Thursday, January 2, 2014


No one seems to have noticed that at the Mass for Mary the Mother of God on New Year's Day, there was a specific Intercession (Universal Prayer) just for women and as I recall it, the reader (a woman) prayed that women imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, who from her virgin womb came forth the savior, that all women would find their vocation in Mary and protect the sanctity of life. (This is a paraphrase, but it certainly was a positive way to pray "against" abortion.)

So many traditionalist seem to think that Pope Francis is the most liberal pope ever and they gauge this on his apparel, both liturgical and otherwise and his pastoral sensibilities as he promotes the new evangelization. Heterodox Catholics or at least those who push the envelope toward heterdoxy think this pope is the most liberal ever yet they completely miss most of his gestures and his teachings, especially and most importantly his call to fidelity to the Magisterium and the pope and adherence to the "Deposit of Faith." These two things are the most evident signs of his orthodoxy that so many miss. They miss the substance of what the pope says and focus on the fluff!

In the interview below, Michael Coren hits the nail on the head when he decries the real threat to Catholicism and while unbridled secualarization in our culture is a threat, the primary threat is from within, from the academics in our Church in higher education--those who push our Catholics children to heterodoxy and ultimately out of the Church. The damage these academics have done to the Church in the last 50 years is the second biggest scandal in the Church second only to the sex abuse scandal. Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both tried to address this, but the failure of the actual remedy lies with the bishops. Pope Francis is trying to get bishops to be bishops and "sanctify, teach and rule" as "another vicar of Christ" in their own dioceses. The scandal of what has happened to Catholic higher education must be laid at the feet of local bishops and national conferences of bishops! The same is true with the devolution of the Liturgy on local bishops' watches!

This interview from the Brietbart blog confirms my theory. We have a very orthodox pope who protects the Deposit of Faith by calling everyone to fidelity to the Magisterium, yet he is pastorally progressive and his simplicity of dress and his gestures are symbols of this pastoral sensibility as he promotes the new evangelization:

Author Michael Coren on Pope Francis, Orthodoxy, and 'The Future of Catholicism'

Michael Coren didn't have to be Catholic. Actually, he's had several opportunities to walk away from the enterprise altogether. Born to a Jewish cab driver in Essex, England, in January 1959, he became a Roman Catholic in his 20s while still living in the U.K.

After moving to Canada in the late '80s, he abandoned the Catholic Church for evangelical Christianity. A journalist and author known for his bruising honesty, sharp wit, and often provocative style, Coren continued to have a strained relationship with Rome, even though he was married to a cradle Catholic and was raising his children in the faith.

In 2004, Coren recommitted himself to the Church and has become one of its most vigorous and plainspoken advocates. He's the author of fifteen books in total, including biographies of G. K. Chesterton, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. In Canada, Coren is the host of the talk show "The Arena" on the SUN News Network and writes a syndicated column for ten daily newspapers. Coren's previous books on Christianity are the modestly titled Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity and Why Catholics Are Right.

Now he's written The Future of Catholicism, published in November. A remarkably compact volume for the breadth of its title, it begins with the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in March 2013 and looks at the ways the Church may change, the ways it cannot change, the role of the pope's leadership, and the survival of Western Christendom in the face of secularization, indifference, and the rising influence of Islam.
Coren took time to answer some questions from Breitbart News on his views and prognostications.

What was the purpose of this book?

"It's not just for people outside the Church, for people in it as well. It was all about addressing all the most common questions: where the Church can change, and where it can't -- not won't, can't -- change. It cannot contradict Scripture. It can't suddenly break from the deposit of faith.

I have to say, there are chapters about various issues, including one on the pope. He is not a progressive; he is a reformer. He may reform the Curia and change the way the Church communicates, but the teaching remains the same. There's a lot of nonsense being written. People want stories, rubbish, about him being threatened by the mafia or not being a real pope. It's a huge digression from the real issues."

