A blog launched on the 41st anniversary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the first pro-life organisation in the world, established on 11 January 1967. I wrote this blog in my role as SPUC's chief executive, commenting on pro-life news, reflecting on pro-life issues and promoting SPUC's work. I retired from my post on 31st August 2021 and will therefore be adding no further posts.
It's difficult to know where to begin with the most recent reported statements from the Catholic Education Service (CES) on the appointment of Greg Pope, former Labour MP for Hyndburn, as its new deputy director. In a recent blogpost I gave a very full account of Mr Pope's lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record.
Oona Stannard says:
" ... At a time when as Catholics we particularly need to pull together, the undermining of Mr Pope saddens me ... "
" ... His first line responsibility is the organisational management of CESEW but like all senior colleagues at CESEW he will be involved in policy work. In this and all aspects of his role he is required to uphold the Church’s teachings. This is a responsibility that he has willingly committed to undertake and I have every confidence that he will fulfil this expectation ... "
Can Oona Stannard explain, please, how the appointment of Greg Pope as deputy director of the Catholic Education Service, in the light of his lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record, helps Catholics to "pull together"?
Is Oona Stannard able to understand that Catholics and pro-life and pro-family campaigners feel that it is they who are being undermined and, I would say, oppressed by episcopal policy in England and Wales on sex and relationships education and, not least, through this latest appointment?
How does Oona Stannard reconcile Greg Pope's lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record with his responsibility in his new job "to uphold the Church's teachings"? When Oona Stannard says: "This is a responsibility that he has willingly committed to undertake and I have every confidence that he will fulfil this expectation ... ", on what basis does she have this confidence? Did he renounce those aspects of his parliamentary record to which I referred in my recent blogpost?
“ ... I really want [to] look forward now to how I can serve the Catholic Church through its Education Service rather than debate the minutiae of previous voting tactics in the House of Commons ... "
Can Mr Pope understand why Catholics, pro-lifers and pro-family campaigners who've studied his lengthy and appalling anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record may not be content to allow matters to rest there?
I'm in Glasgow today for the launch of a UK-wide new abortion recovery care service and free helpline at the Trades Hall in Glasgow: ARCH* (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline), formerly known as British Victims of Abortion.
Today is the 42nd anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967 coming into effect (on 27th April 1968). It is, therefore, good to be present at the launch of such an important project - today of all days - reaching out to women, men and families who have been adversely affected by an abortion experience by offering counselling for Post Abortion Trauma (PAT).
ARCH has been set up in recognition of the fact that PAT is becoming a recognised problem in the UK, and is on the increase in Scotland where more than 60% of abortions are now RU486 abortions.
Margaret Cuthill (pictured), a PAT counsellor working with ARCH who is also post-abortive, said:
"We recognise that there is a great need for much in-depth work in the area of post-abortion recovery. ARCH will work to support and encourage the development of honest, caring support networks throughout the country to help women. We also want to encourage more research into PAT and raise greater awareness and understanding of this damaging condition.
"In the past surgical abortions were the norm and PAT often took a long time to surface for many women. Now the majority of abortions in Scotland are performed using RU486 where the woman is taking the pills herself and living with the procedure over a number of days. Post abortion counsellors like myself can see that in these cases PAT is immediate so we know that this service is vital."
Speaking at today's press conference, Margaret Cuthill said that women were "tortured and tormented" by abortion. Quoting Shakespeare's Richard II, Margaret conveyed the sorrow of abortion in these words:
“My grief lies all within, And these external manners of lament Are merely shadows to the unseen grief That swells with silence in the tortured soul”
And Cathy MacBean, ARCH's administrator said that she hoped the re-naming of the work which was established in 1987 as British Victims of Abortion would set more women and men on the road to recovery.
*ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline) is an organization which offers help for women, men and families to restore their lives and relationships after an abortion experience. It's committed to exposing the truth of abortion’s tragedy in our community that women deserve better than abortion. This is a free, confidential service, and is open to everyone , irrespective of their background, culture, ethnic origin, disability, gender, age and beliefs. It is a project funded by the SPUC educational research trust.
The Foreign Office official’s memo smearing the Catholic Church for its defence of the sanctity of human life and the family is one of a number of similar recent smear campaigns. Yet few people know that such smear campaigns by those motivated by anti-life/anti-family ideology date back many decades. Enraged by Mit brennender sorge (1937), Pope Pius XI’s famous encyclical condemning Nazism, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, ordered a revenge campaign against the Catholic Church. The campaign involved exploiting the relatively few cases of child abuse within the Catholic Church in Germany at the time to create the impression that such abuse was endemic among Catholics.
