I Write to you with a Heavy Heart

archishop-alfred-hughes

Archbishop Alfred Hughes sent a letter to Jenkins yesterday regarding the Obama homage on May 17, 2009:

 Dear Father Jenkins: 

I write to you with a heavy heart after the announcement that the University of Notre Dame has invited President Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree.  I fail to see how the decision to invite him corresponds with the decision taken by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with regard to the providing of honors and recognition to public figures who take positions and promote policies that are in direct opposition to the fundamental truths rooted in universal natural law and presented in Catholic Church teaching.

Many of us recognize that President Obama brings unique gifts to his role as President at this crucial time in our history.  He obviously has a gift for communication.  He also seems to seek practical solutions to the huge problems that face our country.  His election provides an historic moment for our country in that the last hurdle for African Americans, who have struggled so hard to experience dignity and opportunity, are represented now in the presidency.  We all want him to succeed.

But dignity and equality belong also to our unborn brothers and sisters.  We cannot compromise our Church’s clear and unflagging opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research by providing honors and a platform for those who deny the humanity and dignity of the most frail creatures in our midst.  Nor can we accept the denial of conscience protection in the delivery of health or social services.  I respect the office of the President of the United States.  I pray for him.  As Catholics we need to enter into civil debate with him on the fundamental issues on which we disagree.  We work with him on those issues with which we agree.  But we do not supply a platform or grant an honor to someone who not only is so wrong on such a fundamental issue but is aggressively pursuing policies which exclude the human rights of the unborn.

The University of Notre Dame used to be the flagship Catholic university in the United States.  I regret that we are not experiencing that leadership and integrity.  I know that Bishop D’Arcy has worked with you to address this and other issues.  I want this letter to express support for his efforts. 

As indicated at the beginning of this letter I write with a heavy heart.  I have appreciated the wonderful collaborative efforts which the University of Notre Dame has offered to this archdiocese and is planning for the future.  I hope that these can continue to move forward in a fruitful way.  But our common efforts to offer education, healthcare and social services to those in need must be premised upon a respect for the right to life of all human beings.  God grant us the grace to serve the truth together.

Sincerely in the Lord,

Most Reverend Alfred C. Hughes
Archbishop of New Orleans

Hattip to Father Z.  The emphases in the letter are his.

Here a story on the letter.  The comments on the story are instructive for any Catholics deluded enough to believe that hatred of the Church is not a growing problem.

61 Responses to I Write to you with a Heavy Heart

  • The comments section on that site are always vicious, as bad they are, it was worse when Hughes was fighting the mess over parish closings (a shrinking city, priest shortage, and 100 million in damages from a hurricane and people still are upset that you have to close some parishes).

    Hughes usually isn’t one for controversy, so I was very surprised when I saw that he had stepped into this debate. That he would is a sign of how important this is to the bishops.

  • ‘We Catholics are in danger of becoming known not by how we love but by how we hate.’ –John Kavanaugh

  • Mark:

    Are you just posting this quote around? You posted it at VN’s thread on Bishop Dinardo’s comments too.

    Moreover, Archbishop Hughes’s letter is hardly hateful. If anything it conveys a sense of great sadness, which is unique in a political culture that prizes outdoing one another in self-righteous moral outrage.

  • You got me Mr. DeFrancisis I do hate abortion. Of course I hate it because I love unborn kids, so maybe that gets me off the hook.

  • You got me Mr. DeFrancisis I do hate abortion. Of course I hate it because I love unborn kids, so maybe that gets me off the hook.

    Where does your loving draw the line?

  • Mark that quote is at the core of what I think is wrong with this whole blasted ND situation.

    I don’t think we can gauge what is possible, though, by a rabble on the Internet anymore than we can accurately perceive a man’s heart who is overcome with the bloodlust of the mob. We will never convert, or defeat, the mob. It will always be there.

    We will only be able to inspire individuals who come together to form communities of faith and charity, by whose good deeds in the name of Christ all of society will come to know exactly where we stand. When we live with, among and like the pagans, when the petty concerns that consume their lives consume ours, it doesn’t matter what we profess to believe – actions speak louder than words.

  • “We Catholics are in danger of becoming known not by how we love but by how we hate.”

    In other words:

    Catholics,

    Get with it — show how much you love by defending & promoting acts of murder that hate (particularly, against innocent children).

  • “When we live with, among and like the pagans…”

    Does sacrificing millions of children on the altar of Moloch count as such?

    Or is that merely a petty concern that should not get in the way of our ‘Catholic brotherhood’?

    Did not St. Paul scold the Galatians, to the point of even calling them stupid, when they were committing error?

    Or are we supposed to simply let things like the murder of innocent children go, all because we don’t want to disturb the peace of the so-called Christian community (let alone, the consciences of certain folks) and for now on start calling evil ‘good’?

  • E,

    Why don’t you relax. I usually don’t end up in a snarky argument with a person until at least 5 posts after the disagreement has begun!

    You need to stop making assumptions about everyone who doesn’t share your exact level and frequency of apoplectic rage at a given situation – so do all of us, so do all Americans.

    As a matter of fact, yes, abortion IS a pagan practice, and even Aristotle, whom I highly respect as a great thinker, promoted it (not for women, of course, but population control).

