Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, took to Twitter last night to correct the assertion by pro-abortion lobby group Catholics for Choice that  “Public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value.” The abortion advocacy group ran a full-page ad in dozens of newspapers around the country under the heading “Abortion in Good Faith.”

No, said Bishop Strickland, the murder of an unborn child is a sin that no Catholic can justly choose.

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In issuing a countering statement, Bishop Strickland joined bishops across America who spoke out against the misleading advertisement. In San Antonio, Texas, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller issued a statement which said, in part,

“For more than 2,000 years, the Church has steadfastly proclaimed that respect for all human life at every stage is foundational to the Catholic faith. Abortion from the earliest tradition of the Church has been considered immoral. Direct abortion, or the intentional killing of a human being living in the womb, is always seriously immoral because as persons the right-to-life is the most basic and fundamental right we possess.”

The Texas Catholic Conference published a joint statement from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (Galveston-Houston), Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S (San Antonio), Bishop Steven J. Lopes (Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter), and Bishop Kevin J. Farrell (Dallas). The statement explained:

“…Despite what is implied by its name, Catholics for Choice is not a member-oriented organization and has no affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, it is financed by grants from a few secular organizations pushing a pro-abortion agenda. It seldom ventures beyond Washington to Texas, unless it is to buy expensive, full-page ads when it serves their pro-abortion agenda.

It is not clear why Catholics for Choice chose a handful of individuals identifying themselves as Catholics as ambassadors for the false premise that refusal to pay for someone’s abortion is an assault on anyone’s God-given dignity. The only assault on dignity in this discussion is the abortion, which ends one life and irrevocably diminishes countless other lives.

The misguided campaign of the so-called “Catholics for Choice” organization misrepresents the moral guidance of our Church. The Bishops of the United States, in accord with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, have been unequivocal in proclaiming the dignity of unborn human life. Millions of Catholics in Texas actively live out this teaching in our pro-life ministries and advocacy.

Nor is it clear why this small activist group insists on describing itself as “Catholic” when it apparently declines to embrace and live the principles of the Catholic faith. Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Catholics, by definition, are in accord with the essential teachings of the Church and embrace the faith that has been handed down to us through Jesus Christ and the apostles. Someone cannot call themselves a Catholic, yet reject the sanctity of life by active support of abortion.”

The Minnesota Catholic Council issued a statement, as well, saying:

If there is a desire to help a woman in need who is facing an unplanned pregnancy, the solution as a society is to provide her with the resources and support she needs to care for her child—not help her dispose of it. Pope Francis has repeatedly condemned such a mentality as part of the throwaway culture that attacks the dignity of the weak and vulnerable because they seem inconvenient and make a claim upon our care and resources.

Furthermore, the ad itself makes no effort to ground its claims in any authoritative source of the Catholic faith, which is rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and is proclaimed by the Church. It fails to do so because the actual teachings of the Catholic faith embrace a consistent ethic of life from conception to natural death, and categorically condemn abortion as an act of violence against the most innocent and defenseless among us.

“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2271) tells us. “This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.” The “Catholics for Choice” ad fails to acknowledge this truth of our faith, and instead presents Catholicism as something purely subjective, which in turn can be twisted and distorted to defend any indefensible position. The ad also offers a false choice between caring for women and caring for the unborn. We must love them both.

The Minnesota bishops asked Catholics to respond to the advertisement by supporting one of the many pregnancy resource services in their state, which do “incredible work to care for both mothers and children in a manner consistent with true social justice.”

And Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a scathing indictment of Catholics for Choice, saying in part:

As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years, the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.

CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.

The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching — and actually attacks its foundation. As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland, “Life must always be welcomed and protected…from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it.”

CFC’s extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.

Cardinal Dolan cited a  July 2016 poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion which revealed that 62 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 45 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.

Image:  Aborted fetus at ten weeks by drsuparna http://www.flickr.com/photos/74896762@N00/ [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons