DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Several bishops are refuting an ad claiming that abortion is a Catholic social value.
Abortion advocacy group Catholics for Choice (CFC) sponsored a full-page, full-color ad in more than 20 national and local print news publications across the United States on September 12. The ad promotes the group's latest campaign "Abortion in Good Faith," claiming, "Public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value."
The group claims it is Catholic while supporting the legalization and public funding of abortion at any stage of pregnancy. CFC President Jon O'Brien maintains, "As Catholics, we believe in conscience. We believe that everyone has a God-given voice that resonates within us and guides us in our decision-making."
He continues, "Choice respects each person's right and responsibility to listen to our inner voice when making moral decisions, including the one to continue or end a pregnancy."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has clarified several times already that CFC is not a Catholic organization but merely "an arm of the abortion lobby."
On September 12, the USCCB responded to the ad with an immediate condemnation, written by Cdl. Timothy Dolan, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities:
CFC's extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.
Several U.S. bishops are also speaking up. The Minnesota Catholic Conference condemned the ad, saying it "woefully misrepresents the noble Catholic social justice tradition."
Four Catholic Texas bishops, including Bp. Steven Lopes — head of the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States — issued a scathing reaction on September 13, noting CFC is not actually Catholic and notes it is unclear "why this small activist group insists on describing itself as 'Catholic' when it apparently declines to embrace and live the principles of the Catholic faith." It continues, "Someone cannot call themselves a Catholic, yet reject the sanctity of life by active support of abortion."
Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth comments, "I remind Catholics ... that any direct and intentional act of abortion is always a grave moral evil and for others willingly and intentionally to enable and to encourage others to perform or undergo abortions is objectively a mortal sin that places one's soul in peril and for which one will be judged by Christ."
Catholics for Choice, however, remains undaunted by the bishops' reaction. In a response to Cdl. Dolan's comment, O'Brien asserts, "U.S. Catholic bishops don't represent the thinking of the majority of American Catholics."
Ninety-nine percent of sexually active Catholic women have used a form of birth control that the bishops don't like. ... Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as those of other faiths and those of no faith, despite the bishops. Half of Catholic voters believe private‐ and publicly‐funded insurance programs should include abortion coverage whenever a woman and her doctor decide it is appropriate. Polling clearly shows that Catholics continue to believe in choice on abortion, as they have done for many years, despite the bishops complaining and campaigning.
He goes on to claim that Church teaching on abortion is not infallible and that the Vatican has never declared when personhood begins. "The bishops conveniently forget the primacy of conscience in Catholic teachings, including moral matters like abortion," he says.
He finishes by asking, "Do you value the 350 votes of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, or the views and opinions of over 80 million Catholics in the US?"
Cardinal Dolan, however, has admitted that for much of his priesthood he has "rarely" preached on abortion or contraception.
Catholics for Choice receives funding from George Soros, Warren Buffett, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Playboy Foundation among others.