Saturday 6 November 2010

Society must listen to bishops speaking up for disability rights

This week Catholic bishops in Spain and Australia have spoken up strongly against the elimination of disabled from society through eugenic practices. In Spain, the bishops noted that under Spanish law, health was defined as:
"'physical, mental and social well-being'. If such well-being is considered to be threatened by he who is going to be born, he can be treated like an obstacle to quality of life, whose elimination therefore is taken to be lawful"
In Australia, Bishop Peter Elliott, head of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, said that the warped practise of eugenics is rising from its Nazi tomb in Australia. He said that unborn children are being sought and destroyed in the womb because they have Down's Syndrome, dwarfism or other conditions. The bishop said that he was bound as a pastor to help people form their consciences and not to be silent.

And in Poland, as I blogged on Thursday, the bishops last month issued a strong statement against IVF, which among thing said that:
"IVF is a younger sister to eugenics - an allegedly medical procedure - recalling the worst connotations of a not-so-distant history. The IVF procedure presupposes 'selection' of embryos, which means killing them. It's about eliminating the weaker human embryos, diagnosed as defective, which is the 'selective eugenics' often condemned by Pope John Paul II and other authorities."
Our society is thirsty - without even knowing it - for the consistency, clarity and guidance of these bishops' words. Recent decades have seen a society develop which is both less and more cruel than in previous generations. France has even awarded its highest honour to a disabled woman who opposes euthanasia. Maryannick Pavageau, (pictured, above) who recovered from locked-in syndrome after a stroke, was awarded the Legion of Honour for her many years of campaigning for the rights of the disabled. Some improved rights for disabled adults have been developed at the same time as ever more precise techniques for detecting disabled unborn children with the sole purpose of killing them. More and more bishops and priests must use their unique position as moral spokesman to correct this contradictory, lethal mindset, and to do so in words which confront the reality of the evil of which they are speaking.

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