Thought the seamless garment or consistent ethic of life approach to the social teaching of the Church has a rocky record in the United States—with liberal Catholics all over it and conservative Catholics put off by it—the wedding of a strong pro-life and pro-social justice approach to the social teaching of the Church is inevitable, as it is merely the acceptance of what is rather than what one wants it to be.
The Church is strongly pro-life and strongly pro-social justice and the twain do meet, though they do so hierarchically, with pro-life being the most important principle of the teaching of the Church; a position affirmed by the magisterium since ancient times.
John Allen looks at the situation in Africa around the issue.
“The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago used the Biblical image of a “seamless garment” to refer to what he described as a “consistent ethic of life” – beginning with abortion, the family, and other traditional “life issues,” and extending into peace and economic justice. The idea was to unify the church’s “pro-life” and “social justice” constituencies.
“To date, the “seamless garment” has struggled to take hold in the American church, which still tends to be fractured at the grassroots between pro-life Catholics (who stress issues such as opposition to abortion, gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research) and peace and justice Catholics (who focus more on poverty, war, the death penalty, and the environment). That divide seemed visible in the Catholic vote during the 2008 elections.
“If there is a future for the “seamless garment” in 21st century Catholicism, it may well come not from the United States, but from Africa – where a highly traditional approach to sexual morality, both in the broader culture and in the church, often blends with a progressive attitude towards key social justice concerns.”