On Monday, Penn for Life hosted Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput at Houston Hall to discuss the Catholic Church’s view on abortion, as well as the importance of political advocacy for the pro-life movement.
In his speech, entitled “Being Human in an Age of Non-Belief,” Chaput argued that abortion is a violation of human dignity. Chaput also discussed the influence of technology and secularism on the pro-choice trend in America, stating that “a modern liberal democracy needs religion … otherwise it can’t support its claims about morality and rights.”
Chaput called on the Catholic community to be vocal in its opposition to abortion, arguing that “fighting for pro-life convictions in the public square … is an act of honesty vital to our democracy.”
In a question-and-answer session following his speech, Chaput clarified the Catholic stance on issues such as the removal of cancerous wombs — which is permitted if there’s no intent to abort the fetus — as well as the “imprudence” of voting for state-level personhood amendments because of their likely defeat in the Supreme Court. He also touched on Catholic views condemning gay marriage, as well as any use of abortion even in the case of medical necessity.
Penn for Life President and College senior Teresa Hamill said the idea for the event came about in response to the Penn Democrats bringing Frances Kissling, a visiting scholar at the Center for Bioethics and former president of national organization Catholics for Choice to speak at Penn. “Chaput is known for being pro-life and is a great speaker who is very well-versed in this topic, so we thought he could give another perspective on it,” Hamill said.
Penn for Life Public Relations Officer and College and Wharton senior Charles Gray — also a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist and President of College Republicans — felt that the event was “groundbreaking” and “really brought together a diverse community on this issue.”
“I think that talking about this issue is difficult … and being able to do this at Penn is an important change,” he said. “The connections we built tonight are going to give everyone a boost moving forward, and I’m convinced we’re up to the challenge.”
The event drew about 250 attendees, including large numbers of attendees from outside Penn, such as Philadelphia pro-life groups, students from local high schools and students from Princeton, Immaculata and Villanova universities.
“We came because we wanted to support the good work Penn for Life does, and the fact that they didn’t just include Penn students [in the event],” Villanova senior and Villanovans for Life president Lauren Adderly said. “It’s energizing to not be on our own.”
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