Friday, September 29, 2006

Descent Into Barbarism Steadily Continues reported two days ago that a new study on population trends in Canada explodes the myth that increasing immigration will solve the country’s looming demographic crisis.

What the study fails to address, however, is the elephant in Canada’s demographic living room – that Canadians do not have enough children and government policies have greatly contributed to that state of affairs.

The collapse of the Canadian birth rate corresponds closely to the double introduction of the chemical contraceptive and abortifacient pill and legalized abortion and with the explosion of the sexual revolution and the feminist movement that took mothers out of the home and into the work force.

Statistics Canada shows that the birth rate has dropped since 1940 from a high in 1960 of 4 children per woman, to an all time low of 1.2 by 2000. In 2004, Canada's birth rate – the number of live births for every 1,000 people in the population – hit another record low from 10.6 live births for every 1,000 population in 2003 to 10.5.

It’s truly past time for the Western world (formerly Christian societies) to acknowledge the truth and do serious repenting.

You might be asking: “Repent of what?”

Follow me for a few minutes.

Consider an editorial (no longer available online) that appeared in, of all places, the Washington Post on July 6, 2003. It was entitled “The Baby Bust,” and stated:

The U.S. birth rate has been dropping and is now just below replacement level. That it remains among the highest in the developed world is not much consolation: Most of the rich nations of Europe, as well as Japan, are facing a demographic crisis because of low birthrates . . . Countries with shrinking populations may stagnate economically, intellectually, and militarily. If future generations are to carry on the American vibrancy and dynamism, the country must be prepared to embrace more babies, and more adults from around the world.

Did you catch that? The country must embrace more babies. But I think they understated the case. It’s a lot WORSE than anyone seems to be saying, except for a rare and brave reporter here and there. Isn’t anyone noticing the crisis?

Speaking about growth i.e. having babies, etc., here’s how one wise guy sums it up:

Growth is not something that can be accepted or rejected without consequences. It is rather an inexorable law of life that applies to human populations as well as individual human beings. Growing is to be desired and accepted, not feared and rejected. Growing hurts. But not growing hurts even more. Wherever there are people, of course, there are problems. But this is a description of the human condition, not a prescription for population control. In a free society, people solve more problems than they make. And, in turn, it is precisely in solving these problems that a humane, just, and good culture is created, a culture of life in which all people exist as individual persons sharing in a more abundant life.

Here’s the whole article.

If you want more evidence, look at Japan. Or America. Or Germany.


The moral is clear…Western civilization is in decline. We aren’t making enough babies. We don’t want babies. The population is shrinking in all the industrialized countries, and even with big immigration numbers, it’s still hard to get the population levels up to where they need to be to keep a country’s economic stability intact.

Why aren’t we making enough babies? Some would quickly say that abortion is the obvious answer. Who could argue with that? But it goes further than that. It’s about our attitudes towards God, towards children, towards family. And those attitudes show up inevitably in our sexual mores. Folks, we’re moving further and further away from God... it’s a move to control the outcome of our sexual behaviour, a move to control the consequences of the sexual act itself. We’ve been making this move big time since the 1960’s. We’ve been saying to God: Let’s have the fun but not the baby.

Now then, are you ready for this? The whole demography crisis is all about the results of contraception.

Yep, contraception. It’s that simple, but also that insidious.

It’s not abortion, even though abortion and contraception are two fruits from the same tree. (Don’t believe it? Here’s one short news story to get you thinking.)

Could it be that the decline of Western Christian society hinges on its practice of contraception? Its defiance of the first commandment found in the Bible? It’s here if you forgot the chapter and verse.

If you’re really ready for serious thought on contraception check this out. This is real good stuff for Protestants…but it’ll sting Catholics even more.

This is a huge subject. HUGE.


Are you wondering these days why Islam is so much in the news? Why are some people saying that Muslims are now a threat? Is it simply because some Muslim extremists are blowing up buildings, other people and themselves?

Well, it’s true that they are. But why, at this point in history, are they now so emboldened to do so?

The answer? It’s very largely demographics and birth rate.

Today, the Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one. If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent. [Source]

Mark Steyn spells it out with style in his piece It's the Demography, Stupid


But let’s stay focused here. I said we had to do some serious repenting.

We’ll need to see what the Pope has to say about the crisis.

The Pope tells Christians to have more babies!

