On the day it emerged that our hospitals have incinerated the remains of thousands of unborn children to provide heating, Pope Francis spoke to the Pontifical Academy of Healthcare Workers, encouraging them to promote the dignity of every single human being from conception onwards. He has always insisted that this respect for human dignity is not an inherently religious position, but rather a humanistic one, supported by the scientific facts.
One could not imagine a more graphic illustration of what Francis calls our “throwaway culture” than the procedures exposed by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme. The revelations have generated international revulsion. The reaction in Britain has been more muted. Our country is so permeated by what one perceptive commentator calls “the banal culture of death” that things regarded an abomination elsewhere are greeted here with a shrug.
This tension between the values we collectively espouse – equality, tolerance and compassion – and the practices we implicitly condone cannot be held forever. We can bring the day of reckoning closer by creating an alliance of people from all parts of British society who are prepared to stand up for the dignity of every human being without exception.
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