Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

the debate that dare not speak its name

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 02, 2005

A columnist named Fraser Nelson in The Scotsman pays tribute to Pope John Paul's role in championing the Gospel of Life, and ponders the strange European silence in the face of killing.

Yet this issue [sc. defense of life against euthanasia] is, in Britain, strangely unpolitical. No political party is prepared to champion it. Even in the stem-cell research debate four years ago, there were no speeches in opposition. Instead, a list of (mainly Catholic) MPs quietly voted against. They included heavyweight names such as John Reid and Ruth Kelly. But neither made speeches about it: this is the debate that dare not speak its name in the Commons. ...

Baroness Warnock, a Labour peer who helped to frame British policy on embryo research, said two months ago that the elderly may consider killing themselves so as "not to be a nuisance" to their relatives. There was no outrage.

To Americans, this is staggering: abortion and euthanasia are explosive subjects which divide the nation. George W Bush won an election on such themes: why don't they create any moral ripples in Britain? Europeans, some argue, have a more sophisticated relativism than Americans. For whatever reason, the "moral" arguments which electrify America don't make so much as a spark in Britain. So the Catholic Church has taken on the role of official opposition.

Other Christian groups and Muslims are vocal in this debate. But John Paul II has made the Catholic Church the lead player with his signature theme: life begins at conception, and its early termination is an offence -- in any circumstances.

The Pope calls this his "Gospel of Life", and contrasts it to a "Culture of Death" which he diagnoses in the West. ... At each question raised by science, the Pope's answer has been uncompromising: never give up on life. When Parkinson's struck, it should have ended his campaigning there and then, forcing him to retreat into infirmity. The Pope made his disease reorientate his entire papacy, putting himself up as a living example of the message he had been espousing.

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