Prelate Urges Pro-Life Work at Home First

Says Parliamentarians Won’t Be Persuaded if Coworkers Aren’t

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GLASGOW, Scotland, OCT. 27, 2008 ( Cardinal Keith O’Brien has a message for pro-life workers: Promote a culture of life at home, at work and in society, going beyond efforts just to reach legislators.

This is one of the key points of a message the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland, gave Saturday to the annual conference of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

In his address the cardinal noted how this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

«We gather at this conference today, in commemoration of that important 60th anniversary,» he wrote. «But ironically and more importantly we gather in memory of the hundreds of millions of lives around the world that give mute testimony to the fact that this elaborate system of human rights law has failed most miserably in defending the most basic of all of these rights: the right to life.

«The harsh reality is that the noble words of so many high blown declarations have been matched with a barbaric indifference to the rights of the unborn.»

Noting the continuing progress of U.K. anti-life laws, notably the Wednesday approval of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill, Cardinal O’Brien affirmed «the forces of darkness have distorted the laws and consciences in our nation and that our situation is now worse than ever.»

As a direct consequence of Wednesday’s vote, he said, «the value of human life will be eroded even further in the United Kingdom.»

Real roots

Nevertheless, the Scottish prelate affirmed, the solution to the culture of death is not just behind the walls of Parliament.

«I ask you to realize that we cannot rely on the law to save us from our troubles,» he wrote. «The problem is more profound than that. We live now under the shadow of a problem, which is to a great extent spiritual. The descent of our society into the culture of death has come as we’ve increasingly pushed God to the periphery of our lives and the collective consciousness of our nations.

«We can of course rail against the failures of our Parliamentarians, in Europe, in London or in Edinburgh. We can apportion blame and lament inaction, but we must also recognize that those elected by us, in our name, for the most part reflect the society from which they come. They support abortion because society supports abortion, they support embryo experiments because society supports embryo experiments and they support the genetic testing and potential discarding of the unborn because society does. Our fight, our battle — your quarrel — should not therefore be solely with the elected but with the electorate.»

Cardinal O’Brien contended that it is the «underlying values that must change first before the laws will follow, not the other way round. Yes of course the legislative agenda is important and it cannot be neglected but neither should the very pressing social agenda.»

Thus, the prelate affirmed, «passing on a pro-life culture surely must begin in our families, but it must grow from there to our neighborhoods and communities, our workmates and colleagues. If those we live beside and work beside don’t know we campaign in defense of life, if we don’t at least attempt to persuade them of the merits of our case whenever the opportunity arises — the people we meet and greet and spend so much time with every day — then what chance do we imagine we might have with a remote Parliamentarian and a postcard?»

«The world is groaning under the misery of wars and division,» Cardinal O’Brien continued. «Our human rights campaigners are astonished that torture and oppression remain despite their protestations for a fairer world. They have lost sight of the deep root of evil that has been bedded in any system that justifies abortions; they are unaware that its poison tarnishes all our other noble aspirations.»

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