Friday, September 26, 2008

"Some Issues Have More Weight"

"MANY SOCIAL ISSUES ARE important," writes Archbishop Charles Chaput in his important little book, Render Unto Caesar. "Many require our attention. But some issues have more weight than others. Deliberately killing innocent human life, or standing by and allowing it, dwarfs all other social issues ... the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin warned against the misuse of his 'seamless garment' imagery to falsely invest different social issues with the same moral gravity" [211]. Chaput quotes:
Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues ... Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all those areas.

Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages. But being "right" in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life {emphasis in original}.

Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the "rightness" of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as "the temple of the Holy Spirit" - the living house of God - then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia strike at the house's foundation {emphasis in original}. These directly and immediately violate the human person's most fundamental right - the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Such attacks cannot help but lull the social conscience in ways ultimately destructive of other human rights.
- U. S. Catholic Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life,
quoted in Render Unto Caesar

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