Amongst one of the more pressing issues for Christians in the modern world is the issue of the sanctity of human life. We are fortunate to live in a country where the death penalty is no longer used, but there are many countries that continue to use the death penalty. There is much work to be done in trying to stop this practice. As Christians, and particularly as Catholic Christians, we see in all human life the hand of God our creator and our redeemer. We do however live in a country where abortion is allowed in many circumstances including in situations where a test is carried out for Down’s syndrome. At the recent General Synod a motion was passed unanimously welcoming, supporting and affirming those people with Down’s syndrome reaffirming that maxim that ‘every human being is made in the image of God’. A member of the Catholic Group in General Synod, Emma Forward, tried to bring an amendment to the motion which would have made it clear that the Synod advised that pregnancies should not be terminated on the basis of Down’s syndrome and that people with Down’s syndrome were valued before and after birth. There are parts of the world where there are attempts by policy makers to make society ‘Down’s syndrome free’. This can mean only one thing. The test is taken and if the result is positive then an abortion would be advised. The Archbishop of Canterbury assured Synod that he would speak to churches of the Porvoo Communion about working against this. What was sad, is that Synod felt unable to support these amendments which reaffirmed clearly and categorially the value of all human life. The language of making society ‘free’ of one set of people or another has the chilling overtone of dictatorships around the world wishing to rid society of groups of people based on race, creed, disability, gender or sexuality. The Church of England as a moral voice in this country must not shy away from defending life just because it is afraid of offending groups of people. It is to be hoped that should any discussions about the issue of the sanctity of the human life come to House of Lords, the Lords Spiritual would as a body vote to defend human life in a world where human life can seem undervalued. There needs to be a deeper understanding of what an Anglo-Catholic approach to the of the sanctity of human life might be. Is it time for us to be thinking about these issues in our parishes? What might you do to further the protection of the unborn? It is surely time for us to step up and speak out for those who have no voice. It is good that members of the Synod, not least Emma Forward, were willing to do so.
A session of ‘Leading Your Church Into Growth’ (LYCIG) took place at Walsingham in January for parishes of our constituency. It was by all accounts an excellent experience for those who took part. It is essential as our constituency settles down that we engage with these projects and look more closely at the mission and life of the church. It will be no good for us to sit back on our laurels and on the reputation of the Giants in the Land of the past. Our focus must be on bringing people to know the love of God in their lives and for engaging them in our communities. Projects like LYCIG can help greatly for doing this. The session in Walsingham had one great advantage – each priest who came was encouraged to bring a layperson with him. Doing this is an act of setting people free, we are, all of us called to do the work of mission whatever that might be. Whether it be out on the streets doing the work of mission or in church praying for those out doing the mission, each person is essential and vital for this work. Elsewhere in this edition Andrew Gray and Stephen Hogg, both members of the General Synod, appeal for the help of laity in spreading skills around our constituency. It is to be hoped their appeal will get a good response. We have been given a great opportunity to work for the upbuilding of the church. Do not fail to act on this. As traditional catholics we can be rightly proud of our history and heritage, it has much to teach us. Our task is to continue the mission focus of our forebears and continue to help the church grow and flourish. The Society offers us the sacramental assurance to do this without the worries that affect others, perhaps that is the most valuable example we can offer the church. We have been set free to do our mission and to move Forward in Faith.