Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Shoebox Appeal 2014

Today we welcomed John from Samaritan's Purse into school. He reminded us of the reasons with continue to give generously to the ShoeBox appeal. Last year we managed 520 boxes... Can we beat it this time around?

How To Pack Your Shoebox (Watch VeggieTales guide)
What To Pack
  • Toys: Bear, soft toy, tennis ball, finger puppet, jigsaw, yo-yo, building blocks, small musical instrument, trucks, cars, dolls, clip on earrings, etc.
  • Education Items: Calculator, felt pens, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, eraser, colouring book, notepad, picture or puzzle book, chalk, pencil case, stickers, etc.
  • Hygiene Items: Toothbrush, toothpaste hairbrush, comb, hair clips, bar of soap, flannel, etc.
  • Other Items: Sweets (sell-by date to be at least March of the following year), gloves, scarf, sunglasses, cap, hat, bangles, necklaces etc.
All gifts should be new, please include items from each category.

FINAL DEADLINE - FRIDAY 21st November 2014

Y7 to 10 will have an RE lesson dedicated to making a shoebox with their friends. 
Y12 will have a General RE lesson putting their 'Faith in Action' and making a shoebox on 17th November.
Y13 will have a General RE lesson putting their 'Faith in Action' and making a shoebox on 11th November.

Please also remember we need £3 to cover the transport cost for each

Read last year's info:  <here>

We know that every shoebox you send brings joy, hope and smiles to a child whose life has been haunted by poverty, disaster, disease or war. What is more, every shoebox gift that is freely given to a child overseas is a symbol of the true meaning of Christmas, of God's unconditional gift to mankind, the birth of His son Jesus Christ. 

Each year in the UK alone, hundreds and thousands of people wrap and pack shoeboxes so that we can deliver them to children who may otherwise never receive a gift.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Catholic Social Teaching: Pope Francis' Vision

Monsignor John Armitage Speaking

On the 8th October 10 girls from Year 10, accompanied by Mr Lewis and Miss Laverty went to Trinity Catholic High School in Woodford Green for a conference on Catholic Social Teaching. The Trip consisted of three main parts:
  • An introduction by the school headmaster, Dr Doherty
  • A group activity with fellow schools, St Anne’s and St Bonaventure
  • A summary by a local priest
The first part of the day began with a speech and welcome by Dr Doherty. His main message was that to make change in the world, you must start by changing yourself. If you wish to influence those around you, you must make sure they are being influenced by the best possible person you can be. He stressed that we cannot change the world by ourselves but small actions all add up in the terms of changing the world for the better. He emphasised on the fact that too much attention is given to the problems in the media, and very few people are actually aware of the problems closer to home. 

The second part of the day began with the group being split in half. 5 girls, each with a designated teacher, were given presentations by either St Anne’s or St Bonaventure. Both groups discussed, with the help of a member from Citizen UK, what makes a good leader. The main point surround ding the topic was that a leader influences others immensely, and that if they do not have the qualities needed for a good leader, no implementation takes place. 

Finally, we discussed the ways in which we can get rid of the negative stereotype for young people. St Anne’s and St Bonaventure’s encouraged us as a school to take action within our local community. They gave examples of how, with the help of these projects, the public’s view on them had changed for the better. 

Overall, the trip was very inspiring and motivational. It introduced the thought of us as a school taking action in our community and focusing more on problems locally rather than globally.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Human Rights Act: Useful or Abolish?

Image courtesy of CoS

The Conservative Government are looking to get rid of the Human Rights Act. It only came into law, with much controversy in 2000, but it incorperates the post-war European Convention On Human Rights, inspired by Sir Winston Churchill (a Tory himself).

Billy Bragg, a lefty singer-songwriter and political activist wrote this on his Facebook:

"It’s farcical that the Tories plan to abolish the Human Rights Act. Every other major democracy has a Bill of Rights. We are apparently going to be offered a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. This ridiculous title suggests firstly that rights are not universal, that we alone in Britain can somehow have our own human rights that belong only to us and do not apply to nasty foreigners. Secondly, it implies that rights are not unalienable, that they are instead reciprocal, only earned by acting responsibly.

The biggest joke of all is that government is responsible for upholding human rights, not just for its own citizens, but for everyone who falls under its jurisdiction wherever it operates.

This is the bottom line for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified by the UN in 1948 and basis for the European Convention on Human Rights that the Tories hope to tame. Article Two states that every individual is entitled to the rights and freedoms set out in the UDHR, without distinction of any kind.

By seeking to introduce responsibilities into our Bill of Rights, the Tories make our freedoms conditional. This is a slippery slope, as, once unmoored from unalienable right, the conditions will be set by those in power. This undermines the whole premise of human rights – that they protect the individual from arbitrary use of power. It would be terribly ironic if, after winning the 2015 election, the Tories try to deprive us of our rights as we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

If the Tories want to promote responsibility, then they shouldn’t be attempting to wriggle out of their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. It sends out the message that you can choose which laws you respect. Furthermore, it undermines Britain’s standing in the world, robbing us of any pretence of moral leadership in international affairs.

And it shows how worried the Tories are about the next election – they are willing to trash Britain’s reputation and reinvigorate the case for Scottish independence – all in the vain hope of outflanking UKIP on the right." (see <here>

The Daily Mirror addressed the question of "What has the Human Rights Act ever done for us?" and highlighted 9 cases where existing British law was not sufficient to protect people and how the Human Rights Act helped out: 
  • It stops unfair extradition
  • It protects our soldiers
  • It gives us the right to have children
  • It provides justice to rape victim
  • It protects victims of domestic violence
  • It stops Big Brother spying on us
  • It supports the right to protest against war
  • It guards against slavery
  • It helps expose fatal failings in the system
Read in full <here>

One Tweeter suggested this: Imagine if news media pushed Human Rights Act as far as possible to check the State, instead of attacking the Act on behalf of the State? (see <here>)

Sadly it has to be asked, what is the real motive behind politicians getting rid of the Human Rights Act? Is it best intentioned? Or does it want more freedom to do as it wants? Do you think the HRA is useful for the people of Britain? What would Churchill make of this?
Read more <here> and <here>

Monday, 13 October 2014

Relatio Post Disceptationem: An "Earthquake" or Nothing New?

