ROME, March 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life eyebrows were raised Thursday morning by a tweet from Pope Francis that seemingly added two environmental issues to the pro-life mission.
“To defend the earth and to safeguard water is to protect life,” the pontiff said on Twitter.
To defend the earth and to safeguard water is to protect life.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 22, 2018
The March 22 tweet came on World Water Day, and highlights an issue Francis has stressed multiple times in the past. In his papal encyclical Laudato Si' (On Care for Our Common Home), he declares the availability of safe drinking water “a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.”
During the Pontifical Academy of Science’s February 24, 2017 “Dialogue on Water,” the pope expressed fear that the planet was “moving toward a great world war over water,” and declared that all people must unite to heed the “cry of the earth for respect and responsible sharing in a treasure belonging to all.”
But while environmental policy can affect people’s quality of life, many pro-lifers have long warned that statements such as this, explicitly equating such issues with the protection of human life, dilutes the unique moral urgency of the human rights issues of abortion and euthanasia. Coming from prominent religious authorities, critics fear, they also invite confusion on what is and is not intrinsically evil.
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In October 2017, Human Life International’s Fr. Shenan Boquet explained the dangers of this “seamless garment” mentality. He wrote that its followers neglect the difference between “acts which are evil by their very nature (intrinsic evils), and therefore always sinful if carried out with knowledge, and more complex social problems,” which are caused by a variety of factors and have debatable solutions.
“Instead of helping inform the conscience of their flocks and protect individual souls and the common good from the consequences of such evils,” Boquet warns, seamless garment practitioners “minimize these atrocities by comparing them to other social problems.”
Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has consistently denounced abortion as an “abominable crime.” However, Catholic pro-lifers have also accused him of undermining the issue’s importance with actions such as bestowing the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory on Dutch pro-abortion activist Liliane Ploumen, and expanding the Pontifical Academy for Life’s mission from abortion and bioethics to include issues such as immigration, the environment, and arms control.
“If we must be pro-life, we must be always, in every way, and everywhere pro-life,” the academy’s President, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, said last October, citing Pope Francis and echoing the seamless garment premise.