THE CATHOLIC HERALD APRIL 27 2012
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Ministers back down over anti-pornography measures
BY DAVID V BARRETT
CATHOLIC FAMILY campaigners have reacted with dismay to suggestions that the Government is backing away from strong measures to limit access to online pornography.
The news came just days after a report by the cross-party independent parliamentary inquiry into online child protection revealed that four out of five 16year-olds regularly access pornography online and a third of 10year-olds have seen explicit images. More than a quarter of young people at one private clinic are being treated for addiction to pornography, the report said.
At a Downing Street meeting with the Mothers’ Union last October David Cameron said the
Government planned to introduce measures so that computer users would have to opt-in if they wanted to view sexually explicit images online. But now the Department for Culture, Media and Sport says it will be asking internet service providers to provide an opt-out procedure instead.
Danny Sullivan, chair of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Commission, said: “It’s a fundamental right of children to be protected by the adults in their community.
“The utmost should be done to protect children and vulnerable young people from anything that would be a danger to them,” said Mr Sullivan. “There’s a view that regulations turn us into a nanny state. But there’s nothing nannying about protecting children and young people from potential abuse, whether by other people or through the internet. It’s a fundamental right of children to be protected by the adults in their community, and at times that will be the Government.”
Norman Wells of Family Youth Concern said: “A requirement for adults to opt-in to receive adult content would no more constitute a breach of civil liberties than other well-established and accepted child-protection measures that are already in place.
“No one complains about age restrictions on the purchase and hire of adult videos and DVDs, so why should it be any different when it comes to putting measures in place to protect children from exposure to pornography online? “If the modest recommendation of the independent parliamentary inquiry on this point is rejected, it will make the Government’s rhetoric about taking decisive action against the sexualisation of children sound rather hollow.”
The report of the parliamentary inquiry, which was sponsored by the online Christian radio station Premier Christian Media, found that in 2010 61 per cent of 11-16-year olds had internet access in their own rooms, compared to 30 per cent just six years before; 41 per cent of seven to 10-year-olds had such access, compared to just nine per cent in 2004.
Citing evidence from the NSPCC the report said: “Overuse of pornographic material has been shown to desensitise children and young people to violent or sexually aggressive acts, diminish sympathy for victims of sexual assault and reduce children’s own inhibitions, making them more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Moreover, a vicious circle of behaviour can develop where exposure to porn leads to early sexual involvement and an increased consumption of sexual media.”
Anti-pornography campaigner Matthew Fradd said: “Parents – myself included – have a grave responsibility to not only protect their children from the soul and mind-destroying effects of pornography, but to teach their children, in an age-appropriate manner, about the goodness of their bodies and the beauty of human sexuality. Those of us who fail to do so will be held responsible by almighty God for causing ‘these little ones... to sin’”.
Campaigners had been pushing for internet service providers to put a block on all pornographic websites as the default, with computer users having to go through a specific opt-in procedure in order to access it. But ministers are thought to be watering down this proposal and replacing it with an opt-out question: the default would be unrestricted access, and computer users would be asked if they wished to be able to continue accessing it or not.
One problem, say the parliamentary campaigners, is that of inertia: many users will simply accept the status quo rather than go to the trouble of going through an opt-out procedure. Another is that if the opt-out question is only asked once, it is quite likely to be responded to by computeraware children rather than their parents.
At present parents can install a filter that blocks pornography, but it can be time-consuming to download and install, and it has to be installed separately on each device. Only one of the four major ISPs in Britain, TalkTalk, covers all networked devices in a home.
The report recommended a new approach to controlling access to pornography, allowing people to opt-in, but it appears that the Government has backed away from this approach. Editorial Comment: Page 13
BBC to air live radio show from abortion clinic
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A PRO-LIFE charity has urged the BBC to stop its plans to make broadcasting history by airing a two-hour radio show live from an abortion clinic.
Life spokesman Mark Bhagwandin said: “For the BBC to promote a particular abortion clinic and by extension, the entire abortion industry, at a time when it is reeling from recent allegations of improper conduct, is bizarre and clearly not impartial. Can we look forward to the BBC spending a day with a Life Education Officer in the near future?
“We strongly urge the BBC either not to proceed with this programme, or to balance it with an honest look at prolife work.”
Mr Bhagwandin also challenged the argument that the programme was trying to address the “taboo” of abortion. He said: “We have to wonder about the objectives behind this programme. The BBC claim that it wishes to do this show because of an abortion “taboo” seems very strange when we consider there are over 500 abortions performed every day.
“What this really seems to be is an attempt to further normalise abortion through the use of emotive stories, and perpetuate the myth that only abortion clinics are truly interested in women’s welfare.
Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said that the show amounted to a “licence-fee sponsored advertorial”. He said: “It appears to be part of the public relations initiative by abortion chains to re-sanitise their image.”
Victoria Derbyshire of the BBC Radio Five Live show said the aim was “to bring new insights into areas of British life”.
“What we want to do is to talk to everybody involved who works in a clinic – the receptionist, the doctors, the consultants, the counsellors, and, if patients agree, we will talk to them.
“We appreciate the sensitivity around it and I would hope listeners would trust us to do it carefully.”
But Robert Colquhoun of 40 Days for Life, an organisation that leads prayer vigils outside abortion clinics, said that the BBC’s programme would only trivialise the issue of abortion.
He said: “If the BBC really wanted to provide some objective, impartial information about abortion, they should show the reality of abortion with images on television. Yet in 2001, images of abortion were unlawfully censored by the BBC in a party political broadcast.”
