Thursday, 26 May 2016

Extract from a Letter from Fr Gerard Wilberforce, a priest from Plymouth Diocese.

I am writing as the great great grandson of William Wilberforce, who campaigned vigorously for the ending of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807, which ultimately paved the way for the abolition of slavery itself throughout the entire British Empire in 1833.
I am often asked what would be the campaigns Wilberforce would be fighting if he were alive in 21st century Britain. I believe that there would be a number of different issues - among them human trafficking and the scourge of drugs. But almost certainly at the top of the list, would be the issue of abortion.
There are great similarities between the status of the foetus and the status of African slaves two centuries ago.
Slaves were considered a commodity to do with whatever the vested interests of the day decided. Today, in our desire to play God in our embryology experimentation, with all its' unfulfilled promises of miracle cures, and our decision to abort unwanted children, we are no better that those slave traders who put their interests and world view higher than they placed the sanctity and value of human life.
Most people at the time didn't believe the evil of slavery could ever be defeated, as so much of the economy at the time was dependent on the trade. It's easy for us to think that is the case today with abortion, but I believe William Wilberforce would not take such a view.Whilst our hearts go out to those who have chosen abortion, there should now be much greater emphasis on the alternatives that exist.
Many of us would like to see far more support those who have made such a significant and difficult decision - but whilst we recognise the trauma many women have gone through, we also have a duty to 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves' (Proverbs 31).The Psalmist says 'My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.'
With abortions in the UK reaching 600 a day, it seems to me that the 'secret place', is one of the most dangerous places to be in modern day Britain. As with my great ancestor, the battle took many years, even decades. But now, with the passage of time we look back in horror at how we devalued human life. I truly believe we will look back in years to come, repent and ask forgiveness for what we let happen to the unborn child. There is something deeply depressing about a society in which abortion is so easy, yet alternatives such as adoption are made to appear so difficult.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Where are all the men ?

Recently I visited a church while the Stations of the Cross was under way and, I observed that there was quite an imbalance in the ratio of women to men, about 7:1 in fact. I began noticing this imbalance (a quick head count) at other times too; the closest call was in a prayer meeting I attend where it was 3:1 in favour of the ladies.

In another town, at a funeral, it seemed that most of the men were outside in the car park having a smoke and chewing the fat while their wives were inside.

I wonder what the reason is; some say that women are more spiritual than men, that we are more earthy, others that the church has been ‘feminised’ over the centuries and men find little to identify with anymore.

I don’t think that the first reason carries much weight, as in Jesus’s day men flocked to him, every hillside and valley were packed with men listening for hours or days on end. They even climbed trees and opened up roofs to get closer and have their needs met.

I don’t think men have changed, and Jesus hasn’t changed either so maybe we lost sight of who he is and our need for him. Maybe those who say that the lion of Judah has had his claws manicured, his teeth filled down and his mane given a blue rinse have a point.

What image comes to mind when we think of our Saviour ? Is he a wild, potent stallion galloping across a plain; or a compliant young gelding being led around an enclosure; do we think of him as being like Ghandi with a beard and a full head of hair or as someone who manufactures his own weapons and unleashes his fury on the temple shopkeepers; a man’s man with rough splintered hands who knew (however unlikely the candidate) who would win the football league last year ?

Or maybe what has men huddled in the car park or running at the fence is to do with the perception of what a Christian man ought to be. Is the objective to become a ‘good boy’ or even worse, a nice guy; or rather should we be extremely dangerous, fighters for justice and truth in the service of the most courageous of warriors and the noblest of Kings.