Bishops’ guidelines to Cardinal George for post-election statement expressing church’s concern about abortion, other issues

Here is the preliminary text of the statement from the U.S. bishops offered this afternoon providing guidelines to Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president, in drafting a post-election statement expressing the church’s concerns about abortion and other issues:

“The bishops of the United States have agreed to address the opportunities and dangers for our country at this time. According to the bylaws of the conference, the body of bishops cannot write and approve a statement that is not submitted through the Administrative Committee. Consequently, the bishops have asked the president of the conference to write a letter which will be published with their approval. It remains a statement of the president and not of the conference.

“The points to be addressed in the statement include the following:

“1. Essential elements of the (cardinal’s) presidential address can inform the statement.

“2. The bishops desire to work with the administration, especially in the areas such as economic justice and opportunity: immigrattion reform; health care for the poor, especially for women and children; education; religious freedom; and working for peace. The church is intent on doing good.

“3. The church is also intent on opposing evil. The bishops are completely united and resolute in our teaching and defense of the unborn child from the moment of conception. The bishops therefore express our concern for those left unprotected by law in our present situation: children in their mother’s womb. In the last Congress, a law that would make abortion a ‘fundamental right’ and remove any restrictions now in law would consequently forbid the involvement of the parents of a minor child in a decision to abort, would permit partial-birth abortion, would apparently reject freedom of conscience for health care workers and place Catholic health care in jeopardy, would deregulate abortion clinics, and use tax money to pay for abortions. Such a law would reduce religious freedom and the church must work against its passage.

“4. The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the collapse of the economy, the loss of jobs and economic security for families, here and around the world. Even issues such as the Iraq War and universal health care, let alone abortion rights, were of secondary importance. If the election is interpreted as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. The common good would be even more grievously wounded and our society would be more deeply divided than it is now. The common good of our country is assured only when the life of every unborn child is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies and legislation will permanetly alienate tens of millions of Americans and would be interpreted by many Catholics as an attack on the church.

“5. We are grateful for the good will and good work of those Catholics in political life who work to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us by correcting unjust laws, sometimes at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families. We again express our desire that all Catholics in public life be fully committed to the common good. The church is a communion of persons united around Christ, and we pray that this communion may always be complete.”

11 Responses

  1. Then forcing myself and other Catholic tax payers to fund abortion would be a violation of our constitutional 1st amendment rights.

  2. I am oppossed to abortion. My concenr is the strategy we adopt to acheive change. We are clear in our statement that taking life is an intrinsic evil. How we grow from where we are to a better more encompassing ability to include Catholic Moral position and fundamental human ethics into law is what I believe wwe need to concetrate on at this moment. We need to engage the public dialogue beyond our moral rectitude. We nedd to work for laws that call all who participate in our society to accountability. We need to ensure that the law as it exists, while we find it vile, work for the good of people and include the basic value of life within the framework as it exists now. We have worked for the best part of 40 years to undo Roe?Wade, and while I continue to support that noble effort it is time to effect change within the system as we know it. All efforts focused on eitehr the Court or the promises of one party have, in my opinion yielded less than satisfactory results. I would like to see us work the system of the politic of the United States and set limits, call accoutabilty forth, empower men and women to adopt and place for adoption; agree to reasonable definiton of threat to the life of a woman and stop using abortion as a means of birth control especially repeatedly. The tiem for me is long overdue to effect change and our complete default to stating moral principle has not acheived the results I beleive, I am called as a fatihful citizen to acheive. Let us commit to change with the same vigor that we have committed to witness to principle and I believe we will see a new moment in the respect for life at all of its moments.

  3. I believe abortion is wrong. I also believe that making it illegal will only make it unsafe, not stop it.
    We should work to prevent abortions where we can through teaching and offering alternative choices to women. The church already tried to get Catholics to vote against Obama and we have seen how powerful the bishops really are. I’m Catholic, and I voted for Obama and for Kerry. I think the American public realizes that the Catholic bishops all voted for George W. Bush–twice. How stupid do they think we are?
    Ask yourself now: why was Sarah Palin flying back and forth from Alaska to Texas when she was 8 months pregnant with a downs syndrome baby? When her water broke in Texas, a month premature, why would she go on with her speach and then fly back to Alaska to deliver the baby? Does she not know that the baby was at risk from the time her water broke–especially a premature downs syndrome baby? Was she trying to lose that baby? Why do you think she did not release her medical records, a healthy woman like her, but rather waited until the day before the election to give us a “letter” from her doctor? What do you think she could be hiding?
    Women have been causing abortions since the time of Eve. Should we have voted for a hypocrite who tried to end her pregnacy but still wants to make abortions illegal?
    Come on bishops! This is a country not a Catholic school. You can’t threaten the voters or the President with corporal punishment. I’m Catholic, but I’m not stupid, and I’m not Evangelical. Obama will do what he thinks is best. That is why we elected him.
    If you think you would do better, then run in 2012.

  4. The Bishops should acknowledge the possibility of delayed ensoulment, with a period of time between the moment of fertilization and the point in the embryo’s development where it is infused with an immortal soul. During this period, the embryo would not yet be a person and, by definition, would not have civil rights. It is a mistake to insist on protection for the fetus during a time when it may not yet be a child. The Supreme Court recognizes the rights (and hence, the personhood) of the unborn from the point of viability. In our pluralistic society, with its various moral persuasions, the Bishops should accept this compromise in the civic arena while maintaining their position that abortion at any time from the moment of fertilization is gravely immoral even though the civil law allows it under certain conditions. I agree with their opposition to FOCA and their advocacy for the unborn child, but their position is weakened by insisting on civil rights for the fetus from the moment of conception.