One of the Church leaders who had taken swift action against child abuse was Blessed Clemens August Cardinal Graf von Galen (pictured), bishop of Munster. He later also took swift action to oppose the Nazi euthanasia programme. For this courageous opposition, Hitler vowed that “after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing.”
Shrugging off smear campaigns clearly motivated by anti-life/anti-family ideology as merely bad jokes is a signal failure to defend the Pope and the Catholic Church. Melanie Philips has today explained very well the gravity and significance of the Foreign Office memo.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Churchteaches (n. 81):
“The Church’s social doctrine has the task of proclamation, but also of denunciation [emphasis in the original] … This social doctrine also entails a duty to denounce, when sin is present: the sin of injustice and violence that in different ways moves through society and is embodied in it.”
Jack Valero's - of Catholic Voices - response to the Foreign Office document suggesting Pope Benedict might be asked to open an abortion clinic, is unimpressive. Thankfully the document has now been withdrawn by an embarrassed foreign office.
Jack Valero (pictured right) is reported on Catholic Voices' website to have said:
"I think it's a joke that has gone wrong - light relief that has gone out of control. And I think Catholics will just take it like this, you know, that they'll think about it today and then they will forget about it."
He said those that have been scarred by abortion would find the joke "a bit thin".
Sorry Jack, that's really not good enough, particularly in view of the unbalanced criticism of the Catholic Church during the prime ministerial debate last Thursday. May I respectfully remind you what Pope John Paul II said about abortion?
"Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an "unspeakable crime" ...
" ... The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby's cries and tears ... " Evangelium Vitae, N. 58.
Pope John Paul II goes on to say (in relation to abortion and euthanasia):
" ... But any State which made such a request legitimate and authorized it to be carried out would be legalizing a case of suicide-murder, contrary to the fundamental principles of absolute respect for life and of the protection of every innocent life. In this way the State contributes to lessening respect for life and opens the door to ways of acting which are destructive of trust in relations between people. Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good ... " Evangelium Vitae, No 72.
Abortion, in other words, is not a matter of private morality of concern only to Catholics. On the contrary, Pope John Paul II teaches: "When a parliamentary or social majority that it is legal, at least under certain conditions, to kill unborn human life, is it not really making a 'tyrannical' decision with regard to the weakest and most defenceless of human beings? Everyone's conscience rightly rejects those crimes against humanity of which our century has had such sad experience. But would these crimes cease to be crimes if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimated by popular consensus? ... " Evangelium Vitae, N70
As Clement Atlee, the post-war Labour prime minister, said of Harold Laski when he sought to intervene in foreign affairs, I would say to Jack Valero: " ... a period of silence on your part would be welcome."
By way of contrast, I thought the Government's response was nearer the mark. David Milliband, the foreign secretary, was said to be "appalled" by the incident.
Our colleagues at LifeSiteNews.com report that the premier of the Canadian state of Ontario has put his administration's anti-family sex education curriculum on hold following protests from parents, pro-family groups and the state's Catholic bishops. Similar pressure resulted in the British government agreeing to drop similar plans from its Children, Schools and Families bill, albeit until after the general election. The call by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa for “a firestorm of response” to the curriculum couldn't be more in contrast with the shameful complicity of the Catholic Education Service (CES) of England and Wales with the British government's plans to corrupt our children, and Vincent Nichols' (archbishop of Westminster) support for those plans. When will Catholic parents in England and Wales be relieved of oppression by episcopal policy in this country?
More evidence of government-backed attempts to corrupt our children is reported in today's Daily Mail. Government-funded charity workers have been handing out condoms to children as young as eight playing in a park in Hull, east Yorkshire. Samanatha Fuller, the aunt of one eight year-old and mother of one 13 year-old offered the condoms, said:
"She's my daughter, she's not the Government's daughter, the council's daughter or the youth centre's daughter. They will not care about my daughter if anything happens, it's my responsibility."
Now and in the aftermath of the general election, parents up and down the country must show similar resistance to attempts to enshrine and extend such child abuse through legislation on sex education.
Last night's debate between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg demonstrated clearly their unanimity on abortion, embryo research, homosexuality and contraception (see pp.16-18 of the transcript). Britain is witnessing the fulfilment of the prophetic message of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's historic encyclical which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. He warned about:
"public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law".
