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40 years ago, the Four Cardinals of the United States testified before Congress in a show of conviction and principle that has been one of the clearest expressions of the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life in our history. The truth that an unborn child is a human person from the moment of conception was what the Cardinals were fighting for–nothing less was acceptable.
Will we have the courage to follow their lead today? Or will jurisprudential half-measures or incrementalism be our goal? In the defense of the innocent and defenseless unborn, we must be unconditionally and unambiguously pro-life. Let us follow the Cardinals: no exception.
(Click the quotes below to read their testimony.)
“We reject any suggestion that we are attempting to impose “our” morality on others. First, it is not true. The right to life is not an invention of the Catholic Church or any other church. It is a basic human right which must undergird any civilized society. Second, either we all have the same right to speak out on public policy or no one does. We do not have to check our consciences at the door before we argue for what we think is best for society.”–John Cardinal Krol, Archbishop of Philadelphia
“[U]nless America is prepared to protect unborn human lives, it cannot with confidence guarantee protection to any life. A threat to any innocent life is implicitly a threat to all.”–John Cardinal Cody, Archbishop of Chicago
“A ‘states rights’ amendment, which would simply return jurisdiction over the abortion law to the states, does not seem to be a satisfactory solution to the existing situation. Protection of human life should not depend on geographical boundaries. …As for an amendment which would generally prohibit abortion but permit it in certain exceptional circumstances, such as when a womanʹs life is considered to be threatened, the Catholic Conference does not endorse such an approach in principle and could not conscientiously support it.”–Humberto Cardinal Meideros, Archbishop of Boston
“Human rights stand always in need of vindication and protection. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a civilized society, and a particular concern of the Church, is the special care required to provide protection for those of its members who are least able to protect themselves. Conversely, it is a sign of sickness in a society when it becomes callous to the rights of the defenseless and deaf to the pleas of the weak.”–Timothy Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Los Angeles
This article, The Four Cardinals: Unambiguously Pro-Life is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.
John M. DeJak is an attorney and Latin teacher and works in academic administration. He writes from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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