November 15, 2007

The Bishops and Abortion

I just turned on CNN for a minute and heard them announce that our bishops here in the USA had recommended to us to be flexible in choosing political candidates who support the "right" to abortion. I thought that this couldn't be exactly true, so I immediately went and read their latest Faithful Citizenship document, approved only yesterday. Here's what they really say:
Two temptations in public life can distort the Church’s defense of human life and dignity:

The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.

The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture, war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed. Catholics are urged to seriously consider Church teaching on these issues. Although choices about how best to respond to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity are matters for principled debate and decision, this does not make them optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore Church teaching on these important issues. Clearly not every Catholic can be actively involved in each of these concerns, but we need to support one another as our community of faith defends human life and dignity wherever it is threatened. We are not factions, but one family of faith fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.

This is, of course, something very different than simply recommending flexibility. It is an exhortation to all of us to see the issues of life and our battle against the "culture of death" in the broadest possible scope, and not as an excuse to create factions among ourselves which are ultimately a countersign of the "seamless ethic" of which we are meant to be witnesses.

Read the whole document for yourself here.

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