Category Archives: Catholic Church

Pregnant nun ice cream advert banned in UK

The advert for Antonio Federici ice cream Antonio Federici said its advert was meant to be humorous

An ice cream company banned from using an advert displaying a pregnant nun has vowed to position similar posters in London in time for the Pope’s visit.

Antonio Federici’s advert showed a pregnant nun eating ice cream in a church, together with the strap line “immaculately conceived”.

The Advertising Standards Authority has ordered it to be discontinued, saying it mocked Roman Catholic beliefs.

Antonio Federici says it will now put up new posters near Westminster Abbey.

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Westminster Abbey on Friday, before holding Mass at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday.

Antonio Federici, a UK-based company, has yet to reveal what image will be portrayed in the new advert, saying only that it would be “a continuation of the theme”.

A spokeswoman for the company said the new image intended to “defy” the ban from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

She added: “We are in the process of securing a series of billboards close to and along the planned route of the Pope’s cavalcade around Westminster Cathedral”.

A spokesman for the ASA said its rulings “must be followed and we are taking steps to ensure Antonio Federici do so”.

He added: “We do not comment on the likely compliance of ads that have not yet appeared.

“However, we are continuing to conduct work behind the scenes, including with the advertiser, to ensure they comply with the rules.”

Defending the banned nun advert, Antonio Federici said the idea of “conception” represented the development of their ice cream.

It added that the use of religious imagery represented its strong feeling towards its product.

The firm said it also wished to “comment on and question, using satire and gentle humour, the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues”.

The banned advert was featured in editions of The Lady and Grazia magazines.

The ASA said in its ruling: “We considered the use of a nun pregnant through immaculate conception was likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics.

“We concluded that to use such an image in a lighthearted way to advertise ice cream was likely to cause serious offence to readers, particularly those who practised the Roman Catholic faith.”

The publishers of The Lady said it had received eight complaints and that it had been a “misjudgement” to have published .

Grazia said it considered that the advert was lighthearted and did not mock any religious groups.

The ASA banned another advert for Antonio Federici in July 2009 that showed a priest and a nun appearing as if they were about to kiss.


Priest Sex abuse victim told to ‘go to hell’

MELBOURNE Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart told a woman who had been sexually abused by a priest to “go to hell, bitch” in conduct labelled appalling by a Victorian magistrate.

Archbishop Hart later apologised to the woman in the Melbourne Magistrates Court for what magistrate Anne Goldsborough described as ”appalling words of abuse”.

But last night Archbishop Hart repeatedly claimed that he ”did not recall” his comments or the magistrate’s rebuke in mid-2004. ”It was a number of years ago, I don’t recall precisely,” he told The Age.

Abuse: A victim’s story

A nun who was abused by a Catholic priest tells her story.

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When put to him that he would surely recall the comment because it had become an issue in court, he again said: ”I don’t recall.”

Court documents confirm the archbishop’s outburst after he was granted an intervention order against the woman, who had pursued him over her abuse by priest Barry Whelan in 2001.

The magistrate said that a ”very, very angry” Archbishop Hart had told the woman to ”go to hell bitch” after she knocked on his door at 1.20am in March, 2004. The woman was the subject of an earlier intervention order after she had thrown stones through a window of the archbishop’s house and hassled him and his staff.

Delivering her findings in June 2004, Magistrate Goldsborough said: “Archbishop Hart has apologised for this appalling and ungracious act directly from the witness box in my presence.”

The magistrate said she “did not consider he [Archbishop Hart] was fearful or had any apprehension for himself or others” when he found the woman on his doorstep – but also described her conduct as unacceptable.

The magistrate found that the archbishop was angry that his privacy had been significantly breached as a result of the early morning visit.

But Ms Goldsborough rejected the archbishop’s lawyer’s claim that the victim’s abuse was not a relevant factor in the intervention order court case.

