One of the most striking, bold, and sobering paragraphs ever written about the impact of abortion on the common good is the 20th paragraph of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life"), which was published 25 years ago this week, on March 25, 1995.
It's a great antidote for the thinking that says we can elect an abortion rights candidate because "their other positions are good."
It’s easy to start counting the positions we think a candidate has "right" and see what candidate has the greater "sum" of right answers. But that’s a very superficial and flawed way of doing moral analysis. It’s like saying to a supporter of terrorism, "I disagree with you on the one issue of terrorism, but what’s your healthcare plan?"
Paragraph 20 of "Evangelium Vitae" starts by showing the radical and practical impossibility of living with the implications of abortion rights.
The same illusion that separates "choice" from the demands of respect for life is the illusion that makes us think we can separate other "rights" from the right to life.
But human rights are integrally interconnected.
Take away the basis for respecting life and you’ve taken away the basis for all human rights. As the pope says, "At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining."
The pope then takes aim at the idea that if abortion has been legalized according to proper democratic procedures, then that’s all that matters.
“The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained …. Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations: How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted?”
Along with this, he has some of the strongest words ever written about what happens when the state legalizes abortion:
“In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the ‘common home’ where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members … When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the State itself has already begun.
"To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom.
"The disintegration of the State itself…totalitarianism . . . the death of true freedom."
In other words, no "common good" can coexist with legal abortion.
St. John Paul’s encyclical was prescient in that it predicted exactly how far we would fall once we legalized abortion. The year "Evangelium Vitae" was published, more than 1.2 million children were killed by abortion in the U.S., although we had a Democrat in the White House who insisted abortion should be "safe, legal and rare."
We have fewer abortions 25 years later, but the Democratic Party has thrown aside any pretense about seeking to make abortion rare. The party demands abortion for any reason, through all nine months of pregnancy, and it wants us, the taxpayers, to foot the bill for the destruction of its most innocent citizens.
The bedrock foundation of civilization is the reality that we are all equal and are protected equally, whether we are strong or weak.
But our foundation began to crack in the U.S. in 1973 and the crack is widening.
In November of 2020, we have a chance to repair that foundation, or damage it further.
If we can’t elect people who get this issue right, people who understand that the right to life is the heart and soul of every issue, then we can’t expect them to get anything else right.
If we do not become a nation that honors the most basic right, the right to life, then we lose our ability to effectively protect all our other rights. No issue is more important.
As we approach Election Day, voters will be subjected to many voices speaking many contradictory messages. This year, we would be wise to let the message that Pope John Paul II published 25 years ago echo again in our minds and hearts.
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils and he is now the co-chair of Pro-Life Voices for Trump. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. — Click Here Now.
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