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Catholic Bishops Reaffirm Abortion is ‘Preeminent Priority’ Ahead of 2024

by | Nov 16, 2023

By Catholic Vote

At their Plenary Fall meeting on Wednesday, the U.S. bishops approved an amendment reaffirming that opposition to abortion is their “preeminent priority” ahead of the 2024 elections.

The amendment to the introductory note of their document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” reads: “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks our most vulnerable and voiceless brothers and sisters and destroys more than a million lives per year in our country alone.”

The amendment passed with 225 votes in favor, 11 opposing, seven abstaining, and no floor debate. 

The Catholic News Agency noted: “While the previous version of the guide included language condemning gender ideology, there was no mention of that issue in the document’s introduction.”

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), addressed the amendment at a press briefing after the vote. 

“I think that the protection of the unborn remains a preeminent priority because unborn children who are affected by this are utterly vulnerable, utterly voiceless, and there are so many of them who have died,” Lori said: 

And we are called to stand in radical solidarity with women in difficult pregnancies and their unborn children, and to provide them with the kind of support and services and public policies that they need.

So it’s not simply a public policy issue. It is a deeply, deeply pastoral issue of loving the moms in need, walking with them, helping them bring their babies to term, and then providing them with what they need to move forward.

According to Catholic Review, Lori also told reporters after the vote that there are “many people who are vulnerable for many, many different reasons,” but the “reason we focus on the unborn as we do is because they are utterly voiceless and defenseless and abortion is a direct taking of human life.” 

The amendment reinforces language already contained in the document: “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.”

The Catholic News Agency reported that the bishops “also voted to approve several brief excerpts from the guide to be inserted in parish bulletins” during the upcoming election cycle.

In 2019, the USCCB debated statements made in an introductory letter of the text before it would be published for Catholics to read ahead of the 2020 presidential election. 

The Pillar noted that in 2019, Bishop Emeritus Robert McElroy of San Diego objected to the language presenting abortion as “preeminent.”

“It is not Catholic that abortion is the preeminent issue that we face as a world in Catholic social teaching. It is not,” McElroy said at the time, adding that saying abortion is the “preeminent issue” is “discordant” with the pope’s teachings. 

Then-Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput opposed McElroy. “I am against anyone stating that our saying [abortion] is ‘preeminent’ is contrary to the teaching of the pope,” Chaput stated. “Because that isn’t true. It sets an artificial battle between the bishops’ conference of the United States and the Holy Father which isn’t true. So I don’t like the argument Bishop McElroy used. It isn’t true.”

After the 2024 presidential election, the bishops will review the document again.

Categories: Abortion