Bishops—The First Ones Called to Preach the Gospel of Life | John Smeaton | CWR
A pro-life leader in the UK calls on bishops worldwide to throw their support behind efforts to strengthen a Culture of Life.
Editor’s Note: The following was delivered as an address to the Catholic leadership organization Legatus at its annual summit in Orlando on February 8.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have worked in the pro-life movement for 40 years, for 39 years at the national level in the United Kingdom for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the first pro-life group to be established anywhere in the world, and the largest pro-life group in Europe. For 36 of those 39 years I have worked for the pro-life movement on a full-time basis, from 1978 as SPUC’s general secretary, and from 1996 till now as the Society’s chief executive. SPUC was formed in 1966, six years before Roe v. Wade, and one before 1967, when abortion was legalized in Britain. At the ripe old age of 16, I studied, briefly, for the priesthood in Ireland, in the Salesian novitiate of County Meath, but decided that my calling lay elsewhere. Sixteen years later, in London, I met Josephine Clarke, who, with most of her 14 brothers and sisters, grew up in County Meath, to which we returned for our honeymoon in 1984. We have four children and five grandchildren, we live in north London, and I am overjoyed and so grateful to Legatus that Josephine could be with me for this great convention.
Today, I wish to offer a perspective on the current world situation on abortion and the role of Catholic Church officials through experiences from our side of the “pond,” including our experience in Ireland, which you may wish to compare and contrast with the situation in your own bailiwick.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was formed in 1966 to campaign against the legalization of abortion by statute in Britain. Over the decades, we have also mounted major campaigns against abortion in Ireland and in the European institutions, the European Union and the Council of Europe. Like you in the US, we have achieved some extraordinary successes, and saved many lives; and we have also experienced terrible setbacks involving deeply disturbing advances in the culture of death. These campaigns have opened our eyes to other related evils and injustices, such as euthanasia, assisted suicide, corrupting sex education in schools, and, recently, same-sex marriage.
In certain quarters, I know that associating the issue of same-sex marriage with abortion is frowned upon.