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THE CARDINAL’S COLUMN -- by Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I.

The following is an excerpt from the October 13-26, 2002,  edition of the New World the diocesan newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese.

"The Church’s preaching of God’s forgiveness explains her constant preoccupation with respect for human life, from conception to the moment of natural death.  Forgiveness restores life; hatred brings death.  I finish writing these remarks designed to prepare us for Mission Sunday on October 6, this year’s Respect Life Sunday.  As we pray for peace this year, we are praying to respect life.  As we prepare to vote next month, the protection of human life becomes again the touchstone of the interaction between the Church’s teachings and our political life.  The ‘life issues’ are many.

"They are brought together in the ‘consistent ethic of life,‘ and at the heart of this consistent ethic is absolute respect for the life of the unborn child.  A direct attack on the innocent life of a living human being waiting to be born is the most fundamental affront to human dignity.  Abortion is not health care;  it is an act of violence justified in the name of individual freedom.

"The campaign not only to allow but to justify abortion in any and all circumstances becomes increasingly coercive in nature.  In the current campaign for the office of governor of Illinois, the placing of any kind of restrictions on abortion has been characterized by one candidate as evidence of an ‘extremist’  view.  I find this extremely irresponsible speech.  Effectively, any faithful Catholic who understands that abortion is killing has now been labeled an extremist by a mainstream politician.  Perhaps it was not deliberately said but, in the current climate, being labeled extremist is a step on the way to being excluded from the political conversation and to being held suspect in public opinion.  Already, being pro-life means one cannot be considered as a candidate for major political office, certainly in the Democratic Party and increasingly in sections of the Republican Party.  The abortion issue has been effectively used to screen out believing Catholics and others who are pro-life from full participation in our civic life."

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