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SEPT. 16, 2016 -- The Catholic bishops of New Jersey are lending their voice to other Church leaders around the nation in opposing a pro-abortion ad campaign by a group calling itself Catholics for Choice.
The abortion advocacy organization placed full-page ads Sept. 12 in the print editions of more than 20 local and national publications, including Politico, the Nation, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Dallas Morning News and La Opinion.
In New Jersey, the ad ran in The Star-Ledger and The Record (of Bergen County). Digital advertising was also included in the campaign, which featured a statement by a young woman who claimed to be Catholic and who condoned abortion. The ad aimed to portray the public funding of abortion as a social justice issue.
In an effort to communicate true Church teaching on the sanctity of human life and the abomination of abortion, the New Jersey bishops commissioned an ad campaign that will include several daily newspapers, and be placed throughout diocesan media outlets and other Church-based resources.
The central image of the campaign features a photo of Pope Francis kissing a baby during his visit to Philadelphia last fall, taken by John Blaine, a freelance photographer for The Monitor, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton. The ad lists several statements made by the Holy Father – both when he was Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires and as Pope Francis – about the sanctity of human life and every person’s call to protect life in the womb.
The key message of the ad is: “You cannot be Catholic and Pro-Abortion. The only ‘choice’ for Catholics is life.” The ads are set to run in The Star-Ledger and The Record Sept. 18.
Similar responses were playing out across the country in the days following Sept. 12. “Calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith” is “deceptive” and “extreme,” said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
In a Sept. 14 statement, Cardinal Dolan emphasized that the abortion advocacy group “is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.”
Years ago, the U.S. bishops said the group, formerly called Catholics for a Free Choice, had “no affiliation, formal or otherwise, with the Catholic Church.”
“As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years,” Cardinal Dolan said, “the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.”
“The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching – and actually attacks its foundation,” he continued. “As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland, 'Life must always be welcomed and protected ... from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it.”
Catholics for Choice said in a news release that its “Abortion in Good Faith” campaign was a multiyear effort to overturn the federal Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for virtually all Medicaid abortions.
Cardinal Dolan said the group’s “extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families.”
“Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children,” he said, adding that the abortion group is pitting "the needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children.”
“This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of goodwill are called to love them both,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy.”
In Minnesota, where Catholics for Choice placed one of its ads in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the state’s largest daily newspaper, the state Catholic conference said the campaign, “woefully misrepresents the noble Catholic social justice tradition.”
The campaign, by Catholics for Choice, “disregards the need to defend vulnerable human life in all its stages – a principle at the core of authentic social justice,” said the Sept. 12 statement by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops.
In its statement, the Minnesota Catholic Conference said, “If there is a desire to help a woman in need who is facing an unplanned pregnancy, the solution as a society is to get her the resources and support she needs to care for her child – not help her dispose of it.”
The conference added, “The ad itself makes no effort to ground its claims in any authoritative source of the Catholic faith, which is rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and is proclaimed by the Church. It fails to do so because the actual teachings of the Catholic faith embrace a consistent ethic of life from conception to natural death, and categorically condemn abortion as an act of violence against the most innocent and defenseless among us.”
The article above is based on Catholic News Service and The Monitor staff reports. It is printed with permission of The Monitor, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton.