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Archbishop Blase Cupich, Abortion & Social Justice

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New Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich has upset some Catholics with an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune.  In the article, the archbishop attacks Planned Parenthood and the idea of crushing a child’s skull in order to sell them as valuable parts as he should.

However, this is not what is causing an uproar on social media, especially among Catholics who identify as “conservative” and are known for passing judgments against clergy who emphasize social justice. This is what the archbishop wrote that is stirring reactionists:

“We should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.”  – http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-blase-cupich-abortion-planned-parenthood-perspec-0804-20150803-story.html

As you have read, the archbishop links the atrocities of fetal trafficking with other social injustices, ie: unemployment, lack of medical care, a broken immigration system, racism etc.  The moral equivalency is present.  There is no doubt about this. However, what is he really trying to express?  Is he downplaying the atrocities mentioned in the leaked Planned Parenthood videos as some Catholic reactionaries allude to?  I think not.

What I see here is the archbishop calling our attention to other social ills that also attack human life in different ways. Pro-life advocates are often mocked by those who support abortion who identify under the moniker “Pro-choice.”  The latter criticize the hypocrisy of fighting for “pro-life” values while at the same time supporting the death penalty, guns, anti-immigration policies and not speaking out against other abuses related to human life such as poverty, lack of education and so on. Name calling generally comes into play with terms applied to pro-life advocates describing them as having a “Fetus Fetish.”

See some Tweets here highlighting this name calling and the alleged discrepancies of those who are “pro-life:”

In light of these tweets, one can see why we in the pro-life movement must focus on all things related to human life and not solely abortion.  By doing this, we lend credibility to the main motive behind the movement: the dignity of all human life.  Granted, nothing can compare to the crushing of unborn children’s skulls in regards to other social issues; however, the latter are not less important and must be focused upon as well as they too attack human life in a variety of ways. I believe this is what archbishop Cupich was trying to convey in his op-ed.

Moreover, as Church, we must not focus too much on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and so forth as if the Church exists solely to address social issues.  Our Church exists to preach the Gospel of Christ.  We are not called to be activists or protestors like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson who only appear when it suits their interests. These gentlemen claim to support civil rights and show up whenever an African American is shot by a police officer but are a no-show in areas where black on black violence is rampant.  We must not be like them.  Rather, we are called to spread the love of Christ to all, in every place and in every time; to remind all of God’s mercy and what He wills for each one of us.

Pope Francis had this to say in an interview he gave:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. The teaching of the church is clear, and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
– http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

Some Catholic reactionaries were quick to criticize the Pope for those words; however, had they done their homework, they would have known that his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who was viewed as the “staunch conservative” Cardinal Ratzinger, aka “God’s rottweiler” also said something similar.  Pope Francis simply echoed his works by reaffirming the Church’s priority.


In closing, we must not be quick to attack our bishops and should first try to understand their intentions.  No true Catholic bishop would promote the idea that abortion is less evil than unemployment, racism and so forth. No true Catholic bishop would have his flock downplay the selling of fetal parts.  This would be absurd. A true Catholic bishop would call us to respect and aid all human life: born and unborn; in every state of being and circumstance.

The moniker “pro-life” does not make sense if it only applies to issues related to abortion. If we are “pro-life” then we must fight for the rights of all human beings, born and unborn.  We must secure a world where everyone has fair access to the world’s wealth and goods so there is no need for contraception; a secure world that has access to education, equal treatment regardless of race, gender, ability, disability, or sexual preference, legal immigration status, dignified work, crime-free neighborhoods, and health care. This is what it means to be “Pro-life.”






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