”I am assured … by the archbishop himself that [he] … has a good understanding of the complex set of circumstances in which [the victim] finds herself at least in part caused by her … abuse by former father Barry Whelan.”

In her findings, the magistrate also said that after attending the archbishop’s house, the woman had later asked for an apology from the archbishop over his comments and told his staff over the phone that she wanted to kill him. Ms Goldsborough found that the woman ”had no intention to carry out this threat”, but said it was ”threatening and alarming”.

”[The victim] says all of the behaviour illustrated in her phone conversations is borne out of her hurt and frustration,” Ms Goldsborough found.

”While that may be entirely understandable in one sense it is absolutely unacceptable behaviour in all other senses.” Whelan abused the woman in 2001 after his suspension as a priest in the 1990s for abusing another woman had been overturned.

Over several decades, five women have accused Whelan of sexually abusing them, including a woman who was 13 at the time of the alleged abuse and a woman who claims to have had Whelan’s son. The church reached a confidential settlement in 2006 with the woman involved in the 2004 court case.

While being unable to recall his comments to the woman and his dressing down by the magistrate, Archbishop Hart yesterday detailed some of the events that led to the court case. ”I put my cassock on, I went down to the door and I was very annoyed … [she was] ringing and ringing and ringing, I had just got to sleep, I was very tired, I was about to go off to Rome and I went down and I am sure I would have spoken strongly, but what I said I don’t recall.”

The Age reported yesterday that a St Patrick’s Cathedral newsletter last month named Barry Whelan as a ”living treasure”, despite the church’s own investigator finding that he had abused several woman. The archdiocese has said this was a mistake and has apologised.

The Age investigation into the Melbourne Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse claims has also reported:

? That a priest accused of abusing a minor was told by a church investigator that he was the subject of a covert police probe.

Archbishop Hart said yesterday he had accepted Peter O’Callaghan’s denial that he was told not to tell the priest about the police inquiry.

? Comments from Melbourne Vicar General Les Tomlinson that there is a church sex abuse ”victims’ industry” that seeks to exploit victims to make money – which the Archbishop yesterday said ”weren’t helpful”.

? Calls from a victims collective, who are backed by two interstate bishops, to review the Melbourne archdiocese’s handling of complaints. Archbishop Hart said there was no need to review the system. ”I would much rather concentrate on the compassion that we need to show to victims … They are people who should have expected more from priests and it is a tremendous suffering to be let down by people they trusted.”


We must separate church and state

In England, our constitution is blighted by an ancient theocratic hangover. Time to sweep it away and bring England into the 21st century!

We’re not Iran, but our constitution does have a theocratic structure. I think this holds us back, impedes us, like an old invisible injury. Like a subtle poison in the blood, it quietly harms us. Most people seem unaware of it. Even Hazel Blears, who recently said that we are a secular democracy.

Yesterday a seminar was held at the UCL Constitution Unit to mark the launch of a book on the issue by Bob Morris. Church and State in 21st Century Britain is a meticulous analysis of the situation. No such study can be entirely neutral, but Morris seems to have no religious agenda; his aim is to point out that establishment is at odds with the principle of religious equality, making it “anomalous to the point of unsustainability”. He is wary of the term “disestablishment” but he does advocate the big reform – ending the monarch’s need to be Anglican.

In his presentation yesterday he said that reform would ideally come from the church itself. Otherwise it is likely to have reform thrust upon it, in a way it cannot control. So it is in its interest to lead the process. He acknowledged that here is little sign of this willingness as yet, but seemed hopeful that a fresh look at the issue might change that.

In the discussion that followed three Anglican representatives spoke. Each offered a slightly different flavour of the old conservative line: that it would be perilous to mess with our ancient constitution, that it might unleash an aggressive secularism. None admitted that there was a problem here that had to be faced.

