Protestantised Catholic Owns Up!

There was a time when I thought I’d never say this, but I’m worried that I’m, how shall I put it, turning Protestant. The awful thought dawned on me when I realised that although my parish church has a Door of Mercy – going through which, with appropriate prayers, would give me an indulgence – I’ve never actually been through it. Not once. I do know about the doctrine of the Church’s treasury of merits which underlies the teaching, but a stubborn little voice inside me says that the mercy of God is boundless, and accessible to all, door or no door, indulgences or no indulgences.

...The religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints. Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Pope Paul VI, January, 1, 1967

…The religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints. Apostolic Constitution on                      Indulgences,                   Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Pope Paul VI, January, 1, 1967


Of course it’s excellent that people are thinking about mercy – as you go through the door you’re meant to reflect on how to receive it from God and extend it to others – but I’m not moved by the symbolism myself. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve come to the pass of going straight to God without the aids extended by the Church.

Being a naturally sectarian Catholic, this is a troubling development. Next year is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, an event I propose to mark by wearing funereal colour. But underneath the black and purple, I find myself sympathetic to bits of the Protestant project. The idea of the priesthood of all believers, squarely based on St Paul, is not antipathetical to an ordained priesthood, and never fails to cheer me up, especially when people complain about the dearth of vocations. The priestly character of all the baptised is rather a comfort, don’t you think, when it turns out, yet again, that the institutional church has failed to deal with some egregious scandal.

Actually, the most egregious ones of all, the child abuse scandals, have not had the effect of unsettling my faith in the slightest, notwithstanding my seeing that rather overrated film, Spotlight. I mean, things were worse prior to the Reformation, no? And every human institution is bound to be flawed one way or another.

All the same, now that we know about the inability of the Church, notably the bishops, to recognise the compulsive psychology of child abusers, it does make you question Cardinal Newman’s insistence that because of its longevity, the Church has seen everything and knows everything about the nature of man, which was the same in the 5th century as it was 1500 years later. In fact the Church, notwithstanding encountering the phenomenon of paedophilia again and again over the course of centuries, has been remarkably bad at identifying its character. Making the same mistake over the course of 2,000 years may be consistent but it’s not inerrancy. Secular institutions and other religions were just as clueless, but the Church is held to different standards.

And then there’s the fundamental aspect of Protestantism: the reliance on Scripture. I don’t buy the notion that a believer just needs a Bible, but it does unsettle me that Catholics are so much less scripturally literate than paid-up Protestants. Bishops in the Anglican synod quote cheerfully from the Old Testament; I never hear Catholic priests preach from it. Bertie Wooster in PG Wodehouse won a prize for Scripture Knowledge; I mean, he was bound to be CofE, wasn’t he? The one exception I know is a priest from Kerala in India who baffles the congregation in my home parish in Ireland by actually asking them questions about the Old Testament. Where he comes from, this is normal practice; here, young Catholics are familiar with perhaps half a dozen or so episodes from the Hebrew Scriptures and that’s it.

And what about popular devotion? I respect it, of course, but there are times when I can see why Protestants find it too close to superstition. There are those prayer cards to the Sacred Heart or Saint Anthony that you find in the back of churches which assure you that if you say the prayers specified a given number of times correctly, your prayers are bound to be answered. That’s more like magic than prayer. And while I have an instinctive devotion to Our Lady, I do feel uneasy at the extent to which devotion to the Virgin has overshadowed that historically given to other scriptural saints – John the Baptist, say. And places like Medugorje, which lots of people find beneficial, present the Virgin in a very different guise from the Mary of the Gospels; it puts me off.

Naturally, I’d never actually be anything but a Catholic. As James Joyce said, when he was asked why, given his disaffection with the Church, he did not become a Protestant: “Madam, I have lost my faith; I have not lost my self-respect”. But although I intend to die a Catholic, I’m becoming a Protestant sort of Catholic. Worrying, I know, but there it is.  Source: Catholic Herald

Melanie McDonagh is comment editor of the London Evening Standard 

Comment:

Melanie McDonagh is not alone in her Protestantised Catholicism. We have one some-time blogger who has bemoaned the Catholic custom of venerating relics. Same mindset. However, my first thought on reading the above article in today’s Catholic Herald was: “at last! They’re coming out openly in the Catholic press and admitting that they’ve been Protestantised. It’s a start!” 

