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Mary Breslin, Editor
Catholic Explorer
St. Charles Pastoral Center

402 S. Independence Blvd.
Romeoville, IL 60446-2264

24 May 2004

Re: Life must be first

Dear Editor,

Mr. Reardon, in his letter of May 21 in support of John Kerry, argued that abortion is not the only important issue to consider in the Catholic struggle to promote a “culture of life”.  He named other social issues he feels must be weighed, and stated that Catholic voters must decide which candidate is “more pro-life”.


That’s all true.  However, there is a key moral difference between abortion and all the other issues Mr. Reardon named.  Citizens legitimately may disagree about how government can best promote the public good through expanding or shrinking welfare programs, regulating minimum wage, or even engaging in war.  The morality of such acts –even warfare- depends upon the ends they pursue and the means they employ.[1] 


Elective abortion is a different kind of act, repeatedly condemned by the Church as “murder”[2], “always gravely immoral”[3], and an “unspeakable crime”[4].  Abortion never can be justified, because it is an intrinsically evil attack upon innocent lives.  Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Gospel of Life, rejects the concept that the life of the unborn is merely one good to be “balanced against other goods”[5]. 


A just society must enforce laws that protect the basic rights of the person, among which the right to life must be first.  Pope John XXIII teaches that “to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person… is the principal duty of every public authority."[6]  Consequently, abortion is not just one issue among many; rather, it is a crime so inhuman that defending it marks one unfit to fulfill the principal duty of public office.


Catholics who support a pro-abortion candidate because of secondary issues confuse or disregard Catholic doctrine.  Therefore, no Catholic can do so without departing from the truth.


John Robin



[1] Gospel of Life, n. 70.

[2] Gospel of Life, n. 58.

[3] Gospel of Life, n. 57.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2271.  Gaudium et Spes, 51 n. 3.

[5] Gospel of Life, n. 68, 70.

[6] Pacem in Terris, n. 60.







21 May 2004, New Catholic Explorer:


Rebuttal to letter

As a Catholic who supports John Kerry for president, I challenge John Robin’s assertion that any Catholic who supports such a candidate is “Catholic in name but not in truth.”

As Catholics we are all called to support a culture of life, from conception to death.  Abortion is a strong component of this calling, but not the total.  Life does not end at birth, and abortion will not end by changing a law.

Catholic voters have but two choices in November.  They must decide which candidate is more pro-life.  Neither is without blemish.  To believe otherwise is to ignore the events of the past four years and is morally indefensible.  Consider the following under the leadership of (Pres.) George W. Bush during the past four years:

-Absence of childcare support for working parents faced with increased working hour requirements in order to qualify for aid;

-Continued delay in passing badly needed TANF legislation;

-Failure to raise the minimum wage beyond the current level which is barely enough to cover food costs for a family of three.

These are pro-life issues that impact directly on the abortion rate; 21 percent of abortions in the United States are a result of inadequate finances.

Even more damaging is the pre-emptive bombing of Iraq despite the warnings and pleas of Pope John Paul II, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and other church leaders.  Events in Iraq since that time add to the tragic and widespread results from that ill-fated action.  The proposed federal budget for 2005, with its unprecedented military spending and failure to meet human and nutritional needs, is but one unfortunate side effect.


Bob Reardon,