September 10, 2008
I have recently corresponded with you regarding comments of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the subject of abortion and the teachings of the Catholic Church. She has continued to make statements on the issue of abortion, now citing a text by St. Augustine as reason to doubt the Church’s authoritative teaching. Her statements have taken out of context this great Doctor of the Church. She has mistakenly chosen to rely upon long-outdated hypotheses on the development of the unborn child in utero, and irresponsibly confuses moral and doctrinal categories.
Catholic teaching on human life and abortion was further misrepresented by comments made by Senator Biden this past Sunday. He cited St. Thomas as the one who has informed him on the matter. Senator Biden has taken a quote by Aquinas and misused it to support the thought that there is ambiguity as to when life begins. Senator Biden, and all others who mistakenly claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion confuse matters more by implying that the time of when life begins is a matter of faith, and not that of science, the natural law, or truth. Any person who has studied biology, whether they are a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Christian, agnostic or atheist, knows that human life begins at the moment of conception. Both Representative Pelosi and Senator Biden have demonstrated their lack of knowledge and understanding of Catholic teaching on abortion.
Bishops and priests have a responsibility to clarify Catholic teaching and present the authentic teaching of the Church on the matter of human life and abortion. The teaching, dependent upon science and reason, is definitive as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2270-2275) and Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life, (62-63). Every Catholic has an obligation to know and understand this teaching as well as to have studied it. Furthermore, the responsibilities of Catholics involved in political life, concerning the subject of abortion, have been clearly articulated by the magisterium of the Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict, in his March 30, 2006, address to members of the European People’s Party, stated the following:
“As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:
– protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
– recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
– the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.”
The USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities has issued a Fact Sheet “Respect for Unborn Human Life: The Church’s Constant Teaching” in response to the claims made by Representative Pelosi. They also speak well to the comments recently made by Senator Biden. I have enclosed a copy for duplication. I ask you to include this in your Sunday bulletins for the weekend of September 20/21st. I ask you to address this clarification of teaching from the pulpit on either September 20/21st, 27/28th or October 4/5th. Encourage your parishioners to inform themselves of authentic Church teaching on the issue of abortion. You may review previous correspondence from me on this topic on the diocesan Web site: http://www.fargodiocese.org.
Finally I wish to invite you to join me on Sunday, September 28th, for our annual Eucharistic procession to the state’s only abortion facility. This falls on the eve of Presbyterate Days, when many of you may be making the trip to Fargo already. Please include this event in your day’s plans as travel allows. This is a wonderful opportunity for our diocese to stand together in public witness to the sanctity of human life. The Respect Life Office has already sent bulletin announcements and posters to your parish secretary. Please take a moment to include an announcement on this event either in your homily or announcements at Mass the weekend of September 20/21st. A poster is enclosed with further details.
I want to thank you for your strong support for the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. As there is confusion on the matter of abortion in the minds of some Catholics, we have the responsibility to clearly articulate the truths of natural reason and the teaching of the Church and help all of our faithful understand the teaching. We cannot be silent in the face of such a holocaust of innocent human life. Our precious unborn children need us to speak for them. I ask you to join me in these efforts of prayer and preaching.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila
Bishop of Fargo
(Hat Tip to American Papist)