21 May 2009

Cardinal Bernardin on the (Mis)Use of His Consistent Ethic

There is a tendency by certain groups to quote Cardinal Bernardin and refer to his "Consistent Ethic of Life" philosophy. This is done to minimize or excuse the murder of the unborn by attempting to focus attention on "other social issues." President Obama did just this at his acceptance speech at Notre Dame on Sunday. But what did Cardinal Bernardin have to say about this corruption of his philosophy? H/T to Richard Garnett in his response to an article at Commonweal.

With respect to the President’s invocation of Cardinal Bernadin, it strikes me as important to remember that, for the latter, the “consistent ethic” idea was never intended to minimize the importance of the abortion question or to excuse opposition to legal protections for unborn children. He said, for example, in 1988, “I don’t see how you can subscribe to the consistent ethic and then vote for someone who feels that abortion is a ‘basic right’ of the individual.”

And, in the same interview, he noted that “some people on the left, if I may use that label, have used the consistent ethic to give the impression that the abortion issue is not all that important anymore, that you should be against abortion in a general way but that there are more important issues, so don’t hold anybody’s feet to the fire just on abortion. That’s a misuse of the consistent ethic, and I deplore it.”

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