Abortion is Wrong. Defend Life!
The Church Has Always Condemned Abortion and Taught Mercy
Is the result of pain, fear, confusion, or coercion. We must help one another!
The Church Condemns Abortion
“Abortion and Infanticide…
are unspeakable crimes“. (Gaudium et Spes, 51)
“Abortion…is gravely contrary to the moral law“. (CCC, 2271)
“A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication.” (Code of Canon Law, 1398)
“[T]he Church makes clear that abortion is a most serious and dangerous crime“. (Evangelium Vitae, 62)
“The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and every one, always and everywhere.” (CCC, 2261)
The Church “constantly reaffirms the moral condemnation of any kind of procured abortion.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life In Its Origin, 1)
“The Magisterium…constantly reaffirms the moral condemnation of any kind of procured abortion. This teaching has not been changed and is unchangeable.”(Instruction on Respect for Human Life, I, 1)
“Excommunication is not something arbitrary, but a measure prescribed by the Code [of Canon Law]. Thus, it simply states in canon law that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with going to Communion, where one receives the Body of Christ.” “Consequently, nothing new, surprising or arbitrary has been invented. Only what is prescribed by Church law has been recalled publicly, a law that is based on the doctrine and faith of the Church, on our appreciation of life and of the human individual from the very first instant.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
Why is the Church so Adamant?
“[L]ife is the first good received from God and is fundamental to all others; to guarantee the right to life…is the duty upon which the future of humanity depends”.
It’s About God
“The inviolability of the person…is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God”.
“Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact. From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God.” (Mater et Magistra, 194)
“Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.” (Evangelium Vitae, 2)
“God’s love…sees an impression of his own image and likeness in each one.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
“Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.” (CCC, 2258)
“God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being”. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life In Its Origin, 5)
“Every human being, even the child in the womb, has the right to life immediately from God, not from parents, nor from any society or human authority. Therefore there is no man, no human authority, no science, no medical, eugenic, social, economic, moral ‘indication’; who can exhibit or give a valid juridical title, for a direct deliberate disposition over an innocent human life”. (Pope Pius XII)
It’s About the Person
“Every child who…is condemned unjustly to being aborted bears the face of Jesus Christ”.
“From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” (CCC, 2270)
“[E]very human being is endowed with a dignity that must never be…destroyed“. (Pope St. John Paul II, 12)
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.” (CCC, 2270)
“The Church is too conscious of the fact that it belongs to her vocation to defend man against everything that could disintegrate or lessen his dignity to remain silent on such a topic.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 1)
It’s About the Good of Society
“Openness to life is at the center of true development.”
“In attacking human life in its very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 5)
“The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help.” (Caritas in Veritate, 28)
“The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
“I wish to stress that respect for life from its conception until natural death is the essential issue in the modern social question.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
“The first right of the human person is his life…this one is fundamental – the condition of all the others.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 11)
“Children truly are the family’s greatest treasure and most precious good. Consequently, everyone must be helped to become aware of the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 5)
God’s Infinite Mercy
“It is up to us…to give voice to God and to show the face of his mercy…always have the blanket of mercy at hand.”
What About Helping Women and Families?
“The Church’s pastoral concern will [extend to] those families in particular which are in difficult or irregular situations.”
“I would also like to mention the situation of families living in dire poverty and great limitations…In such difficult situations of need, the Church must…show them God’s mercy.” (Pope Francis, 49)
“The Church’s pastoral action…must follow the family, accompanying it step by step”. (Familiaris Consortio, 65)
“Whatever the cause, single parents must receive encouragement and support from other families in the Christian community, and from the parish’s pastoral outreach.” (Pope Francis, 252)
“[W]here concrete support is offered, despite problems and influences which are sometimes critical, women are able to make the sense of love, life and motherhood triumph within them.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 2)
“With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of motherhood…Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world…Try to experience this serene excitement amid all your many concerns, and ask the Lord to preserve your joy, so that you can pass it on to your child.” (Pope Francis, 171)
“In recent years, there has been great dedication…to meet the needs and difficulties of families.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
“It must be emphasized once more that the pastoral intervention of the Church in support of the family is a matter of urgency.” (Familiaris Consortio, 65)
“The Church, our mother, is committed to supporting with all her strength the good and generous presence of fathers in families” (Pope Francis)
What About Women Who Have Had Abortions?
