By Simon Caldwell INTERNATIONAL Development Secretary Clare Short has been urged to apologise for insulting millions of Catholics around the world.
Ms Short, a lapsed Catholic, accused the Church of being motivated by an "unholy alliance" and of adopting "profoundly disgusting policies" in its stance over abortion, contraception, morningafter abortifacients and population control which she claimed was wreaking havoc in the Third World.
Her comments came on the eve of the United Nations final meeting of the Cairo +5 process in New York, set up to discuss population and development but which was used by the European Union to attack parental rights in connection with the sexual behaviour of their adolescent children, with Britain taking a leading role. However, the EU was defeated by the developing world.
John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: "I think Clare Short is guilty of promoting policies for the poorest of the poor in the world, which would simply not be acceptable in Western Europe and in Britain in particular.
"To attack the Catholic Church as she has done is to attack the very body that is standing up for the poorest of the poor. I think Clare Short should apologise for utterly misrepresenting the Church's position with respect to the defence of the poor."
Gary Streeter, Shadow International Development Secretary, described Ms Short's remarks as "deeply offensive" and also called on her to apologise — not only to Catholics, but also to Evangelical Christians and Muslims who share similar views.
He said: "Most developing world countries do not want the West's values imposed on them. Clare Short would be the first person to reject the old-style western imperialism but through the idea of abortion rights for very young children, the United Nations is risking a new form of politically-correct imperialism.
"There is a danger that real health and education needs of developing nations will be under-funded if a pro-abortion and anti-family agenda is pursued against the wishes of developing nations.
"We need to work in partnership with developing nations and not describe their values as 'unholy' and `disgusting'."