Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day for Life in England & Wales - where does the money go?

Zenit reported on 22nd July on the Day for Life that is observed by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales on the last Sunday of every July, this year this coming Sunday 25th.

Where does the money raised in the Day for Life collections that are taken in parishes go?

Zenit reports that City Pregnancy Counseling Psychotherapy has received £10,000 from previous Day for Life collections. A search on the Internet reveals that City Pregnancy Counselling and Psychotherapy is a non-values based organisation that puts the woman first, so that she can get to the place she'd like to be. Mmm. I think I can guess what that means, but I am prepared to be corrected. On its 'Women' page it lists various organisations that can be approached for further assistance, including the very praiseworthy charity LIFE. However, there are the following very dubious organisations:
  • NHS Choice The NHS is a leading abortion provider that subcontracts its abortion work to Marie Stopes International.
  • British Infertility Counselling Association. The BICA, based in Harley Street, clearly points people in the direction of infertility treatment and is involved with the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority). It seems to me that it is fully involved in licensed fertility treatment centres and is therefore part of the pro-IVF establishment.
  • Sure Start. (The link of BICA's website doesn't work.) Sure Start is very much involved in promoting contraception and early sex education through its Speakeasy programme which is run by FPA, another leading pro-abortion and contraception agency.
I'm sure I could go on researching.

We read at Zenit:
The City Pregnancy Counseling Psychotherapy, which reaches out to men, women and couples who are faced with a crisis pregnancy, pregnancy loss and infertility, was given £10,000 ($15,282).

Workers at this organization in London expressed gratitude for the grant, and noted that since it was set up in September, 2008, it has received 1893 client contacts.

The counseling center counts on the services of 14 therapists who give of their time for free. Thus, the grant will go primarily toward the operation costs and rent for the premises in the center of London.

I'm sure it's not actually the Bishops of England and Wales who make the decisions about where funding goes so I won't be critical of them. But someone in Eccleston Square makes these decisions and I don't understand why an organisation such as City Pregnancy Counselling and Psychotherapy should receive £10,000 from the collections taken in Catholic parishes up and down England and Wales towards their rental and operation costs. Could not this money be spent more directly in the struggle to save the lives of unborn babies by helping organisations that try to offer women a real alternative to abortion, help women in crisis pregnancies to keep their babies, finance counsellors at parish level, or fund pro-life/pro-chastity educational programmes? Maybe even some good advertising to compete with the Marie Stopes TV commercial.

Zenit also reports:
Another £50,000 ($76,400) went to fund ethical stem cell research. One of the researchers, Neil Scolding of the University of Bristol Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, said, "We are absolutely delighted with this splendid contribution to our bone marrow stem cell research program relating to multiple sclerosis."

"Not only is it an extremely substantial help in funding our work, but an inspiring expression of confidence and optimism in what we are doing," he said.

The researcher affirmed that "this major donation will accelerate our work, and we are extremely grateful to the bishops' conference, and to churchgoers throughout the United Kingdom for their great generosity."
Now, I daresay that this research is valuable and good. But, again, why should people's money go to fund this research when this money could be used directly to save lives, to help women avoid the tragedy of abortion?

Speaking of this year's collection the website of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales states:
In England and Wales, collections will be held in parishes on the Day for Life 2010. The proceeds of these collections will be used to provide core funding for the Anscombe Bioethics Centre (formerly the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics) and to cover the costs of the materials for this year’s Day for Life. In addition, grants will be made to support Catholic charities working in fields connected with this year's theme.
Do organisations such as City Pregnancy and Counselling Psychotherapy count as 'Catholic Charities'? I'm just an ordinary Catholic, albeit a priest, with no insight into the reasons behind these decisions. But am I the only one who doubts whether the money that is collected from Catholics on the Day for Life is really used for the purposes intended by Pope John Paul II when he asked for the annual observance of a Day for Life in every country? I know there are many aspects to Life that need to be treated, but just look at the counter in the sidebar of this blog to see how many abortions have occurred in the time it has taken you to read this post.

See also the Day for Life site for further information about this year's theme.


  1. Good post Fr. Yes, LIFE do a great amount of work.

    However, several charities, including LIFE, use non-directive counselling. In fact, LIFE provide a link to City Pregnancy Counselling & Psychotherapy, on their website.