- “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life”. However, “the Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy.” (CCC, 2272)
- “I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly, what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life“. (Evangelium Vitae, 99)
- “It will likewise be necessary…to provide [for] women who having unfortunately already had an abortion are now experiencing the full moral and existential tragedy of it. Many dioceses and volunteer organizations offer psychological and spiritual support for full human recovery. The solidarity of the Christian community cannot dispense with this type of co- responsibility.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
- “[E]ven when man rejects the truth and goodness that the Creator proposes to him, God does not abandon him but…continues to see him and to speak to him so that he will recognize his error and open himself to divine Mercy which can heal any wound.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
“Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic prospects, depression and anxiety about the future. Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil.” (Evangelium Vitae, 18)
The Church’s intention in pointing out abortion as a grave sin is not punishment. “Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.” (CCC, 2272)
Bob Fitch Photography archive | © Stanford University Libraries
Perhaps the best example of God’s infinite mercy is the Mass celebrated by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on December 8, 2021, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass was in celebration for Dorothy Day’s cause for canonization advancing to Rome’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Dorothy Day, who had an abortion, is being proposed for sainthood!
The Church’s intention in pointing out abortion as a grave sin is not punishment. “Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.” (CCC, 2272)
Isn’t It Up to the State to Decide? NO!
“Abortion and euthanasia are…crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize.”
The State Does Not Have the Power
“[N]o law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself”. (Evangelium Vitae, 62)
Human life “does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not for others”. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 11)
“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation…from the moment of conception”. (CCC, 2273)
“[W]e must accept that there are certain limits—limits…which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed.” (Humanae Vitae, 17)
“Human law can abstain from punishment, but it cannot declare to be right what would be opposed to the natural law, for this opposition suffices to give the assurance that a law is not a law at all.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 21)
“Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.” (CCC, 2274)
“[C]areful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law.” (Humanae Vitae, 17)
But Does the Church Call for Legal Punishments?
“The law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”
“The law cannot tolerate – indeed it must expressly forbid – that human beings, even at the embryonic stage, should be…destroyed”. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, III, a)
“The fact that legislation in many countries…has determined not to punish these practices against life, and even to make them altogether legal, is both a disturbing symptom and a significant cause of grave moral decline.” (Evangelium Vitae, 4)
“[T]he moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation must accord them, the State is denying the equality of all before the law.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, III, a)
What About Catholic Politicians’ “Privately Against…”?
“How long will you straddle the issue?” (1 Kings 18:21)
“Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound…to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature.” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 231)
“Politicians and legislators…as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life“. (Pope Benedict XVI)
“Politicians must commit themselves, through their interventions upon public opinion, to securing in society the widest possible consensus on such essential points and to consolidating this consensus wherever it risks being weakened or is in danger of collapse.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, III,a)
“Those who hold the reins of government should not forget that it is the duty of public authority by appropriate laws and sanctions to defend the lives of the innocent…in the first place infants hidden in the mother’s womb.” (Pope Pius XI, 67)
“It is part of the duty of the public authority to ensure that the civil law is regulated according to the fundamental norms of the moral law in matters concerning human rights, human life.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, III,a)
Doesn’t Prohibiting Abortion Impose a Religious Judgment on a Political Question?
“The life of each is equally sacred, and no one has the power, not even the public authority, to destroy it.”
