Monday, January 23, 2012

Preferential Option for the Poor(est)

A few weeks ago I went to a presentation at a group called the "Community of Reason" held on Sunday afternoons at UMKC. The main presenter was a 'pastor' (not sure of her credentials, i.e., which denomination) from St. Louis who ran a pro-abortion, or from their point of view a pro-women's rights, clinic that offered support to pregnant women considering abortion but concerned about their faith. I went to get an idea of what 'the other side' thought about abortion. In particular, I wanted to see what they thought about human rights and just when they thought human life began. I don't feel I got a clear answer from the group, but they felt attacked when I brought it up peacefully and told me that we pro-lifers frame the issue as a human rights/human nature issue and that they don't see it that way. I believe their main concern was for women's reproductive 'rights' and the abuse of women by men who take away her 'right to choose'. They also were concerned about legal rights and legal issues from a practicality standpoint (e.g. if a fetus has rights then can we prosecute women who drink alcohol or even accidentally 'mistreat' the womb somehow).

I think the biggest thing I took away from the presentation was how attacked she (the pastor) felt she and other women were by pro-lifers. She felt the pro-life community were verbally attacking women considering abortion through staged protests of Planned Parenthood. That the pro-life community was engaged in terrorism or warfare.

I don't believe these sort of actions are true of all pro-lifers, but it is something we should be conscious of. Conversions of heart or mind will not happen if we make those we wish to convert an enemy and treat them as such. Abortion is a very emotionally-charged subject, but we need to remember that charity will prevail. Ostracizing or alienating the other side in whatever the debate may be over is never an effective means of conversion.

The preferential option for the poor is a main principle of Catholic Social teaching which is based on Jesus's teaching in the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46: '...whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

The poorest in our society are those without the basic necessities of a good life, material and immaterial, and though we usually think of the homeless and hungry in Africa, we must not forget the unloved more locally, including the unborn.

I wrote this piece last year after the March for Life:

A major theme in Catholic Social Teaching is the preferential option the poor. In its simplest this means giving of one's time, talent, and treasure to those with the greatest and most basic human needs. Usually this means the hungry, homeless, and ill members of our society. Most often people picture the citizens of Africa, Central America, or Southeast Asia. One can certainly find the hungry, homeless, and ill prevalent in these places, but our Bishops remind us constantly that the poorest, most defenseless members of our society are also in our own society. They are the unborn:
Abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others. They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely "the poorest of the poor." -- U.S. Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life
Our desire to help the poor should culminate in the eradication of abortion and euthanasia from our society. None of the poor should be neglected, but the poorest must come first. Any violation against the most primary right to life must command our attention before all other violations.

This means more than policy changes. We must reach out to our neighbors and establish relationships with each other. The poor must be given proper care and just means of subsistence to not feel as though abortion is the only option. The greatest contributor to abortion, sexual immorality, must be fought with charity, education, and justice.
Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good; as such they are completely lacking in authentic juridical validity. Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion or euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law." -- John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, emphasis added

No comments:

Post a Comment