    Is this based on the idea that you can't tell a woman not to have her unborn child killed? That having an unborn child killed is not actually a right?

    We're donating our money, so we should be asked about where it's going. There should also be transparency about who makes the decisions and why.

  2. How much will Good Counsel Network be receiving?

  3. Father:

    City Pregnancy Counselling and Psychotherapy appears to me, from a visit to their website, to be an initiative of LIFE, a well known pro-life charity in the UK. LIFE focus on providing practical help - housing, counselling, etc - and so I would expect them to engage at the highest level of professionalism in the sphere of counselling. This is what their site seemed to say to me.

    The link to the NHS does not take you to a page promoting abortion or contraception services, but to a general front page. In context, it is completely neutral with regard to abortion - and the NHS does provide a lot of other healthcare services.

    The support of adult stem cell research (as opposed to embryonic stem cell research) also seems to me perfectly acceptable from a Catholic point of view.

    One can ask, I think, without there being obvious "correct answers":
    Is it a matter of justice to those who donate to the Day for Life that they know which charities will receive support from their donations in advance?
    Should the money raised from the Day for Life support just Catholic charities or not?
    Should there be a prioritisation of action focussed directly with regard to abortion over other, wider, pro-life initiatives?

    But, in my view, there should be no difficulty for Catholics in contributing to the collection this Sunday.

  4. I just wonder if any collection should be taken at all. Taking people's money places on those who administer it a grave responsibility to do so according to the wishes of the donors. I would rather no collection were taken and simply good preaching on the fundamental issues of life, beginning with contraception through to God's plan for sex in marriage, sanctity of life...

    I certainly think abortion and its root causes are the number one area to look at: look at the death count!

  5. I second Fr. J's call for actual sound preaching on these areas.

    Second, abortion and its direct causes is the number one priority.

    Third, as a pro-life oranisation, why does LIFE choose to use non-direct counselling? City pregnancy also uses non-directive counselling?

    Fourth, as an organisation of LIFE, why does City Pregnancy provide a 'useful link' to 'British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy.' Apart from being sexually explicit, you may want to have a read through 'tips for sexual wellbeing'. It may as well be Brook or Playboy.

  6. Dear Father

    We see that you are now in America! May this be a blessed time for you in your priesthood.

    Regarding LIFE (Please forgive a necessarily lengthy post)-

    From 2001 - 2003 Alan worked as their North West PR/Education Officer which included giving talks in schools and parishes as well as interviews to local media outlets.

    All was going well until we both attended the LIFE Counselling training. We then learned that LIFE's much praised Counselling was actually based on the atheistic ideology of Carl Rogers.

    This Rogerian model of Counselling allows no space for the Catholic understandings of Original Sin, Redemption, or the Thomistic notion of giving good guidance and counsel. As such it is amoral and seeks only to impart 'information' to enable clients to come to an 'informed choice'. But of course such an approach could actually facilitate a woman on to an abortion! Alan then did a lot of research into Carl Rogers and his influence on the New-Age style Esalen Centre and the destruction of Western Catholic institutions caused by his Rogerian encounter groups.

    It must be said that there were good women counsellors in the LIFE system - and some babies and their mothers were saved. However many others were taught to leave their Catholicism at the door when counselling. They would thus cease to think and operate as Catholics in that most important and momentous of contexts in order to act as secularist non-directive counsellors. And all this was done in order to be 'professional.'

    Alan submitted the findings of his research to his Catholic superiors. No action was ever taken.

    Alan - and other young Catholic members - tried to promote marriage and chastity in school pro-life talks but finally resigned when -

    1. The LIFE website began to include Brook Advisory style comments for teens like 'A condom can help reduce the risk of STI but is not 100% effective' and 'To reduce your risk of STI then reduce your number of sexual partners.'

    2. We were banned from talking about God - even when giving pro-life talks in Catholic schools. Alan was told that talking about God was 'exclusive language.'

    Give your money to Good Counsel Network and SPUC instead!

    Alan and Angeline

  7. Fr. John,

    I think you have got a bit carried away here. I have had personal experience of CPCP and believe it to be an excellent initiative, totally worthy of support from the Church. Hundreds of women are having abortions every day and if we are to address the death count featured on your blog then we, as the pro-life community, have got to communicate better with women. CPCP makes an important contribution in this regard.

    Your fire would be better targeted at those pro-life organisations, SPUC in particular, that talk a good game but do very little in any practical way to further the pro-life cause. SPUC is primarily a political lobbying organisation. I ceased to support it when I discovered that relations between SPUC and the principal pro-life parliamentarians - Ann Widdecombe, David Alton, David Amess, Jim Dobbin and Edward Leigh - had totally broken down. How can SPUC lobby effectively when it is not on speaking terms with our parliamentary allies?

  8. Alan and Angeline: I'm afraid I have my concerns about LIFE too. For this reason I never promoted them in the parish. Your experience confirms my worries. And I fully endorse your comments re: Good Counsel and SPUC.

    Gavin: I don't think I was carried away. My post took several draftings in order to be very measured. I can't for the life of me see why money collected in Catholic Churches should go to a secular organisation like CPCP. As for SPUC, maybe John Smeaton is speaking some rather inconvenient truths that the MP's you mention don't want to hear? I am a firm supporter.

    When will we stand up for the unborn and speak of the horror of the deaths occuring by the second?

  9. Dear Father

    You have done a great serice by highlighting this issue.

    Prof. Jack Scarisbrick is quoted in a comment on Fr. Ray Blake's blog as saying -

    The City Pregnancy and Psychotherapy Centre is, as its publicity clearly states, ‘a service provided by the charity LIFE’. We require all its counsellors to be ‘paid up’ supporters of LIFE. It is what it is and says what it says precisely in order to be able to offer a prolife lifeline to people who need us but who might not otherwise come near us. It is an important experiment in prolife care work.

    We've just been reading through the City Pregnancy Counselling and Psychotherapy website.

    The 'What is Counselling and Psychotherapy' page promotes the use of the following 'therapies' -

    •Transactional analysis,
    •Cognitive Behavioral

    A couple of these are based in Jungian/New Age philosophies and are NOT compatible with the Catholic Faith. In some respects they are even worse than the Rogerian counselling we discussed in our earlier post yesterday.

    Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City once wrote a clear warning about some of these therapies in an article entitled 'A Call to Vigilance'.

    It is therefore most worrying that £10,000 was given from earlier Day for Life collections to this organisation.

    In Christ
    Alan and Angeline

  10. Fr. John,

    Thank you for your comments.

    The pro-life MPs and Peers I have referred to are courageous individuals who deserve better than the uncharitable attitude displayed by John Smeaton and, I am sad to say, some priests. We are all pro-life and surely we must learn to work together. Surely it is remiss of John Smeaton, as the head of a political lobbying organisation, to fail to establish a working relationship with his pro-life allies in Parliament?

    Regarding CPCP, yes it is a secular organisation but so too is SPUC and they collect in Catholic churches. (Whether is is legal for a charity - the Church - to allow a non-charitable organisation - SPUC - to collect on church premises is highly questionable.)

    Alan and Angeline - LIFE is not, and never has been, a Catholic organisation. Surely you knew this when you joined? Therefore you cannot really complain about being unable to promote the Catholic faith when you worked for LIFE.

  11. The Bishops' website clearly says donations will be make to Catholic charities. Are there any officially 'Catholic Charities' involved in pro-life work? If CPCP can receive funds, I don't see why SPUC can't.

    As you know, there was a split within SPUC when the founder and former national director Phyllis Bowman and John Smeaton parted ways. Whatever the reasons for this we cannot go into here. The MP's you mention went with Phyllis Bowman's new foundation Right to Life.

    John Smeaton has taken an absolutist approach since he has seen that all previous attempts to restrict abortion have resulted in more liberal application of the abortion law. His stand, to which I have moved, is simply to campaign for its end. This is not something politicians are prepared to accept. I do not stand in judgement of those politicians - they may have their reasons for thinking their position is more effective. I happen to disagree with them in the light of the total failure to stem the killing of so many innocents.

    No lack of charity intended - just debate and freedom of expression of opinions.

  12. Dear Gavin

    There is indeed ambiguity about this issue. A few years ago LIFE ran an advert claiming to be a 'secular humanist' organisation. The following month this advert ran again (but with this line ommitted) and was followed by an article on Mrs. Nuala Scarisbrick and her faith.

