Join the fight against gendercide
Last November MPs voted 181-1 in favour of explicitly banning abort ion on grounds of gender. According to the Daily Telegraph, it was “one of the most overwhelming majorities ever seen in the Commons”. Why did MPs need to debate something that most people – not just Catholics – find abhorrent? We can trace the answer back to a fine piece of investigative journalism by the Telegraph in 2012, which suggested it was relatively easy to obtain an abortion in Britain because the unborn child was the “wrong sex”.
Two unsettling phrases explain why anyone would seek to do such a thing. The first is “son preference”: a strong prejudice against girls found among some immigrant communities in Britain. The second is “family balancing”, whereby often well-off parents seek a supposedly ideal number of sons and daughters.
The Government believes sex selective abortion is already illegal. But both the British Medical Association and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (an abortion provider) thinks otherwise. That is why Conservative MP Fiona Bruce introduced her Bill clarifying the law last November. But despite MPs’ overwhelming support, the Government is unmoved. “I have been baffled and deeply disappointed by the unwilling-
It must be clear that there is no place for sex-selective abortion in our country ness of the Government to take seriously this issue and take appropriate action,” Mrs Bruce wrote last week.
Encouraged by last November’s vote, she is now seeking an explicit ban on the practice through an amendment to the Government’s Serious Crime Bill. If MPs approve the amendment, it will be
“fast tracked” on to the statute book, making it clear there is no place for sex-selective abortion in Britain.
But Mrs Bruce, chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, needs your help. She is asking you to write to your MP now in support of her amendment (you can do this easily via the website stopgendercide.org).
A ban on gender abortion is not, of course, the supreme goal of the pro-life movement. The Catholic Church teaches that all abortions are morally wrong and we must defend the dignity of every single unborn human being.
But we should support excellent initiatives such as Mrs Bruce’s. For they force abortion’s defenders to confront this question: if aborting a child on gender grounds is wrong, then how can it be right for any other reason?
By forcing society to face this question we can begin to build the enviable momentum we see in America, in favour of a civilisation that cherishes the lives of every unborn boy and girl.
What we share with Bishop Lane
For the first time in English history, the abbreviation “Rt Rev” can now be attached to the name of a woman. On Monday, Libby Lane became the first woman bishop in the Church of England. The Guardian welcomed the move. “The Church of England will be cheered as well as enriched by her promotion,” it said – predictably and perhaps a little presumptuously, given that newspaper’s hostility to institutional Christianity. Yet there is no reason why Catholics should not congratulate Bishop Lane, who takes over the suffragan see of Stockport.
This may seem a strange thing to say, but let us explain. In 1992, the Church of England’s General Synod voted in favour of women priests. In doing so, it confirmed that it rejected the Catholic interpretation of priestly ministry, which we believe is reserved to men by nothing less than the will of God. Blessed Paul VI declared this authoritatively in a letter to the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Donald Coggan, in 1975. St John Paul II further announced, in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis of 1994, that debate on this matter inside the Catholic Church is henceforth closed. The teaching of Christ, safeguarded by the Magisterium, can not be altered by any synod.
Bishop Lane holds an office which, thanks to the misfortunes of history, exists outside the sacramental ministry of Christianity. We can say this with a far greater confidence than we can of Anglican male priests and bishops, some of whom may possess orders recognised by the Catholic Church by virtue of a non-Anglican line of consecration; hence the decision by Cardinal Basil Hume to ordain Dr Graham Leonard, former Bishop of London, “conditionally”, allowing for the possibility that he might already be in valid orders. What also needs to be said, however, is that Libby Lane is now an important Christian leader with whom the Church can and should work in spreading the Gospel. As Pope Francis never tires of reminding us, what unites Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants is greater than what divides them. Bishop Lane has a new and prominent pulpit from which to proclaim the news of salvation; we look forward to hearing her do so – and, more than that, to joining her in praise of our Saviour.
CATHOLIC HERALD, JANUARY 30 2015 3