We need to protect the least among us: the unborn

Pro-life supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 18, 2019. The theme for the 2020 March for Life is "Life Empowered: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman." (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

The March for Life, the annual gathering of pro-life activists, clergy and civic leaders, will take place in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. In our pro-life commitment, America is allied with the sentiments expressed in the statements by the Society of Jesus of the United States, “Standing for the Unborn,” which was published in America on May 26, 2003, and “Protecting the Least Among Us,” published on Jan. 18, 2018. As is our annual custom, we republish excerpts from these texts here as an expression of our solidarity with the women and men who will march this month in the nation’s capital.


As we Jesuits survey our culture, we cannot help but see abortion as part of the massive injustices in our society....Since the January 22, 1973, Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, more than 55 million American lives have been ended by abortion. Among all the justice issues we as a society should view with grave concern, abortion is a key social evil. We approach this topic as pastors, scholars, social activists, and educators. There is no part of our ministry that is untouched by the devastating consequences of abortion and there is, therefore, no environment in which we find ourselves that does not have some role to play in addressing this complex issue.

Advertisement

There is no part of our ministry that is untouched by the devastating consequences of abortion. 

Pope Francis writes, “No one must say they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas…. None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and social justice” (Evangelii Gaudium, 201). In the same way, the Society of Jesus today asks its members and collaborators to find ever new and creative ways to bring the protection of the unborn and solidarity with mothers in difficult situations into whatever mission they serve.

As we continue to engage on the topic of abortion, we wish to proceed in a way that rests on the following insights:

First, the foundation of the Catholic moral tradition is the dignity of the human person. The second key insight of Catholic moral life is that we are social beings and that solidarity matters. The social acceptance of abortion is a profound moral failure on both counts. It undermines the claim that every life is infused with God-given dignity, and it often pretends such decisions can be relegated to individual choice without having negative consequences on society as a whole. Sacred Scripture, the witness of early Christianity, Catholic social teaching, and the magisterium consistently teach that we cannot in good conscience ignore this tragedy.

The foundation of the Catholic moral tradition is the dignity of the human person.

Second, Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit history offer unique lenses through which to view the topic of abortion that should deepen our resolve to work in this area. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are motivated from beginning to end by the laboring presence of God in creation and redemption. We are invited to co-labor, not because we are perfect, but because we are loved, and in recognizing God’s love for us we cannot but act on it. Jesuits throughout history have lived out this insight to transform the world, and we are asked to do the same today.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

Third, beyond the actual content of “what” we say in making a case against abortion, it is critical to pay attention to “how” our defense of the unborn takes place. As St. Paul reminds us, we must “speak the truth with love” (Ephesians 4:15). Success will not come through force of will; it will only come by changing hearts. Therefore, we must always keep watch over our own hearts and ensure they are filled with the love and hope needed for this holy work.

Success will not come through force of will; it will only come by changing hearts.

Our Jesuit brother and our Holy Father, Pope Francis, highlights our concern: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this” (Evangelii Gaudium, 213). May we always listen to the lives of the most vulnerable in our society and use our voice on their behalf.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

Advertisement

The latest from america

A camp in Matamoros, Mexico, for migrants from Central America seeking asylum in the United States. Photo taken on Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
The coronavirus poses a new threat to asylum seekers in detention centers and in crowded camps, writes Kathleen Bonnette of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Kathleen BonnetteApril 01, 2020
In this episode of “Inside the Vatican,” the hosts cover how Pope Francis and other Vatican leaders are making a concerted effort to draw people’s attention to the major ethical questions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Colleen DulleApril 01, 2020
People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop Career Center on March 17 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Ms. Aguila and her husband are undocumented immigrants, but their children are U.S. citizens. If the children catch the coronavirus, she said, they will have health care. But as far as her husband and herself, Ms. Aguila said their only plan is just to not get sick.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMarch 31, 2020
A medical worker in a protective suit treats a coronavirus patient in an intensive care unit at the Casalpalocco hospital in Rome March 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Guglielmo Mangiapane, Reuters)
“The situation continues to be very, very difficult in the hospitals of northern Italy because of the lack of intensive care units,” Dr. Renata Ghelardi said, reporting that the hospital system in Bergamo “is in a state of collapse.”
Gerard O’ConnellMarch 31, 2020