All values are non-negotiable, Pope says in new interview [CNA]

Vatican City, Mar 5, 2014 / 01:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Emphasizing that “values are values” and leaving aside the expression “non-negotiable values,” Pope Francis has underscored the importance of the entirety of the Church’s social doctrine.

In [an interview]("") published March 5 in Italian daily “Corriere della Sera,” he was asked about appeals to “the so-called ‘non-negotiable values’, especially in bio-ethics and sexual morality.”

“I have never understood the expression non-negotiable values,” responded the Pope. “Values are values, and that is it. I can’t say that, of the fingers of a hand, there is one less useful than the rest. Whereby I do not understand in what sense there may be negotiable values.”

He added that what he wishes to say about “the theme of life,” he has stated already in “Evangelii gaudium.”

In the Italian context in which the interview was granted, the expression “non-negotiable values” is the fruit of a national debate that began in the 1980s -- when the Church in Italy celebrated its national convention in Loreto in 1985.

The convention ended with an appeal for the unity of Catholics committed to politics: which meant support for Christian Democracy, a political party founded in 1943 and supported by the Church.

The “table of values” in the appeal included “the primacy and centrality of the human person, the sacrality and inviolability of the human person from conception to natural death, the contribution of women in social development, the role and stability of the family founded on marriage, social pluralism and the freedom of education, privileged attention to those who are weaker, and freedom and social justice in the world.”

When Christian Democracy collapsed in 1994, the Italian bishops’ conference switched its focus from the support to a specific party, to supporting whatever party would advance these values.

During the years 2004 and 2005, there was a wider discussion in Italy about a law on in-vitro fertilization that led to the promotion of a referendum to abrogate the law, considered by the promoters of the referendum too influenced by Christian values.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who was then president of the Italian bishops’ conference and vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, coined and began often using the expression “non-negotiable values”, referring primarily to “life issues” such as abortion, adoption and in-vitro fertilization, to grab headlines and to arouse a political debate.

Cardinal Ruini’s initiative was deemed a great success, and the expression “non-negotiable values” became widely used in Italy.

Benedict XVI also used the expression on several occasions, yet he did so in a wider sense: not simply referring to Italian politics.

He would at times speak of the “so-called non-negotiable values,” thus pointing out that there are no “negotiable” values in the Church’s social teaching.

At his Christmas address to the Roman curia in 2012, he spoke of values “fundamental and non-negotiable for the human condition,” in the context of the dialogue between the Church, and the state and society.

“In her dialogue with the state and with society, the Church does not, of course, have ready answers for individual questions,” he said, saying the Church can offer, in dialogues, a memory of the human condition.

And addressing the Forum of Catholic-Inspired Non-Governmental Organizations Dec. 1, 2007, Benedict XVI maintained that there are ethical principles” which are non-negotiable “by their very nature and their role as the basis of social life.” This would lead to solidarity he said, but that it is to be paired with an “authentic spirit of freedom” which “will help the initiative of the members of non-governmental organization to create a broad gamut of new approaches and solutions with regard to those temporal affairs which God has left to the free and responsible judgement of every individual.”

On both occasions, Benedict referred to the entirety of values acknowledged and promoted by the social teaching of the Church.

Thus set in the Italian context, despite first appearances, Pope Francis actually puts himself in continuity with Benedict XVI in the answer he gave to “Corriere della Sera” on “non-negotiable values.”

Benedict XVI and Pope Francis both have underscored that none of the principles of the Church’s social teaching is less important, and that there is not a rank of values between life issues and social issues.

Pope Francis’ great consideration  of life issues is shown, as he indicated to Corriere della Sera, by what he wrote in “Evangelii gaudium”:

“Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, ‘every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual.’”

Full article…

Thanks be to God.


For some reason Im reading everything in a negative way today.

I dont think this statement is positive or reassuring. Basically by lumping all values together, he’s saying that all the “non negotiables” are equal to the less prioritized values and theres nothing exceptionally urgent or important about them.

The first part is true, the second is not. Issues can be urgent because of immediate need. The problem with ranking values is that it is too easy to compromise with sin. It is a moral lesson, not a political one. Focus on this statement to understand what he means.

“Values are values, and that is it. I can’t say that, of the fingers of a hand, there is one less useful than the rest. Whereby I do not understand in what sense there may be negotiable values.”

If there are no negotiable values, why label some as non-negotiable?

Labelling them non-negotiable gives them a sense of urgency and “must be defended at all costs.” Taking that connotation away, it loses its importance IMO.

Also, consider this. The pope seems to be more concerned with wasting food than with the wasting of millions of dead babies. The priorities seem to be off. Not only that, I was shocked that he was shocked abput hearing of Spain’s high abortion rate, as if he didnt realize abortion was such a serious problem today (although his shock might explain why he didnt act or speak out urgently on that matter and focuses more on food wasting).

Immigration policy, the death penalty, just war. These are all points of prudential judgement. The Holy Father seems to be saying that these are equal in criticality to abortion, euthanasia, contraception, homosexuality. While the Church has spoken clearly on the latter matters and she has left it up to us to decide in the former. What could he mean by this? Why does he feel the need to repudiate something articulated so clearly by the previous pontificate?

I would say rather it would be wiser to consider that you may be wrong about the Holy Father than paint him in such negative light as you and Elizium have. It makes as much sense as saying those wyou question the Holy Father have a schismatic mentality, which I know they don’t. Yet if we view what others say through our own political viewpoints, we can reach such wrong conclusions. So, if we do not want to be misrepresented, then we need to not do that to others. His priorities are not off. He is rejecting false dichotomies like this that has become so ingrained with within conservative thought.

