There has been much made in the American press, and the American Catholic press in particular, about the fact the current US President spoke via video link to the March for Life recently, and the attempt by some speakers to paint the President as the Pro-Life President.
Not withstanding the narrow focus of many Pro-Life movements around the world, it’s exceptionally hard for the US President to be painted as anything but a President who is decidely not in favour of life, at least as the Church would understand it.
I make that judgement because of what Pope John Paul II (now Pope St John Paul II) wrote in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which is translated into English as ‘The Gospel of Life’. And the words of Evangelium Vitae weren’t new; the Pope quoted directly from the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, of the Second Vatican Council.
Evangelium Vitae teaches us:
Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15).
Today this proclamation is especially pressing because of the extraordinary increase and gravity of threats to the life of individuals and peoples, especially where life is weak and defenceless. In addition to the ancient scourges of poverty, hunger, endemic diseases, violence and war, new threats are emerging on an alarmingly vast scale.
The Second Vatican Council, in a passage which retains all its relevance today, forcefully condemned a number of crimes and attacks against human life. Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience: “Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator”. (n. 3, emphasis added)
The US President might be against abortion, but he fails significantly on many of the other issues that are mentioned…and for anyone to hold him up as a champion of the Pro-Life movement means they either a) are wilfully ignorant of what being pro-life truly means, or b) are prepared to ignore the actions of the President that are contrary to the Gospel of Life.