Thursday, March 30, 2017

Catholic University of Louvain: Abortion 'a fundamental right'

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

In response to a junior philosophy lecturer distributing a document to students making the argument for calling abortion 'murder', a spokewoman for the 'Catholic University of Louvain' (UCL) in Belgium has made it clear that this is 'contrary to the values' of the institution.

Tania van Hemelryck, the special adviser to the university president on gender politics, spoke to Belgian television on behalf of the university, saying: “The authorities want to find out the exact status of the text and how it was used during this course, bearing in mind that in any case UCL defends the fundamental right to abortion, and particularly women’s right to choose.”...
The official statement published by UCL on its website says much the same thing:
“Whatever the outcome of the inquiry, the right to abortion is enshrined in Belgian law and the note that was brought to the attention of UCL is at odds with the values upheld by the university. Conveying standpoints that contradict these values in the framework of a teaching course is unacceptable.”

Louvain has not been a very 'Catholic' Catholic University for a long time, but these statements take matters to a new level. Please consider signing a petition to support the lecturer at the centre of the row, Stéphane Mercier.

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  1. OUCH! Please clear up the spelling! The Université Catholique de Louvain is where Stéphane Mercier was teaching. It is a Francophone institution based in the specially constructed town of Louvain-la-Neuve; it was hived off the old bilingual university in 1968. Leuven is the historic town where old university was and the bilingual (Flemish & English) Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is still. Stéphane being a Walloon is at Louvain and works thus in Louvain-la-Neuve. No-one uses the French name for the old town (Leuven) except the SNCB (railway company) who have to, by law.

  2. There was a university in the town of Leuven (historically, Frnech "Louvain"), called the Catholic University of Louvain/Université catholique de Louvain. It started in 1425, went out of existence in 1968, and two orphaned daughter universities succeeded it (no hiving off!): a French speaking university, and a Flemish speaking university:
    Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve
    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven.
    The Flemish speaking one is in the same old town, the French (technically Walloon) one was set up in a new campus about 30km south of it, in the Walloon zone. The Flemish one has a lot of international programmes and has become internationally eminent since the split, the French-speaking one not so much.
    Eamon is right, the case you are talking about is in the French-speaking one, but not because he is a Walloon - one finds both groups in each university, although each group is more preponderant in its own language-university.

  3. Dear Joseph,

    Have you received the Francophone bishops' response to the petition? My French is imperfect, but good enough, I think, to judge its adequacy. I'd be interested to see what you think of it.

  4. The second response on behalf of the Bishops by Bishop Harpigny of Tournai is truly wonderful. For him the idea that abortion could be wrong is a purely philosophical idea and the teachings of the Catholic Church are only based on theology and pastoral concerns which do not lead to that conclusion. Philosophy is of no concern to the Church. I trust Dr Shaw and St JPII will take this on board.