Editorial: Life Hangs in the Balance

In the upcoming election, life hangs in the balance. Human life. In every election we weigh one candidate against the other. We place them on the scales of justice to determine, first and foremost, which candidate best guarantees justice for the human person. This is the principal determining factor for the tipping of the scales, not just for Catholics, but for all people of good will.

Whenever we make serious choices, we do so guided by our natural moral compass. People of faith and of no faith make judgments on what is good or bad according to our innate sense to know right from wrong, our natural reason. People understand that to steal something is wrong; that to steal something and vandalize the store is more wrong; to steal something, vandalize the store and kill the clerk is most wrong. There is a ranking, a hierarchy of evil acts that most people naturally understand. Every evil act is not equal, some evil acts are far worse than others.

In this election, we’re asked to weigh many important human rights and justice issues: racism, the death penalty, poverty, human trafficking, the intentional disregard for the environment and the ill treatment of immigrants. No issue, however, is as weighty as abortion, the taking of defenseless innocent human life in the womb. Abortion is an intrinsic evil without equal because “it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.”

In this election, we’re faced with weighing two major candidates. In quoting a classic moral principle, some would argue it’s a choice between “the lesser of two evils;” while others might quip it’s the choice between “the evil of two lessers”! But Catholics know that neither candidate nor party perfectly aligns with our Gospel values. As Catholics, we do not cast votes based on whether we like or dislike the personality of the candidates; we do not cast votes based on whether the candidate does or does not have the same color skin as us; we do not cast votes based on the age or gender of the candidates; we do not cast votes based on the political party affiliation our family has or has not endorsed in the past; we do not cast votes based on whether the person does or does not share our religion.

Catholics cast votes, first and foremost, based on how the candidate and party honor, value and respect the dignity and sanctity of all human life, but with the preeminent concern for the most vulnerable, the most defenseless: the unborn.

For anyone, let alone a Catholic, to say or support someone who says “I am personally opposed to abortion, but publicly support it” is at best illogical, and at worst hypocritical. It’s like saying “I am personally opposed to slavery, but can publicly support it”; or “I am personally opposed to murder, but can publicly support it.”

For anyone, let alone a Catholic, not to work against the gravest evil of abortion, but instead to affirm that they are pro-life because they advocate for social justice in other human life issues, renders their witness at best incomplete and at worst inauthentic. If we fail to protect the most fundamental right, the right to life, then all other human rights are called into question.

For anyone to profess to be a faithful Catholic, but publically to support, advocate and legislate for abortion in direct opposition to Catholic teaching and common sense reasoning, is at best ignorant and at worst scandalous.

Pope Francis writes: “I take this opportunity to appeal to all politicians, regardless of their faith convictions, to treat the defense of the lives of those who are about to be born and enter into society as the cornerstone of the common good…Their killing in huge numbers, with the endorsement of States, is a serious problem that undermines the foundations of the construction of justice, compromising the proper solution of any other human and social issue.”

All evil is not equal, some acts are grave, some are more grave and some are most grave. People of reason recognize that if weighed on the scales of justice, the scale always tilts first in favor of the unborn.

In this election, when weighing the candidates on the scales of justice, make no mistake, life hangs in the balance. Human life!

Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas

Bishop of Toledo