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BALTIMORE, Maryland, September 25, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — With the U.S. presidential election just 39 days away, America’s Catholic bishops are reiterating the Church’s longstanding teaching that abortion is the “preeminent” social justice issue when it comes to voting.
“The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed,” stated Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas in a statement released this week titled “Priorities at the Polls.”
Naumann, the chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committee on pro-life activities, was quoting directly from the September 2019 introductory letter to the bishops’ 2015 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”
Although in their 2019 letter the bishops “did warn us not to ‘dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, and the death penalty,’ they did give priority to upholding and defending our brothers’ and sisters’ most basic right—to live,” stated Naumann.
“Abortion is an intrinsic evil, meaning that it is never permitted or morally justified, regardless of individual circumstances or intentions,” he added.
Moreover, the “enormous number of human lives destroyed by abortion is one factor that elevates its importance. The most recent available data indicates over 2,000 children per day die from abortion in the United States. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, over 61 million children have been killed—and untold numbers of women and men suffer in the aftermath.”
Naumann emphasized that the “tragedy of abortion” is “distinct” from other social ills because the child in the womb has no legal protection.
“It is currently legal to directly and intentionally take the life of an innocent human being. Current laws in our country fail to protect the lives of unborn children,” he stated.
“Our highest Court does children in their mothers’ wombs as persons and claims that abortion is a constitutional right. Further, many political leaders work actively to increase access to abortion. Some falsely describe it as health care and even as a basic human right.”
Cath O’Neill, current executive director of Catholics for Trump tweeted her gratitude to the USCCB for speaking up at a critical juncture:
— Cath O’Neill (@cathponeill) September 25, 2020
Indeed, the lead-up to the November 3 election has underscored the bitter divide in the American Catholic Church over this fundamental issue.
As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plays up his Catholic faith despite his extreme pro-abortion policies and support for homosexual “marriage,” and proponents of the so-called “seamless garment” theory — notably the dissident group “Catholics for Biden” — argue that the killing of an unborn child is but one of many issues Catholics should consider at the ballot box, public support runs high for Wisconsin priest Fr. James Altman, who is facing possible canonical penalties for asserting “you cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat.”
And as Bishops Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, denounced Biden for his pro-abortion stance, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, issued a de facto endorsement of Biden and Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, suggested that the preeminent issue for Catholic voters to consider is not abortion but the environment.
“They are both critical issues,” Stowe said during a webinar hosted by Catholic Climate Covenant. “I think an argument could be made that … creation is the preeminent issue, because without the environment to sustain human life, you can’t have human life.”
Stowe was one of the prelates, along with Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego and Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, who during last year’s USCCB meeting argued in favor of downplaying abortion as a social justice priority, with the latter two citing Pope Francis’s encyclical Gaudete et Exsultate as a reason for doing so. The majority of bishops disagreed, but the vote was 3 to 1.
Stowe, Cupich, McElroy, and Tobin are all recognized as liberal forces within the USCCB who have publicly endorsed the work of Fr. James Martin, SJ, who seeks to normalize homosexuality within the Catholic Church.
Martin, who gave a virutal blessing at the Democratic National Convention, recently scolded his fellow priests for stating that to vote for Biden is a “mortal sin,” and told them they should care as much about homosexual and transgender persons, the poor, and the homeless as they do about abortion.
He also advised them to read the USCCB document Naumann referenced.
In his statement, Naumann urged Catholics to vigorously oppose the evil of abortion.
“People of good will must boldly stand up against this intrinsic evil, especially when it is occurring on a massive scale, implemented in law and funded, in some instances, by the government,” he said.
“As believers and citizens inspired by the Gospel and guided by the shepherds of our Church, we must do what we can to end violence in the womb, ensure that unborn children are fully recognized and protected by our laws, and to support mothers and fathers in embracing life.”
In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI identified three “principles which are not negotiable” in politics. He first mentioned the “protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death.”
Also, he referenced the “recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role.”