends is in the process of moving house, and I'm preparing to look after her four cats for a week (my chance to be a true mad cat-lady.) In order to prepare my two for the invasion, we thought it would help to get the cat tree installed first, so that strange smells could be explored before the arrival of strange bodies.

My friend arrived yesterday evening. Her husband had dismantled the cat tree prior to loading it in the car. This meant that my friend had no idea of the best way to reassemble the tree. Checking out pictures of the assembled tree on the internet didn't help. After an hour, she decided to give up. The tree was not designed to be dismantled and reassembled. We also didn't have an allen key. She considered taking all the bits home, but, on talking to her husband on the phone, decided to leave the bits here for her husband to sort out in the morning...

This morning, her husband arrived. Within ten minutes the bits had been arranged into their correct positions, and the whole thing fully assembled after another ten minutes. Admittedly, he did have an allen key, but I think it was only used on one bit...

Monday, 1 December 2014

An Advent Wreath For The Blog...

It's that time of year. The Curt Jester has performed his usual act of kindness in posting the code for his Advent Wreath gif so that anyone who wants to have an animated wreath can help themselves. He will replace the gif each week to ensure that the correct candles are lit, and there will be a Christmas message in due course...


Many thanks for this kindness, Jeff!

The Season Of Advent Begins...


For the first time in four years I have a real Advent Wreath. This is partly because, after my clear-out over the Summer, I have an oratory. It seems fitting to reflect the liturgical seasons in the decorations as well as in the prayers. It struck me that the use of real evergreen makes a tangible difference (I had artificial wreaths before), and it made me reflect once more on the importance of physical elements of our worship - we are both matter and spirit.

I was a little unsure as to the wisdom of having real greenery, but, as the cats don't spend much time in the oratory in my absence, I thought I'd risk it. On Sunday morning, I discovered that one (or both) of the little darlings had succeeded in pulling out a large bit of fern from the oasis, but it seems not to have tasted very good, and has since been left alone.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

And Another Month Bites The Dust...

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Oops...!

Despite my best intentions, I find that it's been almost a whole month since I last updated my blog. The same old excuse: quite simply, a lack of time. I've been getting to grips with a new teaching position since September, and, of late, my commute seems to take approximately three hours a day. Leaving the house at 5:45am and arriving home at about 7pm (with more work still to complete) means I have little energy for even reading the blogs, let alone updating my own.

Nevertheless, I have managed to get to Maiden Lane a couple of times this month, which has been a real treat. Not being able to attend Mass in the usus antiquior as a matter of routine every weekend as I did before the changes at Blackfen has been a sore trial, and it has brought home to me the paucity of experience provided by the Novus Ordo, even when it is celebrated with reverence.

(I am in no way suggesting that the Novus Ordo is invalid.)

I shall blog further on this topic when I have a little more time to think things through... in the meantime, there are some rather good photos of the Missa Canata at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane last Monday evening. And yes, you're not imagining things... the stand-alone altar has been removed from the middle of the Sanctuary (hence the bare patch in the middle of the carpet!)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Feasting Continued In Margate...

My friend Fitzrufus was visiting Blighty for the Feast of All Saints, so, after the Mass in Ramsgate, the two of us made our way to Margate - which, for the uninitiated, was all of fifteen minutes' drive away. It would have taken even less time, if the following exchange had not happened...

First, we saw a field of green leaves. I'm a Science teacher but my knowledge of plants is rather limited. The classification system runs in my head as Tree, Flower, Fruit, Vegetable...

Fitzrufus:  Oooh. Cauliflowers.
Me:  Really? How do you know?
Fitzrufus:  There was one lying open on the ground, and it had the same leaves...
Me:  Ah...
Fitzrufus:  It's not quite the root which we eat, it's... ummm... it's...
Me:  It's the flower.
Fitzrufus:  Really?
Me:  The clue is in the name...
Fitzrufus:  Yes, but it's not spelled the same way, so...
Me:  Yes it is... You're thinking of the "cauli" bit...

