Last weekend I was in St. Louis, MO (actually Chesterfield) to baptize my new nephew, Séamus Mícheál (my sister and her husband are REALLY into their Irish heritage). Now that I have gotten through the mail, email, and messages that accumulated, I was reading the bulletin from last weekend for St. Mary’s, the parish to which I am now assigned. Each week, my pastor, Msgr. Ken Tuzenue, writes a “From the Pastor” column. I thought that this weeks was very good, especially the clarification he makes regarding Cardinal Bernardin’s comments on the “seamless garment” consistent life ethic. I am going to reprint Msgr. Ken’s words below:
This week will again mark the tragic anniversary of the Supreme Court decision permitting the evil of abortion. Our parish, along with many others, will participate in the annual March for Life that will most likely again be unjustly overlooked by the media. It is unfortunate that many, even within the Church, do not understand the evil of abortion, and how important is the summons of the Church for all members to promote a culture of life. Last year, the Diocese of Metuchen sponsored a Critical Life Issues Conference, attended by members of our own Respect Life Committee. Included in the materials of that day was a powerful document entitled, “The Seamless Garment Revealed, Important quotes from Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on Abortion and the Consistent Ethic of Life,” published by the Archdiocese of Chicago. He are some excerpts from that document. “The Church’s teaching on life issues, and especially abortion, are often misunderstood, but are truly a message of love and concern that some from the same root as the Church’s teaching on other justice issues, such as poverty, oppression, racism and violence: The dignity of the human person is foremost. Every human being is precious, made in the image and likeness of God, and should be valued and protected. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s works deepened our understanding of how the life and justice issues are interrelated, while highlighting the truth that abortion and euthanasia take precedence over other justice issues including those at the forefront of our present-day culture.” Then, quoting the Cardinal, himself: “Life before and after birth is like a seamless garment …If we become insensitive to the beginning of life and condone abortion or if we become careless about the end of life to justify euthanasia, we have no reason to believe that there will be much respect for life in between” (Pro-life Homily, 1976). These next two quotes are crucial to the debate: “I know that some people on the left, if I may use that label, have used the consistent ethic to give the impression that the abortion issue is not all that important anymore, that you should be against abortion in a general way but that there are more important issues, so don’t hold anyone’s feet to the fire just on abortion. That’s a misuse of the consistent ethic, and I deplore it” (NCR Media Interview, 1988). And finally: “Not all values, however, are of equal weight. Some are more fundamental than others. On this Respect Life Sunday, I wish to emphasize that no earthly value is more fundamental than human life itself. Human life is the condition for enjoying freedom and all other values. Consequently, if one must choose between protecting or serving lesser human values that depend upon life for their existence and life itself, human life must take precedence. Today the recognition of human life as a fundamental value is threatened. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of elective abortion” (Respect Life Sunday statement, 1989). Therefore, promote justice and peace. Serve the poor. Care for those in need. Defend the innocent. BUT, ABOVE ALL, END ABORTION!
Thank you Msgr, and Cardinal Bernardin (who is so often has his words misused) for your strong witness for life.