Pastors Speak


(Excerpts of a) Pastoral Statement on the Obligations of Catholics and the Rights of Unborn Children


Seventeen years ago, before the Supreme Court legalized abortion throughout the United States, few Catholic politicians favored legal abortion, and few Catholic voters were willing to support office seekers who did not uphold the fundamental right to life of unborn children. Today the situation has changed. Under the strains and tensions of contemporary politics, some politicians who consider themselves good Catholics endorse the view that abortion ought to be legal and even funded by the government. Some appear to adopt this position out of political expediency. Others seem to lose sight of the basic dignity of human life at every stage and in all conditions.

Some Catholic voters also appear to falter in their duties in justice and charity to the unborn. Some who maintain a pro-life view neglect to act on their commitment in the exercise of their responsibilities as citizens.

In these circumstances, the Church's constant and certain teaching on the dignity of human life must be clearly restated and steadfastly reaffirmed. Let there be no doubt that striving for legal abortion is radically inconsistent with the Catholic Faith. Any citizen or public official who helps to make abortion more widely available. .. commits a grave injustice against the most vulnerable members of the human family.

In our day, the lives of unborn children are subject to unprecedented threats. Catholics are called to do more than merely avoid complicity in killing. We are called by Christ Himself to come to the aid of the vulnerable, the weak, the oppressed. We must, by word and deed, bear witness to the sanctity of all human life.

It is a cause for great joy that so many Catholics have joined with Christians, Jews, members of other religions, and those professing no religion, in valiant efforts to defend the human rights of the unborn. Some have made heroic sacrifices in this cause. While heroism cannot be demanded of all ... all should find positive ways to promote respect for human life.

Ultimately, God will not judge our nation on its economic prosperity, military strength, or international influence and prestige, but on how well it promotes and protects the dignity of every human being. May the Judge of Nations not find us wanting.

Most Reverend John J. Myers,

Catholic Bishop of Peoria, June 1, 1990