By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent, and John Jalsevac

ROME, December 17, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the lead-up to Cherie Blair’s lecture at the Angelicum last week, pro-life Catholics from around the world contacted the university asking that Mrs. Blair’s appearance be cancelled, due to her public admissions of dissent from key areas of Catholic teaching. In what some pro-life leaders have called a “carefully stage-managed” piece of damage control, however, Mrs. Blair in her lecture made a series of statements presented as assurance of her adherence to Catholic teaching on abortion. (To read the complete lecture, see: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121705.html To read the complete text of the question and answer session see: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121706.html.

Some of these statements were welcomed by pro-life advocates, albeit with reservations, such as her condemnation of sex-selective abortions in India, a problem that she said the Church should be more vocal in opposing, as well as her positive statements about a reportedly decreasing abortion rate for children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome. 

Despite some assertions to the contrary, however, Blair failed to assuage the concerns of her pro-life critics, as she did not at any point renounce or in any way explain her well-documented support for some of the world’s largest and most extreme abortion organisations, nor did she at any point denounce abortion as such as a moral evil. 

Moreover, claims by a professor of moral theology at the university that Mrs. Blair is “in line” with the teaching of the Church were refuted by Mrs. Blair’s own speech, in which she openly admitted that she does not agree with Catholic teaching on artificial contraception. Indeed, in the question and answer session, Blair took to task pro-life groups and individuals who objected to her appearance at the university for stifling the "debate" over artificial contraception, despite the fact that contraception has been definitely condemned by the Church as a grave moral evil. 

In the question period following her speech, Mrs. Blair was enthusiastically praised by a priest and professor of moral theology at the Angelicum, Fr. Bruce Williams, who asserted that in light of her “admirably fearless” comments, it is “crystal clear” that she is “in line” with Catholic teaching.

Fr. Williams said that the contentions by pro-life leaders that Mrs. Blair is pro-abortion and a dissenter from Catholic teaching were “rash, if not outright calumnious.” Fr. Williams said, “The way you came across was decisively contrary to the way you have been depicted recently by a number of websites.”

During her lecture, however, and despite Fr. Williams’ assertion, Mrs. Blair made no clear statement that abortion was “morally repugnant” (as Fr. Williams claimed) and carefully omitted any mention of her ongoing support for International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the U.K.‘s Family Planning Association (FPA), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other organizations whose agenda includes global abortion-on-demand.

Rather than condemning abortion outright, Blair instead condemned the “wide and indiscriminate” use of abortion due to the fact that it poses the problem of sex-selective abortions, resulting in lopsided boy-girl ratios.

“We almost all accept that human life in all its forms is sacred.  For some of us, this is a matter of religious faith,” she said. “While I am on record as having had difficulties with the current teaching on responsible parenthood, I do recognize that much of what Paul VI predicted could happen in Humane Vitae as a result of what could happen as a result of wide and indiscriminate use of abortion, has been born out in particular in relation to baby girls as the birth ratios of boys to girls in some countries.”

In her speech Mrs. Blair heavily criticised the Catholic Church, accusing it of having come only lately into line with the secular world’s dedication to human rights, including women’s rights.

Blair criticised what she characterised as the Church’s “hostility” to the modern secular human rights movement and accused it of having hesitated to follow the movement out of “fear of the unknown.”“It would be nice to say that the Church was at the fore-front of this long journey [of the development of human rights law] but it hasn’t always been the case.”

The Church “still did not uncritically embrace the secularization of human rights,” until the 1960s, she said.

Blair also claimed that the Church has been subject to the prejudices of society in failing to install women into positions of authority. The argument is a common one of the feminist movement that presses for the ordination of women to the priesthood, although Blair’s views on female ordination are unclear.

“Just as diversity between and within the sexes enriches human life and strengthens our civil society so to would it strengthen the Church if we could see more women in leadership roles within it," she said.

She then made the proposal: “There is no reason why these appointments should be exceptional and actually no reason why half all curia posts should not be filled by women.” 

The little praise Mrs. Blair did have for the Catholic Church’s record on human rights was for its activities in educating women in the developing world, which she said has had the effect of reducing birth rates. Quoting the Independent newspaper, Mrs. Blair said, “By being one of the leading providers of education across the developing world, the Church is making a powerful contribution to improving the lives of women, lifting them out of poverty and enabling them to reduce levels of child-birth, which can be, and is actually often dangerous to their health.” 

“History teaches us that improving the general economic situation and particularly improving women’s educational levels, gives women more power in society and helps them exercise more responsible fertility.” 

Neither did Mrs. Blair mention her support, in her capacity as a lawyer, of Britain’s homosexualist political movement. The years of her husband’s tenure as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party are known by life and family advocates and Catholics as the bleakest of Great Britain’s history, seeing more anti-life, anti-Christian and anti-family legislation installed than at any other time.

Mrs. Blair’s support for the openly anti-Catholic homosexualist political movement, so strongly supported by her husband’s administration, is long and well-documented.

This August, she told the Belfast Telegraph in an interview that she was “immensely proud” of her husband’s government for having installed homosexual “civil partnerships.”“It’s fantastic the way the country has accepted that,” she added.

In an interview with a Mumbai news service, she condemned opposition to the homosexualist political agenda saying, “It’s a personal tragedy to be condemned because of one’s lifestyle choices. It is high time everyone started judging people by their contributions and not their sexual inclinations.” Mrs. Blair also made headlines last year when she attended, and “gave away” her Parisian celebrity homosexual hairdresser, Andre Suard at his “gay wedding.”

In the same interview with MiDDay news service in Mumbai, when asked to identify her “biggest scandal” she replied, “Nothing beats the fact that I’m a Catholic who uses contraception. The Church does not allow it but women do it today and I wouldn’t want another baby.”

As of this writing, on the “Women of the World” page of her personal website, Mrs. Blair praises the work of the UN’s CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) organisation as “the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women.” It is widely acknowledged that the phrase “reproductive rights” includes abortion on demand, and a major function of the CEDAW committee is to pressure national governments to legalise abortion or expand abortion “rights.”

To read a transcription of the complete Cherie Blair speech see:
 http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121705.html

Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Pro-Abortion Cherie Blair to Speak at Prominent Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08120205.html

Angelicum University Refuses to Believe Cherie Blair’s Pro-abortion and Anti-Family Reputation
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08120501.html

Cherie Blair Denies Pro-Abortion Label at Angelicum Lecture
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121207.html