Apostolate of the Blog


Speaking truth to the power of public opinion.

The aim of the Apostolate of the Blog is to review current blogs on matters of Catholic interest, and to seize the opportunity to educate the casual reader in what the Church is and does – and the reasons why.

Tips on composing answers

*    Your target is not the writer of the offending article or of the contribution you are opposing. Even if you convince them, they won’t say so. It is the casual but interested reader, whose mind is open enough to take in new ideas, whom you want to inform.
*    Your contribution should always be polite and thoughtful. The clever put-down wins neither the argument nor friends. There are excellent examples on this site of good contributions on controversial matters.
*    Keep your contributions short and to the point. Don’t try and get everything in – just get your key message across.
*    Be honest. Where relevant, admit shortcomings. This willingness to prefer truth to comfort enhances credibility.
*    Be factual. You must be ready to produce evidence if you are challenged. (If you can’t support your points, don’t make them.). Do distinguish between your own view and the Church’s view, particularly if the views are different!
*    Be short. Two hundred words is too long; few will even start reading. Use paragraph spacing, if you can; it’s easier on the eye.

A typical routine

a.    As a result of a Google Alert, or perhaps just by chance, you see an article or a web site which appears to be attacking some aspect of the Church on which you are interested. Check up on what has been said, and whether there is an opportunity to reply to the article or to a comment on the article
b.    Compose your response and send it. It may or may not come up immediately, depending on the moderation policy of the site. You will need to register for the site (unless you are registered already) since they must have your email held in confidence in case you are gangster.
c.    See above for tips on composing an answer. And below for some examples.
d.    You may want to get back to the site to check on responses to your response etc, so keep a note of the site address or bookmark it.
e.    If you have discovered research facts on a topic, or composed a new answer, let Quentin know so that he can circulate.

Answers and ideas

Pope – Aids – Condoms

It is true that the late Cardinal Trujillo, speaking in 2003 – after taking professional advice, said that the AIDs virus could fit through the pores of the condom. But every Catholic interested in such matters, knows that this is not true. Condoms (in good condition and used properly) give a high level of protection, on an incident by incident basis.
What the Pope did say is that condom promotions in societies suffering from epidemic Aids are counterproductive, while programmes which promote marital fidelity and avoidance of sexual relationships outside marriage have proved significantly effective. The evidence for this is quite clear, and supported by the secular experts.
Meanwhile Catholic organisations, working often with non Catholic partners, are doing massive work in ensuring that people are able to have anti-retroviral therapy, and their newborn protected from perinatal infection. You will perhaps find that they are being funded by people just like your Catholic friends next door. You might go round and thank them.

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Don’t bother to ask the Pope, go straight to the experts.. Try Edward C Green from the Harvard School of Public Health. There you’ll get the real facts from a real non Catholic expert. And you’ll never have to blog on this subject again Only a click away. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html
(NB some blogs are finicky about web links; if so, try plain text)

*     *     *

(This comment same from “Peter, NW1″)

There are only 5 Catholic countries in Africa (i.e. countries in which 50% or more are Catholic). Here are the HIV levels for these 5 countries …
Equatorial Guinea – 94 % Catholic – 5 % adults with HIV
Burundi – 65 % Catholic – 3 % adults with HIV
Lesotho – 54 % Catholic – 24 % adults with HIV
Congo – 50 % Catholic – 3 % adults with HIV
Angola – 50 % Catholic – 2 % adults with HIV
Here are the 5 countries with the highest HIV levels …
Swaziland – 25.9 % adults with HIV – 6 % Catholic
Botswana – 24.8 % adults with HIV – 5 % Catholic
Lesotho – 23.6 % adults with HIV – 54 % Catholic
South Africa – 17.8 % adults with HIV – 6% Catholic
Zimbabwe – 14.3 % adults with HIV – 9 % Catholic
Sources http://www.avert.org/africa-hiv-aids-statistics.htm

*     *     *

We have already established in comments on Huffington Post that the Catholic Church has been a major force for life saving in sub Saharan Africa . This article brings it closer to home.The first point to emphasise is that the Catholic Church’s teaching on condoms refers only to marriage, she has no reason to teach any “rules” for sex outside marriage – and does not do so. If you think she does, find chapter and verse.

Whether a married couple, one of whom is infected, should use a condom or not is much discussed, and at senior levels. The uncertainty is not satisfactory, but the number of people who are affected is likely to be greatly outweighed by those dissuaded from promiscuity by the Church’s teaching.

*     *     *

It is as well to note that the Catholic Church’s “(refusal) to endorse the use of condoms…in HIV/AIDS prevention programs” is entirely in line with the latest independent evidence. But its own message – exhorting people to refrain from promiscuity – has saved many lives. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, it is the sub Saharan countries with higher Catholic populations which have the lower HIV rates.

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Aaron, did you look up Edward C Green, or would you prefer not to know?

No, the Pope did not change his mind this year. There is not a single word in all the 2865 questions of the Catechism about the use of condoms or contraception outside marriage. The Church has never had reason to make a ruling on the question.

Since you appear not to have studied the obvious issues on which you hold opinions, you will probably not be aware of how hard the Church works, with others of course, to bring antiretroviral medicine to the subSaharan people. At last there are some signs that we could get AIDs under control.
Of course I apologise if I am wrong. If you feel as strongly as you write, you will no doubt already be making charitable donations to the work. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your Catholic friends; they’re probably doing it already.

*     *     *

A response to Nessa Childers MEP

A phrase like “the hardline stance of the Vatican is inexcusable” may well do for the gutter press but it does not behove an MEP. Anyone with good knowledge of sub-Saharan Africa epidemic AIDs  will be aware that it is the secular experts who confirm that condom promotion is counterproductive. And who in the developed world is hindered from using condoms by the Catholic Church?

As it happens there is no ruling by the Church about the use of condoms outside marriage; the moral stance is wholly based on the nature of marriage.

And to bad mouth the Vatican without noting the enormous work done through the Church and its charities in the distribution of of antirertrovirals is merely demonstrating that they prefer political points to rational assessment.


Why do we have to force a counselling session to ensure
that the decision is informed? One would think that given the importance
of such a decision that the pregnant woman concerned might have already
taken steps to inform herself perhaps?

Well, perhaps, but perhaps not. Perhaps she thinks she knows all she needs
to, but actually she doesn’t?  When you are prescribed medication (any
medication) or even buy it over the counter, it comes with a printed list
of possible risks and side effects, with which to inform yourself. When
you’re going for any sort of medical procedure, even a minor one, the
doctor will not only give you information about risks and side-effects,
but get you to sign a piece of paper saying you’ve been informed and you
understand, and still want to go ahead. Does this not happen in the case
of abortion? Shouldn’t it, even if the woman says she has made up her mind,
wants an abortion and doesn’t want counselling?

(One of the comments mentioned that British legislation does not include a
“right to abortion”. I followed this up with a comment to the effect that
there is no “right” to abortion in international law either, and
referenced a recent EDM (EDM 2220) which spells this out.)

*     *     *

“The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges study found that while 11 to 12 percent of women suffer from mental health issues, around one third ofwomen with an unwanted pregnancy suffer from mental health problems. This data certainly furthers the case for better education on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies, as well as for easy access to emergency   contraception.”  

The fact that a substantial number of women with an unwanted pregnancysuffer from mental health problems does not have to mean that their unwanted pregnancy has brought about their mental health problems. It could just as easily mean that women with mental health problems are more likely to get pregnant unintentionally, or to regard an unintended pregnancy as something they can’t cope with.

 In which case, education and emergency contraception will be of no help at all. Improving their mental health is what will help.

(Campaign in Ireland)

Prior to the Abortion Act in the UK it was claimed that this would prevent legal abortions. It hasn’t. A BBC investigation discovered that it was widespread

It was claimed that abortions would only be carried out for serious reasons. They are now carried out for trivial reasons; in effect there is abortion on demand.

Abortion has now become long-stop contraception.

Why not learn from the UK’s mistakes?

Faith Schools

If I were a councillor in the Middlesborough Council, I would be delighted to support cutting out transport provision for children in faith schools, and so saving on our budget. These families are only a minority so they don’t have many votes between them. So it’s win-win all the way for me.

*     *     *

The scornful comments on this article are exactly what the Council is hoping for. They know that they can get support from the more prejudiced, while losing few votes through disaffected Catholics.
That the Council has a duty to protect minorities never occurs to them. Poor Middlesborough!

*     *     *

Tell you what, regulator, let’s make a bargain. I won’t ask you to pay for Catholic children to get to school, if you won’t ask me to pay for abortions.

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Dawkins attacks faith education in New Statesman.

A couple of points.
First, the experts seem to agree that religious belief, right or wrong,is a natural tendency in human beings.So those who teach atheism to the young are the brainwashers — not the other way around.

Second. Who has the rights over the education of children, the state or the parent? The answer of course is both. The state’s need is answered by the national curriculum, the parent’s need by providing as far as possible schools which support the parent’s ethos.

teaching creationism as science.

To the Guardian

It shouldn’t be a problem for Catholic schools. The Jesuit fathers taught me that evolution was quite consistent with religious belief, when I was age 10. That was in 1944 by the way.

*     *     *

Of course it suits the Council only too well. Cutting transport will lose few votes and gain many votes from parents who are jealous of the standards achieved by Catholic schools. Am I wrong in suggesting covert religious prejudice?

Free will and determinism

(Scientific American, article on free will)

Unfortunately an article which debates questions of free will needs to start with a phrase like: “If my will is determined by prior events, or is random in its operation, there is no need to read further. I am obliged to arrive at the conclusion I do, and I have no basis whatsoever for maintaining that it is true.”