Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the highest ranking prelate in Scotland, spoke out strongly against the evils of abortion this afternoon. He also issued a warning to Catholic politicians, as well as any Catholic, who in any way cooperates in encouraging or allowing abortion.
The occasion for the cardinal’s address was the 40 year anniversary of the passage of the 1967 abortion act in Scotland, which legalized abortion.
Noting how today’s reading comes from the feast of the Visitation, the cardinal urged his flock to adopt Mary’s attitude of accepting new life with joy.
“The joy of that meeting holds out to us the message of delight that should accompany every pregnancy. With every life conceived God acts directly to create a new and unique human being, a person destined to life everlasting.”
However, the opposite reaction is often how people welcome news of an unplanned pregnancy, said O’Brien.
The leader of the Church in Scotland detailed how the legalization of abortion has marred the country. “In those 40 years the loss of life has been staggering. Around 7 million lives have been ended as a consequence of that one piece of legislation…the scale of the killing is beyond our grasp. In Scotland we kill the equivalent of a classroom full of school children every day.”
The prelate also lamented the way that the 1967 law was presented. “We were told that backstreet abortions were killing women and had to be decriminalised. We were told abortion would only be used in extreme cases. We were told medical scrutiny would be rigorous. We were told a pack of lies and misinformation masquerading as compassion and truth.”
The Cardinal said that he is concerned not only with the lives that have been lost, but also with the lives being led by the members of his flock.
Speaking to politicians he said, “I speak most especially to those who claim to be Catholic. I ask them to examine their consciences and discern if they are playing any part in sustaining this social evil. I remind them to avoid cooperating in the unspeakable crime of abortion and the barrier such cooperation erects to receiving Holy Communion. As St. Paul warns us “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”
O’Brien concluded by exhorting Christians to work to build a society that does not tolerate attacks on innocent and defenseless life. He also noted signs of hope in the battle to protect life, “earlier this month it was reported that many doctors are no longer willing to cooperate in abortion. They know, better than most, the humanity of the unborn.”