Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Pro-lifers dismayed by UK bishops

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 09, 2005

Ekklesia reports a clash between SPUC (Britain's main pro-life organization) and Catholic bishops regarding a relief program.

A split has opened up between the Catholic church and a pro-life group over the BBC's fundraising initiative Comic Relief.

A Catholic bishop assured parishioners today that they could support Comic Relief suggesting that a ban on the fundraising effort over cash for abortions which was publicised at the weekend was based on a misunderstanding. Bishop Mark Jabale, of the West Wales Diocese of Menevia, said the church had been assured that funds raised would not go to groups supporting abortion.

So here's the deal. An organization that, inter alia, funds groups that support abortion has assured the Church that, in this case, the funds raised will not go to groups that support abortion. The bishops, in turn, assure the faithful that the organization is to be trusted.

The Bishop was forced to speak out after it was suggested that pupils in Catholic schools across the diocese had been banned from taking part. Comic Relief is a member of the Make Poverty History campaign, which includes many Christian groups and agencies.

Oxfam's webpage for the Make Poverty History campaign sidesteps the abortion issue, employing cagey language about "women's health," "basic medical services," and the like. The aggressive pro-condom approach to AIDS prevention suggests we're in hostile territory, though.

But the Bishop's statement assured Catholics that they need have no fear about taking part in Friday's fundraising festivities. He said: "Comic Relief has assured the Bishops Conference of England and Wales that they would be willing to hand over their books to us to check, so that we could see that they do not support any abortion projects. I want to reassure parishioners that they can give money to Comic Relief without worrying that any funds would be given to support something contrary to Catholic teaching."

I never understood this shell game, even with regard to the United Fund. Who cares whether MPH reaches into the common kitty with the right hand or the left hand to pay for abortions, provided the abortions take place at the directors' discretion? If I relieve the stress on their water purification program by my donation, it frees up so much money to send abortionosts to Uganda -- and, moreover, I've helped lend the outfit a veneer of moral respectability ("We can be anti-life if orthodox Catholics contribute...") that it doesn't deserve.

However, the pro-life group The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has expressed outrage that the Catholic Church is urging Catholics to support the forthcoming appeal. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, said: "We are very disappointed and saddened by the statement on Comic Relief made by the Catholic Communications Service on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales and the Bishop of Menevia."

Well, based on the SPUC statement, "outrage" is somewhat exaggerated, but exasperation is clearly audible.

"[The pro-abortion organization Reproductive Health Alliance Europe] has four trustees. These include three senior figures -- the president and two directors -- of the US group EngenderHealth, one of America’s leading pro-abortion/reproductive health organisations."

"Whilst Comic Relief claims that its funds are not used to support abortions, and they have even offered to hand over their books to the Catholic bishops in support of their claim, the fact is that Comic Relief allocated an enormous grant of over a quarter of million pounds to the strongly pro-abortion organisation Reproductive Health Alliance Europe in the year 2001-2002" John Smeaton said.

If Comic Relief were the only means available for channeling money to distressed areas, grudging approval by the bishops might at least be comprehensible. The fact that there are many relief organizations (including Catholic ones) wholly consonant with Church teaching makes their positive enthusiasm all the more strange.

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