Thursday the world bade farewell to Pope Benedict XVI, and our Newsmax family has certainly done a tremendous job honoring his great pastoral and theological legacy.
I had the opportunity to interact with him in relation to the Church’s work dealing with abortion. For two years I was an official at the Vatican under St. John Paul II, when Cardinal Ratzinger headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Then, during the final years of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, I served on the Pontifical Academy for Life, which provides research supporting the Holy Father’s work on behalf of the dignity of human life.
Of the many writings of St. John Paul II, one he considered particularly important was Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), which remains the Church’s most comprehensive and compelling statement on abortion. Published in 1995, it has its roots in a special gathering of the world’s cardinals in 1991.
They gathered with the pope because there was a growing concern within the whole Church about the attacks on the dignity of human life in our day. And after they discussed the matter of abortion, and other assaults on human life, they recommended that John Paul II issue a new document on the topic.
Not surprisingly, the intellectual strength of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, expressed in his report to that gathering of Cardinals, formed a substantial foundation for what eventually became Evangelium Vitae.
At a time when the political divide on abortion is as sharp as ever, this section of Cardinal Ratzinger’s words is worth revisiting:
One understands, then, how a State which arrogates to itself the prerogative of defining which human beings are or are not the subject of rights, and which consequently grants to some the power to violate others' fundamental right to life, contradicts the democratic ideal to which it continues to appeal and undermines the very foundations on which it is built.
By allowing the rights of the weakest to be violated, the State also allows the law of force to prevail over the force of law. One sees, then, that the idea of an absolute tolerance of freedom of choice for some destroys the very foundation of a just mode of social life.
This became a strong element of Evangelium Vitae, where John Paul II called the legalization of abortion a violation of democratic principles, “the death of true freedom,” and “the disintegration of the state itself.”
In other words, abortion cannot be seen as “just one among many issues.” It strikes at the foundation of every issue, which is the right to life.
More specifically, legal abortion negates the inherent duty of the state to protect everyone’s right to life and to recognize that denying, limiting, or redefining that right is simply outside the authority of the state.
And in a Constitutional Republic in which the sovereignty of the state resides in the people, this truth gives rise immediately to the duty to vote pro-life.
That’s why Cardinal Ratzinger also had to write a letter clarifying for the United States bishops that a voter cannot support a pro-abortion candidate simply because that candidate takes a favorable position on other issues.
One cannot simply count the issues; one has to weigh the issues. And the cardinal pointed out that abortion is a bigger evil than, for instance, capital punishment or war.
Not many Democrats will be recalling these contributions of the man who became Pope Benedict XVI. Nor will their supporters, who love to put abortion to the side as “just one of many issues.”
Nor, indeed, will the RINOs who want to run away from the abortion issue as if they have the freedom to ignore the fundamental duty of government: to protect human life.
Thank you, Pope Benedict! May our words in your memory be accompanied by a commitment to living what you have taught.
Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent anti-abortion leaders globally. Read Frank Pavone Reports — More Here.
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