I'm trying to be pro-life!

I’m trying to witness to the gospel of life, but many of my family members are trying to force me to accept the culture of death in the form of “catholic social justice.” They argue that some who “claim” to be pro-life don’t do a thing to help the poor, choosing instead to cut programs like fuel assistance and food stamps. They try to tell me that they see “the seamless garment” of helping the poor and the working class. But how can they for the poor if they won’t defend the most fundamental right of them all-life? I hope you can answer me on this.
Also, how many pro-life politicians are in favor of the death penalty? I’d like to know that, too.

The philosophy of the Seamless Garment, AKA Consistent Ethic of Life, does not downplay the importance of abortion. Death is death, and with abortion the deaths are many.

The Seamless Garment approach says that our pro-life concern should not stop with abortion or embryonic stem cell research, but should extend to the death penalty, to poverty relief, to anti-war activism etc.

If we were to be so crude as to stack a pile of bodies, abortion outweighs those other issues. But abortion, alone, should not be the end of our concern.

The higher the pyramid, the larger the base.

The way that most chose to help the poor is to implement programs designed only to keep them in poverty.

Most likely, it is already too late to save our once great country. But this is now, as it’s always been, in God’s hands.

If you are going to vote, then I beg you to look at all the candidates that are running. Not just the two that the media tells you are your only real choices.

Look at each candidate’s record of what they have done in the past. Not what they say they will do, but what they have done.

Then cast your vote for the candidate that you believe will do the best job for the USA. (Abortion, of course, being a litmus test for all Catholic voters).

If you believe the media, that there are really only two choices, then that’s all you will ever have. Two sides of the same bad coin that is destroying this once great nation.

The power to change this is, as it’s always been, in our hands.

The “seamless garment” analogy for Catholic social teaching has some value in that it emphasizes the unity of our Christian beliefs and values, but it has the serious drawback of seeming to flatten out all the various issues. In truth some issues, such as opposition to abortion, are much more important and non-negotiable than others, such as what kinds of policies are most useful in helping the poor (especially in a country like America where very few people are life-threateningly destitute, but in which millions of children are losing their lives to abortion). Because of this drawback one rarely finds the “seamless garment” language in faithful Catholic circles, these days at least.

While it has no Magisterial weight except inasmuch as your local bishop may endorse it in his Ordinary Magisterium, it may help clarify your understanding of the issues to read the USCCB’s document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”.

For a more thorough and international look at the issues, you could read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Unfortunately, in my judgement both major parties in the United States of America are radically opposed to the Catholic vision for human society. In this situation we have to vote for the lesser evil. However, considering the inhuman positions one of the parties usually takes on many of the most important and non-negotiable issues, I don’t think it’s usually difficult to identify which evil is greater and which is lesser.

Your family is just spouting off old lines that have no meaning. I doubt there is nothing you could say or do to change them and then don’t let them change you. There are just as many big rich folks in the democratic party as the other. You might try to point out that it was the first republican president (Lincoln) that freed the slaves. The Democratic party did not. Likewise in recent times, Lyndon Johnson’s equal rights would not have passes without some major support from republicans. One party is not more than the other for the poor or needy. Don’t worry about it and vote what you believe and know is correct which is pro-life.

Woodrow Wilson was also perhaps the most racist president in the history of the nation, at least in the post-slavery period. On the other hand the Democratic Party was a friend to Catholic immigrants during the same period, while the Republican Party had more support by anti-Catholic Nativists. One could argue the latter part remains true today, though of course there are more important issues than immigration policy.

Just to be clear, you do know there was no Democratic party at the time? I’m not sure that’s quite a fair analogy, or how much relation either of our modern parties bear to their original forms.

Maybe they are thinking along the lines of pro-life Democrats. You can have different opinions on how to best help the poor which Republicans and Democrats certainly do. I think the real problem is a misconception of Republicans caring only for the rich and the Democrats for the little guy.

I think it’s interesting that Catholics and Evangelicals have generally voted similarly, even if for different reasons. Democrat -> Republican.


Are your family really trying to get you to accept abortion, or simply to recognize that there are other valid social concerns?

The problem with voting only based on abortion is that you then hand the country over to whichever party chooses to make that “their” issue. Single-issue voting can seem morally compelling, but it contributes to the moral decline of society because it enables a corrupt party (both parties are corrupt) to hold Christians hostage.

That being said, I’m not persuaded by the argument that voting for the current incumbent is really “prolife.” Those friends of mine who are both American citizens (as I am not, though I’m a resident alien) and Catholics (as I am not, though I’m a sort of “resident alien” there too:o) and whose judgment I most trust are strongly inclined not to vote this year or to vote for a third party/write-in (as is my wife, who is an American but not a Catholic).


You can’t possibly equate the death penalty with aboriton. Abortion is always taking an innocent life. The death penalty does not always take an innocent life. Most of the time it takes a life guilty of a seriously heinous crime. Even if you still don’t think it’s justified to take the life of a self-admitted and convicted serial killer rapist, in no rational way can you possibly equate the two actions of abortion and the death penalty with sound philosophical reasoning.

Both parties are not corrupt. This is a standard liberal Catholic defense in an attempt to rationalize their liberalism. People pretending to be centrist… when they aren’t.

So combating the Culture of Death = single-issue voting, in your view?

As far as you converting to a pro-life stance, any argument from your family about what others may or may not do or believe is irrelevant. If your pro life your pro life. It doesnt’ matter if no one helps the poor. If your pro life your pro life. The other things are separate issues, and while your family may even be correct in that many who are pro life don’t help the poor, that is a separate issue from your stance of life or abortion.