“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.” (CCC, 2273)
“The human being must be respected – as a person – from the very first instant of his existence.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life In Its Origin, I,1)
“These human rights [do not] depend on nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person.” (CCC, 2273)
“The law is not obliged to sanction everything, but it cannot act contrary to a law which is deeper and more majestic than any human law”. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 21)
“The intervention of the public authority must be inspired by the rational principles which regulate the relationships between civil law and moral law. The task of the civil law is to ensure the common good of people through the recognition of and the defense of fundamental rights and through the promotion of peace and of public morality.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, III)
It is “never licit…take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law or vote for it”. (Evangelium Vitae, 73)
“I appeal to political leaders not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness, nor to abolish in practice your legal system’s acknowledgment that abortion is wrong. I say this out of a concern for humanity.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
“[N]o one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate”. (Evangelium Vitae, 90)
“[T]hose who are not in the community cannot take Communion…they are out of the community, excommunicated, they are ‘excommunicated'”. (Pope Francis)
“And if the public magistrates not only do not defend them, but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors or of others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cried from earth to Heaven.” (Pope Pius XI, 67)
“It is…inadmissible that doctors or nurses should find themselves obliged to cooperate closely in abortions and have to choose between the law of God and their professional situation.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 22)
The Consequences of an Abortion Culture
“Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble”.
“There is no future for a society that is incapable of duly appreciating the wealth represented by a newborn child and of valuing a woman’s vocation to motherhood.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
“These attacks…represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights.” (Humanae Vitae, 18)
“When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good.” (Caritas in Veritate, 28)
“When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth…a serious distortion of life in society” results. (Evangelium Vitae, 19 – 20)
When “any reference to common values and to a truth absolutely binding on everyone is lost…At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining: even the first of the fundamental rights, the right to life.” (Evangelium Vitae, 20)
“Those who violate His laws not only offend the divine majesty and degrade themselves and humanity, they also sap the vitality of the political community”.
“When the state does not place its power at the service of…in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined“. (CCC, 2273)
“When this happens… the disintegration of the State itself has already begun.” (Evangelium Vitae, 20)
“It is a threat capable, in the end, of jeopardizing the very meaning of democratic coexistence“. (Humanae Vitae, 18)
When “the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied…democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism.” (Evangelium Vitae, 20)
When the state “arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members…the democratic ideal…is betrayed in its very foundations.” (Evangelium Vitae, 20)
“The most perniciously typical aspect of the modern era consists in the absurd attempt to reconstruct a solid and fruitful temporal order divorced from God, who is, in fact, the only foundation on which it can endure.” (Mater et Magistra, 217)
“[W]hen the sense of God is lost, the sense of man is also threatened and poisoned”.
“[I]n his striving to master and transform the world around him he is in danger of forgetting and of destroying himself.” (Mater et Magistra, 242)
“[T]he systematic violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity, produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence”. (Evangelium Vitae, 21)
“Separated from God a man is but a monster, in himself and toward others; for the right ordering of human society presupposes the right ordering of man’s conscience with God”. (Mater et Magistra, 215)
Why Are We in this State of Affairs?
“Many different factors have to be taken into account.”
Modernity’s Loss of the Sense of God
“The most fundamental modern error is that of imagining that man’s natural sense of religion is nothing more than the outcome of feeling or fantasy”.
“[T]he heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man [is] the eclipse of the sense of God and of man“. (Evangelium Vitae, 21)
“[I]deologies do not take account of the whole man, nor even of his most important part…they fail to take account of that deep-rooted sense of religion which exists in all men everywhere, and which nothing, neither violence nor cunning, can eradicate.” (Mater et Magistra, 213)
“There is, alas, a spirit of hedonism abroad today which beguiles men into thinking that life is nothing more than the quest for pleasure and the satisfaction of human passions. This attitude is disastrous. Its evil effects on soul and body are undeniable.” (Mater et Magistra, 235)
The “very need for religion reveals a man for what he is: a being created by God and tending always toward God.” (Mater et Magistra, 214)
“[C]ontraception and abortion are often closely connected…such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom…The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.” (Evangelium Vitae, 13)
“[T]here is the profound crisis of culture, which generates skepticism in relation to the very foundations of knowledge and ethics”.
