The pope needs to have a chat with some of his clergy

America

Rereading (as I do, obsessively) one of my Patrick O’Brian books the other day, I ran across a passage in which Diana Villiers expresses surprise at Stephen Maturin’s lack of enthusiasm over the fact that a certain French cardinal is to appear at an event. She says, “I thought you would be pleased. Surely a cardinal is next door to the pope; and you are a Catholic, my dear.”

Stephen responds, “There are cardinals and cardinals; and even some Popes have not always been exactly what one might wish…”

Indeed, if one has a sense of history. But that got me to thinking, as I too seldom do, about how blessed I am to be living at this particular moment: I’m very pleased with the current pope, as I am often reminded. And not only that, but Joe Biden is about to be my president. The rest of the world might be going mad, but at least these good men will be in charge of my church and my country. And Joe being a devout Catholic, the two things are tied together

But that hardly means everything is wonderful. After all, as my fellow (but fictional, alas) Papist Stephen would say, there are cardinals and cardinals.

This was documented with stark clarity by this piece a few days ago in the Jesuit magazine, America. The piece was headlined, “How Catholic Leaders Helped Give Rise to Violence at the U.S. Capitol.” It spelled out how, among other things, “an alarming number of Catholic clergy contributed to an environment that led to the fatal riots at the U.S. Capitol.”

Which these “leaders” unquestionably did. And have been doing for some time. I had seen plenty of things to worry about over the past year (which was why I wrote this), but I was startled by how extreme their rhetoric was — how anti-Christian it was, not to mention anti-intellectual. Because God had been merciful to me, and had not exposed me to these specific examples. As the piece leads off:

At the end of last August, the Rev. James Altman, the pastor of St. James the Less Parish in La Crosse, Wis., uploaded a video to YouTube that has been viewed over 1.2 million times. The video’s title voiced what an increasing number of Catholic bishops and priests were saying in the run-up to the presidential election: “You Cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat.”

“Their party platform absolutely is against everything the Catholic Church teaches,” said Father Altman, as music from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 swelled in the background. “So just quit pretending that you’re Catholic and vote Democrat. Repent of your support of that party and its platform or face the fires of hell.”…

There’s more — quite a lot more. Another example:

A few weeks later, the Rev. Ed Meeks, the pastor of Christ the King Church in Towson, Md., preached a homily, also uploaded to YouTube, under the title “Staring into the Abyss,” in which he declared the Democratic Party the “party of death.”

Father Meeks’s video, which has received over two million views, was warmly commended by Bishop Joseph Strickland, of Tyler, Tex., who tweeted it out to his 40,000 followers with the message “Every Catholic should listen to this wise and faithful priest.” Earlier, Bishop Strickland had endorsed Father Altman’s video as well, tweeting, “As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long. Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation…pleases [sic] HEED THIS MESSAGE.” Father Altman later appeared as a guest on the premiere episode of “The Bishop Strickland Show” on LifeSite News….

The things they say, and the language they use, is amazingly startling — again, both on the grounds of being unChristian, and that of being amazingly stupid-sounding. You might imagine something like this coming from one of the very least educated of the “poorly educated” Trump so loves — assuming he’d had a few too many beers sitting on that stool at the end of the bar:

“Why is it that the supporters of this goddamn loser Biden and his morally corrupt, America-hating, God-hating Democrat party can’t say a goddamn thing in support of their loser candidate without using the word Trump? What the hell do you have to say for yourselves losers?” the Rev. Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted….

But it’s impossible to imagine it coming from someone who has graduated from a seminary, even if you can somehow explain the irrational hatred.

Especially telling, as much as the profanity, is that “Democrat party” bit. That sort of disregard for the difference between adjectives and nouns is typical among the less-thoughtful staffers at your state Republican Party (somehow, they all forgot the name of the opposition party back in the ’70s, and haven’t had it come back to them yet), but it’s extremely jarring coming from a man of the cloth. It’s an unmistakable sign of someone who is incapable of thinking outside the framework of Republican jargon.

Anyway, all this extreme stuff was news to me. I had been responding to more subtle stuff when I wrote the “Let’s talk about ‘real Catholics” piece back in October. I was concerned about the voting pattern in 2016 — which showed almost half of Catholic voters voting for Trump — and the possibility of its repetition.

