Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Listen to your bishops.

A few thoughts on how liberal Catholics and their politicians could consider themselves pro-life while voting pro-choice...
"At their fall 1989 meeting, the bishops of the United States passed a resolution condemning abortion," writes Archbishjop Weakland in his memoirs.  Remember Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 when abortion on demand became legal.  In 1981 Fr. Paul Marx, considered to be something of a fanatic by some bishops, began the pro-life movement..  Yet the bishops didn't get it together until 1989, despite the fact that the CDF issued a document On procured abortion in 1974.  Why was the resolution so long in coming?
The Bernardin "seamless garment approach", Weakland, and the USCCB.
The civil, kinder, gentler approach to the life issue became the official approach, thanks largely to Cardinal Bernardin and those in communion with him.  Cardinal Bernardin "had linked the questions of abortion and nuclear war. “ No other major institution presently holds these two positions in the way that Catholic bishops have joined them.” Bernardin stated at Fordham in 1983, speaking of the U.S. Bishop's pastoral, “The Challenge of Peace,” indicating he would use the letter “as a starting point for shaping a consistent ethic of life in our culture.”
Well intentioned of course, yet abortion in effect became one of many peace and justice life issues, with the supposition not every Catholic can be working on every life issue at the same time.
The Catholic moral tradition, he pointed out, “has something valuable to say in the face of the multiple threats to the sacredness of life today, and I am convinced that the church is in a position to make a significant defense of life in a comprehensive and consistent manner.”  
“I am convinced,” he continued, “that the pro-life position of the church must be developed in terms of a comprehensive and consistent ethic of life.” As the new chairman of the bishops’ pro-life committee, he committed himself to “shaping a position of linkage among the life issues.”
The cardinal posed two questions about these life issues: “In an age when we can do almost anything, how do we decide what we ought to do?” and “In a time when we can do anything technologically, how do we decide morally what we never should do?”
“Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker.”
On sensitive issues like abortion, the cardinal said, “we should maintain and clearly articulate our religious convictions, but also maintain our civil courtesy. We should be vigorous in stating a case and attentive in hearing another’s case; we should test everyone’s logic, but not question his or her motives.” - Richard P. McBrien, Cardinal Bernardin's seamless garment, NCR
The Kennedy's had their Jesuit consultants (Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick, Charles Curran), the rest of the country had a few prominent bishops who viewed pro-life advocates as narrow minded, single issue fanatics and Christian fundamentalists.
As Weakland wrote in his memoirs:
I also tried to answer those in the pro-life movement who felt priests were not supportive of their groups and their aims, would not publicly associate with them in their cause, and did not preach often enough about the evils of abortion.  I pointed out some of the characteristics of their groups and their approaches about which priests felt uncomfortable - lack of compassion, narrowness of vision, ugly and demeaning rhetoric, questionable tactics, and lack of interest in other life issues..." - Weakland, Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, Chapter 14, Managing Conflicting Models of Church, page 332
In other words, pro-life advocates were more or less dismissed as radicals (and still are by politicians such as Pelosi and Biden).  Thank God today we have courageous bishops such as Archbishop Chaput who point out that, "Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong." - Archbishop Chaput  It is not just one of many life issues.
What I'm trying to suggest here is that many liberal Catholics and their politicians may have been acting in relative good faith - they were just listening to their bishops after all... or following their example in rejecting Rome.


  1. "Listen to your bishops...."

    Did you hear the one about Randall Terry protesting outside of the Vatican for the excommunication of Pelosi and the removal of the Archbishop of Washington D.C.?

    We don't need bishops. American lay-folk seem to have it all in the bag.

  2. Maria2:41 PM

    Terry: Not content w/ Drinan's record of working to support abortion and malforming the consciences of Catholic politicians, Georgetown University has enshrined him in an academic chair at the Law School. It is truly stunning.

    DRINAN continued to be a vocal supporter of abortion rights, much to the ire of the Catholic Church, and notably SPOKE OUT IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON'S VETO OF THE PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION BAN ACT in 1996.[7] In his weekly column for the Catholic New York,[8] John O'Connor sharply denounced Drinan. "You could have raised your voice for life; you raised it for death," the cardinal wrote, "Hardly the role of a lawyer. Surely not the role of a priest." In 1997, Drinan publicly retracted his opposition to a legal ban on late-term abortion. Wikipedia


    As Hardon SJ once said: "One thing I've learned in these years of working for the Holy See, there is not just a major crisis in the Catholic Church. This is the gravest and deepest crisis in the history of Christianity in two thousand years, and the heart of that crisis is a crisis in the priesthood".

    Whatever would a politician conclude, for heaven's sake?

  3. Maria2:57 PM

    Terry--have been doing some reading. Sen. Kerry ran Drinan's first campaign in 1970. BTW--before I dropped out of Newton College of the Sacred Heart, in Boston, I was at one of his victory parties--must have been 72 or 73. I stole of bottle of whiskey. Ooo. I was WILD back then.

  4. There is a special place in hell for anyone who causes another to sin...

    'Nuff said

  5. "What I'm trying to suggest here is that many liberal Catholics and their politicians may have been acting in relative good faith - they were just listening to their bishops after all... or following their example in rejecting Rome."

    This is very true. If the shepherd doesn't tend to his flock, the sheep go astray.

    I've made this rather unpopular evaluation of pro-life operational methods on a previous post I wrote, and I'll make it again right here. Religionizing the abortion issue has been a costly tactical miscalculation on behalf of the pro-life forces. We inadvertently alienate people who might not be religious, but can vote in elections that impact this issue. These same individuals lump us Catholics with the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of this world.

    I think we have a choice to make. Do we want to convince people that unborn children have a right to exist through religious conversion, or do we focus on advancing the rights of the unborn through common sense explanation and argument. With some individuals, no amount of preaching will ever make them embrace Christianity and this very fundamental issue of respecting unborn human beings.

  6. Maria3:59 PM

    Of Quislings and Kisslings:
    foot soldiers in the Culture of Death

    by Joseph R. Stanton, MD

    Excerpt below--to read entire article you can link to

    On 14 September 1984, "Catholics" for a Free Choice held a press conference in Washington, DC, titled "The 1984 Elections, Abortion, Religion and Politics"[5] to show how Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro could support abortion. In the press packet they supplied The New York Times ad where Catholic laity and nuns supported abortion and a paper by J. Giles Milhaven, a former Jesuit priest who then spoke on "Catholic Options in the Abortion Debate." From the text, "Do all Catholic theologians hold beyond dispute that every abortion is wrong? Not all Catholic theologians. Thus they hold it is questio disputata and some hold some abortions are morally licit and may be even obligatory."[6] This ex-priest, former professor at Fordham and Georgetown Medical School, was one of the prime promoters of the speculative theory of delayed animation, given hospitality on Catholic college campuses. Small wonder we have reaped a whirlwind

    "But in his 1984 presentation, Milhaven ( an ex-Jesuit) revealed that some 15 years before (1968) he had been among a gaggle of theologians invited to Hyannisport by Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy and the Shrivers for a weekend discussion, a private colloquium on abortion. Former priest Albert R. Jonsen, in a paper titled "Theological Ethics, Moral Philosophy and Public Moral Discourse," reports another Hyannisport meeting in 1964 with Senators Ted and Robert Kennedy. Robert was running for the New York Senate seat "and their political advisors wished to discuss the position a Catholic politician should take on abortion."[7] Albert Jonsen, then a Jesuit novice, and Fr. Joseph Fuchs, SJ, Fr. Robert Drinan, SJ, Fr. Richard McCormick, SJ, and Fr. Charles Curran of Catholic University of America were among attendees. After a day and a half of discussion, they reached the conclusion, "That Catholic politicians in a democratic polity might advocate legal restrictions on abortion but in so doing might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order." Jonsen then goes on, "this position, which of course is much more nuanced than I have stated, seems to have informed the politics of the Kennedy’s."

    So here we have the "personally opposed, but reluctantly vote for abortion," which Ted Kennedy and Fr. Drinan have used so effectively ever since. This has spread as a mantra among "Catholic" politicians who by their "personally opposed, but" votes have sustained the ongoing Herodian slaughter of the unborn in the USA. Of course, in 1964 and the years after till 1978 or 1979, the only threat to peaceful discourse came not from opponents of abortion but from radical feminist proponents of abortion, running through statehouses and screaming, "Our Bodies. Our Selves." Thus, years before Roe and Doe, the stage had been set for surrender of a critical Church position. ALL OF THE PRIESTS INVOLVED WERE JESUITS, EXCLUDING CURRAN--[ and we know what happened to Curran ]. Their influence on American Catholic university campuses and in scholarly literature were enormous. Its evil fruits flourish even today, quoted ad infinitum by the enemies of life.

    Aye yi yi yi yi

  7. "Consistent ethic of human life" always sends off alarm bells in this priest's tiny brain...while I do believe that abortion is one of many life issues, it is THE most fundamental issue of our day. The protection of human life in the womb is of absolute primacy; otherwise, everybody is doomed.
    Not my thought, by any means.
    Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict have said likewise, as well as the Catholic Tradition.
    Our bishops, over the years, have really been influenced by a secular mentality; pray God our present Shepherds will stand up for life, all life, esp. the innocent and vulnerable.

  8. Terry--when I posted comments I had not read your line re the Jesuits. I sort of breezed trough your posting. I get so crazed on this subject. Mea culpa. We are quite obviously on the same page...

    The Times article re the Jesuit link in your post-- is frightening in that it provides confirmation that the concept of abortion as a morally rational action has filtered down to the next generation. It is heart breaking, isn't it?

  9. Maria - absolutely on the same page - I'm grateful for your contribution. I was afraid readers might think I was making excuses for Catholic politicians - to the contrary - I was providing some background as to how they can justify their actions - your additional information helped to make that point I think.

  10. Maria: Heart breaking, indeed.
    What is even more horrendous is that doctors/abortion providers today admit that it is a human life in the womb but the law allows them to terminate his/her life...Nazi Germany? The horrible killing/starving of the Ukrainians under Stalin? The "one child" policy in China (killing of female infants)? The countless chemical abortions provided by contraception and the morning after pill, if not "emergency contraception" in the cases of rape in many hospitals?
    It's no different.
    We are in for some big trouble, I'm afraid.

  11. I remember Fr. Fessio saying once (in regards to M. Angelica), "When bishops don't do their job, a vacuum is created, and others will take this place" (more or less what he said; don't quote me on it; the message is the same).
    The lack of clear leadership, on the part of the body of Bishops, not those individuals who have "stood tall", will create a "vacuum"...and those who are convicted of Christ's Truth and His Church will step up; they might be 'nutz', they might be heretics, they might be "over the top"...but they "step up".
    We must, we are absolutely required, to pray for "good shepherds" men of Christ's Own Heart, who will not allow the wolves to attack the flock, those who will be true spiritual fathers for the faithful, esp. the vulnerable and innocent.
    They must be according to Christ's Heart; I believe they will be as time goes on.
    Jesus never abandons His Church; He might allow us a time of purgation, but He is always with us.
    Always. He promised.

  12. Terry--I understood right off the bat, several posts ago. In no way does it appear you were making excuses. One has to be of a certain, ahem, generation to understand a lot of this. Sheep will walk right off the cliff withourt a good sheperd to lead them, right?

    Padre--notice how even abortion becomes "emergency contraception"? It is the homogenization of murder.
    I really believe that Fessio SJ is a sort of white martyr. What the Jesuits have done to him--as with Hardon SJ. I like what Pacwa SJ says: when they write Catholic history they will be unable to tell the history of the late 20th century without Mother Angelica. Not by accident was she a fairly simple woman==changing the world.
    I do pray daily for holy priests and especially for the Jesuits, in particular. Hardon said that we have to literally make sacrifices for them. He IS w/ us always--

    "I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world". Matthew

    Nice to contemplate these days, huh? Oh, and I am glad you are talking to me again, Padre.

  13. michael r.7:58 AM

    "I am convinced,” he continued, “that the pro-life position of the church must be developed in terms of a comprehensive and consistent ethic of life.” Cardinal Bernadin was absolutely correct. Abortion is a most fundamental life issue, as Nazareth Priest points out, but there is simply no way that the Church is going to convince the population at large of the evil of abortion unless it is tied to a consistent life ethic.

  14. Maria: Fr. Hardon, Fr. Fessio, Fr Pacwa (who I am proud to say was my prof for several classes)...they are men of God and will certainly be known for their fidelity to Holy Mother Church, to our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Fr. Fessio and Fr. Pacwa have been particular influences upon my formation.
    Fr. Hardon, as well, although maybe more from a distance...but I definitely have been a recipient of his wonderful holiness and teaching. My "hiatus" from the internet is over; for now:<)!
    The Lord asked me to get back on whether I posted something worth reading or not!
    Thank you, though!


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