I would like to thank our U.S. bishops for issuing their quadrennial document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: a Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States.” In this document, meant to help U.S. Catholics form their consciences in preparation for participating in the recent election, the bishops counseled us to make abortion the number one priority, while further counseling us that we, as Catholics, cannot responsibly be one-issue voters, given the urgency of so many issues.

How is it that one would not be a one-issue voter if one makes abortion the issue of greatest priority? Simply this: A Catholic, with a focus on justice, needs to be concerned about all the issues and have great compassion for all our brothers and sisters as they face racial discrimination, or homelessness or lack of employment or lack of health care. A Catholic is greatly concerned with these and other issues, like the environment and education, but only one “issue” is responsible for 800,000 deaths yearly in the U.S. Further, abortion strikes at the very heart of human rights, the right to live. No other issue regarding human dignity is so fundamental. I admit that the bishops’ letter frequently meets with dissatisfaction from both sides of the abortion issue, some who feel that the bishops do not give enough emphasis to other issues and others who would have the bishops speak only of abortion. I believe if we keep the ideal of justice in mind, we will see the balance the bishops tried to achieve.

Gerald McAfee