The Dreamers, as DACA recipients are known, gathered at a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Sunland Park, N.M., Jan. 10, 2018 REUTERS

Fr. Tom Rosica: Pro-life position extends well beyond abortion

By  Fr. Tom Rosica
  • January 25, 2018

The last presidential election campaign in the United States was a bitter, toxic, embarrassing and polarizing experience for many Americans and for people around the world, leaving many repulsed and despairing rather than excited and hopeful. Voters were disgusted by the state of American politics, and many harboured doubts that either major party nominee could unite the country after this divisive campaign. 

The memories and results of that campaign and current U.S. government policies and laws being enacted have left people around the world shocked, appalled and wondering what has happened in America. Slogans and campaign rhetoric like “Make America Great Again” have ended up sounding more like “Make America embarrassed again” and “Make America marginalized again.” 

Emma Lazarus’ words emblazoned at the base of Lady Liberty in New York’s harbour seem to have been altered: “Keep away from this land your tired and poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free. They don’t belong here….”

How easy it is for Catholics in America and around the world to be cynical or discouraged, but neither attitude is helpful. Our Catholic Christian faith tells us that God will provide what we need to do His will. Catholics who are faithful citizens have the ability — with the help of God’s grace — to make choices that are morally sound even if they appear to be politically incorrect. 

Pope Francis rejects the notion that there is a special set of non-negotiable values regarding life issues. “I have never understood the expression non-negotiable values,” he said. “Values are values, and that is it. I can’t say that, of the fingers of a hand, there is one less useful than the rest. Whereby I do not understand in what sense there may be negotiable values.” 

For those who act as if abortion is the only item on the political agenda, their attitude does not reflect the full pro-life position of the Roman Catholic Church. Those who are pro-life must be sure that their ethic for life is consistent. The Church offers a teaching on the inviolability, the sacredness, the dignity of the human person. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice.  

Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction; whatever violates the dignity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, unjust immigration policies, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, disgraceful working conditions — all of these and more poison human society. 

If citizens take into consideration these important principles and the full meaning of what it means to be pro-life, they cannot fail in their duty as faithful citizens or loyal Catholics. The sacredness and dignity of all human life is found at the centre of all these issues.

How has the current occupant of the Oval Office addressed the essential respect for all human life, the questions of freedom, difficult moral choices that must be addressed, the preferential option for the poor, the welcome and care of refugees, the care for God’s creation and the authentic commitment to world peace? 

We live in a culture that denies human solidarity and takes the form of a veritable “culture of death.” This culture is fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents that encourage an idea of society exclusively concerned with efficiency. It is a war of the powerful against the weak. There is no room in this type of world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is weak or anyone who appears at the mercy of others and can only communicate through the silent language of profound sharing of affection. 

There is no question that abortion is the most serious wound inflicted not only on individuals and their families who should provide the sanctuary for life, but inflicted as well on society and its culture by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders.

But immigration issues are also critical pro-life issues. The lives of 800,000 Dreamers in America are pro-life issues. The separation of families at U.S. borders is a pro-life issue. Wrongful incarceration of thousands of young people along the border with Mexico is a pro-life issue. Care of the environment is also a critical life issue for the world. 

The litmus test for being pro-life is not only attending rallies or marches each year. The real test is what we do for life during the other 364 days, and what efforts, great and small, do we embrace to oppose any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, violations of human dignity and coercions of the will. How do we advocate for those who endure subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, human trafficking and disgraceful working conditions and wrongful, unjust immigration policies? All of these things and more poison society. 

If we are pro-life, we must engage the culture around us, and not curse it. We must see others as Jesus does, and we must love them to life, even those who are opposed to us.  

And we must answer the question that Pope Francis posed to the world in Laudato Si’: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” 

(Fr. Rosica, CSB, is the CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.)

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