Meanwhile Britain’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, has said that thousands of attempts have been made to hack into their computers.
Some 2,500 attempts to hack into the site have been made following the conviction of James Jeffrey, from Wednesbury, West Midlands, was jailed for two months and eight years when he pleaded guilty to breaking into the BPAS website.
The controversy surrounding abortion clinics was reignited after journalists secretly filmed health professionals endorsing abortions on the grounds of the baby’s sex. The undercover reporting prompted a formal investigation by the Health Secretary which concluded that up to one in five abortion clinics is suspected of breaking the law.
The Care Quality Commission conducted a series of unannounced raids on abortion clinics in March and found that 50 out of 250 clinics were “not in compliance” with the law or regulations.
Doctors refusing to carry out sex changes could be struck off under new rules BY SIMON CALDWELL
DOCTORS WHO r e fuse t o either carry out sex change operations or give contraceptives t o unmarried women could be struck off under new r egulations proposed by the General Medical Council.
The regulatory body has said in the new draft guidance that medics could not object on grounds of conscience to participating in “gender reassignment” procedures.
The GMC also stressed that doctors could not pick and choose which patients r eceived contraception, saying that under the 2010 Equality Act if a GP gave the pill to a married woman he or she must make i t available t o unmarried women too.
Section 5 of the guidance, “Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice”, which was put out for consultation last week, says that doctors may opt out of some procedures, such as abortions, because of their “beliefs and values” – as long as they ensured t he patient was referred to a doctor who would meet their demands.
Some doctors have argued that such a narrow interpretation of conscience rights would s t i l l make t hem culpable in acts to which they hold a personal objection.
The guidance then says:
“The exception to this is gender reassignment since th i s procedure i s only sought by a particular group of patients and cannot therefore be subject to a conscientious objection.
“This position i s supported by the Equality Act 2010 which prohibits d i scrimination on t he grounds of gender reassignment.”
It adds: “You must not refuse to treat a particular patient, or group of patients because of your personal beliefs or v i ews about them.”
The guidance warns doctors t hat “serious or persistent failure” to follow the regulations “will put your registration at risk”.
The guidance may also infringe doctors’ rights to conscientious objection by insisting that a doctor who does not wish t o r e f e r patients for abortions must send them to medics willing to procure the procedure for them.
Some doctors have argued that such a narrow interpretation of conscience rights would s t i l l make them culpable in acts to which they hold a personal objection.
A GMC spokeswoman said that the guidance only reflected the “law of the land”.
But Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship said that the
GMC was using new laws to force Christians f rom medicine.
“Recent legislation, and regulations claiming to be derived from it, are being used to marginalise Christian health professionals in Britain,” he said.
“This new GMC draft guidance i s yet another example.
“It is essentially a clever piece of double-speak. On the one hand i t says that ‘doctors should be free to practise medicine in accordance with their beliefs’, but i f this involves ‘denying patients access to appropriate medical t reatment or services’ then they must ‘be prepared to set aside their personal beliefs’.”
He added: “A significant number of doctors do not wish to be involved in sexchange operations or prescribing contraceptives to unmarried couples and will not want to be forced to make a r r angements for patients to undergo procedures or ‘treatments’ which they regard as unethical.
“But it appears that these doctors, i f this guidance emerges from this consultation unchanged, will soon be at r isk of losing their licences to practise medicine.”
Dr Saunders added: “British medicine in the 21st century now involves practices which many doctors regard as unethical.”
Ordinariate gains its youngest ever priests, aged 27 and 28
TWO FORMER Anglican curates were ordained priests on Saturday for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Fr James Bradley, 28, and Fr Daniel Lloyd, 27, are the first members to be ordained Catholic priests who were not Anglican priests beforehand.
The ordinations were celebrated at the newly restored St Patrick’s in Soho Square with over 400 people in attendance.
Fr James Bradley, who is resident at the parish of the Holy Ghost, Balham, said: “Fr Lloyd and I have been ordained at a particularly exciting time for the Catholic Church in England and Wales.”
Fr Lloyd will continue to work with former Anglican bishop, now Mgr Andrew Burnham, in the Oxford ordinariate group.
On Sunday both priests celebrated Mass for the first time, together with family, friends and members of their respective congregations.
This weekend’s ordinations bring the total number of ordinariate priests to 60.
Remains of priest to be moved to a cemetery
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A RELATIVE of a Polish priest has lost her appeal against having the priest’s remains moved from the grounds of an Oxfordshire stately home, where they are buried.
Fr Jozef Jarzebowski died in 1964 and was buried in the grounds of Fawley Court, because, according to his cousin Elizabeth Rudewicz, this was the spot where the priest wished to be buried.
Following the go-ahead in 2011 by Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, for the priest’s disinterment, Miss Rudewicz has challenged the decision on the grounds that it would be “disrespectful”.
Miss Rudewicz has been supported by about 2,000 others, among them the Fawley Court Old Boys’ Association and a coalition of Polish organisations in Britain.
But the Appeal Court judge, Lord Neuberger, said that moving the body to a cemetery would make it easier for people to pay their respects.
He said: “The religious concerns of Miss Rudewicz and the objectors have to be balanced against those whose religious beliefs appear to favour the grant of the licence.”
Fr Jarzebowski’s remains will now be exhumed and removed to Fairmile Cemetery, two miles away. The house was once the property of the Marian Fathers who ran it as a Divine Mercy College for Polish boys.
This Lent, countless parishioners across England and Wales, both young and old, gave something up and donated the money they saved to CAFOD. These efforts will be matched pound-for-pound by the government until May 17.
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