Don’t get me wrong.  There is no requirement on Catholics to avail ourselves of the Church’s treasury – whether it be devotions to particular saints, indulgences or the veneration of relics.   Still, I think there is something significant, not to say very sad, about such a public disavowal, perhaps especially in the  case of Melanie McDonagh’s Protestantised view of Our Lady – notable, not least because she selects the unapproved, indeed, hoax phenomenon of Medjugorje, as an example of the kind of Marian piety that she rejects! Still, if she means she dislikes pilgrimages to approved shrines such as Lourdes, Fatima, etc., lighting candles, submitting petitions, taking Lourdes water, buying Fatima rosaries – that sort of thing – then, yes, to quote her own words, she IS “turning Protestant” –  a true daughter of Martin Luther.  

Again, of course, we are not bound to accept or have devotion to each and every approved apparition (although it is important to note Pope Benedict’s statement that Fatima places an obligation on the entire Church). Whatever, it is a very strange Catholic who would express Protestant sentiments towards any of the Marian shrines and devotions.  And it is a very sad thing, indeed, to read an article, penned by a Catholic journalist, in a Catholic newspaper, joining battle with the Protestant revolutionary, Martin Luther, to attack the doctrine of indulgences. 

Click on the image to read Pope Paul’s Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, and tell us if you agree.  Or maybe you share Melanie McDonagh’s dislike of indulgences, and other Protestant leanings?

8th April: Start of Greatest Revolution in Church in 1500 Years – Cardinal Kasper

As we prepare  for the release of the Pope’s post-synodal Exhortation on Friday 8th April, it might be useful to reflect on the issues raised in the following article published by Catholic Family News.

 

The Exhortation will be presented to journalists at the Holy See’s Press Office on Friday 8 April at 11.30am (Rome time).

The Exhortation will be presented to journalists at the Holy See’s Press Office on Friday 8 April at 11.30 am (Rome time) 10.30.am UK time. 


When the document is released on Friday, we will discuss it on this thread and rejoice – absolutely – if the fears implicit below, turn out to be groundless. I’m sure we are all praying to that end.  Feel free to read the article below, but refrain from commenting until the Exhortation is released on Friday, if you wish – that’s perfectly acceptable. However, we’ll leave the thread open for those who do wish to comment before Friday.  At the end of the article,  there is a video link to the live-stream of the Presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation, available to view at 10.30 am (UK time) on Friday 8th April. If you click on the image above, that will also take you through to the live-stream video.

Francis’ Synod Exhortation: Brace Yourself for Revolution?

The Past is Prologue

by John Vennari

The Vatican announced Francis’ post-synodal Exhortation, titled Amoris Laetitia (“On Love in the Family”), will be released on Friday, April 8.

            Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said the document will be presented in the Vatican newsroom at 11:30 am by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Synod’s secretary, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and a married couple, Francesco and Giuseppina Miano who participated in the Synod discussions.

            Both Baldisseri and Schönborn are very much in line with Pope Francis’ thinking.     

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

            The National Catholic Reporter quoted Australia’s progressivist Archbishop Mark Coleridge who rejoiced, “I expect the papal document to be a typical Bergoglio combination of challenge and encouragement.”[1]

            Cardinal Walter Kasper already announced the text will be revolutionary. “The document,” said Kasper, “will mark the start of the greatest revolution experienced by the Church in 1500 years.”[2] 

Cardinal Walter Kasper

Cardinal Walter Kasper

            I travelled to Rome to cover the October 2015 Synod, along with my friend and colleague Chris Ferrara. Spent 14 days there, the final two weeks of the event. Based on what we saw coming from the Synod, as well as the daily Vatican press briefings, there is good reason to fear the new Exhortation will be every bit as “revolutionary” as Cardinal Kasper pledges.

