A call to bishops on behalf of unborn



The following comes from an address to the Catholic leadership organization Legatus at its annual summit in Orlando on Feb. 8 by John Smeaton, executive director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (U.K.).

….Dear members of Legatus, when our Catholic bishops show courage in defending our families, not least in the face of the new homosexual rights agenda tyranny, we must not be slow in thanking them, defending them and working with them to remain strong in our children’s defense.

But neither must we be slow in insisting that bishops be appointed who will uphold the teaching of the Church, who will oppose the wholesale killing of children in the womb, who will defend and assist parents in protecting the innocence of their born children.

Here is a good point to bring up the heartbreaking situation in Ireland, with which I know many in America are deeply concerned.

In July of last year, the Irish government introduced catastrophic abortion legislation into that country, a country which, with strong support from SPUC over the decades, has staunchly and bravely resisted such anti-life laws whilst all around it other countries—in particular my own—caved into the abortionists.

In 2011, 84 percent of the population in Ireland identified themselves as Catholic. How in Ireland, in Catholic Ireland, has legislation been passed which is amongst the most extreme in the world?

The Irish government’s abortion legislation, which was passed last July by the Irish parliament by 127 votes to 31, strips the right to life from children before, and even during, birth in a broad range of circumstances. Threats to the life of the mother need not be inevitable or immediate. It compels medical personnel to participate in abortion in some ways, while offering no protection to other professionals who may be involved in the abortion process. It compels maternity hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions.

There is nothing in this legislation, including the suicide provision [section 9], that would rule out the aborting of the unborn from implantation to birth; there is nothing in it to rule out even partial birth abortion….

When we’re working at our best, pro-life organizations often punch way above our weight in terms of the human resources available to us. But we cannot defeat the culture of death on our own. Pro-life organizations and the wider community must be fortified by unequivocal, unyielding voices of Catholic Church officials and bishops throughout the world.

That these vital voices are not always forthcoming is a continual disappointment.  But what is worse is that authorities within the Catholic Church can sometimes aid and abet legalized abortion.  Let me give you an example.

A key figure in the Republic of Ireland is Father Patrick Hannon, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.  He wrote an article which was published in time for the passage of the Irish abortion law in the July/August 2013 edition of The Furrow, “a monthly journal for the contemporary [Catholic] Church…[which]…enjoys an international reputation as a courageous and impartial forum for discussing the challenges facing the Church today and of the resources available to meet them.” On its website, The Furrow tells us it “was founded in 1950 at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare by the late J.G. McGarry, a professor in the College, and it continues as a vibrant voice for renewal of the Church across the world.”

Now, the July/August 2013 edition of The Furrow would have been read widely by priests and bishops in Ireland in the days and weeks prior to the passage of Ireland’s pro-abortion legislation. This is worth noting because in referring to the legislation, Father Hannon’s article concluded: “A legislator who is a Catholic, and who wishes to honor the legacy of Catholic tradition in these grave matters, is both obliged and free to examine each side of the argument and come to his or her own conclusions about what human rights and the common good require at this time.”  Here is a green light for a Catholic politician to vote in favor of legalized abortion.

Father Hannon’s position is contrary to Catholic teaching and to the sources he cites to support his position.  The Reverend Father Dr. John Fleming, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, remarks upon three particularly disturbing lapses in Father Hannon’s article: Hannon confuses the moral opinions of some, such as the proportionalist Father McCormick, with official Church teaching.  He distorts the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas by selective quotations. He ignores the stated position of the Magisterium on the duties of a Catholic politician.

In fine, Father Hannon sets up the teaching of the Catholic Church against secular authorities that disagree with Church teaching and then concludes that the Catholic politician is free to make up his or her own mind.  Moreover, he suggests, without argumentation, that a Catholic politician is honoring “the legacy of Catholic tradition in these grave matters” by making up his or her own mind on the abortion issue.  It is contrary to reason to claim that one is honoring the legacy of Catholic tradition by repudiating the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium, by deferring to other opinions that violate the right to life of unborn children.

If Father Hannon’s unfortunate statements helped pave the way for the recent pro-abortion legislation in Ireland, silence has also played a part.  And silence includes equivocal or half-hearted words, in the face of the daily slaughter, the maiming of mothers’ and fathers’ lives: the silence and equivocation that we have seen for the most part on the part of the Irish bishops over the past 40 years as Irish mothers have travelled to Britain for abortion.  Now, in the spirit of friendly dialogue, I implore all Catholic bishops throughout the world to speak out clearly and categorically that politicians who vote for and publicly support abortion legislation such as that which has just been passed by the Irish Parliament publicly retract and refute the position they have adopted before receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, in whose image every unborn child assailed by the abortion legislation is made.

Here I should like to applaud the strength and witness of Cardinal Raymond Burke, honored by Legatus in 2012 with the Cardinal John J. O’Connor Award, who has spoken out consistently in defense of the Holy Eucharist—and not without huge cost to himself; and many other bishops in the US who have done the same, as well as a small handful of courageous Catholic bishops in Britain….

To read the entire address, click here.




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  1. Father Karl says:

    To me, it is a grave scandal when the sheep have to tell the bishops how to enforce life issues. But then, it was St. Catherine of Sienna who advised the Pope what to do. Bishops are supposed to be manly enough to do the right thing, but for over 40 years now, they seem to have no fortitude in regards to traditional values, but they are very fierce in defending modern/Marxist ideas.

  2. Steve Phoenix says:

    The real test of opposition to abortion is when the bishop of the diocese consistently appears on the street publicly opposing abortion mills in their own diocese. For example, Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, within 3 days of being named bishop and coming to his diocese, was protesting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Phoenix. It was amazing. The previous bishop had never done that in his two decades of leadership. Everyone, especially in the media, knew immediately where Olmsted stood. Each Bishop can do this and show visibly and forcefully that he opposes abortion. imagine if Pope Francis did that in his own diocese in Rome. Please note those who have not done that yet. We might need to invite them.

  3. The new legislation in Ireland was in respond to a female doctor from India who died in an Irish hospital after the hospital physicians refused to conduct an abortion to save her life because it conflicted with Irish law that if the fetus had a heartbeat then it must be protected, even if the mother would die as a result (which she did). Public opinion in Ireland and throughout the world was overwhelmingly outraged at this situation, and the Irish government immediately took steps with new legislation to ensure it never happened again. Sadly, the author of this article decided not to mention this case, completely ignoring the facts of how this new law came into being.

    P.S. The majority of Catholics in the US have shown strong support for abortion in cases where the actual life of the mother is at stake. Notice the Irish parliament, dominated by Catholics, passed this new legislation by a lopsided margin. The Irish public, too, know when a wrong has been committed during a time of tragic pain and loss for this deceased pregnant woman, and urged their elected leaders to correct it. Also, Catholic Church credibility in Ireland has sunk so low due to the sex abuse scandal there that it has lost the ability to lecture the faithful about much of anything.

    • If you really wanted to support a “good cause” you would fight for making abortion an illegal procedure here and around the world. The so called “freedom” to kill one’s child in the womb has harmed millions upon millions of women around the world. Apparently it is easier for you to “care” about a “single” woman as opposed to really caring about “millions” of women?

      Of course, you have fellow catholics here, as well as, in Ireland who support your position. Our world is suffering greatly because of this misguided compassion.

    • You are mistaken. The case of Savita Halappanar was not even germane to abortion. Mrs. Halappanar was 17 weeks pregnant but the pregnancy was not the cause of death. A urinary tract infection caused sepsis to set in. The infection was not treated in a timely and effectual fashion. An abortion would not have saved her life, what she required was a strong dosage of appropriate antibiotics. She died of a systemic blood infection and ironically, an abortion would have been counter indicated in treatment of a patient in her condition. What happened here with the abortion rhetoric was a case of misrepresentation. The husband made an accusation based on faulty understanding of his wife’s illness and death. Her death was most definitely caused by a medical misdiagnosis and constituted malpractice. Abortion hit the headlines because the proabortion coalition thought it was a banner case for their cause. When the details of her autopsy became known, they neither retracted their story nor sought to clarify. Burying the truth with Mrs. Halappanar served them quite well as people continue to repeat the false story. There are many abortion horror stories but I will warrant you are not interested in hearing them.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      So called “good cause”,

