by Steven Ertelt
March 12, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Speaking on behalf of the nation’s Catholic bishops, three bishops wrote a response to an open statement released by 55 Democrats in Congress earlier this month. The bishops told the elected officials that their statements were a poor response to the “grave violation of the most fundamental human right – the right to life.”
Most of the politicians who signed the statement vote in favor of abortion, but they claimed to support respecting human life and wanted to see abortions decrease by approving social policies that would contribute to that.
The lawmakers indicated other political issues were equally important.
The bishops acknowledged that issues like protecting the poor and promoting justice and peace are important — but not as fundamental as protecting the right to life.
"At the same time, we also need to reaffirm the Catholic Church’s constant teaching that abortion is a grave violation of the most fundamental human right – the right to life that is inherent in all human beings, and that grounds every other right we possess," they wrote.
The bishops referred to Pope John Paul II’s writings in the Christifideles Laici, saying the right to life is the central right upon which all other rights exist that human beings enjoy.
The bishops applauded the desire to create a society where abortions decline, but stressed the importance of passing pro-life laws to stop abortion entirely.
"While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life," the bishops wrote.
Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro Life Activities, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C, chairman of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Policy, co-authored the response.
They said the Catholic members of Congress must remember "conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles."
"As members of the church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the church," they added.