scmo_banner_news.jpg


The leaders of the Catholic Church in Scotland and England and Wales have today sent out an Open Letter on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act to the Catholic community in Great Britain. The letter signed by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O Connor, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will be made available to all Dioceses and parishes. The full text of the letter is shown below.

Open Letter on the 40th Anniversary of the Abortion Act

Monday, October 22, 2007

The leaders of the Catholic Church in Scotland and England and Wales have today sent out an Open Letter on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act to the Catholic community in Great Britain. The letter signed by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O Connor, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will be made available to all Dioceses and parishes. The full text of the letter is shown below.

Ends

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168
07968 122291  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org



Archbishop s House       Archbishop s House      
42 Greenhill Gardens       Ambrosden Avenue
Edinburgh       London
EH10 4BJ       SW1P 1QJ


22nd October 2007


Open Letter on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act from the Presidents of the Catholic Bishops Conferences of Scotland and England and Wales  


The 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act is an important moment for reflection. It gives us all an opportunity to seek to cherish human life and to support women in difficult circumstances. The law affects attitudes, but it does not itself compel anyone to have an abortion. Even without a change in the law the abortion rate could fall dramatically if enough minds and hearts were changed.

The miraculous nature of human reproduction has become ever more apparent through recent advances in medical technology. In 1967 Ultrasound was a primitive tool. Ultrasound scanners today can reveal in extraordinary detail the development of a human life in the womb. Premature babies are now able to survive at ever younger ages. Developmental biology makes increasingly clear the beautiful and intricate processes of continuous development and growth of the single unique organism which is formed at conception. That is when our lives started. From that point on, there is a new human life which is neither the life of the father nor the mother. In 2007 we understand better than ever before, because we have seen it with our own eyes, the wonderful process of life that is brought to an end by abortion.

The 1967 Act was intended to solve the problem of illegal abortion, on the basis that it was a major cause of death in pregnant women. Yet our countries now perform nearly 200,000 abortions every year. We have one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe with abortion up to 24 weeks and abortion in the case of disability (and on some other grounds) up to birth. Whatever our religious creed or political conviction, abortion on this scale can only be a source of distress and profound anguish for us all. The Catholic Church throughout the world has been constant in its opposition to abortion as morally wrong, and has been determined to give voice to the silent cry for love and recognition that belongs to every human life. The Church has for many years in our countries been at the forefront of offering practical, emotional and spiritual care to women and babies in need. It has sought, too, to help the many women, and men, who suffer grief, pain and loss following an abortion experience.

In the years since 1967 much has been made of the slogan ˜the woman s right to choose . Yet the right to make a genuine choice is exactly what very many women who have abortions say they do not have.  

Abortion is a moment of choice. Abortion is always a choice between life and death, but we recognize that it is made in complex personal and domestic situations. It can be especially difficult for the mother if she feels abandoned by her partner or that by having the child she will lose the support of her family or society. Women in this situation can feel intensely isolated. Many women and men, too, already feel the pressure of caring for their families. They often have to cope with financial burdens and the demands of a career. In such situations, family relationships can feel so strained that they do not feel they can welcome another life. If the pregnancy is unwanted it can be easier to argue that it is somehow in the interests of the child not to be born because the child will not be welcomed. At times, the life of the child is seen as an unnecessary limitation on the mother and the father. The child s life is placed in opposition to theirs. When this happens abortion can be portrayed as the lesser of two evils which removes an obstacle to the success of the parents lives. Yet life, especially new life, is ultimately never a deprivation. It is a gift that always enriches; a promise filled with hope. We should never let ourselves be persuaded otherwise.  

Often, ˜a woman s right to choose fails to acknowledge the role of the father. It seems to pass over the fact that the majority of men do want to be fathers of their children. If we accept 'a woman's right to choose' as the governing principle of such a profound choice between life and death, then rather than encouraging men to accept responsibility, it can support their denial or avoidance.  

For everyone involved, abortion will often have been a painful and shattering decision. For many women it is one in which they, perhaps even as much as their unborn child, will have been the victim. This is why we believe that abortion is not only a personal choice, it is about the choices our society makes to support women, their partners and families in these situations. If our society makes life its choice then there is no reason why the child, the mother and the father, and indeed the whole family of society cannot grow to fulfill their potential. Abortion robs everyone of their future. Individually and as a society we believe we have another choice: to give birth to life.  

How can we all help bring about change? There is nothing to stop our society from acting now to foster a new understanding and approach to relationships, responsibility and mutual support:

¢      By being parents and families who cherish life and support our daughters and sons in making decisions which are responsibly pro-life.  

¢      By providing sympathetic counselling and help for young women who find themselves pregnant.

¢      By providing more and better facilities to support and help young mothers who choose to have their babies.  

¢      By dismantling a conveyor belt that can often take a young woman through to having an early abortion without any of the alternatives being properly explored or resourced. Making genuine freedom of choice a reality is the first and crucial step in a fundamental change of mind and heart.  

¢      By supporting and developing better educational programmes which place the gift of sexual relations within the context of marriage and fidelity. Such programmes can help people understand realistically the joy and sacred responsibility of parenthood. They can inform them about the resources available within the Catholic Church and society for supporting families and parents at moments of difficulty.  

