Saturday, March 18, 2006

CERC's Fr. Williams wants authentic "Pro-Life Democrats"

Get the story here.

Here's the heart of his argument:
More “progressive” Catholics have often had recourse to the image of “big tent” Catholicism, appealing for a broader acceptance of heterodox opinions within the Church. The image is apt, in that Catholicism does embrace a rich and varied array of opinions, emphases, schools of thought, theologies, spiritualities, and apostolates. At the same time, even the most enormous of tents has its boundaries, beyond which it is possible to stray. The statement makes a feeble attempt at defending the claim that the “big tent” of Catholicism can cover abortion.

That is a tough case to make. Just as you don’t have the polytheistic wing of Islam or the seal-clubbing wing of Greenpeace, you don’t have the pro-abortion wing of the Catholic Church. Certain non-negotiable moral standards define Catholicism just as surely as doctrinal beliefs do. We all advocate a big tent, but it can stretch only so far until it rips asunder.

Moral teaching is just as essential to Christianity as its doctrinal beliefs are. The earliest Christian writings, such as the Didache and the Letter of Barnabas speak of the “two ways,” one of which leads to life and the other to death. Both texts (and this is in the first and second centuries of the Christian era) speak explicitly of abortion as an element of the second way — that of death — and as directly opposed to the Christian spirit. Since its beginnings, Christianity has viewed abortion as an abhorrent crime against God and man.

To justify their position, the authors of the statement appeal to the so-called “primacy of conscience.” Yet conscience is not a pass to excuse wrongdoing. Would it make any difference if a serial killer claimed he was following his conscience when he murdered his victims? Even if the politicians are following their conscience, Catholic morality makes an important distinction between good conscience and bad conscience, and a conscience that sees nothing wrong with killing the innocent falls decidedly in the second category. Our first duty concerning conscience is to form it according to the moral law, and especially for a Catholic, no doubt can exist regarding the objective evil of abortion.

True, the statement acknowledges the “undesirability” of abortion, and the signers hasten to assure their constituencies that they do not “celebrate its practice.” That they do not “celebrate” the greatest social ill of our time may prove cold comfort to those who spend much of their free time actively campaigning for its abolition. And as regards its “undesirability,” this poorly chosen term will likely provoke only indignation. Hangnails are undesirable; under-seasoned salads are undesirable; lines at the cash register are undesirable. Abortion is repugnant and evil. Can you imagine a politician stepping forward and (with much hand-wringing) asserting that he finds rape “undesirable” and that he does not “celebrate” its practice, but that he will not stop defending legislation that permits it? Such a politician would rightly be ridden out of town on a rail.
Absolute Individualism demands the sacrifice of the unborn to Moloch in the sacrament of Abortion. Only that completely unfettered right ensures the free practice of the One Thing that Matters. Only the multi-billion dollar, government subsidized business predicated on that right facilitates that practice. The ka-ching and ideological factors are far too Reasonable for the serious power-brokers among the Democrats to defy. Openly shilling for abortion, however, offends many Fools. They apparently don't foam-at-the-mouth for an opportunity to earn money or score political points by killing unborn children.

Therefore, the Democrats tread carefully. How can they do that? Well, earn back the Catholic vote. The only way to possibly accomplish that is through obfuscation. Sublimate the Church's clear moral teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion with her prudential judgements on her other teachings. Like Solidarity and the Preferential Option for the Poor. Like dressing up "personally opposed, but.." in the cloak of "conscience." Add in the appeal to good ol' fashion American independence and individualism, and behold: Democrats have the perfect political cover.

Fr. Williams joins the growing list of teachers and shepherds that point out their nakedness. More like him, please!

Update: Tony of Catholic Pillow Fight provides a tactful heads up:
I guess this paragraph was so important you had to post it twice.
The misprint has been corrected! Thanks, Tony!