Belgian Catholic Professor: Pro-Life Situation in Belgium ‘Total Mess and a Disaster’

“I am proud of the firm position that I defend as a human being, as a philosopher and as a Catholic, for the honor of God and the protection of our most vulnerable brethren.”

by Rodney Pelletier • ChurchMilitant • November 30, 2017

LOUVAIN, Belgium (ChurchMilitant) – A Belgian Catholic professor is lecturing on pro-life and freedom of speech issues throughout Europe after being suspended for upholding Church teaching on abortion.

In March, Catholic philosophy professor Stephane Mercier was suspended from the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) after teaching his students that abortion is murder.

Mercier tells Church Militant that the state of the pro-life movement in Belgium is “a total mess and a disaster,” maintaining that the Belgian bishops’ conference won’t support pro-life causes.

In March, he was suspended from teaching after one of his students complained to university authorities that he taught abortion is murder.

He used his essay, “Against an Alleged ‘Right to Choose’ Abortion,” as a basis for class discussion and argued that abortion is the killing of an innocent human life — something that is never acceptable in any circumstance. He then addresses the contradiction that while abortion is legal, rape, which is also never acceptable in any circumstance, is illegal. He concludes, “The deliberate killing of an innocent is even more reprehensible thing morally and must also … be condemned from the standpoint of law by the legislature.”

Mercier noted to Church Militant that the university suspended him until September — when his contract expired.

The school justified its actions in suspending Mercier, claiming “in the spirit of the act decriminalizing abortion voted in 1990, it respects the autonomy of women to make this choice, in the circumstances specified by the legislator.”

Despite being suspended, Mercier was not intimidated, commenting, “I am proud of the firm position that I defend as a human being, as a philosopher and as a Catholic, for the honor of God and the protection of our most vulnerable brethren.”

He added that his position on abortion belongs to the Catholic Church and as a Catholic university, UCL should be defending Church teaching on abortion, “which strongly condemns abortion.”

Mercier alleges, however, the Belgian bishops are not active in promoting the pro-life cause, refusing to participate in the 2017 Belgian March for Life because it was not an event sponsored by the bishops. Mercier was criticized by a spokesman for the bishops, who claimed his speech at the 2017 Belgian March for Life had “excessive language.” Mercier asserts the bishops want to “accompany, encourage and not condemn” women who’ve had an abortion — something Mercier has never publicly advocated.

On March 26, Mercier attended Belgium’s March for Life in Brussels, which organizers say had about 3,000 participants. He spoke at the event, saying he was there “as a human being, as a philosopher and as a believer.”

“It is my job as a philosopher to meditate freely on the meaning and dignity of life,” he said. “In my opinion, a Catholic university should also defend the dignity of life. I believe that university students are perfectly capable of thinking critically and understanding the value of freedom of expression.”

Now, he is giving lectures on St. Thomas Aquinas and the sexual revolution to Catholic groups. Since his ordeal with the UCL and the Belgian Catholic hierarchy, he has been a sought-after speaker on pro-life and freedom of speech issues.

He released a book, titled La Philosophie Pour la Vie (The Philosophy of Life) in September, expanding the discussion he had with his students in March.

The Catholic University of Louvain was founded in 1834 by Pope Gregory XVI and the bishops of Belgium. It traces its spiritual foundation to the original University of Louvain founded in the 15th century, which helped to form English priests as missionaries — and many times martyrs — to England during the persecution of Queen Elizabeth I.

Cardinal Jozef De Kesel, primate of Belgium, is known to be a progressive liberal. He announced at a press conference when he was first appointed head of the Belgian Church in 2015 that he had no intention of “imposing” Church teaching on Belgian law, maintaining, “I’m for the separation of Church and State.”

He has also said, “I have much respect for gays,” including “their way of living their sexuality,” and has advocated for the ordination of women to the priesthood and has questioned the practice of a celibate priesthood.

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