Address at the March for Life in Rome, by John Smeaton, CEO of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
27 May 2021
Dear pro-life friends,
I have been amongst you for five years of the past ten years that the March for Life has been on the public square (except of course last year when we had to give our witness online). And I am delighted to be standing alongside you on the Via dei Fori Imperiali today.
I remember abortion being legalised in Italy 43 years ago. I remember the appalling lies the pro-abortion lobby told about the number of illegal abortions in Italy – lies spread by the mass media worldwide. How eagerly the enemies of life targeted Italy and your culture which is so inseparable from the love of the family, life and faith.
I have been involved in the pro-life movement at the national and international level for the past 47 years and this year I will pass on my responsibilities to the next generation. This special moment prompts me to reflect on the pro-life movement its mission, its purpose and also its limitations.
The aim of the pro-life movement is to defeat the idea, which dominates virtually the entire world, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived.
The evils we are fighting, are rooted in a revolution, a rebellion against God and His Church, a rebellion fuelled by man’s unruly passions which makes him reject God’s laws infallibly taught by His Church. I think especially of the evil of abortion, the killing of the smallest, most defenceless, most innocent of God’s children, the image of God Himself rejected by man and replaced by man’s own image and selfish desires: Man’s ego has taken the place of God.
Pro-life organizations need urgently to be reinforced by the prophetic and unequivocal voices of bishops throughout the world faithfully preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ – for two reasons: because without Christ we cannot do anything; and because the full Gospel message about the truth and meaning of human sexuality and the sanctity of human life, teaching which is also part of the natural law written on all human hearts, is nowhere more fully spelled out than in the teaching of the Church.
To my good pro-life colleagues who argue that we should keep the Church out of the pro-life battle, I respectfully put a variation of St Peter’s question to Our Blessed Lord: To whom shall we go? The Church has the words of eternal life.
As I say I have worked for 47 years in the pro-life battle and I have been working in Britain. As you know, Britain is a protestant country. Britain is also a country where the culture of death has taken centre stage and where Boris Johnson, a strongly pro-abortion prime minister is in power. I believe that even in Britain if we had one good bishop proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one good bishop proclaiming the truth about human sexuality, if we had one good bishop preaching and urging teachers and parents to train young people in the virtue of chastity, teaching people about the cruelty and injustice of abortion … I believe that this one good bishop could do more in 47 days to end abortion than I have done in 47 years. Jesus Christ astonished people because he spoke with power – and He has passed on that gift to the apostles and to the bishops of our day, the successors of the apostles.
I invite you to pray that God gives us one good bishop in Britain and I will pray for your bishops here in Italy.
The pro-life movement is part of a much wider and deeper historic crusade for the restoration of Christian civilisation. Let’s not forget that we fight for “going back to the real normal”; we are united in the fight to end abortion completely and in the restoration of a civilisation where human life is valued without exception. It really is not normal to kill children in the womb. May this time that is marked by a sense of isolation, distance, and separation; may it also be a time to unite with ever greater force to be united in the truth of Christ.