Bishop Malooly’s Statement on Delaware Senate Bill 5

May 1, 2017— (Wilmington, DE) — The Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, issues the following statement regarding recently introduced Delaware Senate Bill 5:

The right to life is the first and most fundamental of all human rights. With this in mind, I noted with concern Senate Bill 5 that was recently introduced in the Delaware Legislature. This Bill is intended to codify in Delaware law the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. Simply put, Senate Bill 5 is unnecessary since federal law supersedes state law. Also, the haste with which this legislation is being pursued is unwarranted and unwise, given the significant issues at hand. 

The subject of abortion has unfortunately become a political dispute where civil discourse is reduced to name calling and hyperbole. For me, this is a teaching moment. It is an opportunity to restate the Church’s reasoning behind our opposition to abortion and our repugnance toward the abortion industry. 

Human life is a gift from God. Because of this, each and every human life has inherent dignity, and must be treated with the respect. This is the foundation for the Church’s social doctrine, including its teachings on war, capital punishment, euthanasia, health care, poverty and immigration. To claim that some human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we cannot divide humankind into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. This is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. 

While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child from the moment of conception. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice. 

The life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition. This applies to the unborn as well as the sick, the elderly, and those on death row. 

The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington was established in 1868 and comprises 56 parishes, 18 missions and 36 schools serving the State of Delaware and the nine counties of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The diocese will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a year-long celebration beginning March 3, 2018. Information is available at

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