By DEXTER DUGGAN
A veteran British pro-life leader, John Smeaton, received standing ovations at three recent major gatherings when he called attention to “the scandal of committed pro-abortion politicians receiving the Holy Eucharist,” he told The Wanderer.
Accepting an award in early February at one of the gatherings, Smeaton called on Catholic bishops worldwide to insist that Catholic politicians publicly retract their pro-abortion positions before being allowed to receive the Eucharist.
Smeaton told The Wanderer in a February 18 e-mail:
“I have spoken about the scandal of committed pro-abortion politicians receiving the Holy Eucharist at three major gatherings over the past five months: in Ireland, at the Faith of our Fathers Conference in Kilkenny; at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria, at a meeting attended by the entire student body and academic staff; and at the Legatus convention in Orlando. On each occasion I was given a standing ovation.”
Smeaton is chief executive of the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Europe’s largest and the world’s oldest pro-life organization.
Receiving the Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award from the Pro-Life Committee of Legatus, the national Catholic business executives’ leadership organization, meeting in Orlando, Smeaton said:
“It’s an absurd rationalization to suggest that bishops speaking up clearly and categorically on the public sacrilegious reception of the Holy Eucharist is turning the sacrament into a battleground or circus, as has been claimed.”
This was a pointed reference by Smeaton to familiar excuses given for allowing prominent politicians like U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to continue receiving Communion and claiming to be practicing Catholics, even when they have long-established records of open defiance of basic, gravely serious Church moral teaching.
Smeaton’s comments had special pertinence because the national Planned Parenthood organization, the largest abortion provider in the United States, announced at the end of January that it would give Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, its highest prize, the Margaret Sanger Award, at its annual gala in Washington, D.C., on March 27, where Pelosi is scheduled to speak.
The two Catholic prelates with the most direct authority over Pelosi are Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop of her San Francisco home territory, and Donald Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., where she serves in Congress.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said the Margaret Sanger Award represents “our highest recognition of leadership, excellence, and outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and rights movement” by the recipient.
Richards added that Pelosi’s “leadership in passing the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] and her ongoing commitment ensures that the promise of the law is realized for millions of women as the greatest advancement for women’s health in a generation.”
Although Planned Parenthood tries to avoid the fact, Sanger was a dedicated eugenicist and racist who viewed humans as manipulable breeding stock.
For years, most of the U.S. bishops have declined to act against reception of the Eucharist by even the most hardened pro-abortion public figures who claim to be Catholic. Some bishops have indicated that denying the sacrament to anyone would be needlessly confrontational or lacking in love.
However, Smeaton said, if politicians had unapologetically supported and refused to retract legislation allowing the execution of priests and bishops, wouldn’t they be told not to “go forward to receive Holy Communion?
“What is the difference in God’s eyes,” he immediately added, “between the sanctity of life of a priest or a bishop or the sanctity of life of an unborn child?”
The director of a project that says it “defends and promotes the teachings of the Catholic faith in the public square” praised Smeaton’s speech.
Michael Hichborn, director of the Virginia-based American Life League’s Defend the Faith project, told The Wanderer in a February 17 e-mail:
“American Life League stands in solidarity with John Smeaton’s plea to bishops. The doctors of the Church already warn that very few are saved. How many could have been saved, but aren’t, because bishops and priests refuse to fulfill the duties of their priesthood?
“For the sake of babies, mothers, politicians, priests, and scandalized lay Catholics, we beg the bishops of the Catholic Church to obey canon 915 and deny Holy Communion to those who work toward Her destruction,” Hichborn said.
Hichborn said that Pelosi, a “notorious champion of abortion, contraception, sodomy, and oppression, is destroying herself from the inside out. And just as a man would be complicit in murder for knowingly supplying someone with the means of their own suicide, every cleric who refuses to deny Communion to Nancy Pelosi participates in her charge toward eternal damnation.
“With every sacrilegious Communion that Pelosi receives, she scourges Our Lord with the very instruments of Death that He came to conquer,” Hichborn said. “Jesus said to Pilate, ‘the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.’ So, also, do the clerics handing Him over to the polluted hearts of politicians like Nancy Pelosi have the greater sin.”
Smeaton, in his February 18 e-mail, told The Wanderer, “Last Sunday, back in my home parish, a fellow parishioner said to me that when the Blessed Sacrament is routinely not treated with reverence, ‘it changes our faith’.”
