Monday 17 January 2011

Pope Benedict is calling our bishops to obedience on pro-life/pro-family issues

On Friday Pope Benedict gave an important pro-life and pro-family address to civic officials in Rome and its surrounding region. Pope Benedict, describing the family as the
"the primary cell of society...founded on marriage between a man and a woman"
insisted that
"the family must, then, be supported by policies ... which aim at its consolidation and development, accompanied by appropriate educational efforts".
later adding that:
"[L]arge families...are too often penalised".
Pope Benedict continued:
"The approval of forms of union which pervert the essence and goal of the family ends up penalising those people who, not without effort, seek to maintain stable emotional ties which are juridically guaranteed and publicly recognised. In this context, the Church looks with favour upon all initiatives which seek to educate young people to experience love as a giving of self, with an exalted and oblational view of sexuality. To this end the various components of society must agree on the objectives of education, in order for human love not to be reduced to an article of consumption, but to be seen and lived as a fundamental experience which gives existence meaning and a goal".
Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, must therefore explain to married couples why he stands by his approval of "gay civil partnerships" in the light of numerous condemnations of such unions made by Pope Benedict and other Church authorities.* He must also explain why the Catholic Education Service (CES) welcomed and helped draft anti-life and anti-family objectives of education.

Pope Benedict also spoke about abortion:
"Since 'openness to life is at the centre of true development' the large number of abortions that take place in our region cannot leave us indifferent. The Christian community, through its many care homes, pro-life centres and similar initiatives, is committed to accompanying and supporting women who encounter difficulties in welcoming a new life. Public institutions must also offer their support so that family consultancies are in a position to help women overcome the causes that may lead them to interrupt their pregnancy".
SPUC's sister organisation ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline), formerly British Victims of Abortion (BVA), and SPUC's friends at the Good Counsel Network, are among the leading organisations helping women in those difficult situations.

Pope Benedict did not fail to omit the threat of euthanasia:
"[T]he ageing population raises new problems. ... Although many old people can reply on the support and care of their own families, growing numbers are alone and have need of medical and healthcare assistance"
expressing a hope that Catholic healthcare institutions will:
"renew[] my call to promote a culture of respect for life until its natural end".
Archbishop Peter Smith, chairman of the Department for Citizenship and Christian Responsbility of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, therefore needs to explain to older people why he endorses the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the new prosecutorial guidelines on assisted suicide, thereby endangering their lives?

I have read that the attitude of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to papal and Vatican texts is often to claim that "This is England, things are different here, this text doesn't apply here". Such an attitude simply does not wash. The natural moral law and the Catholic Church's teaching on it are universal. The moral milieu in England is very similar to Rome today and its region, to most of the rest of the developed world, and to parts of the developing world, i.e. abortion, euthanasia, contraception and homosexuality are prevalent.

Last Sunday's Gospel was St John's testimony of the wedding feast at Cana. Mary told the servants to: "Do whatever He tells you." Pope Benedict is speaking with the voice and authority of Christ when he upholds Catholic natural law teaching on pro-life/pro-family issues. The Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales must therefore choose whether or not they are the obedient servants of Christ.

* The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught (Evangelium Vitae, 1995, para.97) 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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