Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pro-Life or Social Justice?

I have been struck lately by the perceived dichotomy among Catholics to be either "pro-life" Catholics or "social justice" Catholics.  I believe this comes from the traditional political conservative and liberal extremes.  Hence, conservative Catholics define themselves primarily as pro-life and place social justice in a secondary position "because if you are not alive, all the other rights don't matter."  Liberal Catholics are "social justice" activists because Jesus and a vast array of saints worked for social justice, and therefore place their pro-life views in a secondary position, perhaps because the poor and oppressed are here now and unborn babies aren't..

Catholic teaching, however, embraces both of those positions in a typical "both/and" fashion, so politically, we are forced to choose a majority party and swallow the wrongs of that party in order to achieve the rights.  This has the unfortunate (planned?) effect of splitting Catholics into separate, opposing camps.

Denying the right to life does indeed undermine the US Declaration of Independence's affirmation of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which places Life in the primary position.  All other rights are useless if your life can be taken away by law.  Therefore the inherent right to life is foundational.  By any definition, however, social justice assumes the right to life.  Social justice activists would never assert that the lives of the poor and oppressed should not be protected!  Looked at that way, protecting life can be seen as a fight for the equality of all, born and unborn, therefore it is also social justice.  The dichotomy, then, is a false one and all Catholics should embrace both pro-life and social justice teachings and, better, fight for the rights of all people!

When will the irrationality of professing equality for all, while protecting some but not others, end?


  1. Maybe it will end when we get rid of the two-party system in this country.

  2. I think the false dichotomy between social justice/pro-life has its root cause in how one relates to the Eucharist. If your actions are not centered in the Eucharist, your actions tend to be rooted in EGO, and Self-fulfillment. When one is strenthened with the proper understanding and reception of this Holy Sacrament..your actions tend to be more Christ centered, and you can see more clearly that the dichotomy you are talking about above is false. The Eucharist unifies us all to Christ. One could write a book on this!!!:) Good blog!!!

  3. Good post! The dichotomy is indeed a false one, and one which is still somehow tearing at the Church. I agree with you that it has to do with politics backing up into religion. Catholics have no political home, so we end up sleeping in the doorways to both political parties, or we deny critical aspects of our faith so we can be let inside out of the cold (or, rather, out of the light of God).

    I came here from Mark Shea. My own blog (with a group of others) is mostly ethics, science and religion stuff, and responses to atheism. Come visit if you like. You have a good blog here! Keep it up!

  4. Brian,
    Great analogy on being “homeless” and compromising to find a home. I'll check out your blog.

  5. I think it will only end when we get rid of the farce that is democracy, and return to kings consecrated by the Pope.