To the editor:
Your recent article on the “Consistent Life Ethic” guiding voting Catholics is very troubling. Conflating the disparate issues of abortion, capital punishment, unjust war, euthanasia, violence and economic justice into some kind of overarching principle diminishes attempts at preserving the most innocent and vulnerable souls among us. These issues should be weighed separately according to Christian principles with a 2,000-year history and not in the context of the latest “social justice” fads. How can “economic justice” — whatever that means — stand beside abortion as a life issue? Particularly egregious is the muddled thinking that links the death penalty and abortion as life issues.
For thousands of years the Church has taught that life can be forfeit by an individual’s commission of serious crime. St. Augustine said “it is in no way contrary to the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of the State’s authority to put criminals to death, according to the rule of rational justice.”
In his encyclical The Gospel of Life, John Paul II allowed that “the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of defending human lives against an unjust aggressor.”
In 2004, then Cardinal Ratzinger stated in a letter on worthiness to receive communion said: “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
When those who speak for the Church fail to take a stand against clear examples of evil in the world, fail to stand by avowed core Christian principles and thus seek to undermine the state’s interest in justice and ordered society, they do nothing to enhance a culture of life.