Top theologian urges reflective calm in abortion debate
Redemptorist Fr Tony Kelly, Australia's representative on the Vatican's International Theological Commission, has expressed concern that point-scoring debates about abortion are counter-productive to the extent that they obscure the gravity of the problem.
"The estimated hundred thousand abortion procedures each year tend to make one stop and think," he writes in today's issue of Online Catholics. "But how to say what we think or how to have a humane discussion of the issues is not always clear."
Fr Kelly suggested that while Australians are to be commended on the level of their social responsibility with respect to issues such as ecological responsibility, the issue of abortion "seems to have slipped under our guard".
"These instances of genuine moral sensitivity would normally, we might expect, create a climate of grave concern over the present scale of abortions," he said. "But social conscience is strangely tongue-tied on this question. It seems to have become an ethical no-go zone."
Fr Kelly regrets what he called the "flickering character of our moral vision in regard to abortion", which he insists "looks for an explanation".
In assessing who is to blame, he insists it is important not to "demonise" anyone, least of all the women most intimately faced with this issue.
"The sex-crazed condition of modern society has affected everyone," he said. "More deeply, perhaps, a consumerist culture of increasingly autistic proportions, is keeping all of us in its thrall."
Fr Kelly has been engaged in teaching and writing in the area of theology for many years. He recently ended his term as Dean of Theology at Australian Catholic University, but continues as a University Professor. Last year, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the thirty member International Theological Commission.
Meanwhile The Age today characterises as a scare tactic the distribution by two Sydney businessmen of a booklet titled Abortion and Religion in Australia (pictured).
The publication, recently sent to federal and state politicians, was sponsored by the Foundation for Human Development, the education and counselling arm of the NSW Right to Life Association.
Online Catholics editor Kate Mannix commented to the Herald that the Foundation asserted that its members "are from all churches, not Catholic, but their strategies are lifted from conservative US Catholic groups".
Anthony Kelly CSsR: Babies on Board (Online Catholics 2/2/05)
The businessmen fuelling the debate (The Age 2/2/05)
Anthony J. Kelly CSsR HomePage
Abbott backs new anti-abortion lobby (CathNews 1/2/05)
Meeting of Bishops' taskforce on pastoral responses to abortion (CathNews 24/12/04)
Bishops propose abortion alternatives (CathNews 26/11/04)
Persecution today for 'mad monk' Abbott (CathNews 10/12/04)
Melbourne Archbishop welcomes abortion debate (CathNews 10/11/04)
Liberals say Abbott will pay for commitment to faith before politics (CathNews 8/11/04)
Catholic politician [Barnaby Joyce] completes Howard's Senate majority (CathNews 29/10/04)
Churches move against late-term abortions (Sydney Morning Herald 2/2/05)
MPs should not over-react to abortion debate: Howard (ABC Radio PM 1/2/05)
Beazley enters abortion debate (ABC Radio The World Today 1/2/05)
Australian pro-lifers mobilize to restrict abortion (Catholic World News 1/2/05)
Abortion stand-off (Herald-Sun 2/2/05)
Abortion: an issue that just won't go away (The Age 2/2/05)
Howard approves abortion debate (The Age 2/2/05)
Religious leaders to fight abortion (The Australian 1/2/05)
2 Feb 2005