William L. Saunders Jnr, a distinguished US attorney and bioethicist, has written:
"Article 16 [of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] declares: 'The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.' Thus, article 16 recognizes the common sense fact, sometimes overlooked by governments and international organizations, that the family exists prior to the state, is the foundation of the state, and that the state is obligated to protect it."
For many years in Britain, our government has been pursuing a policy of providing access to abortion and birth control drugs and devices for children under the age of sixteen without parental knowledge or consent. The Children, Schools and Families bill threatened to entrench and extend this policy by forcing all state schools to provide sex education. That danger was only averted by the pressure put by pro-lifers and their allies on parliamentarians to drop the bill's offending clauses in the wash-up prior to parliament's dissolution for the general election.
Whichever party forms the next government, the defence of human life in parliament will rely on individual MPs voting pro-life and resisting pressure from party managers. Anyone concerned for the protection of human life should contact SPUC for information and resources to help them assess their local candidates. The unanimity of the three party leaders makes it all the more important that voters base their choice on how their local candidates promise to vote if elected to parliament.
On the issue of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, the party leaders responded as follows:
"I think the Catholic Church has got some very, very serious work to do to unearth and come to terms with some of the appalling things that have happened, and they need to do that."
Nick Clegg said:
"I do welcome the Pope's visit, but I hope by the time he does visit, there is a greater recognition that there has been terrible, terrible suffering, there have been abusive relationships which have left immeasurable scars on individual people's lives and we need a process of openness and then healing. You can't undo the tragedies of the past, but you can be open about them so people can start to move on."
Gordon Brown said:
"[T]he church has got to deal with these problems, and it's got to make sure that there is an open and clean confession about what has happened, and that we help those people who have been put into difficulty by this abuse."
None of the party leaders mentioned the incidence of child sex abuse outside the Catholic Church, and their comments all gave the impression that the Catholic Church hasn't responded to the problem of child sex abuse. Although the three party leaders all welcomed the Pope's forthcoming visit, their unfair and unbalanced criticism merely adds fuel to the anti-Benedict fire. Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist of religion, in an excellent analysis of the issue, has asked:
"Why are old and very often well-known cases being exhumed in 2010 on a daily basis, always attacking the Pope?"
Dominic Lawson points to the answer in yesterday's Daily Mail. He quotes Professor Richard Dawkins, the anti-life atheist scientist, who wrote in his book "The God Delusion" (2006) that:
"[W]e live in a time of hysteria about paedophilia, a mob psychology that calls to mind the Salem witchhunts of 1692 ... The Roman Catholic Church has borne a heavy share of such retrospective opprobrium ... I dislike the Catholic Church, but I dislike unfairness even more. I can't help wondering whether this institution has been unfairly demonised over this issue, especially in Ireland and America."
Mr Lawson then points out how in recent months Prof. Dawkins has forgotten what he wrote and is now defaming Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church over the same issue.
As I blogged last month, it is clear that Pope Benedict is being defamed by opponents of the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. It is therefore incumbent upon pro-lifers of all faiths and none to help defend the good name of Pope Benedict, one of the world's great pro-life leaders and the head of the world's largest pro-life organisation.
The Catholic Education Service (CES), an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has appointed Greg Pope (pictured), former Labour MP for Hyndburn, as its new deputy director. Mr Pope has a lengthy and strongly anti-life and anti-family parliamentary record - see below. According to a CES press release earlier this week:
"Greg [Pope] was appointed after a rigorous selection process and was the unanimous choice of the final interview panel, which was chaired by Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Chairman of CESEW."
"Oona Stannard, Chief Executive and Director of CESEW, welcomed the appointment, saying...'[It] will help us to continue to both promote and protect Catholic education...'"
Parents, clergy, teachers and other concerned citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic, up and down the country have already been outraged by the CES's shameful complicity with the government and the pro-abortion lobby in spreading the culture of death through schools. The CES, along with the pro-abortion lobby, helped draft the government's guidance on sex education, which is a cornucopia of anti-life and anti-family ideas. The CES did everything it could to help the government mislead the public about the Children, Schools and Families bill. The bill, as passed by the House of Commons at third reading, was a vehicle to impose the teaching of abortion, contraception and homosexuality* on schools, including Catholic and other faith schools.
