Friday, June 14, 2024

Swedish cardinal urges Catholics to protect the unborn

Sweden's Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm called on the country’s Catholics to engage others in meaningful ways to protect the lives of the unborn.

Following a recent vote to include abortion in the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, Cardinal Arborelius said that "as Catholic Christians, we can choose different approaches to advocating for the inviolability of life and human rights, justice, and peace."

"The important thing is that one truly engages in various ways, in words and actions, to try to save the lives of the most vulnerable among us," he wrote in a statement released June 10 by the Diocese of Stockholm.

In April, the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution that would "enshrine the right to abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights." However, in order for it to be included in the charter, all 27 member states must vote unanimously in favor, an outcome that currently seems unlikely.

In his letter, Cardinal Arborelius said, "more Catholics have begun to engage more deeply on the issue of abortion" in the lead-up to the June 9 European parliamentary elections.

He also noted that a letter published in May by the diocese's Justice and Peace Commission, which called on Catholic voters "to cast blank votes in the EU elections" in cases when it is not possible "to vote for any party or candidate from the conscience that remains bound by the principle of the inviolable dignity of every human life," had served as "a wake-up call for many."

The Justice and Peace Commission explained that in Sweden, for example, a blank vote is classified as invalid and not counted in the allocation of seats between parties and candidates.

Nevertheless, it said, the tactic "shows the voter's willingness to participate in the election" while "expressing the realization that there is no acceptable alternative to vote for without actually committing a sin in the sense that one's vote becomes an enabler of further violations of the principle of human dignity."

"The call to cast blank votes in the EU elections brought the issue to a head," Cardinal Arborelius said. "With its drastic message, the Justice and Peace (Commission) tried to shake things up and spur engagement since none of the parliamentary parties today are willing to question the so-called right to abortion in any respect."

The cardinal acknowledged that Swedish Catholics are reluctant "to engage in party politics" and instead "have tried to influence people's consciences" in respecting the right to life "from conception to natural death."

Nevertheless, he said, "it can also be entirely appropriate to engage in political life to try to create better opportunities to help those in difficult situations who need support to allow their expected child to be born into life."

Expressing concerns that similar calls to include the "so-called right to abortion into Sweden's constitution," Cardinal Arborelius said that now, more than ever, "our Catholic voice is needed."

"It is my hope that many more believers will stand up for the inviolability of life in various ways," the cardinal wrote. "It is my prayer that in our country, we learn to respect and revere every person, who is created in the image of God, and grant them the gift of life."