“He will speak about these in a delicate way,” said one official, “and he will probably also do the same with the bishops.”
Let me be blunt. This is no time for delicacy. The Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales through Archbishop Vincent Nichols and the Catholic Education Service (CES) is assiduously defending their appointment of Greg Pope as deputy director of the CES - who until this year's general election was the Labour Member of Parliament for Hyndburn. Greg Pope's anti-life, anti-family parliamentary voting record possibly makes him an appropriate candidate to be deputy director of International Planned Parenthood Federation. Instead, courtesy of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, he has responsibility for schools which my children so recently attended and which my Catholic friends' children currently attend.
What I believe Pope Benedict needs to address when he visits England is the Catholic bishops' policy of co-operation with the government in helping to ensure that Catholic schoolchildren have access to abortion and contraception without parental knowledge or consent. This policy is reflected perfectly in Mr Pope's appointment. In carrying out this policy, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales are acting the part of King Herod who purported to respect the infant Jesus in whose image and likeness unborn children are made: "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage" (Matthew, Chapter 2). History records what then happened.
Archbishop Nichols's recent replies to Catholics protesting about Greg Pope's appointment encloses a statement from the Catholic Education Service which expresses contempt for those raising the matter. The statement says:
"Mr Pope’s appointment to the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) has occasioned some very misleading and diverting correspondence from a small number of people".No, Your Grace. What is "misleading and diverting" is the following quotation from Greg Pope in the Catholic Education Service statement:
"I am a committed, practising Catholic. I very much share the Church’s opposition to abortion. I was one of only a handful of Labour MPs who defied their own Government to vote against the whole Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill at its Third Reading on the grounds that it was insufficiently pro-life."It's "misleading and diverting" because it seeks to draw attention away from Mr Pope's fuller voting record on life and family issues part of which I reproduce below. It's also "misleading and diverting" when it suggests that Greg Pope's appointment is somehow OK because "Bishops, members of the CESEW Management Committee, senior diocesan education colleagues and others were represented on the selection panel". After all this is the same Catholic Education Service which, on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, welcomes into Catholic schools Connexions, whose job it is to make abortion and contraception available to children, without parental knowledge or consent. Connexions is a government agency which is committed to giving schoolchildren, under the age of 16, access to abortion and abortifacients without parental knowledge or permission. Connexions' advisers are trained to tell young people that they can obtain abortion and abortifacients without parental knowledge or consent.
Let's recall that Greg Pope, as a Member of Parliament: voted against a bill which would have required practitioners providing contraception or abortion services to a child under the age of 16 to inform his or her parent or guardian (14 Mar 2007); he signed a parliamentary motion praising a condom manufacturer for helping schools host “National Condom Week” (11 May 2004); and he voted against an amendment which would have required doctors to provide pregnant mothers with certain information and an offer of counselling before any abortion of an unborn child on grounds of disability (20 May 2008);
In addition, Greg Pope signed parliamentary motions praising the leading domestic and international pro-abortion organisations:
- All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health (24 May 2005)
- All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Choice and Sexual Health Group (15 Jul 2004)
- Family Planning Association (15 Jul 2004) (9 Feb 2006) (21 Feb 2007) (9 Feb 2009)
- International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) (1 Jul 2004)
- Marie Stopes International (1 Jul 2004)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (16 Dec 2002) (1 Jul 2004) (9 Jun 2005).
- “reproductive health” (16 Dec 2002)
- “sexual and reproductive health” (24 May 2005) (9 Jun 2005) (20 Oct 2006)
- “sexual and reproductive health and rights” (1 Jul 2004)
Moreover, Greg Pope signed parliamentary motions promoting:
- “Contraceptive Awareness Week” (9 Feb 2006) (21 Feb 2007) (9 Feb 2009)
- “contraceptive choice” (20 Oct 2006)
- “contraceptive needs” (8 Feb 2006)
- “family planning” (16 Dec 2002)
- “National Condom Week” (11 May 2004) (11 May 2004) (9 May 2007)
- a tax reduction on condoms (30 Nov 2005)
- voted for the bill at second (11 Oct 2004) and third readings (14 Dec 2004)
- voted against amendments motivated by pro-life concerns (14 Dec 2004) (14 Dec 2004) 5 Apr 2005).
- voted against amendments which sought to retain the requirement for doctors to consider the child’s need for a father (20 May 2008) or male role model (20 May 2008) before a woman is given fertility treatment.
- voted against amendments restricting adoption to heterosexual couples (20 May 2002) and married couples (4 Nov 2002). He also signed a parliamentary motion in the same vein (24 Mar 2004).
- voted against measures (popularly known as “section 28”) preventing local councils from promoting homosexuality*, including the teaching in schools of “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” (5 Jul 2000) (10 Mar 2003) (10 Mar 2003). He also signed a parliamentary motion in the same vein (24 Mar 2004).
- signed parliamentary motions promoting homosexual unions (7 Sep 2004) (13 Oct 2004) (20 Jul 2005).
* Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, teaches in paragraph 97 of Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.
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