Catholic experts say addressing ‘throwaway culture’ must be priority post-Roe

By Kate Scanlon | OSV News

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Efforts to build a consistent culture of life in the wake of the reversal of Roe v. Wade should seek to address what Pope Francis has described as the “throwaway culture,” said panelists at a Jan. 19 event hosted by Georgetown’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought.

Panelists evoked the words of the pontiff, who, in a June 2013 general audience, defined a throwaway culture as when “human life, the person, are no longer seen as a primary value to be respected and safeguarded, especially if they are poor or disabled, if they are not yet useful — like the unborn child — or are no longer of any use — like the elderly person.”

A consistent ethic of life, panelists said, applies to a range of issues, including but not limited to abortion. When implemented, a consistent ethic of life can help protect not just the unborn child and the mother, but those facing other vulnerabilities, like those at risk of assisted suicide.

Kim Daniels, director of the initiative and a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, said in the U.S., after the end of Roe v. Wade, there remains a lack of solidarity with unborn children and their mothers, a humanitarian crisis at the southern border, and the continued use of the death penalty.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, which includes a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border, said the church is called to have a consistent ethic of life on “a broad front.”

Men are pictured in a file photo eating a free meal in the cafeteria of a Franciscan-run soup kitchen in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, N.Y. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Gregory A. Shemitz)

“I think we have to recognize that we have to be active in all of the areas where human dignity is being threatened and lives are being lost,” said Bishop Flores, who is also chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.

Bishop Flores said amid debates over immigration laws and policy, society can lose sight of the human face and heart of the issue.

“This is why I think the call to conversion of heart that Pope Francis talks about when it comes to the presence of the poor, the presence of the powerless around us,” he said. “It’s very easy for us to say well the government has laws for that and I don’t have to really do more than that, instead of looking at the person in front of us.”

Gloria Purvis, host of the Gloria Purvis Podcast at America Media and who has served on the National Black Catholic Congress’ Commission on Social Justice, said when it comes to a consistent ethic of life, “all of these issues reinforce one another.”

“So, if you care about the child in the womb, don’t be upset about the people working on the issue of racism or the people working on police brutality,” Purvis said. “All of these things intersect, and we have to work on these issues, because it reinforces our understanding of the dignity of the person at other stages in their life.”

“So we are all really working for the same cause,” she said.

The panelists also each emphasized the importance of compassion on tough issues like abortion and the death penalty. Some also stressed the importance of the kind of witness people give when making the case for life-affirming policies across issues.

“We have to really push on who our champions are in the pro-life movement,” Purvis said, referencing the issue of abortion.

Purvis pointed out the contradictions she has seen in some conservative commentators who use the pro-life label but “tweet incessantly about Black women being single mothers like it’s a disaster for the Black community.” She pointed out that these women have chosen life, and should not be denigrated for choosing life while not being married. Purvis said those who take those “contradictory” positions are “not someone we want championing the pro-life movement.”

She said, “We need to question and recognize just because a person says they are pro-life, we need to look at actions and words and see if it does really align.”

Efforts to end a throwaway culture, panelists said, could include reforms like expanded welfare programs and measures to more fully accommodate pregnant and parenting women in the workplace.

The event took place the day before the 50th annual March for Life in Washington.

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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