PROSPECT HEIGHTS — After more than 30 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives recently claimed the tenets of the faith “compel” them to defend abortion rights, multiple U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committee chairmen have jointly rejected the argument, saying their rationale is “wrong and incoherent.”
“Members of Congress who recently invoked teachings of the Catholic faith itself as justifying abortion or supporting a supposed right to abortion grievously distort the faith,” the chairmen said in a statement. “It is wrong and incoherent to claim that the taking of innocent human life at its most vulnerable stage can ever be consistent with the values of supporting the dignity and well-being of those in need.”
Led by Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the representatives issued a joint statement with the claims on June 24, two days after the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which did away with a national right to abortion and put abortion law in the hands of the states.
The representatives’ statement emphasizes a portion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that states “a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his [or her] conscience.” They also highlight the separation of church and state to say that laws should not impose the church’s pro-life stance on those who feel differently.
Further, the representatives make the case that the Catholic faith “unfailingly promotes the common good, prioritizes the dignity of every human being, and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to our most vulnerable,” of which they say abortion services are a part.
“The fundamental tenets of our Catholic faith — social justice, conscience, and religious freedom — compel us to defend a woman’s right to access abortion,” the representatives’ statement reads. “We are committed to advocating for the respect and protection of those making the decision if and when to have children.”
The USCCB chairmen cited different sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, including the line that “human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” and another that the use of conscience “must be informed and moral judgment enlightened.”
This isn’t the first time Catholic leaders and Catholic politicians have sparred over their abortion stances. USCCB leaders have been outspoken about their discontent with President Joe Biden’s pro-abortion stance, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has had a longstanding public duel with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the topic, as well.
The June 28 USCCB statement is signed by Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, president of the USCCB; Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities; and Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chair of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine.
From their own perspectives, the bishops argue that while it is important for people to act in accordance with the conscience, conscience “is not a license to commit evil and take innocent lives,” and it “cannot and does not justify the act or support abortions.” They also argue that science supports their pro-life stance.
“We once again implore and pray for Congress to join us in working toward the true common good by prioritizing authentic, uplifting support for the vulnerable and marginalized, including mothers and families in need,” the USCCB chairman said.