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January 19, 2023

The Consistent Ethic of Life in 2023

Solidarity with Those Who are Poor and Vulnerable

Showing the The Consistent Ethic of Life in 2023: Solidarity with Those Who are Poor and Vulnerable Video

This past year has seen continuing and increasing threats to the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable among us: the continuing humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border; the continued use of the death penalty in more than half the United States; Canadian laws that are encouraging the poor and vulnerable to seek euthanasia; and a lack of solidarity with unborn children and their mothers in a post-Roe world. Too often those without resources or power, those with disabilities, and those facing injustice go unheard and uncared for. They are most at risk in what Pope Francis calls the “throwaway culture.”

Societies can be measured by how they care for their weakest and most vulnerable members. Respect for human life and dignity, as well as solidarity with the vulnerable, stand at the center of Catholic social teaching. Those principles call for a consistent ethic of life that protects and promotes the lives and dignity of each and every person, especially those in need, and regardless of age or stage in life, ability, immigration status, race, religion, gender, or any other factor.  

In the face of these challenges, the Initiative brought together a remarkable group of leaders to explore what is needed to build a culture of life and love in the United States and elsewhere, and to ask whether a renewed emphasis on the consistent ethic of life—and the ethic of solidarity that goes with it—can help draw us together to resist the hostility and division that too often characterize our public life. We asked what the consistent ethic of life means in 2023 across a range of issues of life and death where the vulnerable suffer, and how those committed to defending the life and dignity of the most vulnerable can take steps to build an authentic culture of solidarity in 2023’s cultural and political context.

The participants addressed questions from viewers and questions along these lines:

  • What does the consistent ethic of life call for today? What are the responsibilities of consistent-ethic Catholics in this moment, and how can they work with those who disagree? 

  • How do abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and immigration failures disproportionally threaten the lives of those who are poor, lack power, and face racial, ethnic, and economic injustice? How do issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and ability affect which issues get attention and how they are dealt with? 

  • What policies are needed to support the vulnerable? How can Catholics work effectively with allies to advance these policies in our current political context as the new U.S. Congress comes into session? With those who do not share our Catholic views or are skeptical of our work? 

  • What effect has the Dobbs decision and its aftermath had on policymaking around child and family poverty, health care, adoption, child care, hunger, and housing? What are the responsibilities of pro-life Catholics now?

  • What lessons does Canada’s experience with medical assistance in dying hold for us here in the United States? 

  • What directions do Pope Francis’ words and actions offer those who embrace a consistent ethic of life?

Kim Daniels, director of the Initiative and member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, moderated the conversation.


View a list of articles, podcasts, and other resources for this dialogue.


Elizabeth Bruenig

Elizabeth Bruenig

Elizabeth Bruenig is a staff writer at the Atlantic and a former opinion columnist for the New York Times and the Washington Post. She writes frequently on issues addressing life and human dignity, including a powerful recent 2022 series of articles on the death penalty.

Bishop Daniel Flores

Bishop Daniel Flores

Bishop Daniel Flores is the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and the bishop of the diocese of Brownsville, Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border. He is also the episcopal advisor for Catholic Mobilizing Network which seeks to end the death penalty and is an advocate for unborn children and immigrants.

Gloria Purvis

Gloria Purvis

Gloria Purvis is the host of the Gloria Purvis Podcast at America Media and has served on the National Black Catholic Congress’ Commission on Social Justice, the Maryland Catholic Conference’s Respect for Life Advisory Board, and the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Fr. Sam Sawyer, S.J.

Fr. Sam Sawyer, S.J.

Fr. Sam Sawyer, S.J., is the editor-in-chief of America Media, which in December 2022 published a strong editorial opposing Canada’s euthanasia regime. He has written extensively about pro-life issues and clergy sexual abuse.