When will an English Bishop say it as it is?
EDINBURGH, Scotland (Catholic Online) – Catholic politicians must not cooperate in sustaining through legislation “the unspeakable crime of abortion” and to do so creates a barrier to their receiving holy Communion, says a Scottish cardinal on the approach of the 40th anniversary of passage of the law that made the taking of unborn human life legal.
In a homily to be delivered May 31 at St. Mary’s Cathedral here on the Scottish Day for Life,” Cardinal Keith O’Brien, archbishop of Edinburgh and St. Andrews, decried the killing of about millions of unborn babies and the spreading of the “culture of death” throughout society.
The Abortion Act 1967, passed by the British Parliament, made abortion legal in the United Kingdom for up to 28 weeks gestation. In 1990, the law was amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: abortion became legal only up to 24 weeks except in cases where it was necessary to save the life of or there is grave risk of physical or mental injury to the mother or evidence of extreme fetal deformity. or there was a grave risk of physical or mental injury to the woman. The act does not extend to Northern Ireland, where abortion is only legal there if the life or the mental or physical health of the woman is at serious risk.
“Around 7 million lives have been ended as a consequence of that one piece of legislation,” he says in the homily, posted on the Web site of the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
He characterizes as “lies and misinformation masquerading as compassion and truth” the arguments to promote the legislation four decades ago, including that “backstreet abortions were killing women,” “abortion would only be used in extreme cases” and “medical scrutiny would be rigorous.”
Yet, the result of the Abortion Act is “beyond our grasp,” Cardinal O’Brien says, pointing to the murder in Scotland alone of the “equivalent of a classroom full of school children every day.”
Abortion for many women, he notes, has become “an alternative form of birth control,” with the procedure used to “save the life of a woman are almost unheard of.”
The Day of Life to being observed on the same day as the feast of the Annunciation, which marks the journey by the virgin Mary to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also expecting a child. At their meeting, John the Baptist, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy, and Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
The cardinal says that Annunciation affirms “the immense value of life from its very conception.”
“The redeemer in the womb unites himself with all of humanity,” he says. “By becoming incarnate in the womb of Mary, God raises to a new level the greatness of every human life.”
“The joy of that meeting holds out to us the message of delight that should accompany every pregnancy. With every life conceived God acts directly to create a new and unique human being, a person destined to life everlasting,” he says. “Sadly, joy is not always the dominant emotion evoked by news of pregnancy in the world we live in today.”
Society must build a culture that “joyfully accepts new life,” Cardinal O’Brien says.
The Catholic community has a special responsibility to work against a “philosophy which permits the destruction of children in the haven of their mother’s womb,” he says.
He points to his work campaigning on behalf of the developing world, against the possession of nuclear weapons and to protect “the most vulnerable and defenseless” in the womb as all acts in defense of life.
“We must remain witnesses to the truth and be unambiguous in defending life in all that we do,” he says.
He calls for action from those in the health-care industry, urging support for “medical professionals who are unwilling to cooperate in the slaughter … on our universities and medical schools to teach that all human life deserves protection … on our hospitals to end testing procedures designed only for targeting and killing the weak and infirm.”
Politicians must answer whether they will “protect the right to life of all persons in our society from conception until natural death,” the cardinal says, urging voters “to hold these elected representatives to account.”
”I urge politicians to have no truck with the evil trade of abortion,” Cardinal O’Brien says. “Peace cannot be built in the shadow of the abortion rooms.”
Politicians, especially “those who claim to be Catholic,” must examine their consciences and determine whether they are helping in any way sustain “this social evil,” he said.
“I remind them to avoid cooperating in the unspeakable crime of abortion and the barrier such cooperation erects to receiving holy Communion,” the cardinal warns, adding that “I would be failing as a pastor not to highlight the gravity of this situation not just to lawmakers but to anyone – mother, father, boyfriend, counselor who in any way leads a mother to abortion.
He says that, beyond the outright banning of abortion, “there is much we can do,” including legislation aimed at reducing current abortion limits, ensuring parental notification for minors seeking an abortion and providing women considering the procedure full information about the physical and emotional risks to themselves and about fetal development.
“We can work to ensure that the more light, which is shone on this terrible procedure the less acceptable it will be to our society,” he says.
The Day of Life will be marked in Scotland's some 500 Catholic parishes, which have been sent 250,000 leaflets expanding on the day’s theme, “Blessed is the fruit of your women,” and explaining the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion.
In a letter which accompanied the material sent to parishes, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow urged "every parish in Scotland (to) take the opportunity to remind people that it is 40 years since the Abortion Act was passed into law" and encouraged parishioners to "pray for legislation to protect the unborn child from the moment of conception."