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Answering the Arguments of Pro-Abortion Politicians
|By Fr. Gary Coulter - Contact me||Go to Fr. Coulter's Homepage||Sign-in the Guestbook|
The first responsibility of those exercising public authority is to protect the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family. The Church cannot "dictate" to anyone. Everyone is legally free to reject Catholic teaching, including the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of each and every human being.
Episcopal authority cannot force a politician to oppose abortion, slavery, the exploitation of labor, or any other injustice. But bishops can and should make it clear to politicians and others who publicly collaborate in and promote grave injustices such as abortion that they have broken communion with Christ and the Church.
To act consistently with the Church's teachings about the equality and dignity of each member of the human family - whether the issue is abortion, slavery, segregation or any other form of injustice - is not to "impose Catholic dogma." It is to uphold justice and basic human rights.
The Church's understanding of when a human being comes to be - namely, at conception - forms the basis of its anti-abortion teaching. This understanding derives from the indisputable facts of human embryogenesis and intrauterine human development. It is not something anyone is asked to accept merely "on faith."
There is nothing whatsoever in the Church's teaching - in its expression, in its factual presuppositions, in the arguments advanced in its favor - that depends upon special revelation, private knowledge, or strictly religious sources of any kind.
What pro-abortion Catholic politicians need to face up to is their strict obligation in justice to respect and protect the human rights of all, the unborn not excluded. The claim that they cannot fulfill this obligation without "imposing" their faith on others is an evasion.
The Bishop has to make it clear to pro-abortion Catholic politicians that they are placing their souls in jeopardy by grave injustices they are committing against vulnerable members of the human family.
At the same time, he has reminded the entire Catholic faithful of his diocese of their obligations in solidarity and justice to the unborn. He worries - quite rightly - that many Catholics do not fully understand the gravity of the injustice of deliberate feticide.
Public opinion polls say that self-identified Catholics support abortion at about the same rate the general population does, and Catholics probably resort to abortion as often as do others. Part of the reason for this scandalous collapse of moral understanding and resolution surely is the bad example set by prominent pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
Given the life-destroying and soul-imperiling consequences of the scandal, I do not see how it can be considered merely optional for bishops to speak and act. Of course, different bishops may make different prudential judgments about whether individual persons guilty of exposing the unborn to abortion should be addressed on the issue of sacramental communion publicly or only privately.
But I do not see how a bishop can fulfill his duties without at least a public statement of the fact that Catholic promoters of abortion have by their persistence in grave injustice broken communion with Christ and the Church.
See the original interview on Zenit.org: Why the Warning to Pro-Abortion Politicians Was Right -- Even ObligatoryIsn't the Catholic Church still trying to force its beliefs on others?
The issue of human life is not a "dogma" or belief in the sense of the Creed. In other words, the Catholic Church is not conspiring to get Americans to accept its religious teachings. The issue of human life is one of natural law. Our own Declaration of Independence says that men are endowed with inalienable rights, among which are life, libery and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life is a right that belongs to the natural order that has been incorporated into American law, as well as the law of many other nations. This "belief" that killing innocent life is wrong has been shared by civilized people and nations throughout recorded history, and with good reason.
Q: What if someone says: "I believe that my position on choice is one that is consistent with my Catholic upbringing, which said that every person has a free will and has the responsibility to live their own lives in a way that they would have to account for in the end." (Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California, House Minority Leader)
A1: She justifies her pro-abortion position by invoking freedom of conscience, arguing that this is what the Catholic Church teaches. While it is true that the Catholic Church honors the role of conscience in making moral decisions, it explicitly emphasizes the need for a 'well-formed conscience.' By this it means that Catholics are obliged to acknowledge the central role of Catholic teaching in arriving at a just decision. Absent such a condition, anything could be justified. After all, Jeffrey Dahmer invoked his conscience in justifying murder and cannibalism, yet no one thinks what he did was just. (William Donohue, Catholic League president)
A2: "Although we must all follow our conscience, the task of conscience is not to create moral truth, but perceive it. It is quite possible for an individual to perceive the moral reality of a particular situation erroneously. Such a person may be sincere, but he or she is sincerely wrong.
"Catholics who publicly dissent from the Church's teaching on the right to life of all unborn children should recognize that they have freely chosen by their own actions to separate themselves from what the Church believes and teaches. They have also separated themselves in a significant way from the Catholic community.
"The Church cannot force such people to change their position; but she can and does ask them honestly to admit in the public forum that they are not in full union with the Church.
"One who practices such dissent, even in the mistaken belief that it is permissible, may remain a Catholic in some sense, but has abandoned the full Catholic faith. For such a person to express 'communion' with Christ and His Church by the reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is objectively dishonest." (Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark)
1. "I respect your views, but I have to represent all the people." Response: That's what we're trying to say to you. If you neglect the unborn, you are not representing all the people. Roe vs. Wade excludes them from protection; we demand that they be included. A public servant cannot legitimately ignore an entire segment of the public that is being destroyed.
2. "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but can't impose my views on others." Response: This is not a matter of views, but of violence. The law is supposed to protect human life despite the views of those who would destroy it.
3. "The government should not be involved in such a personal decision as abortion." Response: The government got "too involved" in abortion when it claimed to have the authority to deprive some human beings of their right to life. The Declaration of Independence asserts that government exists to secure the rights already bestowed by the Creator. Moreover, when somebody's "choice" destroys somebody else's life, that choice is no longer merely a personal, private matter.
4. "Legislators should not be practicing medicine." Response: We're not asking you to practice medicine, but to prevent the abuse of medicine. The practice of medicine is regulated by all kinds of laws that protect the lives of patients. All we ask is that the unborn be included in that protection.
5. "Abortion is the law of the land." Response: The "law of the land" can be changed, just as it was changed regarding slavery and segregation. Leadership means seeing the injustices that others miss, and inspiring people to utilize the methods the law permits to make necessary changes.
6. "I support women's rights and health." Response: That is precisely why you should examine the evidence, which is more plentiful than ever, that abortion is destructive of women's health, and listen to the growing voices of those who have been harmed by abortion. That is also why you should examine how the abortion industry, through unregulated and dangerous clinics, continues to deceive and exploit women.
7. "Abortion is just one of many issues; I embrace a consistent ethic of life." Response: The foundation of a house is only one of many parts of the house, but it is essential in order to build the other parts. That is why the Catholic bishops have repeatedly asserted that among the many interrelated issues within a consistent ethic, abortion deserves "urgent attention and priority " (Pastoral Plan, 2001).
8. "My office does not involve any decision-making about abortion." Response: Your position on abortion says a lot about your character and worldview. If you cannot stand up for the smallest of children, how will you stand up for the rest of us?
9. "Let's just agree to disagree." Response: We have the greatest respect for those who disagree with us. But when victims are oppressed, we don't sit back and "agree to disagree" with the oppressor. Rather, we intervene to save the victim. Abortion is not about beliefs; it's about bloodshed. Those who need protection need it despite the disagreement of others.
10. Finally, always use the best response to all the arguments: I vote!
|By Fr. Gary Coulter - Contact me||Go to Fr. Coulter's Homepage||Sign-in the Guestbook|
These pages are a personal viewpoint, while made by a Catholic priest, no endorsement by the Catholic Church is implied.
"Basically, when it comes to pro-abort Catholic politicians, their faith is so private to them that they would not even think of imposing it upon themselves." - Pete Vere