Take the Day for Life away from Bishops’ Conference and give it to SPUC to witness against abortion

Protect the Pope shares Fr Tim Finigan’s and Fr Ray Blake’s frustration that yet again the Bishops Conference of England and Wales have dedicated the  Day for Life to a theme other than that originally intended by Blessed John Paul the Great, which was a Day dedicated in particular to fostering awareness of the great evils of abortion and euthanasia.

Instead the Bishops Conference are promoting a theme tied in with the Olympic, ’Use your body for the glory of God’. Protect the Pope has searched in vain for any mention of abortion or euthanasia in the materials provided by the Bishops Conference for this theme.

The only Day of Life dedicated to Abortion was the 2007 theme Blessed is the fruit of thy womb’. No Day of Life has been dedicated to Euthanasia.

Fr Finigan comments:

‘Last year the theme was “Happiness.” As you might have guessed, I’m not happy. Many priests and active pro-life lay people are not happy either. It is estimated that by the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act, nine million children will have been killed before birth in our country. We pioneered the legalisation of embryo research and we are giving the Dutch lessons in how to do euthanasia more politely by means of continuous sedation.

In our particular cultural sitz im leben, would it be too much to ask that on one Sunday in the year we focus on pro-life issues related to abortion and euthanasia “without neglecting other aspects of life which from time to time deserve to be given careful consideration” such as embryo research and IVF?’

Commenting on the 2012 Day of Life materials Fr Ray Blake observes :

‘It is like so much material produced by Catholic Justice and Peace organisations that worry about curtains and flower arrangements rather than the crumbling foundations of the house. Catholics today really do need to be reminded of the serious implications for society of those things which seek to destroy life. We need to constantly remind ourselves and be equipped with winning arguments that defend the Church’s teaching.’

Fr Tim goes on to remind us of Pope John Paul II’s original purpose of the Day of Life as set out in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae:

Its primary purpose should be to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church and in civil society a recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. Particular attention should be drawn to the seriousness of abortion and euthanasia, without neglecting other aspects of life which from time to time deserve to be given careful consideration, as occasion and circumstances demand. (n.85)

Protect the Pope comment: Considering the Silent Holocaust being committed in 300 killing centres in our country, with 600 babies being murdered every day, it is nothing short of scandalous that the Catholic Church of England and Wales wastes the annual opportunity of the Day for Life by not rallying Catholics, and people of good will, to witness against this crime against God and against humanity.

Since the publication of Evangelium Vitae it should have become a fixed feature of Catholic life in this country that once a year we put all our efforts into protesting this slaughter of the innocents. We should fill the streets of Westminster with tens of thousands of Catholics giving a pro-life witness like the USA March for Life, with the bishops leading at the front.

Enough is enough! It’s time that SPUC took over organizing the Day for Life so that at last it has the focus intended by Blessed John Paul the Great. SPUC should at least organise the alternative Day for Life, sending out alternative materials to parishes in England and Wales. How about it John?





15 comments to Take the Day for Life away from Bishops’ Conference and give it to SPUC to witness against abortion

  • Lynda

    The Bishops in England and Wales (and Ireland, and many other countries) don’t witness against the killing of the innocent and defenceless by abortion, euthanasia, embryo-screening, etc. on the other 364 days – so why should we be surprised that they refuse to do it on the Day for Life instituted by Pope John Paul II? I would not like to be on their shoes when they try to explain their silence and inaction to Our Final Judge.

  • Veritas

    Dear Deacon Nick, I can understand your frustration but do you really think that the Bishops’ Conference are likely to take away The Day for Life from themselves?

    And even if they were to hand it over to any other body, the last person they would pass it over to would be John Smeaton who has apparently never read “How to Make Friends and Influence People”.

    If you check up on the history of the Pro Life Movement, you will see what I mean.

    Check out the record of the late Ken Hargreaves from your part of the world.

