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The Dignity of Life

In a new introductory letter to their teaching document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops of the United States declare that respect for the dignity of human life remains the highest priority for Catholic citizens. They voted overwhelmingly in November of 2019 to reinforce this message prior to the 2020 election, emphasizing the importance of protecting the unborn.

“The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time,” they write, “we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty.”

The bishops cite one belief as central, declaring that “Human life is sacred and the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.” They say cloning, embryonic stem cell research and the use of the death penalty all threaten human life, and that the intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong.

The bishops urge nations to protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means.

“We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person,” they say.

All life is precious, including that of the unborn, the frail and elderly, the handicapped and the marginalized. Rampant gun violence, maltreatment of the sick and disabled, and the loss of over 60 million children due to legalized abortion illustrate the need for a more just and violence-free society.

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Questions about the dignity of life to ponder as you consider a candidate:

• Will the candidate oppose direct threats to human life, such as abortion, racism, assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty, embryonic stem cell research and violence?

• Will the candidate support policies that provide individuals without means with pre- and post-natal care, transportation and employment assistance, and other necessary care to help them through and after the pregnancy?