SPUC to praise bishops' stand against embryo bill
25 April 2008
SPUC to praise bishops' stand against embryo bill London, Friday, 25 April 2008 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) is due to praise church leaders for opposing the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill.
John Smeaton, SPUC national director, will tomorrow address a Family Life International conference in south London .
He will say: "Church leaders are courageously standing up and being counted on this bill. Some commentators have criticised them for interfering in the political process, but those providing moral insight cannot afford to fall silent when politicians propose evil laws. Tensions of this kind have many historic precedents, but most people recognise and support the right and duty of religious leaders to criticise politicians who promote immoral policies. There is no doubt about the negative moral purpose of the HFE bill or the impact it will have on human embryos. "It has been suggested that the Catholic hierarchy in particular is trying to control the votes of Catholic MPs. However, if an action (whether public or private) is incompatible with the Christian faith, surely church leaders must be free to point this out. Those who call this interference or controlling fail to recognise that the moral law cannot be confined only to certain spheres of activity. Morality has a universal jurisdiction." Calls for Christians to act against the bill were prominent in a number of statements. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, used his Easter Sunday sermon to attack the bill in uncompromising terms. Anglican Bishop Tom Wright of Durham and Catholic Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster also spoke out at their major Easter services against the abuses in the bill. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, urged Catholics in his diocese to register their concerns about the bill with their MPs and press for amendments to limit embryo research. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, in his Lenten pastoral message, said: "Christian witness can never just be personal but involves us too as citizens committed to serving the common good of society and to upholding the human dignity of all." Bishop O'Donoghue called on his people to "pray, protest and petition your Member of Parliament" against experiments on human embryos. Cardinal O'Brien framed his comments in a call to "be missionaries" with the message of upholding the right to life of the human embryo. Anglican Bishop David Urquhart of Birmingham said: "I fully back the views expressed by the Catholic Church leaders. The Church's role in this debate is to provide moral insight." John Smeaton will also say tomorrow: "SPUC supports church leaders' right to speak out on ethical principles. The churches cannot uphold truth and justice and remain silent when these principles are abused by those in power. "The strength of the church leaders' statements is justified by the seriousness of the threats to human life and human dignity. They are an appropriate response to a determined government that insists it will 'get its business through'. The government - like previous governments - disregards its duty to protect unborn subjects, and instead promotes and funds the use of embryos in research. The church leaders' comments reflect the appalling and inhumane approach of the government which is now seeking to extend these abuses even further. "We thank God for these leaders' courage in speaking out in defence of some of society's most vulnerable people. With their help, we can work to defeat this bill."