A Vatican archbishop has issued a plea not to ideologise the pro-life cause as abortion has become a weapon in the US presidential race.

– Instrumentalising ‘life’ “would do great harm”: Archbishop Paglia

“The human person is never a means but always an end. Period”, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia told Crux in an August 28 interview, specifically urging Churches in the US and candidates for the presidency there to take “universal responsibility” for life “in all its dimensions… That is, a perspective of global bioethics, one that engages all the major topics that touch on life, of the individual and of the human family”.

“It would do great harm… if some topic of bioethics is extracted from its general context and put toward ideological strategies. It would do great harm”, warned Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Cautioning against “instrumentalis[ing] some topic for political ends or for laziness [in one’s own] horizon”, Paglia urged a “new alliance” for life in all its forms and at all stages of the same “that goes beyond politics” and in which “all believers and all men and women of goodwill commit to saving all the lives of all the peoples who live in this one common home”.

The Vatican archbishop insisted that the Churches must work with wider society “so that the lives of all, particularly the weakest, are defended from the beginning to the end, from the mother’s womb until the moment of death”.

“It’s a great responsibility for Christians to find again, both in biblical tradition and in the long tradition of the Church, that patrimony of human knowledge which led Paul VI to say in 1964, in his speech to the United Nations, that the Church is an expert in humanity”, Paglia continued, explaining that “everything that doesn’t respect the human person… is a sin against the Gospel of life”.

– Pro-Trump nun, pro-Biden priest fall foul on Church rule against campaigning

Although he didn’t mention them specifically, examples of precisely the kind of ideologisation or instrumentalisation of the pro-life cause that Paglia warned about in his Crux interview came this week from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the political spectrum, and that much out of the mouths of religious leaders.

On the one hand, nun Deirdre Byrne told the Republican National Convention August 26 that “Donald Trump is the most pro-life president this nation has ever had, defending life at all stages. His belief in the sanctity of life transcends politics. President Trump will stand up against Biden/Harris, who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide”.

Those words earned Byrne accusations of partisan campaigning improper to a religious leader and even criticisms of “Neonunzism”.

On the other hand, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, Paul Garrity, wrote in a Facebook post August 23 that “I am pro-life and I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I will vote for Joe Biden for President because I believe that Joe Biden is Pro-life [sic] like me”.

For those words and also for encouraging fellow Catholics to vote for the Democratic nominee, Monsignor Garrity earned a slap-down from Boston cardinal Seán O’Malley, who recalled in an August 27 statement that as per Church teaching clergy and religious “may not endorse or oppose candidates for election or political parties”.

Garrity subsequently apologised for the “confusion and upset” caused by his controversial Facebook post and reaffirmed his commitment “to upholding Church teaching regarding the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death”.

More on Novena on the Church and the US presidential election:

Cardinal Dolan leading Trump and the Republicans in prayer is a travesty of the gospel

Fact check: Trump gets Christian theology upside-down with claim Biden presidency would “hurt God”

Progressive feminist Catholics urge US voters to “stem the tide of injustice and usher in a new era of equality”

USA: A house of divided bishops cannot stand against racism


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.