Pro-life Princess


As many pro-life campaigners have noted, the wonderful news that their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby, has proven yet another significant marker in the consciousness of the general public, of the humanity of the unborn child.

Nowhere in the press coverage is the baby referred to as foetus (derived from the Latin word fetus, meaning offspring, bearing forth or hatching of young) or as a bunch of pluripotent cells, instead there is much speculation as to the physical characteristics of the baby and his or her future. Despite being an estimated 8 weeks old, there is no doubt in the minds of the media and public, that this is a ‘royal baby’.

What is intriguing is that the couple have decided to bring the announcement forward, prompted by the Duchess’s unfortunate severe morning sickness for which she has my sympathies, it is an extremely debilitating condition. Given the climate surrounding the press following publication of the Leveson Report last week, actually there was no need for the couple to make this announcement quite so early. Though there would have been much speculation had the news leaked that Kate was in hospital and of course it was a matter of public interest, there was no necessity for a pregnancy announcement. The Royal couple enjoy much public support, a fact underlined by the universal sympathy for the Duchess after she was snapped topless in the privacy of an enclosed holiday home, by an unscrupulous paparazzi member.

If news of her hospitalisation leaked, a vaguely worded statement could have been released, reassuring the public that the Duchess was fine and that this was a private matter. Though this would not have stopped the inevitable speculation, the press could well have been briefed to afford the Duchess some privacy and breathing space during this difficult and delicate time, with promises of a formal press call later. No editor worth their salt would want to run the risk of incurring public censure by being intrusive and had the royal couple wanted to keep this quiet for a few weeks longer, my bet is the press would, in the current post-Levenson climate, have laid off.

So why didn’t William and Catherine stay quiet? Most couples do tend to keep the news to themselves up until the period which carries the highest risk of miscarriage has passed and the scan has confirmed that the baby is free of any congenital or chromasomal abnormalities. That they have gone public so soon, is indicative of their pro-life attitude. Whatever happens and God Willing everything is fine, the announcement signals a commitment to the baby, whatever the future may hold.

The only reason for announcing before the 12 week mark is to signal your commitment and joy. It’s one of the reasons that I have no qualms in informing people I’m pregnant as soon as I know, not only so they can be considerate, but because I know that scan results are irrelevant as to the question of whether or not I am having a baby. My hope is that this will set a trend; to announce a pregnancy early goes against society’s current tendency to ignore or deny that one is carrying a live human being until such time as it is decided that it is wanted – usually after confirmation that it is healthy.

There is one elephant in the room nonetheless. The royal baby is being referred to as such, because he or she is wanted. Those who would defend the use of nondescript clinical euphemisms such as “products of conception” would state that what makes the royal baby worthy of being described in human terms is that s/he is wanted and planned for. Whilst no republican, this inequality is at the root of both Christian and pro-life concern. It is very clear that William and Catherine will be wonderful parents and both William and Harry have their mother’s attributes in terms of an affinity with the sick, disabled and outcast. The royal couple have both the disposition and resources to cope, should the baby experience any health difficulties. A measure of how pro-life the country is as a whole, is how we would react to the news that the couple had aborted their baby if he or she were revealed to have Downs Syndrome. More than 90% of babies with the condition are aborted, so why would it be so abhorrent if the royals were to follow suit? What if the Duchess changed her mind about the pregnancy for any other reason. Would she be admonished or decimated by the media? If so, why? Isn’t it supposed to be all about choice?

The answer is, as always, money and resources. These are the key factors that make the difference between a baby being wanted or unwanted and thus human or sub-human, worthy or unworthy. This is the heart of pro-life sentiment, that all human life is of equal worth and dignity, regardless of where it is in its journey; whether it has one day to go before it emerges from the womb, or whether it only has a few hours left. Everyone deserves the same respect and right to life, regardless of disabilities or family circumstances. Cristina Odone said yesterday that Catherine’s pregnancy will be a great equaliser. Let’s hope that this is prescient, that the public come to realise that all unborn babies are human and worthy of life regardless of whether one’s blood is blue.

Is an acknowledgement that the royal couple’s 8 week old baby is human only by virtue of his or her birth circumstances really the position of an enlightened twenty-first society? Nothing could be more illustrative of how abortion really is a the scourge of the poor or dispossessed.

Congratulations to Catherine and William nonetheless. I hope she recovers and enjoys good health and is afforded a degree of privacy and respect during the rest of her pregnancy. How marvellous if they could take this opportunity to help and highlight the causes of all the women and babies who are not as human as theirs.

On the service of Charity

Pope Benedict has just issued an excellent new Motu Propio entitled Intima Ecclesiae Natura in which he speaks about the works of charity in and by the church and has also issued regulations to improve the organisation of the Church’s charitable activity.

“With the present Motu proprio, I intend to provide an organic legislative framework for the better overall ordering of the various organised ecclesial forms of the service of charity, which are closely related to the diaconal [ministerial] nature of the Church and the Episcopal ministry.

Key phrases to note:

It is important, however, to keep in mind that “practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ

i.e. any charitable endeavour must not be a mere fund-raising activity but should be caritas in action, demonstrating Christ’s love in word and action.

The Church’s charitable activity at all levels must avoid the risk of becoming just another form of organized social assistance”.

Perhaps most importantly for Catholic charities not only must they confirm with relevant civil laws but

“there is a need to ensure that they are managed in conformity with the demands of the Church’s teaching and the intentions of the faithful”.

Furthermore charities “may use the name “Catholic” only with the written consent of the competent authority, as laid down by canon 300 CIC.”

Every Bishop has been instructed to encourage a local Caritas service but

It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.”

From my cursory reading it seems that the Holy Father has quite rightly, in accordance with the Catholic principles of subsidiarity, devolved the responsibility for ensuring the promotion of charities and adherence with Catholic principles, into the hands of the episcopacy. Not only does he seem to be wanting to step up Catholic charitable activity and working in the service of Christ, it is a reminder to all of our obligation to work for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the outcast and the needy in deed and word, but also and perhaps crucially, Pope Benedict emphasises that any charity must be wholly in accordance with Catholic doctrine. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum will have overall responsibility for Catholic charities and ensuring guidelines are adhered to.

This can only be good news. Interesting times ahead for various “Catholic-in name-only” charities. The Holy Father is sending out a clear message here, various unholy alliances with pro-abortion groups will need to cease.

Full text here on Rorate Cæli.