It is clear that the CES and its agenda has the full backing of Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. Archbishop Nichols has today expressed "deep shame" at the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church, apologising:
"to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed".
That is all very well, but neither Archbishop Nichols, nor Bishop McMahon, nor Oona Stannard have apologised for exposing schoolchildren to abuse via government-led sex education. Nor have these Catholic leaders apologised to all those parents, clergy, teachers and other concerned citizens "who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed" by them. The CES's appointment of Greg Pope is an grotesque adding of insult to injury. I pray that Pope Benedict and his supporters in the Curia will relieve the Catholics of this country from this oppression by the episcopal policy in England and Wales.
Greg Pope MP’s parliamentary record against life and family
Greg Pope voted for amendments to lower the 24-week time-limit for abortions done on social grounds to 22 weeks or to 20 weeks but voted against amendments to lower the same limit to 16 weeks or to 12 weeks. (20 May 2008).
Abortion and contraception for school-age children
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).
signed a parliamentary motion praising a condom manufacturer for helping schools host “National Condom Week” (11 May 2004).
Abortion of disabled children
Greg Pope 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).
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)
reduce the homosexual age of consent to 18 (21 Feb 1994)
allow active homosexuals in the military (9 May 1996). He also signed a parliamentary motion in the same vein (24 Mar 2004).
He also signed parliamentary motions celebrating the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England (24 Jul 2007) and calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda (12 Nov 2010).
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).
an amendment to reject plans for a no-fault divorce system in England and Wales (24 Apr 1996)
amendments to extend the cooling-off period for divorce from one year to 18 months or to two years (24 April 1996).
Mr Pope also signed a parliamentary motion arguing that “unmarried couples should receive the same benefits as married couples should one partner die”. (16 April 2002)
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)
voted for the Children, Schools and Families bill at second (11 Jan 2010) and third readings (23 Feb 2010), which would have restricted parents’ rights over their children’s education, especially regarding sexual matters.
Greg Pope signed parliamentary motions promoting population control (16 Dec 2002) (1 Jul 2004).
Mr Pope signed a parliamentary motion “call[ing] on the Government to bring forward legislation to give transsexual people full rights and legal recognition” (27 Nov 2002).
The Children, Schools and Families bill, as debated by the House of Commons, would have forced all state-funded schools (including faith schools) to provide sex and relationships education, based on anti-life/anti-family principles. Greg Pope voted for the bill at second (11 Jan 2010) and third readings (23 Feb 2010). He also signed a parliamentary motion in the same vein (21 Feb 2007).
* 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.
On 4 April I gave my initial reaction to an interview on BBC WM (West Midlands) radio with Vincent Nichols, the Catholic archbishop of Westminster (pictured with Ed Balls, secretary of state for children, schools and families, and Oona Standard, head of the Catholic Education Service.) I offered up my Easter Triduum in reparation for his comments in that interview and said that I would write more fully about it. Here are my more detailed reflections on it.
Archbishop Nichols said:
"[T]he [government's external steering] review [of sex education] is [sic] trying to set sex education much more in the context of relationships, therefore much more in a moral context...."
"We have secured the right that sex and relationships education in a Catholic school will be presented in a way that’s consistent with Catholic teaching."
Archbishop Nichols paints the government's intentions, the review and the Children, Schools and Families bill in an entirely positive light, when all those things enable the promotion and facilitation of abortion, contraception and homosexuality in schools, including Catholic schools. He seems not to have been correctly advised, or advised himself, that the government’s intentions were to impose an obligation on all schools to teach children that choices for abortion and contraception are reasonable choices, and to promote homosexuality as a normal, healthy life-style. The Gospel of Life requires bishops to teach that no one has a moral right to choose something which is morally wrong. Furthermore, 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. The effect of the Archbishop’s positive assessment of the government’s intention where sex education is concerned is to assist and promote the government's anti-life/anti-family sex education agenda and seriously to undermine the culture of life.
Archbishop Nichols said:
"[If] sex is not open to transmission of life ... then we run the risk of reducing it to an entertainment, or a past-time, or simply a pleasure. Now, I know that's a high ideal, and I know that that's sometimes hard to relate into the harsh circumstances of poverty, or, I think, the rather blind circumstances of hedonism and just the pursuit of pleasure..."
"I think when it comes to Third World poverty, and the great pressure into which many women are put by men, I can see the arguments why, in the short-term, means that give women protection are attractive.”
