By Patrick B. Craine  

OTTAWA, Ontario, October 29, 2010 ( – Pro-life advocates should call on the Vatican to appoint bishops who will teach and defend the Church's teaching on the transmission of human life, pro-life veteran John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa on Friday. 

The “failure of Catholic bishops” to teach on life issues is “directly responsible for great confusion and, consequently, for the failure of the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and lay, to provide truly effective resistance to the greatest legalized slaughter of human beings in the history of the world,” said Smeaton, who heads the world's first pro-life organization, founded in 1966.  “Countless millions of unborn children are being killed each year and the policy of very many Catholic bishops is contributing hugely to this deplorable situation.” 

Smeaton quoted Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican's highest court, who commented in a talk earlier this month at the World Prayer Congress in Rome on the need for bishops themselves to be obedient to the Magisterium.  “If the shepherd is not obedient, the flock easily gives way to confusion and error,” said Archbishop Burke. 

Smeaton insisted that his own bishop, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, “was not being obedient to the magisterium when he said on BBC television that he did not know if the Catholic Church would eventually sanction gay unions.” (see coverage here

“I affirm,” he continued, “that Archbishop Nichols and the Catholic bishops of England and Wales are not being obedient to the magisterium in their co-operation with the British government policy of providing children at Catholic schools with access to abortion.” (see coverage here

“I affirm that Archbishop Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation is not being obedient to the magisterium when he stands by the original wording of his article in L'Osservatore Romano last year which implied that there are difficult situations in which doctors enjoy scope for the autonomous exercise of conscience in deciding whether to carry out a direct abortion.” (see coverage here

“I hear in country after country throughout Europe about the disobedience of bishops to the magisterium and everyone knows that the flocks are well and truly scattered, not least on abortion, IVF, human embryo research, euthanasia and issues relating to homosexuality,” he added. 

Smeaton said pro-life supporters should be in the habit of writing to the Vatican about the failure of Church leaders to uphold Church teaching and to ensure that bishops are appointed who are loyal to the Magisterium.  “We must insist that bishops are appointed who are faithful to the Church's teaching on the transmission of human life,” he said.  “The cost in babies' lives for the appointment of bishops who are not faithful has been too great.  It's got to stop. … We have a right and a duty to go to Rome.” 

See related coverage: 

On Tape: Top UK Catholic Bishop: We Fight Poverty not Gay Unions  

U.K. Religious Schools Forced to Promote Abortion, Homosexuality under Sex-Ed Bill


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