Not long ago Pope Benedict XVI reminded Catholics (and the world) of a Christian truth held almost universally for the past 2000 years—having babies brings the blessing of God.

When is the last time you heard a homily, sermon, or statement from a Christian leader that we should be having more babies?

The Pope was only reminding Catholics of age old unchangeable Catholic teaching. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2366-2372)

It’s pretty hard for Christians (clergy, pastors, etc.) to preach that message if they approve of and practice contraception. Yet it’s also true that the vast majority of Christians (disobedient Catholics are included) in North America do in fact approve of and practice contraception.

Ever since our predominantly Christian society in the early 1900’s began to shun the truth, as reiterated recently by the Pope, and embrace the contraceptive mentality, Christians have set themselves against God’s will and plan for mankind by disassociating the ‘unitive’ (pleasurable, intimate) aspect from the procreative (making babies) aspect of the sexual act. Out of this has sprung up the ‘new’ morality leading to rampant divorce and family breakdown, abortion, and yes, even homosexuality. Read more here and here.

Add to those evils the resulting alarming trends in declining population in Western societies and you’ve got a formula for societal collapse in the works, now unfolding before our very eyes.

I find it very sad and awful that in our own archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland, a tremendous amount of effort has been put into the preparation of a document entitled A Challenge To Change.

This report was commissioned due to very serious problems being faced by the archdiocese because of shrinking population and shortage of priests.

A whole host of comments, suggestions and speculation was offered as to the causes and cures for this crisis, the major solution advanced being the clustering of parishes. The report clearly acknowledges that Newfoundland, a province where a high percentage of the population is Catholic, has the lowest birthrate in Canada. The report concludes with a summary of the “responses” and “other comments” offered by parties involved in the process, the very last comment stating in an eerie, prophetic sense, the following:

At best this is a stop-gap measure. With one new priest every 3-5 years the end is in sight. We need to be preparing for a non-clerical church.

But what’s the most surprising, even shocking, and obvious omission in this report? Nowhere does it even mention that Catholic failure to follow Church teaching regarding the evil of contraception is an inevitable cause of low birthrates and dwindling populations. And can there be any doubt that an apathetic and disobedient community of Catholics (as evidenced by this attitude) fails to inspire young men to the priesthood?

The Church is dying, and rather than allow the fresh breath of the Holy Spirit to speak new life by means of the Truth given to the Church, we prefer to discuss how we should dress the dead body and make final preparations for the funeral.

Will the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church repent of their past failures to call the people of God to authentic Christian and Catholic living and resolve to communicate strongly to their flock the recent message of Benedict XVI? God help them to do just that.

Here’s one bishop who is taking the crisis very seriously.

Pope Benedict XVI told Catholics to have more babies "for the good of society," saying that some countries were being sapped of energy because of low birth rates.

"Having children is a gift that brings life and well-being to society,"

He said the decline in the number of births "deprives some nations of freshness and energy and of hopes for the future incarnate in children."

The pope also spoke of "the security, the stability and the force of a numerous family."

Although the Vatican bans all forms of artificial contraception, this is widely ignored even in predominantly Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain, which have some of the lowest birth rates in the world.

The pontiff regretted that God is "unhappily often excluded or ignored" in many societies.


Let’s acknowledge the truth, and repent of our failures. God helping us we may yet be able to recover from our current descent into barbarism.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sister Leonella’s Death Contradicts Blindness and Hate of This World

According to the Pope, Sister Leonella exemplified the “logic of Christianity,” and in offering “the supreme testimony of blood” demonstrated the most authentic Christian witness, “a peaceful sign of contradiction which shows the victory of love over hate and evil.”

Sister Leonella Sgorbati died soon after a gunman shot her several times in the back last week in Somalia at the height of the controversy over Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks concerning Islam. It is believed she died as a direct result of Muslim rage over the Pope’s comments.

ICN Kenyan reported that Sister Leonella knew of the dangers surrounding her.

As she used to say, she knew that there was a bullet with her name engraved on it just waiting for her in Mogadishu. But this never deterred her or discouraged her. She was certain that God wanted her in Somalia. For her, that was the will of God. So nothing could stop her in the mission undertaken, not even the knowledge that she could be killed any time. For this reason she dedicated herself completely, sparing no effort and truly turning every stone to accomplish the mission of setting up the school of nursing, to give hope and a future to a country ravaged by war. Her love for God and the Somali people was stronger than any fear, and she strongly believed in the people she was serving.