“There are some indeed who go so far as to deny the existence of a moral order which is transcendent, absolute, universal and equally binding upon all.” (Mater et Magistra, 205)
“There is an even more profound aspect which needs to be emphasized: freedom negates and destroys itself and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with the truth.” (Evangelium Vitae, 19)
“At the root of these negative phenomena there frequently lies a corruption of the idea and the experience of freedom, conceived…as an autonomous power of self-affirmation, often against others, for one’s own selfish well-being.” (Familiaris Consortio, 6)
“Such a situation makes it increasingly difficult to grasp clearly the meaning of what man is, the meaning of his rights and his duties.” (Evangelium Vitae, 11)
“[M]ass media are often implicated…by lending credit to that culture which presents recourse to… abortion…as a mark of progress and a victory of freedom, while depicting as enemies of freedom and progress those positions which are unreservedly pro-life.” (Evangelium Vitae, 17)
“[A]n overall assessment of a cultural and moral nature, beginning with the mentality which carries the concept of subjectivity to an extreme and even distorts it”. (Evangelium Vitae, 19)
Structures of Sin
“[T]here are all kinds of existential and interpersonal difficulties, made worse by the complexity of a society in which individuals, couples and families are often left alone with their problems.”
“There are situations of acute poverty, anxiety or frustration in which the struggle to make ends meet, the presence of unbearable pain, or instances of violence…make the choice to defend and promote life so demanding as sometimes to reach the point of heroism.” (Evangelium Vitae, 11)
“[A] notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them.” (Evangelium Vitae, 19)
“[W]e are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin…characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable ‘culture of death’“. (Evangelium Vitae, 12)
What About: It’s My Choice
“So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the ‘property’ of another human being.”
“Life, especially human life, belongs to God; whoever attacks human life attacks God’s very self.”
- “The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails.” (Pope Francis)
- “It pains me to say this. In the last century the entire world was scandalized over what the Nazis were doing to maintain the purity of the race. Today we do the same thing, but with white gloves.” (Pope Francis)
- “Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable.” (Evangelium Vitae, 4)
“A new cultural climate is developing and taking hold, which gives crimes against life a new and – if possible – even more sinister character“. (Evangelium Vitae, 4)
“It is a problem which exists at the cultural, social and political level, where it reveals its more sinister and disturbing aspect in the tendency, ever more widely shared, to interpret the above crimes against life as legitimate expressions of individual freedom, to be acknowledged and protected as actual rights.” (Evangelium Vitae, 18)
“Pregnancy is a difficult but wonderful time. A mother joins with God to bring forth the miracle of a new life”.
The Safeguarding of Human Life Has Precedence Over The Exercise Of Individual Freedom (Choice)
“Abortion…cannot be a human right – it is the very opposite.”
“[B]road sectors of public opinion justify certain crimes against life in the name of the rights of individual freedom”. (Evangelium Vitae, 4)
“[O]ne can never claim freedom of opinion as a pretext for attacking the rights of others, most especially the right to life.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 2)
“The legal toleration of abortion…can in no way claim to be based on respect for the conscience of others, precisely because society has the right and the duty to protect itself against the abuses which can occur in the name of conscience and under the pretext of freedom.” (Evangelium Vitae, 71)
“Recourse to the conscience of each individual…cannot be sufficient for ensuring respect for personal rights and public order.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, III)
The Child in The Womb Is Not the Mother’s Body but is a Separate Person: My Freedom Should Not Be Exercised Ignoring the Rights of Other Humans
“A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life.”
“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.” (CCC, 2273)
“[C]an one exempt women, any more than men, from what nature demands of them…all publicly recognized freedom is always limited by the certain rights of others.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 15)
“One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life.” (Pope Francis)
What About the Life and Health of Child and Mother?
