Cardinal Sin of Not Listening to Women

Article excerpt

Byline: COLETTE DOUGLAS HOME

Abortion is something I loathe. I believe that every baby should be welcomed into the world, be they inconveniently illegitimate, less than physically or mentally perfect; be they black, white, male, female, rich or poor.

I hate the thought of terminations and yet I can have no truck with Cardinal Winning and his anti-abortion outburst. Let me explain why. The Catholic Church is one of the last bastions of male domination.

Women have no toe-hold in its hierarchy. Women are debarred from the priesthood and have no status within the Church. Yet just as priests are subject to the man-made rule of celibacy, Catholic women are subject to the man-made ban on contraception.

With the elan of the pot calling the kettle black, Cardinal Winning talked of the Labour Party being `almost Fascist' in denying a pro-life exhibition at its conference last year.

Yet the Church is ruled, undemocratically, by its cardinals.

They pay little heed to the views and experiences of women in their flock, yet presume to legislate for them. If Britain's political parties were to be bullied into following the cardinal's firmly held beliefs, in matters of reproduction women in Britain would be as dictated to as Afghan women under the Taleban.

Robbed of contraception, with abortion outlawed, we would become baby factories, providing the Church with new members, but with no voice of our own. What hope of a place on any career ladder then?

Remember how the Pope called on the women of Bosnia, who had been raped ,to resist the temptation to abort their babies? His speech held no offer of practical support. No mention of baby refuges; no word of Vatican funds for medical and housing aid.

As always, the women were meant to cope - or to feel guilty.

In Eire when a mere child was raped she could not have an abortion until a national hue and cry reversed the ruling.

For Catholic families the Church's teaching is clear; the child's life comes first. But from their moral high ground, and with complete certainty, the men who make up the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church hand down such edicts.

It is right that human life is held sacred. It is right that abortion should be practised only in the gravest of circumstances and with the keenest regard to the greater good. But I would not outlaw it, nor make criminal those driven to it in extreme circumstances.

I think a lot of women share my view because women acknowledge what Cardinal Winning shuts his eyes to. They know how hard it is to bear and rear a child. They know that an unwanted child has a troubled life. They understand that a woman abandoned when pregnant faces a tough future.

If the Church insists that the law is changed to force all women to complete their pregnancies, then the Church had better be there with help for those women, with a safety net for those children.

I didn't hear Cardinal Winning say anything like that but then why should I? He wasn't speaking to women.

Towering truth from a child given freedom of the fields

IF YOU kept a dog indoors, fed it a high fat and high sugar diet, drove it around in the car, gave it irregular exercise and demanded that it constantly master complicated tasks - you would not be at all surprised if it turned nasty.

Everyone knows that a dog needs good food and lots of healthy exercise.

Yet we feed our children chips and sugar drinks, park them in front of televisions and video games, keep them cooped up indoors or in polluted city streets and parks and wonder what is wrong with them.

Some adults want to drug them into behaving properly; some want to cane them; some to hire them therapists.

First I would try shipping them out to the country.

I would teach them to camp, canoe, swim, fish. I would take them for long walks and bicycle rides. …