Priority of Right to LifeChurch Texts in Support of the Priority of the
Right to Life

The following are some quotes from Church leaders and documents that clearly demonstrate the priority of the Right to Life. This fundamental and God given right should be at the forefront of our consideration as we cast our vote this election season.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, I,1:

“the human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human to life”

Pope John Paul II: Apostolic Exhortation The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (Christifideles Laici), 1988:

"The inviolability of the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination“ (19).

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (Vatican City): The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2004:

 “The first right…is the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights” (155). “The dignity of the human person…is the foundation of all the other principles and content of the Church’s social doctrine” (160).

(Blessed) Mother Teresa (Nobel Lecture, delivered the day after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, 1979, Oslo, Norway):

 “The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion … Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but many are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing in between.”

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago, was the chief spokesperson on the Consistent Ethic of Life.

On Respect Life Sunday, 1 October 1989, Cardinal Bernardin issued a statement entitled "Deciding for Life," in which he said, "Not all values, however, are of equal weight. Some are more fundamental than others. On this Respect Life Sunday, I wish to emphasize that no earthly value is more fundamental than human life itself. Human life is the condition for enjoying freedom and all other values. Consequently, if one must choose between protecting or serving lesser human values that depend upon life for their existence and life itself, human life must take precedence. Today the recognition of human life as a fundamental value is threatened. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of elective abortion. At present in our country this procedure takes the lives of over 4,000 unborn

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote in a letter in July 2004:

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. …While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia” (Letter to Cardinal McCarrick, n.3).

Most of these quotes were compiled by Fr. Frank Pavone and may be found in his excellent booklet, “Voting with a Clear Conscience.” You may order the booklet by calling Priests for Life, 1.888.735.3448. You may also review and download the booklet at:

Vote Life!

Jim Pinto
Pastoral Associate: Priests for Life
National Coordinator: Missionaries of the Gospel of Life

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