Justice for All?

Cardinal Dolan Speaks Out Against Abortion

It is a presupposition of the church that we ought to do our best to protect the most helpless and vulnerable in society. Christians are to “love justice and mercy” and devote as much time as possible to helping the poor and needy. The command to “love our neighbor as ourselves” is one that knows no racial or social bounds. This is clear throughout Scripture and remains a deep need today with our many social ills and fractures. President Elect-Biden, who identifies as a Catholic, has notably expressed a desire to practice that kind of compassion during his presidency. However, Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently called out the president-elect for his radical stance on abortion, writing,

"We're ‘hung up’ now, as our new president, whom we wish well, and who speaks with admirable sensitivity about protecting the rights of the weakest and most threatened, ran on a platform avidly supporting the gruesome capital punishment of innocent pre-born babies."

In using “capital punishment” as his choice term, Dolan is cleverly pointing out the hypocrisy in working towards the abolition of the death penalty and yet signing off on the deaths of thousands of unborn babies every year.

Pro-life advocates are often accused of caring only about babies in the womb, but not about children after they are born. Dolan claims, however, that in order to have a consistent social justice ethic, and not one that focuses only on the trending issue at hand, we need to include the right to life in the discussion. “How can we sustain a culture that recoils at violence, exclusion, suicide, racism, injustice…if we applaud, allow, pay for, and promote the destruction of the most helpless, the baby in the womb?” Dolan writes. It is woefully hypocritical to focus so intensely on various social injustices and yet disregard the rights and needs of the most vulnerable demographic in our population: the unborn.

Biden has historically been regarded as a moderate Democrat, but his abortion agenda is extreme. He has said that abortion is an “essential medical service” and is furthermore in favor of repealing the Hyde Amendment, which prevents tax dollars to go towards funding abortions. While abortion has become a hot topic political issue, the central dilemma remains—every abortion means the loss of a unique life that God created and loves. In addition, abortion is not centrally a “religious” issue, but a simple matter of human rights and dignity. “This is not a uniquely ‘Catholic’ issue at all, but one of human rights,” said Dolan. “We didn’t learn that abortion was horrible in religion class, but in biology, and in our courses on the ‘inalienable rights’ tradition in American history.” Not only does abortion offend the sacred image of God, but it also goes against the scientific reasoning which insists that a human life begins at the moment of its conception.

The pro-choice position claims that human beings are fully autonomous, connected to no larger communal picture beyond themselves. But this is simply false. Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, wrote powerfully of the interconnected family of humanity. That is why, he argued, that racial injustice had its consequences for everyone, that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The same principle is true when it comes to protecting the rights of the unborn. We are all connected and need each other in different ways in order to fully thrive. The killing of any human life is an invasion of this sacred order, and means that no one is safe. The child needs his mother to keep her womb free of any violent invasion, just as she depended on her own mother in the same way. Cardinal Dolan wrote that he desires a “respect for the sacredness of all life” and “that the dignity of the person will be revived.” The church must again meet her calling and stand up for life in a culture of death.

Peter Biles is the author of Hillbilly Hymn and Keep and Other Stories. He graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois in 2019 and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He has also written stories and essays for a variety of publications, including Plough, Dappled Things, The Gospel Coalition, Salvo, and Breaking Ground.

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