"The use of condoms doesn't lack for champions; there are plenty of champions around giving and distributing condoms. I don't think it's the Church's role simply to add its voice to that but rather, in contrast, to keep saying, 'If we solve the poverty then consistently we know the birth-rate comes down.'"
"They are the radical issues that we should be addressing and not short-term intrusive fixes."
Presenting the Church's teaching on contraception as a ‘high ideal’ is seriously inadequate and therefore seriously misleading. He is obligated, by his office, to affirm and promote the Church's teaching that contraception is not just a high ideal but something that is intrinsically wrong. I have blogged before about the importance of Humanae Vitae for the pro-life movement - and how another English bishop has questioned Humanae Vitae. (And I say here arises out of my experience as a pro-life activist as well as the teaching of the Catholic Church to which I belong.)
Moreover, artificial birth control methods (ABCMs) do not, in fact, protect women. On th contrary, they contribute to the sexual misuse of women by men. In 1968, Pope Paul VI predicted that that the use of ABCMs would reduce respect for women and contribute to a range of other social disasters (Humanae vitaen 17). The evidence suggests that his predictions have come to pass. From this we know that the misguided attempt to reduce poverty by contraception simply compounds a whole raft of other evils such that the state of that society is worse for the intervention.
It is beyond doubt that ABCMs have encouraged promiscuity, unwanted pregnancies, and abortions. Promiscuity is the key factor in spread of STIs.
The Church cannot embrace a policy which explicitly endorses a means (contraception) which is malum in se (i.e. evil in itself) and which implicitly endorses immoral and destructive sexual behaviours. Nor can she cooperate in the promotion of activities which put a person’s salvation at risk and contribute to an increase in serious social problems.
Even worse, while the use of condoms may slow down the rate of HIV transmission, they cannot eliminate it. It would be irresponsible for the Church to promote condom use knowing that the use of condoms in a regular sexual relationship between husband and wife where the husband has HIV will ultimately culminate in his wife receiving the virus.
Archbishop Nichols said:
“If we solve the poverty then consistently we know the birth-rate comes down.”
On the face of it, this is a true statement. Richer countries have lowered birth rates having first become rich aided by higher birth rates. Developing countries are being asked by rich countries to depopulate in order to prosper, the opposite of what they themselves did.
It is not clear that Archbishop Nichols supports decreasing birth rates as a good thing. We should assume he does not in light of the fact that Catholics in Britain and Ireland are only too aware of how the Scottish Highlands were depopulated in the mid-18th century and how Ireland was depopulated during the 19th century.
And the Archbishop would also have been aware that:
People in poor societies and developing countries have what seems in modern Western eyes to be large families, when in fact it is the historically small size of modern Western families which should be remarked upon. The trend in recent decades for Western couples to only have one or two children mirrors the decline of ancient Greece, as Plutarch, the Greek historian noted.
People in poor societies and developing countries choose to conceive children above replacement level (two children per woman of child-bearing age) for many good reasons:
natural conjugal and parental instincts
love of family
a desire to preserve and increase their native population
fidelity to religious precepts e.g. "Go forth and multiply and fill the face of the earth."
high child mortality rates
a need to provide security in old age
Birth-rates in developing countries are falling to dangerously low levels. As long ago as 2005, the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) reported that:
"In the least developed countries, fertility is 5 children per woman and is expected to drop by about half, to 2.57 children per woman by 2045-2050. In the rest of the developing world, fertility is already moderately low at 2.58 children per woman and is expected to decline further to 1.92 children per woman by mid-century."
In addition, the Population Research Institute (PRI) has reported that:
"The birth rate in developing countries like Mexico and India has plummeted to just over three children per couple today from about six in 1950." [26 Oct 2005];
"Mexico is committing suicide. Her birthrate is now below replacement level." [6 Oct 2006]
(I emphasise again that my comments below, both as a Catholic and as a pro-lifer, are motivated and inspired by John Paul II’s words in Evangelium Vitae, paragraph 97 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.)
Archbishop Nichols said:
"[W]here government and Church part company is that government legislation identifies people by their sexual orientation ... Catholic moral teaching is not concerned with sexual orientation".