    And yes, Paul did scold the Galatians, but do you know what else? Those Christians also cared for them. Recall the Roman emperor that saw Christianity as a threat because the “Galileans” fed his people as well as their own. They were conquering pagan idolatry with love – imagine that, by actually following strictly to the letter what Jesus taught about loving one’s enemies, they managed to succeed. God favors those who heed His Word.

    No, we don’t “let it go” – abortion is evil and we denounce it. But lets not pretend that denouncing it is really opposing it. Its a first step but without the steps that must follow it really is nothing but hot air and people, naturally, rightly or wrongly, will judge us by what we do, not what we say.

  • Yes, as I quoted in another thread:

    ‘We Catholics are in danger of becoming known not by how we love but by how we hate.’ John Kavanaugh.

    Many of us, it sadly seems, take our lists of official doctrine as the combative, but fundamental basis for our Catholic life, making it as our primary task to guard these truths and attack that which contradicts or does not fully comply. The outside world then sees from us primariy what appears most as our hate toward it.

    The pernicious error here is that we think that truth is ultimately about the ‘insurance’ propositions for our personal salvation, that we are to cling to defensively and utilize offensively, against the fallen world of which we have somehow escaped. Of course doctrine anf teaching are important, but they do not take us fully yo the heart of the matter.

    We miss the fact that truth ultimately is the faithful disclosure of Trintarian, communal, tri- personal love, in which we are to transformatively reside and to which we to invite others, through our acts of self-emptying love, ever so humbly yet efficiaciously mirroring the courtesy and kindly concern of our Savior, Christ Jesus showed us in his invitation into divine life. And only this type of truth ultimately changes hearts (and minds).

  • I don’t see how not speaking up against abortion and those Catholics who would actually defend Pro-aborts and the various policies which promote it is such an awful act.

    It seems those individuals who would support such heinous acts are to be heralded as amongst the virtuous whereas those who dare speak against them are to be condemned as the actual villains.

    I suppose it is a fitting twist in an already twisted world where killing innocent children is deemed not an evil but, on the contrary, an actual right.

  • Joe,

    No, we don’t “let it go” – abortion is evil and we denounce it. But lets not pretend that denouncing it is really opposing it. Its a first step but without the steps that must follow it really is nothing but hot air and people, naturally, rightly or wrongly, will judge us by what we do, not what we say.

    Inviting Obama to speak at a Catholic university is an action. Speaking out against it is an action. Denying UND funding and removing it’s right to be called Catholic is an action. Standing and praying is an action, aiding mothers who are the targets of the abortions is an action.

    Are you ok with all these actions, or should we toss some out?

  • “Many of us, it sadly seems, take our lists of official doctrine as the combative, but fundamental basis of our Catholic life, making it as our primary task to guard these truths and attack that which contradicts it or does not comply to it. The outside world then sees from us primarily what appears most as our hate toward it.”

    So, instead of “guard[ing] these truths” and standing up against the malevolent forces which “contradict it or does not comply to it”, you would instead have us compromise the truths of the Faith and, rather, simply keep silent?

    This wholly contradicts what Jesus, the Apostles, and all the Saints of Christendom did —

    These did not give into the Wiles of the World but rather spoke for and in defense of the Truth, even to the extent of being hated by the World (since, after all, they were not of it) because rather than gaining it and losing their souls in the process (since, often, they would preach against it), they knew and stood by the Truth, even at the cost of their own lives.

    Indeed, if our actual objective as Christians is to love and be loved by this World, we fail to be Christians.

    There’s a reason why the World hated Christ and those who preached for him.

    It was often because of the Truths preached that was, for the most part, so unpleasant to hear — especially in the ears of the worldly.

    “If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you.” Jn 15:18

    “If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Jn 15:19

    However, Catholic moderns have so succumbed to the post-modernist notion of pluralism so much so that they’ve distorted the Traditional message of the Gospel, even as made evident in the lives of the Saints, to preaching a new gospel that runs thus:

    “Love the World — Preach nothing that would so offend it! For what matters most is loving and being loved by the World, even at the expense of compromising Truth! Shame on you should you do the contrary!”

  • “It seems those individuals who would support such heinous acts are to be heralded as amongst the virtuous…”

    By whom? If this is what you think either Mark or I are doing, you are way out of line and you need to check yourself. You’re letting rage cloud your rational faculties. Stop it.

    We live under a pagan regime, not Christendom. We have to accept that reality and work on concrete ways to change the culture from within, like a virus, not an attack dog. That is how every movement succeeds.

    And Matt,

    I’m really sad that you would even ask me that. In any case, I was talking about OUR actions, so I fail to see the relevance of your point. I know you’re a bright fellow, so, I’m going to assume that you saw red and charged instead of thinking this one through.

  • The president of the university clearly stated the the commencement address platform and the conferral honorary law degree are not in any way to be taken as an endorsement or condonement of Obama’s position on abortion and ESCR issues.

  • And as for this…

    “There’s a reason why the World hated Christ and those who preached for him.”

    Yes! And there’s a reason why Christianity went from being universally hated to universally embraced in 300 years, which in today’s information society is more like 30.

