Pope Francis blesses Antonio Gloder as his parents Irene and Mariano Gloder present offertory gifts during an episcopal ordination in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 24.
Here is an unsigned editorial from the Oct. 7-13 issue of the St. Louis Review, archdiocesan newspaper.
Pope Francis came across as a bit paradoxical in September, when in an interview he warned that focusing on moral teachings, including abortion, could undermine the church's efforts to preach the Gospel. The next day, he affirmed the sacredness of unborn human life in a talk to Catholic gynecologists, saying that abortion is the product of a "widespread mentality of profit, the 'throwaway culture,' which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many."
In his original interview, however, Pope Francis also said, "We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel."
As Catholics, how do we find that balance between honoring the sacredness of unborn human life, but also proclaiming the Gospel message, especially with our work among those outside of the womb? The pope said that message must be "simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."
Put simply, we need to approach the Gospel message of Christ's love for us in a whole-life way.
Too often we're concerned with wedging ourselves and others into small-minded categories. The category in which we define ourselves as pro-life in our work standing outside of the abortion clinic to defend unborn human life. Or the category in which we say we're for social justice, through our help for the poor, marginalized and most vulnerable members of society.
Interestingly enough, when this publication carries stories about those dedicated to social justice issues, often we hear them say they're doing so because it's a pro-life issue. Similarly, those committed to the pro-life movement say their work involves seeking justice for the defenseless unborn human child.
It's time we set aside our own prejudices and preconceived notions and remember that our individual contributions are important because they focus on the dignity of all human life.
We're Team Whole Life.
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, told those attending the Sept. 28 Missouri Catholic Conference Annual Assembly that "the church cannot afford divisions that have separated pro-life and social justice proponents. In the interest of practicality, we may concentrate our personal work in one area. But, in the end, may we come together as a grand coalition committed to God's family and the life and dignity of each of his children."
Pope John Paul II, in "Evangelium Vitae," said that "the meaning of life is found in giving and receiving love. ... Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person's life."