WASHINGTON (November 18, 1998)--At their semi-annual meeting here, the Catholic bishops of the United States today issued a pastoral statement exhorting Catholics and all Americans to make the cause of human life a priority, particularly life threatened by abortion and euthanasia.
Entitled "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics," the statement asks Americans to consider the cultural crises of abortion and euthanasia. "Abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others. They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless." Furthermore, they are practiced within the family itself and legitimized by governments. Even infanticide, in the form of partial-birth abortion, is being tolerated and defended.
The bishops strongly remind Americans of the conflict between the present situation and the nation's founding principle of respect for inalienable human rights: "The inherent value of human life, at every stage and in every circumstance, is not a sectarian issue any more than the Declaration of Independence is a sectarian creed," they said.
The bishops ask Catholics in public office to "place their faith at the heart of their public service." They remind them that Catholic officials who support abortion and euthanasia "indirectly collude in the taking of innocent life," and should "consider the consequences for their own spiritual well being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin."
The bishops pledge to redouble their efforts to evangelize and teach about "the dignity of life and the wrongness of abortion."
Catholics are urged to be more active citizens: "Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts." In "bringing a respect for human dignity to practical politics," citizens and elected officials are urged to "begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem."
The full text of "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics," may be found on the internet at: www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/gospel.shtml.