Bishop Richard Stika, of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, tweeted recently:
How can a person say they are a faithful Catholic and yet support those who support the ultimate child abuse and human rights violation of those yet born? Slavery was legal at one time and yet now we look at it with horror. A child [not] yet born is not the property of another.
A child not yet born is a total human person that must be protected. This nation will continue to decline if abortion continues. Those who love life will never go away and will continue to fight. The cause is just as it is the promotion of the dignity of the human person.
His tweet had both supportive and nonsensical replies, yet we know he spoke the undeniable truth. But for those who are dubious, let’s break down what he said to shine some light on that truth. First, however, let’s address what the Church says about faithful Catholics.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through baptism, have been constituted as the people of God; for this reason, since they have become sharers in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal office in their own manner, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each one.
In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality with regard to dignity and the activity whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ in accord with each one’s own condition and function.
The Catholic faithful are called to “exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church” and “[build] up the Body of Christ.”
Can a person exercise God’s mission and build up the Body of Christ by participating in, advocating for, or allowing the slaughter of preborn babies? No; that very act is diametrically opposed to the mission of Christ. As faithful Catholics, it is our duty, not only to Christ, but to our fellow man, to protect all of God’s children. Furthermore, we must faithfully follow everything that the Church teaches. We cannot pick and choose which tenets of the faith we feel like adhering to. We cannot pick and choose which commandments to honor. Our faith is not a buffet line where we choose how we live by feelings and whims.
Can a faithful Catholic support abortion? Absolutely not. Abortion is the intentional killing of another human being. The Fifth Commandment tells us it is a mortal sin to kill.
Can a faithful Catholic support someone who supports abortion? Again, absolutely not. Supporting someone who supports the murder of tiny preborn babies is the same as supporting their murder.
Is abortion the ultimate child abuse? Abortion kills a human being in the most horrific way. It takes the life of the most innocent among us. This is abuse in its most devastating form.
Slavery was once legal, but now we understand the horror. Just as the abolitionists had the understanding that people are not property, pro-lifers understand that babies are not property. Babies are human beings with rights as children of God. They are just as valuable as anyone who is born. They may be smaller, and they may reside in a mother who is supposed to take care of them, but those things have no bearing on their humanity or value.
A child is a human person. Science proves this. Some people like to deny the science, but that doesn’t make it untrue.
The nation will continue to decline if abortion continues. Any nation that can spend so much time, effort, and money to eliminate the most vulnerable among us is certainly headed down the path to an evil place. A nation that cares so little for its children, that makes light of the killing of a preborn child, and that gives money to organizations that thrive from this murder will only continue to become more evil. When we allow the killing of tiny preborn human beings, we become desensitized to killings. When we become a nation of people who can brazenly kill babies and laugh about it, it’s not too far a stretch to brazenly kill—or attempt to kill—others and laugh.
Those who love life will never go away and will continue to fight. This is true. Those of us who see the dignity and humanity in preborn babies will never stop trying to help others see it too. That is why we stand on the sidewalks. That is why we develop programs and curricula like the Culture of Life Studies Program to teach children the sanctity of all human beings. When you know the truth, you cannot keep it to yourself.
The cause is just as it is the promotion of the dignity of the human person. Protecting preborn babies is the ultimate in social justice. And as pro-life people, we see dignity in every person—not just the preborn, but those who are severely ill, those who are nearing the end of their lives, and those who are disabled. Every person matters because every person was made in the image and likeness of God. To not shout about the dignity of the human person is to deny it. To not teach others—especially our children—is to do them a great disservice.
So, yes, Bishop Stika told the truth—and it’s a truth we should all pay attention to. Thank you, Your Excellency, for standing up for the babies who cannot speak for themselves.