  • Joe,

    I’m really sad that you would even ask me that. In any case, I was talking about OUR actions, so I fail to see the relevance of your point. I know you’re a bright fellow, so, I’m going to assume that you saw red and charged instead of thinking this one through.

    Those are our actions, at least the Catholics I affiliate with, I suspect many on this blog do the same. I don’t see red, I see equivocation. Can the condescension, it’s unbecoming.

    The Catholic Church started hated and has always been hated by many in the world. The days of universal embracing of Christianity died during the “enlightenment”. They may rise again, but not from when we compromise.

    Mark D.,

    so what?

  • Matt,

    With all due respect, until you show evidence of yourself as a Christian interloculator who attempts to hear and actually understand what your dialogical partner is saying, I see no point in trying to have a conversation with you.

  • Matt,

    Why did you include “inviting Obama to speak at a Catholic university” on that list, then? That isn’t our action.

    As for the rest I do embrace them, but why don’t you can the accusatory question? Why would you even ask me a question that you think you already know the answer to anyway?

  • e,

    I’ve gow news for you. The world hates us not only because we spraekin the name of Christ, but also because we fail miserably to live up to our name as Christians.

    I would not get so haughty whenever you encounter the world’s resistance. As the Church with Christ at its head and with Mary in her unconditional “yes”, we are saintly and virginally. But as a Church who basks in its pride and not the self-expending glory of its Savior and spouse, we are unfaithful harlots. And the world sees this all too clearly.

    And I wonder if the bloody, inter-Christian squabblings, in which all parties shared some serious blame, had anything to do with the perceived attractiveness of the Enlightenment?

    Have some humble self-reflection. We are not and were never told we would be a Church triumphant.

  • Joe,

    For somebody who adamently consuls about not forming assumptions about others, you’ve formed quite a variety concerning myself.

    Although, it’s a strange coincidence how when certain Catholics start speaking on behalf of the Truth and wholly defend it, there are those so peeved at this that they start engaging in platitudes in some sort of feigned moral high-ground effort to wrestle attention away from the substance of the actual wrongs being committed by those who hold and actually promote error such as abortion.

    When a Pro-life Catholic says:

    “Abortion is wrong — those who promote it are wrong since abortion is the killing of innocent children!”

    There are Catholics who, in turn, say:

    “What hate you Pro-lifers demonstrate toward your fellow man! Do you not recognize the sort of hate that is spewed forth from your own mouths???”

    Sometimes, it might be best to say:

    “Abortion is wrong, killing of innocent children is wrong — but since it is hateful to preach thus, I will simply say that because I love you as a fellow brother/sister in Christ, I will not say so but commend you on it!”

  • Joe,

    I honestly don’t know the answer, since I’ve only seen your posts a few times.

    that quote is at the core of what I think is wrong with this whole blasted ND situation….But lets not pretend that denouncing it is really opposing it. Its a first step but without the steps that must follow it really is nothing but hot air and people, naturally, rightly or wrongly, will judge us by what we do, not what we say.

    When you say things like this you’re trying to shutdown opposition to an evil which is occurring, and I would like to know exactly how you parse it. What is the “blasted situation”? That Obama was invited or that there is moral outrage and active opposition seeking to reverse it?

    Don’t avoid answering my question, just answer it.

  • Mark (& Joe),

    Okay, you’ve won —

    I surrender.

    Abortion is a good thing and we shouldn’t call others out on it but simply let them promote it, even globally in fact.

    Shame on me for ever speaking up against it and, most especially, against those who are for it.

    Also, to speak up against the Son of Man, Obama, concerning abortion (and, in particular, those acts which would aggrandize and even go so far as to seemingly legitimize the position of such proponents) is surely an offense against God Himself.

    I am thus a horrible, unfaithful Christian.

    I’ll go to my local Pro-Life chapter and start telling them to close shop because speaking for Life is after all, in all actuality, a demonstration of hate and not Christian. at all.

    In fact, whenever we speak up against these things (such as the bloody murdering of millions of innocent children) and against those who are for it (where even the slightest utterance concerning thus should be deemed a mortal sin in and of itself), we are merely showing ourselves to be but unfaithful harlots.

    You’ve shown me the error of my ways.

    The truly Christian are the Pro-aborts.

    They are the ones who quite rather nobly live up to the name ‘Christian’ and their work of defending abortion as well as pro-abort politicians (and their policies that significantly promote it) is actually a corporal work of mercy.

    God bless them. Every one.

    Hail the Vox-Novans!

    Saints Pelosi & Biden, Pray For Us!

  • Mark, I’ve got news for you. The world hates us because we try to convince it not to do what it wants to do. It then uses our inevitable imperfections to discredit our admonitions. The cry of hypocrisy is today’s last refuge of the scoundrel. Conforming one’s actions to one’s conscience is difficult and never done perfectly; so much easier to just conform one’s conscience to one’s actions and cry hypocrite at the imperfections of others.

  • e,

    I don’t think you’re characterizing Joe and Mark accurately.

  • Mike Petrik,

    Excellent Comments!

    (Also, I’m glad you’re still visiting the Catholic blogs! Haven’t seen you for quite a while since JA.O!)