            After some preliminary remarks, we will take a close look at these press briefings, especially some revealing comments of the liberal Archbishop Coleridge. The final week of the Synod was one of revolutionary expectations.

“Resist Not the Spirit”?

            From the beginning of his pontificate, Francis made clear his resolve to advance the Conciliar agenda. He sees the modernist updating from John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council as a work of the Holy Ghost to be embraced, not resisted. Vatican II ushered us into the evolutionary process of continuous aggiornamento, justified by the changing pastoral needs of the time. Francis implies we should be attentive to the alleged call of the spirit to even more revolutionary change, and more razing of Catholic bastions that block the way for renewal.

            Thus we better understand Francis’ exaltation of Vatican II and his scolding of “hard-headed” Catholics. This oft-quoted speech took place on April 14, 2013, only a month after his election to the papacy.

            “The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit,” said Francis. “Consider Pope John. He looked like a good parish priest; he was obedient to the Holy Spirit and he did it. But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of growth of the Church that was the Council? No. We celebrate this anniversary; we make a monument, as long as it does not bother us. We do not want to change. What is more, some people want to go back. This is hard-headedness. This is what we call, trying to tame the Holy Spirit, this is what we call becoming foolish and slow of heart.”[3]

            The Synod is a main engine in furthering this “work of the Spirit”. As I’ve noted in the past, the Synod has been established in order to advance the implementation of Vatican II throughout the world. That is how it was defined by Father Kenneth Boyack, a Paulist who had worked with the NCCB.[4]

            Likewise, Tad Szulc, in his biography of Pope John Paul II, explained that the Synod is a “permanent organ to implement the decisions of the Second Vatican Council.”[5]

            Thus the purpose of the Synod is to keep the continuous aggiornamento alive, to keep the accomodata renovatio in motion, in order to implement the Council throughout the world, through the collegial method. The Synod is an ever-present extension of Vatican II into the future.

            The tumult leading up to the 2015 Synod is well known: Cardinal Kasper’s call in February 2014 to pave the way for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist; Francis’ public praise and support for the Kasper proposal; the working document for the 2014 Synod containing an avalanche of perverse proposals such as “new language” to replace natural law, openness towards the homosexual lifestyle, including the tacit nod for homosexuals to be godparents; the tumultuous 2014 Synod; the scandalous pro-homosexual, pro-cohabitation mid-term report; the subsequent Vatican questionnaire in which the bishops were told not to form their responses merely based on doctrine; the 2015 Instrumentum Laboris forcefully criticized by the more orthodox prelates, including Archbishop Schneider who warned that it pushes an agenda contrary to Divine Law.

            In short, we see a process in which the integrity of Catholic doctrine appears to be the last concern of those steering the events.

            The final Francis-offensive in favor of breaking down the Church’s moral edifice in the name of “Mercy” was manifest in the final week of Press Briefings.

            I had arrived in Rome on October 12, and went to the various press briefings during the second week. These sessions included various lay participants of the Synod who were so happy, so happy, so happy to be there. I paid little attention to these useless sessions, as I knew the key briefings would take place the third week

            Sure enough, this was the case.

            Each day of the final week, the most radical prelates were trotted out by the Vatican Press Office to tell the world what the Synod was, and what were the true goals for the future. These prelates included Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Cardinal Reinhard Marx (outspoken supporter of the Kasper Proposal), Cardinal Oswald Gracias (on record calling outto homosexuals, “the Church embraces you, wants you, and the Church needs you”),[6] Spirit-of-Assisi Cardinal Paul Turkson, and Cardinal Christophe Schonborn (who appears to be of one mind with Cardinal Marx). One had the sense the entire week of press conferences was staged-managed for a pre-determined result.

“No Black or White” Coleridge

            Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia kicked off the final week of Synod Press Briefings. Each daily press event of the final week comprised at least three synod prelates (different prelates every day) along with Father Frederico Lombardi, Vatican Press Secretary. Coleridge, by far, was the most colorful. He was also the most helpful, as he gave the game away in clear crystal tones.

