By Ted Taylor
Article 1792 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church implicitly states that bad example given by others and rejection of Church teaching can be the source of errors in moral conduct.
In his column in the Oct. 18 edition of The Catholic Messenger, Father Bud Grant presented a bad example that rejects Church teaching when he stated, “There are some issues which are so central to our faith and moral convictions that they ought not to be lightly set aside. Among these are a host of pro-life issues such as abortion, social justice, universal health care, support for the poor and environmental sustainability, to name but a few.” This misleading statement purposely and perversely misguides readers.
There most certainly is a hierarchy of moral issues. Primary amongst these issues are abortion and euthanasia. Life is the pro-life issue. Including, “social justice, universal health care, support for the poor and environmental sustainability” as pro-life issues is simply a farce. While these are certainly important issues, they are, at best, “quality of life” issues. In order to be affected by social injustice, lack of appropriate health care, poverty or environmental issues, one must have been born; one must have life!
It is estimated that since Roe v. Wade over 54.5 million American babies have died through abortion. These children, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandsons, granddaughters, nieces and nephews never had the opportunity to feel the effects of poverty, social injustice, inadequate health care or unsustainable environmental policies. They were simply deprived life!
In his column Fr. Grant speaks of individual conscience having the ultimate authority in matters of morality. Yet he fails to introduce the readers to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2007 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States.”
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship identifies abortion and euthanasia as “intrinsically evil,” as always being incompatible with love of God. It continues to teach that they must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. The document firmly states, “It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice.” This Church teaching is offered so individual moral consciences are developed in accordance with reason and the divine law, in hopes of preventing erroneous judgments.
Faithful Citizenship explains the Church history of teaching and action in support of human dignity, marriage and family, justice and peace, care for creation and the common good, addressing essentially the entire list that was wrongly identified as pro-life issues. It then makes the important distinction between these moral issues that do require concern of the faithful and abortion and euthanasia which must always be opposed.
The attempt to establish this litany of items, all legitimate concerns of Catholic Social Teaching, as deserving equal consideration with ending abortion is absolutely misguided and wrong.
In his encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II proclaimed, “by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors” that abortion always constitutes a grave moral disorder. He further explained that legal tolerance of abortion cannot be justified based on respect for the conscience of others and that society has the duty to protect itself against the abuses which occur in the name of conscience and freedom. With simple clarity he declared; “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law or vote for it.”
(Taylor is a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, a businessman and member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council).