Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio: “The dignity and sanctity of human life are the foundational values upon which all other policies are built”

By Dave Andrusko

Bishop Nichols DiMarzio

The title of the letter from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, to his parishioners is titled “What constitutes a Woman’s issue?”—described as the “sixth of a series on issues pertaining to the upcoming elections.”

There is much there for the thoughtful to ponder, whether Catholic or not. Let me highlight just three points. (You can read  the entire letter at

First, Bishop DiMarzio asks, “Why then do the President and Vice President continually speak about women’s rights in the context of abortion and contraception as well as misrepresent the impact on religious institutions? I cannot help but think it is an effort to secure only the most fanatical ‘pro-choice’ voters at the expense of those who are people of faith. The reality is that we as a Church have failed to teach the truths of the faith in a clear and convincing manner to the Catholic faithful. However, the issue is not what we as a Church believe but whether or not we ought to be obligated to act in a manner contrary to our own belief.”

Second, he writes about the HHS requirement that religious institutions pay for health insurance plans that cover medical procedures and drugs contrary to their religious beliefs and consciences. “[A]lthough the mandate does not expressly target Catholicism, it does so implicitly by imposing burdens on conscience that are well known to fall almost entirely on observant Catholics – whether employees, employers, or insurers. As a result, the President has senselessly made religious liberty a central issue in this campaign.” And an awareness of just how deep a threat is posed is gradually becoming clear.

Third, Bishop DiMarzio concludes, “It is inconceivable to me how Catholics could support such policies. Indeed, Roman Catholics who support abortion rights and vote for a candidate because of those policies, place him/herself outside of the life of the Church. In so doing, they also place themselves in moral danger. Is it possible to vote for somebody despite their support for these policies? To my mind, it stretches the imagination, especially when there is another option. The dignity and sanctity of human life are the foundational values upon which all other policies are built. Concern for the poor, the stranger in our midst, they are all predicated upon our belief in the dignity and sanctity of human life.”