Dear friends in Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog! – a word of encouragement to those who work in and pray for the Pro-Life Movement.
Sometimes, we can tend to assume that as long as we’re well-intentioned, God will overlook the more ugly side of our actions. But nothing in Sacred Scripture supports this. In fact, you will find very little soft sentiment in the words of the Lord Jesus. We can, of course, count on God’s mercy and compassion, but we can also count on his justice. God will always love us, no matter what we do. But love always tells the truth.
Here’s the truth: Three hours ago Pope Francis Tweeted:
“We are called to defend and safeguard human life, especially in the mother’s womb, in infancy, old age and physical or mental disability.”
Consequently, we cannot claim to be Catholic and then ignore what our faith teaches on serious matters of human dignity, especially on a foundational issue like abortion. We need to be faithful and well-informed Catholics first. If we are, then our Catholic convictions will naturally enrich our country’s public life.
For some Catholics, sadly the price of admission into mainstream British life has meant that we somehow keep the Catholic brand name and tribal loyalty, but are content to live a mix of nostalgia and generic good will and ‘keep our heads down’ in the public sphere. Rather, as Catholics, we have a baptismal duty to sanctify and humanize our country; in other words, to lead it to Jesus Christ.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the (1967) Abortion Act in Britain, we recall we’re citizens of heaven first and we have pro-life obligations to the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the elderly and the refugee. But abortion is foundational. There’s no way around it. It’s the cornerstone issue for any society because it deals with the most basic human right of all – the right to life.
We just cannot build a just society while allowing more than a 185,000 abortions a year (in England and Wales), or even half that number. This is why “abortion reduction” strategies can sound persuasive and do have value, but they never adequately address the brutality and injustice of abortion itself, or abortion’s deep wounds to both women and children – with 8.8 million lives lost thus far in Britain since the introduction of the Act.
Some Catholics – including some periodicals and newspapers who claim to use that name – seem simply embarrassed by the abortion issue.
The abortion struggle gets in the way of their natural political alliances. Others don’t really agree with the Church’s teaching, or don’t accept the personhood of the unborn child. Others just want a respectable way to explain away this issue and get on with what they regard as the ‘real’ work of the Church!
I don’t think we’ve lost the abortion struggle just yet. Quite the opposite. A social conflict like abortion or racism is fundamental; it challenges the moral premises of a society and can often go on for decades. Overturning the Abortion Act is achievable. So are legal restrictions on abortion and legal protections for the unborn. Let us work and pray under God for this intention – especially with the Rosary this October – always with the compassion of Christ.
Until next week, let us pray for each other and for all those Catholics and others, too, who work to nurture and protect human life at its most vulnerable,
As ever in Christ our Lord,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster