Social Vs. Moral Reform


I am a respect life coordinator in our parish and as such, working on a upcoming event, I happened to be standing at the back of church this weekend for all four of our English masses. The first mass was about patience, based on the OT reading, fine. Two of the other masses were on target regarding life issues. Not overly direct, but clear enough. Our pastor, however, managed to work into his sermon the fact that in considering the upcoming elections we should equally consider abortion and the lack of adequate health care.

After mass I asked him, “Did I just hear you say health care and abortion were the same?” He loudly confirmed his statement, said he believed it and that people dying from lack of health care was just as much a loss of life. Fumbling for words, I said that I agreed about the value of the life, but that the issues were different. He was dismissive and walked away.

From conversations with other coordinators, this application of respect life as an umbrella over all issues seems to be prevalent in the Church. It is my belief that such priests are often using the moral foundation of a strongly committed respect life groups as a springboard to champion social reform issues. The current rise in prominence of Peace & Justice committees also seems to affirm this.

I see a clear differentiation between these two things; the moral and the social. Am I wrong?

Has the Church’s new interest in promoting social activism (faithful citizenship) given rise to a class of priests willing to use that movement to forward their own agenda?

Can anyone please comment?


It is tragic that in a country with over a million abortions per year, any pastor would try to put this issue on a par with other social justice issues. It is as though the leaders of Nazi Germany were to say, “well sure, we’re killing millions of innocent Jews and others, but that’s not the only issue. We need to make more progress in health care and jobs.”


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