We cannot ignore the life issues
With the economic crisis darkening the political horizon, the past month
has left little room for other issues to penetrate the minds of Americans as
we prepare to vote in the upcoming election. Certainly the economy deserves
our serious consideration, along with such important issues as war,
healthcare and immigration.
It is troubling, though, that there has also been a critical absence of
issues central to the preservation of life and the family from the public
arena. It would seem to infer that these issues have no impact on voter’s
selection process or that they are simply not important. Regardless which
side of these issues a person falls, these are defining principles for any
Recently, the Express-News published its voter’s guide. It was a
comprehensive listing of races and candidates running for office in
November. I’m sure it was a helpful tool for many. I recognize it is
challenging to make any voter’s guide comprehensive on the issues. However,
the inclusion of the fundamental life issues for pursuit of the common good
would have made the publication more complete, accurate and a useful tool at
this critical time.
People need to know the positions of the candidates on the key issues that
protect the right to life such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell
research and capital punishment. Voters also would have been better served
if they had been provided information about the candidates’ positions on the
definition of marriage, the basic cell of society as a union between a man
and a woman.
The “culture of life” issues, and I include in that the preservation of the
very foundational definition of the human family, often are dismissed as
purely religious issues. This characterization is inaccurate. These issues
deal with the most fundamental concerns of human civilization. The strong
moral teaching at the foundation of these issues does not disqualify them
from deserving serious public discussion, nor deny the impact they have on
the common good.
I find it unfortunate that often, when an individual raises abortion as a
critical issue, there is a fear that they will be quickly labeled a “one
issue” voter. While this characterization might protect one from confronting
the moral gravity of taking an innocent, defenseless, human life, it also
avoids the reality that abortion is an issue that affects all segments of
our society. It represents the primary right guaranteed in our Declaration
of Independence—the right to life. Unless we protect this fundamental right
of each human person, at all stages of life, no other issue or liberty
Surely, many form their conclusions on these and other issues through a
process guided by faith. However, society should not insist that people of
faith be silent in the face of grave evil. We live in a society that would
like to privatize religion, to take it out of the public square. Privatizing
religion would be for all people of faith, an unholy compromise. We who
profess to believe in God cannot allow him to be banished from the public
It is never my purpose, nor the proper role of the Church, to tell people
how or for whom to vote. However, we have a responsibility to be a voice for
the innocent, the helpless, for life itself at this time of political
clutter. We cannot ignore these issues, many of which we believe are
“non-negotiable.” If our nation loses respect for life and true “family
values” it will have lost its moral authority to lead the world.
America is founded upon a belief in the existence of truth; in the dignity
of the human person; in justice; and in the common good that flows from
loving our neighbor and ourselves. All Catholics and people of faith will be
praying for God’s guidance and wisdom as we celebrate our democracy.
Archbishop José H. Gomez, S.T.D.