Senior Catholic Edmund Adamus blames UK's 'moral wasteland' on equal rights

A leading adviser to the Archbishop of Westminster has blamed abortion and gay rights for turning Britain into a "selfish, hedonistic wasteland" which has become "the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death".

Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs at the diocese of Westminster and an adviser to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, said Parliament had turned Britain into a country which is more culturally anti-Catholic than nations where Christians are violently persecuted such as Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan.

His comments, made with only weeks to go before Pope Benedict XVI's historic state visit to Britain, will cause embarrassment between organisers of the visit and government officials, because they reveal how some members of the Church's hierarchy believe that the pontiff is travelling to a hostile and anti-Catholic country.

In an interview with Zenit, a Catholic news agency with close links to the Vatican, Mr Adamus railed against five decades of equality legislation and the availability of abortion services in modern Britain.

"Whether we like it or not, as British citizens and residents of this country – and whether we are even prepared as Catholics to accept this reality and all it implies – the fact is that historically, and continuing right now, Britain, and in particular London, has been and is the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death," he said.

"Our laws and lawmakers for over 50 years have been the most permissively anti-life and progressively anti-family and marriage, in essence one of the most anti-Catholic landscapes, culturally speaking – more than even those places where Catholics suffer open persecution."

The expression "culture of death" was first coined by John Paul II and is frequently used by Catholic traditionalists as a catch-all phrase covering the practice of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment.

Mr Adamus' comments are significant because of his senior position in one of the most influential dioceses in the country. His role as pastoral director gives him access to some of the Church's most senior figures, including Archbishop Nichols. He was once a priest at St Augustine's in central Manchester but he left the clergy and married.

In the same interview, he spoke at length about marriage and the role of men and women, pleading with Catholics to "exhibit counter-cultural signals against the selfish, hedonistic wasteland that is the objectification of women for sexual gratification."

He added: "Britain in particular, with its ever-increasing commercialisation of sex, not to mention its permissive laws advancing the 'gay' agenda, is such a wasteland."

Last night, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales distanced himself from the interview. A spokesperson for Archbishop Nichols said the views expressed by Mr Adamus "did not reflect the Archbishop's opinions".

Mr Adamus's comments, however, drew widespread criticism from gay rights groups and secularists. Peter Tatchell, a leading figure behind the Protest the Pope coalition, said: "The suggestion that gay equality laws make Britain a moral wasteland is insulting but not unexpected. The Pope supports legal discrimination against gay people. He says we are not entitled to equal human rights.

"[But] to claim that Britain is the centre of a culture of death is absurd. We are a world leader in scientific research to develop new medical treatments to save lives and we make a significant contribution to helping combat hunger and poverty in developing countries."

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, added: "This anti-Catholicism of which Adamus complains is shared by most British Catholics, sickened by their church hierarchy's dogma-driven policies on contraception, homosexuality and even abortion. That is why mass attendance here has halved in just 20 years and why only a quarter of Catholics agree with the official line on abortion – and fewer still on homosexuality and contraception."

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights group Stonewall, said Mr Adamus's comments would do little to foster a healthy atmosphere for the Pope's visit.

"Of course the Pope should visit Britain. But the gratuitously offensive comments being made by the Archbishop's adviser are hardly likely to promote sensitive debate about respect for religion in the 21st century. You would think that, given its present status, the Roman Catholic Church in Britain would be slightly more sensitive about wagging its finger at other people," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas