Pope Francis: All Life: Preborn and Born, is “Equally Sacred”

Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, dated 3-19-18, stated:

101. The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.

102. We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. . . .

Words (from Facebook discussion on my page) of David Wanat are in green; Br. Boltoph OSB in brown, and Joshua Herbert in blue below:

What do you think about him saying social justice is as important as abortion? Contradicting Benedict??

Not only Benedict, but JPII as well.

From Pope St. John Paul II about the pre-eminence of the issue of abortion and the right to life itself:

Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici, 38)

No. St. John Paul II did not limit the right to life issues to abortion. But he did assert that one cannot be pro-life while accepting abortion. There’s a large difference.

No, but he gave it pre-eminence and that is key. Without right to life, no other rights matter.

As did Benedict.

And Pope Francis doesn’t contradict that. He points out that it’s not enough to oppose abortion while turning a blind eye to the rest, just as it’s wrong to focus on other issues but not abortion. We need “A+B” not “A or B”

But abortion is more important than the death penalty, as Benedict said.

Again, not a contradiction here. Remember the deadliest sin is the one which sends a person to hell. Not the sin we’re in no danger of committing.

In other words, you and I are in little danger of supporting abortion. But we may be in danger over other teachings of the Church that we disagree with. If we mortally sin in one of those areas, it will not avail us at the final judgment to say, “but I opposed abortion!”

The same holds true for the pro-abortion social justice warrior who fights injustice in other areas but sins mortally in that area.

As I said, abortion is more important than other issues.

It’s easier to be virtuous when it’s something one is predisposed to support. It’s harder when it’s something one is predisposed to disagree with. All of us have that struggle.

It’s a false dichotomy to put Pope Francis and St. John Paul II in opposition. Pope Francis isn’t contradicting St. John Paul II. He’s correcting a misinterpretation of St. John Paul II that says “either or” instead of “both and”.

Nobody is saying its either or. But they are not of equal importance. If you do not protect the right to life, then no other rights matter because without life, they don’t exist.

David is exactly right. As usual, what Pope Francis said is treated cynically and taken out of context and made out to be some kind of contradiction to what came before. He didn’t deny that abortion is the gravest evil, demanding the greatest effort to stop. He made a very strong statement against it. Nor did he express the thought that “social justice is as important as abortion.” He said that “the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection” are “equally sacred.” This is not contradictory in the slightest to the teaching of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

Equality in sacredness is a different concept from “equality of relative importance”: in terms of social action and concern. All lives are equally sacred.

So already we have a needless controversy and non-issue that we have to discuss. We can’t simply rejoice in a new papal document. Not anymore! Folks have to pick one line out of context, and act as if it is anti-traditional, so we can have a tempest in a teapot again and waste our time wrangling and complaining.

That’s not what Benedict said David. And that sounds very much like the Seamless garment.

The words in question here are not logically inconsistent with what the previous two popes taught. Period. It’s a non-issue; a non-starter.

The seamless garment states all issues are equal. Do you agree with that?

I don’t. I think the anti-abortion issue and cause is preeminent: as I have believed now for 36 years, since I forsook my old ignorant “pro-choice” position, and I think what the pope says here doesn’t dispute that in the least, because he was talking about the equal sacredness of all human life, preborn and born. You want to argue now that Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict didn’t teach that?

Dave, he says social justice is just as important as abortion. That sounds like seamless garment to me.

He does not. Go read my words again. You don’t even understand what I’m saying (nor what the pope is saying). It’s a matter of simple logic and the meaning of words: in context.

David, don’t cop out. Give me the quote. What he says makes them equal. It is very clear.

I quoted it above. He’s rejecting being devoted to one issue while ignoring or minimizing other important issues: just like David noted above. Now please deal with my actual argument.

Here David:

Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and the elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.

You’ll find that in JP2 and B16 too.

Yes, of course. Equality of sacredness of life; not equality of all issues in terms of pressing importance. I guess Joshua can’t grasp that distinction.

Pope Francis wrote in Laudato si (citing Pope Benedict):

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”. [97]

Footnote 97: ID., Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 28: AAS 101 (2009), 663.

Even the reactionary and frequent Pope Francis-bashing Lifesite News, in an article by its editor, John-Henry Westen (5-1-17), noted that Pope Francis thought anti-abortion pro-life work was the most important work that could be done:

During the papal General Audience on April 12, Pope Francis met with members of Croatia’s 40 Days for Life campaign.  Dalia, one of the mothers helped to choose life for her child, was there with her daughter Nika and both received a blessing from the Pope.

Fr. Marko Glogović, the spiritual director for the Croatian group presented the Pope with a gift on behalf of the group. The Croatian leader of the 40 Days for Life initiative, Ante Čaljkušić, told the Holy Father that the presence of volunteers in front of Croatian hospitals has saved many lives, and he gave him a precious feet pin, an international symbol of the pro-life movement that is an accurate replica of an unborn baby’s feet at 10 weeks gestation.

You are doing the best possible work!” Pope Francis told the group. “Save as many lives as possible! I encourage you and bless you with every blessing. There is no more important work from [than?] this one, be persistent and pray, pray, pray!”

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Photo credit: Image by Lembagai KITA (4-11-16) [Wikimedia Commons /  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license]

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