What did you discover about Pope Francis during your research?

"His orthodoxy and courage. I knew he was a very good man; I didn't realize how strong he'd been in Argentina. They may have a democracy there, but there are very unsavory people on both sides -- the hard left and the hard right -- who disagreed with him. He's always been a man of the people, taking public transport to work and so on. There are a lot of guns and a lot of dangerous people in Buenos Aires, so I was very impressed with that.

I was very impressed by the way he reached out to people who were not Catholic. It showed a weakness of media that people assumed he'd come from nowhere."

Today, many self-proclaimed Catholic colleges and universities are virtually indistinguishable from their liberal secular counterparts in their policies, campus life, and educational emphasis. The Cardinal Newman Society, which makes school recommendations based on Catholic identity -- both in instruction and culture -- doesn't list Notre Dame University or any Jesuit-run institution (such as Boston College, Gonzaga and Georgetown) on its list of faithful Catholic schools. Georgetown alumnus William Peter Blatty, author of "The Exorcist," has even brought a canon-law action against Georgetown to force it to reclaim its Catholic identity or renounce any ties to the Church. Should Catholics be concerned that the Church's proud tradition of higher education, which stretches back centuries, may be fading away?

"I don't really care what a bunch of Jesuits at Georgetown say -- it's a dying order. The seminaries today are full of very orthodox, top guys. So, I don't think we should worry too much about this. The reality is that mainstream Catholic education has been pretty much lost [in Canada] and the United States.

But there's a whole new generation of Catholic colleges -- Ave Maria, Christendom, Thomas Aquinas and so on -- that are doing wonderful work. The Church has always faced these sorts of challenges. They're not new. We musn't be imprisoned in our own age.

Yes, there are challenges. Yes, there are people -- God forgive them, because I find it hard to -- who have done enormous damage. They have robbed Catholics of their education and their faith. They will have a lot to answer for. But we can't worry too much about that. It is a smaller Church, but it still is the Church. It still has the only answers.

We have to struggle a bit. We have to listen to what the pope is saying. We have to explain to people what we believe and communicate the message in a more efficient manner."

What about Catholic parents who send their kids to college, only to have them lose their faith?

"You have to work out, with fear and trembling, your own path to knowing God's love. So, I get a little tired of people moaning that their kids are going to college and losing their faith... Well, what did they think would happen? Do they think they would go to a public university, full of non-Catholics or failed Catholics, and expect them to be reassured? No, this is not what happens. It's a nasty world out there.

There are Christians, as we speak, who are being beaten to death. We have to be a bit tougher; we really do."

On the other hand, information on Church teaching and history, official Vatican documents, and apologetics are available as never before. Is that helping?

"There are more resources available now than at any other time in human history. I talk about this in the book, actually. People get very upset, and they think it's all going to hell, but it's not. We need to put a bit of effort into this. We have more skilled apologists than we have ever had, often converts who evangelize the Church. Catholic Answers, they're doing absolutely marvelous work.

There are all these blogs and websites. We have publishers like Ignatius Press. Thirty-odd years ago, we had some pretty bad bishops, and we had priests who were virtually preaching heresy. Most of that is gone now. We have wonderful people in positions of authority. Let's hold onto that."

What are converts like yourself bringing into the Church?

"When you come into something afresh, you have to do a lot of the work yourself. You have to learn. Converts are frequently the most zealous. I think it's particularly energized Catholicism, because those coming from the Evangelical tradition have tried to apply Bible knowledge to the Church through the Catholic faith. It works wonderfully well, because, of course, the Church is the confirmation and continuity of Scripture.

Today people convert -- the Muslim world is different -- but people in the West convert because they believe. If you believe, you want to understand why you believe and what supports that system, so you do the work, not because you're better than anyone else, but because there's an interest there."

Whats the most important thing you hope people take away from your book?