“[N]either the life of the mother nor that of the child can be subjected to an act of direct suppression. In the one case as in the other, there can be but one obligation: to make every effort to save the lives of both, of the mother and the child.” (Pope Pius XII)
“We do not deny…very great difficulties. It may be a serious question of health, sometimes of life or death, for the mother; it may be the burden represented by an additional child, especially if there are good reasons to fear that the child will be abnormal or retarded…We proclaim only that none of these reasons can ever objectively confer the right to dispose of another’s life”. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 14)
“[A]ll direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful”. (Humanae Vitae, 12)
“[A]ny directive or program of the civil and health authorities or of scientific organizations which in any way were to favor a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion, or which were to go as far as directly to induce expectant mothers to submit to prenatal diagnosis planned for the purpose of eliminating fetuses which are affected by malformations or which are carriers of hereditary illness, is to be condemned as a violation of the unborn child’s right to life and as an abuse of the prior rights and duties of the spouses.” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, 2)
“Prenatal diagnosis is…gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion…a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.” (CCC, 2274)
“Expectant mothers need to ask God for the wisdom fully to know their children and to accept them as they are. Some parents feel that their child is not coming at the best time. They should ask the Lord to heal and strengthen them to accept their child fully and wholeheartedly. It is important for that child to feel wanted. He or she is not an accessory or a solution to some personal need. A child is a human being of immense worth”.
What Can I Do?
“Anyone who is Christian has a duty to bear witness to the Gospel: to protect life courageously and lovingly in all its phases.”
What MUST I Do?
“Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception”.
“We earnestly beg Our sons, immersed though they be in the business of this world, not to allow their consciences to sleep; not to lose sight of the true hierarchy of values.” (Mater et Magistra, 245)
“It becomes necessary, therefore, on the part of all, to recover an awareness of the primacy of moral values, which are the values of the human person as such.” (Familiaris Consortio, 8)
“[T]hey must also bring their professional activity into conformity with the Church’s social teaching. Their attitude must be one of loyal trust and filial obedience to ecclesiastical authority.” (Mater et Magistra, 241)
“Every sacrifice and every hardship will be compensated by the smile of the many children who, thanks to you, can enjoy the priceless gift of life. I warmly encourage you to make every effort so that everyone’s right to life will be recognized and an authentic democracy, inspired by the values of the civilization of love, will be built.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
What NOT to Do?
“Do nothing to compromise religion and morality.”
Regarding abortion laws, “There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead, there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.” (Evangelium Vitae, 73)
“To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right.” (Evangelium Vitae, 73)
“Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil.” (Evangelium Vitae, 73)
“The challenge is to make the Church’s ‘yes’ to Life concrete and effective. The struggle will be long, and it needs each one of you.”
“Place your intelligence, your talents, your enthusiasm, your compassion and your fortitude at the service of life!” (Pope St. John Paul II)
“It is not enough merely to formulate a social doctrine. It must be translated into reality.” (Mater et Magistra, 226)
“[T]he Christian conception of life demands of all…a spirit of moderation and sacrifice.” (Mater et Magistra, 234)
“[T]he laity can do much to help this diffusion of Catholic social doctrine by studying it themselves and putting it into practice, and by zealously striving to make others understand it.” (Mater et Magistra, 224)
“[W]e must exhort all those who are able to do so to lighten the burdens still crushing so many men and women, families and children, who are placed in situations to which, in human terms, there is no solution.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 24)
The laity “should be convinced that the best way of demonstrating the truth and efficacy of this teaching is to show that it can provide the solution to present-day difficulties. They will thus win those people who are opposed to it through ignorance of it. Who knows, but a ray of its light may one day enter their minds.” (Mater et Magistra, 225)
“They must remember, too, that if in the transaction of their temporal affairs they take no account of those social principles which the Church teaches, and which We now confirm, then they fail in their obligations and may easily violate the rights of others. They may even go so far as to bring discredit on the Church’s teaching, lending substance to the opinion that, in spite of its intrinsic value, it is in fact powerless to direct men’s lives.” (Mater et Magistra, 241)
“Realize then the supreme importance of spiritual and moral values”.
“A Christian’s outlook cannot be limited to the horizon of life in this world. He knows that during the present life another one is being prepared, one of such importance that it is in its light that judgments must be made.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 25)
“Catholics…should show themselves animated by a spirit of understanding and unselfishness, ready to cooperate loyally”. (Mater et Magistra, 239)
“The great task is…recapturing the ultimate meaning of life and its fundamental values. Only an awareness of the primacy of these values enables man…to bring about the true advancement of the human person in his or her whole truth, in his or her freedom and dignity.” (Familiaris Consortio, 8)
Man demands “a moral and religious order; and it is this order…which has the greatest validity in the solution of problems relating to his life as an individual and as a member of society”. (Mater et Magistra, 208)
“Even in the most difficult circumstances human freedom is capable of extraordinary acts of sacrifice and solidarity to welcome the life of a new human being.”
