The Catholic bishops of New Jersey have added their voices to those of other Catholic Church leaders around the US in opposing an abortion advocacy ad campaign by a group calling itself Catholics for Choice.
The organisation placed full-page ads on September 12 in the print
editions of more than 20 local and national publications, including
Politico, the Nation, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer,
the Dallas Morning News and La Opinion.
In New Jersey, the ad ran in The Star-Ledger and The Record. Digital
advertising also was included in the campaign, which featured a
statement by a young woman who claimed to be Catholic and who condoned
The ad aimed to portray the public funding of abortion as a social justice issue.
“Catholics have the same freedom as other citizens in making choices,
said Newark Archbishop John Myers, who is president of the New Jersey
Catholic Conference. “They also have the duty to follow a well-formed
conscience, a conscience formed not by fad or personal convenience, but
by Catholic teaching.”
“Catholic faith and teaching have condemned abortion since the
earliest days of the Church. Every unique human life begins at
conception,” he said in a statement. “Every unborn human being shares
with every other member of the human family a basic moral right to
Years ago, the US bishops said the group behind the ad campaign,
formerly called Catholics for a Free Choice, had “no affiliation, formal
or otherwise, with the Catholic Church.”
Catholics for Choice said in a news release that its “Abortion in
Good Faith” campaign was a multiyear effort to overturn the federal Hyde
Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for virtually all
To communicate authentic church teaching on the sanctity of human
life and the evil of abortion, the New Jersey bishops commissioned an ad
campaign that will include several daily newspapers, and be placed
throughout diocesan media outlets and other church-based resources.
The central image of the campaign features a photo of Pope Francis
kissing a baby during his visit to Philadelphia last fall. Taken by John
Blaine, a freelance photographer for The Monitor, Trenton’s diocesan
newspaper, the photo originally was part of the Trenton diocesan
newspaper’s online coverage of the papal visit.
The advert lists several statements made by the Pope Francis – both
when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and now as the Pope – about
the sanctity of human life and every person’s call to protect life in
The key message of the advert is: “You cannot be Catholic and
pro-abortion. The only ‘choice’ for Catholics is life.” The advert ran
in two local newspapers.
“Through pregnancy help centres and other programs, the Catholic
Church brings love and mercy and caring to mothers and children
according to the call of the Gospel,” Archbishop Myers said in his
statement. “And with equal love and mercy and caring, the church works
to heal the wounds of every woman or man who has struggled with the
emotional and spiritual pain of an abortion.”
“Sadly,” he added, “there are those who purport to be Catholic who
believe that they can condone abortion. But abortion is radically
inconsistent with the Catholic faith.”
Similar responses to the abortion ad campaign played out across the country in the days following its release.
“Calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic
faith” is deceptive and extreme,” said New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan,
who serves as chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life
In a statement, Cardinal Dolan emphasised that the abortion advocacy
group “is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no
membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by
powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of