Much giggling ensued, and the tears of laughter meant that I had to pull over, as I was in danger of losing my contact lenses... or crashing the car. Then I tried to decide on a direction to take at the next junction (my geography is non-existent)...

Fitzrufus:  Go left.
Me:  Are you sure? Why not right?
Fitzrufus:  Because right is Broadstairs.
Me:  How do you know?
Fitzrufus:  There's a sign which says Broadstairs...
Me:  Where?
Fitzrufus:  On your right...

Sure enough, there was. More giggling, and it slowed us down just a bit.

Once we were in Margate, we headed to Café G for a light lunch. The sun was shining, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Neither of us could quite believe that it was November. We shot across the road to take photos of the beach. The tide appeared to be out...

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Then, it being a Feast Day, we decided we wanted dessert. We started to walk along the sea front, and stopped to discuss which direction to take. Fitzrufus looked up and noticed that we were standing outside Bernie's Chocolate Bar. Fr. Tim had already tweeted about the place and posted details on Facebook, so in we went.

The place is wonderful, smelling of chocolate and other goodies. There are tables and chairs, a reading section and comfy sofas. There is also free wifi. And chocolate...


Bernie (on the right) and one of her assistants were happy to pose for a photo...

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By the time we emerged, the sun was setting (the clocks had gone back to GMT the week before, so this wasn't as reprehensible as it sounds!) and we took a few more photos to try and capture the famous Margate sunset...

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Then it was time to visit another shop made famous by His Hermeneuticalness. Crafted Naturally sells all sorts of lovely stuff, but is best known for having a cat as its Marketing Manager.

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Pumpkin the Shop Cat has his own Facebook page and business cards and will shortly be getting a Twitter account. He is the most laid-back of felines, allowing himself to be picked up and petted, and posed for selfies with various customers. His picture adorns various items such as mugs, key rings, calendars and fudge. He had had a busy few days, and looked distinctly unimpressed by two more people approaching him with a camera...

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However, I knew the correct procedure for doing homage to such a magnificent cat, and put my skills as a kitty-charmer to the test. Pumpkin condescended to purr...

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We ended the day with Mass at St. Austin & St. Gregory's, followed by dinner with His Hermeneuticalness at Bentley's (which boasts a baby grand piano and more free wifi, as well as great service and lovely food), and then the drive back to London with Fitzrufus, praying the Rosary together. All in all, a most fitting way to spend a Feast Day...

A Feast For The Senses For All Saints' Day...

DSCF7522I have finally put up my photos (on Flickr) from my visit to the Shrine of St. Augustine, Ramsgate, for the Feast of All Saints. I meant to get them (and this post) uploaded much sooner, but real life has a habit of interfering with blogging. Still, better late than never...

The church is really quite exquisite. It will be even better once the High Altar is restored, and the scaffolding removed (I'm not quite sure what work is being done) and will be sure to take more photos once the work has been completed.

Fr. Finigan celebrated the Mass, as Fr. Holden was away, and the music was provided by The Victoria Consort. They sang some rather nice tunes, as my friend Zephy would say... (actually the singing, and the organ accompaniment, were really sublime!)

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I was trying out my "new" camera - a bridge digital camera - and I haven't quite got the hang of it yet. As a result, some of the photos are a little blurrier than usual, as the camera is heavy compared to my phablet camera, and requires greater dexterity when pressing the shutter button, first halfway to focus, then all the way to take the photo (and that's the point at which I seem to move the camera.)

I was also rather disconcerted by the whirring noise made as the camera focussed, and the beeping and clicking which followed. There doesn't appear to be any way of muting these sounds. Being accustomed to my phablet camera, which can be rendered totally silent, I felt intensely uncomfortable using it during the Mass, especially during the Consecration. The last thing I wish to do is disturb anyone else by taking photos.