"That it reassures people, particularly people who are more conservative. What I find regrettable is that there are more-conservative people in the Church who think this pope is not for them, that they're being let down, and "if only Benedict was still there."

They really musn't do that. Actually, they have to question their own faith, because this is fundamental -- Jesus gave us the Church; He gave us the papacy; He gave us the Magisterium. If we believe that, then we have to listen to the direct successor to the man He gave the keys of the kingdom to, St. Peter, and that is Pope Francis.

We can't play silly games. If we do that, we become what is known as Protestant. That's fine; if that's what you want to be, you must be that. But we believe in papal authority. He will not lead us astray; God gave us that guarantee. He's not leading us astray.

Because he might not be exactly the pope you wanted him to be, how dare you be so proud and arrogant to believe that he must be shaped in your image? You must be shaped more in his image. He's changing the conversation; he is making the world listen to the Church, which I'm afraid it hasn't been for too long. That's a wonderful thing.

I wish people would just get out there and do the work, rather than sitting there in their rooms obsessing. They should be tired, because they have so much work for what they believe. They wouldn't have time to worry. [They should] work on their prayer life and the Sacraments. Listen to what the pope is saying about sin and the work of the devil; he's not a liberal.
He's the pope."

MY FINAL COMMENT: Ditto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

"Make the salad taste WELL..."????????????

Anonymous said...

I want to believe that our Pope is indeed orthodox in his belief and teaching. But some of the things he says are disturbing. Unlike most people I don 't care that popes have lived in spartan rooms inside the Apostolic Palace but I do care when a pope makes questionable statements about the "obsession" of those involved in the pro life movement and about those Catholics who appreciate Tradition. In short, I love being a Catholic with all it's rich tradition of the past 2000 years. And I do not think it wise to through it all away. It seems to me that if anyone is obsessing it's the pope in regards to the poor. I'm not saying the Church hasn't been focused on the poor, it always has and it didn't start with Pope Francis. Also what is jarring is this pope's very uncharitable characterization of people who don't agree with his opinions. Pope Francis almost makes it seem like he thinks the Church has been wrong for the last 2000 years and is only now teaching the real meaning of the Gospel since he has been pope. To me that is cause for concern. And just the fact that so many people have to constantly correct, clarify, retract his statements is in itself a cause for extreme concern. I believe that the Holy Spirit is in charge, but the Spirit doesn't cause confusion or chaos. What is going on in Rome is unique in all of Catholic history. Pope Francis cannot change any dogma or doctrines of the Church but one gets the impression that if he could he would. It almost seems like he doesn't like the Catholic Church very much. How could he if he thinks this is wrong that's wrong, this isn't working etc. it's not even been a year. And just because large crowds of people who for the most part don't believe in the teachings of the Church are drawn to what has become a product of the media, doesn't mean that the Pope is doing what is right. He is going to great pains to not offend everyone who isn't traditional and that is troubling. But the Church gets what we deserve I guess. I'll just keep praying but I really am getting tired of being treated like an idiot when the pope says something really outrageous and every Catholic blogger is desperately trying to rationalize it and clarify it. That old saying is true, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

Ben in Maine said...

We must desperately regain traditional Catholic piety and worship as well. Of course, we must never allow externals to become the key aspects of our faith. Beauty must be a subset of truth, indeed.

But beauty compliments truth well, and beauty is in severe decline in modern Catholicism. Many people seek out pseudo-mysticism like Buddhism for the mysterious experience. What a shame that they have no clue about Eastern Catholic or Orthodox parishes!

Beauty will save the world.

REALLY enjoyed the interview with Mr. Coren :-)

Ben in Maine said...

As to the Anonymous gentleman's comment, I will say this: the Pope was absolutely correct about making the "obsession" comment.The Pope never said that we should abandon these serious positions- they are the beliefs of the Church!

For too long, conservatives have severely limited the scope of Pro-Life to opposing abortion. It is the flagship Pro-Life issue I grant you, but it is not the only issue. Pro-Life is not a singular political issue on a platform. Pro-Life is a multifaceted platform of varying positions. It is a broad worldview.

