The response from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) to a group of Catholic lawmakers who invoked Catholic teaching to support abortion has been firm and resolute.
A coalition of 30 Democrats, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, referenced their Catholic faith and St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici as grounds for endorsing abortion.
In their letter, the lawmakers stated, “The core principles of our Catholic faith—social justice, conscience, and religious freedom—compel us to defend a woman’s right to access abortion. Our faith consistently promotes the common good, upholds the dignity of every human being, and emphasizes the necessity of creating a collective safety net for the most vulnerable among us.”
In response to this, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the USCCB, along with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee of Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, issued a joint statement to correct the lawmakers’ interpretation:
“Members of Congress who recently justified abortion or supported a supposed right to abortion by invoking teachings of the Catholic faith itself gravely distort the faith. It is incorrect and inconsistent to claim that the intentional termination of innocent human life at its most vulnerable stage can ever align with the values of supporting the dignity and well-being of those in need,” expressed the U.S. bishops.
Referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bishops emphasized, “Human life must be unconditionally respected and protected from the moment of conception.”
They continued, “Abortion violates this principle with regard to unborn children and inflicts immeasurable suffering on countless women.”
The bishops acknowledged the significance of conscience, both within Church teachings and in the public sphere. They also highlighted the importance of policymakers upholding the freedom of Catholics and others to contribute to the common good based on their beliefs in various areas, ranging from aiding newly arrived migrants to providing healthcare and social services.
However, the bishops stressed, “Conscience is not a license to commit evil or support abortion. It cannot and should not justify such acts.”
Concluding their statement, the bishops urged Congress to “join us in prioritizing authentic and uplifting support for the vulnerable and marginalized, including mothers and families in need, as we work together toward the genuine common good.”