THE SERIOUS CATHOLIC
The sanctity of life is a core Catholic belief around which moral behavior is to be structured. What it means to be pro-life, therefore, requires careful discernment. For some, like theologian George Weigel, the term pro-life must be exclusively focused on the fight against abortion. Weigel defined pro-life activism as "the cultural marker of serious Catholicism in America," rejecting any movement in the direction of a more generous "seamless garment" approach to life issues. For the 100 Catholic leaders who signed a 2015 statement on immigration reform, however, defending life means recognizing "the image of God in the migrant at the border, in the prisoner on death row, in the pregnant woman, and in the hungry child.”
Serious Catholics should reflect on how pro-life activism can possibly be a limited concept. The "seamless garment" stance, conceived by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1976, wove together the great social wrongs of that hour: abortion, the death penalty, and the willingness of superpowers to wage nuclear war on a small planet. Little could be gained by rescuing the unborn child, only to annihilate the civilized world.
If he were defining the seamless garment today, Bernardin might include racism and gender bias; the plight of migrants, refugees, and displaced people; inequities in health care, education, taxation, and opportunity. Most of all, Bernardin would add the rousing cry of Pope Francis to care for planet earth, our common home. A pro-life activism that acknowledges this seamless garment makes one a very serious Catholic.
reprinted with permission from TrueQuest Communications