These speakers confirmed my view that the Church of England looks very nice and liberal from a slight distance but at heart its philosophy is high Tory: tradition is sacred, those who want to tamper with it are dangerously shallow. I know of almost no Anglican who has said anything different, who admits Morris’ basic point that reform is necessary, so that we can have a constitution we can really affirm, and participate in, rather than an alienating relic from the imperial past. One exception is the Oxford theologian George Pattison, who has recently called for a more honest debate within the church (in an article in The Church Times). It is worth noting that Rowan Williams has failed to start the debate; he has allowed the reactionary position to become stronger – a piece of major political cowardice.

Might reform come from elsewhere? Of course the secularist lobbies advocate it, but in a sense this is unhelpful: it makes it seem an atheist cause, and so strenghtens the hand of the Anglicans, who scarify with the prospect of a Dawkinsish tyranny. Ideally it would come from a political movement that was also Christian, led by a new Cromwell figure.

Why is disestablishment not a mainstream liberal cause? It baffles me frankly. Why is it hardly ever mentioned by the columnists of this paper, except as a quick aside? To my mind it is the very essence of liberalism, that church and state should be separate. This is the English revolution that we have never quite had. It is the way to a new sort of political participation, a new sense that we are citizens of a modern state. Other aspects of constitutional change, and other liberal causes such as CCTV, DNA database and ID Cards are pathetically small-fry compared to this.


Now Christians start to burn books!

A Christian group in Wisconsin is actually suing for the right to engage in a public book burning to destroy copies of a book they consider to be “explicitly vulgar, racial [sic], and anti-Christian”:

The offending book is Francesca Lia Block’s Baby Be-Bop, a young adult novel in which a boy, struggling with his homosexuality, is beaten up by a homophobic gang. The complaint, which according to the American Library Association also demands $120,000 (£72,000) in compensatory damages for being exposed to the book in a display at West Bend Community Memorial Library, was lodged by four men from the Christian Civil Liberties Union.

There was also another group that just fought to move the book into the adult section of the library, which calls itself the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries. The Christian Civil Liberties Union, the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries–aren’t those exactly the kind of Orwellian names you’d expect pro-fascist, anti-free speech organizations to call themselves?

They’re charging that the book’s physical presence in their local library caused them mental and emotional distress and that its alleged derogatory language “put one’s life in possible jeopardy, adults and children alike.” Wow! That must be some book to actually put lives in jeopardy. And since this book has been around for 15 years now, I would love to hear about all the lives who were destroyed by its mere existence.

The West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries claims they wish. . .

“. . .to protect children from accessing them without their parents’ knowledge and supervision.”

The old “protect them from themselves” gambit–a fascist classic. Fortunately, the library committee stuck to their guns by keeping the books in the young adult section. But the other group decided they wanted to burn the books.

“The word ‘faggot’ is very derogatory and slanderous to all males,” the suit continues. “Using the word ‘Nigger’ is dangerously offensive, disrespectful to all people. These words can permeate violence.” The suit also claims that the book “constitutes a hate crime, and that it degrades the community”, but surely their intended burning of this particular book is  a greater offense.

“They’ve filed a claim against the city of West Bend and the city has to decide if it is valid,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, acting director of the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom. “Their insurance company is evaluating the claim, but I would be very surprised if they found any merit in it … Should they find any merit in this claim, we would certainly support the library in fighting it.”

The legal challenge follows a lengthy campaign by some West Bend residents to restrict access to teenage books they deemed sexually explicit from library shelves, which was eventually thrown out at the start of June.

“Obviously we were really pleased with the outcome to that – there was a unanimous vote to keep the books in the library and we thought the matter should be over,” said Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write programme at PEN America.

Siems said there was clearly “a bit of theatre” in the lawsuit which followed. “They’ve filed a lawsuit which has little possibility of going forward legally, and they’re asking for damages which include the right to burn a book. It does seem more to gain publicity than a real serious challenge.” But, he said, PEN remained very concerned about the impulse behind the claim. “This is a group of people trying aggressively to rid the library of these books and that’s very serious – it needs to be fought.”