In the context the Archbishop is rightly rejecting the idea that a human being should be described, in a reductionist way, by same-sex attraction. Is a person who has same-sex attraction, but abstains from homosexual acts, a ‘homosexual’? The moral question concerns homosexual activity, not orientation. This does not mean the Catholic Church is unconcerned that some people are burdened with the temptations that come from a disordered inclination. In her pastoral concern for people the Catholic Church is always conscious of psychological factors affecting moral choice. So it is that the Catechism of the Catholic Churchteaches that:
"Homosexual acts ... do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity" (n. 2357)
the homosexual "inclination ... is objectively disordered" (n. 2358).
"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder." [n 3]
"[I]ncreasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered ... The Church's ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church." [n 8]
"[T]his Congregation wishes to ask the Bishops to be especially cautious of any programmes which may seek to pressure the Church to change her teaching, even while claiming not to do so. A careful examination of their public statements and the activities they promote reveals a studied ambiguity by which they attempt to mislead the pastors and the faithful. For example, they may present the teaching of the Magisterium, but only as if it were an optional source for the formation of one's conscience." [n 14]
The message from Archbishop Nichols is clear: yes, the Catholic Church teaches high ideals of sexual ethics, but in practice the Catholic bishops of England and Wales will go along with prevailing ideas in government and society which deviate from those ideals.
“The draft guidance is in conflict with both the law and the evidence about sex education. It refers to abortion as if it was a right, but in fact it remains a criminal offence in English law.
“The guidance’s promotion of sexual health for children pays little or no regard to the legal age of consent to sexual intercourse. The guidance contradicts research evidence which it claims supports the proposed approach to sex and relationships education.
“The draft guidance ignores parents’ rights over education upheld in international law, and fails to support faith schools in their duty to protect their ethos.
“School governors, who are supposed to read this document, deserve better than this. They will have to wade through 60 pages of often poorly written, repetitive and, in some places, legally and factually erroneous material.”
The draft guidance is separate from the government’s Children, Schools and Families bill. The bill’s sex education clauses were dropped before parliament was dissolved for the general election. We are asking SPUC supporters to urge parliamentary candidates to oppose anti-life and anti-family sex education measures if they are re-introduced after the election.
Mr Eamon Gilmore, the leader of the Irish Labour Party, has announced his commitment to a fundamental review of the Irish Constitution. One of his major motivations for doing so is to reverse the protection currently afforded to women and their unborn children in the Irish Constitution, by its prohibition of abortion. Mr Gilmore has said that
“[t]here is much about it [the Irish Constitution] that has served us well, but it is a document written in the 1930s for the 1930s”.
and in the 1930s
“women were considered to be second-class citizens”.
Whatever the merits or otherwise of Mr Gilmore's historical analysis, what a sad irony it is that his proposals include going much further than turning a category of Irish people into second-class citizens in 2010. If Mr Gilmore is successful, unborn Irish children will be robbed completely of citizenship, having their most fundamental right, the right to be born, cruelly taken away from them.
Why does Mr Gilmore think that it is appropriate to deprive women of their rights before they are born? Why does Mr Gilmore think that it is beneficial for women to do something that kills their children and harms them too?
It is highly misleading for Mr Gimore to attempt to mask a pro-abortion agenda behind the veil of equality for women. Abortion kills unborn females and harms pregnant mothers.
The Daily Telegraph reports that a lesbian couple (pictured) from Brighton, England, are the first such couple to sign a British birth certificate as legal parents, under changes passed by Parliament in 2008. One of the women became pregnant via a sperm donor.
Making homosexual couples the legal parents of children is not in the best interests of children. It represents a move away from the natural procreation of children to the artificial reproduction of children. Children and child-bearing are thus being instrumentalised to suit certain lifestyles. Children are precious and the natural family provides the best protection for their lives and development. British society is heading down a path of social engineering at its peril.
SPUC supporters will distribute leaflets outside GPs’ surgeries where abortions are performed. We are responding to news that the number of such surgeries has tripled following government approval. The family doctors’ surgeries carry out so-called early medical abortions using the RU-486 drug, also known as mifepristone.
Abortion kills children and therefore we must not allow abortion to be normalised in this way. Women deserve to know the truth about the humanity of unborn children and about the physical and psychological damage abortion does to women. SPUC will therefore be leafleting GPs' surgeries nationwide with scientifically-established medical research which explains how abortion kills children and hurts women.
SPUC has responded to the news that scientists in Newcastle, England, have created embryos using genetic material from two women and one man in order to address mitochondrial diseases.