You can't be Pro-Life while also poisoning the air, polluting streams and water supplies, and in general creating havoc in the ecosystems. Humans and all creatures rely on Creation for survival. Why bother to fight for the life of unborn humans in the womb if theya re only going to live in an uninhabitable world?

The Catholic Faith teaches us that Life is sacred FROM birth TO natural death, and that means all stages in between.

In my humble opinion, faithful Catholics are neither liberal nor conservative. Christ can not be bound to the failing secular political philosophies that only lead us to perdition. Christ is the way to Life eternal, not Obama or Reagan, Marx or Ayn Rand.

Let us create a true culture of Life in the world. I pray God that this occurs in our life times.

Anonymous 2 said...

Ben in Maine:

Thank you for both of your excellent posts.

Regarding the first, there is no need actually to look outside Roman Catholicism, which possesses its own strong mystical tradition that, sadly, has been muted for far too long. For example, even today most Catholics think of Saint Thomas Aquinas as a paragon of reason, which he was, but he was also a mystic. The two tendencies are not incompatible, even if the results of the former may have seemed as straw to St. Thomas towards the end of his life:

Regarding your second post, I couldn’t agree more. And what you say also finds support in St. Thomas’s Being-mysticism as discussed in the above linked article.

Anonymous 2 said...

Father McDonald: This book on “The Future of Catholicism” seems like an excellent book. I have read the Introduction online and am looking forward to reading the entire book. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

WSquared said...

Agreed with Ben in Maine. On both his posts.

If anyone is worried about Pope Francis re tradition, then read him through the EF. That's one step further from Fr. Z's "read Francis through Benedict." And I'm serious: if you read any of the Seewald-Ratzinger interviews, you can actually see Francis coming. He's forcing us to think on our feet. That's a good thing.

I'll just keep praying but I really am getting tired of being treated like an idiot when the pope says something really outrageous and every Catholic blogger is desperately trying to rationalize it and clarify it.

Then see it as an opportunity for us to be kept on our toes. Some of us already know what this is like in our own families-- nobody, it seems, knows how to bash the Church, the Pope, our priests and religious in some unfair ways like Catholics do. The world doesn't speak Catholic-ese. If "if the world hates you, know that it hated Me first" is any indication, then we need to be ready to be treated like idiots anyway.

Coren is spot on about the moaning over kids losing their faith in college. And discouraging them from going to college isn't the answer, because we are called to witness. What WILL help is knowing that unless we believe, we will not understand, and what we are therefore to do is to engage: if God is Who He is, He can not only take our questions, but He loves our questions. Part of what often stops us from seeing the latter is that we expect answers to be easy and instantaneous.

I was one of those kids who lost their faith in college, but I came back-- there were several waypoints back. One was a student in my class on our secular university's campus. After returning to the Church, I asked him how he stayed Catholic in college. It was because he took responsibility for his own spiritual life, and he stuck close to the Newman Center. Being Catholic also means thinking like one-- either Catholicism can speak to the whole of the human person, or it can't. The best any parent can do is to nurture a strong, prayerful, thinking, spiritual life in the home.

No parent can or should reasonably expect that twelve years of going through the motions at Catholic school are going to be enough for their children to remain Catholic, when any person is tasked with thinking with their faith and nourishing it. A childish faith can't sustain us as adults.

Thinking with the Church isn't memorization, and just doing the "right" Catholic things, ticking the right Catholic boxes, and "getting all your Sacraments." It's a lived faith, and it's a faith that respects and nourishes reason: another waypoint back for me was Pope Benedict. There are also other young Catholics who say that being on a crunchy liberal campus actually strengthened their faith, because they were forced to reckon with what they professed to believe, but perhaps didn't know as well as they should. These are the kinds of young Catholics who aren't lazy, and who know when they begin to smell a rat after their hearts and minds both protest often enough.

Those complaining about Francis being taken out of context need to calm down, because God has a sense of humor and can bring good out of a ton of stupid: if it hadn't been for the "condom" thing, I'd not have gotten enraged enough to go and read Light of the World (anyone remember how the media was abuzz with how Pope Benedict had "changed Church teaching" and said that "condoms are okay"? Yeah). That was my first introduction to the thought of Joseph Ratzinger. He's been great to think with ever since-- and one of the first persons to show me that the Church has my back.

John said...

The bishops with the exception of a minority, consisting mainly of those appointed by B. XVI, have been largely inactive giving minimum support re. the pro-life agenda.

Why? Various reasons: lack of intestinal fortitude fearing secular media attacks and theologically modernist sentiments are probably the most frequent causes of their negligent behavior. (Actually, their modernist leanings have effectively squashed any attempt implementing Ex Corde Ecclesia as well.)

Anonymous 10:24AM presents the Catholic progressive canard invented by pro-abortion political operatives. They would like to convince you that those who oppose abortion cannot possibly favor other but less exigent pro-life issues. Of course, the progressives justify voting for any progressive candidate even if they are pro-abortion supporters as long as, say, they are in favor of raising the minimum wage(see: for example, a list of Democrat party Congressional leadership).

Finally, to mitigate my critique of our bishops, I must say Pope Francis has made widely disseminated remarks that effectively makes any pro-life US bishop to hesitate supporting pro-life causes because, of course, one cannot be more Catholic than the Pope.

Yes, I know, the Pope is orthodox on the pro life issues including abortion (but wants to hear less talk about it) but any careless remark will be twisted and used by others so inclined to bolster otherwise untenable positions. The Pope and his spokesmen can walk such a remark back all day long, however, neither the secular media nor their Catholic collaborators take notice of the Holy Father's basically orthodox stance.

The Pope is orthodox but Anonymous 10:24AM can hardly claim to be, not with a real Catholic conscience.

John said...

Sorry, Anonymous, my comments apply to Ben in Main....I am guilty of being careless before before posting.

rcg said...

I do not agree with Anonymous' conclusions, but I understand his concerns. I do not think the Pope has called us idiots, nor attacked anyone. I do think he is playing on a bigger stage now and notwithstanding his stewardship in Argentina there are people, and Satan, that are going to use him and what he says to attack the Church. So I do think he needs to be much more careful, and he seems to be moving in that direction.

What he is seeking is a way to say that people are sinning, grievously, but that we are not going to persecute them for it and they need come into the arms of their Mother. When he says we should not "judge" or "obsess" people are taking it as capitulation. This is dangerously close to the mind set that sustained in the sex abuse crisis. Sometimes choices must be made and action is needed. I have not heard a lot about Contrition so far.

I would like for Pope Francis to focus on finding a way to get all the sinners to inquire about Truth through Holy Mother Church while respecting that there is an echelon of development in that regard. There is a Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful in EF and the division exists as the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the NO. There is a clear benefit attending either Low or High Mass. I am concerned that the Church will become a fad and the value of worship will be diluted by the mob with people blathering gender neutral, or even gender confused Creeds and Confiteors, green prefaces, and endless intercessions for the poor and unborn.

So I like what Coren says and I like it when I see people showing renewed interest in the Church because they don't feel threatened. I do think one can be compassionate, as Pope Francis clearly is (and Pope Benedict clearly was and is, too) while standing firm on the Truth. Satan is real and the source of our pain, but eventually the Pope is going to have to remind us of our part in the matter. That may be an interesting day.

Anonymous 2 said...


Please help me out here. I have re-read Ben in Maine’s post. I recognize that Ben may have made an overbroad generalization regarding “conservatives” (I say “may” because I would need to know how he defines “conservatives” – perhaps he defines them tautologically as meaning those Catholics who have tended to focus exclusively on abortion in the continuum of “pro-life” issues). But with that possible exception, how is what he says “unorthodox” and lacking “a real Catholic conscience”? It seems to be perfectly in line with Catholic teaching and with the position of Pope Francis who, as you say, is quite orthodox (Compare, for example, sections 209-16, and more broadly sections 186-216, of Evangelii Gaudium).

Православный физик said...

Anon @ 10:24 AM

I tend to side with your comments...I do have a bit to add though

And while I am with the other commenters, the Pope didn't call us idiots (he might as well have though), the fact that no clarification in regards to what has been said hasn't been provided tells anyone more than what they need to know....

Let us pray for Pope Francis, he needs them

rcg said...

I don't see anything wrong with Ben's comment concerning conservatives and abortion. I totally agree. He does not say forsake that opposition, but to expand the opposition into other areas. It may be that conservatives expect people to be able to reason better than they do. We need a broader front that not only puts up a sign post in direct defense of Life, but makers swell back on the road that guides people in a better direction. It is not apparent to many people that Life starts at conception. I will confess to a degree in biochemistry and did quite a bit of work with embryology. It is fairly well accepted that viability establishes the value of life for many in that field. If people who think on this topic quite a bit come to this conclusion then the average barroom philosopher will be happy yo accept that conclusion and move on to the next topic.

Rood Screen said...

When has Pope Francis ever spoken of an "obsession" of those involved in the pro-life movement? He has made statements about the secular news media's hostile probing into Church teaching on moral issues, but I've never read any criticism from him directed against the pro-life movement.

Anonymous 2 said...


Unless I am mistaken, I believe people have in mind Pope Francis’s interview with Father Spadaro that Father McDonald posted about on September 19 (see “Pastoral Bombshell From Interview with Pope Francis in Jesuit Journals”), in which Pope Francis also said the following:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

“I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”

George said...


My question to you would be : "What good is the condition of the environment to someone who is denied the right to existence?" The right to life is a fundamental right upon which hinges all other rights and concerns. It is paramount to all other rights.
I can only speak from personal experience, but the pro-life people I know are not fixated on just one issue. The care of the environment is certainly an important issue but what is it compared to one human life? Do you not believe that Jesus Christ would have come down to earth and suffered and died as he did for the redemption of just one human life? If only one human being that needed to be redeemed existed? God can create untold earths equal to our own but none of them could respond return love to His Divine love as one human being can. Not one of them could ever know love and serve Him.

From Christifideles Laici(Bl. John Paul II):

"the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination."

One can find similar statements in other Encyclical, Exhortations and Apostolic letters.

Rood Screen said...


Christ told the apostles to, "teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you". The Church must convert the world to Christ, teaching everything she knows about faith and morals.

It would would be a distortion of the Gospel for the Church to speak "only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods".

At any rate, he doesn't say a single word against the pro-life movement, which is inter-religious. He only addresses the pastoral activity of the Church, at least in the selection you've quoted.

Anonymous 2 said...

FrJBS: I agree with you. I was merely trying to identify which words of Pope Francis people likely have in mind when they say that Pope Francis talked about the obsession of those in the pro-life movement.

George: You make a good and forceful point about the immeasurable value of a human life. But doesn’t this sensibility have to be manifested in all areas that concern direct or indirect threats to human life, such as capital punishment, violent crime, war, disease, extreme weather events, etc. in addition to matters such as abortion and euthanasia? Yes, I understand that these other situations are distinguishable in moral reasoning, but the end result is the same – the invaluable human being is dead.

George said...

Anonymous 2 I know what you are saying and I don't disagree but...

I have followed the Pro-life movement for a long time. I belong to a pro-life group. I have for years(although I am not a person of great means) made contributions to Pro-life groups such as Priests for Life and Human Life International and I regularly read their literature. The priests who lead these groups are faithful to church teaching on ALL issues.