Her dying words were uttered in Italian: pardono, pardono (I forgive, I forgive).

If more missionaries and other Christians were living (and dying) in heathen lands, as Sister Leonella was, to bring to lost souls the love and hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Western society would not be fighting wars against extreme militant forms of Islam in foreign lands.

If, instead of spending billions of dollars on military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Western world had been focused on regularly spending those kind of dollars on missionary activity to Muslims and other lost souls throughout the world, we’d have many more friends in the Muslim world, as well as a vibrant growing Christian Church.

Don’t believe it? Remember the earliest Christians who conquered the Roman Empire by love.

Strange today how certain so called Christian societies struggle to maintain the holy doctrine of “separation of church and state,” powerful elements crushing any kind of government initiative that would sponsor even the most trivial church sponsored program, yet these same societies believe they have the moral right to launch a war and spend mega billions in the defense of “freedom.”

Sister Leonella’s sad and tragic death is an utter contradiction to such blindness and madness.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Benedict XVI on Bishoping

Whoa. Not so fast. Wannabe Bishops take note.

These are the commitments:

Intense spiritual life. Assiduous prayer. Profound union with Christ. Tend ceaselessly to holiness.

These are the results:

Become everything to everyone. Counsel, console and support all.

Bottom line:

An act of love.

Hey, where’d the lineup go?

Here's the way one good Bishop set this forth for the faithful.

Life Chain Sunday Contradicts Status Quo

On Sunday, Oct. 1, normally between 2 and 3 pm, Canadian Life Chains will be on the streets of our nation, witnessing to the sanctity of human life.

“It is not an easy thing to witness to the truth of abortion,” noted Suzanne Fortin, a mother and pro-life activist from Ottawa, last year. “The media continue to treat those who oppose abortions as extremists and mindless zealots. However, considering the scope of the evil that plagues our countries, it is vital that pro-lifers speak up, because if they don’t speak up, no one else will.”

Fellow pro-lifer, Stefan Jetchick, who lives in the province of Quebec, recently posted useful information to his superb and unique website regarding this event. Check it out.

For information on times and locations of Life Chains in Canada and the USA, consult the internet website at If you don’t have internet access, call your local right to life office or, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, call Suresh Dominic at (416) 204-9749

If there’s a Life Chain in your area, decide now to participate. Participation is one more sign of contradiction!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Catholic Bishop Aquila Opposes Death Sentence for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.

US Bishop Samuel Aquila of the diocese of Fargo in North Dakota has come out in opposition to the death sentence levied against Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. for killing a University of North Dakota student.

This is the same Bishop who warned Catholic pro-abortion politicians that they risked the possibility of hell for their support of abortion. I commend this courageous Bishop for his stand in defending innocent unborn lives and I pray for the day when every Catholic Bishop would defend historic Church teaching on this matter as he has done.

However, the Bishop’s strong stand against the death penalty ought to generate some debate I believe. As far as I can see, Bishop Aquila is not in harmony with the age old teaching of the Church on the subject of capital punishment.

Since becoming a Catholic I have noticed that there is a strong movement of Catholic Bishops (and Pope John Paul II as well) who wish to ban capital punishment altogether. Their rationale is similar to the one offered by Bishop Aquila who stated:

"The sentence of death which was imposed today upon Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. obscures for all of society the truth of the inherent dignity of human life.”

Furthermore, another component of their argument shows up in the statement this week by Bishop Aquila:

(Capital punishment) “reinforces the false perspective of revenge as justice. In doing so, it diminishes respect for all human life, both the lives of the guilty and the innocent."

These arguments also surface in a column by Archbishop Chaput (whom I greatly respect as a truly authentic Catholic Bishop) entitled What does the Church teach on the death penalty? However, such arguments have not impressed me, perhaps because I am aware of a great number of biblical references which seem to contradict them. The concept of the shedding of innocent blood, starting with Abel, crying out from the earth for justice, not vengeance, seems to be lost on many Bishops of our day. That justice, in the words of God, demands the death of the murderer.

Genesis 9:6 says:

"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."

I am not implying that this simple little verse entirely answers the modern controversy over capital punishment but I do believe it’s a good place to start. These are God’s words and they in fact contradict Bishop Aquila who maintains that capital punishment “obscures for all of society the truth of the inherent dignity of human life.”

