Friday, 8 October 2010

My address on human rights to this week's pro-life congress in Rome

Below is an abridged version of the address I gave on Thursday at the World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome, organised by Human Life International (HLI). The full version can be found on SPUC's website in the original English, plus translations into German, Italian and Spanish.
Human rights: truth and illusion in Europe

Rights which are incompatible with natural law are not only invalid, but their promotion demands the subjugation of some human beings in order to advance the interests of others. Almost on a weekly basis we see such alleged rights invoked to justify public policies which threaten the most vulnerable in society or used to silence those who speak out in defence of Christian values and natural law. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than with the attempts to separate the right to life from the principles of natural law.

Despite attempts to distort them, international agreements like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognise the right to life of all members of the human family “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” This also includes the distinction of personhood and non-personhood held by some, including thus far, European courts, to apply to the unborn child.

We must call upon governments and human rights institutions to return to the original meaning of these documents which were drafted in response to the atrocities revealed by the Nuremburg Tribunals. To do this, we must become more familiar with the international agreements which were intended to protect all human beings at every stage of life. We must resist injustice and continue to speak out for those who cannot defend themselves.

Tragically, abortion is legal in the vast majority of the Council of Europe member states. 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. Similar policies are being pursued by the Spanish government. Tragically, over 60 years on from the Universal Declaration and the Second World War, it seems that the lessons have not been learned, not in Britain by the British government, not in Spain, by the Spanish government, and the same pressures are developing in Ireland and, without doubt, in other countries in Europe.

Europe is under intense attack and the pro-life and pro-family movement and Catholic Church leaders must be in the front line of resistance. This is World War Three and it's primarily a war on the unborn and on parents as the primary educators of their children. There is in fact a worldwide attack on unborn children, on marriage and the family, and on parents as the primary educators of their children. It's being led by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the world's largest abortion-promoting agency, which has its headquarters in London. This attack is also promoted by the pro-abortion lobby in the European institutions, including the European Commission which is the world's largest multilateral donor to International Planned Parenthood Federation.

This attack on the unborn and on families is also supported by leading international pro-abortion figures such as Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, who is clearly exploiting his entry into the Catholic Church in order to undermine Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life, on marriage and on human sexuality, together with his wife Cherie Blair, who is also a Catholic; and by US President Barack Obama's administration. In Britain, this attack on unborn children, marriage and the family is also being supported by the Catholic bishops’ conference of England and Wales.

Sadly, the situation is made even worse by church leaders who appear to have imbibed the spirit of the age. Sadly, more and more Catholic parents are telling us at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children about terrible experiences in Catholic schools, both at secondary and primary school level.

Disunity continues to grow in the Church throughout Europe because its leaders persist in failing to teach the doctrine and prophetic message of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the transmission of human life. The use of contraceptive drugs and devices by so many Catholics, which may, according to the manufacturers, cause an early abortion, is draining the pro-life movement of the support of the community most likely to support the battle against abortion. Couples who may be turning a blind eye to the practice of abortifacient birth control in the intimacy of their married lives may well find it difficult to support our unequivocal campaigns against abortion, IVF, human embryo research and euthanasia.

I believe that the values of Nobel Prize Winner Mother Teresa who said in her acceptance speech: ""[T]he greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion" will prevail over the values of Nobel Prize Winner, Barack Obama who has called for abortion on demand to be legalized throughout the world. Through our work in the years ahead, the dignity and inviolability of every human life will once again be reflected in people's consciences and national law, just as it's deeply entrenched in universally-binding human rights agreements. On the other hand, the values of the pro-abortion, pro-human embryo research lobby, reflected in the callous rhetoric of choice which tramples on human lives, born and unborn, will be consigned in the not so very distant future to a tragic chapter of human history.

The acceptance and implementation of the prophetic teaching of Humanae Vitae will only be possible if there is a radical change in the nomination policy of Bishops throughout Europe. The nominations of bishops who do not have a sustained and genuine track record of fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium on the transmission of human life (Humanae Vitae) must stop. Such nominations must stop because the cost in babies' lives is simply too great.
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