As this week approaches the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and the annual March for Life in Washington, the Jesuit Conference of the United States and Canada released an updated statement on abortion in the United States, entitled “Protecting the Least Among Us “.
Describing abortion as a “major social evil” in the United States, the Jesuits say: “The most fundamental building block of a just social order is respect for human life. As long as men and women do not, individually and together, profoundly stand up for the worth and dignity of all human life, we will never find the true peace, justice and reconciliation that God desires for us. “
In this revised and expanded Declaration on Abortion – their first since 2003 – the Jesuits describe the dignity of the human person as “the foundation of Catholic moral tradition” and add that another important insight into Catholic moral life is that “we are social beings are”. and that solidarity counts. “
“Social acceptance of abortion is a profound moral failure in both respects,” say the Jesuits. “It undermines the claim that all life is imbued with God-given dignity, and it is often pretended that such choices can be left to individual choice without negatively affecting society as a whole. Scripture, the testimony of early Christianity, Catholic social teaching and the Magisterium teach time and again that we cannot ignore this tragedy with a clear conscience. “
Commenting on the revised statement, Timothy Kesicki, SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States said: “St. Ignatius founded the Jesuits to promote the faith and advancement of souls in the teaching of Christ. As Jesuits, we continue this mission of accompanying the unborn child and the community into which each of us was born. “
Describing abortion as a “major social evil” in the United States, the Jesuits say, “The most fundamental building block of a just social order is respect for human life.”
In the new statement, the Jesuits state that regular criticism from abortion law advocates “is the pro-life movement’s narrow focus on abortion, excluding vital issues such as the death penalty, economic justice, access to health care or warfare”. “, A criticism that they sometimes recognize as justified. The Jesuits say that “effective advocacy will not dismiss this challenge,” but “can provide an opportunity to expand the coalition of individuals interested in shaping our culture into one that respects human life in all its forms “.
The Jesuits argue, “We have the best chance of making changes in abortion when our pro-life narrative is consistent and comprehensive.”
The Jesuits describe the institution of abortion “as part of the massive injustices in our society” and point to a “spirit of callous disregard for life, which is evident in direct attacks on human life such as abortion and the death penalty”. “There are less direct but equally pointless ways in which we undermine life,” say the Jesuits, “through violence, racism, xenophobia and the growing inequality of wealth and education. We also seek justice by ensuring that pregnant women and mothers have the resources they need to care for their children and lead full lives. “
Citing the direction of John Paul II and Pope Francis, the Jesuits call for deeper “accompaniment with women” in US life and warn that the style and content of the current public debate on abortion “exposes us all to many fraudulent messages . ”
“Women can be promised the falsehood that abortion solves a problem. Society could be fooled into believing abortion is a choice women make casually, ”they say. “We must not listen to the voice that promises scapegoats or simple solutions to complex problems,” add the Jesuits. “Instead, we must tilt our ears to Christ who went before us – healing all forms of brokenness, preaching deliverance from all forms of bondage, and calling on the most unlikely characters to work by his side.”
Given how little public opinion has changed on abortion over the past decade, Jesuits are concerned about “disturbing signs” about future attitudes to the sanctity of life as technology and public mores change.
“Advances in genetic engineering are making it much easier to screen for disease and disability in utero,” they point out; Advances that can be a great gift “when used judiciously in the treatment or preparation of couples for the care of their children after birth”.
“But it also creates a situation that borders on eugenics, in which people who are considered less than perfect are eliminated before they are even born,” say the Jesuits. “In addition, access to drugs that act as abortion drugs is becoming easier and easier. We take these realities as evidence that we need to give those who do this work more tools to get involved. “