In the verse above I read that the sacredness of human life, rather than being obscured by the death penalty, in fact demands that a moral society execute its cold blooded killers. Furthermore it seems obvious that if God is serious here (which I do not doubt) then the death penalty is not a matter of reinforcing “the false perspective of revenge as justice” but it is quite simply God’s prescribed form of justice.

I don’t expect every reader to automatically jump on board with me here but I’m going to suggest a couple of the best articles I’ve found to help sort out this matter. To me the big question is:

What has the Church always and infallibly taught both in Sacred Scripture and in Dogma regarding capital punishment?

We rarely need new and novel ways of dealing with societal problems. If the death penalty was just and moral in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Apostles then shouldn’t it be the proper response for today?

Avery Cardinal Dulles offers a very helpful analysis in his essay Catholicism and Capital Punishment.

He notes that

“the abolition of the death penalty in formerly Christian countries may owe more to secular humanism than to deeper penetration into the gospel,”

and that because the Church feels herself bound by Scripture and tradition,

“it seems inconsistent for Catholics to proclaim a ‘moral revolution’ on the issue of capital punishment.”

Surprisingly, however, the Cardinal ends up by saying that he supports the current position of Pope John Paul II and the American Bishops. He says,

“The Pope and the bishops, using their prudential judgment, have concluded that in contemporary society, at least in countries like our own, the death penalty ought not to be invoked, because, on balance, it does more harm than good. I personally support this position.”

Renown professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, J. Budziszewski, in his article in First Things magazine, entitled Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice, makes a strong case for retaining the death penalty and he also addresses Cardinal Dulles’ reservations. Two of his important statements are:

“Categorical remission of the penalty for all whose crimes deserve death contradicts revealed teaching on the duty of the magistrate and has no warrant in Christian tradition.”


“I do not know whether our society can be brought back to believe in a transcendent order of justice, but of this I am certain: if we who recognize this standard (of “a life for a life”) do not act as though we believe in it, then no one will be brought by us to believe in it.

Budziszewski believes failure in this matter of justice is an abdication of our duty before God.

The Southern Baptist Press has a short article emphasizing and explaining that the death penalty underscores the sanctity of human life.

One further article I found interesting was Robert Bork on Scalia & Capital Punishment, a selection taken from Antonin Scalia and His Critics: The Church, the Courts, and the Death Penalty.

Perhaps you can see more clearly than I what compels Bishops today to take a seemingly contradictory attitude towards the death penalty than all their predecessors.

Comments would certainly be welcome!

Profession of Faith

This blog is about a hope and a future—spoken of in Jeremiah 29:11—that starts with Jesus, the God-Man.

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before. Acts 3:19-20

My personal profession of faith appears below. My blogger profile can be found here.

I, Eric Alcock,

with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith, namely:

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI and the Regensburg Address

Pope Benedict XVI's full address available here in PDF.

No doubt the Pope’s address is a story that’s getting worn thin right now…or is it? I’ve been following it very closely, trying to understand the important aspects of Benedict’s address as well as the shocking reaction of Muslims.

There’s a couple of personal observations I’d like to make and then I’d like to refer you to the two articles on this story which I found most helpful, balanced and insightful.

This chain of events since Benedict’s visit to Regensburg has reminded me to be very careful in my judgment of the Pope. Initially I thought the Holy Father’s remarks concerning Islam were some sort of miscalculation or error in judgment. However after much reading of the reports, my respect and admiration for Pope Benedict has increased enormously. I was too hasty in my judgment. I was the one mistaken.

I believe His Holiness fully intended to engage the world on the subject of faith and reason, the topic of his Regensburg address. This engagement extended primarily to Western secular society, to its Protestant component, to all world religions, and especially to Islam at this juncture of time.

I believe this was an introductory foray into his war against the “dictatorship of relativism.” And by striking at the very heart of the problem, the relationship of reason to faith in religious expression, it may have been the most powerful offensive of that war. Who knows…it might have been a mortal wound to that enemy. It certainly caught the whole world’s attention and has already sparked an immense degree of dialogue, probably enough for many years of follow up.

Think about it. Who else but the Pope, Christ’s representative on earth, could have launched such a challenge against the principalities and powers of our day? If it were possible for any one speech or sermon to turn the tide of human events, the one delivered at Regensburg has the potential to right this upside down world if every rational Christian and other honest seeker after God would pay serious attention. And who else but the Pope could have garnered such a response?