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, told the media this morning:
"Scientists should stop killing and abusing human beings in experiments. None of the 80 or more embryos created by the Newcastle team were allowed to live. Each of those embryos were members of the human family, with a right to life equal to those of the scientists who killed them. Human life begins at conception. Any grounds for denying human rights to human embryos are arbitrary and self-serving.
"Creating embryonic children in the laboratory abuses them, by subjecting them to unnatural processes. As with IVF and cloning, this mitochondrial technique may well lead to developmental abnormalities.
"Scientists should respect human life and pursue ethical alternatives which are much more likely to be successful in the long-term."
The Linacre Centre is a Catholic academic institute that engages with the moral questions arising in clinical practice and biomedical research. It brings to bear on those questions principles of natural law, virtue ethics, and the teaching of the Catholic Church, and seeks to develop the implications of that teaching for emerging fields of practice. The Centre engages in scholarly dialogue with academics and practitioners of other traditions. It contributes to public policy debates as well as to debates and consultations within the Church. It runs educational programmes for, and gives advice to, Catholics and other interested healthcare professionals and biomedical scientists.
The Linacre Centre's next international conference will be held on 16-18 June at Maynooth, Ireland (near Dublin), on the theme of "Fertility, Infertility and Gender". Speakers will include Professor Luke Gormally, Professor David Paton and Dr Phil Boyle.
On Tuesday 27th April, the 42nd anniversary of the legalisation of abortion, please pray and fast for the end of abortion and euthanasia. Your prayer and fasting is urgently needed. (Monday 26 April is also the feast day of Our Lady of Good Counsel.)
A great prayer for life is urgently needed. Pope John Paul II
Join us each month in prayer and fasting:
fasting: Fast from all food except bread and water for the day or fast from a particular food or luxury, e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, TV. Fast from whatever you can given your state of health etc, but make sure it is something that involves a sacrifice to yourself.
prayer: We are asking people to say a Rosary (or an extra Rosary if you say it daily already). You could also offer an extra effort such as going to Mass (or an extra Mass) on the day, or going to Adoration. You can even pray before a closed tabernacle if Adoration is not available near you.
And He said to them; This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.(Gospel of Mark 9:29)
For information on the day of prayer and fasting contact The Good Counsel Network on 020 7723 1740.
And the people of Ninevah believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least…God saw their efforts to renounce their evil ways. And God relented about the disaster which He had threatened to bring on them, and He did not bring it.(Jonah 3:5,10)
Pro-life campaigners are due to give silent witness to unborn babies killed in the 42 years since the implementation of the Abortion Act, as well as to the hurt caused to women by abortion.
On Saturday 24 April*, SPUC supporters will form a chain, standing at intervals holding placards which bring home the reality of abortion. The event is known as the Pro-life Chains and will be held from 11am till 1pm.**
The 1967 Abortion Act came into effect on 27 April 1968. Since then, more than six million unborn children have been killed through registered abortion in Britain. This figure does not include abortions which may be caused by birth control drugs and devices. Nor does it include the number of embryos destroyed or discarded during and after in vitro fertilisation.
The full list of locations for the event is below.*** Media outlets are welcome to send a reporter and/or photographer to cover the event. Media and supporters interested in the event should contact Tony Mullett, national organiser of the Pro-life Chains, by telephone on (01772) 258580 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
* 17 April in Nottingham and 1 May in Ashton-under-Lyne.
** except Nottingham on 17 April, where the event will be held from 10am to 12noon.
*** Chains will take place at the following towns on Saturday 24 April 2010, 11am to 1pm, unless otherwise stated:
David Cameron, the Conservative party leader, has responded to questions from readers of The Catholic Herald on several pro-life and pro-family issues. Mr Cameron was asked:
"Will you press for a reduction in the month for which abortion is allowed?"
Mr Cameron replied:
"My own view is that we do need to review the abortion limit. I think that the way medical science and technology have developed in the past few decades does mean that an upper limit of 20 or 22 weeks would be sensible. So I supported the two amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which would have changed this and I’ll continue to support a modest reduction in the abortion limit. But what’s really important here is that Members of Parliament are always allowed a free vote on this issue. This is an issue of conscience, so it would be wrong to put pressure on Parliamentary colleagues when it comes to voting on this."
Mr Cameron and Andrew Lansley, the Conservative party health spokesman, have made clear that they support wider access to abortion in various ways. If there is a free vote by MPs, as promised by Mr Cameron, it will provide the pro-abortion lobby with an opportunity to increase the numbers of abortions, as happened under the Conservative administration under Margaret Thatcher.
