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Most Reverend John J. Myers

We are approaching elections in our nation. Once again there are many important issues. Once again, various groups tend to hold some issues in higher priority than others. And sadly, once again the series of issues surrounding the protection of innocent human life tend to be ignored or downplayed by many people.

In the face of such a situation, Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, recently referred to abortion and other right to life issues as "defining issues" for our country and for our time. What does he mean by this?

Clearly, the Cardinal is pointing out that the stance which we take on such issues will define what kind of a people and what kind of a society we will be. Will we welcome and respect the inviolable dignity of each human person? Or will we make our own convenience and well-being the moral norm? Ultimately, a "pro-choice" position is dehumanizing. A pro-choice position allows a death-dealing choice which points our society in a direction with vast consequences for the future.

I want to reiterate what we American Bishops said in December of 1998, (Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics.) "No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life."

As I indicated in my pastoral statement over ten years ago, those who ignore the dignity of human life in these matters certainly do violence to human beings and damage our society. They also undermine their own relationship with God, Who has created all human beings in His own Image; they likewise undermine their relationship with the Church, which proclaims with clarity the Gospel message by His command. Their communion with the Catholic faith will surely be weakened and will ultimately fade away.

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. Innocent human life should always be able to find love and support from those who claim to be followers of the Lord. To support candidates who would continue or even expand the possibilities for more people to die by human choice is seriously wrong.

Abortion is not just one issue among many. It is a foundational issue, as are other life-related issues before our society. I urge all citizens to consider the paramount importance of these issues and to acknowledge by their support that neither party membership, nor personal self-interest, nor traditional loyalties can have the same importance as protecting innocent human life. The Lord would not expect less of His disciples.


October 17, 2000

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