Friday, 19 December 2014

Bishop Alan in Conversation

Last night (18/12/14), Fr Dominic Howarth hosted an evening of discussion with Bishop Alan Williams. The talk focused on Bishop Alan's discernment and journey of faith. 

It was prayerful, entertaining, inspiring and interesting in equal amounts. Fr James Mackay both 'live tweeted' the event and we have recorded our story here: 

The evening finished with informal conversation over fish and chips. Bishop Alan told me that he has taught both physics and RE before. He said "Physics was easy, it's very straight forward... RE that the hard stuff!"

He is very much looking forward to visiting Sacred Heart of Mary Girls' School as soon as his diary allows... and he admitted that he lets someone else look after that as it is so busy!
A full video of the evening is found here:

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

SHoM Christmas Charity: Scotty's Little Soldiers

This year the Chaplaincy team have chose Scotty's Little Soldiers as their Christmas charity. There will be a non-uniform day on Thursday 18th June and fundraising will also take place in the RE Department. Please give as generously as you can, perhaps instead of sending Christmas cards to your friends at school or by purchasing smaller gifts?

Watch this video to find out what the charity does: 

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Christmas Video Collection

Elf is no doubt one of my favourite Christmas films, but these are some of my favourite short videos to watch at Christmas:
All of these feature in an article I have written for UKEdMag, read it <here>

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Christmas Music

Image courtesy of RavePad

Christmas always sees a collection of Christmas albums released. There has been a resurgence in this over the last few years, possibly to cash in on this highly profitable time. However there is a great tradition of the Christmas album with many of the stars of yesteryear producing annual Christmas albums.

My favorite Christmas album for some time has been Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart (Must Be Santa is simply brilliant! See <here>) and, of course, I love Bruce Springsteen's Santa Clause is Coming to Town (See <here>). However this years sees the release of Pentatonix's album which includes some very special songs. There are a 5-piece a capella vocal group from the USA and this is their amazing version of Silent Night:

What is your favorite Christmas song? How do you feel when musicians use hymns to make profitable albums? Who would you like to see releasing a Christmas album?

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Bible: TL; DR

Image courtesy of Ryk Neethling

So is the Bible too long to read all of it? One uknownFacebook user has decided to produce a "TL; DR" overview... that's "Too Long; Didn't Read".

Here it is (click on image on mobile device):

Do you think it is fair to say the Bible is 'too long'? Do you think the writer of this has summed up the different parts well? What do you think 'the things' are?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Story of Our Students

"Everyone who uses what they have will get more. They will have much more than they need." The Parable of the Talents - Matthew 25:14-30

In order to inspire the current students of Sacred Heart of Mary Girls' School, we are looking to build a picture of students' destinations. We would like to hear what you have done since leaving the school including:
  • Voluntary work and gap years
  • University study and other qualifications
  • Employment, jobs and careers
  • Family life
  • Anything else interesting!
We will only use your information within the school, but we may get in touch to find out more! Everyone has a story to tell and we would love to hear from as many former students as possible. Please forward this link (or this short version: with as many people as you can and feel free to share on social media.

Please visit our new school website to find out all the latest school news:

Monday, 3 November 2014

Flame 2

It's back! 

What is Flame 2?

Flame2 is the largest National Catholic Youth event of 2015, taking place in the SSE Wembley Arena on Saturday 7th March 2015.

Doors open at 11, and Flame2 starts at 12, finishing at 5.30pm.

The SSE Wembley Arena will be filled with 10,000 young people from across the country, receiving faith-filled inspiration from world class speakers. Confirmed speakers include Cardinal Luis Tagle from Manila, Philippines; Baroness Sheila Hollins; Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP; and David Wells.

Throughout the day speakers will give bursts of input, interspersed with world class music and drama, in an atmosphere full of joy. Music will be provided by double grammy award winning Matt Redman and his band. The day ends with a time of Adoration led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Flame2 is open to anyone in school year ten and above, up to young adult (i.e. aged approx. 14-21).

Find out more info <here>

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>

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Judge says "Switch It Off!"

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

BBC reports, "A boy with irreversible brain damage should be taken off a life-support machine despite the objections of his parents, a High Court judge has ruled."