    SPUC are not on speaking terms with pro-Life Parliamentarians. They pour money into campaigns – and have zero influence.

    The founder of SPUC, Phyllis Bowman voluntarily set the wheels in motion for her resignation as director of SPUC in time for her 70th birthday. John Smeaton was to succeed her. But in 1998 an acrimonious meeting led to her departure from SPUC. Phyllis Bowman then set up another group “Right to Life” to protect human life because SPUC decided to persue other goals rather than just concentrating on protecting the unborn child.

    When I first heard of the split, I wrongly assumed it was due to the pride of an old lady who did not wish to step down. But from everything that I have subsequently heard and read, it was not her fault.

    Eccleston Square certainly need to sharpen up their act, but in fact this year’s Day for Life collection will go to the excellent “Anscombe Bioethics Centre” (formerly known as the Linacre Centre) which acts as a think tank for the Bishops on pro-Life matters – and also produces excellent CTS booklets.

  • Joe

    1. The Bishops Conference seems to miss the point of the Day for Life and so leave people unhappy/annoyed. SPUC also seem to specialise in leaving people unhappy/annoyed – so are they the most suitable of people to take on leadership of the Day for Life? Let alone the question of whether an essentially non-ecclesial organisation should lead what, as I understand it, is intended to be an ecclesial event.

    2. Bishops leading a March for Life from the front? There is a reflection to be had here about the relative (ecclesial) offices of the lay faithful and the Bishop here. If a March for Life is seen as an essentially political endeavour, it lies in the province of the lay faithful to be the leaders, and in the province of the Bishop to “confirm the brethren in their faith” by their participation, rather than “leading” in the strict sense. Seen as an ecclesial witness, the situation might be different; but the witness would be rather different in nature than the American March for Life (which I understand to be of its essence a political event).

    3. But it is interesting to think about what events of witness, at ordinary parish or diocesan level, could accompany what I suspect in most parishes either doesn’t happen at all or becomes just the homily at Mass and a notice in the newsletter.

  • Veritas

    I do hope that “PROTECT THE POPE” is not turning into “BASH THE BISHOPS”!

    We all need courage, perseverance – and cool heads. Many of the pro-Death campaigners have allies in the media who will willingly spin the news and attempt to depict the Catholic Church as nothing but a group of elderly male misogynists and paedophiles.

    With regard to the witness of the Catholic Bishops, please note for the record that John Smeaton’s own blog reported on Monday, 26 March 2012:

    ” Catholic bishops in England are increasingly giving support to pro-life acts of witness outside abortion clinics. It is a most encouraging sign.”

    Amonngst them include: Bishop John Hine auxiliary bishop of Southwark, Bishop Alan Hope the auxiliary bishop of Westminster, Bishop Thomas McMahon bishop of Brentwood, Bishop Philip Pargeter auxiliary bishop of of Birmingham and Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds.

    And of course, the late Bishop Charles Henderson, auxiliary bishop of Southwark was the first Bishop to pray outside an abortuary in England.

  • Teresa

    Deacon – is there a problem on your site – I have just posted something but it hasn’t appeared (not even with ‘awaiting moderation’ as it normally does). I tried to post it again but it told me I had already done so.

    • Teresa

      Deacon – I posted it twice, but my other posts seem to be showing – perhaps it didn’t like the links I put in it?

    • Deacon Nick

      Teresa, I don’t know if there’s a problem? As this comment has arrived is everything now OK?

      • harry

        I think there is. My computer show this thread as having 3 posts; there are more.

      • Teresa

        Deacon Nick – no my post is still not showing. What follows is a duplicate, but without the links in case that was the cause of the fault:-

        When I put an insert into this week’s parish newsletter reminding people of next week’s 2nd collection I included the Day for Life “message”, and I noted that YET AGAIN it completely missed the point [and I figured it might get a mention here, as it did last year:) ]

        I would agree that the Bishops Conference should at least get their “message” written by someone qualified to know what the message ought to be (eg SPUC or Right to Life).