I HOPE that I am wrong. I am just stating what it looks and sounds like to me. I wish Pope Francis would speak clearer or clarify or give examples of what he means.

Points? What exactly is a point? This is why I think you missed what the Holy Father said. He was not talking points. He was talking values. Our moral values that we engage in considering immigration, capital punishment or war, are as critical as the values we use to consider abortion. Some are the same values. For example, life has an innate value that is not diminished by one’s station in life, or the crimes on commits. We cannot value the life of the unborn and not that of the convicted criminal. The prudence used in passing laws (laws are not values, btw) may be have differing results, but even with abortion, prudence should be exercised.

He is not repudiating anything. Blessed John Paul said that the death penalty was no longer needed. Pope Benedict said that the application was a matter of prudence. Now Pope Francis is saying that the values we use are always non-negotiable. Is it really all that hard to reconcile these?

Amen pnewton :).

My take on Pope Francis is that he’s trying to restore an attitude of civility and compassion to the ways we in the Church approach our faith vis-a-vis others who may see things differently than we do. “Non-negotiables” was a term issued in voters guides in the 2004 US election cycle. It’s goal was to make Catholics aware of the Church’s position on certain issues. I believe this was a well-intentioned effort that led to a lot of dialogue and raised some levels of awareness in the faithful. However, I also believe it’s generated some unintended consequences; not the least of which is that some people used these positions on specific issues as a wedge that’s caused unnecessary division in the Church.

I don’t believe the Magesterium has ever identified 5 non-negotiables of Catholic faith and, apparently, Pope Francis doesn’t either. This in no way diminishes the importance of the 5 issues identified in 2004; rather, it’s places them in a much larger context. And that larger context is the great beauty of our Catholic faith.

Continue to count on people showing up at the polls pulling the lever for the anti-marriage, anti-baby candidates to line their pockets and write it off as “helping the poor”. :mad:

It seems to me that Pope Francis’ point is that there should be no divide between being pro-marriage, pro-life, and pro “helping the poor”.

I see it with no divide either, but the marriage laws for example were something that was going on right now that needed to be tended to immediately. Pope Francis responded with “The Chuch is too obsessed with gay marriage.” I see his point that addressing the throw-away culture overall will solve problems of gay marriage, divorce, and abortion. However, would not fixing these more urgent matters first also affect the throw-away culture and resolve a smaller in comparison evil, like wasting food?

I have been thinking about this latest statement. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis seems to touch on this point again, but here he seems to indicate that some issues do take priority over others.

"All revealed truths derive from the same divine source and are to be believed with the same faith, yet some of them are more important for giving direct expression to the heart of the Gospel. In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead. In this sense, the Second Vatican Council explained, “in Catholic doctrine there exists an order or ‘hierarchy’ of truths, since they vary in relation to the foundation of the Christian faith.” This holds true as much for dogmas of faith as for the whole corpus of the Church’s teachings, including her moral teaching."

So while all Christian values are in indeed “non-negotiable”, those who rightly see a priority with the pro-life issues can perhaps take heart in the above statement.

Christian values must drive *all *our decisions. The person you allude to cannot reverse what Pope Francis said and make abortion of less importance. Nor did Pope Francis say that all values are of equal weight. He just said none are negotiable.

I will try this again even though one of my post was deleted < i could understand if moved to a different forum better for the topic but deleting something that was a question should not offend anyone when I am trying to learn but who knows >

The Pope talks about Morals and Values yet does nothing to members who are leaders in society who continue to claim to be catholic yet support abortion. Why are these people not denied Communion ? Why are their priest, and Bishops also not Disciplined for not enforcing the rules of the Church?

I know some argue that maybe something was done behind closed doors but that doesn’t seem to be the case considering the same people publicly support abortion every day. Why is the Church afraid to take on these people directly?

When is the Church going to start practicing what it preaches? This is why I have a hard time joining the Church. Her lack of action makes it look like a hypocrite. The bible tells us to Follow Christ and his teachings but the Church itself seems to pick and choose which ones it wants to follow.

Why does the Church not make examples and enforce it’s own doctrines and beliefs? Is it fear of loss of money if they go after these people? fear of more persecution? Why is the Church so afraid to promote and stand by it’s beliefs? How can anyone respect the Church when the Church doesn’t even stand by itself?

This is just one Issue and I am seeing more and more Catholics openly support gay Marriage yet their leaders do nothing but say they are wrong but still do not deny them Communion or worse kick them out. I think the Church fears loss of money to the point they are sacrificing their own beliefs. It saddens me to the point that I no longer believe any Church of any Denomination truly believes in God or his teachings any longer.

I now some will say its not that simple but in fact it is. Some things are set in stone with out any second alternative meanings.

Peace and love to everyone but I am afraid the world is becoming truly lost.


And here I thought the “non-negotiable” buzzword originated with Catholic Answers voting guides a decade or so ago! I can go home now. Learned something new today…

There are too many questions asked to be answered. I will answer the first. One is denied communion only when the priest giving communion knows the person is in a state of mortal sin or ex-communicated. It is never the Pope that denies communion. This article is about what the Pope said, not the action of every bishop and priest in the world.

The Church does not “practice”. Individuals do the practicing. You see hypocrisy by looking at two different things and seeing a difference. I always tell people looking for a perfect Church that if they find one, they shouldn’t join or it would ruin that perfection. I was listening to Cardinal Dolan talk about how the Church has never been popular for her moral teaching. Those on the left do not like some of what the Church teaches on those on the right do not like other things the Church teaches. It is no wonder that there is resistance to Church moral doctrine, and thus, hypocrisy if one balances the actions of its members against the standard that is held.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit