View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Consistent Life Ethic

The Diocese of Rochester supports the consistent life ethic -an ethic that links such life issues as abortion, the death penalty, unjust war, euthanasia, violence, and economic injustice.

In my career as a Catholic journalist, and though my involvement with such groups as Pax Christi and the Catholic Worker, I have written about the ethic a number of times. I've certainly read a great deal about it, and covered people who discuss and promote it.

Sadly, I've seen some folks voice distortions of what the ethic actually says.

The ethic does not maintain that all the issues are equal, just that they are linked.

Killing an unborn child is clearly more evil than not paying a fair wage. But not paying a fair wage is still wrong, and a violation of our call to respect life.

Killing an unborn child is equal to killing an innocent "born" person through such things as unjust war or murder. But the sheer scale of the killings of hundreds of thousands of babies each year through abortion in the U.S. results in far more evil than, say, the killing of tens of thousands of civilians over the last four years in Iraq.

Cardinal Bernardin, who articulated the ethic, did not claim that all things covered by the ethic are "equal" - despite the misrepresentations of his views some people state as fact.

I suspect that many of those people simply do not know what he actually said or what the ethic is about. Often, they are repeating things they've heard - just as people repeat and perpetuate urban legends.

I hate to imagine that they are intentionally distorting the facts for their own purposes, like using it as a way to attack this diocese or as an excuse not to help support it.



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