Image courtesy of Catholic Herald

Commentator John Thavis has called this document a "pastoral earthquake" (see <here>) while others have described the Synod as a "coven of perversion and perversity" (see <here>). However the media headlines have all focused on the Church to adopting a more positive stance on homosexuality.

This document is only part way through the meeting of Church leaders called by Pope Francis. The preliminary report written by bishops said homosexuals had "gifts and qualities to offer" and should not be turned away.

The Catholic Herald reports:

The document calls on the Church to build on the “positive aspects” of relationships that are deemed irregular – such as between remarried couples or same-sex partners – and keep the “doors always wide open” to people in those relationships.

The relatio says that the Church reaching out to divorced Catholics does not represent a “weakening of its faith” but an exercise of charity.

The document asks the questions:

Are we capable of welcoming these people [homosexuals], guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

This links to the emphasis of  the “principle of graduality”, This is the idea that Catholics move towards full acceptance of Church teaching in steps, and that the Church needs to accompany them with patience and understanding. 

Joshua McElwee, writing <here>, a Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, said that the synod’s interim document has “a decidedly different tone” from many Church statements in recent years.

Cardinal Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier summed up some of the controversy by saying, “Individual things that were said by individuals, may have been repeated a couple of times, are put in here as if they really do reflect the feeling of the whole synod. They've been picked up by the media then and made to be the message of the synod. I think that’s where the upset is.” (see <here>)

The Vatican Press Office has also made this very clear: "The General Secretariat of the Synod … reiterates that it is a working document, which summarizes the interventions and debate of the first week" (see <here>).
Perhaps the trouble is that the media have latched upon some messages of the document and are putting forward a different tone of message from what the Bishops hoped for?

However the end result appears to be one of charity and understanding, recognising good in all, and working towards better relationships with one another and with the Church. The next week will be interesting, as will the Synod in 2015 on the The Family. This document has created hope for many, despite the reservation from others.

Do you think it is right that Church looks at these teachings? Do you think there is anything new here, or should Catholics have always been looking for good in everyone? Why do you think some people are not happy with this?

Read more <here> and <here> and <here>

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Brittany: Dying on 1st November

Image courtesy of NBC

American Brittany Maynard, 29, has decided to end her life on 1st November 2014. She was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour in January 2014. After an initial prognosis suggested that she could survive for anywhere between 3 and 10 years, she was later told by doctors that she had just 6 months to live.

In the below video she explains her decision:

“I can't even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don't have to die the way that it's been described to me, that my brain tumour would take me on its own... I will die upstairs in my bedroom that I share with my husband, with my mother and my husband by my side and pass peacefully with some music that I like in the background.”

As The Independent reports:

Brittany is remaining positive about the time left to her and urges others to “seize the day” and pursue only that which they care about.

“I hope to enjoy however many days I have on this beautiful earth and spend as much of it outside as I can surrounded by those I love."

Brittany has also emphasised that her decision is a direct result of her tragic circumstances and is not suicide.

This is a photo from her wedding day:
Image courtesy of The Independent 

Do you think Brittany is making the right choice? Do you think Oregon is right to have this euthanasia law? Do you agree that it is not suicide? 

UPDATE: Brittany ended her life on 3rd November 2015 - Read more <here>

Monday, 6 October 2014

Synod on the Family (2014)

Image courtesy of Time

This weekend saw the start of an "extraordinary Synod" in the Vatican. It will be a two-week meeting by over 200 leaders of the Catholic Church, including the Pope to discuss marriage, divorce, homosexuality, abortion, contraception and all other matters connecting to family life.

The agenda was set after an opinion survey of Catholics world-wide ordered by Pope Francis last year. Many have claimed it was aimed at looking at to what extent Catholic teaching is being rejected or ignored by the faithful.

Even strongly Roman Catholic countries, have legalised abortion, divorce and same-sex marriages. Many Roman Catholics use birth control and a significant number have divorced (and potentially remarried).

There has been much made of Pope Francis' own views on sexuality which have been conditioned by years of working in the slums of Buenos Aires. He continues to stress the importance of understanding the problems faced by the poor, rather than focussing only on obedience to unbending rules.

"We cannot insist only upon issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraception,.. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent,.. The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines… We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards."

The world will be listening very carefully to what this Synod has to say...

What do you think the Church leaders will have to say? Will it change much? 

Read more <here>
Full Vatican briefings <here>

Excellent blog post with all the info you need <here>

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Ultimate Grandfather!

Image courtesy of CNA

50,000 pilgrims went to Saint Peter's Square last Sunday for a meeting between Pope Francis and elderly people from around the world. One special guest was retired pontiff Benedict XVI.

The current Holy Father described Pope Benedict as the grandfather of all grandfathers". He went on to say. “I have said many times that it gives me great pleasure that he lives here in the Vatican, because it is like having a wise grandfather at home. Thank you!”

Pope Francis went on to warn against the reality of the abandonment of the elderly, describing it as a “hidden euthanasia,”. He said it is the effect of a “culture which discards” human beings. Children, unemployed youth, and elderly persons are discarded on the pretense of maintaining a system of economic “balance”. The center of this culture is no longer “the human person,” but “money.” reported CNA.

“We are all called to counter this poisonous culture of waste." was a clear message to all.

Read more <here>