. . . that abortion is intrinsically immoral is clear to many and is clearly taught to all Catholics. Some Catholics would argue, however, that not everything immoral need be illegal and that abortion, while always immoral, is so fundamentally ensconced in our American way of life that any attempt to outlaw it now would destroy social peace. It must therefore be tolerated precisely for the common good.
That argument makes its point, however, only if the one making it is working actively to change attitudes toward abortion with a view of eventually coming to protect in law every unborn child. Because it is hard to see how one can make the argument in good conscience while proclaiming abortion a “right” and vowing to protect it all costs, many Catholics have lost patience with politicians who claim to share their faith while piling up a completely “pro-choice” voting record. The U.S. Bishops last June, bringing once again the question of conscience to participation in political life, said that voting to protect legal abortion is a form of cooperating in the evil of abortion itself.
Do all Catholic politicians understand their obligations in conscience? Apparently not, which means that their pastors have to take the time to speak with them personally. A pastoral conversation about the formation of conscience is not an interference in the political process. It is an exercise in pastoral charity, motivated by a desire for a politician’s salvation. The politician will someday be asked by the Lord: "What did you do to the least of my brothers and sisters?” And the pastor will be asked by the same Lord: “What did you do to warn them? How did you help them form their conscience?" Like Lazarus, the poor man ignored by the rich man until it was too late for the rich man to be saved (Luke 16: 19-31), those killed in their mother’s womb will be at the gates of paradise but unable to come to the assistance of those condemned to hell because they killed unborn children or supported their being killed. . . .