Pope Francis’ Pro-Life Agenda – Beyond Clinton and Trump
Like many of you, I received a chain email from a friend about the moral imperative to support pro-life candidates. The email was basically an endorsement of Donald Trump including the statement that no Catholic could in good conscience support Hillary Clinton.
There is a good article in the National Catholic Register (a more conservative Catholic publication) about Trump’s pro-life position.
Pope Francis reaffirmed his opposition to abortion in his address before a joint session of Congress while he also re-affirmed immigration, poverty, and gun violence as pro-life issues. These views were also echoed by American archbishops and bishops.
While the Secretary Clinton’s policy is definitely pro-choice (in favor or legalized abortion), Mr Trump’s policies are opposed to Catholic teaching on immigration, income inequality, torture, refugees, and ending the death penalty.
This brings us to our usual election dilemma in which the Democratic Party is generally aligned with then Church’s teaching on social justice issues and the Republican Party is aligned with Church teaching on birth control, abortion, same sex marriage, and euthanasia.
Pope Francis has come out publicly against building a wall between the US and Mexico which is one of Mr. Trump’s signature initiatives.
Voting for pro-choice candidate is morally possible according to Pope Benedict.
“When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.” (emphasis added)
With regard to reducing and eliminating abortion which should be a major priority for Christians we know that re-criminalizing it forces it underground and leads to the deaths of many young poor women. We also know that increasing education and economic subsidies for women makes it easier to choose life for the unborn. Many pro-life politicians also oppose paid maternity leave and longer term welfare for mothers. The Bill Clinton welfare reform in the 90’s gained bi-partisan support since it was aimed at “welfare mothers.” This decrease in aid tends to push women toward abortion.
Most people, according to many national polls are not happy with either candidate. However, if we are going to safeguard the unborn we need to have policies that support women, child welfare, and the family. While abortion is a tremendous evil, making it illegal will not stop it. We need to change the social incentives which push women toward abortion and create a social safety net that supports mothers and families.
By taking the broader approach that Pope Francis is recommending we can build a political consensus to support and grow a pro-life culture in the United States. The Church’s primary social teaching is the respect for human dignity and self-determination. This comes out of the fundamental Gospel challenge of charity for all. As reflective and prayerful Catholics we should focus on the theological virtues of faith,hope, and love in our thoughts, our words, and our deeds in this political season.
Peace and blessings,