    DarwinCatholic,

    If I’m in error, I apologize; however, it doesn’t seem to be that way.

    Error (especially that concerning Abortion) should never be embraced, defended or rationalized, even if unwittingly or through sheer obfuscation due to political (the sheer benefit of various entitlements) or even personal ends (such as to salve the collective conscience); no matter how the world views us — even if that should include suffering the enmity of our own fellow brothers & sisters in Christ because what we happen to preach (which is Truth) is not what they’d like to hear or proves to be such a matter of intolerably great inconvenience.

  • I deleted your last comment Mr. Karlson. Your mischaracterization of what Mr. Petrik was saying crossed a line. I am also placing you in moderation for the time being.

  • e.

    I don’t think Mark and Joe are trying to argue that abortion is good or that it’s okay to support abortion. However, they do seem to be put off by the strong reaction against providing Obama with this honor. I would surmise that’s probably because on issues other than abortion they find themselves more in sympathy with Obama than with many conservatives, and thus they suspect us conservatives piling on the Obama-honoring as mainly having ulterior motives for being worked up. (And we do, but I think we’re also dead right that it’s inappropriate to give him this honor.)

  • I agree with DarwinCatholic. e. neither Mr. DeFrancisis nor Joe are making pro-abort arguments. I will not delete your comment since Darwin has responded to it, but I will ask you to refrain from mischaracterizing the arguments that others are making. I appreciate and share your passion for the pro-life cause, but in my combox threads I want people to deal with the arguments actually being made by other commenters.

  • Now I wish I HAD stuck to my no-blogging-during-Lent resolution :)

    The problem, as I see it, is that devotion to even the most noble possible cause does not magically cure one’s fallen nature, nor does it eliminate temptations to pride, anger, resentment, and frustration.

    My guess is that probably 95 percent of blog comments that are labeled as “hateful” are motivated not by actual hatred (a genuine desire to see evil, physical harm or eternal damnation visited upon someone) but by simple frustration with the inability of other commenters to “see” what seems glaringly obvious or logical to you.

    When we combine this natural temptation with all the frustration that comes with embracing an unpopular, highly controversial, or seemingly hopeless cause (e.g., defending the unborn, opposing gay marriage, reviving the Republican Party, keeping Illinois governors out of jail, rooting for the Cubs) it’s no wonder commenters seem to get “hateful” at times.

    The Obama invitation to Notre Dame was, quite simply, the “last straw” for thousands, perhaps millions, of committed pro-life Catholics already worn out and discouraged from years of setback, ridicule and defeat and facing 4, or maybe 8, more years under a presidential administration more hostile to their most cherished beliefs than any before it. Hence the “strong reaction” which Mark and Joe believe to be excessive. Okay, maybe it was a bit excessive, but entirely understandable; kind of like screaming at your out-of-control kids at the end of a really, really bad day when absolutely nothing seems to be going right.

  • e. is absolutely correct when he states that certain commentors are defensive of the honoring of Obama because they are more in agreement with Obama than not, and apparently believe those areas of agreement outweigh his rabid pro-abortion positions. So, while that doesn’t belie a pro-abortion position, it certainly suggests that these commenters lack the Church’s passion for protection of the most innocent from vile attacks.

    Elaine,

    being a pro-life fanatic is not a psychological problem it’s a moral obligation. How can we not be passionate? I don’t know ANY pro-lifers who feel “worn out and discouraged from years of setback, ridicule and defeat” (in fact great strides have been made in the past few years). Don’t psychoanalyze us.

  • You don’t know ANY pro-lifers who feel worn out and discouraged? Sheesh, I know plenty of them, including myself.

    And while it is a moral obligation to be pro-life, and to defend Church teaching to the best of our ability, I don’t know that I would call it a moral obligation to feel passionate, fired up or “fanatical” about it 100 percent of the time. I have a moral obligation to love my husband and be faithful to him; but does that translate into a moral obligation to be “madly in love” with him 100 percent of the time, to never disagree with him, or to attack anyone who expresses even mild disagreement with him?

  • Elaine,

    I said, I don’t know any pro-lifers who feel “worn out and discouraged from years of setback, ridicule and defeat”. I don’t.

    I don’t know that I would call it a moral obligation to feel passionate, fired up or “fanatical” about it 100 percent of the time

    Again, that’s not what I said. I said it’s a moral obligation to be fanatical about pro-life. Let’s try this. If you were in Nazi Germany, do you think you’d be obligated to be passionately opposed to gassing Jews? What about slavery? What if it were born babies being sliced into little pieces by the thousands? Would you be any more passionate?

    My point is that many Catholics have become desensitized to the true horror that is abortion, this trend MUST be reversed if we are to succeed.

    Being angry or fired up is NOT a disorder, there is a time for righteous anger.

  • The accusations of “E” are simply outrageous.

    It is a perversity of logic and reason, not to mention immoral, to try and portray me or Mark or anyone else as being in agreement with abortion because we take issue with the tone of the rhetoric surrounding this controversy.

    I take particular exception to it because I lost a lot of friends and colleagues when I came out as pro-life. I have no desire to make false friends who only want identical copies of themselves for companionship.

