By Hilary White

WESTMINSTER, June 5, 2008 ( – MPs have “dulled” their consciences in a world of distractions and must repent of their “attack” on innocent human life after the votes in the House of Commons on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill in May, says Keith Cardinal O’Brien.

Cardinal O’Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, in a homily in the crypt church at the House of Commons on Wednesday, wondered aloud, “What does one say then, in the face of those who without guilt condemn the innocent in the womb, show disregard for family life and play God with the building blocks of life?”

British Catholic politicians voted to allow the creation of human/animal hybrid clones and abolished the “need for a father” in IVF treatments. The Parliamentarians also voted down efforts to reduce the legal gestational age for abortion from its current 24 weeks.

“It has struck me,” the cardinal said, “that for all the Church’s calls for recognition of the inviolability of conscience, the sad reality is that the vast majority of politicians have given support to various attacks on human life with apparent lack of reproach from conscience.”

At a reception at the Scotland Office, Cardinal O’Brien defended the coherence of Catholic Church’s opposition to embryo research, saying that it is of a piece with other justice issues.

The cardinal said, “We can offer a reminder of the foundational values on which any just society must be built, values which uphold the dignity of all human life, which assert the necessity of supporting family life, of recognizing the limits of subsidiarity and the demands of solidarity.”

He called the pro-life position a comprehensive one: “A call to give life to those many thousands dying each day through lack of food and drink; by joining in the anti-nuclear campaign and also the campaign for a greater awareness of climate change; by entering into the debate with regard to our present abortion laws and the great moral issues coming to the fore recently with regard to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill.”