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US Catholic bishops reaffirm ending abortion as ‘pre-eminent priority’

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reaffirmed ending abortion as the "pre-eminent priority" of the Catholic Church in America.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reaffirmed this week that ending abortion remains the "pre-eminent priority" of the nation's Catholic Church.

Attending bishops voted 225-11 in favor of approving a revised edition of the spiritual manual "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," which addresses abortion early in its text.

"The threat of abortion remains our pre-eminent priority because it directly attacks our most vulnerable and voiceless brothers and sisters and destroys more than a million lives per year in our country alone," the introduction to the guide states.

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USCCB Vice President Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore spoke in favor of the language used in the document at a press conference following the vote, saying that "not all issues are equal."

"We are called to stand in radical solidarity with women in difficult pregnancies and their unborn children and to provide them with the kind of support and services and public policies that they need," said Lori. "So, it's not simply a public policy issue. It is a deeply, deeply pastoral issue of loving the moms in need, walking with them, helping them bring their babies to term, and then providing them with what they need to move forward."

The manual's introduction also outlines other "grave threats to the life and dignity of the human person," including "euthanasia, gun violence, terrorism, the death penalty, and human trafficking."

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The bishops also called attention to other, less explicitly violent social issues that they say pose a grave threat to the future of the country — including gender ideology, immigration and the healthcare crisis.

"There is also the redefinition of marriage and gender, threats to religious freedom at home and abroad, lack of justice for the poor, the suffering of migrants and refugees, wars and famines around the world, racism, the need for greater access to healthcare and education, care for our common home, and more," the bishops wrote. "All threaten the dignity of the human person."

The USCCB typically avoids policy prescriptions when possible and instead seeks to define issues of spiritual importance and offer theological insight for the laity.

The conference of bishops usually avoids explicit endorsements or support for one political group over the other, instead urging Catholics to vote wisely based on platforms and ethics.

"The bishops have the responsibility to govern the society of the Church, hand on doctrine and tradition, and administer the sacraments. The laity are called to bring the gospel to bear on the world," the revised document from the USCCB states. 

The text continues, "While many laity are involved in roles of leadership and service within the Church, it remains primarily the role of the laity to advocate for justice, to serve in public office, and to inform daily life with the gospel."

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