            I spotlight Coleridge’s October 19 comments as he represents to a more or less degree the position of the most radical Synod prelates, including – according to all available evidence – that of Pope Francis himself. His testimony is crucial, as it indicates the thinking behind the maneuvering, and the path Francis is most likely to take in the future.

            Coleridge insists that doctrine is one thing, and pastoral practice is another. It’s all about starting from human experience (as we repeatedly warned would be the case in previous issues of CFN). In this regard, Cardinal Wuerl and others say, “We must meet people where they are.” Coleridge likewise insists the Church “must put down its roots in human experience.” This is code for accepting the person’s sinful lifestyles as is, and then bend pastoral practice to accommodate it. This is called the “creative” pastoral approach.

            Though he claims to respect the Church’s traditional teaching regarding divorce and remarried, Coleridge says, “not every case [of adultery] is the same, and that’s where the pastoral approach needs to take account … just to say every second marriage or second union [divorced and remarried] is adulterous is perhaps too sweeping.”

            In one sense Coleridge says nothing new. The Church always noted there can be different degrees of culpability regarding such sins – but also insists that these grievous sins remain grievous sins that bar the soul from the Eucharist. The new “discernment” approach, however, favored by modern ecclesial delinquents, looks to pry open a way to grant access to the Eucharist for couples living in adultery who will not correct their lifestyle.

            Coleridge derides the “all or nothing” attitude, saying there is “no black or white.” He frowns upon the word “adultery,” claiming that it is a “convenient and apparently clear blanket term” that does not deal with the reality of human experience in this life or that life.

             All of this twaddle is camouflage for the old heresy of Situation Ethics: the belief that there is no objective morality, and everything depends on the circumstances of the person. Coleridge calls for a whole new language – thus further discarding irreplaceable scholastic precision – so that those living in moral turpitude will not feel “excluded” or “alienated.”

            When asked what terminology he would like to see changed, Coleridge responded he would do away with the term “indissolubility,” which he says is “negative in form.” He also wants to discard the phrase “intrinsically disordered act” – a term despised by those who embrace situation ethics, and the term used by the 1993 Catechism to describe homosexuality.

            Worse, Coleridge goes on to say, “These are just two examples, there would be many, many other” traditional Catholic terms he wants to shed.

            As a true revolutionary, Coleridge sums up his hope that the synod “would bring the whole Church to a new listening, for the sake of a new language, that would open new doors and new possibilities.”

            He also rightly explains that the effects of this Synod will not end with the closing of the October event, but will extend far into the future.

“Theology progresses”?

            Other prelates from the final Synod week piped a similar tune.

            During the October 22 Press Briefing, Cardinal Gracias ladled out his subversion of Catholic truth claiming, “Theology progresses, the doctrine remains the same, and our understanding of Church discipline progresses.” – words that would warm Teilhard’s heart. After spouting the false claim that John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio opened the doors to ‘different circumstances’ that could lead the way for some divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist, Gracias said, “I don’t think we have seen the solution … this has got to be tackled, this has got to be studied … as we deepen our understanding … I am sure you will find a way forward.”   Gracias acts as if the solution does not already exist, that those in a second “marriage” must repent of their adultery in order for readmission to the Sacraments, a clear teaching of Familiaris Consortio that Gracias does not mention.

            Likewise Germany’s rootin’tootin’ Cardinal Marx at the October 21 press briefing noted that German-speaking bishops made their own proposal to deal with divorced and remarried. It comprises an appeal to the internal forum, where the priest “in dialogue” with various couples will judge each situation on a case-by-case basis. This too opens the door to sacrilegious Communion under the rubric of a counterfeit compassion.

            Other prelates at the third week’s press conference touted a parallel line. This is what Francis’ Vatican presented to the world by means of the press as the major goals and themes of the Synod.

The Final Thud!

