By Hilary White
ROME, April 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life advocates in Britain are shocked at the decision by the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW), a body of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, to appoint a pro-abortion former Labour MP as its new deputy director.
Greg Pope, the Labour MP for the Hyndburn riding in East Lancashire since 1992, was approved unanimously for the job by the CESEW interview panel, including by Bishop Malcolm McMahon, chairman of CESEW.
In a media release by CESEW, Chief Executive and Director Oona Stannard, welcomed the appointment, saying Pope's experience in Parliament will "be an enormous asset".
"He has already shown himself to be extremely enthusiastic about his forthcoming role and I greatly look forward to working with him," Stannard added. She said that in the lead-up to the Papal visit and the general election Pope will "much needed extra capacity to our team".
But John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, wrote that Pope's appointment is "a grotesque adding of insult to injury" in a string of anti-life and anti-family moves by CESEW.
Smeaton wrote of his hope that the news will prompt action from Pope Benedict XVI, saying, "I pray that Pope Benedict and his supporters in the Curia will relieve the Catholics of this country from this oppression by the episcopal policy in England and Wales."
Upon his decision not to stand in this year's general election, Pope told the local paper, the Accrington Observer, "I am very much a Blairite and I do support Tony Blair." This assertion is amply supported by his voting record which shows Pope supported anti-family and pro-abortion legislation and motions at nearly every opportunity.
Since his election, Pope has voted against measures to lower the gestational age limit for legal abortion for "social reasons" and against an amendment that would have required information and counselling before eugenic abortions of disabled children. He has opposed efforts to require doctors to inform parents when minors seek abortion or contraception and in 2004, signed a parliamentary motion praising a condom manufacturer for helping schools host "National Condom Week".
In 1998-99, Pope voted three times to reduce the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16. In 2001 he voted to pass a bill allowing civil registrations for cohabiting same-sex partners. In 2002, he voted with the majority to allow unmarried heterosexual and homosexual partners to adopt children. In 2003, Pope voted to abolish a prohibition on promoting homosexuality in schools, Section 28, that homosexualist activists regard as a watershed vote in their movement.
Pope has also signed a number of parliamentary motions praising Britain's leading abortionist and pro-abortion lobby groups including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2002; the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Choice and Sexual Health Group, the Family Planning Association, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International, in 2004; the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health in 2005;
Most recently, Pope voted for the Children, Schools and Families bill at second and third readings, which would have restricted parents' rights over their children's education, especially regarding sexual matters.
LifeSiteNews.com did not receive a response to requests for comment from CESEW by publication deadline.
To contact Bishop McMahon
27 Cavendish Road East,
The Park, Nottingham
NG7 1BB, England, Great Britain
Phone: (0115) 953-9800
See John Smeaton's extensive blog entry regarding Pope's record.
A full record of Greg Pope's votes is available here
Read related LSN coverage:
English Bishops' Education Service Endorses Government's Pro-Abortion Sex-Ed Guidelines