LEEDS, England, NOV. 16, 2001 (Zenit.org).- At their wide-ranging plenary assembly, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales reiterated their strong opposition to human cloning.
The meeting also addressed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the situation in the Holy Land, and the Nolan Report on the sexual abuse of children. The assembly ended Thursday.
Archbishop Peter Smith strongly urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to revise the decision to authorize the cloning of human embryos because, he said, human cloning “even for therapeutic purposes, involves the deliberate creation and destruction of new human lives.”
His plea came hours after a ruling by the British High Court reopening the debate on human cloning. The court stated that the present law does not regulate cloning.
Archbishop Smith also made a submission to the House of Lords in the case of Dianne Pretty case, a grave ill patient who is seeking assisted euthanasia.
In the documents, which the House of Lords will study before making a decision, Archbishop Smith emphasizes Catholics´ conviction that “we do not have absolute dominion over our lives, which are a divine gift.”
Quoting Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Archbishop Smith explained that the “dignity of the human person is incompatible with the view that ´life is not worth living.´”
If the Lords decide to legalize Pretty´s assisted suicide, euthanasia would be introduced in the United Kingdom. Any “legal permission of assistance in suicide would only result in massive erosion of the rights of the vulnerable,” the archbishop warned.
The bishops also expressed their concern over the tensions between Christians and Muslims arising in British society because of the war in Afghanistan.
“The bishops emphasize the need for all religions to reassert their search for justice and peace; they acknowledge the efforts of those Muslim leaders who have declared that religious belief can never be expressed by violence,” an episcopal statement reads.
The bishops appeal to the faithful to contribute generously to the collection of funds for aid to Afghanistan, to pray for peace, and to fast, if possible, during Ramadan, as a sign of solidarity with Muslims.
Regarding the Holy Land, after expressing their sympathy for the suffering of Israelis and Palestinians, the bishops emphasized: “Resolutions of the United Nations remain the necessary basis for justice in the region, and for the secure peace of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
“In particular,” they added, “the illegal Occupation needs to be brought speedily to an end. Otherwise the appropriation of territory by force will have been successfully consolidated.”
“It is essential that Jerusalem be a city fully open to the peoples of two nations and three faiths,” the prelates said.
In regard to the Nolan Report, which attempts to avoid cases of pederasty in the Catholic Church, the bishops say that a national unit for the protection of children is almost complete. Its director will be appointed next month.