The claimants, he said, “have a right to continue to express their views, and this in a way is a creative attempt to express those views”. But it’s “also a dangerous game when you’re talking about something like book burning, calling on the law to burn books. It’s certainly completely un-American, and if they paused, I think they would agree.”


Catholic mother killed newborn baby from ‘shame’ after giving birth alone

A Catholic mother, who did not know she was pregnant, killed her newly born son within moments of giving birth alone, an inquest heard.

Elizabeth Tevenan, 30, who later died from severe blood loss, gave birth in November 2008 in the downstairs lavatory of the home she shared with her parents in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Miss Tevenan, who was an only child with a strict Catholic upbringing, is believed to have been unaware of the pregnancy until she gave birth.

The inquest at Leamington Town Hall, Warwickshire, heard that her son was born alive and would have taken a few breaths before he died from having tissue stuffed down his throat.

The child who has now been named Nicholas Patrick Tevenan, weighed 6lb 13oz and was born at around 37 weeks.

In a statement read out by the coroner, paediatric pathologist Dr James Lucas said: “His lungs were expanded, he would have only taken a few breaths before death occurred.”

He described how a piece of tissue paper was found at the back of the throat.

“This constrained the entrance to the voice box, deliberately obstructing the upper airway, causing asphyxia which caused rapid death.”

The inquest heard that Elizabeth had been rushed to hospital after being found by her mother covered in blood, and showed signs of child birth upon examination.

Police then returned to the four-bedroom property to search for an infant where they found a baby concealed under a pile of towels next to the toilet.

PC Judith Wolsey from Warwickshire Police, told the inquest that she had entered the house and followed a trail of blood through the house to the downstairs toilet before finding the baby.

She said: “I felt physically shocked and “I remember saying ‘there’s a baby’ – I couldn’t believe what I’d seen.”

The officer told the inquest how they picked the baby up and tried to resuscitate him until the ambulance arrived.

Elizabeth’s parents did not attend the hearing, but the coroner read out a statement from her 58-year-old mother Bridget Tevenan.

In it Elizabeth was described as a “bubbly, happy” girl who loved reading novels, listening to Classic FM and watching Eastenders and Casualty.

Elizabeth was found by her mother in the bathroom on the morning of November 13 after she became concerned about her.

“She was in the downstairs toilet, I called to her through the door, ‘Are you ok’, and she said ‘Yes I’ll be out in 15 to 20 minutes’.

Shortly after Mrs Tevenan said when she opened the door she saw her daughter sitting on the toilet with blood all over her legs, at which point she rang the ambulance.

“I said ‘Oh my God you’ve haemorrhaged’ – she was white like snow and disorientated,” she added.

The inquest also heard that her mother tried to clean the blood from her legs because she wanted her to have “dignity” as she knew there would be men in the house.

Her mother said her family were Catholic and Elizabeth was “brought up very strict”.

She said she would have “loved” a grandchild and although she would have “hit the ceiling”, if she knew she was pregnant, she would eventually have “calmed down”.

The inquest was also told that Elizabeth’s mother knew she had a boyfriend, but she had never met him.

The father was identified as Noel Bannister, after DNA tests were carried out. He attended the hearing but refused to comment afterwards.

Coroner Sean McGovern said: “I am entirely satisfied she was unaware of her pregnancy. It is impossible to know when she became aware she was giving birth.

“If she’d been aware her water broke, it’s likely to me that early medical attention could have prevented her death.

“My verdict is that she died as a result of natural causes.

“I am satisfied the child was born alive but someone deliberately pushed tissue paper into the throat causing asphyxia leading to the death of the person.”

The coroner said they could have been “acting in a condition of complete panic” and recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.


Witches’ coven claims religious persecution after church hall ban

Sandra Davis - High Priestess at the Crystal Cauldron: Witches claim religious discrimination after church ban

Sandra Davis, the “high priestess” of Crystal Cauldron group in Stockport, Greater Manchester, said she was shocked to be told that the pagan group was not considered to be compatible with the church’s “ethos”.

