First Down (October 8, 2017)

Dear Friends,

I recently listened to a Catholic broadcast regarding the subject of Prolife Catholics and Social Justice Catholics. The Bishop speaking on the broadcast stated that there was an understanding that people might identify themselves in this way. The Bishop was being very positive and gave good examples of how unity and respect can be present in such ideologies. Overall, I thought the broadcast was very positive.

Upon my own reflection, I really searched the idea of why anyone would identify themselves with titles that could narrow the spiritual vision or limit what one stands for. I, personally, would not be in favor of the labels Pro-life Catholic or Social Justice Catholic. To me it simply repeats what should really be already obvious in who we are.

It is important that Pro-life not be seen solely as one issue. The example would be abortion. What I mean is, saying that this one issue is the most important and other life issues are less than or that the abortion issue stands above all. For me, being a Catholic has a clear foundation: that all life is protected, innocent and cherished. I would trust that anyone using the term Pro-life would be for the protection of all life. We might be touched in powerful ways where one issue of life has a deep personal hold on our hearts, and that is important. Yet, hopefully one works on broadening that scope to see all life issues in the same way. I once looked at the U.S. Bishops website under Life Issues, and they had a very long list of issues placed under Life Issues. I was so pleased to see that great vision to expand its reach.

For those using the title Social Justice Catholics, I would hope that all the work of justice would find its roots in our Liturgy, our prayer life and our devotions. These moments of quiet reflections, withdrawing during special moments from life’s business and celebrating the sacraments well, will give us a foundation that Christ is the one who guides our call to act justly. Already included in Social Justice is the struggle to defend the life of the unborn and all human life at every stage.

The point for me is that using these labels is really unnecessary. Everything in Pro-life ministry is justice, and social justice is protecting life from the womb to a natural death for every person. In other words, one should see all of this already included. One is not separate from the other; rather both are connected by our faith in Jesus Christ.

So as we honor the gift of Life during the month of October, we remember our faith honors all life from God, and the work we do to protect all life is justice work. Each one of us broadens our vision and work in our ministries.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric