Stitching a Seamless Garment

There are some things only a Catholic can say. 

Here’s an example from Pope Francis’ recent book, Let Us Dream: “Human life is never a burden. It demands we make space for it, not cast it off…the arrival of a new human life in need—whether the unborn child in the womb or the migrant at our border—challenges and changes our priorities.”

In a single line, Pope Francis draws together two often opposing political tribes – pro-lifers and immigrant advocates – and declares they are a part of the same business:  promoting the dignity of human life.  This Catholic position is called the consistent ethic of life, and it says that any credible stance for human life must be a stance for all human life. 

Eileen Egan, a noted Catholic activist, articulated this vision in 1981 when she wrote: “Our concern for the protection of all life thus starts with the protection of the unborn child. Such protection, credible in its consistency, extends to opposition to the taking of life by the state in capital punishment, and to opposition to the taking of life by euthanasia or warfare.”

Egan described this Catholic position on morality as a “seamless garment.”  Her image harkens to the garment that Jesus wore to his crucifixion.  The soldiers considered dividing the garment into small pieces.  However, they decided it must remain whole. 

Similarly, Catholics are called not to divide the issues that impact human life into tribes.  When you have the moral vision of the seamless garment, you find yourself saying things and advocating for policies that don’t fit neatly into any established American political identity.

At the Ferry Foundation, our work in homelessness, our explicitly pro-life work, and our work advancing racial equity all belong to this consistent vision for life. 

So too, does our work in dementia care.  Tacitly or overtly, our culture can say to those with memory loss, “you are a burden.”  Our commitment to life compels us to “make space” for people with dementia and allow their lives to “challenge and change our priorities.”

When you witness us do this work, know that we do it as a part of our mission of adding a few stitches to the seamless garment.