I don’t know how many pro life politicians are for hte death penalty. I know I’m against it. I’m also pro life. And even if every pro life politican was for the death penalty, I’d STILL be pro life. So that is a separate issue (with respect to YOUR stance on life vs. abortion).

You can allow your family to talk you into supporting their views or you can choose to not allow that. Are you like 10 years old or something? I’m assuming your an adult or at least close to legal adult age. As such you have the ability to form your own opinions on such issues.

I hope you understand, accept, and agree with my arguments as I believe they are logical, make sense, and give you every reason in the world to support life vs. abortion regardless of whether or not the WHOLE WORLD supported abortion and even if NO ONE supporting life helped the poor AT ALL. You are in charge of your own life and beliefs (and to the extent you allow God and Jesus to shape them, they are in charge if you allow this to be the case).

I don’t allow my family to decide my beliefs for me. I have radical political beliefs. But they are MINE and I have spent a great deal of time and a couple decades shaping them. I didn’t make snap conclusions as to my political beliefs. I listened to people and read things for almost 2 decades before coming to what are now my political beliefs.

But I don’t beleive life vs. abortion is political. It has been put in that areana, but I believe it’s a human being issue, a religious issue, that gov’t happens to have some say in.

Stand up for your beliefs. If YOU don’t, no one else certainly will. You don’t need to ‘prove’ why they are OK (in particular pro life) to your family and defend against their accusations of what others say about life vs may or may not do re: the poor to defend your position. You don’t have to defend it at all in fact. If you choose to discuss it with your family you can simply say you believe life is sacred, you believe every human has a soul from the moment of conception, and you support life. If they come at you with all of these side issues you can reiterate your position, don’t let them control the content of the debate.

Those who control the content of a debate, those that are the one’s who get to shape the questions, have the upper hand from the get go. Don’t fall for it. And if they don’t understand you can simply say that you hope they will learn to respect your choices but you don’t want to argue.

God Bless,

Maybe not, but that does not make them not corrupt. To me politicians (at high levels) being corrupt is so obvious it’s ridiculous. It’s so obvious to me and an outlook I have had and fomred over many years. I don’t understand how anyone could claim (and honestly believe) that big time politicians are not corrupt (as in not corruptable, never waivered in their moral stance with people in political life, never done something or made a certain concession they justify as for ‘the greater good’ or never financially profitted in some way based on some political dealing they have made.

It me this is as obvious as 2+2=4 and I am completely befuttled by anyone who would claim that there are major players in politics that are above corruption, that are incorruptable. I can’t even fathom such a thing being true.

God Bless,

No. The other way round. If you base all your political decisions on one issue, such as abortion, you are not combating the Culture of Death. You’re just helping one part of that culture win shallow political victories over another part.


Funny that condemning both parties is liberal in your view. . . .

People pretending to be centrist… when they aren’t.

I have never claimed to be centrist. I’m rather too conservative, by my definition of conservative, to feel much enthusiasm about any form of American politics:p. But that’s irrelevant. Your remark is an indefensible ad hominem. Deal with the issues instead of speculating about the supposedly dishonest motives of people with whom you disagree.

The Democratic party is corrupt. The Republican party may be overrun with wealthy people

There are plenty of wealthy people in the Democratic Party. But the Republican Party appeals to people’s desire for great wealth without accountability. That is corrupt.

and you may hate wealthy people

Ad hominem again. I don’t hate wealthy people. I just don’t believe that being wealthy is a great moral achievement that should be rewarded by society.

and you may disagree with their economic philosophy, but there is not a single solitary issue on the Republican platform that actually contradicts Church doctrine.

You’re confusing intrinsic and grave evils (see the blog “Catholic Moral Theology”). It’s true that there are two clear points where the Democratic Party’s platform contradicts Catholic doctrine, and no equally clear points in the case of the Republicans. But there are numerous points–nearly everything except for abortion and same-sex marriage–where the policies advocated by the Republican Party cannot be reconciled with Catholic teaching. The fact that these conflicts have to do with how you apply general principles to the specific situation of 21st-century America doesn’t make them any less grave, or the Republican Party any less corrupt. On issue after issue the Republicans take stances that cater to fear, nationalistic arrogance of the worst kind, and greed. Catholic Republicans pay lip service to the concept of the “common good” while endorsing policies that cannot be reconciled with Catholic teaching on the common good, given all the other circumstances.

The death penalty, which you addressed in the early part of your post, is a good example. Catholicism teaches that abortion is always wrong, while the death penalty may be justified under narrow circumstances. But those circumstances clearly don’t apply in the U.S. The way the death penalty is applied routinely results in the death of people about whose guilt there is considerable no doubt; cannot be shown to be necessary to defend the innocent; and perpetuates racial and class injustice in this country in a literally lethal and toxic manner. That makes the death penalty a very great evil. The fact that prudential reasoning has to be used to get to this conclusion doesn’t make the issue any less important.


Good to know that I’m not alone. Sometimes I feel that actually being very conservative makes me only semiconservative in American politics due to its liberal influences:p. :o

As long as one party enthusiastically embraces unrestricted abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research and the rest (not to mention gay marriage), I really don’t see any moral equivalency at all.

I’ve frequently gone to the mat on the water-boarding issue (against) and I was optimistic about the President’s promise to close Gitmo at the beginning of his administration but as we now know this administration’s policies in these areas are not much different than the previous one, and on some issues, such as drones, the current administration is actually worse.

As long as both parties flush our futures down the toilet I see no real difference between them.

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