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As a result, I switched between my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and my Fujifilm FinePix s9500. I deleted all (or most) of the blurred images, and mixed the two sets of photos in the Flickr set (they are separated in the timeline.) I didn't edit the colour balance of any of the photos, to allow for a comparison. I do need to play with the camera settings on the FinePix, and get accustomed to the heft of it... but that will need time and practice.

Given that some people were celebrating Halloween on the Saturday, I found this notice on the church door rather amusing, and not a little disconcerting...

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... but this really has to rank as one of the most picturesque places in which to be buried...

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Do check out the results of my "experiment" and let me know what you think in the combox.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

All Saints


There are several Extraordinary Form Masses being celebrated for the Feast of All Saints on Saturday, so many that it's impossible to keep track... I know that there's a Missa Cantata at St. Mary Magdalen, Brighton, and another at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, and possibly one at St. Mary's, Chislehurst. There is also a sung Mass at St. Augustine's, Ramsgate at 12 noon/

I've never been to St. Augustine's, and so I am looking forward to seeing the church. I hope to try out my "proper" camera. Fr. Marcus Holden has done wonders in generating the funds to develop and restore the shrine, and, amazing though my phone camera is, I doubt it will do justice to the Pugin architecture. Mobile phones aren't brilliant in subdued lighting conditions.

The Victoria Consort will be singing Victoria's Missa O Quam Gloriosum. A wonderful way to kick off November...

Friday, 24 October 2014

Welcome To Hell...

What's that, dear chap? You say that you shouldn't have fetched up in hell because some Cardinal told you it was ok to start off considering the good things about your life, despite your living in a state of mortal sin, as, that way, you would eventually move towards conversion...?

Sorry, old bean. In your case, I'm afraid, you didn't move towards conversion fast enough and you died in a state of unrepented mortal sin. Which is why you've fetched up down here...

You must have missed hearing the quip by St. Augustine (much quoted by St. Alphonsus) that "God promises us His grace, He does not promise us tomorrow."

Between you and me, it's always much safer to listen to what those Saints said, rather than some mere Cardinal. Especially if those Saints are also Doctors of the Church... There are even some rather good summaries of their writings on the internet, just in case you don't get to hear them from the pulpit...

Yes, I agree... the Cardinal's letter was misleading, and that Synod report wasn't so merciful after all, but there's no guarantee you'll be able to take it up with him here later. You see, we're not absolutely certain it was a mortal sin on his part... there has been some discussion as to whether he was awake during the lectures on sin at seminary... or whether they were on the curriculum at all...

Next, please...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Over 8 Million Killed...

It's a ghastly statistic. Over 8 million babies killed in the 47 years since the Abortion Act was given Royal Assent... and that's just in Great Britain. Last year in England & Wales, we averaged 550 deaths a day.

The numbers are horrific, but they are difficult to grasp, and so we can ignore them. It helps to provide concrete examples. I teach Science in Secondary School (11-18yrs). In London, these schools generally have about 1000 students. So that works out as killing a school's worth of children every two days...

This was not what was envisaged when the parliament passed the Abortion Act 47 years ago.

There were supposed to be safeguards. The mother's health was supposed to be at risk before the awful step of ending a life could be contemplated. The signatures of two independent medical practitioners were required.

But now, an abortion is seen as a woman's right, and in some cases almost a duty.

The parallels with the drive towards legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide are striking. All the assurances of safeguards ring very hollow in the face of Britain's abortion statistics.

SPUC is inviting people to hold a minute's silence on Monday 27 October at 11:04am - the time Royal Assent was given to the Abortion Act by Queen Elizabeth II.
"SPUC invites everyone to hold a minute’s silence in honour of the children who will never be born and who will never know what it is to be loved in this life. We also remember the mothers and fathers who have made this tragic mistake which has also damaged them. We honour as well all those mothers and fathers who have withstood enormous pressures and have given their babies the best chance of life by respecting their right to be born."
If you can, support SPUC in its work to defend the sanctity of human life with a donation here.

Twitch of the mantilla to Rhoslyn Thomas, SPUC's Youth Officer, for this initiative.
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