    This isn’t about speaking up. I LOVE the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s tours of college campuses that display the large images of aborted children.

    What I don’t like is what I am seeing in the Catholic media, particularly the blogosphere and the com boxes, the levels of apoplectic rage that make it seem as if the future of the whole country and the survival of the Church hinge on this. It makes us look irrational and absurd. No amount of rightenousness can make up for the losses we face when people see this ugliness.

    Do you really think that it is necessary to get this angry in order to oppose abortion? When this level of rage isn’t accompanied by daily civil disobedience against the government and its policies, it looks ridiculous and it is ridiculous.

    It only makes us feel good. I say this not as someone who doesn’t get angry and feel rage, but as someone who regularly has to choke it down with great difficulty.

    Matt,

    As for your question, both of those things are part of the situation. The whole situation is regrettable, and I stated clearly that I disagree totally with the invitation and do not believe Obama should be allowed to speak.

    It’s not even this invitation that seems to be the main issue anymore, it is just another incident where this maniacal wrath surfaces, a level of rage that I have never seen in words or in speech of any of the Holy Fathers or any other respected member of the clergy.

  • If one really, literally believes that abortion is an evil on the scale of slavery or the Nazi Holocaust, AND that we are obliged to be “fanatical” in opposing it, does that mean one must be willing to wage a shooting war (complete with abortion clinic bombings, sniper attacks on abortionists and their supporters, and possibly violent overthrow of the government) to stop it, as we did to stop slavery and Nazism?

    For about 99.99 percent of pro-lifers, the answer is “no.” They do not advocate violent action or even consider it. Not because they aren’t “passionate” enough about the cause, but because they realize that it would do far more harm than good, undermine their message of respect for all life and possibly endanger the lives of innocent bystanders.

    Perhaps, on a much lower and less serious level, the same question could be asked about the level of discourse being used in the public forum to oppose abortion. Is it really necessary to “get this angry” all the time? Does it help the cause, or convert people to the pro-life point of view, more than it turns people away?

    I have to agree with Joe that, while the Obama/Notre Dame mess is a serious matter that demands response, and I believe firmly that Obama should never have been invited, the world is not going to end if Obama shows up on May 17, and to act as if it is does indeed make us look ridiculous.

    The responses made by most bishops so far are entirely appropriate; the only one I have seen yet that even comes within 10 miles of being “apoplectic” is that of Bishop Doran of Rockford (who suggests that Notre Dame change its name to “Northwest Indiana Humanist University”), and it’s pretty mild compared to some of the comments out there in the blogosphere.

  • Also, I find (both from personal experience and observation) that it is very easy — due to original sin and the natural temptation to pride — to slide into a mindset that dismisses ALL criticism, fraternal correction, or disagreement, even when entirely justified, as merely “persecution” from benighted, ignorant, or evil souls blind to the Truth that you, of course, possess. This can happen both on a religious level (e.g. Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart) and on a secular level (Gov. Blago). But it CAN happen to anyone and it takes constant vigilance and the grace of God to avoid this trap.

  • Elaine,

    If one really, literally believes that abortion is an evil on the scale of slavery or the Nazi Holocaust

    Do you not?

    AND that we are obliged to be “fanatical” in opposing it

    Don’t you?

    does that mean one must be willing to wage a shooting war (complete with abortion clinic bombings, sniper attacks on abortionists and their supporters, and possibly violent overthrow of the government) to stop it, as we did to stop slavery and Nazism?

    Do you think that slavery or genocide would be serious enough to do those things? I do… However…

    For about 99.99 percent of pro-lifers, the answer is “no.” They do not advocate violent action or even consider it. Not because they aren’t “passionate” enough about the cause, but because they realize that it would do far more harm than good, undermine their message of respect for all life and possibly endanger the lives of innocent bystanders.

    Precisely, because your suggestion of violent action in response to the horrific violence of abortion necessarily follows “fanaticism” is completely false. MLK was fanatical about civil rights, he spoke angrily about abuses, but did not promote violence, was Ghandi not fanatical about independance? Of course they were, but in the time and circumstances they rightly determined as do we, that violence is not the answer, that it would do more harm than good, and we are obliged to discard the notion.

    Here’s my problem, your assertion (which you repeat even as I write this), that we who are angry at this (and I’ve seen nothing approach apoplexy) are basically mentally ill, and that you are Sigmund Freud analyzing how demented we are.

    I love how those who want to let this issue die keep referring to it as a “situation” or a “mess” as if to avoid laying blame on the perpetrators.

    When we talk about different approaches, don’t forget that the Holy Father has issued a document (Ex Corde Eccelsiae) that state it is not permitted to honor public supporters of abortion at Catholic Universities. Period. While we can all take different approaches those approaches must fall in line with authoritative instructions.

