Catholic Teaching is Against Abortion and Against Torture Priest Says as Torture Debate Continues

By Kathleen Gilbert

MILAN, Italy, May 8, 2009 ( - Although repugnance for torture and abortion usually fall on different sides of the American political spectrum, only the Catholic Church’s position rejects the violation of human dignity inherent in both, says priest-physicist Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete.

Albacete commented on the abortion/torture divide in a column for the Italian news agency Il Sussidiario. 

"The ongoing discussion concerning the alleged torture of prisoners by American investigators during the Bush II Administration’s ‘war against terrorism’ reveals an interesting reversal of roles when compared to the current discussion about abortion," he wrote.

On both abortion and torture, said Albacete, the question is debated between moral absolutists and moral relativists - those who say a given activity is always wrong, and those who say it can be permitted in certain cases. 

But while the Republican platform condemns abortion absolutely and fights the left-winged "safe, legal, and rare" mantra, the roles are reversed on torture: Republicans insist that it is sometimes necessary, while Democrats are pushing for criminal charges against those in the Bush administration who authorized it.

"The only coherent position in the debate about these two issues is that of the Catholic Church," wrote Albacete.  "Only those who embrace the position of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church condemn equally both abortion and torture in all cases."

Albacete pointed out that the Church’s teaching on both stems from moral standards "based on the inviolability of the human person," rather than "a utilitarian approach that seeks the greatest good for the greatest number."

(To see Msgr. Albacete’s original column:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms that "Torture ... is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity," and should be rejected as not "in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person."

In addition, Pope John Paul II’s papal encyclical "Veritatis Splendor" lists torture together with abortion as an intrinsic evil. 

The pope quotes a Vatican II statement that: "whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit ... are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator."

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