            On the evening of October 24, I picked up the final Synod Document from the Vatican press office. The result was every bit as disastrous as we predicted: a mish-mash of imprecision that opens the door – overtly and covertly – to eventual acceptance of various practices always considered gravely sinful. The document has the atmosphere of an insipid humanism with a Christian veneer. Despite its God-talk, it is bereft of the sense of the supernatural.

            Cardinal Burke put it mildly when he lamented the final document “lacks clarity on the indissolubility of marriage”. A number of us have elsewhere listed its numerous deficiencies.

            Of course there is the obvious omission: The Synod’s final Relatio contains no mention of sin or sinful behavior. Yet the number one incentive for most souls to resist immoral behavior is the truth that sexual sins are mortal sins that bring eternal damnation if the sins are not confessed – in other words, a realistic dread of mortal sin and fear of hell.

            Yet the final document contains no reminder that engagement of the ‘marital act’ is thoroughly forbidden outside of the marriage. There is no word about “avoiding the occasion of sin” – which was always a pastoral admonition. Sin is mentioned only in passing (Christ has saved man from sin, etc.). Regarding homosexuality, cohabitation, adultery, fornication, there is no mention of sin whatsoever.

            One would never know Our Lady of Fatima warned, “More souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” All so-called “negative language” and “language of exclusion” is expunged from the text. This omission itself is a grave sin of those who dish out this toxin as if it were genuine Catholic nourishment.

            Catholics need to pray, arm themselves with traditional doctrine, teach the truth to those in their sphere of influence, and publicly resist.

            The 2015 Synod and its final document represent an attack on the Church’s entire moral edifice, and points to institutionalized scandal for the future.

            There is every indication that Francis’ April 8 Apostolic Exhortation will proceed according to the same revolutionary spirit..[7] Source 

Confessions of an ex-traddie (as if…)

The very telling article below is the work of Damian Thompson (pictured), associate editor of The Spectator and editorial director of the Catholic Herald, who is widely regarded as a “traditionalist” Catholic journalist.  We, at Catholic Truth, have always considered him to be about as traditional as a mobile phone, so we smiled on reading the “conversion” story below, remembering his enthusiasm for the then Archbishop Nichols to be given the red hat as a reward for organising the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England. Very “traditional”, yes? At one time, prior to Vatican II, we didn’t use labels to describe different types of Catholic.  One was either a Catholic or a Protestant.  Indeed, in the north of Ireland they tell the story of the Hindu who was stopped in the street by a young boy who asked whether he was a Catholic or a Protestant. When the man replied “I’m a Hindu”, the lad looked puzzled and responded: “Well, are you a Catholic Hindu or a Protestant Hindu?”  So, consider, in this conversation, what it is that makes someone a “traditional” Catholic as opposed to any other of the more recent brands.  But first, read the story of the “ex-traddie” who never really was…    

I used to be too snooty to appreciate an 'ordinary' Mass. Now lay ministers, altar girls, even an exuberant sign of peace – they don't bother me in the least

I used to be too snooty to appreciate an ‘ordinary’ Mass. Now lay ministers, altar girls, even an exuberant sign of peace -they don’t bother me in the least

 

At the Easter Vigil, I found myself with my right hand resting on the right shoulder of a young friend, David Oldroyd-Bolt, who was being received into the Catholic Church. On his left shoulder rested the hand of my former Daily Telegraph colleague Dr Tim Stanley, a historian who is also television critic of this magazine.

We were David’s co-sponsors. The priest anointing him was Fr Julian Large, who in a previous incarnation was also a Telegraph journalist; in those days he was still an Anglo-Catholic – or “dyed-in-the-wool Protestant”, as I used to tease him.

David had been an Anglo-Catholic, too, and I’m afraid I subjected him to the same ribbing. That may have been why he did me the honour of asking me to co-sponsor him: at least that way he could prove to me that he’d done the right thing.

What a way to enter into full communion with the Holy See! I don’t just mean the comedy of being surrounded by former and current Telegraph hacks: the service itself was magnificent.

Not since the heyday of the Borgias have such finely wrought gold vestments been displayed to the faithful, worn by clergy with hair parted with rulers and trimmed with the utmost severity by Geo F Trumper of Jermyn Street. Plus vintage specs of a design that even Pius XII might have thought outmoded.

