By Kevin Burke, LSW
Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Survey revealed the difference between those who identify as social justice Catholics and believers who see themselves as right to life Catholics:
“Right to life Catholics” believe the Catholic Church should focus more on abortion and the right to life in its statements about public policy, even if means focusing less on issues like social justice and the obligation to help the poor.”
“Social justice Catholics” believe the Church should focus more on the obligation to help the poor, even if it means focusing less on issues like abortion.
The Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice is clearly in the social justice camp.
Founded by a group of Catholic religious sisters, the Network proclaims that “all lives are equally sacred.” In a list they call “Pope Francis Priorities” (suggesting papal approval of their manifesto) they list abortion among a list of “equally sacred groups” such as victims of human trafficking, the elderly, poor, immigrants etc.
The Network shares:
“We need a clear, firm, and passionate defense of the unborn, however, equally sacred are the lives of those already born.”
That “however” is of great significance.
The Network advises Christians to prioritize social issues and not focus exclusively on abortion; believers can look to the wider platform of a political party and candidate beyond abortion when making voting decisions, they believe. This led the Network to endorse Joe Biden for president.
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life presents a different perspective.
In reference to immigration, Fr. Pavone asks:
“Does Catholic teaching permit you to oppose building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border? Yes.
Does Catholic teaching permit you to favor building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border? Yes.
Does Catholic teaching permit you to favor keeping abortion legal, and a woman’s right to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy? No – absolutely not.
Abortion is not of equal importance with visa restrictions, sanctuary cities, the resettlement of refugees, and other legitimate moral concerns, as serious as those matters are.”
For Father Pavone, any discussion of rights is a moot point if the right to life is not recognized and upheld as the most fundamental right of every human being.
Biden/Harris and the Codification of Roe V Wade
What would a Biden/Harris administration and a Democrat-controlled congress mean for the “equally sacred” children in the womb?
As president, Biden said he would “send immediately to the U.S. Congress…a Codification of Roe v Wade.” Despite the clear wording of Roe allowing state regulations, the Democrat Party instead wants to nullify any existing state laws restricting abortion, such as parental notification, informed consent, and laws that ban abortion procedures after the child in the womb feels pain.
The Biden/Harris version of “codifying Roe” would guarantee unrestricted access to abortion in all 50 states – through all nine months of pregnancy and for infants born alive in botched abortions – even if Roe v Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court.
In addition, the Democrats and Biden would repeal the Hyde Amendment, providing taxpayer-funded abortion services to the poor, and remove any funding restrictions for organizations that provide abortion referrals.
Not only would Biden nominate judges who support unrestricted abortion – a new and radical shift in stated policy- but dangerous abortion pills would be available over the counter.
The Trump administration, on the other hand has demonstrated in its first four years in office “a clear, firm, and passionate defense of the unborn” by
- Curbing taxpayer funding of abortion domestically and internationally;
- Appointing over 230 pro-life federal judges including two Supreme Court Justices;
- Urging Congress to end late term abortion and infanticide.
- Protecting pro-life organizations from having to provide abortion referrals or cover abortion in their health insurance plans.
- Reinforcing ethical standards in research so that aborted baby body parts are not used.
- Protecting the conscience rights of healthcare workers.
(An extensive list of the accomplishments of the Trump Administration on multiple issues can be found at ProLifePresident.com.)
Can a Christian consider abortion just one of a number of equally valid moral concerns, given the radical pro-abortion agenda of the Biden/Harris ticket?
Or will Catholics and believers in Jesus Christ of all denominations make a decision drawing upon the wisdom of St. John Paul II?
“It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.
….Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace.” (Evangelium vitae – The Gospel of Life)
In other words, all lives are equally sacred, but not all attacks on life are equally destructive.
Over two thousand years earlier, Jesus of Nazareth addressed a crowd about building our faith, and our lives, on a solid foundation:
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed—it was utterly destroyed! (Matthew 7:24-27)
If a political party is built upon the radical promotion of abortion through all nine months of pregnancy – despite some otherwise laudable elements of their overall platform – this party’s moral authority and social sanction collapses in moral ruin.
[In Part II of this series, I will present the dynamic connection that exists between abortion and the challenges faced by those suffering poverty and oppression – and how prolife advocacy, abortion prevention, and healing after abortion are essential in communities ravaged by violence, family breakdown and social and economic injustice.]