    When we joined LIFE we hoped to work with people of good will from various backgrounds in order to defend the dignity of the human person from the onslaught of the culture of death. We hoped to work together in the pursuit of truth and goodness.

    We did not expect however that our Catholic Faith would not be allowed to inform our work or the way we went about it. Secular humanists in the organisation were not forced to supress the paradigm which framed their response to this most important of issues - but in time it became clear that Catholics were.

    The leaders of LIFE at that time were prominent Catholics whom we had admired for years.

    The leaders of LIFE have met Pope John Paul II for their pro-life work.

    We had come to know about LIFE in the first place through appeals made in Catholic Churches.

    The LIFE Centre where Alan was interviewed - and later worked - has a large Catholic chapel at its heart with the Blessed Sacrament reserved. Mass was celebrated here on occasion.

    At that interview I made it clear that my Catholic Faith was the reason I was there and that I desired to teach about chastity to young people.

    Several members of the young Education Team were Catholics whose Faith was their motivation and many (most?) of the counsellors were Catholics or committed Christians from other ecclesial communities.

    Part of my job included hosting LIFE Sundays in Catholic Churches.

    The annual LIFE conference has Mass on the Sunday (other denominations are provided for also).

    Evangelium Vitae (which the leaders at times claim forms their work)- teaches in paragraph 96 'Where God is denied and people live as though he did not exist... the dignity of the human person and the inviolability of human life also end up being rejected.'

    Also I have made valid points in my earlier post which need addressing -

    1. Catholic counsellors are required by LIFE to leave their Faith at the door when counselling in order to give a 'non-directive' approach. Even some secular psychologists have come to reject this approach as lacking in the correct guidance needed.

    Yet anyone at LIFE who questions this 'orthodoxy' is given strong direction to toe the party line or go- and I know of a good counsellor who had to leave. This is surely an irony?

    2. Christians of other denominations in LIFE expressed concerns to me on this issue but did not want to speak out lest they were stopped from counselling altogether. They would rather use this restriced approach than non at all. But why should they have to choose between their faith which is the source of their pro-life work and an atheistic approach?

    3. Catholics cannot give Transpersonalist counselling as it is a religious belief system which is contrary to Catholic Truth.

    4. Catholics cannot teach sex education issues without reference to the Natural and Divine Laws - and Catholic schools are not supposed to bring in secularists to teach on these matters.

    5. Many Catholics who give money to LIFE would be unhappy at the relativistic approach typified by the Brook-Advisory stlye web site comments we outlined in our earlier comment.

    6. Such an approach is only likely to add to abortion.

    In Christ
    Alan and Angeline

  13. Thanks for all the observations about LIFE. Can I suggest that any future discussions about LIFE be carried out in contact with LIFE directly?

  14. Dear Father John,

    Thank you for your further reply. This will be my final comment on this issue.

    If you believe that David Alton, Ann Widdecombe, Edward Leigh et al do not want to see an end to abortion then you are sorely mistaken. All things are possible for God but surely you and John Smeaton must recognise that barring a miracle (and miracles do happen) we must seek to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to ameliorate the effect of the Abortion Act. Such action is explicitly authorised by Evangelium Vitae (para. 73 I believe).

    As a pro-life political leader it is beholden upon John Smeaton to at least seek to engage with pro-life parliamentarians, something he has singularly failed to do. He doesn't have to like them - that is not the point! His blog is well argued and put together but he needs to move from behind his computer and engage with our elected representatives.

    We are all pro-life. However, the problem with the pro-life movement is that the organisations (SPUC, LIFE, Right to Life, etc) and the wonderfully courageous individuals who run them (John Smeaton, Jack Scarisbrick and Phyllis Bowman) have become more important than the pro-life cause. I am afraid that priests who become apologists for one or more of these organisations and fail to recognise the barriers to reconciliation and progress they (the organisations) have become do not help matters.

    Thank you for reading this.


  15. "If you believe that David Alton, Ann Widdecombe, Edward Leigh et al do not want to see an end to abortion then you are sorely mistaken."

    But I do not believe this. I know they want an end to abortion very much. And we'll leave it at that.


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