This decision is despite his mother saying, "He is still alive... Miracles do happen.", and his father saying, "We know he is reacting to certain things. He still has life. We don't have the right, as parents, as individuals, to take this privilege from him."

They are devout Christians and don't feel they have the right to make this decision, however medical experts do not see a possibility of recovery. The judge says it is in the boys "best interests"

A lawyer for the hospital said, "Her [the mother] deep religious feelings and beliefs lead her to believe... there may be a miracle. Unfortunately, looking at the medical evidence, the miracle the parents hope and pray for is unlikely to happen."

Do you think the right decision has been made? Do you think the parents have allowed their religious belief to overtake medical advice? Do you think they will look back and agree it was the right decision? Why do you think the hospital took this to court?

Read more <here>

Friday, 26 September 2014

Gianna Jessen: Abortion Survivor

Gianna Jessen grew up believing that she was born with cerebral palsy because she had been delivered prematurely in a particularly traumatic birth. However she later found out that actually it was due to the fact she was starved of oxygen during a failed abortion. 

Her mother, a 17-year-old single woman, decided to have an termiation by saline injection when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant (there is no legal time limit for abortion in America).

The abortion failed. Against the odds, the baby had lived. A nurse called the emergency services and the child was rushed to hospital. Gianna weighed just 2lb and somewhat ironically, it was the abortionist who had to sign her birth certificate. At 17 months of age, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

She is now a full-time disability rights and anti-abortion campaigner. 

Of her mother she said, "I've never been angry with her because she's a stranger... She hasn't said she's sorry and I know that she had another abortion after me. But I don't feel sad or bitter because we can choose to overcome and be sweet or we can overcome and be angry. I want to be the former."

On people's rights to abortion, she has this to say, "It's more comfortable for people to think of abortion as a political decision, or a right. But I am not a right. I am a human being. I am the reality. Gently I put the question, if abortion is about women's rights, then where were mine? There was no radical feminist screaming for my rights on that day... That is why I want to live my life with integrity, having lived what I profess. My job is not to change your mind [if you are pro-abortion]. My job is to present the truth and leave you to decide."

Do you think Gianna has the right approach to her biological mother (who she has not met)? Do you think Gianna's story would change people's mind about abortion? Around 50 babies per year survive abortion in the UK each year, is this significant to the abortion debate?

Find out about the film of Gianna's life <here>
Gianna's personal website <here>
Read more <here>

Monday, 22 September 2014

2014 RPE Essay Competition - Win an iPad..

Image courtesy of RPE 

It's back! The 2014 :


First prize: a new iPad
Four Runners-up receive a £20 Amazon voucher
The winning essay will be published in RE Today magazine
 Following the success of last year, the Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RPE) course  is pleased to announce the return of the RPE Essay Competition

The competition is open to all those currently studying for any AS or A2-level examinations (or equivalent) in the UK. The first prize is a new iPad, and there will be four runners-up prizes of £20 Amazon vouchers.
Entries must be no longer than 1500 words including footnotes but excluding references and can take any form e.g. essay, dialogue, etc. All sources must be referenced.

The deadline for the 1500 word essay is 5pm on 24st October 2014 and will be judged by RPE lecturers. The winner will be announced on the RPE Blog on 1st December 2014

To enter please choose one of the titles below and email your entry to (please note you may only submit one entry to the competition).

Entries must be written in as a Microsoft Word document. Entries will normally be acknowledged within 5 days. In your email, please put your name, the Sixth Form / FE college you attend, and the title you have chosen to answer. The subject of your email should be 'essay competition'.

Choose one of the following titles: 

Q1: What is the proper role of religion in a modern, secular society?

Q2: If you had a time machine, would it be wrong to travel back and kill Hitler?

Q3: Does science give us an accurate picture of 'how the world is'?

·       1500 words maximum
·       Your essay must include the title/your name/contact email at the top of the page
·       The essay must be an attachment to the email as a Microsoft Word document
Any essay that does not satisfy these three conditions will not be considered by the judging panel.

The panel decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Murderer Allowed Euthanasia Rather Than Prison

Image courtesy of The National Post

Frank Van Den Bleeken is a 50-year-old Belgian serving life in prison for sexual assault and murder. He has successfully argued that he is living a life of  unbearable psychological suffering and has been granted the right to die under Belgium’s liberal euthanasia laws. At least 15 other inmates are considering making requests as a result.

