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U.S. Bishops Declare “Intrinsic Evil” of Abortion Must Always Be Opposed

by | Nov 25, 2015

Editor’s note. The following is provided by PNCI–the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.

USCCB77The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved revisions to “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” on political responsibility during their recent meeting in Baltimore. The updates in the document “take account of recent developments in the United States in both domestic and foreign policy” including “the ongoing destruction of over one million innocent human lives each year by abortion” and physician-assisted suicide.

The bishops warn against “intrinsically evil” actions which must always “be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned.” Abortion and euthanasia are listed as prime examples because they “have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others”. Human cloning and destructive research on human embryos, and “other acts that directly violate the sanctity and dignity of human life”, are also intrinsically evil and “must always be opposed”.

The bishops warn that it “is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.”

Catholics are called “to make practical judgments regarding good and evil choices in the political arena” and the bishops warn that the taking of innocent life in abortion cannot be equated as “just one issue among many” and must always be opposed.

They advise that when voting, “It is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose policies promoting intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue. In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.”

Catholics serving in elected office are called to have “a heroic commitment” and “must commit themselves to the pursuit of the virtues, especially courage, justice, temperance, and prudence. The culmination of these virtues is the strong public promotion of the dignity of every human person as made in the image of God in accord with the teachings of the Church, even when it conflicts with current public opinion. Catholic politicians and legislators must recognize their grave responsibility in society to support laws shaped by these fundamental human values and oppose laws and policies that violate life and dignity at any stage from conception to natural death.”

Opposing evil should also “open our eyes to the good we must do, that is, to our positive duty to contribute to the common good and to act in solidarity with those in need.”

Faithful Citizenship explains the USCCB’s position that it “supports laws and policies to protect human life to the maximum degree possible, including constitutional protection for the unborn and legislative efforts to end abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. We also promote a culture of life by supporting laws and programs that encourage childbirth and adoption over abortion and by addressing poverty, providing health care, and offering other assistance to pregnant women, children, and families.”

The bishops call for greater assistance for the sick and dying stating, “The end of life is a holy moment, a moment that marks a preparation for life with God, and it is to be treated with reverence and accompaniment. The end of life is as sacred as the beginning of life and requires treatment that honors the true dignity of the human person as created in the image of the living God. We recognize that addressing this complex issue effectively will require collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors and across party lines.”

The document ends with the section, Goals for Political Life: Challenges for Citizens, Candidates, and Public Officials, and a list of ten policy goals which the bishops offer in the hope that it will “guide Catholics as they form their consciences and reflect on the moral dimensions of their public choices.”

The ten issues “address matters of different moral weight and urgency”, some involve intrinsically evil acts, which can never be approved while others “involve affirmative obligations to seek the common good.”

Categories: Abortion