  • One of the most alarming aspects of the battle over abortion is the number of people who argue that abortion is either morally neutral, a constitutional right, or even a good. The Holocaust is an instructive comparison. The Nazis did their best to hide as much as possible the evidence of their mass exterminations. In a great scene in the miniseries Holocaust there is a scene in the clip linked below beginning at 6:03 where the character portrayed by Michael Moriarty argues that a case can be made for the extermination camps and that they should not attempt to conceal their activities. The other Nazis, including Himmler, look upon him with shock. They realize that what they have done is ultimately indefensible.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPE8ZmFaPQM&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fvideo%2Egoogle%2Ecom%2Fvideosearch%3Fq%3Dmoriarty%2Baushwitz%26hl%3Den%26emb%3D0%26aq%3Df&feature=player_embedded

    An invitation to a supporter of legal abortion to receive honors at a Catholic university underlines the extent to which large segments of the population, including within the Church, simply refuse to recognize the immense evil that abortion constitutes. The main evil of abortion of course is the innocent lives lost. The secondary evil is a loss of moral sense. If this evil can be tolerated, and even embraced, what evil cannot be accepted by our society?

  • Ok, you all just proved once again why I should have stuck to my no-blogging-for-Lent resolution.

    I never at any time said anyone who was angry, passionate, or fanatical about abortion was “mentally ill” or “demented”. I simply stated the following:

    1. I agreed with Joe that SOME Catholic bloggers might be overreacting a bit to the situation/mess/scandal/disgrace/blasphemy (choose whatever word you feel is appropriate) occuring at Notre Dame.

    2. I acknowledged that not everyone who opposes abortion gets equally emotionally consumed with the issue or responds in the same fashion, simply because everyone has different temperaments.

    3. I presented my own personal theory that some of the rhetoric which Joe and others find “hateful” is NOT born of actual hatred but more of frustration or pride.

    4. I pointed out that pro-lifers themselves agree there are some limits to how far one can or should go in opposing abortion. Nearly all rule out actual violence, and most rule out illegal actions (other than civil disobedience actions). There are other actions besides violence that most pro-lifers would never resort to — for example, trying to perpetrate a deliberate fraud or scam upon an abortion clinic operator in order to make him go bankrupt and drive him out of business. Whether harsh or heated rhetoric falls into that category is a matter of opinion about which several of the commenters here disagree.

    Frustration, pride and anger are NOT in and of themselves mental illnesses, by the way, unless you consider our fallen nature due to original sin to be a “mental illness.” I do not at all agree with the modern tendency to classify every manifestation of sorrow, guilt, anger or despair, or every lapse into habitual sin, as some kind of mental or personality disorder. The example of the parent yelling at their kids after a really bad day was not intended to show that such a parent is mentally ill, unstable, or deranged; just the opposite — that he or she is reacting in accordance with well-known human weaknesses that most people can identify with.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  • Elaine,

    like I said, being a fanatical pro-lifer is not an illness it is most certainly not a consequence of original sin. How dare you accuse those who work hard to end abortion of pride… look in a mirror.

  • Matt, Elaine has been quite polite to you. You have not been polite to her. Any further comments along those lines in this thread will be deleted by me.

  • Donald,

    while my speech may be at times intemperate, I respectfully submit, accusing pro-lifers of pride for being angry over this “situation” is hardly polite. She compares us to Blago, Bakkar and Swaggart… i find that deeply offensive.

  • I don’t think that Elaine is saying that working to end abortion necessarily leads to pride but that giving one’s all to a struggle often ends up resulting i pride, frustration, anger, etc. It is, after all, one of the hallmarks of the devil that he seeks to turn all good that we do to evil.

    For instance, back when I was at Steubenville I went to a couple of peaceful clinic protests, watched the sidewalk counselors and their opponents, the pro-choice escorts, in action, etc. After the third time I decided that I shouldn’t go anymore. I simply couldn’t be there without my mind becoming full to the bring with a simmering fury. The tipping point was when one of the pro-choice escorts started taunting an obviously special needs protester with, “I bet your mother wishes she’d come here.” People better than me said, “God bless you,” and prayed the rosary. I literally felt like I could kill someone, and rather than starting to scream at the deathscort I went off, bought a cup of coffee, and went to talk to the police who were supervising the whole thing.

    Now, I’m not saying that everyone’s as weak as I am when it comes to dealing with this kind of highly charged issue. But I think it is an example of how even in the best work possible there’s the temptation to be overcome with anger that does not do anyone any actual good.

    In online interactions, that can be even more of a temptation, since we’re just talking at each other. It’s often tempting to give people what they deserve, or make a bit show of our own virtue (see how great my stands are?) than it is to calmly explain the truth to others.

  • “I bet your mother wishes she’d come here.”

    Ah yes, someone saying that to a disabled protestor would have been more than enough for me to have gotten into a screaming match with the villain, particularly after the birth of my autistic son. Either that or I might have sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress which is one of the more “expansive” legal actions allowed under the Civil Code.

  • Matt you personalize these combox debates too much, and that is a very easy thing for all of us to do. I do not believe that Elaine has done so, and in my threads my opinion regarding combox decorum prevails. Debate ideas and not personalities. Having failed to observe this rule not infrequently in the past myself, I can attest that the debate tends to go downhill once the insults begin to fly.

  • How dare ANY PERSON accuse pro-lifers of pride for being angry over this “situation”.

  • “Ok, you all just proved once again why I should have stuck to my no-blogging-for-Lent resolution.”