I was also motivated by nods and winks I was seeing from some Catholics — including some clergy — here in South Carolina. What I was hearing personally was of course far more subtle and polite than the fulminations Father James Martin writes about in America  — this is, after all, South Carolina. But I had been disturbed by it nonetheless. And I felt it was important for me to say, as a Catholic, that real Catholics would never vote for Trump, and should certainly vote for fellow Catholic Joe Biden. Maybe in writing her brilliant piece — which helped inspire my own, more pedestrian one — Jeannie Gaffigan was motivated by some of the horrible stuff in the America piece. But I think it was mostly milder stuff than that, as I recall.

Back to what I had been hearing here at home… First, I’m not going to share it with you. Why? Because it’s close to home and personal, and I’m going to speak personally to the people responsible before I share it with the world. And I haven’t seen those people in awhile — I haven’t been physically to my church since March; we’ve been streaming Mass every week.

Also, since a lot of it was indirect and polite, I’m not always entirely sure of what I’m hearing. I have reached out (via email) a couple of times to fellow parishioners (also Biden supporters) to see if they were hearing it the way I was. And they generally were, more or less. But before I put my objections in writing, I want the parties involved to have a chance to explain their views — in person, not via email.

But to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a video of our bishop, posted on YouTube before the election:

As you can see, what the bishop says — to a less critical person than myself — is kindly, shepherdly, and very carefully non-partisan. And of course, you know me. I wholeheartedly applaud when he says:

What is important for all of us is to recognize we’re not Republicans, we’re not Democrats. We’re Catholics.

From that alone, you see that there’s a wide ocean of difference between him and the hateful people the piece in America deals with. They are ardent, committed (and sometimes profane) partisans, twisted by their fury at the “other side.”

I don’t know the bishop well. I’ve only met him a time or two, and my view of him is positive and respectful — which is the way you want to feel about a shepherd placed over you. And I think the video bears this out.

Which is not to say I didn’t have problems with it — rather obvious problems, if you know me.

But thank the Lord that here in South Carolina, I haven’t been directly exposed to the kind of overt, hostile stuff Fr. Martin writes about in America.

Back to that stuff…

Let’s look again at this part of the first passage I quote above, speaking of the Democratic Party: “Their party platform absolutely is against everything the Catholic Church teaches.”

Of course, that is utterly absurd and utterly false, and the words “absolutely” and “everything” would render it laughable — if it weren’t so tragic.

Compare the Trump position on a host of issues to that embraced by Joe Biden. Trump is the guy who got elected telling us that people coming into this country illegally was a national emergency — nay, the national emergency — and he planned to build a “beautiful wall” to keep them out, and make Mexico pay for it. He’s the guy who failed to do that, but did succeed in separating children from their parents and putting them in cages. He’s the one who described countries other than white ones like Norway as “shithole countries.” He incited a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, and has not once spoken a word of remorse for his own actions. (A Catholic like Joe Biden is accustomed to doing penance for his sins. You won’t ever see Donald Trump do that, because he’ll never get as far as the “heartily sorry” part.)

He is a man who considers his every action (and everything else) — in office and out of office — in terms of how it benefits or fails to benefit Donald J. Trump. If you think he is a person who puts others first, or even on the same level as himself, as a Christian should do, I’d love to hear your arguments on that point, and be persuaded.

I could go on all night, listing the ways in which Trump grossly violates Catholic teaching, and Biden would not. But let’s just cite one more issue, one that bears on the Church’s pro-life teachings: “Trump administration carries out 13th and final execution.

Before last year, the U.S. Justice Department hadn’t executed anyone in 17 years. Trump put three to death in the last week at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Under Trump, there have been more federal executions in the past year than in the previous 56 years combined. More to consider:

Not since the waning days of Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the late 1800s has the U.S. government executed federal inmates during a presidential transition, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Cleveland’s was also the last presidency during which the number of civilians executed federally was in the double digits in one year, 1896….

Trump was in a hurry, you see, with Joe Biden about to take over. Joe, the story tells us, is “an opponent of the federal death penalty,” and may actual bring it to an end.

Joe Biden, you see, is a Catholic.

But some Catholics have gotten twisted around. They’re just talking about abortion, you see. When they say “pro-life,” they’re not talking about Cardinal Bernardin’s Consistent Ethic of Life. Nor are they including the rest of the many, many Catholic teachings beyond cherishing life when they refer to “everything the Catholic Church teaches.”

Abortion is a profoundly important moral issue, but it is one important part of a range of important issues that fall under the description “pro-life.” And then of course, there are all the other things that would fall under Catholic social teaching. Take “solidarity,” for instance, which means “We are one  human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological  differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be.” Can you picture Donald “America First” Trump agreeing with that? Maybe, but only if you add, “except those from shithole countries.”

