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There are many who are vehemently pro-abortion. They often think in terms of “a clump of tissues”. They have no concerns with abortion on demand.

There are others, even among believers, who might be called “pragmatists,” “skeptics,” “the conflicted”.

Pope Francis

In recent years, Pope Francis’ public statements on abortion — often unscripted — have been more graphic and striking than even some of the pro-life statements of his predecessors

  • During an in-flight press conference, Pope Francis responded that “abortion is more than an issue. Abortion is murder.”
  • In his weekly catechesis he said “It is not right to ‘do away with’ a human being, however small, in order to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hitman.”
  • “In the last century the entire world was scandalized over what the Nazis were doing to maintain the purity of the race. Today we do the same thing, but with white gloves,
  • Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil,” the pope said in his in-flight press conference returning from Mexico.
  • “Abortion is against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself,”
  • Pope Francis even speaks without words as when he prayed at a cemetery for aborted babies during his papal trip to South Korea in August 2014.

Pope Francis’ strong statements mark a continuation of the Catholic Church’s clear pronouncements.

He does seem to distinguish between the sin and the sinner, abortion, and how to deal with those who have, provide, or tolerate what he sees clearly sees as murder. Pope Francis models behavior on Jesus’ approach to sinners. He engages them in a variety of ways from eating with them to challenging them. Popes have often met with heads of state who are assassins in their own countries or in other ways hostile to human life at all stages.

Long-term questions

However, it would still be well to ask some further questions occasioned by the current shift in the political climate. Will the wide range of legislative issues bring an end to the war on abortion? A few things come to mind.

Will such legislation actually reduce the number of abortions? It may seem counter-intuitive, but several studies have shown that countries that have outlawed abortion still have similar rates of abortion. Think of the fact that outlawing prostitution has not ended prostitution.

We could win the battle but still face losing the war over respect for life.

Will anti-abortion legislation change the underlying throw-away culture where everyone and everything is disposable depending upon one’s age, health, color of skin, country of origin?

Then there are other forms of taking a life… capital punishment, war itself and the inevitable civilian casualties, etc. There is also the slow, but no less real, forms of death due to unequal or total lack of health care, etc.

I suspect there are even some pro-life people who are unaware of the anti-life implications of a” throw-away culture”, who deny the common good in resisting the time-honored use of vaccines to safeguard life. And then there is the still hopefully remote, but the real, possibility of contributing to and speeding even more significant climate change that could destroy life as we know it… at first gradually among the poor but ultimately even the billions of people alive at this time.

Let us take seriously the “long game” that Pope Francis is proposing in his major reflections… Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si, and Fratelli Tutti.

Let us play both the “long game” and the “short game”. It is not either/or!

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

Abortion – there is no doubt…