“It is above all necessary to combat its [abortions] causes. This includes political action”. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 26)
We “need to do everything possible to make…countries once again open to welcoming children. Encourage young married couples to establish new families and to become mothers and fathers!” (Evangelium Vitae, 19)
“Heroism is sometimes called for in order to remain faithful to the requirements of the divine law”. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 24)
“Never tire of supporting the growth of the birth rate…by raising awareness in institutions and in public opinion of the importance of giving life to policies and structures more open to the gift of children.” (Pope Francis)
“[I]t is necessary at the same time to influence morality and to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 26)
“[E]veryone is invited to act in the area of responsibility proper to each and…to recognize as a neighbor even the littlest among the children”. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, Conclusion)
A Prohibition Both Ancient and Secular
“I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.”
(Hippocratic Oath, CA fifth /third centuries BC)
“From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a new life is begun…It would never be made human if it were not human already.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 12)
“[E]very person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason…come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart the sacred value of human life from its very beginning”. (Evangelium Vitae, 2)
“Respect for human life is not just a Christian obligation. Human reason is sufficient to impose it on the basis of the analysis of what a human person is and should be.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 8)
“This doctrine is based upon the natural law“. (Evangelium Vitae, 62)
“The commandment ‘You shall not kill‘… is binding on every individual human being…It can be recognized by everyone through the light of reason”. (Evangelium Vitae, 77)
“The principles [the Church] gives are of universal application, for they take human nature into account…They also take into account the principal characteristics of contemporary society and are thus acceptable to all.” (Mater et Magistra, 220)
“[T]he conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?” (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, I, 1)
“Scientifically it’s a human life. The textbooks teach us that.” (Pope Francis)
“To this perpetual evidence modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, the program is fixed as to what this living being will be: a man, this individual-man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life”. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 13)
“This teaching remains valid and is further confirmed, if confirmation were needed, by recent findings of human biological science which recognize that in the zygote resulting from fertilization the biological identity of a new human individual is already constituted”. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life, I, 1)
Consistent Church Teaching
The Old Testament
Genesis “places man at the summit of God’s creative activity, as its crown. Everything in creation is ordered to man and everything is subject to him”.
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“Your hands shaped me and made me…You gave me life.” (Job 10:8, 12)
“From my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:10)
“You watched me as I was being formed”. (Psalm 139:15)
The Early Church
“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.”
“You shall not kill the embryo by abortion“. (Didache, 2:2 – First Century)
“Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion”. (Epistle of Barnabas, 19:5 – Ca. 70 – 132 AD)
“Christians now are so far from homicide, that with them it is utterly unlawful to make away a child in the womb…for to kill a child before it is born is to commit murder”. (Apology of Tertullian, 31 Ca. 197 AD)
Christians “beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring“. (Epistle to Diognetus, 5 – Ca. Second/Third Century AD)
“For we Christians look upon him as a man, who is one in embryo; for he is in being, like the fruit in blossom, and in a little time would have been a perfect man, had nature met with no disturbance.” (Apology of Tertullian, 32 Ca. 197 AD)
The Middle Ages
“It is true that in the Middle Ages, when the opinion was generally held that the spiritual soul was not present until after the first few weeks…But it was never denied at that time that procured abortion, even during the first days, was objectively grave fault.”
Modern Teaching on Abortion
“You well know how the Church has always condemned abortion, so that the teachings of our Predecessor of Venerable memory Pius XII (Speech of October 29, 1951) and of the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes, 27 and 51) have done nothing but confirm his ever unchanged and immutable moral doctrine.”