¢      By respecting and supporting the decision of those in healthcare who refuse to perform or assist in abortions on grounds of conscience.

¢      By pressing for achievable change in the law in the light of advances in medical developments, even if Parliament will not abolish the law. Whilst upholding the principle of the sacredness of human life, it is both licit and important for those in public life who oppose abortion on principle to work and vote for achievable incremental improvement to what is an unjust law.

The Catholic faith lets us see the radiant glory of human life from its beginning to its end. When we know that every person whatever their age, race or condition carries the image of God, we see their infinite value and dignity. Whether we have this vision of faith or not, cherishing life is the central value of every society that wants to flourish.  

The Catholic Church offers to participate with others in working for this timely change of heart and mind. We hope and pray for the sake of our common humanity, and the lives at stake, that the next 40 years will tell a very different story. The time to take a different path is now.



Cardinal Keith O Brien Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O Connor
President President
Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 97 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe to News updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to News

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Bishop calls on UK Government to sign and ratify Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

| 25th May 2018 | Blogging

25 May 2018   Bishop William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, will tomorrow (Saturday 26 May) at 12 noon join other Church leaders and campaigners in calling for the Secretary of State to sign and ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.   Taking part in the Pentecost Witness at Faslane Naval Base alongside representatives of the Church of Scotland and Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Nolan will call on the Secretary of State to urgently develop and publish a transition plan so that the UK is ready to sign and ratify the Treaty.   Commenting ahead of the event tomorrow, Bishop Nolan said:   “We believe in the dignity and right to life of every human being. The threat of nuclear arms poisons the soul of humanity, and their use by any state or leader would be an immoral act against humanity and against God’s creation.”   The Treaty opened for signature at the United Nations on 20 September 2017. Once ratified, it will make the possession, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law.   ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org Notes to Editors: 1. Full text of the letter sent to the Secretary of State is copied below 2. An image of Bishop Nolan is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/25508101134/in/album- 72157666531058155/ Full text of Letter Dear Secretary of State, As you are aware, the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at the UN on 20 September 2017. Once ratified, this treaty will make the possession use and threat of use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law. We believe in the dignity and right to life of every human being and that nuclear weapons violate that dignity and threaten that life. It is evident that the use of nuclear weapons would have indiscriminate and devastating humanitarian consequences that would extend beyond the borders of any single nation state. The World Council of Churches has stated ‘that as long as such weapons exist, they pose a threat to humanity and to creation’. Pope Francis has condemned not just the threat of use, but the possession of nuclear arms as they serve to create a culture of fear for all humankind and consume vast amounts of human and financial resources that could be better used for human development. The threat of nuclear arms poisons the soul of humanity, and their use by any state or leader would be an immoral act against humanity and against creation. Those signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons agreed not to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer or receive nuclear weapons. The 122 governments so far who have signed the Treaty recognise along with countless numbers of people throughout the world that we have lived with these weapons for far too long and that they must now be outlawed and eliminated. Successive governments of both major parties have affirmed their commitment to multilateral disarmament for the last 50 years, however the decision by Parliament to spend billions of pounds renewing the UK’s arsenal of mass destruction in times of austerity is not a commitment to peacebuilding and is contrary to our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The British Government, by signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, would be taking a positive step towards fulfilling those commitments. We, the undersigned, ask you to urgently develop and publish a transition plan so that the UK is ready to sign and ratify the treaty at the earliest opportunity. We pledge to continue to do our part to realise a world without nuclear weapons. Bishop William Nolan President of the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Justice and ...

New Safeguarding Manual comes into force

| 21st May 2018 | Blogging

In a letter sent to all Catholic parishes over the weekend, Bishop Joseph Toal, who is responsible for Safeguarding on behalf of the Bishops ofScotland,has marked the publication of new national Safeguarding standards which come into force on Monday 21stMay.   In his letter, Bishop Toal commends the publication of ‘In God’s Image’, a new and extensive manual which offers comprehensive guidance and instruction on every aspect of Safeguarding in the Catholic Church.   On behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, he writes:   “Your Bishops want you to know that we aspire to the highest standards of care and protection of all, and we are committed to rebuilding trust and confidence in the ways in which we ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults are kept safe.”   The publication of these new materials marks the end of a period in which the Church has been implementing the recommendations of the McLellan Commission that reported in 2015, with rigorous oversight by an Independent Review Group chaired by Baroness Helen Liddell.   Bishop Toal states that engagement with survivors will continue to be an important task for the Church:   “For some years now, each Bishop has been meeting with survivors and will continue to do so. Given the profound and sensitive nature of this issue, such encounters take place discreetly, at times and paces suited to the needs of survivors.”   Adding:   “Through the protection and care we show to all, and through the compassion, healing and justice we offer to those who have survived abuse, we must continue to renew, rebuild and restore faith and hope in the church by offering faith and hope to one another. “   ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org     Notes to Editors:   The new manual can be viewed here:    https://ingodsimage.bcos.org.uk/      Full text of the letter sent to parishes is copied below.   Pastoral Letter for distribution to Congregations on Pentecost Sunday 2018   My Dear People,   I write, on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, to draw your attention to the publication of our Church’s new Safeguarding materials which come into force on 21stMay 2018.  These include ‘In God’s Image’, the document which offerscomprehensive guidance and instruction on every aspect of Safeguarding, including compliance with new Safeguarding standards.  This hasbeen shaped by the recent experience and developing expertise of those involved in the front line of Safeguarding in the Church, both in Scotland and internationally.In ratifying this publication, the Bishops have taken the opportunity to repeat and renew apologies made to those who have suffered any form of abuse, at any time, by anyone representing the Church.     Your Bishops want you to know that we aspire to the highest standards of care and protection of all, and we are committed to rebuilding trust and confidence in the ways in which we ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults are kept safe.  We are most grateful to the teams of Safeguarding personnel in all Dioceses and to over 9,000 trained volunteers who support the work of parishes and religious congregations across Scotland.     The publication of these materials marks the end of a period in which the Church has been working quietly, but tirelessly, to implement the recommendations of the McLellan Commission that reported in August 2015.     Since 2013 we have published annual audits of allegations reported to us each year. Last month, we also published a historical review of non-recent cases of abuse, covering the period 1943–2005. The publication of our annual audits, the historical review and our new Safeguarding materials demonstrate our ongoing commitment to openness and transparency.     We recognise, however, that pu...