The British pro-life official added: “I think that bishops who ‘continue to mislead everyone in the U.S. that it’s possible to be a strong pro-abortionist politician and faithful Catholic at the same time,’ as you put it, are seeking to change the faith. I think the most charitable explanation as to why they’re seeking to change the faith is that they have lost the faith.”
Called To Be
In the text of his speech to Legatus that was nearly 14 single-spaced pages long, Smeaton said that “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 just passed by the Irish Parliament, must 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 targeted by wicked abortion legislation is made.”
His talk was titled, “Bishops are the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of Life” — which, Smeaton said, are words taken from Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).
Smeaton gave an overview of efforts by some of the Earth’s most powerful bodies to impose abortion on demand and other immorality throughout the world. Among these are the U.S. government under Barack Obama, the British government, and the European Union, he said.
“In a speech on October 12, 2009,” Smeaton said, “Wellington Webb, appointed by Barack Obama as special adviser to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, confirmed that the Obama administration would be promoting legalized abortion throughout the world, targeting adolescents in a worldwide abortion drive.
“Your former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, confirmed in congressional hearings, in answer to a question from Cong. Chris Smith [R., N.J.], that abortion on demand worldwide was indeed the policy of the Obama administration,” Smeaton continued.
“It’s also the policy of the British administration…and of the European Union.”
Recalling the imperial past of Western governments to dictate to other nations, Smeaton said: “Neocolonialism is not dead on the part of the U.S. and British governments — pushing for abortion, a crime against humanity and the greatest possible crime against children, throughout the world.”
There’s also “an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to destroy conscientious objection on abortion and on other right-to-life issues,” he said, as well as “to destroy parental rights over their children’s education and formation.”
Ireland’s recently passed abortion law, he said, “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.”
Obamacare’s requirement that individuals fund contraception, sterilization, and abortion, despite their conscientious objection, is part of the same fabric, he said.
The refusal of physicians to perform legal abortions can be viewed at the UN as discrimination against women, Smeaton said.
Earlier in his talk, Smeaton said: “The moral principles regarding the sanctity of human life exist prior to, and separately from, the Catholic Church. They are moral principles inscribed in the hearts of all men and women and, indeed, they are written into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Abortion is not a crime against humanity because the Catholic Church says so,” he said. “It’s a crime against humanity because our ordinary human reason says so.
“However, here at the Legatus convention in Orlando, I will draw unashamedly from the teachings of the Catholic Church which guard and defend the moral law on the sanctity of human life and its transmission,” Smeaton said.
Later, he said that no matter how hardworking, well-informed, blessed and strong the pro-life movement may be, it “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,” Smeaton said. “Tragically, some of the most pernicious influences where legal abortion is concerned come from officials within the Catholic Church.”
Smeaton immediately identified an Irish emeritus professor of moral theology who’s a priest as having published an influential article, while the Irish abortion legislation was being considered, that said a Catholic legislator could come to his or her own moral conclusion about which way to vote on it.
Silence, or equivocal or half-hearted words, about the pro-life issue by the Church “simply will not do,” Smeaton said.
“If it were Catholic priests or Jews who were being killed, or threatened with being killed, by national laws in Britain or in other parts of the world,” he said, “would we expect, any day of the week, ever to enter a Catholic church for Mass without the matter being mentioned, or being prayed about at that Mass?
“Would we not be denouncing, and rightly denouncing, the killing of Catholic priests or Jews in every pulpit of the world — notwithstanding the past sins and scandals associated with members of the Catholic Church?”
He said the words “Winter has passed,” taken from the Old Testament’s “Song of Songs,” “should be the motto of pro-life Catholics today.
“God’s Frozen People, the Catholic laity throughout the world, must start burning with righteous indignation, calling openly and respectfully and in a spirit of dialogue with their bishops to get out there, to preach the Gospel of Life, take the lead, protect the Holy Eucharist from those who openly seek to destroy the Body of Christ in the body of unborn children, protect and assist parents in seeking to educate and protect their children from the Obama-style politicians and ideologues in different professions who seek to destroy them,” Smeaton said. “Winter is over.”
Silence And Inaction
Last summer, when Pelosi flaunted her pro-abortion stand at her June 13 Washington news conference, Hichborn, the Defend the Faith project director, told The Wanderer:
“Given her scandalous and forceful promotion of abortion in all cases, all forms of birth control, the perversion of the souls of children through pornographic sex education, and her full support for homosexual activity, if bishops do not courageously and unwaveringly deny her the reception of Holy Communion, by their silence and inaction they will consign her soul to an eternity of Hell while seriously imperiling their own.”
Pelosi’s bishops haven’t acted publicly against her since then.