Cardinal Thomas Winning, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, revealed in December that the church has “saved” the lives of 40 children since introducing its controversial scheme offering financial help to women considering abortions.

The cardinal, who has in the past attacked Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair for his stance on abortion, said in a speech: “This Christmas about 40 babies will be alive whose very existence was at risk because their mothers felt they could not afford to bring them into the world.”

He made the announcement as church leaders from across Scotland met in Glasgow for the first Scottish Christian Gathering.

The multi-denominational meeting, held in the space-age surroundings of the armadillo-shaped Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, was organized to bring churches closer together in the run-up to the millennium and the Scottish parliament.

The Catholic Church’s abortion program in Scotland was launched in March of 1997. It has been condemned by feminists and criticized as naive by social service and medical professionals. Program supporters have suggested the criticism is more an attempt to undermine what is proving to be a successful life-affirming initiative.

In July the church announced that a 15-year-old girl had given birth to the first baby “saved” by the program.

Cardinal Winning also told Scots Christians that they lived in an atheistic culture that was so secular and permissive as to be openly contrary to Christian teaching. He said that the gathering was a sign of hope, which could not have been foreseen as recently as 20 years ago. But he added: “Does Scottish society exist, act and think in a Christian way? The answer, I’m afraid, is a resounding no. If truth be told, we Scots live as though God didn’t exist. Our culture is a culture of practical atheism.”

He attacked what he called the “many threats to the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith”, including euthanasia and abortion. He told the gathering: “I hope that one of the first acts of the new Scottish parliament will be to establish St Andrew’s Day as a national holiday.”

Cardinal Winning’s initiative in Scotland is similar to one established by Cardinal Adam Maida of the Detroit archdiocese in the United States. Both cardinals recognized that many women in crisis pregnancies look to abortion as an release from simple economc pressures. By extending financial and material support to these women, Winning and Maida say the community can put a signficant dent in the number of women turning to abortion.

– via Pro-Life E-News Canada