Becoming a 'Seamless Garment'

Single-issue advocacy leads to inconsistency on life issues.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com
Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS ago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago called for a “consistent ethic of life”—a broad, underlying attitude of respect for human life and dignity that would apply to issues as diverse as abortion, peace, and the death penalty.

In a 1983 lecture that landed him—and the consistent ethic—on the front page of The New York Times, Bernardin drew connections between nuclear arms and abortion: “The principle which structures both cases, war and abortion, needs to be upheld in both places. It cannot be successfully sustained on one count and simultaneously eroded in a similar situation,” he said.

If only we had listened.

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