Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 16, 2004 / 22:00 pm America/Denver (CNA).In his syndicated column, Fr. Richard McBrien, professor of Theology at the University of Notre-Dame, issued a scathing attack on bishops holding a pro-life position, claiming that they negate the importance of other concerns such as capital punishment, just war, or social justice.
McBrien criticism is delivered in a piece entitled “Consistent ethic of life approach withstands backlash,” where he defends the “seamless garment” approach to life-issues, which he presents as a theory which claims that all issues concerning the dignity of human life –abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, war, social justice (including issues like ‘minimum wage’) or human rights – carry equal moral weight, and thus should have equal influence on a Catholic voter’s decision.
McBrien writes that this approach is the one adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the statement “Faithful Citizenship,” published in October 2003, in the run-up to this year’s elections.
Following the position held by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, McBrien explains three reasons for supporting the “seamless garment” approach. He says the first is that it is rooted in the Church’s “opposition to both abortion and war,” the second is that it unifies “a church involved in diverse ministries,” and third, “is unusually appealing to many people at various points along the political spectrum.”
McBrien, following Cardinal Bernardin, says that this approach “is emphatically not a strategy for downplaying the issue of abortion in the church or in society,” despite the criticisms of whom he calls “single-issue, anti-abortion Catholics.”