The Pope’s Gift to the President and to Us

At Pope Benedict’s meeting with President Obama, the Pope gave the President two gifts: the new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, and the recent document on bioethics, Dignitas Personae. The latter gift was apparently a last-minute addition. Upon leaving the meeting, the President said to the Pope, “I’ll have some reading to do on the plane.”

The timing was perfect, because these two new documents have much to say to the current administration, and to the wider culture, both within and outside the Church.

The new encyclical is an addition to the rich body of the social teaching of the Church. Social doctrine is just as much a part of Church doctrine as are the teachings on the Trinity and the sacraments. And one of the new encyclical’s key points is that a proper understanding of true human and social development is possible only in light of the revelation that comes in Christ.

Another key point is this: social justice cannot advance unless the right to life is protected. And this is where pro-abortion politicians and parties so often get it wrong. They trumpet support for human rights, human development, and social justice, but also think that abortion belongs to those categories.

The Pope has affirmed again that just the opposite is true. Here are two of his key quotes:

“The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that ‘a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized’” (n.15).

“Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (n.28).

Pope Benedict refers explicitly in the new encyclical not only to previous “social encyclicals,” but also to the “life encyclicals,” Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae, as he seeks to erase the unnecessary gap that often exists between social awareness and awareness of the rights of the unborn.

And he asserts that those rights do not come from government and are not negotiable:

“If the only basis of human rights is to be found in the deliberations of an assembly of citizens, those rights can be changed at any time, and so the duty to respect and pursue them fades from the common consciousness. Governments and international bodies can then lose sight of the objectivity and “inviolability” of rights. When this happens, the authentic development of peoples is endangered” (n.43).

I hope the President did his reading on the plane. Let’s be sure to do ours as well.

Fr. Frank Pavone

By

Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

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  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    “If the only basis of human rights is to be found in the deliberations of an assembly of citizens, those rights can be changed at any time, and so the duty to respect and pursue them fades from the common consciousness. Governments and international bodies can then lose sight of the objectivity and “inviolability” of rights. When this happens, the authentic development of peoples is endangered”

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are CREATED equal, and are endowed BY THEIR CREATOR with certain INALIENABLE rights. That among those rights are LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….”

  • http://www.catholic-perspective.com Catholic Chump

    “Another key point is this: social justice cannot advance unless the right to life is protected. And this is where pro-abortion politicians and parties so often get it wrong. They trumpet support for human rights, human development, and social justice, but also think that abortion belongs to those categories.”

    I somewhat disagree with this reference. President Obama is not pro-abortion he is pro-choice. What is the difference? Well the doctor near me that performs 800+ abortions within three months is pro-abortionist in my book. The president whats to reduce the number of abortions well is not really pro-life, but is definitely not pro-abortion.The pope has shown that the president has hope to change his heart about the life issues we face in America. I feel the pope sees more good within this administration than in the previous one. We know that he is trying to help the poor, stabilize our economy for the future, work with other leaders for resolving conflict, give more money to charity and peace around the world. Remember we all are sinners in our own way. For Obama his cigarette addiction ( bothers me he is reforming Health care but on the same time still smoking) and his stance of these life issues are his. If only these and some other issues I may be missing change we may see a new beacon of hope not only in our society but in the world. As our pontiff is doing we must hold him in our prayers and god will do the rest.

  • gadjmljj

    To be pro choice is to believe that one human being should have the “right” or license to kill another person. Pro choice or pro abortion makes not difference in the end….both support or allow the killing of the pre born child.

  • rakeys

    There are some politicians who are might be “pro choice”, but Obama is not one of them. He is a true politician and says whatever his audience wants to hear. To planned Parethood and NARAL he says that he will sign the FOCA Freedom of Choice Act, which will remove any laws restricting abortion, including Partial Birth abortion, Parental consent, taking minors across state borders,etc. To the prolife community he says he wants to reduce the number of abortions.
    However, he recently rescinded the Mexico City Policy, and we as a nation are now funding abortions in this country and worldwide. He also is trying to rescind the conscience clause for physicians and hospitals who do not wnat to performs abortions.
    Obama even stood up in the Illinois Senate and spoke against a bill that would requires sending babies who survived an abortion to a hospital for medical care. He actually spoke in favor of just allowing the baby to sit on a table until it died.
    Obama believes that abortion is the solution to many of the world’s problems.
    OBAMA is definitely PRO abortion. He hopes that a better world economy will reduce the number of women wanting an abortion. It will not. Abortion is chosen by wealthy and poor alike. Abortion is chosen, or forced on her, by women who are pregnant but do not want to have a baby. President Obama is doing nothing to change womens’s attitudes about wanting to have a baby if they are pregnant.

  • goral

    Yeah, reforming healthcare and still smoking bothers me too. I would prefer a president who didn’t smoke and left healthcare out of the hands of smokers, smoke blowers and those who are in the lucrative business of being beacons of hope for the whole pro-choice world.

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