Since 2002, the people of Belgium can ask doctors to end their lives if a panel of medical experts agree that their physical or mental suffering is, "unbearable and irreversible".

Ven Den Bleeken has argued that he would never be able to overcome his violent impulses and as a result would spend his life in prison, “I’m a danger to society... What am I supposed to do? What’s the point in sitting here until the end of time and rotting away? I’d rather be euthanised.”

He asked to end his life three years ago. The board that assesses each case said he had to seek psychological help first but after he failed to find such treatment, his request was granted on Monday.

Do you think this is an acceptable use of euthanasia laws? Is this similar to allowing capital punishment? Is this an easy way out of his jail sentence? Is this a result of the 'slippery slope' of euthanasia opposition talk abut?

Read more:  <here>

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Born At 24 Weeks

Image courtesy of The Mirror

"Parents release photo of daughter born at 24-week-old abortion limit saying 'She's not a foetus, she's a fully-formed human being'" says the headline in The Mirror.

The argument for changing the abortion law as foetus' are able to live from less than 24 weeks continues to gather momentum. One family who have gone through a tragic series of pregnancies have decided to go public with photos to make people think about their actions.

They lost their first baby at 23 weeks, and this one was 24 weeks but didn't survive. They are pregnant again now, but want to raise awareness of the issue.

Read the fully story <here>
Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

The youngest ever baby to survive was 22 weeks and was born in 2008. Read the full story <here>.

The UK law was originally put in place as foetus' could not survive pre-24 weeks.

Do you think the law needs to change? Would it have much effect given most abortions take place before 12 weeks? Do you think that it matters whether it can survive or not? Is the most crucial factor?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Islmaphobia via Social Networks

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Social networks have undoubtedly changed the way we use the internet. However it is too easy to just click 'Share' or 'Retweet' without really thinking.

If it sounds very un-probable and totally unbelievable, it probably isn't true!

"An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true, and often possess horror implications that are believable to their audience." <link>

The best thing to do is to put a story into Google. If you get a number one hit for you can be sure the story is probably not true. Always do this before sharing a story or photo via social media. It's really important.

This is a great example that has been shared on Facebook...

Organisations such as Britain First have been particularly guilty of scaremongering about Muslims and immigrants.

Will you help stop this? THINK before you reshare.

Monday, 8 September 2014

9/11 Remembered

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The 11th September 2014 marks 13 years since the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. 

I often refer to 9/11 when looking at the problem of evil in philosophy. It seemed irreconcilable to many that an all-knowing and all-loving God could allow such an action, especially in the name of religion. I have blogged about this before, see <here>.

Ross Mackechnie, a 9/11 survivor, claimed: “In less than two hours Aquinas’ proofs of God were blasted, seared, chocked with arid smoke and snuffed out forever along with more than 3000 lives now reduced to powder in the rubble of Ground Zero.”

However the important thing now is that many young people are unaware of the full devastation of 9-11. This excellent video from TrueTube explains the terrible events of the day:

It also includes an assembly plan for teachers or students: <here>

A prayer at Ground Zero:

Or <here>

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Nuns are FUN!

It is easy to forget that nuns and priests are still real people! They laugh, they cry, they can be happy, they get sad... 

The Daughters of Charity, a religious order who I lived with for 6 weeks in Ethiopia have put together their own 'Happy' video (I think this is their American DoC):

There are some great moments in this; my favourites are the nun dancing with the Pope Francis picture and the face-painted nun!

It's also worth having a look at this site, which has 20 funny nun pictures... <here>

Hopefully this has brought a smile to you face today!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

UK Euthanasia Bill (2014): More People Dying?

Image courtesy of Golden Age of Gaia

The pro-euthanasia campaigners are again rallying for support as the Assisted Dying Bill gets closer and closer to be debated in parliament (Read about it <here>). This week has see two key supporters emerge... former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey (see <here>) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (see <here>).