Folks, I don’t think I know anyone who is more opposed to abortion than I am. And if you asked me to cite the one thing Joe Biden did during the campaign that most disappointed me, it would be his abandonment of support for the Hyde Amendment. I know why he did it. This was at a time when he was one of a crowd of 20 or so vying for the nomination, and the vast number of Democrats who wanted to find a way, any way, to dismiss him completely (thereby insuring the re-election of Donald Trump) saw Hyde as a great gift. I can’t tell myself with any certainty that he’d be the president-elect if he hadn’t done it. But I still believe it was wrong.

But talking about that reminds me of something remarkable: That is the only thing I can think of that he has done wrong over the last two years, in terms that might violate Catholic teaching or offend my own standards. Whereas Donald Trump can hardly get through a day without doing that. Joe is so dramatically more in keeping with advocating the moral, Catholic position on issue after issue that it’s absurd even to make a comparison.

Also, as fervently as I oppose abortion — which we’ve argued about many times here — I differ from these angry priests on a couple of points: First, I don’t believe jamming through justices who agree with me on the issue is the way to solve the abortion problem. (And I find it profoundly wrong for either side to do it — which both do.) I’d like to see Roe v. Wade disappear, but aside from the fact that I don’t think it will, there’s the problem that if it did, it would simply kick the issue to the place where it should be — state legislatures. Those legislatures would be at war over the issue for the rest of my life, and probably my grandchildren’s lives, and I believe legal abortion would still be widely available across much of the country. It’s not a prospect that fills me with optimism.

Secondly, to get to that point requires something that I believe to be immoral in another way, although a secular one: I believe it is critically important for the United States to have an independent judiciary. Therefore it is wrong for me to demand that judicial candidates agree with me on any issue, even one as morally compelling as abortion. Otherwise we can’t have the blessing of living in a country of laws and not of men. And that is crucial to our freedom of religion and everything else that matters. Start applying an issue litmus test on judges, and you will get a country in which law is whatever is embraced by the majority — 50 percent plus one — voting in the last election. We must somehow get past this business of trying to elect presidents who agree with us on abortion, and expecting those presidents to nominate justices who agree with both, and stacking the Senate to confirm them — until the majority shifts again.

I could go on and on on both those points (arguments on the last two points could fill books), but since I’m nearing 2,500 words (not counting the thousand or so I cut out), you’ve probably stopped reading already.

But to go back to where we started: There is something horrific going on among some priests, and even some bishops, in the Church. And I think the pope, who knows better, should have a chat with some of them. Because things have gotten out of hand, and these words (and sometimes actions) have been a great disservice to the country, and to the Church.

57 thoughts on “The pope needs to have a chat with some of his clergy

  1. Sally

    Brad, read the column in today’s Washington Post regarding Joe Biden and the Catholic Church. Biden’s experience growing up in the Church is much like mine, although I grew up in suburban Atlanta, which had a small but growing Catholic population. Like Biden, I believe the two most important figures in modern Catholic history are Pope John XXIII and Pope Francis. However, the teachings of both men upset the power structure in the Church, which many of the Church hierarchy (especially the bishops) still adamantly resent. So, from an early age, I learned to simply ignore the bishops, who do more politicking and less shepherding. Also, I truly don’t understand if the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, why any bishop or cardinal dare open his mouth, much less incite so much backstabbing. Read the column, then we’ll discuss more.

    Reply
  2. Doug Ross

    A “good” catholic voting for a pro choice candidate is like a Tea Party member voting for Nancy Pelosi. If you can equivocate on being pro life to the point where you find executing murderers abhorrent but take an “it’s complicated” position on killing babies, you’re a logical contortionist worthy of Cirque Du Soleil. Joe Biden will undoubtedly result in more abortions being performed in the next generation thanks to at least one likely supreme court nomination. Accept your hypocrisy on being pro life.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You don’t pay attention well, do you?

      When you find someone who fits this description: “If you can equivocate on being pro life to the point where you find executing murderers abhorrent but take an “it’s complicated” position on killing babies.”

      Killing babies isn’t complicated, and I’ve never, ever, even once in my life, said anything remotely like that. It’s abhorrent. More so than killing killers. But both are covered by the ethic of life, as I (and plenty of others) have explained over and over and over and over.

      If you want to argue with me, stop setting up straw men that are nothing like me.

      Thanks.

