One of the most compelling things about the Church is the fact that God’s love is the foundation of everything She calls us to. It’s utterly ironic when people paint Her as some dictatress coming up with edicts out of thin air. Catholic teaching is rooted in God’s desire to share His life with each of us, and it flows from His knowledge of what’s best for every human heart. It’s all a gift of His generosity, His mercy, His care—even when we find a teaching difficult to accept.
When a pregnant woman is in crisis, some will push her to end the pregnancy. But the Church, in Her wisdom and love for the mother and child, calls us to a better path.
In Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II (quoting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) leaves no room for confusion:
“Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action.”[i]
This teaching is direct and unequivocal–not because the Church doesn’t understand the mother’s situation, but because She does. Abortion harms the mother even more than the child[ii], and the Church’s ultra-clear voice here counters those that seek to distort and confuse.
In cases of rape and incest, our hearts go out to the mothers completely. They have been victims of torture, and I can’t think of anything more excruciating than this. But God still reminds us that He brings good out of all things—and human life is always a good. In this case, the baby, despite heartbreak, has been created out of God’s love.
Pope Saint John Paul II said it this way:
“Life is always a good….The life which God gives man is…a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory.”[iii]
This great pope also said,
“Every human life is sacred, because every human person is sacred. It is in the light of this fundamental truth that the Church constantly proclaims and defends the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.”
The circumstances of conception can’t lessen the sanctity and hope that lie in a baby’s life. That life has been given to the baby by God. Abortion only ends the good, while the pain for the mother remains. This is not a mercy at all.
Then there’s sin. It still exists. Abortion is a mortal one. And mortal sin kills grace in the soul [iv], distancing the person from God. If we love the mother, we want her to avoid sin and walk as closely with her Creator as possible through the trials.
The Church is wiser than the shifting culture, and we can trust that Her teachings are the kindest path. Showing mercy for a woman in a crisis pregnancy means affirming, in every way we can, the infinite value of the life she carries.
[i] CDF, Declaration on Euthanasia Iura et Bona (5 May 1980), II:AAS 72 (1980), 546.
[ii] Gaudium et Spes, 27
[iii] Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”), 1995
[iv] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1855