|"The Teaching That Covers Evils Such as Abortion Could Not Be Clearer"
CHICAGO, 5 SEPT. 2008 (ZENIT)
Here is the response of Cardinal Francis
George, archbishop of Chicago, to recent comments of U.S. House of
Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on abortion, Catholic teaching on
the beginning of life, and other life issues.
The Sept. 2 statement by Cardinal George is available on the Web site
of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the midst of a lengthy political campaign, matters of public
policy that are also moral issues sometimes are misrepresented or are
presented in a partial or manipulative fashion. While everyone could be
expected to know the Church's position on the immorality of abortion and
the role of law in protecting unborn children, it seems some profess not
to know it and others, even in the Church, dispute it. Since this
teaching has recently been falsely presented, the following
clarification may be helpful.
The Catholic Church, from its first days, condemned the aborting of
unborn children as gravely sinful. Not only Scripture's teaching about
God's protection of life in the womb (consider the prophets and the
psalms and the Gospel stories about John the Baptist and Jesus himself
in Mary's womb) but also the first century catechism (the Didache or
Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) said: "You shall not slay the child by
abortions. You shall not kill what is generated." The teaching of the
Church was clear in a Roman Empire that permitted abortion. This same
teaching has been constantly reiterated in every place and time up to
Vatican II, which condemned abortion as a "heinous crime." This is true
today and will be so tomorrow. Any other comments, by politicians,
professors, pundits or the occasional priest, are erroneous and cannot
be proposed in good faith.
This teaching has consequences for those charged with caring for the
common good, those who hold public office. The unborn child, who is
alive and is a member of the human family, cannot defend himself or
herself. Good law defends the defenseless. Our present laws permit
unborn children to be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children
outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the
common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social
teaching. One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be
working for the common good.
This explains why the abortion issue will not disappear and why it is
central to the Church's teaching on a just social order. The Church does
not endorse candidates for office, but she does teach the principles
according to which Catholics should form their social consciences. The
teaching, which covers intrinsic evils such as abortion and many other
issues that are matters of prudential judgment, could not be clearer;
the practice often falls short because we are all sinners. There is no
room for self-righteousness in Catholic moral teaching.
The Conference of Bishops in this country and the Bishops of Illinois
have issued statements about Catholic social teaching and political
life. They are available in our parishes. All of us should keep our
country and all the candidates for office in the next election in our
prayers. God bless you and your families.