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A Pro-Life Pivot?

GUEST COLUMN

By F. Douglas Kneibert | September 2018
F. Douglas Kneibert, a retired newspaper editor and a convert from Protestantism, is the author of a memoir, A Life Recaptured.

As a right-to-life volunteer for many years, I’m concerned about what’s happening in Rome as proponents of the “new paradigm” for the Catholic Church redefine what it means to be pro-life.

It started last year with Pope Francis’s stacking of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He replaced several prominent pro-life members with others who believe the Church’s traditional emphasis on abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem-cell research is too narrow. According to its constitution, the academy, which was founded by Pope St. John Paul II in 1994, is to conduct studies “relative to the promotion and defense of life” from the Catholic perspective. But that was before the progressives got hold of it. They have expanded the pro-life umbrella to include the impoverished elderly, migrants, technology, and the environment — and they’re just getting started. “We must broaden our horizons so as not to forget anyone,” said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the academy’s new president.

But if everything is now a life issue, then nothing is. This is an exercise in moral equivalence on a grand scale.

Pope Francis doubled down in his apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, issued this April, in which he claims that care for migrants and the poor enjoys the same moral standing as opposition to abortion. But like much of what our Pope says, Church teaching says otherwise. The right to life of the unborn is “inalienable” and “fundamental,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (no. 2273). To abort that life is a mortal sin, resulting in automatic latae sententiae excommunication — “by the very commission of the offense.”

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