    Elaine! I made the same resolution for the same reason! lol

    And I’m going to say something else here: stop comparing abortion to the Holocaust. The two are nothing alike.

    The Holocaust was a program of mass murdered ordered and carried out by a government.

    Abortion is a mass murder carried out by our fellow citizens of their own free will (most of the time), the women who have them, the men who pressure them into having them. Government allowing it is heinous, but no one is putting a gun to anyone’s head.

    Finally, if abortion were as bad as the holocaust, to discuss it on the internet (day after day) instead of spending every waking moment trying to permanently stop it would be an insult to the victims. What good does it do to point out that “if it were your neighbors being dragged away, you’d do something” if that’s what you believe but you’re here telling us about it?

    The problem here isn’t the rhetoric – its the thought of such rhetoric coming consistently from some guy behind a computer screen, angry men and women venting their impersonal rage at a keyboard and monitor, accomplishing nothing but a sense of righteousness. Elaine, myself, and others don’t see the value in that.

    And our suspicions are confirmed when some of you are so deep in your rage that now, at this point, people who don’t share the exact pitch and frequency of your rage about an issue that is only tangentially related to abortion are either minimizing or sympathizing with abortion. And you wonder why we might think you’re a little crazy?

  • Actually Joe I think that in certain respects abortion is far worse than the Holocaust. Thank you for the idea for a post! I sincerely, no irony intended, appreciate it!

  • Joe,

    The Holocaust was a program of mass murdered ordered and carried out by a government.

    Abortion is a mass murder carried out by our fellow citizens of their own free will (most of the time), the women who have them, the men who pressure them into having them. Government allowing it is heinous,

    So, it’s less heinous when the mothers, fathers and doctors are doing it with the PROTECTION of the government? I see.

    but no one is putting a gun to anyone’s head. no, just a poison filled syringe, or a mix-master to an unborn child’s head.

    if abortion were as bad as the holocaust, to discuss it on the internet (day after day) instead of spending every waking moment trying to permanently stop it would be an insult to the victims.

    Indeed it is, that, unlike “insecurity” is one of my failings.

    What good does it do to point out that “if it were your neighbors being dragged away, you’d do something” if that’s what you believe but you’re here telling us about it?

    Do you reject the analogy, or do you believe a more cavalier approach is called for if your neighbor is dragged away?

    Instead of tossing out personal accusations of lunacy and insecurity, try not being so personal and respond to my points? You did not respond substantially to a single point I made, other than saying it’s not as bad cause the government is not doing most of the killing itself.

    I’m sorry if my rhetoric is too fiery for your tastes. If people say this is not as bad as the holocaust then the only conclusion is that some people believe that the murder of 6 Million Jews is a greater evil than murdering 40 Million unborn children…that God somehow values those Holy Innocents less. So much for “we are all created equal”.

  • One of the primary reasons why I think that abortion is worse than the Holocaust in some respects is because so many of our fellow citizens embrace it as a positive good or at least a necessary evil. Even the Nazis realized that a moral case for the Holocaust was impossible to make. Can one imagine a perpetrator of the Holocaust being feted at Notre Dame under any circumstances? The Holocaust at least serves as a short hand description in modern society of ultimate evil, and rightly so in many ways. Abortion is defended as a “choice”. The deadening of our sense of right and wrong as a result of legal abortion is absolutely terrifying.

  • Darwin, thanks; you seem to “get it.” The only thing that keeps me from blowing up (sometimes) is remembering that we are ALL sinners and that only by the grace of God, humility and continual repentance do we avoid becoming just like those we despise. And yes, that temptation is even greater when blogging.

    I did not say all pro-lifers were prideful, or that they were all like Blago, Bakker, Swaggart, et al. I simply said that falling into a frame of mind which assumes:

    1. that “my way” and my way alone is the only “right” way to defend life or to preach the Gospel;

    2. that any criticism of that way, even from those who share the same goal, represents persecution or disloyalty to the faith,

    places us in danger of becoming like them.

    I believe that one of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters addresses this issue in relation to Wormwood’s “patient”. Wormwood asks whether he should try to make his patient become a pacifist or an extreme patriot (the Letters were written during World War II). Screwtape says there are advantages to both ways, but making him a pacifist carries a better chance of making him self-righteous and arrogant precisely because it was an unpopular cause embraced by relatively few people.

  • Matt,

    I wasn’t even responding to any particular post of yours here. You even agreed with me on the other thread about the man screaming in rage at the atrocity happening in front of him, and standing still – it would look strange, if not crazy.

    These aren’t personal accusations, because we have consistently said that this is a problem affecting many people. They’re valid observations that any reasonable person could make. If that bothers you, maybe you should look to your behavior instead of ours.

    The language you use, the way you try to keep making it as if we don’t care about abortion as much as you, also makes you look irrational. Your persistent error in logic is the assumption that those who don’t share, and are in fact a little bothered, by your outrage are somehow morally defective. What kind of stupid question is this?

    “So, it’s less heinous when the mothers, fathers and doctors are doing it with the PROTECTION of the government?”

    Who said the word “less”? Was that me, or was it you? I am pointing out a difference of kind, not degree. If anything this makes abortion harder to deal with because a government is concentrated power, a visible object of our efforts, it can be changed or even destroyed.

