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Bishop John Sherrington at March for Life UK in 2022March for Life UK / YouTube

(LifeSiteNews) — United Kingdom’s Catholic bishops have decried the country’s new law that will make it illegal to pray, perhaps even silently, outside of abortion mills in England and Wales.

“Bishop John Sherrington, the Lead Bishop for Life Issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has condemned Clause 10 of the new Public Order Bill, reiterating concerns it will lead to the curtailment of freedom of speech for people of faith,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) said in a March 15 statement.

“The clause, set to be signed into law, criminalizes a range of activities within a 150m perimeter of an abortion facility, otherwise known as a ‘buffer zone’,” explained the CBCEW.

Speaking on the matter himself, Sherrington said that “Throughout this Bill’s passage through Parliament, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has reiterated our concern that this proposed legislation, despite any other intent, constitutes discrimination and disproportionately affects people of faith.”

Sherrington raised concerns that the forthcoming signing of the new clause “could very easily” criminalize “many things that should never be criminalized such as prayer, thought, peaceful presence, consensual communication and practical support if they are deemed to influence or interfere with access to the clinic.”

“Politicians went so far as to vote down an amendment which would have protected silent prayer and consensual communication in such spaces, and that would have initiated a review into whether such legislation was needed,” he added.

According to Sherrington the law was completely unnecessary, as a 2018 Home Officer Review had already determined that the current laws in place protected women from “harassment and intimidation,” and that “there is little, if any, evidence that vigil participants engage in these behaviors.”

“The broad formulation of Clause 10, coupled with this lack of evidence, makes it both disproportionate and unnecessary,” he stated.

The debate around Clause 10 has become one of global significance for pro-lifers.

The issue was first thrust to the forefront last December when video footage emerged showing U.K. pro-life activist Isabel Vaughan-Spruce being searched and arrested by three police officers outside an abortion mill for admitting she “might be” engaged in silent prayer.

While Vaughan-Spruce was ultimately acquitted this February, less than a month later she was arrested again for the so-called “offense” of praying silently near the same abortion center.

While in this instance the CBCEW has opposed the government and defended Catholics, their track record on issues of life and family is largely one of betrayal.

As veteran UK pro-life activist John Smeaton explained in 2020, “The evidence clearly indicates that the policy of the CBCEW – as distinct from the doctrinal position of the Church – is, effectively, to lend support to access to abortion.”

In a more in-depth blog post on the matter, Smeaton pointed to the CBCEW’s support for the U.K. government’s “Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)” curriculum, which presents abortion to schoolchildren as “one of the available options during pregnancy.”

The same RSE also endorses various elements of the LGBT agenda, an ideology consistently condemned by the Catholic Church.

More recently, the CBCEW told Catholics they have a “duty to be vaccinated,” even if the injections in question were developed with cells derived from aborted babies.

The UK bishops have also defended their widespread promotion of “LGBT Masses.” As recently as last November Bishop John Arnold of the Diocese of Salford told LifeSiteNews that “being together in prayer” was more important than Catholic teaching on chastity.