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?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Commercial Manager / New Product Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company mission is to be th...

Recruitment Genius: Software Tester

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Tester is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The Company sells mobile video advertising sol...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have a vacancy within our ra...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project