Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Protecting Life `from Womb to Tomb'. (Paths to Peace Ethic of Life)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Protecting Life `from Womb to Tomb'. (Paths to Peace Ethic of Life)

Article excerpt

No organization offers a broader, more inclusive definition of peace work than the Seamless Garment Network. Established in the late '80s, this loose coalition embraces individuals and organizations with diverse political and religious affiliations. Their common denominator? A public commitment to uphold the sanctity of human life in all circumstances.

"Our intent is to call people to take a deeper look at violence and how respect for life must be from the womb to the tomb," said Mary Rider, executive director of the Seamless Garment Network since 1998.

The phrase "seamless garment" refers to the cloak Christ wore to his crucifixion as described in the Gospel of John. The noted Catholic pacifist Eileen Egan, who died last year, used St. John's phrase in 1971 to articulate a holistic reverence for life. "The protection of life," said Egan, "is a seamless garment. You can't protect some life and not others."

The Seamless Garment Network's mission statement identifies "war, the arms race, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia" as the prevalent forms of violence threatening the world today. "We believe that these issues are linked under a `consistent ethic of life,'" the statement says. "We challenge those working on all or some of these issues to maintain a cooperative spirit of peace, reconciliation and respect in protecting the unprotected."

The network's membership requirements are an annual fee of $50 and your signature endorsing the mission statement. Signing on to the statement "is a big deal and not a big deal," said Carol Crossed, former executive director of the network. The document is primarily a statement of belief and "the first step to doing something is saying that we believe this." Few groups work on all the issues, she said. "I don't know how practical that is. We're all limited by our resources."

Crossed said that belonging to the network means being "hospitable to all the issues," and member organizations express that "hospitality" in a variety of ways. …

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