      Reply
    2. Sally Huguley

      Some credence to what you say. The real problem with today’s American Catholic Church is it has placed all its social justice creds into the anti-abortion basket and has minimized many justice issues in which it was once front and center. For instance, the civil rights movement (appropriate for MLK Day). When I’m angry with the hypocrisy of the Church, I see an old news photo of a civil rights march with Roman-collared priests and nuns in old fashioned habits right in the middle of things. It’s beyond me how the modern Catholic Church can throw aside hundreds of years of scholarship and theology to join hands with single minded white evangelicals, who have very little history and no theological scholarship, other than promoting racial and religious prejudices, including against Catholics. One explanation for this is that the Roman Catholic Church is probably the oldest, continually operating political organization in history. In American politics, anti-abortion issues attract much more political clout than supporting immigrants or death row inmates. The other explanation is that it’s an all male institution. That’s why when I hear Catholic priests foment about abortion, I think “How would you know?” which I once said to a priest. They need to shut up and leave it to women, their doctors, their ministers and their consciences. Actually, that’s what I think whenever a male begins lecturing on abortion. And way too many male talking heads have dominated the public discourse on this issue.

      Reply
          1. Bob Amundson

            Sally, I couldn’t agree with you more. My wife considers herself a “recovering” Catholic, one reason being the patriarchal approach to abortion that you describe clearly, from a woman’s point of view. Thanks.

            Reply
  3. Bob Amundson

    I posted this earlier on another thread, but it is relevant because (1) it’s about “Hillbillies” in New York and (2) it does involve religion (born again evangelical).

    I posted the following on my Facebook page and on the Rosewood Neighbors Facebook page: “Too many politicians, regardless of party, are more concerned about saving or strengthening their political “behinds” than leading. That is the primary reason I am fiercely politically independent. How can we, the people that vote these people into office, stop this? Just being aware of the problem and admitting it is a problem are the first steps.” Many positive responses from South Carolina and New York.

    One response, from a classmate/friend from Hillbilly Elegy country (rural western NY, foothills of the Appalachian chain), is telling. He IS a friend, and a talented musician who is a “born again” evangelical (believes earth is only 6,000 years, as the Bible states). He is even ex-mayor of my hometown. After talking about instituting term limits while mayor, only to have that policy changed when he “left” (wasn’t re-elected), he posted (copy and pasted) “I would contend that elections are no longer valid. We need in-person voting. Picture ID. No mass mail-in voting. No machine-tally of the votes. A pain in the ass? Yeah, but a whole lot better than losing the confidence of HALF THE NATION OR BETTER in our election system. THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN – NO ONE WILL EVER CONVINCE ME DIFFERENT – NOT EVEN COMMUNIST RE-EDUCATION CAMP. Be true to your communist ways – send me to camp and have me killed – I WILL NOT relent.”

    I replied, “I suggest they are valid as designed, that you dislike the design. Work to change the law.” I am like JD Vance in that I left “Hillbilly” as soon as I could; college then military. My friend was enlisted military and used his technical skills to become successful, but in that “Hillbilly” world. I don’t want to see him as my enemy, but I am reminded of “keep your friends close, your enemy closer.”

    Reply
  4. James Edward Cross

    Ahhh, but you see the Consistent Ethic of Life is not necessarily applied consistently. For those who center abortion as *the* pro-life issue, abortion is more heinous than say, capital punishment. To use a quote from the Wikipedia article that Brad links to:

    “Cardinal Ratzinger [later Pope Benedict XVI] makes it clear that the church does not treat capital punishment with the same moral weight that it does abortion and euthanasia: ‘Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion…There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.’ ”

    Which of course is way way of dodging taking stances that may be unpopular, or to support those wo agree with you on one issue or not others. The Church’s “just war” stance flies in the face of the Consistent Ethic of Life. If killing a baby or murderer or terminally ill person is **always** wrong, then killing someone in a war is also **always** wrong. Now, because we live in an imperfect world and more often than not we fail to use peaceful means to prevent a war from occurring, such a war may be “necessary” in order to stop a greater evil. But having guidelines to when a war is “necessary” does not make it any less wrong.

    At this point I expect to hear the self-defense argument. But to me, it is just another example of how difficult it is to apply moral absolutes in an imperfect world. This is not an argument for situational ethics or moral relativism (I disagree with both); just an acknowledgement that it is not as easy as one might think to decide what the right thing is.