Mr Cameron is only endorsing a reduction of two to four weeks (and for social abortions only). This ignores the vast majority (87% or more) of abortions which are performed before 12 weeks. Only one to two per cent of abortions are performed after 20 weeks. There is a serious danger of MPs who back a cosmetic lowering of the upper time-limit for social abortions of voting in favour of wider access to social abortions earlier in pregnancy.
Nadine Dorries, the leading advocate within the Conservative party of reducing the 24-week social abortion limit, has made her pro-abortion position clear:
"I should like to make my personal position clear, because it has been misrepresented in the past few days. I am pro-choice. I support a woman’s right to abortion—to faster, safer and quicker abortion than is available at the moment, particularly in the first trimester. That is my position ... [O]ne of the main problems is that many young women who present at a hospital or at a doctor’s are made to wait two to four weeks before a termination. I want to make my position clear: I am not against abortion per se. Actually, I would go further: I would like the morning-after pill to be available from every school nurse and in every supermarket pharmacy—and it should be free for young girls, and not £25 at the chemist’s, as it is at the moment." (Hansard, 20 May 2008)
She introduced a 10-minute rule bill in 2006 which included a provision to fast-track abortion once the final consent had been given. This provision, if the bill had succeeded, could have led to even more resources being spent on killing the unborn.
There is no reason to believe that the new parliament will be significantly less pro-abortion than the old one. Before the votes on abortion in 2008, advocates of reducing the upper time limit for social abortions had claimed they there had been a sea-change in parliamentary opinion in favour of such a reduction. Yet all the amendments calling for reductions in the upper time limit for social abortions were rejected by large majorities, with the number of MPs voting with the pro-abortion lobby exceeding 390. This sea-change was revealed to be wishful thinking stoked by media hype. With the numbers in parliament stacked against the pro-life movement, it makes no sense at all to add to the calls of the pro-abortion lobby for Parliament to amend the abortion law.
Some observers predict an influx into the new parliament of the so-called Notting Hill Set, socially liberal Tory party candidates with similar views to David Cameron. If so, the result may well be increased pressure to remove restrictions on abortion on demand in early pregnancy and allow nurses to perform certain types of abortion. Most MPs will only accept restrictions on late-term abortions in return for measures making abortion more easily available in other ways. Also, negotiating any lower limit is likely to involve a trade-off with more exceptions being allowed beyond the 24-week limit – up to birth. The number of abortions resulting from these changes would exceed the small number (about 750) of social abortions after 20 or 22 weeks. In any case, those doctors who want to do late abortions can simply get around any lower time-limit, by falsifying gestational age and/or fudging the grounds. As David Steel, the author of the Abortion Act 1967, has said:
"Putting an upper limit on abortions deemed to be done for "social reasons" would have negligible impact on either ease of access for concerned women or current medical practice."
It should also be noted that:
It was under a Conservative government that parliament voted for abortion up to birth.
It was also under a Conservative government that the upper limit for abortions was raised for abortions generally. People mistakenly claim that the time limit was reduced from 28 weeks to 24 weeks by the Conservative government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. However, because of amendments to the law made by the 1990 Act, the previous limit, which was based on the capability of the baby to be born alive – not a fixed number of weeks (28) – was abolished and a 24 week time limit was introduced but only for certain cases. In other cases (including where the abortion is carried out on the grounds of disability) abortions can be and are now carried out right up to the time of birth. Every child who had reached the stage of development of being “capable of being born alive” was protected by the pre-1990 law. Since 1990 that protection has been removed. So the effect of the 1990 Act was to increase the time limit for abortion in most instances and in many cases right up to birth.
It was pro-lifers who pressed for the 1990 Act to contain provisions relating to abortion, in the hope of being able to insert some restrictions, particularly early time limits. Sadly this tactic backfired, resulting in a less, not more, restrictive abortion law.
Elsewhere in the interview, David Cameron answers questions on sex education. His answers, and the Conservative policy positions on them, are partly good, partly bad and partly mistaken.
SPUC is political, not party political. Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg, the leaders of the other two main parties, share David Cameron's pro-abortion record and position. My critique of David Cameron's answer on abortion is motivated purely by a desire to protect unborn children and their mothers from abortion. The issue of the upper time limit for social abortions is at best a dangerous distraction. At worst, it will entrench discrimination against disabled children and set the scene for an expansion of abortion.