Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, sent a pastoral message to Catholics in England and Wales on Tuesday encouraging them to write their Ministers of Parliament about pending legislation that would expand human embryo research, remove regulations on fertility treatments, and possibly liberalize abortion laws.
“Many people of all faiths and none are deeply concerned by the moral questions raised by this Bill,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor wrote.
The cardinal also pointed to the fact that the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill would allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research. He also warned that it also would remove a provision requiring those who administer in-vitro fertilization treatments to consider the child’s need for a father.
The bill states that lesbian "partners" may both be named on birth certificates as legal parents. The legislation being forwarded to the House of Commons also will make it possible for homosexual partners to demand treatments to produce a child as a "right." Male “partners” will also be able to apply for the legal status of parents of a child carried by a surrogate.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor called on people to write or visit their MP to voice their concern about the bill.
“Now is the time for our voices to be heard,” he wrote.
MPs, the cardinal said, should be asked to support amendments to the bill to limit embryo research and to recognize the need for children to have knowledge of their biological father.
He suggested that Members of Parliament should request a “free vote” freeing legislators from party mandates on parts of the bill dealing with “fundamental issues of personal conscience.”
“Taking action on this pressing issue now helps to remind us that our 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,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill has already passed the House of Lords and will soon be debated in the House of Commons.