WESTMINSTER, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - A controversial Muslim prosecutor is mocking American pro-lifers a day after he was appointed by England's Cdl. Vincent Nichols to head a new body on child safety in the Catholic Church.
Nazir Afzal, former chief crown prosecutor for North West England will chair the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA), which is "being created amid wide-ranging reforms to safeguarding structures in the Church," a press release announced Tuesday.
The CSSA is a new central agency responsible for child protection. All Catholic dioceses and religious life groups in England and Wales will be accountable to it.
On Wednesday, Afzal launched a Twitter attack on American pro-lifers who object to the experimental COVID-19 vaccine, calling them "hypocrites who have no shame."
"Just watched Americans who oppose the COVID vaccine use the slogan 'my body, my choice' and yet they are also 'pro-life' which tells women that they have no choice when it comes to their bodies," Afzal tweeted.
When U.K. foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt expressed his desire to see a reduction on the legal time limit on abortions from 24 to 12 weeks, Afzal shot back, saying Hunt had "no right to decide what a woman does with her body."
"As a former Health Minister, you must know the science supporting current limit. As a politician you know you're pandering to bigots on the right. Stop it now!" Afzal wrote.
The "practicing" Muslim has been praised for his role in prosecuting the largely Pakistani-Muslim grooming gangs in Rochdale, North West England, and for his progressive views on women's rights and against forced marriage, female genital mutilation and honor killings.
However, the high-profile prosecutor angered Muslims when he voiced his support for the government's mandatory Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum — opposed by conservative Jewish, Catholic, evangelical and Muslim parents for "LGBT indoctrination."
Muslim leaders involved in the continuing battle against the RSE told Church Militant that Afzal was a "sellout." Muslim parents who appealed to the Birmingham archdiocese — the epicenter of protests by parents against the curriculum — received no support.
Programs like "All About Me" under the RSE umbrella teach children as young as four to masturbate by explaining "how we touch our own and each other's bodies" and the names of private parts like "penis and anus (bum) for boys" and "vulva, vagina and anus for girls."
Afzal has been married serially — first to an Irish Catholic, then to an Indian Hindu and then to a British Sikh.
"The appointment of a practicing Muslim raises the question, were there no highly qualified Catholics eligible for this position? Is Nazir Afzal's appointment more about Cdl. Nichols' much-publicized overtures to Islam, which is all the rage at the Vatican at present?" English deacon Nick Donnelly told Church Militant.
Donnelly, a popular writer and commentator, agreed that Afzal "brings the level of professionalism the Church needs" but expressed reservations regarding Afzal's self-proclaimed "deep understanding of, and sympathy for, the Catholic Church," particularly in the light of Afzal's "publicly expressed antipathy for the Church's pro-life position."
Speaking to Church Militant, Richard Scorer, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon who represents many victims and survivors of church abuse, was upbeat about the appointment but expressed doubts if the Catholic hierarchy was serious about reforming safeguarding.
"Nazir Afzal brings to his new role an impressive track record and — most importantly — a willingness to challenge institutional inertia, which he will inevitably need," Scorer stressed.
These proposals are the fourth attempt by the Catholic Church in England and Wales to establish an effective safeguarding infrastructure. Previous attempts failed in part because of the inability of the central safeguarding body to enforce its decisions on the Church as a whole.
A key issue now is whether this changes and whether CSSA genuinely has the enforcement powers to override resistance in Church institutions. On this, only time will tell. Another problem is the lack of a mandatory reporting law, which means that abuse can still be concealed and not reported to statutory authorities.
Church Militant earlier reported on Catholic authorities in England enthusiastically endorsing the government's Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) laws, which override parental rights and normalize same-sex marriage and transgenderism for children as young as four.
The Catholic Education Service (CES), representing the bishops' education policy for 2,300 Catholic schools and colleges in England and Wales, has eagerly embraced the new regulations, Church Militant reported.
In 2019, Catholic parents were outraged after discovering a pro-LGBT+ education program opposed by Muslim parents was being used by Catholic primary schools after it was authorized by the archdiocese of Liverpool.
In a video on his website, Afzal insists that he has "examined the curriculum" and "there is no specific LGBT content, no reference to gay sex" but only "reference, as there should be, to equality."
He dismissed parents' complaints about two textbooks used to teach gay relationships and transgenderism: one "involving two male penguins and an egg" and another "about a boy who chooses to dress up as a princess."
"Research shows that homosexuality is common in nature, including giraffes, and how would she [the parent] feel about a book involving two male giraffes given that's the reality," Afzal said, commenting on the textbook And Tango Makes Three.
"In many majority-Muslim countries, transgender rights are upheld and hate against them is outlawed. I've seen this firsthand," Afzal said, defending the book My Princess Boy.