Professors Miller and Salzman of Creighton University (Midlands Voices essay, Oct. 27) have come to a conclusion about candidates for whom to vote this year. We should each approach this important act of citizenship prayerfully, having formed our consciences according to the age-old beliefs of our faith, before God. I must take exception to the argument Miller and Salzman offered, especially to Catholics, for guiding our voting decisions. Missing from the argument is the righteous intolerance for a clear injustice, and the kind of righteous upholding of human rights, for which Creighton University is often recognized.
Catholic bishops hold that the threat of abortion remains a preeminent priority in this country because our laws and our courts so often fail to protect the basic right to life of a whole class of human persons, the unborn. It is currently legal to directly and intentionally take the life of an innocent human being in the womb. This is a gross injustice that results in the loss of 2,000 innocent lives each day in the United States. The status quo is not worthy of our nation. The right to life is not a “Catholic value.” It is a human right. This right is being violated in a final and personal way in communities across our country. Pope John Paul II reminded us that this injustice is all the more serious because it is “carried out in the very heart of and with the complicity of the family — the family which by its nature is called to be the “sanctuary of life” (Evangelium Vitae, 11).
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It is disingenuous to claim that expanded health care will necessarily address this injustice, since many falsely describe abortion as health care, and therefore a basic human right. And we have to be honest, too, in admitting that public officials who commit to expanding access to taxpayer-funded abortion, cannot reasonably be expected to be allies in reducing the injustice of abortion.
Catholic social teaching is multifaceted, but it is not complicated. Its central focus is the life and dignity of every human person. Our opposition to the injustice of abortion will not be credible when we fail to recognize and work to eliminate other serious threats to human life and dignity, including racism, the environmental crisis, the inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees, poverty and the imposition of the death penalty. At the same time, work to establish justice in other areas is undercut by any perceived lack of strong support for the protection of the right to life in the womb of the most vulnerable members of the human family.
We ought to be able to count on Catholic theologians and venerable Catholic institutions to help us articulate and channel our righteous anger, creatively and positively, in the face of any injustice. They should help us draw from our rich tradition in theology, law, medicine and the arts to formulate hopeful initiatives to stand up to every attack or lack of regard for human life and dignity. All of what we believe to be just and good flows from the same font of God’s plan for human flourishing and God’s mercy when we inevitably fall short. When we surrender to any injustice (something not of God), even temporarily, we risk communicating wrongly that in certain circumstances, human dignity may be negotiable. It is not.
I know that people of goodwill are praying for our country at this important moment. I believe that God will grant us all that is needed to build together a just and peaceful human community in the days and years following this election.
George J. Lucas is the archbishop of Omaha.