by Kate Conroy
Although Pope Francis is well known for his quote that Catholics are too obsessed over issues like abortion, he does not say that we should discard the issue and concede to the popular view. Rather, he has said that “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
The pro-life movement is centered on protecting the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society: the unborn, the sick and elderly, and those imprisoned.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on who the most vulnerable members of society are. Particularly when it comes to the unborn, some argue that they may not be members of our society, as we are not sure exactly when human life begins. If the unborn are not human people then there is no issue with abortion. By the same logic, we cannot prove that the unborn are not full human people at any point following conception. Therefore, we can’t be positive whether or not abortion ends a human life. So which risk is more terrible: risking that something less than human be given the chance to become a human person or risking that we are standing by while millions of innocent children are murdered every year?
As Christians, our responsibility to care for the poor and vulnerable is laid forth in scripture:
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.
Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25: 35-46).
This call to protect the poor and vulnerable extends to the unborn, the sick, the elderly, and the imprisoned. Our actions towards these people are our actions towards Christ. The argument that “if you don’t like abortion, don’t get one” cannot be accepted by Christians, as this call is not as simple as “do not cause harm.” It is a call to action! We cannot turn a blind eye and call ourselves innocent- for on Judgment Day we will be held accountable for our lack of action.
However, we should not forget to take into consideration the manner of our actions. The greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22: 37-39). We are also called to love our enemies. Hate is simply not an option. We must stand up for the poor and vulnerable, but we must do so with love, not just for them, but rather for all.