By Kathleen Gilbert

BOSTON, Massachusetts, October 30, 2008 ( – By defending the right to life, American Catholic bishops and their flock bear witness to the “centerpiece” of Catholic teaching as well as the proper “vision of democracy,” writes Cardinal O’Malley of Boston in a statement released today.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley wrote the statement in response to a Boston globe inquiry regarding the recent surge of U.S. bishops speaking out against abortion this election season. 

“In defending the cause of life, we are not only fulfilling our vocation as Catholics, but we are also defending the vision of democracy that … we are all created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, the first of which is the right to life,” he writes.

“Today, this most fundamental human right is threatened.”

Cardinal O’Malley cites the USCCB document ‘Living the Gospel of Life’ which states: “As we tinker with the beginning, the end, and even the intimate cell structure of life, we tinker with our own identity as a free nation dedicated to the dignity of the human person.”

There is a widespread and growing opposition to abortion among American voters, says the cardinal, despite the sustained efforts of pro-abortion advocates who 30 years ago “thought that within a year or so the opposition would go away or die off.

“A dictatorial court has imposed an unethical decision on our country and divided the American people,” writes O’Malley.  “We pray for the opportunity to allow the American people to have a voice in such a crucial issue.” 

The statement highlights the defense of life as the heart of Catholic social teaching.

“As people of compassion we must defend the rights of the most vulnerable. The church’s social teaching is very coherent and extends to all aspects of economic justice, racial equality, war and peace, immigration, education, and healthcare issues.

“But the centerpiece of our teaching will always be the right to life.”

To see Cardinal O’Malley’s fully statement:

See related article:

50 Bishops Say Abortion Most Important Issue in U.S. Election