      Please stop calling yourself that, unless you mean that a good cause can be determined by a public vote. By the way, Our Lord was condemned by a public vote. Would you have been one of that public that voted “crucify Him”? I see that as a valid question that should make you at least pause before writing such non-Catholic dribble!

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

    • First of all it is not “Irish law that if the fetus had a heartbeat then it must be protected, even if the mother would die as a result”, and if you are going to comment on the tragic event of the Indian woman’s death in Ireland, you at least ought to know that much. It is Irish law that any procedure necessary to save the mother’s life must be carried out even if it would result in the unintended but unavoidable death of the fetus. That law has guided physicians in Ireland for a very long time and procedures are carried out in accordance with it whenever they are necessary, which, fortunately turns out to rather infrequent.

      Second the commissions examining the Savita Halapanavar (the lady who died) case found no evidence that denial of an abortion was a factor in causing her death. In their findings they never mentioned abortion and in their recommendations they made no mention of making changes in the abortion laws that existed. The fact is the laws governing abortion allowed for any medical procedure to save her life. The pro abortion forces in Ireland did not draw any honest motivation from Savita’s case.

      Third, the portion of the “new legislation” recently passed into law that pro lifers (and anyone with common sense) object to is the portion that allows for abortion for suicidal ideations. If a pregnant woman says she will commit suicide if she does not get an abortion then the law says she must get one. Everyone know how manipulable such a law is. It amounts to abortion on demand, as was shown in New York state back in the pre Roe v. Wade days. Abortion is not a remedy for suicidal ideation as is well known. In fact, abortion statistically increases the risk of suicide in women, as many experts pointed out. It is irresponsible of the Irish government to expose disturbed women to greater risk in this manner.

  4. Steve Phoenix says:

    “The majority of Catholics in the US have shown strong support for abortion in cases where the actual life of the mother is at stake.”—Good Cause
    ???? Uh, it has never been Catholic moral teaching that the life of the mother is “expendable”, as NARAL would have you believe, for the life of the child. If the principle of double-effect is properly applied (i.e., there is not a deliberate operation to cause the loss of the unborn child, but due to a vital operation on behalf of the mother, that loss is a “secondary effect,” such as the removal of an ectopic pregnancy), a morally valid surgical procedure may ensue and the mother’s life will be saved. A similar situation may occur where there is a malignantly cancerous growth in the uterus region.
    However this whole word-play is false— that “the actual life of the mother is at stake.” Every pregnancy has risks and almost every gestation period might be considered a threat to the life of the mother. Planned Parenthood advises ALL their intake patients to undergo abortion, heedless of the risks of the abortion procedure.
    NARAL and for that matter, Good Cause, uses the image of the “deceased pregnant woman”(her words) as a stalking horse against pro-life adherents to make them look callous and vicious: until, in the interest of equal protection of life, you try to show them the dead discarded infants in the surgical bio-hazard trash. Then we are accused of violence and cruel insensitivity!

  5. Linda Maria says:

    I believe the entire reason for this IGNORANT problem of support for abortion, is the church’s consistent FAILURE to teach the clergy (in seminaries) and Catholic lay people and their children, their Faith and Morals, since Vatican II!! The Church also has consistently refused to enforce Church discipline, in serious maters of Faith and Morals, since Vatican II!! Worse– there seems to be no change in sight, with Pope Francis! WHY?

    • Tired of these regulars says:

      That is not true! Who started Vatican II? The people before Vatican II. So stop blaming it on that! If you ask me, you are part of the problem. As I recall it was a saint that blamed all these problems on modernism. Modernism started before Vatican II. NOW Leave Pope Francis out of this! God forgive you for making such statements! It is scandal!

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