The Dignity in Dying group (see <here>) have been trying to use social media to trying and gain further support. This is the message that has been promoted on Facebook:

However, in direct contrast, an interview extract has appeared from a former Euthanasia supporting professor from Holland. In his summary he says:
  • Beginning in 2008, the numbers of these deaths show an increase of 15% annually, year after year.
  • The annual report of the committees for 2012 recorded 4,188 cases (compared with 1,882 in 2002).
  • 2013 saw a continuation of this trend and I expect the 6,000 line to be crossed this year or the next. 
  • Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.
  • The Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE have declared they will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 years who wishes to die.
  • In the first years after 2002 hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved.
He concludes by saying:

I used to be a supporter of the Dutch law. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a very different view. At the very least, wait for an honest and intellectually satisfying analysis of the reasons behind the explosive increase in the numbers. Is it because the law should have had better safeguards? Or is it because the mere existence of such a law is an invitation to see assisted suicide and euthanasia as a normality instead of a last resort? Before those questions are answered, don’t go there. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.

Read the full article <here>

Do you think the support of people such as Lord Cary and Desmond Tutu will be significant? Do you think the UK Government has considered the full implications of the laws? Do you think a law change would be a slippery slope? Do you think the law should change?

Plenty more on euthanasia on the blog <here>

Thursday, 10 July 2014


After a few days of 'could it be'? The two World Cup Semi-Finals have been decided and it will be Pope Francis' Argentina versus Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Germany. This has raised much speculation of a 'lads footy night' between the two Pope's. 

Pope Francis is a big football fan and card-carrying member of the San Lorenzo de Almagro football club since childhood. On the other hand, football is not really Pope Benedict's thing, "...he is not a fan. It would be like inflicting an infinite penitence on him at the age of 87. He has never been able to watch a football match from beginning to end in his life.". The Vatican have also said it is past Pope Francis' usual bedtime but they "will see".

Despite this, the internet has gone into overdrive (apologies, I don't have credits for all of these, please email or Tweet @TalkingDonkeyRE and credit will be added):

Father Thomas Rosica, a member of the Vatican communications, also said in a tweet: "Unconfirmed reports in Italian media: large quantities of mate and Fanta delivered to Vatican for private event Sunday" -- a reference to the famous Argentine tipple and the German fizzy drink.

The Vatican's own official daily newspaper, the Osservatore Romano predicted that Argentine and Germany would reach the final. Former footballer player and Catholic, Tommaso Damiani, said that "there could be a final that will go down in history because of its unusual supporters [Francis and Benedict]".

Despite claiming that he would not be praying for Argentina in the World Cup, the Vatican affairs news agency I.Media reported that when a group of the Vatican's Swiss Guards invited him to watch the Argentina-Switzerland game in their barracks, he declined the offer saying: "There would be a war!"

See more on World Cup Prayers on the blog: <here>

Read more on this story from:
After Germany's 7-1 victory over Brazil:


Throughout the tournament:

Monday, 7 July 2014

Y7 World Religion Wiki (2014)

Image courtesy of WHMS

7W have been working on a World Religions Wiki in groups. Please visit their wiki site: - and then vote for which page you think is the best! Please consider content, presentation, inclusion of media, originality etc:

Which page is the best?
Poll Maker

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Bishop Alan Williams

Photo courtesy of Catholic England and Wales

1st July 2014 saw the episcopal ordination of Bishop Alan Williams in Brentwood Diocese after 34 years of long service from Bishop Thomas McMahon. He becomes the 7th Bishop of Brentwood. A previous blog post covered his appointment: <here>.

More news and links will be added here as they arrive....
  • Full set of photos <here>
  • More photos <here>
  • Video Highlights <here>
  • Various audio on Brentwood Diocese website <here>
  • Brentwood Diocese article <here>
  • Interview on eve of his ordination <here>
  • Independent Catholic News article <here>
  • Catholic Herald article <here>
  • The Tablet article <here>
  • Brentwood Gazette [Local Press] article <here>
  • "In Conversation" <here>

Monday, 30 June 2014

Ramadan (2014)

Ramadan began on 28th June 2014 and will last for around 30 days. This page collects some information and resources about the month and Ramadan, the expectations and the meaning for Muslims.

Please add any further resources you find in the comments section at the bottom or email to

#RamadanProblems <here> 

BBC Schools - <here>

East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre - Info <here>

Islamic Relief - Info <here>

Muslim Council of Britain - Lots of information <here>

Huffington Post - Article on fasting <here>

The Guardian - 'Share you Ramadan Stories' <here>

Ramadan - Portal <here>