For Catholics, protecting the sanctity of human life can involve a number of issues, including abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, the death penalty and even war.
Abortion usually is given the most attention and action because it destroys human lives in massive levels that the other issues do not reach. But some Catholic leaders are trying to change that focus by urging Catholics to be equally concerned about climate change.
In a column for the San Diego Union-Tribune, Joshua Emerson Smith wrote about the situation:
Opposition to abortion and the death penalty have long been cardinal beliefs for the Roman Catholic church, whose faithful make up about a quarter of all Americans.
What if fighting climate change becomes an equally passionate issue in parishes nationwide?
The foremost group of Catholic leaders in the U.S. is ramping up a campaign to do just that, urging priests and congregations from San Diego to Atlanta to think about global warming as a sanctity-of-life issue.
Some Catholic experts have even likened the growing campaign to deal with human-caused climate change to the revered pro-life movement — calling on the laity to do everything from cutting back on consumerism to installing energy-efficient light bulbs to personally asking lawmakers to take action.
Caring for the environment certainly is important. Christian faiths teach their followers to be good stewards of the Earth and all that it produces and to preserve it for future generations. But abortion is decimating future generations in a direct, massively devastating ways that environmental problems are not.
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The leading Catholic priest taking on pro-life issues says there is no issue more important than abortion. As Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has written:
The fact that abortion is indeed the moral issue that must hold the strongest sway on our conscience and on our voting decision is just as true today as it ever was. Nothing has changed or weakened the basis for this assertion.
It remains true that nothing in our country or in the world claims more human lives than abortion. Even with the declining number of abortions in the United States, we still have over a million each year. Consider how that compares with other causes of death.
Major cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of approximately 796,000 people in a year. Cancers claim about 584,000.
Gun violence has claimed 559,332 — but that is not in a year, but rather in the 43 years since 1973.
The total number of executions by capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1976, has been 1439. Abortion kills more than twice that many people in a single day.
In the United States alone, about 1 million unborn babies are killed in abortions every year. Estimates put the number of abortions world-wide every year as high as 56 million. Back in 2011, the Population Research Institute estimated between 1 billion and 2 billion unborn babies have been killed in abortions in the past 50 years world-wide.
Jay Richards, an economics professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington and a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Smith why the new talk about climate change concerns him.
“Some activist groups who would like Catholics to agree with their preferred climate policies claim that climate change is equivalent to abortion, but that makes no sense,” Richards said. “Procured abortion, according to settled Catholic teaching, involves an intrinsic moral evil. What’s the equivalent intrinsic moral evil with respect to climate change? There isn’t one.”
Smith is right. To give abortion the same weight as environmental problems (though they, too, certainly have led to human’s deaths, extinctions of other living creatures and other serious problems) is very concerning because it diminishes the horrendous mass-slaughtering of millions of babies’ lives every year in abortions.No other sanctity of life issue, no other human rights abuse has led to such massive abuses and destruction of human life as abortion.
The Catholic Church is right to urge its followers to focus strongly on ending the human rights abuse of abortion. It’s an issue of the utmost importance because right now our culture is destroying future generations in huge numbers. These future generations will never have an Earth to cultivate or enjoy if they first do not have a right to life.