Mrs Davis, 61, booked Our Lady’s Social Club in Shaw Heath, Stockport, for the group’s annual “Witches Ball” due to be held in October.

She hoped to attract up to 150 people to the social evening offering a buffet dinner and music from an Abba tribute band and selected the hall because it had disabled access.

But when she went to pay for the booking she was told by the manager that the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which owns the centre, had refused permission for the group to use it.

“It makes you think that there is still a little bit of that attitude from the past of the Catholics wanting to burn witches,” she said.

“I thought we had made progress, tat we could accept other people’s religious paths.”

Mrs Davis, who has 11 grandchildren, gave up her former job in a forklift truck company to set up the Crystal Cauldron, where she is known as “Amethyst Selmeselene”.

Based in a former post office, the 30-strong group runs a new age bookshop and sells cloaks, jewellery and medieval costumes on the internet as well as organising a children’s group called “Little Crystals”.

It also supports a local cat sanctuary as its designated charity.

Mrs Davis has since secured a new venue for the ball which she hopes will become an annual fixture in the town.

“It is a full family thing and it is a posh do too,” she said. “It is evening dress or fancy dress, last year most of us went in medieval costumes.”

The Reverend John Joyce, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury, said that it was out of the question for a pagan group to use its facilities.

“Parish centres under our auspices let their premises on the understanding users and their organisations are compatible with the ethos and teachings of the Catholic church,” he said.

“In this instance, we aren’t satisfied such requirements are met.”


Christian Murdered for Drinking Tea from a Muslim Cup

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Muslims running a tea stall beat a Christian man to death for using a cup designated for Muslims on May 9. The young man, Ishtiaq Masih, had ordered tea at a roadside stall in Machharkay village, Punjab, Pakistan, after his bus stopped to allow passengers to relieve themselves.

When Ishtiaq went to pay for his tea, the owner noticed that he was wearing a necklace with a cross and grabbed him, calling for his employees to bring anything available to beat him for violating a sign posted on the stall warning non-Muslims to declare their religion before being served. Ishtiaq had not noticed the warning sign before ordering his tea, as he ordered with a group of his fellow passengers.

The owner and 14 of his employees beat Ishtiaq with stones, iron rods and clubs, and stabbed him multiple times with kitchen knives as Ishtiaq pleaded for mercy.

The other bus passengers and other passers-by finally intervened and took Ishtiaq to the Rural Health Center in the village. There Ishtiaq died as a result of spinal, head, and chest injuries. The doctor who took Ishtiaq’s case said that Ishtiaq had excessive internal and external bleeding, a fractured skull, and brain injuries.

Makah Tea Stall is located on the Sukheki-Lahore highway and is owned by Mubarak Ali, a 42-year-old Muslim. A correspondent visited the tea stall and observed that a large red warning sign with a death’s head symbol was posted which read, “All non-Muslims should introduce their faith prior to ordering tea. This tea stall serves Muslims only.” The warning also threatened anyone who violated the rule with “dire consequences.”

A neighboring shopkeeper said on condition of anonymity that Ali is a fundamentalist Muslim and all his employees are former students of radical Muslim madrassas (seminaries). Ali kept separate sets of cooking-ware for Muslims and non-Muslims at his stall.

Ishtiaq’s family said that they immediately reported the incident to the police and filed a case against Ali. Though the police registered their case, no action has been taken to apprehend Ali or his employees.

When asked the Pindi Bhatian Saddar police station about the murder, the police chief said that investigations were underway and they are treating it as a faith-based murder by biased Muslims. When asked about Ali’s warning sign, police chief Muhammad Iftikhar Bajwa claimed that he could not take it down.

However, the constitution of Pakistan explicitly prohibits such discrimination, and the police could take strong action against the warning sign. But because the police are also Muslim, Ishtiaq’s father claims that they are being derelict in their duties to prosecute the murderers who are still freely operating the tea stall.