Saturday 28 February 2009

The Lenten Lunches and Christian Aid’s Abortion Policy

The following text can be downloaded as Word document from our Google Drive here

The annual Lenten Lunches had been an important ecumenical event in the life of Shaftesbury for many years, and all the different denominations had contributed. The problem, however, is that though this has been seen as anecumenical event the proceeds have all gone to only one charity: Christian Aid. This fact acquires a more problematic nature given Christian Aid’s development of an abortion policy that many Christians do not consider to be acceptable –in particular, Catholics.

At a national level, concerns have been raised about Christian Aid's policy on abortion. These concerns have been voiced locally at Churches Together in Shaftesbury. Recently, it had seemed that a compromise might be possible whereby the percentage of the Lenten Lunches contributions estimated to come from Catholics will go towards CAFOD instead of Christian Aid. Sadly, the organisers of the Lenten Lunches have just informed me yesterday that they do not consider this acceptable I therefore feel there is no other option than for St Edward’s to withdraw our support for the Lenten Lunches this year. It is important for us to maintain our moral integrity in opposing abortion even if others no longer recognise that they too have this responsibility. It is my hope to speak to the organisers of the Lenten Lunches more formally later and possibly arrange something else for next year.

With respect to Christian Aid's policy on abortion: Stephen Dominy, Christian Aid Volunteer Development Officer –Dorset, wrote to the local Shaftesbury Christian Aid on 20 November 2008. His letter says "that Shaftesbury Catholic Church has withdrawn support for Christian Aid because of [Christian Aid’s] stance on abortion". The letter proceeds to describe (part of) Christian Aid’spolicy on abortion, which it claims is “categorical”. The policy cited states, “Christian Aid does not support abortion clinics and does not promote abortion or regard it as a desirable form of birth control, and works hard with partners overseas to remove or alleviate the extreme conditions of poverty that make the need for abortion even to be considered."

However, the above statement is not one that can be considered to be “categorical”. In fact, it does not easily square with a more detailed reading of Christian Aid's November 2001 statement. That statement repeatedly refers to “reproductive health services”, one of the standard means of referring to abortion agencies. For example,
n.2 ... Provision of adequate reproductive health and education servicesfor poor women is crucial so they can limit the number of children theyhave in a safe and informed way.
n.4(c)... [Christian Aid] is supportive of all people, through appropriate primary health care systems, having access to reproductive health services...
n.7 common with other ecumenical development and aid agencies, Christian Aid has funded organisations that provide support to poor women in crisis, including the provision of counselling services to inform victims of their legal rights, both in terms of advice on legal abortions as well as the risks of illegal abortions.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), in its 2006 CharitiesReport, thus describes Christian Aid’s abortion policy as, at best, “equivocal”.I hope the above helps to indicate the serious reservations about Christian Aid,and why I cannot recommend that the Catholic parish here in Shaftesbury support the Lenten Lunches this year, or in future years if the organisers fail to consider a mutually acceptable compromise.

Fr Dylan James
Parochial Administrator, St Edward’s Catholic Church, Shaftesbury, 28Feb09


February 2009 Newsletter item:
No Catholic Support for Shaftesbury Lenten Lunches
Sadly, due to Christian Aid’s policy on abortion I cannot offer our support to the Lenten Lunches (whose proceeds go to Christian Aid). All Christians have a duty to maintain their moral integrity. This said, we as Catholics must continue to do so even if others take the mistaken view that abortion is somehow compatible with Christian charity. There are many other charities we can support that are not morally ambiguous. It is my hope to speak to the organisers of the Lenten Lunches more formally later and possibly arrange something else for next year that would enable us to support the Lenten Lunches. More information is on the noticeboard.


As an update to the above, please note the following comments about Christian Aid and its policy on abortion, taken from SPUC:
Christian Aid
This page was created on 22 July 2011 and updated on 22 July 2011. Please send any information you may have about this charity to Anthony Ozimic, either by email to or post to SPUC HQ. For any older information about this charity or other charities, please see the 2006 edition of SPUC's Charities Bulletin.

Christian Aid is a UK-based charity which provides aid to developing countries. It is sponsored by the main Christian denominations in the UK with the exception of the Catholic Church.
In a letter (8 March 2011) to SPUC, Loretta Minghella, Christian Aid's director said that: While not supporting abortion clinics, Christian Aid follows the laws of each country it works within, i.e.,places where abortion is legal.
• "Christian Aid does not fund abortions." But Christian Aid does fund organisations that"...provide support to poor women in crisis, including the provision of counselling services to inform victims of their legal rights, both in terms of advice on legal abortions as well as the risks of illegal abortions."
• "Christian Aid does fund partners that work with young people to ensure they have increased access to accurate, evidence-based and appropriate education around the issues of sexual and reproductive health rights..." SPUC comment: It should be noted that "sexual and reproductive health rights" is used commonly as either a technical term or a euphemism for abortion on demand. Also, terms such as "increased access" and "accurate, evidence-based" are used commonly as euphemisms for abortion services and pro-abortion propaganda.
• "....[Christian Aid's] partners also work to strengthen young girls' capabilities for informed and autonomous decision-making, in particular to help reduce sexual violence, unintended pregnancies and associated risks." SPUC comment: "informed and autonomous decision-making" is a phrase used commonly as a euphemism for abortion on demand.
• "Christian Aid does work with partners that promote use of and access to contraception and wesee this as part of our critical strategy around training healthcare staff." SPUC comment: many forms of contraception also act to cause early abortions. Also, greater provision of contraception has been shown to lead to higher rates of abortion.
The autumn 2010 edition of "Christian Aid News" said (p.22) that: “Part of the answer is improving reproductive health services, which include contraception...”
Christian Aid have no policy on embryo research."

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