        There were nearly 200,000 abortions in 2011! I fail to see how even abortion supporters could not find those statistics shocking!! I can’t even find the words to describe how that makes me feel!

        Twice as many were to women with partners as to single women, and just under a third were in their early 20s (the largest percentage). The NHS spends £1m pw on REPEAT abortions – £1M per week!!.

        For anyone interested in the full statistics my sources were the governments own website, and online articles in the Guardian and Daily Mail. I will try and post these links in a separate post.

        • Teresa

          well I was right – just tried to post the links and the post has not appeared with its usual ‘awaiting moderation’. It obviously did not like the links!

  • Paul Smyth

    Maybe one answer is to complain to the nuncio, complaints about specific people are more effective than about groups, so what’s the name of the bishop with responsibility for this?
    Why hasn’t he done his job?

  • Mark Thorne

    There’s no mention of abortion or euthanasia in the document “Day for Life 2012″, other than ‘cryptic pointers’ in the way of respecting our bodies from conception to natural death. Obviously the Bishops of England and Wales are in the grip of Olympics “fever” and have inadvertently overlooked what today is meant to be all about. The document was read out during the homily at my parish this morning and I collected a copy after Mass; on a re-reading of this document, what with the very fine female athlete featured on the cover and the tie-in with the Olympics, I was left with an overriding impression that the focus of today is on keeping yourself fit and healthy. And on that front, I’m now off swimming!

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Archbishop Nichol’s homily at the memorial mass for Phyllis Bowman urged the “pro-life movement to work together” and said “Moreover, a shared vision and unity of purpose must be embraced to enable it to be organised effectively”. All good sentiments but I fear his real hope is to see SPUC neutered and brought into the kind of thing Eccleston Square would like. I am sure Phyllis Bowman did great works in influencing politicians but what exactly did she achieve outside of Parliament? SPUC on the other hand does give daily witness and I believe does have influence amongst public opinion. I would no way want to belittle what Mrs Bowman achieved and it was certainly not for want of trying. However I do believe there is room for different approaches. Do we really want just an Eccleston Square or Archdiocesan approach when one has seen how some pro-life initiatives have been sabotaged?

  • I am a member of SPUC and whilst I thank Deacon Nick for his suggestion that we take over Day for Life, we already have our pro-life campaign in the Catholic Church, the White Flower Appeal when we take the opportunity to give the pro-life message in as many parishes as will allow us to do so. There is no chance of SPUC becoming an arm of the Catholic Church, much less of the Bishop’s conference although we are willing to work with all pro-life people of goodwill.

    SPUC also informs the general public, not just Catholics. For instance, we have been following the Olympic Torch around the country – Plymouth to Aberdeen – handing out to the crowds at all the major venues leaflets with the message : “70 days: the time it takes for the Olympic torch to travel from Land’s End to the Olympic stadium….70 days: during the same time over 40,000 unborn babies are killed by abortion in Britain”. We have distributed tens of thousands of these leaflets on the streets and door to door.

    I knew Phyllis Bowman personally for almost 35 years and worked closely with her for over 25 years. She is a heroine of the pro-life movement. ‘Veritas’’ account of Phyllis’ leaving SPUC is both wrong and incomplete. I know because I was at the meeting that ‘Veritas’ refers to and at which ‘Veritas’, by his own admission, was not present and I know all the people who were involved.

  • John American

    The entire concept of listening to celibate men and women, who have so many disfunction personal issues about sex, yet talk about it constantly is bizarre to normal people.

    Respect life, from cradle to grave (as is the philosophical mantra), does not preclude preventive birth control. If women were Priests, or Priests had wives, they would include coverage for Birth Contol in the health plan for clergy and church employees.

    The voice of the Catholic Church, on respect life falls flat, when the microphone is lent to men and women who bear no responsibility for children. And, when so many are gay.

    Pro-Life does not mean anti-Birth Control. The Catholic perspective is baseless.

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