    The confusion and evil that dwells in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens cannot be gotten rid of as easily. Much of the time the people getting the abortions are themselves victims, not only of circumstance but of a campaign of lies and disinformation. The Feminists for Life and other pro-life groups have a saying, that abortion leaves two victims, one dead and the other wounded. This is a problem that has woven itself into the fabric of our society for decades.

  • Well said Joe as to the mothers who get abortions often being victims. Our outreach to post abortive women at the crisis pregnancy center where I am president of the board has provided many personal illustrations of that truth to me.

  • Elaine, I love that passage in the Screwtape Letters! There have been few keener observers of the human condition than C.S. Lewis.

  • Joe,

    you said:if abortion were as bad as the holocaust, to discuss it on the internet (day after day) instead of spending every waking moment trying to permanently stop it would be an insult to the victims.

    then you said: Who said the word “less”? Was that me, or was it you? I am pointing out a difference of kind, not degree.

    Are you saying your first statement does NOT imply you think it’s not as bad? or are you backing off? Speak plainly.

    Of course I concur with you and Donald that the mother’s are victims, but they along with everyone else involved are perpetrators also.

    In keeping with Donald’s exhortation, I’ll decline to respond to your personal attacks.

  • Remember this whole line started not with the more vocal among us criticizing the less vocal for being so, but with those supposedly less vocal criticizing those speaking out…

  • Ok, whatever you have to say to make this attitude go away, I’m “personally attacking” you, that’s fine. Let’s just be done with it.

    With regards to my first statement, I’m suggesting that perhaps some of the people who get as angry as they do don’t really believe in the hearts that it is as bad – that, in keeping what I have been saying all along, the anger is being used as a means of release or self-indulgence.

  • Joe,

    With regards to my first statement, I’m suggesting that perhaps some of the people who get as angry as they do don’t really believe in the hearts that it is as bad – that, in keeping what I have been saying all along, the anger is being used as a means of release or self-indulgence.

    Or, perhaps, a little more in line with reason, that people who aren’t angry is because they have other priorities to be concerned with.

  • On a final note: Matt is indeed fortunate that he does not know ANY pro-lifers who are beaten down or discouraged by years of defeat. Here’s just one example, taken from the “Catholic Answers Forums” on the “Notre Dame Shame,” of one who is:

    “All the prolife work done in the last 10 years by Catholics, all the prayers, all the fasting, all the crying, swett and tears, down the drain, at least for now. No wonder people leave the Church. I have been so frustrated I could not even sleep at all last night do to this, so today I offer up the surffering of my sleepless mind and body to Christ for this matter. Satan says thank you Jenkins for causing this scandal. Very Sad!”

    I do commend this person for having responded VERY appropriately to his frustration and discouragement by offering it up as a further sacrifice. I am sure many pro-lifers who share these emotions do the same. He is certainly not being self-indulgent — although I wonder if he isn’t being overly pessimistic in his assumption that Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame means that everything the pro-life movement did in the last 10 years is “down the drain”.

  • Elaine,

    this poster is not beaten down after years of defeats, he is feeling discouraged, I guarantee this one is not defeated. I’m not saying that we don’t feel bad sometimes, that’s human nature, but that’s not how you describe this “phenomena”. The poster is quite right though, Satan is smiling, although given the level of uproar, he may have woken a sleeping giant.

  • “It is a perversity of logic and reason, not to mention immoral, to try and portray me or Mark or anyone else as being in agreement with abortion because we take issue with the tone of the rhetoric surrounding this controversy.”

    I find this ironic coming from a person who happen to mischaracterize my views so perniciously (especially given my other comments under the entry “A Different View”), even worse than before.

    “What I don’t like is what I am seeing in the Catholic media, particularly the blogosphere and the com boxes, the levels of apoplectic rage that make it seem as if the future of the whole country and the survival of the Church hinge on this. It makes us look irrational and absurd. No amount of rightenousness can make up for the losses we face when people see this ugliness.

    Do you really think that it is necessary to get this angry in order to oppose abortion? When this level of rage isn’t accompanied by daily civil disobedience against the government and its policies, it looks ridiculous and it is ridiculous.”

    I would’ve also gone to the extent of calling the above comments perverse and immoral if only it weren’t so vile as to tread even beyond that and went straight into outright calumny.

    Of course, it isn’t the first time that the views of a prolifer happened to be so maliciously demonized just because he simply happens to oppose giving honor and, even further, a platform to a vicious pro-abort like Obama who in just a matter of days after the election had initiated a global policy for the Culture of Death.

    Yet, this kind of vocal opposition to such a president — as even merely regarding the very aggrandizement of his very figure — will simply be perniciously painted by such adherents as nothing more than unreasonable, illogical and even spectacularly immoral ‘rage’ against the U.S. government itself and its policies!

    Should one even utter a word of disrespect or disagreement or fail to kneel to these people’s long hailed messiah, you shall be painted as a traitor to the country.

    My, how monstrously perverse a Christianity as this where a messiah for the Culture of Death is much preferred to the Messiah of Life — even in such a small case as this!

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