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Pro-life leaders from 13 countries accuse Pope Francis of failing to uphold Church teaching

Pope Francis speaks during a weekly general audience at the Paul VI audience hall (Getty Images)

Leaders of pro-life organisations from across the world have signed a letter accusing Church leaders, including Pope Francis, of undermining their movement through ambiguous statements and actions contrary to Catholic teaching.

The letter says that over the past 50 years the pro-life movement has “relied in a particular way on the immutable teaching of the Catholic Church, which affirms the moral law with the greatest clarity.”

However, the signatories say that in recent years that teaching has increasingly been replaced by “ambiguity, and even by doctrines directly contrary to the teaching of Christ and the precepts of the natural law”.

The letter then lists the concerns of several documents and letters to Pope Francis over the past couple of years, including the Filial Appeal in September 2015, the ‘Dubia’, the Filial Correction earlier this year, and Fr Thomas Weinandy’s letter last month.

On top of these, the signatories accuse the Pope of statements and actions which “contradict the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraceptive acts”, “contradict the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage and the intrinsic evil of sexual acts outside the union of marriage”.

They also criticise his approval of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which they say “effectively call for member states to achieve universal access to abortion, contraception and sex education by 2030”.

Finally, they condemn the “approach adopted towards sex education, particularly in chapter 7 of Amoris Laetitia and in The Meeting Point programme produced by the Pontifical Council for the Family”.

Signatories from the UK are John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Greg Clovis of Family Life International UK, and Dr Thomas Ward of the National Association of Catholic Families.

Irish signatories are Patrick Buckley of European Life Network, John Lacken of Legio Sanctae Familiae and the Lumen Fidei Institute, and Anthony Murphy of Catholic Voice.

John Smeaton, chief executive of SPUC, issued a statement accusing Pope Francis of disseminating errors, and urged priests not to follow them.

“Over the last couple of years Pope Francis and Vatican authorities have capitulated to the ‘culture of death’ by supporting the pro-abortion United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and by promoting the agenda of the international sex education lobby through Amoris Laetitia and the Pontifical Council for the Family’s pornographic sex education programme. This has a direct effect on real children and real families,” he said.

“For this reason the pro-life movement cannot bury its head in the sand and ignore what’s happening at the highest levels of the church today,” Smeaton added.

“We must ceaselessly demand that our priests and bishops teach the fullness of the Church’s doctrine and do not collaborate, even for a moment, in the dissemination of errors that are tragically being spread by His Holiness Pope Francis and by many other senior members of the hierarchy. If we fail to take this stand we will be failing in our duty to the weak and vulnerable children that we have pledged to protect.”