Cardinal in Africa Condemns “outlawing prayer” in UK ahead of Coronation of Charles III

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier speaks at the Vatican Press Office on Oct 14 2014. Credit Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier has criticized policies of the West, including bans on prayers in zones around abortion clinics in the United Kingdom (UK) ahead of the coronation of King Charles III.

In a social media post on Tuesday, May 2, the South African Cardinal wrote, “First the West condemned Hitler for his Abortion policy towards Jews; next it condemned Soviet Union for suppressing Religious Practice! Now the same West is trying to African Countries to adopt ABORTION as a RIGHT! And Britain is outlawing PRAYER! And this is CIVILISATION!”

In the Twitter post, the Archbishop emeritus of South Africa’s Durban Archdiocese was reacting to a video of the arrest of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the director of March for Life UK.

Vaughan-Spruce was first arrested on December 6 and charged on December 15 with four counts of breaching a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which is intended to stop antisocial behaviour. 

Police were responding to a complaint from a member of the public who believed that Vaughan-Spruce was praying silently.


On February 16, Vaughan-Spruce and Fr. Sean Gough, a Priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, were acquitted of all charges against them

The two were represented by legal counsel from the faith-based law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF UK). On Mar. 7, ADF shared a video of Vaughan-Spruce being arrested, again, “for thinking.”

Sharing the ADF video on May 2, Catholic author Austen Ivereigh wrote on Twitter: “King Charles III on Saturday will swear to ‘seek to foster an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely.’ Perhaps as a first step he might urge Parliament to allow people to pray silently and peacefully, even in places where their presence is unwanted?” 

Politicians in other European countries have also pushed for prohibiting prayer near abortion facilities. A German court ruled in September last year that silent prayer gatherings near an abortion counselling facility cannot be prohibited

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (No. 2271).

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Pope Francis has repeatedly decried abortion and other attacks against human life, including in his 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’

In 2018 the Holy Father compared the abortion of sick or disabled children to a “Nazi mentality.”

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