Why the Synod on the Family is of fundamental significance for the pro-life movement

In an address given at the Rome Life Forum on 9th May 2015 John Smeaton explained why the Synod on the Family is of fundamental significance for the pro-life movement.

John Smeaton has worked in the pro-life movement for 41 years, and currently serves as the Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the world’s oldest pro-life organization. John Smeaton was present in Rome during the Extraordinary Synod and is co-founder of the Voice of the Family coalition. The presentation was delivered to pro-life leaders from all over the world, who had gathered in Rome for the Rome Life Forum and March for Life.

In his address Smeaton spoke of the betrayal of Catholic families, and of the most vulnerable members of society, by those responsible for last year’s Extraordinary Synod. He said:

“The silence of the Synod last October was deafening – on abortion, on contraception, the foundation stone of the culture of death, on euthanasia and assisted suicide, on pornographic anti-life sex education, on the suppression of parents as the primary educators of their children and on the indoctrination of children into the homosexual ideology. All of these evils are either crimes against life committed, millions upon millions of times annually, in the bosom of the family or they are morally criminal activities imposed on children and parents worldwide millions of times annually. These crimes against did not merit a mention in the Synod documents published by the Vatican. There is every reason for us as pro-life leaders to focus on this scandalous silence on these moral crimes in the Synod documents for the sake of giving witness to Christ who founded the church, for the sake of authentic church renewal, for the sake of the pro-life movement and for the sake of our families who have been betrayed by the Synod authorities.

“On the other hand, the International Planned Parenthood Federation must be delighted with the Synod authorities. They understand the significance of the Synod authorities’ silence on these matters better than we do ourselves.”

Smeaton argued that all pro-life pro-family issues are inextricably connected:

“As you know, same-sex couples are now demanding the right to have children– making it even more difficult for pro-life groups effectively to oppose surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation. According to peer-reviewed research, for every baby born by IVF, 23 are either discarded, or frozen, or used in destructive experiments, or miscarry. Defending the right to life of unborn children will increasingly be viewed as an attack on the rights of homosexual couples. Homosexual indoctrination thus leads to increased contempt for the sanctity of human life. The studied ambiguity of the Synod authorities’ published documents on the questions relating to homosexual unions in general and on children brought up by homosexual couples is of huge significance for the pro-life movement. If the Church at the highest levels insists on imposing its will on these matters, without prejudice to Catholic doctrine which can never change, and continues to proclaim an ambiguous message which gives aid and comfort to the homosexual lobby in our countries back home, our pro-life work may effectively all but disappear off the world map. Pro-life movements around the world ignore these kinds of developments, which have massive geopolitical significance, at their peril.”

He concluded:

“Moreover, the pro-life movement must embrace the defence of marriage or face defeat but, at this stage in history, this is not primarily a political or legislative matter, albeit we must keep up the legislative battle and speak out politically. Embracing the defence of marriage is primarily about handing on what we know to be the truth about the nature of marriage to the next generation upon whose shoulders the burden of the pro-life struggle is rapidly falling: that marriage is the exclusive lifetime union of one man and one woman which is open to life and committed to the nurture and protection of their children; I refer in particular, of course, to the inseparability of the unitive and procreative dimensions of the marriage act. I think in a sense, speaking on behalf of the oldest pro-life organization in the world, after nearly 50 years, our work is just beginning. Where do we begin? We begin with empowering families, with empowering mothers and fathers as primary educators. Parents, as the primary educators of their children, must find ways of teaching their children, including our older children who have fled the nest, the truth about the sanctity of human life and its transmission, the truth found in Humanae Vitae and in Evangelium Vitae and in Familiaris Consortio, because we have the right and the authority to do so and because, at this point in human history, the overwhelming majority of episcopal leaders, who also have authority, are failing to do their duty. There’s nothing left out there – except the family, based on the marriage between a man and a woman, to pick up the billions of broken babies, the billions of broken lives, and start again. We as leaders of pro-life and pro-family groups must help them to do that.”

The full address can be read here.