Give this address your close consideration. And also make a point of reading the Holy Father’s first encyclical on "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love"), which is an urgent and timely message to this world on Love and Reason. Perhaps this encyclical and the Regensburg address are more intricately linked to the solutions of modern man than we have imagined.

Read the encyclical online here, PDF here

The two articles that I thought to be most helpful and that I referred to above can be found at:

Is Dialogue with Islam Possible? by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.


In Defense of Pope Benedict, by Justin Raimondo. Incredibly, as far as I can determine, this writer is an atheist and considered by some to be on the far left fringes, and near lunacy. However, I found his essay very impressive. Your thoughts would be most welcome.

I have one final point to make. After lengthy searches online for Protestant evangelical reaction to Pope Benedict’s address I was able to find virtually nothing significant. Does this group of Christians have no comment on such a momentous event? Or is this event not regarded as very weighty or worthy of comment?

The only article I found which carried a few lines about Benedict’s address was located on Albert Mohler’s blog. Mohler is President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and he has recently written some interesting articles concerning the contraceptive mentality. Mohler prefaces his comments on the Regensburg address with about a page of biased criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy and then proceeds to write only two very short paragraphs related to Benedict’s actual comments.

It was a disappointing show to say the least, but I do think it is illustrative of the evangelical tendency to simply ignore or berate the significance, validity and impact of other Christian bodies, particularly the Catholic Church.

Remember to pray for Benedict XVI at this time when he is being unjustly reviled and threatened. And be sure to speak up for him and his holy office whenever possible!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Penitential Pilgrimage 2006 Flatrock

On Saturday September 9, 2006, I participated in the second historic penitential pilgrimage to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Flatrock, Newfoundland. One of the stated goals of this pilgrimage is “…giving God a chance to break through to us amid the distractions of daily life.”

As I reported in my previous post, September 2005 was the first such visionary pilgrimage.

Approximately 60 pilgrims joined in the four kilometre procession but nearly 100 souls were in attendance at the 4PM Mass. This represented a wonderful increase in attendance of about 50%, and, through eyes of faith, we pilgrims believe that it represents a similar fruitfulness in the spiritual realm.

Once again, the procession included three stages and stops, each of which was characterized by song and prayer. The last kilometer of the procession was completed in silence.

Upon arrival at the Grotto, pilgrims enjoyed a half hour or so of refreshments and fellowship at the parish hall followed by about an hour of quiet time at the Grotto. There was sufficient time to pray, to complete the Stations of the Cross and then to move into the Church for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At 4PM Mass was celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop William Aquin Carew, followed by Benediction.

Although pilgrims sought to inwardly observe the serious spiritual demands of the day, all appeared enthusiastic and happy throughout the pilgrimage.

Weather was generally overcast and breezy but reasonably warm, with a couple very slight sprinklings during the course of the walk.

Quoting from the pilgrimage website, I bring the following to the reader’s attention:

A pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place, undertaken for the purpose of worship, thanksgiving, petition or penance.

Because being 'penitent' is an absolute requirement if we wish our sins to be forgiven, so that we might restore ('reconcile') our relationship with God, our Creator, our loving Father whom we have offended by our sins. And to be 'penitent' requires the virtue of Humility ... the antidote to the cardinal sin of Pride.

That restoration or reconciliation requires a correct understanding of the relationship: He is the Creator, we are the creatures (the word 'reconciliation' is, in some ways, unfortunate, because it may suggest a relationship between equals).

One pre-requisite for the forgiveness of our sins is that we should have a genuine sense of sorrow (contrition) for those sins, a firm intention to amend our lives and avoid sin in the future ... and a willingness to do the penance necessary, as a matter of Justice, to restore our relationship with God our Father. It is spiritually healthy to cultivate such a sense of contrition ... it leads to a positive desire to DO penance, so that we can be 'reconciled' with the Father whom we have offended.

If our great country of Canada is to experience the forgiveness of God for it’s great sacrileges and to receive the subsequent spiritual healing, a series of sweeping spiritual exercises akin to those that accompany this pilgrimage must take place throughout Canada.

The grace of God permitting, let affliction of spirit, penance, and supplication begin here in Newfoundland!

“Then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”

A photo gallery of this year’s event can be viewed here.