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Monsignor John DevineDiocese of Sodor and Man

Editor’s note: Maria Madise sent the following letter to Monsignor John Devine, the Dean of the Catholic Church on the Isle of Man, after he criticized the pro-life movement and misrepresented Catholic teaching on abortion. The Isle of Man is considering a radical bill that would legalize abortion up until birth. If this bill becomes law, doctors who refuse to commit abortions could be imprisoned.

Dear Monsignor Devine,

I was deeply saddened by your letter to the Chief Minister that was published in the “Isle of Man Today” (15 February) and also made available to churchgoers.

Your words grieve me as a woman, as a Catholic, and as a pro-life advocate.

I am grieved as a woman, because abortion is never good for women. Killing their unborn child does not help any mother, under any circumstances. On the contrary, recent studies show that:

  • women are more likely to die from any cause after abortion versus giving birth[1]
  • suicide is around six times greater after abortion than after childbirth[2]
  • women who have had an abortion experience mental health disorders 30% more often than women who have not had an abortion[3]; there is also an increase in deliberate self-harm after abortion, which includes substance abuse.[4]

The list goes on. Often the real pain unfolds years later, when those who “supported” a woman in “her choice” are no longer around. That expectant mothers are presented with a real “choice” is the great lie of our age. The overwhelming majority of women who turn to ARCH, our post-abortion counselling service, say that they felt they had no choice. Many women feel betrayed – not because those around them failed to support them in their decision to have an abortion, but because they feel they have been pushed into one by the false compassion of their husbands, boyfriends, and even priests, who have taken a step back instead of offering the real support which would have protected them and their child from an irreversible tragedy.

Your words grieve me as a Catholic, because they deform our faith. Every abortion kills an innocent human being created in the image and likeness of God, and loved by Him from the very moment of conception. To take the life of an innocent child is always a grave sin crying out to Heaven – and this takes place over 200,000 times each year in Britain. The number of children who have died worldwide as a result of legalised abortion is greater than the number of deaths in all the wars in recorded human history. The world is in desperate need of hearing the Church proclaim the truth, clearly and boldly, to provide the opportunity for conversion, repentance and liberation from sin.

I converted from Protestantism, in large part because of what the Church teaches concerning the truth about human life and the family. It is heart-breaking for me, and countless other converts, when the words of our spiritual fathers distort the beauty of some of the very things which attracted us to the one true Church.

Your words grieve me as a pro-life advocate, because it is impossible for pro-life citizens to counter the attacks of secular powers against human life if Catholic Church leaders give those in power the green light to “make difficult decisions on our behalf”, even when those decisions involved the destruction of innocent human life. I was born and raised in Estonia, where widespread abortion forms a part of the Communist legacy. Now living in the UK, it is deeply saddening to find leaders here, including faith leaders, freely accepting the ideas that have led to the killing of more unborn children in my home country than there are people living today. It is the attitude displayed in your letter which has allowed abortion to continue for 50 years in Britain. If our faith leaders fail to take an unequivocal stand in defence of the unborn and their families, how can we convince anyone else to take abortion seriously? 

Perhaps your comments were made in the context of the recent Abort 67 campaign, in which graphic images of abortion were displayed. If so, you may have wished to apologise for the use of such methods within the pro-life movement, because you were concerned that it might detract from the Church’s witness to the reality of abortion. Graphic images of abortion are very disturbing and make us wish to distance ourselves from what we see. However, one must also ask what the real problem is: Showing the pictures or what those pictures show?

By proposing abortion up to birth, virtually on demand, and by threatening doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion with criminal sanctions, the bill that is being debated in the House of Keys is among the most extreme pieces of legislation on abortion ever seen in Europe, and, indeed, the world.

You seem to be under the impression that perhaps a “more balanced” version of the bill could be adopted. The experience of most countries that have provided abortion in limited cases is that this soon leads to abortion on demand. Once we accept that pain and suffering can be eliminated by eliminating people, there is no logical place to draw an end.

I am only a lay woman, and have no formal authority to correct you. But I pray in earnest that Our Holy Mother would enkindle a true and lively faith in your heart, with real love for the teaching of the Church that you serve. The priestly character has a unique dignity and grandeur: we depend on our priests, especially at this dark hour for the family and for the Church, to teach the faith in season and out of season, and to guide us to eternal life in Heaven. I pray that you may recover the strength and courage needed to teach the truth, guide and protect the flock trusted to your care, including the most vulnerable of children and their mothers.

Your daughter in Christ,

Maria Madise
Northern Ireland and International Director
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children


[1] Reardon DC, Strahan TW, Thorp JM Jr & Shuping MW (2002) Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome: a record linkage study of low income women. Southern Medical Journal 95(8):834-841.

[2] Karalis E, Ulander VM, Tapper AM & Gissler M (2016) Decreasing mortality during pregnancy and for a year after while mortality after termination of pregnancy remains high: a population-based register study of pregnancy-associated deaths in Finland 2001-2012. BJOG DOI 10.1111/1471-0528.14484.

[3] Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ & Boden JM (2008) Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study. British Journal of Psychiatry 193(6):444-451.

[4] Gilchrist AC, Hannaford PC, Frank P & Kay CR (1995) Termination of pregnancy and psychiatric morbidity. British Journal of Psychiatry 167:243- 8.


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