.- In response to an upcoming referendum on abortion, the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Jose de la Cruz Policarpo, said recently “abortion is not simply a Church matter, but one of fundamental ethics.”
According to the Portuguese news agency Ecclesia, Cardinal Policarpo told reporters that “abortion is a question of fundamental ethics, of human rights. We would like the laity, fathers and mothers, doctors and scientists to be the ones to lead this campaign to say ‘no’,” the cardinal said.
“The teaching of the Church on respect for life has not changed and will not change,” he stated, adding that he hopes the campaign will provide a chance to “enlighten consciences.”
Cardinal Policarpo also said he was troubled by the confusion prevalent in the debate, as some people believe abortion is simply a religious matter or a woman’s right. “There is a basic question, which is to determine to what degree the State can support something that is a matter of fundamental ethics,” he said. He questioned how the State would determine at what point an individual is a citizen with rights. “Why at 10 weeks, or 18, or 16,” he asked.
The problem of clandestine abortions “continues to worry the Church,” he continued, “but you cannot solve one problem by creating another, especially in the case of a citizen brought into being by other citizens and who does not appear to be subject to rights, freedoms and guarantees.”
This is a not simply a “religious” problem, the cardinal emphasized, and he expressed dismay that the Church is seen as a “barrier.” The real barrier to overcome is the education of the Portuguese people on the subject, the cardinal noted.