You’ll have worked out that the church was the London Oratory, where they don’t exactly rush the Triduum: I was there for two and a half hours. Services at the Oratory have a grandeur all of their own – choreographed to a standard that you won’t find in Rome or, indeed, Old Rite ceremonies staged by the Latin Mass Society. (Not to be mean, but I’ve never seen so much flapping and semaphoring as I did at the last LMS Requiem I attended.)

Also, counter-intuitively, there’s a refreshing absence of High Church campery at the Oratory. This is a function of the seriousness of its theology: it preaches the Magisterium with a purity that contrasts starkly with the waffle emanating from certain members of the College of Cardinals. You’re never far from the Four Last Things in an Oratorian sermon.

I’d forgotten what an enormous church it is. I ordered my Uber from the front row and by the time I reached the door it was waiting outside. But before I scuttled off I said to David: “Next Sunday, go to an ordinary parish. Then you’ll really get a sense of what you’ve joined.”

This wasn’t meant as an insult. I’ve always liked the title of a book of essays for would-be converts edited by Joanna Bogle: Come on in… it’s awful! When that was published, 22 years ago, the average liturgy was awful and my goodness I banged on about it. But even then, before the “Benedictisation” of worship that is beginning to rub off everywhere, there was a warmth about the celebration of Mass and the welcome afterwards that was and is distinctively Catholic. (That I was too snooty to appreciate it was my loss.)

In the past few years I’ve been reintegrated into the ordinary Catholic Church. The process began when a musician friend started taking me to the low-key Sunday evening Mass at Farm Street. But things really picked up when I began regular attendance at the church opposite my flat, St Mary of the Angels, Notting Hill. My parish priest is the lovely Mgr Keith Barltrop, who has banished the last remnants of BCM (Bad Catholic Music); on Friday the shivers ran up my spine when, as I queued for the Adoration of the Cross, the organ struck up a familiar ground bass and I heard the Crucifixus of Bach’s B Minor Mass, exquisitely performed by a small choir that must have had professional singers in it. I fought back tears, which is how it should be on Good Friday.

Thanks to Fr Keith, there are proper candles in the sanctuary and a “Benedict Cross” on the altar. The servers are nicely drilled. But lots of them are girls and at every Mass there are lay ministers of Holy Communion. The sign of peace can be quite exuberant.

And it doesn’t bother me in the least. These are signs of the comforting “ordinariness” of worship that takes me back to my Catholic childhood. Indeed, the longer I attend, the more I realise that the cradle bits of my Catholicism never went away, though they’re not necessarily very edifying.

For example, my hearts leaps – just as it did in 1975 – when I hear the priest say the words, “the fount of all holiness” because it means he’s gone for the Second Eucharistic Prayer and it’s the shortest. Worse, I groan when the priest settles down for his moment of private prayer after Communion. The 13-year-old in me still thinks: come on, Father, we’re so tantalisingly near the end.

Also, to quote the great Ed West in a tweet, “Hearing the words ‘The Mass is Ended, go in peace’ = instant dopamine squirt”.

I’m not going to try to justify these sentiments to David, my new fellow Catholic; you can’t expect a convert to understand. But they don’t really matter, either, because short Masses can be very uplifting. Parish priests, please note.

Damian Thompson is associate editor of The Spectator and editorial director of the Catholic Herald

This article first appeared in the April 1 2016 issue of The Catholic Herald

Trump: Are Pro-Lifers Inconsistent?

I hesitate to wade into the fever swamp that has arisen over the past few days over the question of whether women who have abortions should face prosecution. (A question that is, as a friend suggested to me earlier this morning, the “ultimate gotcha question” for abortion advocates to pose to politicians running on a pro-life platform.)      animatedteacher2

 

And yet…and yet

I’ve made no secret that I have serious problems with the way the pro-life movement handles certain aspects of the decades-long war. I’ve written about the problem with abortion politics, and the need for us to demand, unequivocally, intellectual honesty (read: scientific truth) about abortion. In 2015, I went to the March for Life and interviewed marchers on the street about why they still come after 42 years with no major successes. I keep trying to understand what we’re doing wrong. I keep trying to understand why we seek a political solution to an inherently moral problem.

