“Pope John Paul II explained the importance of being true to fundamental Church teachings: Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici, no. 38)”
These words come from paragraph 26 of the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Every four years, just before a presidential election year, the bishops’ conference issues a statement on political responsibility. The bishops recently re-issued the same document they voted on four years ago, accompanied by a new introductory note.
Two other quotes found in the document are as follows:
“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 (n. 28).”
“In our nation, ‘abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others’ (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5) (n. 22).”
Now some people will say, “Yes, but that’s only part of what the document says.” Of course it is. And many will comment on other sections. As for me, I carry out a prophetic ministry to call the People of God to place priority and urgent attention on ending the slaughter of children by abortion. And nothing in any of the Church’s teaching contradicts that priority, or any of the quotes above.
We at Priests for Life echo the bishops’ call for a consistent ethic of life, properly understood, which begins with the proclamation that life is sacred and that the right to life can never be denied to a person, whether born or unborn. This ethic continues to call for the efforts of public officials and citizens to preserve other fundamental rights and to enhance the quality of life in the arenas of education, health care, security, and many more.
The bishops furthermore point out that as we participate in political parties, we are also called to change those parties wherever and whenever their positions fail to correspond to the demands of justice and the common good. In particular, we at Priests for Life call upon the Democratic party to abandon its pro-abortion stance, recognizing that such a stance imperils and dilutes any progress that can be made on other issues.
The statement encourages Catholics to use voter education materials produced by their dioceses, and so do we. Unfortunately, many dioceses do not produce any voter guides or election-related materials. Priests for Life urges such dioceses to do so. The faithful, of course, are always free to produce and use other election-related material. This is consistent with the statement’s call to be active in the political process and in political parties themselves.