Just as we have proudly highlighted the teaching of Living the Gospel of Life and Faithful Citizenship, so we also echo the statements of individual bishops -- including the Bishop of Rome -- about the critical nature of the abortion issue in relation to politics.
Traveling the nation constantly, I have observed how grateful people are to hear these exhortations, and I pass that gratitude on to our bishops. At the same time, I have been disappointed by some commentators who, contrary to the bishops' documents, have tried to equate all the issues. The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin never tolerated such a false equality. He argued rightly for linkage among the life issues, not for putting them all on the same footing.
A candidate's support for Roe vs. Wade, which has unleashed a policy of abortion on demand and destroyed over 34 million children, is far worse than his or her support for capital punishment. We oppose both. But Church teaching has never put both on an equal level.
The Priests for Life web site, www.priestsforlife.org, presents the full texts of Magisterium statements on abortion, as well as the lectures of Cardinal Bernardin on the proper understanding of the Consistent Ethic of Life.
On the following page are excerpts from some of the recent statements made by our Bishops. I urge everyone to read them carefully, especially during this critical time before the 2000 elections.
Fr. Frank Pavone is National Director of Priests for Life. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, and was appointed to this position by the late Cardinal John O'Connor.
Excerpts of Recent Statements of Catholic Bishops on the Priority Election Issue
"Dear friends, let us commit all our forces to defending the value of the family and respect for human life from the moment of conception. … I ask all people of good will who believe in these values to join forces effectively so that the latter may prevail in daily life, in cultural trends and in the mass media, in political decisions and the laws of nations." --Pope John Paul II, Third World Meeting with Families, October 14, 2000
"A political leader… is an architect of society…without a respect for life, all things fall apart. Political leaders must carry in their own minds and hearts the defense of the right to life and offer it to the community. Without this defense of life, the political leader, instead of contributing to the construction of society, destroys it." -- His Eminence Alfonso Cardinal López-Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vatican City
"We are unconditionally pro-life, since respect for the right to life is necessary for a human being to be able to exercise any other human right." -- Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore, Chairman, Pro-life Committee of the US Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, Bishop of Galveston-Houston, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference
We, the Four Bishops of Massachusetts, … wish to underscore the absolute centrality of the first issue, the protection of human life. Support and promotion of abortion by any candidate is always wrong and can never be justified. We will never cease to denounce abortion and euthanasia and teach all Catholics that to support those positions is to support death over life. - +His Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston, +Most Reverend Thomas Dupre, Bishop of Springfield, +Most Reverend Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Bishop of Fall River, +Most Reverend Daniel Reilly, Bishop of Worcester, October 2000
"Abortion is a decisive issue" tied to the United States upcoming elections. "…(P)overty can be dealt with progressively, (but) the death of a child is immediate". -- Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, October 2000
"It is impossible to advance human dignity by being "right" on issues like poverty and immigration, but wrong about the most fundamental issue of all -- the right to life." Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Denver, American and Catholic: thoughts on responsible citizenship, October 11, 2000
"The thousands of innocent pre-born babies killed every year by abortion constitute a greater evil than the execution of a few convicted felons by the state not only because of sheer number of deaths, but because of the gravity of the act itself. Therefore opposition to abortion must be a priority for Catholics who support the Church's teaching about the sacredness of all human life. -- Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss, Archbishop of Omaha
"Many Catholic leaders both clerical and lay have urged that citizens not vote for anyone who does not have a strong pro-life position. I do not see how a disciple of the Lord could ignore the fundamental importance of public policy protecting human life…To support candidates who would continue or even expand the possibilities for more people to die by human choice is seriously wrong." -- Bishop John Myers, Bishop of Peoria, October 17, 2000
"Abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign. …The taking of innocent human life is so heinous, so horribly evil, and so absolutely opposite to the law of Almighty God that abortion must take precedence over every other issue. I repeat. It is the single most important issue confronting not only Catholics, but also the entire electorate." -- Most Reverend James C. Timlin, D.D., Bishop of Scranton, "The Ballot and the Right to Life" Fall 2000
I fail to understand how any Catholic can support a candidate who is outspokenly and unambiguously "pro-choice", who supports the idea that the child in the womb is the property of the mother to be disposed of at will, and will make appointments to the Supreme Court that will reinforce the tremendous error of Roe v. Wade."-- Bishop William Murphy, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston