Patrick Craine

The untold story of the Titanic’s Catholic priest who went down hearing confessions

Patrick Craine

Amidst all the tales of chivalry from the Titanic disaster there is one that’s not often told.

It is that of Fr. Thomas Byles, the Catholic priest who gave up two spots on a lifeboat in favour of offering spiritual aid to the other victims as they all went down with the “unsinkable” vessel.

A 42-year-old English convert, Fr. Byles was on his way to New York to offer the wedding Mass for his brother William. Reports suggest that he was reciting his breviary on the upper deck when the Titanic struck the iceberg in the twilight hours of Sunday, April 14th, 1912.

According to witnesses, as the ship went down the priest helped women and children get into the lifeboats, then heard confessions, gave absolution, and led passengers in reciting the Rosary.

Agnes McCoy, one of the survivors, says that as the great ship sank, Fr. Byles “stood on the deck with Catholics, Protestants and Jews kneeling around him.”

“Father Byles was saying the rosary and praying for the repose of the souls of those about to perish,” she told the New York Telegram on April 22, 1912, according to the website devoted to his memory, FatherByles.com.

In the words of the priest’s friend Fr. Patrick McKenna, “He twice refused the offer of a place in a boat, saying his duty was to stay on the ship while one soul wanted his ministrations.”

Nearly two weeks after the disaster, The Church Progress in St. Louis, Missouri wrote this moving tribute to the heroic priest:

In almost every line that has been written, and in every sentence that has been spoken, there stands boldly out above every other expression a picture of sublime heroism that will be copied into the pages of history. And well it may, for it is deserving of that honor.

But when it is, mention should be made of one whom pens and tongues have almost forgotten in their accounts of this awful sea tragedy. Among those who safely reached the land again no one seems to have been aware of his presence on the ship, but we may hope that many who meet him in a blissful eternity will praise God that Father Thomas Byles was there to administer absolution unto them.


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The abortion of JFK’s children was evil – but it’s also a tragic loss

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren
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Did you know that John F. Kennedy had more than four children? That writers Christopher and Peter Hitchens had two other siblings? That Marilyn Monroe actually had a large number of children?

I’m not particularly fond of the argument that I’ve heard many pro-lifers use: “Abortion is wrong because of all the amazing people we’ve aborted. One of them could have had the cure to cancer!” Abortion is fundamentally wrong because it ends the life of a developing human being, whether that human being would turn out to be a drug addict or the president of the United States. However, it is an interesting thought experiment—not least of all because so many people considered heroes by the Left have aborted their children or had their children aborted.

For example, I think of liberal icon President John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy Family is probably the closest thing America had to a royal family, although revelations over the last several decades have rather firmly repudiated the idea of an impossibly happy Camelot, as historians reveal anecdote after sordid anecdote of relentless philandering. Anecdotes of President Kennedy’s devastation at the 1963 death of his two-day old son, Patrick, are well-documented. The Kennedys also lost a daughter in 1956—Arabella, as her parents intended to name her, was stillborn.

Revolutions famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different.

But stories abound of JFK’s affairs ending in abortions. Mimi Alford, a White House intern that JFK had a relationship with for over a year, reported that when she told the president she believed she was pregnant, he “took the news in his stride.” Shortly afterward, she was contacted by a White House staffer named Dave Powers, often assigned to protect the president’s reputation.

“An hour later,” Alford recalls, “Dave called the dorm and told me to call a woman who could put me in touch with a doctor in New Jersey. The intermediary was a necessary precaution, because abortion was illegal. That was pure Dave Powers: he handled the problem immediately, and with brute practicality. There was no talk about what I wanted, or how I felt, or what the medical risks might be.”

Another of JFK’s famous mistresses, Judith Campbell Exner, reported having an abortion in 1963 after becoming pregnant by the president. Not all Kennedys, it seems, end up in Washington, D.C. Some of them end up in trash cans behind seedy clinics, victims of their parents’ sexual ideology.

Another icon of the Left that comes to mind when I think of the human cost of abortion is the late author and columnist Christopher Hitchens. Fans of the Hitch are fierce in their devotion, with his brother Peter, a well-known conservative author, noting that his brother’s fans often burn with fanatical hatred against him, furious that a conservative Christian (who wrote his brilliant book The Rage Against God partially in response to his brother’s philosophically feeble atheist tome God Is Not Great) could bear the same last name as their hero. Both brothers are extraordinary writers and journalists, having collectively written dozens of books and published essays and columns in the most prestigious publications.

