Jan. 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Take heed, pro-lifers: The bishops of Canada’s largest province want you to know that the pro-life battle is foundational to establishing social justice in this country.
In a new 8-page document summarizing the basics of Catholic social teaching, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario insist the right to life “from conception to natural death” is the “the basic human right [and] the condition for the exercise of all other human rights.” The line echoes a famous quote by Bl. John Paul II in his exhortation Christifideles Laici.
The bishops’ document, called “Fundamental Principles of Catholic Social Teaching,” urges the faithful to “support efforts to overcome the abuse of human rights” and lists abortion as the first abuse.
Still, while the document is winning some praise from the pro-life leaders I spoke to, there’s also concern that it doesn’t go far enough.
John Pacheco, a Catholic activist and lead author of the SoCon or Bust blog, called it “a great first step,” but said there still seems to be “a hesitation of addressing abortion specifically within the context of social justice.”
On the abortion issue, Pacheco said the bishops were not clear enough about how the pro-life cause is integrated into the broader spectrum of the Church’s social teaching, and seemed to “crowd it out” with less controversial issues like the preferential option for the poor.
“We get the pro-life angle right away, they mention it in one sentence, and then they move on,” he said. “What [most Catholic students] have never heard is a full and proper exposition of the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life. And yet that’s only given one line.”
“Why are you preaching to the converted on this other stuff?” he asked.
For years, the pro-life cause has been separated from the Church’s social justice enterprises – treated as an expression of the Church’s moral teaching while issues like immigration, safe working conditions, and others are grouped under the Church’s social teaching. The takeaway is that abortion was more easily relegated to a matter of personal morality rather than seen as a cause for social action.
You can see the mindset at work in Development and Peace, the Canadian bishops’ international development arm. Though it is recognized as the bishops’ principal vehicle for championing social justice, the agency refuses to support pro-life causes and actually funds groups that advocate legal abortion.
If we really took the right to life with the seriousness it’s owed, we wouldn’t be satisfied to send millions of dollars to the Third World to support the living, while we allocate a mere pittance to protect those denied life by our very own tax dollars.
The Ontario bishops’ document is available here.
And there you are in yellow, Busters. That’s the bottom line. Money talks…for where your wallet is, there is your heart.
The document itself never mentions the word “abortion” (except in a question), and it is totally separated from the rest of the social justice mantra that has been drilled into Catholic kids for the past 50 years.
It’s a great first (baby) step, but it’s a long way to Tipperary.
It’s like we’re pulling teeth with the bishops on this issue.
They. just. don’t. want. to. get. serious. about. abortion.