  5. We should always “err” on the side of preserving life and let God determine when we die, not mothers, not medical researchers. The Bishops have the right to try to persuade others to their viewpoints; they don’t lose their 1st Amendment rights when they become clergy. I say hurray for the bishops – keep speaking out and teaching Catholics and the rest of the public. I hope they remain courageous when the totalitarian government we elected starts imposing this abortion “choice” on Catholic medical personnel and taxpayers.

  6. Some Muslims believe the state should be run according to Islamic law, sharia, and some Muslim fundamentalists believe that under sharia the practice of other religions should not be tolerated. On this basis, we see places where Christians are being persecuted and their churches are being destroyed by Muslims. While he was generally more tolerant than that, Mohammed is supposed to have said he wanted only their religion to be allowed on the Arabian peninsula. Our American arrangement for separation of church and state, along with freedom of religion or no religion, is preferable. No particular religion should dictate our civil law. Following Church teaching, Catholics have a moral obligation to refrain from abortion, and can try to persuade others to refrain from it. That does not mean the Catholic position should be incorporated into the civil law of our pluralistic society.

  7. The Catholic position should not be law, just because it is Catholic. However, if the Catholic position is correct, the people of the nation should realize that it is correct and should be law. This is not only a Catholic position, but a Christian and moral position. Many outside of Catholicism also believe that the right to life is a fundamental right. As I remember it, this was incorporated into our Bill of Rights. As an American, if not a Catholic, I am obligated and entitled to defend the right to life. We must get away from the “viable outside of the womb” issue and define for all Americans and the world when life begins. When does the life of the child begin? When do the cells stop being part of another ogranism and begin life, a separate organism(human life)? By definition, life is the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. Once this is defined, as sure as we know gravity, we will know life (no matter the religion, if any) and by law this horrible act of abortion will be illegal by definition. What keeps us from killing someone on a ventilator or a bypass machine, if that person wants to live? Is that person viable outside of the womb? Not any more. That person must be kept alive by machines. When we spread the news that a “fetus” is a human being, more people will think of the “fetus” as a live person. We must use the word baby rather than fetus. We must show our humanity. We must have more of the new blessing services for children in the womb. This needs to happen for every mother. Once we begin the process, it will spread!

  8. Chris: People have rights. Lots of living things are not persons and do not have rights. A unique human life begins at the moment of fertilization and has the potential for becoming a person, The question of when it becomes a person is not known, and many people (including many Catholics) think the fetus must reach a stage of development before it is capable of receiving an immortal soul. At that point, it becomes a person and is endowed by its Creator with certain rights. Prior to that, the fetus is not yet a child, is not a person, and does not have civil rights under our Constitution (or the Declaration of Independence). The Supreme Court wrestled with this question of when the fetus becomes a person and was unable to answer it. Having to take a position about when the fetus has rights, the Court has taken the position that the rights of the unborn begin at viability, the point in its development where it is capable of meaningful life outside the womb. This seems a reasonable compromise for a pluralistic society, where there are different views on when the unborn has a right to the protection of the State. The Catholic Church can still teach that it is gravely immoral to kill the fetus at any time from the moment of conception and is free to try to persuade others of that view. That does not mean their point of view should become the civil law. The Church and all citizens need to advocate for the rights of the unborn child, at least from the time of viability. Repudiating FOCA, the freedom of Choice Act, is a good step in this direction. Overurning Roe v. Wade would be a mistake.

  9. Perhaps the christian churches should compromise and just abandon the ten commandments and make all those who believe in a secular state happy. Personally I’d rather follow Ezekiel 3,17:21 that way hopefully I don’t have to answer God for the actiions of others. Raymond can explain his views to God and perhaps he can convince Him that he was right or just stupid. Lots of people may be saved using the latter excuse. But since we now have ultra sound pics of the babies it may be more difficult to use that excuse.

  10. 1. U.S.A. does not have a doctrine of “separation of church and state” that is part of the Communist doctrine Russia. Many thousands were murdered for their Faith in Russia. The U.S.A. is a Republic that allows freedom of religion and guarantees that Congress will not inact any legislation to create or adopt a “State Religion”. This is significant in that what we have in the U.S.A. is a constitutional right to believe whatever religion we choose or not to believe without fear of persecution.

    Too bad Catholics do not know the very Bible that they gave to the world. If they did know the Bible they would know that God knew each and every one of us before He created the world. He has a plan for us. The problem as I see it is human beings too smart to know when to be humble and to listen to the men that God has appointed to lead us – our Bishops. The Bishops are not created a new doctrine, the protection of life goes back to the beginning of our Faith, which is Jesus the Christ, who is Life.

    We each must choose for ourselves – the wide gate or the narrow gate. Don’t be fooled by your great intellects. Human life begins at the moment of conception because God Himself has placed that child in that place at that time.

    All one needs to do is contemplate the awesome wonder of the intricate precision necessary to achieve conception and the millions of times that these variables have created a child, you know that there is a God and each of us has a purpose.

  11. 2. Once upon a time, for about 1500 years after Christ ascended to Heaven, there was only one Christian Faith, one Doctrine, one Lord, Jesus the Christ. Then human beings decided that they knew better than God and began making their own religions. Yes, I know, I have left out the reasons why these people felt justified, however, the bottom line is that they did not humble themselves to think about what they were doing and to whom, they only thought about their “good intentions”. Now we have more than 30,000 Christian and pseudoChristian denominations. The streets of Hell are paved with “good intentions”.

    People, please read your Bibles! Listen to Christ’s Church teachers! The doctrine is the same – Christ Himself taught it! Who are we to change it? Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, seek Him and He will give to you all that you need and desire.

    Choose Life!

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