In the Last 100 Years
It is a “very grave crime…the taking of the life of the offspring hidden in the mother’s womb”. (Pope Pius XI, 63)
“Every human being, even the child in the womb, has the right to life immediately from God, not from parents, nor from any society or human authority.” (Pope Pius XII)
“First consideration must obviously be given to those values which concern man’s dignity generally, and the immense worth of each individual human life.” (Pope St. John XXIII, 192)
“[B]y the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops…I declare that direct abortion…always constitutes a grave moral disorder“. (Pope St. John Paul II, 62)
“[E]veryone must be helped to become aware of the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 5)
“Let the abortion and killing of innocent lives end.” (Pope Francis)
Q: Has Pope Francis been clear on the Church's position?
A: Absolutely! “Abortion is never the answer” Pope Francis
“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.” (Laudato Si’, 120)
“It pains me to say this. In the last century the entire world was scandalized over what the Nazis were doing to maintain the purity of the race. Today we do the same thing, but with white gloves.” (Pope Francis)
Q: What About Catholic Politicians Voting for More Restrictive Laws?
A: “A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on…In a case like the one…when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official…could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.” (Evangelium Vitae, 73)
“This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” (Evangelium Vitae, 73)
Prayer for Life
Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life, make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb the miraculous work of the Creator, open our hearts to generously welcoming every child that comes into life.
Bless all families, sanctify the union of spouses, render fruitful their love.
Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies with the light of your Spirit, so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect the sacred nature of life, of every human life.
Guide the work of scientists and doctors, so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person, and no one endures suppression or injustice.
Give creative charity to administrators and economists, so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions so that young families can serenely embrace the birth of new children.
Console the married couples who suffer because they are unable to have children and, in Your goodness, provide for them.
Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children, so they may experience the warmth of your Charity, the consolation of your divine Heart.
Catholic Social Teaching and Other Issues
The belief humanity can be divided into separate and exclusive biological entities with some races innately superior to others. This leads to personal and societal prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity. What does Catholic social teaching have to say about such an insidious “ism”?
Candidates for President of the United States and many in congress espouse this as an alternative model for our country. What, exactly, is it? What does the Catholic Church have to say about it?
One political party committed the US to the Paris Agreement and proposes a “Green New Deal”. Another party withdrew from the Paris Agreement and inimically opposes the other’s proposal. What does Catholic social teaching have to say?
National Health Care
US health care is, in many ways, the envy of the world. Would a national health care program improve it? See how Catholic social teaching can inform the discussion!
A right? How much? Who? What are immigrants’ duties? This is complicated! Catholic social teaching can help sort through the issues.
“The greatest challenge of our time”! Why? Radical secularism holds that there is no such thing as an objective truth. But, “Without truth, without trust and love for what is true...social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 5) Sound familiar?
Why These Issues Matter
Catholic social teaching informs our consciences and requires action from us, the lay faithful. “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation.
For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment.”
Catholic social teaching is built on three foundational principles – Human Dignity, Solidarity and Subsidiarity. Human Dignity, embodied in a correct understanding of the human person, is the greatest. The others flow from it. Good governments and good economic systems find ways of fostering the three principles: “The State must contribute to the achievement of these goals both directly and indirectly. Indirectly and according to the principle of subsidiarity, by creating favorable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity, which will lead to abundant opportunities for employment and sources of wealth. Directly and according to the principle of solidarity, by defending the weakest” (Pope St. John Paul II, 15)
This means a correct understanding of the human person and of each person’s unique value. All Catholic social teaching flows from this: the inherent dignity of every person that comes from being made in God’s image. This is “the basis not only of the unity of the human family but also of our inviolable human dignity” (Pope Benedict XVI) and it is in this beginning that human rights are grounded.
Solidarity is not “a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. It is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good” (Pope St. John Paul II, 38). Love of God and love of neighbor are, in fact, linked and form one, single commandment. “We cannot believe in God the Father without seeing a brother or sister in every person, and we cannot follow Jesus without giving our lives for those for whom he died on the cross.”
Subsidiarity identifies how decisions in society need to be taken at the lowest competent level. “It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry. So, too, it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and a disturbance of right order to transfer to the larger and higher collectivity functions which can be performed and provided for by the lesser and subordinate bodies”.
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