The Catholic Church professes a consistent ethic of life. Pope John Paul writes in The Gospel of Life, "Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good. We need then to show care for all life and for the life of everyone." (Evangelium Vitae #87, John Paul II,1995 )

Catholics, and all people by their common humanity, are called to be concerned about abortion and euthanasia, education and health care, capital punishment and crime, war and hunger, and a much lengthier list of issues impacting the dignity of human life. In fact, we are called to see the person before we see the issue. With this view, we are not so much concerned about homelessness as we are about the homeless person; we do not simply look at capital punishment, but at the person on death row.

This makes sense from many angles. If, for example, one sees killing as a solution to the problems of society, that view encourages capital punishment as well as abortion. If one holds that a person's value depends on his or her productivity, that can spell trouble for a terminally ill patient as well as for an uneducated immigrant.

Pope John Paul writes, "If we can create a society that welcomes the poor and opens the door to a good education for them, we reinforce the attitude that enables that same society to welcome the unborn and make room for them as well." (The Consistent Ethic of Life: Myths and Realities, Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life)

It cannot be forgotten, however, that the most fundamental of all rights is the right to life. John Paul II, in The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World writes, "The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination." (38)