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US theologian calls for 'seamless garment' approach to life issues

Notre Dame theology professor Fr Richard McBrien has attacked bishops who hold a pro-life position on selective issues, claiming that they negate the importance of other concerns such as capital punishment, just war, or social justice.

Writing in his syndicated column, Fr McBrien outlined his argument that all issues concerning the dignity of human life - including abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, war, social justice and human rights - carry equal moral weight, and should therefore have equal influence on a Catholic voter's decision.

McBrien wrote that this approach is the one adopted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in the statement "Faithful Citizenship" published in October 2003, in the run-up to this year's elections.

He criticised what he called a "significant minority in the bishops' conference", "some of whose number played a highly visible role in the recent U.S. election," who say that "abortion is the only life-issue that matters --- to the point where it is said to 'trump' all others."

He also pointed out that the emerging backlash against the "seamless garment" theory is evident in the fact that "many bishops apparently broke with precedent last month and withheld their votes from Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, one of ten candidates for Conference president."

Fr. McBrien attacks pro-life bishops in syndicated column (Catholic News Agency 17/12/04)

Essays in Theology - Richard P. McBrien

21 Dec 2004