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John Smeaton addresses the Rome Life Forum in Rome, May 6, 2016.Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

LONDON, England, March 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – John Smeaton, Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, the first and largest pro-life organization in the United Kingdom, has called the coronavirus pandemic a “chastisement” for abortion and other sins.

“Boris Johnson’s government does not realise that the coronavirus is a chastisement for, amongst other things, the killing of innocent children in the womb,” he wrote on Facebook March 23.

His comments were made after the government had announced that due to the coronavirus outbreak, women would no longer have to go to a hospital or to have a medical abortion. A spokesperson of the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has since walked back the announcement and said, “This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations.”

Nonetheless, LifeSiteNews followed up with Smeaton to properly understand his remarks.

While “it’s a prudential judgement whether a particular terrible disaster is a chastisement,” the pro-life leader said that there are a number of aspects that make a connection between the current pandemic and its characterization as a chastisement plausible.

Specifically, he mentioned “the deprivation from Catholics worldwide of the Holy Eucharist,” which he said was “unprecedented.” He continued that “it reminds us painfully of the shameful abuse of the Body and Blood of Our Lord which is commonly observed at Masses throughout the world, in particular at Novus Ordo Masses where Communion in the hand has led to countless sacrileges taking place.”

Smeaton explained how abortion has killed “between one to two billion” people in the world in the last 50 years. “That’s more people killed than all the people killed in all the wars in the whole of recorded human history.”

Abortions affect not only the little baby, whose life is taken away. “Every one of these children was killed in the heart of an individual family so each abortion has the possibility of darkening the consciences of many more than one person,” Smeaton said, describing the consequences.

Another point mentioned was the promotion of the LGBT agenda in schools, “not least by individual Catholic bishops and by, for example, the entire Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.” Smeaton called this “a sin that’s even worse than abortion and might well provoke God’s anger in a terrible chastisement.”

“Countless church officials, even at the highest level of the Church, are encouraging sins (not only, I should say, in the form of the LGBT agenda) against which Our Lady of Fatima particularly warned Jacinta, during visions received by her between December 1919 and February 1920, pretty much exactly 100 years ago: ‘More souls go to hell for the sins of the flesh than for any other reason.’”

In his conversation with LifeSiteNews, Smeaton repeatedly referred to the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. In 1917, she had told the three children that if people did not stop offending God, he would punish the world “by means of war, hunger and persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.”

“Our Lady’s message was not given to the ‘learned and the clever,’” the British pro-life leader emphasized. Since it was given to three little children, “it’s therefore perfectly legitimate for simple laymen like myself to make such a connection” between the coronavirus outbreak and the notion of a chastisement, “if there are reasonable grounds for doing so.”

As far as historical precedents for chastisements are concerned, Smeaton pointed to remarks made by Italian historian Roberto de Mattei.

He observed parallels between the 21st century and the 14th century, which was ravaged by famine, plagues, and war all over Europe. As LifeSiteNews reported, many great saints taught that these were “signs of God’s chastisement.”

“Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) admonished: Tria sunt flagella quibus Dominus castigat: there are three scourges with which God chastises: war, plague, and famine,” de Mattei said. 

“Saint Bernardine belongs to a number of saints like Catherine of Siena, Bridget of Sweden, Vincent Ferrer, Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, who warned how throughout history natural disasters have always accompanied the infidelities and apostasy of nations.”

Smeaton made sure to explain that “the whole of mankind is punished by sin – by both original sin and by individual sins.” As Christ took our sins upon himself, “we are called to share in Christ’s sufferings for the sins of mankind.”

He said that “Pro-life leaders, myself included, can be guilty of all sorts of sins and we must all examine our consciences, but I can honestly say that my comment that the coronavirus is a chastisement is based on reasonable grounds, of the kind I’ve mentioned, and not self-interest.”

The pro-life leader said he respects fellow Catholics who are careful about calling a particular “war or plague or persecution” a chastisement, as long as they give reasons. 

“Perhaps bishops who say that it’s not a chastisement are being cynical – particularly if they don’t give their reasons for using that term which seems intended to be a little insulting,” he said.