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia backs ‘journalism of moral integrity’

| 10th May 2018 | Blogging

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Communications Commission of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, has written to all 500 Catholic parishes this weekend (12/13 May) to mark World Communications Day.     This year, Pope Francis has chosen ‘Truth’ as the theme of his Communications Day message and bemoaned the persistent spread of “fake news”. In his letter, based on the Pope’s theme, Archbishop Tartaglia writes:     “Pope Francis reminds us that Communication is part of God’s plan for us, allowing us to express and share all that is true, good and beautiful.”     Pope Francis has urged Catholics to:     “…contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and of rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.”     Calling on Catholics to be partners in this quest for truth Archbishop Tartaglia says: “Truth is not just a conceptual reality that regards how we judge things, defining them as true or false. Rather truth involves our whole life…it carries with it the sense of support, solidarity and trust. Journalists are called to be protectors of news and to promote the truth”     ENDS     Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org Notes to Editors 1. Full text of Archbishop Targtaglia Letter is copied below. 2. Full text of Pope Francis message for World Communications Day is copied below. My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ In his message for Communications Sunday this year, Pope Francis reminds us that Communication is part of God’s plan for us, allowing us to express and share all that is true, good, and beautiful. But he warns us, that when we yield to our own pride and selfishness, we can distort our ability to communicate. The capacity to twist the truth is a human failing. Today we are witnessing the spread of what has come to be known as “fake news”. This has caused the Pope to make truth the theme of this year’s communications message, when he urges us to: “contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and to rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.” The term “fake news” refers to the spreading of disinformation online or in the traditional media based on non-existent or distorted data designed to deceive and manipulate the reader by mimicking real news. Social networks can allow untrue stories to spread so quickly that even authoritative denials fail to contain the damage. Such disinformation can discredit and demonise while fomenting conflict and spreading arrogance and hatred. Preventing and identifying the way disinformation works calls for a profound and careful process of discernment. So how do we defend ourselves? The most radical antidote to the virus of falsehood is purification by the truth. In Christianity, truth is not just a conceptual reality that regards how we judge things, defining them as true or false. Rather, truth involves our whole life. In the Bible, it carries with it the sense of support, solidity, and trust. We discover and rediscover the truth when we experience it within ourselves in the loyalty and trustworthiness of the One who loves us. This alone can liberate us, as in the words of the Gospel according to John: "The truth will set you free". To discern the truth, we need to discern everything that encourages communion and promotes goodness. I would like to quote at length from the Pope’s message and urge you to read his text in full which is available on the website of the Catholic Media Office at www.scmo.org. The Pope says; 'The best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people...

Archbishop Leo Cushley celebrates first ever Mass in Scottish Parliament

| 28th March 2018 | Blogging

28 March 2018     Today, 28 March, at 12.30pm Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh, will celebrate what is believed to be the first ever Mass in the Scottish Parliament. All MSPs are invited to attend mass, which takes place during Holy Week.     Commenting on the occasion, Anthony Horan, Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office said:     ‘The celebration of Holy Mass, the summit of Catholic life, is an opportunity to express prayers for the work of our elected representatives and for the common good of society. Of course, Holyrood means Holy Cross, so in that sense, parliament is a most fitting place for this historic celebration.’       Archbishop Leo Cushley said:     "It is a great privilege to be officially invited to offer Holy Mass within the Scottish Parliament, the first such invitation since the parliament's re-establishment 19 years ago. It is a generous gesture which seems to recognise that Catholics are valued participants in the civic life of contemporary Scotland, where we seek to work with others in advancing the common good."      ENDS   Peter Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org       Notes to Editors: 1. Images will be available from Paul McSherry on at paul.mcsherry@ntlworld.com or 07770393960....