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Being human

This Monday morning I have noticed that the news on to have collected the most comments over the weekend is a short item about the Catholic church linking two current issues: child abuse in religious schools and abortion.

“Abortion worse than abuse, says Spanish Cardinal” reads the headline, whose correctness was disputed in one of the comments. What the Cardinal actually said, after apologising on behalf of the Church for the abuse suffered by 35,000 children in over 200 schools in Ireland, was that what might have happened in a few schools was “not comparable to the millions of lives destroyed by abortion”.

He’s right, the two situations cannot be compared. They are completely separate. So why bring them up in the same breath if it was not to say that physically and psychologically abusing children was nothing compared with having an abortion? And would he have brought the issue up at all if the abortion law reform bill was not currently being debated in Spain’s parliament?

Incidentally another comment by Berry Prinsen said “Amazing that the hierarchy of a two thousand year old club of ageing misogynists still get that much attention in the press for their peculiar beliefs.” These thoughts have often gone through my mind when I have read through pages and pages written as a result of comments made by Catholic leaders. Why do they bother us so much? Because we know that the Catholic Church still has a great influence over much of the Spanish population and too much of an influence over the country’s lawmakers.

Back to abortion, though, ending a pregnancy is difficult decision that only the woman involved can make, preferably with the support of her loved ones. Generalisations should not be made as all the individual circumstances are different. However someone has to do the difficult job of making the laws and setting the goalposts.

The value of an embryo after 12 weeks of gestation is clearly an issue that has been and will be debated by church people, scientists and society in general for a long time to come. When does an embryo start being a human being? When does an embryo start suffering like a human being? We don’t know. How much do young boys suffer when they are raped and psychologically tormented by the only figures of authority they have to turn to? They know. How do they feel when they see the Catholic Church offer an apology in one breath and then trivialise the issue by pointing their fingers at a “much more serious” crime in the next? Perhaps someone should ask them.

On the subject of human beings, Rafael Nadal has really gone out of his way to prove he is one this weekend. A couple of weeks ago I was pleased that he had lost to Federer to show that he was made of flesh and blood and not some unbeatable bionic tennis machine. But that was enough to convince us; we didn’t need him to go so far as to get knocked out even before the quarter-finals of the French Open!

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