I can only speak from personal experience, but the pro-life people I know are not fixated on just one issue (although for the groups I mentioned above, it is the primary focus). At least I can say that as far as faithful pro-life Catholics I know. For some of those I know or have known that don't belong to any religious denomination or have a tenuous affiliation to one there is a bifurcation when it comes to to say, capital punishment. Even with some of those, it is not cut and dried. I once presented one of them with this question: Would you agree to doing away with capital punishment if at the same time we did away with abortion?". The person answered in the affirmative.

Don't you find it interesting (as I do),that since Roe versus Wade there has been an ever-increasing impetus to abolish the death penalty. There has been a concern on the part of many who advocate to end the death penalty that there is always the possibility an innocent person could be executed. This is not the best reason to oppose it, but it will do. Since 1973, Ten states have ended the use of the death penalty(two others did so, but have since reinstated it). Isn't it also interesting that just
about all these states are ones with the highest abortion rates in the country (NY, MA, Ill, MD etc.).

So for the residents of these states (with very large Catholic populations) there is no consistent
ethic on the issue (as one would hope for). Abortion is always and in every case the destruction of INNOCENT human life.

Anonymous 2 said...


For you and for me and for other traditional and orthodox Catholics, yes, abortion is always the destruction of innocent human life. And, of course, much of the distinction between abortion and many of the other situations in moral reasoning has to do with the innocence and complete vulnerability of that life. But what are we saying here? It is more justifiable to kill someone who has been born and reached the age of moral discernment so they are capable of individual sin? What about children who have not yet reached that age and who are also still quite vulnerable? What about those who sin (everyone else) but who are forgiven, many of whom may also be quite vulnerable in various ways? See on this again Evangelli Gaudium at sections 209-16.

But the problem goes even deeper than that doesn’t it? The issues in the preceding paragraph are issues within Catholicism and other denominations that accept that abortion is the destruction of innocent human life. But as an active participant in the pro-life movement you well know that there is a huge metaphysical divide between us and so many of our fellow citizens who do not accept the fundamental premise of the argument, namely that there is a human life as of the time of conception. I do not know how to bridge that metaphysical divide. However, I do think we can work together with others, even those who do not share our premise, to reduce the number of abortions by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies through permissible means of birth control and by transforming unwanted pregnancies that do occur into wanted ones. This is quite apart from any criminal prohibitions or other legislative efforts to restrict abortions. In the ideal world no pregnancy would end up being unwanted. But then I am a dreamer.

George said...

I agree with what the Holy father wrote in Evangelium Gaudium. For an orthodox faithful Catholic
there is a consistent ethic on moral issues.I do know for some inside the church and many outside there is not this consistent ethic. How many people I have become familiar with who advocate for the environment, the homeless and immigration reform (which is all good) and yet have no problem with same-sex marriage, illicit drug use, and pornography. While one hand is doing good the other is doing harm and so this will not work toward a better society we should all want. How much violent crime have we seen on the streets of Chicago (a city with also a high rate of abortions) and yet a far more pressing concern in the state that city resides in (until they abolished it in 2011) was the death penalty. I know of and have met people and do not even have a religious affiliation and yet are far more consistent across the spectrum of issues which Pope Francis wrote about than some of those who profess to be christian. Some of these are outdoorsman types who of course are much more familiar with the environment and what is going on there and the effect of pollution. Some of them have daughters so of course they are concerned about human slavery and prostitution. They also are against abortion and same-sex marriage. The problem is what is promoted in the media,academia and in modern types of entertainment.
We have cleaned up the physical environment quite significantly in the U.S over the last 40 years and
we should certainly consider what obligation we have to help other countries with their environmental problems.
The more salient problem in our world is that the psycho-social and spiritual environment has become very polluted and we should be very concerned about that. Some of this we can't do much about but we need to do what we can where we can to solve some of the pressing issues we face and more frequent and fervent prayer would be of the most importance in this regard.