Patrick Craine


‘Nothing has changed’: Right to life is still the foundational issue, says Philly Archbishop

Patrick Craine

PHILADELPHIA, October 24, 2013 ( - Amidst confusion about the Church’s teaching on how to engage issues like abortion, contraception, and same-sex “marriage” following recent interviews by Pope Francis, Philadelphia’s Archbishop has stressed that “nothing has changed” and the right to life remains the “foundational” issue facing the culture.

The right to life “is not merely one among many urgent issues, but rather the foundational one. It provides the cornerstone for a whole architecture of human dignity,” Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a column for Catholic Philly, the archdiocesan newspaper, on October 18.

“Nothing has changed in recent months or years in Catholic thinking about the sanctity of human life. Nor can it,” he added.

Archbishop Chaput framed his column as a reflection on the USCCB’s 1998 pastoral letter Living the Gospel of Life, which he called the best document ever issued by the U.S. bishops on the priorities of Catholic engagement in our nation’s public life.” The bishops’ purpose, he says, was to apply Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae to the U.S. context.

The archbishop quoted two paragraphs from the letter, which he called the “heart” of its message.

The first paragraph stresses that the battle against abortion and euthanasia “does not excuse indifference” to other classes of people who are “weak and marginalized.”

“Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care,” it stated.

Conversely, the second paragraph stresses that taking on these other areas cannot “excuse” avoiding the grave issues of abortion and euthanasia.

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Describing the human person as “the living house of God,” the bishops said issues like poverty, education, and health care form the “crossbeams and walls” of the house, but attacks on life like abortion and euthanasia “strike at the house’s foundation,” because they violate “the human person’s most fundamental right – the right to life.”

Commenting on the paragraphs, Archbishop Chaput says, “We have an obligation to work for human dignity at every stage and in every circumstance of human life.  Here in Philadelphia, our Catholic social ministries model that dedication to the poor and disadvantaged in an extraordinary way.”

“But when we revoke legal protection for unborn children – when we accept the intimate violence abortion inflicts both on women and their unborn children; when we license and sacralize abortion as part of what Pope Francis calls a ‘throw away culture’ — we violate the first and most important human right, the right to life itself,” he said. “And once we do that, and then create a system of alibis to justify it, we begin to put every other human and civil right at risk.”

Read Archbishop Chaput's full column at the Catholic Philly.

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