By Nick Kovacs, SFO
Protecting human life from conception (fertilization) to natural death is an issue that affects every human being regardless of political party, political ideology, and religious affiliation, making this issue the paramount issue over all others. How can we even attempt to debate policies like war, health care, and tax cuts if the very question of human existence is at stake? Our God-given right to life is the very foundation that must be intact before the other God-given rights of freedom and the pursuit of happiness can exist. Adolf Hitler for example had many wonderful social policies to strengthen the German economy and build national security, but his overall policies were built on the foundation of going against the Natural Moral Law, by exterminating the innocent Jewish people—in other words, denying them the right to life. Once the right to live is called into question, how can there even be a discussion about the right to freedom and the right to pursue happiness! Simply put, a democratic nation will collapse if the Natural Moral Law is broken, because the right to life of every human person from conception (fertilization) to natural death, is the most important foundation for a nation to be a beacon of democracy.
As we stressed in our 1995 statement Political Responsibility: “The application of Gospel values to real situations is an essential work of the Christian community.” Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues “seeking to protect human life and promote human dignity from the inception of life to its final moment.” Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas. Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life. But being ‘right’ in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” — the living house of God — then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right — the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Such attacks cannot help but lull the social conscience in ways ultimately destructive of other human rights. As Pope John Paul II reminds us, the command never to kill establishes a minimum which we must respect and from which we must start out “in order to say ‘yes’ over and over again, a ‘yes’ which will gradually embrace the entire horizon of the good” (“Evangelium Vitae“, 75).
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