Bishops speak out in support of pro-life vigils
19 February 2018
Bishop Sherrington preaching on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act
A clear and strong statement in a time of attack.
Bishop John Sherrington, an auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, has spoken out in defence of pro-life vigils in front of abortion clinics.
On the day that the Home Office consultation on "harassment and intimidation outside abortion clinics" closes to the public, Bishop Sherrington, the bishop with responsibility for the Day for Life, said that the "introduction of 'buffer zones' carries with it the danger of both denying freedom of expression and fostering intolerance towards legitimate opinions which promote the common good."
Last day to respond to the consultation!
Providing true choice
In his response to the review, Bishop Sherrington made clear that people take part in vigils because of a desire to help mothers and children. "There are members of the public, often associated with churches, who gather peacefully to pray outside abortion clinics and witness to the good of human life in a dignified way," he said. "They do so because of their fundamental belief in the protection of unborn life and the good of the mother.
"The offering of leaflets is part of helping to inform women who might not have had impartial information before. There are also those who offer practical alternatives and assistance if a woman wants to make a different choice."
Freedom of expression
Bishop Sherrington also defended the right to peaceful protest. "In a democratic society the freedom to protest and express one’s opinion is always to be considered in relation to the common good. It should not be necessary to limit the freedom of individuals or groups to express opinions except when they could cause grave harm to others or a threat to public order. There are already proportionate means in current legislation to deal with these situations."
John Smeaton, Chief Executive Officer of SPUC, thanked Bishop Sherrington for his leadership at this crucial time. "As the campaign from the abortion lobby to impose buffer zones escalates, and attacks on pro-lifers get more and more virulent, this clear and strong statement from Bishop Sherrington is extremely helpful," he said. "Not only does he defend the democratic rights of many Catholics and others of goodwill to witness to the sanctity of life, he shows a sensitive pastoral concern to the people they are trying to reach - mothers in need."
The bishops also spoke out this weekend against Government plans for an opt-out system of organ donation.