What many people don’t realize is that there were originally four Hitchens siblings, not two. As Christopher relates in his Vanity Fair essay “Fetal Distraction”:

I was in my early teens when my mother told me that a predecessor fetus and a successor fetus had been surgically removed, thus making me an older brother rather than a forgotten whoosh.

Christopher noted further that at least two children of his own had their lives ended by abortion, recalling sombrely that, “at least once I found myself in a clinic while ‘products of conception’ were efficiently vacuumed away. I can distinctly remember thinking, on the last such occasion, that under no persuasion of any kind would I ever allow myself to be present at such a moment again.”

Perhaps this was because Christopher Hitchens allowed himself no illusion, writing that, “Anyone who has ever seen a sonogram or spent even an hour with a textbook on embryology knows that emotions are not the deciding factor. In order to terminate a pregnancy, you have to still a heartbeat, switch off a developing brain, and, whatever the method, break some bones and rupture some organs.”

Although to my knowledge Peter Hitchens has never addressed the fact of his aborted siblings in print, on abortion he has much to say. “Those who wonder what they would have done had they lived at the time of some terrible injustice now know the answer,” he has said. “We do live in such a time. And we do nothing.”

When considering the lives and careers of the Hitchens brothers we know, we cannot help but wonder what the lives of the two that we do not would have been like.

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The list of politicians, writers, and cultural figures who have discarded their own children are myriad. Comedian Chelsea Handler has talked openly about having an abortion. Sharon Osbourne calls having an abortion at seventeen the mistake of her life. According to author Norman Mailer, the tragic Marilyn Monroe had twelve abortions by her late-twenties. Whoopi Goldberg of The View, Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy, Judy Garland of The Wizard of Oz all aborted children. Ava Gardner reportedly aborted two of Frank Sinatra’s children, while the smut-peddling rapper ‘Lil Kim aborted the Notorious B.I.G’s child, which they conceived during an affair. Famed singer Sinead O’Connor had an abortion while on tour in Minneapolis.

It’s especially bizarre, I think, when those on the Left turn out to enthusiastically celebrate any new revelation of a cultural figure having an abortion. The more they admire the person, it seems the happier they are at the “courage” of said person having had an abortion. A bit unintentionally insulting, don’t you think? I admire you so much! I’m so glad you terminated a child that might have had your talent or been a lot like you!

Revolutions, however, famously do not discriminate in their grim reaping of human life. The Sexual Revolution is no different, even though we’ve replaced guillotines with Planned Parenthood clinics. The crowds cheered both, and the similarity between a howling mob and a pro-choice rally is striking to say the least. Perhaps it is Peter Hitchens who has the best explanation: “I think that abortion is much beloved by revolutionaries,” he noted gravely, “because they always like the mob to get their hands in blood and commit some sort of crime of their own.”

Abortion is evil because it violently destroys a human being. But one of the reasons abortion is tragic is that it has robbed us of so many who might have given so much to humanity.


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Video highlights of Canada’s National March for Life 2014

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

Kevin Dunn of DunnMedia and Entertainment has put together some excellent highlight videos from the 2014 National March for Life in Ottawa. Take a look!

Highlight Video of the National March For Life 2014

 

Candlelight Vigil 2014 Highlight Reel

 

Pro-life Masses during the 2014 March for Life

 

Tribute to Fr. Tony Van Hee


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Pray for good weather at the DC March for Life Wednesday!

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

The following note came from Fr. Peter West, Vice President for Missions at Human Life International. Bundle up! 

I would like to ask everyone to take a few minutes as soon as you see this and ask Our Lord for a special favor this Wednesday, at the March for Life. Currently the forecast is for a high of only 20 degrees, and this after a day of snow and ice. The driving will likely be treacherous, and spending five or six hours outside in this temperature can be very dangerous, especially for children.

Please drop what you’re doing and pray that, if it’s God’s will, the temperature be dramatically higher than is currently forecast. Please ask Our Lord to protect travelers, regardless of the temperature, and to protect all present from the worst effects of the cold weather.

Whatever most glorifies God is always what we pray for, along with whatever we need to accomplish His will. This march won’t stop for anything, so we offer up whatever we have so that His will be done.

And if you’re coming to the March, make sure to bundle up! And maybe bring some of those hand warmer things to share.


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