LOUVAIN, Belgium (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic philosophy professor is being suspended by the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) for teaching his students that abortion is murder.
Stéphane Mercier is being suspended and his philosophy classes canceled after a student complained to UCL about an essay, "Against an Alleged 'Right to Choose' Abortion," written by Mercier, which he used in his class.
In the essay, he argues that abortion is the killing of an innocent human life — something that is never acceptable in any circumstance. He then addresses the contradiction that while abortion is legal, rape, which is also never acceptable in any circumstance, is illegal. He concludes, "The deliberate killing of an innocent is even more reprehensible thing morally, and must also ... be condemned from the standpoint of law by the legislature."
The school justified its actions in suspending Mercier, claiming "in the spirit of the act decriminalizing abortion voted in 1990, it respects the autonomy of women to make this choice, in the circumstances specified by the legislator."
He is, however, not intimidated, commenting, "I am proud of the firm position that I defend as a human being, as a philosopher and as a Catholic, for the honor of God and the protection of our most vulnerable brethren."
He explained the Catholic university was being asked to clarify its position on abortion because of Mercier's class and that it "doesn't know what to do." He adds, "I do not know if my position is contrary to the principles of UCL. What is certain is that my position is in accordance with what should be the position of the UCL, which is in conformity with the teaching of the Church, which strongly condemns abortion."
Students must hear the truth; it is important that they listen to a true, strong and argumentative discourse on an essential issue that affects our humanity. It is important for students not to be intellectually suffocated by a weak, consensualist thinking, which can be challenged by a strong discourse to reflect on themselves, not on the basis of the slogans imposed by the media. And in the human sciences there is no more important subject than the right of every human being to life from the moment of its conception.
On March 26, Mercier attended Belgium's March for Life in Brussels, which organizers say had about 3,000 participants. He spoke at the event, saying he was there "as a human being, as a philosopher and as a believer."
"It is my job as a philosopher to meditate freely on the meaning and dignity of life," he said. "In my opinion, a Catholic university should also defend the dignity of life. I believe that university students are perfectly capable of thinking critically and understanding the value of freedom of expression."
Cardinal Jozef De Kesel, primate of Belgium, is known to be a progressive liberal. He announced at a press conference when he was first appointed head of the Belgian Church in 2015 that he had no intention of "imposing" Church teaching on Belgian law, maintaining, "I'm for the separation of Church and State."
He has also said, "I have much respect for gays," including "their way of living their sexuality," and has advocated for the ordination of women to the priesthood and questioned the practice of a celibate priesthood.
The Catholic University of Louvain was founded in 1834 by Pope Gregory XVI and the bishops of Belgium. It traces its spiritual foundation to the original University of Louvain founded in the 15th century, which helped to form English priests as missionaries — and many times martyrs — to England during the persecution of Queen Elizabeth I.