And now pro-lifers are up in arms because, when pressed repeatedly by Chris Matthews, Donald Trump said that women who seek abortions should face “some form of punishment.”

This isn’t a post about Donald Trump. It’s a post about us. About how we think, about how we approach this topic, about why we fail to win even the debates over abortion, which should be a slam dunk.

You see, fellow pro-lifers, we have very little credibility. We say abortion is murder, but then we often actlike it isn’t.

In today’s world, it’s almost impossible not to know someone who has had an abortion, or helped someone else get one. Many of us even have these people among our circle of loved ones. Family members. Friends. We live with the knowledge of this horror marring the past of those closest to us. That abortion is a sin of murder is indisputable. That murder is (in a civic sense) a crime is also indisputable.

But when someone that such a crime should be punished, the very loudest voices arguing that abortion is a crime turn their ire on the person saying it.

The fog of cognitive dissonance we have had to live with for over 40 years on this issue no doubt mitigates individual culpability to a degree. But it is neither illogical nor absurd to suggest that, in the event that abortion were outlawed, there should be some criminal penalty levied against the mother who seeks one.

I’m not motivated at all to prosecute all the hurt, even broken women, who have been led into this error by force or deception. But jurisprudence demands that we be consistent, not arbitrary. And the reason this issue is being discussed right now was a question of jurisprudence – and policy moving forward.

The pro-life movement is nauseatingly dishonest when it comes to certain issues. Think of all the pro-lifers who admit exceptions in the case of rape and incest.

Really? So it’s murder except when it reaches a certain level of discomfort? Tell me more.

There are not a few women who are victims of abortion, flat out — coerced into an action they want no part of. There are others who are both perpetrator AND victim — women who make the choice freely, but are deeply conflicted over it, and who likely would not make such a terrible choice if it were not so readily available, or if they knew they had better options. And there are some who, as hard as it is to understand, are callous and bloodthirsty. These last are proud of the abortions they’ve had.

This spectrum, like any human action, has a diverse set of factors that must be taken into account when assessing culpability, both morally and legally. Not least is the near-total societal approval for this heinous act.

But if a day came when abortion was again outlawed, such circumstances would require the assessment of criminal penalties for those found guilty of what would then be a criminal violation of the law. I’m not anticipating or arguing for Nuremberg trials for past abortions here. That would be impossible and unwise. I’m talking about the fact that a broken law necessitates consequences — for the purposes of restitution, rehabilitation, or simply the satisfaction of justice. Even addicts, who may well have a morally limited freedom because of their addiction, are still arrested and prosecuted when caught using illegal substances.

We have to make sense in how we approach this. Nobody should be shouted down for bringing the logical consequences of a desired change in the law on abortion to the table — least of all those who are advocating for that very change to the law. I understand that there are many emotions involved, and not a few such advocates are too close to this issue for comfort, having been guilty at some point in their lives of abortion themselves.

But these emotions cloud our logic, and mar our credibility as advocates for the unborn. We must not allow this to happen. It’s incredibly damaging to the cause.  Source

But today, in many people's consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Is 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as "interruption of pregnancy", which tends to hide abortion's true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth. The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder... (Pope John Paul II: Evangelium Vitae #58

But today, in many people’s consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as “interruption of pregnancy”, which tends to hide abortion’s true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth.
The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder…   (Pope John Paul II: Evangelium Vitae #58)

 

Comment:

Like the author of the blog 1P5, I do not want this thread to be hijacked into a discussion on the controversial American politician Donald Trump. He serves our purpose only by providing a context for us in which to consider the apparent inconsistency of the pro-life movement, which seeks to repeal a law legalising abortion, only to argue that it is one class of murder which should not be punishable by law. 

Doesn’t make sense – does it?  Or does it?