The life of Phyllis Bowman, the Catholic pro–life campaigner who died in May, was remembered during a Mass at Westminster Cathedral on 3 July 2012.
The Mass provided testimony to power and pertinence of Bowman’s belief in the dignity of all human life. Just as it had been during her lifetime, Bowman had once again brought together leading public figures, present yesterday because they believe in the rights of society’s most vulnerable; the unborn child, the elderly, the sick and the disabled.
Amongst those who attended the service were Professor Lord David Alton of Liverpool, Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, Jim Dobbin MP (Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group), David Amess MP (Chair of the All-Party Group for the Holy See), Baroness Sue Masham, Fiona Bruce MP, Sir Nicholas Winterton, Lady Ann Winterton, Lord Nicholas Windsor, Rev Alan Rabjohns were present as well as John Cotter, Vice Chairman, and Chris Whitehouse, trustee of Right to Life Charitable Trust that Bowman founded. Pro-life organisations represented included Right To Life, Life, Care Not Killing, Care Prolife Alliance.
During the service which took place on the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle, Archbishop Vincent Nichols gave a homily in which he reflected on the quality of love that Bowman’s work was rooted in.
The love of human life “needs to be organised well” said Archbishop Nichols. “It needs to be organised in its practical expression to promote and defend life’s dignity and value. It needs to be organised to provide practical care and support. It needs to be organised in order to be a powerful advocate, to give a voice to the voiceless in the political and social spheres.” And this, he said, takes “shared vision and a unity of purpose”.
The Archbishop also remembered Bowman’s colleague, former MP and Right to Life chairman, Ken Hargreaves who died recently. Relating this, and the ongoing proposals to legalise assisted suicide, to the pro-life cause, Archbishop Nichols said there was an opportunity to pause to consider “how best the love for life should be organised as individuals, as organisations, and in partnership with one another.”
Archbishop Nichols concluded by calling upon all present to follow Bowman’s example of maintaining “courage and determination to work together and organise our love in the interests of promoting the dignity and sanctity of human life as an ordered service to our society”.