A recent national survey found that a majority of Catholics in the United States polled indicated they favored Church policy statements that focus “more on social justice and the obligation to help the poor, even if it means focusing less on issues like abortion and the right to life.” For Catholic agencies, that answer presents a false dichotomy. As Catholics, we recognize that respect for life and promoting social justice are inextricably linked.
Catholic Relief Services is dedicated to preserving the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception to natural death in our mission of promoting integral human development. As Pope Benedict XVI notes in Caritas in Veritate, “One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples.” Every aspect of our work helps life flourish, whether in the womb (Natural Family Planning and pre-natal care), newly born (mother and child health and nutrition programs), those who are most vulnerable (orphans and vulnerable children, children and adults with developmental disabilities) and people at the end of their lives (our support of the Missionaries of Charity). We defend the dignity of life and embody Catholic teaching through opposition to intrinsic evils such as abortion and torture, as well as through our commitment to life free from poverty, violence, and oppression for the poor and vulnerable in nearly 100 countries around the globe.