UK Bishops’ social justice agency criticized for inviting pro-abortion speakers
SWANWICK, U.K., August 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An agency of the U.K. Catholic Bishops gave a platform to two public advocates of abortion access at its annual conference last month.
At its July 15-17 conference, the National Justice and Peace Network featured addresses by Frances O’Grady, deputy general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, and Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, who have both supported abortion access and homosexual causes. NJPN is an agency of the U.K. Bishops’ Department of International Affairs.
As reported by John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, O’Grady is quoted on the front page of a leaflet from the lobby group Abortion Rights. “Access to birth control and abortion has allowed immeasurable economic, educational and social benefits for women,” she said. “Now is the time to stand up again to defend women’s right to choose.”
Cruddas told the Catholic Herald in December that abortion “should be safe, legal and rare.” He supported the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which allowed experimentation on human embryos and the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research purposes, and the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, which allowed doctors to withhold nutrition and hydration from incapacitated patients.
Cruddas is also scheduled to speak October 29th at Blackfriars Hall, a permanent private hall at Oxford University run by the English Dominicans.
Smeaton highlighted the U.S. Bishops’ 2004 statement “Catholics in Political Life” which says that those “who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” should not be given “awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
“Let us imagine two prominent public officials in mid-1930s Germany who defended and promoted the killing of Jews,” said Smeaton. “Would it have been right for a justice and peace group to have invited those officials to speak to it about ‘justice in the workplace’? There is no moral difference between the killing of Jews and the killing of unborn children.”
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from NJPN by press time, but in a reply to pro-lifer Eric Hester, published by Smeaton, they said the group “works with groups and individuals of all faiths and none who share its aims and values.”
The organization explained that speakers were told the theme was on “justice in the workplace” and that “we would not expect the debate to cover topics other than those directly related to the given agenda.”
“NJPN supports a pro-life agenda across the board, working against all forms of violence and oppression which cause the deaths of millions around the world, including upholding the rights of the unborn and those at the end of life.”
According to Smeaton, NJPN seems to be using a “‘seamless garment’ error” which he says was debunked by Cardinal Raymond Burke in 2009. “The moral questions pertaining to the safeguarding and fostering of human life are all related to one another but they are not of the same weight. To use the image of the garment, they are not all of the same cloth,” said Cardinal Burke.
“Abortion cannot be relegated to the realm of ‘views’ and ‘areas’,” asserted Smeaton. “The NJPN are equating second-order social issues with first-order moral issues.”
Anne Peacey, Chairman of the National Justice and Peace Network
Bishop Declan Lang, Chairman of the Department of International Affairs