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Denver archbishop Samuel AquilaFr. Zak Boazman / Flickr

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DENVER, April 3, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S. archbishop published a commentary criticizing his brother bishops who claim that “climate change or immigration are assaults against human life that are just as morally serious as abortion and euthanasia.”

In a piece composed for the Denver Catholic, Archbishop Samuel Aquila did not mince words about bishops who choose not to recognize abortion as “preeminent” as a sign of increasing moral darkness in the world.

“We have seen the progressive darkening grow especially in the last 10 years with physician-assisted suicide, the re-definition of marriage, and a few bishops, even more sadly, since they should know better, arguing against abortion being a preeminent issue in voting,” he said. 

During the fall 2019 gathering of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 69 bishops voted to dislodge abortion as the most significant life issue continuing to face the Catholic Church in America.  

Emphasizing the “seriousness of these weighty topics,” Archbishop Aquila quoted John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae – The Gospel of Life:

As St. John Paul II says, “when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life; in turn, the systematic violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity, produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence.” (EV, 21). 

Aquila’s statement directly challenges Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego. They argued publicly at the time that the USCCB should more closely align itself with Pope Francis’ embrace of what amounts to the “Seamless Garment” view, which assigns equal weight to an array of important life issues.    

At the November meeting, a disagreement erupted revealing how the current pontificate had divided them on fighting abortion as a social justice priority. They voted 143-69 against including a full quote by Pope Francis in their document on citizenship that downplayed abortion. 

The debate began when Cardinal Cupich asked for an amendment to the short letter that would include the entire paragraph 101 from Pope Francis’ controversial 2018 Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate.”

“(Francis) speaks about the need to make sure we avoid those kinds of ideological frameworks that our society today is so paralyzed in our political discourse by, but also he wants to make sure as we see here that not only do we avoid that, but we engage one another,” Cupich said.

“He also makes sure we do not make one issue that a political party or group puts forward to the point where we’re going to ignore all the rest of them. And then he also names some that we don’t name in our document,“ he added.

Bishop McElroy also objected, saying, “It is not Catholic teaching that abortion is the preeminent issue that we face as the world in Catholic social teaching. It is not.” 

McElroy said he believed that saying the threat of abortion is the USCCB’s “preeminent priority” is “at least discordant with the pope’s teaching if not inconsistent” and that it is a “grave disservice to our people if we’re trying to communicate to them what the Magisterium teaches.”

To drive home his point, Archbishop Aquila quoted a Denver priest whose accompanying commentary in the Denver Catholic addressed more deeply the troubling nature of bishops who fail to recognize the preeminence of abortion and euthanasia.

Father Luis Granados, dcjm, began:

In Evangelium Vitae St. John Paul II invites us to love, respect and promote life. The encyclical focuses on two offenses against life: abortion and euthanasia. Two solemn declarations condemn them as intrinsically evil, as the deliberate and direct killing of an innocent human being (EV, 62 and 65). But some argue today that it would be better to focus on other ethical issues like immigration, social injustice or environmental sins, which they claim are just as wrong. 

Father Granados went on to urge consideration of who are the actual “murderers” when it comes to abortion and euthanasia: “The physician, the father and the mother, those appointed by God as its keepers, are those who destroy the baby, and are subsequently  morally destroyed.” 

“Children are called to honor their elderly parents, but in euthanasia, it is sometimes the children who decide to kill them,” he continued. “In both cases, the relationship between generations, the basic bond that builds our society, is destroyed.”    

“In other sins against life, like immigration, we enter into the realm of prudential decisions: How many immigrants should our country welcome? Under which conditions? But in the case of abortion or euthanasia there is no such deliberation,” Granados wrote. “We are dealing with an action that is always evil: always and in every circumstance (Veritatis Splendor, 52).” 

“The current threat of the COVID-19 virus will be a defining moment in how our society treats each person’s dignity,” wrote Archbishop Aquila.  

“Will we ‘respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life’ (EV, 5) in the way that we respond, or will we only look out for ourselves? Will we respect the life of the elderly as much as the young?” he asked. 

“On this 25th anniversary of Evangelium Vitae,” Fr. Granados observed, “St. John Paul II passes the baton of the building of a culture of life to us.”