    Reply
    1. Sally Huguley

      You’re absolutely right. This is why I believe that the abortion decision should be left up to the woman, her doctor, her minister, and her conscience. It is a decision that she will live with for the rest of her life, which is why male pundits and clergy should butt out. In addition, I believe the bishops clinging to abortion as THE ethical question is more about politics and less about catechism, simply because that’s the way the political wind is blowing. Political power is the only excuse for Catholic bishops to line up with a despicable person like Trump (wonder how many abortions he’s paid for?) or the hypocritical white evangelical movement. In Church teaching, birth control is in the same “women-only” bag as abortion. The bishops don’t address birth control because no other political group is addressing this. Plus, something like 98 percent of Catholic women practice birth control. Additionally, it’s hard to hold the moral high ground after the still unresolved pedophile scandal. Thus, many Catholic women think “Psychian, heal thyself.”
      The bottom line is what the bishops have done is drive people from the Church or cause great anxiety among those who remain. There’s actually been recent articles written about whether Biden should be excommunicated. If he’s excommunicated, there will be a lot going with him, taking their collection checks. Not me. I will never abandon the maltreated women religious (why in the hell are the bishops blocking that reform?), the teachings of Vatican II, and the progress undertaken by Pope Francis. Someone has to remain to give the clery a hard time. Might as well be me. Brad knows I’m not particularly shy.

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        “I believe that the abortion decision should be left up to the woman, her doctor, her minister, and her conscience.”

        And that’s where we part ways.

        But you give me the chance to make an important point.

        For me, this particular issue is less about religion, and more about my faith in principles that undergird our secular society. Of course, the Catholic reverence for life and teachings about how we treat other people — which is what the Consistent Ethic is about — reinforces that.

        But… and this is critical, and I really should say it more often…

        If I weren’t Catholic, I would still be opposed to abortion, particularly as the law governs it in this country.

        That’s because I believe very strongly in our legal system. And in our system, you don’t let important judgments — ESPECIALLY life-and-death ones — be made by involved, interested parties.

        One of the first things we do in jury selection is make sure no one in the jury pool is interested in the case, or friends with one of the parties, or in any way invested in the outcome.

        For that reason, if we’re going to have abortion, the absolute last people who should make that life-and-death decision would be “the woman, her doctor, her minister.” And especially not the woman who is seeking the abortion. That’s the one person on the planet most directly invested in the decision, and the first person who needs to, as it were, recuse herself.

        Yes, I know plenty of people disagree. Just as many people believe that whether the death penalty is sought in a murder case should be decided by the family of the victim. I could not disagree more. If we’re going to have capital punishment — which, of course, I don’t believe we should — those should be the last people making the decision.

        I would believe that if I were an Episcopalian, or Jewish, or an atheist. Because I believe in our system of “laws and not of men.”

        And one of the frustrating things about abortion is that so many people who I think agree with me on that don’t think it should be applied to abortion…

        Reply
        1. Bob Amundson

          Why is this a binary choice? You can be opposed to abortion and let the woman, and her “team” (significant other, family, friends, medical experts) decide.

          Reply
          1. Bob Amundson

            “That’s the one person on the planet most directly invested in the decision, and the first person who needs to, as it were, recuse herself.”

            Wow. On my planet the person “most directly invested” has a VERY loud voice. I trust women to make that tough choice.

            Reply
            1. Barry

              “One of the first things we do in jury selection is make sure no one in the jury pool is interested in the case, or friends with one of the parties, or in any way invested in the outcome.”

              Except in a court case, one person is being prosecuted for breaking the law.

              A woman who is making a decision about her own body and possibly her own health is not being prosecuted by the state for a crime- (at least not yet).

              I hope every woman will not choose abortion if their life is not in danger. But I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever want politicians making the choice for her.

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                You’re missing the point, Barry.

                The point is due process. We’re not comparing “crimes;” the commonality is that we’re talking about the deliberate ending of a human life. And that should never happen without, at the very least, due process.

                Reply
                1. Barry

                  We are both for due process.

                  I want the woman to make the decision after consultation with her medical provider, and anyone else she desires to counsel with regarding the issue.

                  Allowing anyone else to make a medical decision for her is ridiculous., unworkable, and thankfully a non starter for the great majority of people.

                  Reply
            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Yeah, it’s that way in a lot of places on this planet, too — places without our concept of a nation of laws and not of men.

              Fortunately, around here, for those of us who are not Donald Trump or his followers (they dwell in a separate universe, where all that matters is what the Donald wants) a single person doesn’t get to decide life-and-death matters. Except on this issue. And on this issue we give that power to the one person who’d be the LAST we’d choose if it were, say, a conventional capital crime case.

              It doesn’t make any kind of ethical sense.

              Just to go ahead and acknowledge the argument most conventionally offered against my point or points like it, it’s usually to insist that the unborn has no moral claim upon us — that it’s not “human life” in any sense we need bow to. If they’ve considered all aspects of the issue, that’s the only way decent human beings talk themselves into the pro-choice position.

              It works for them. It would never work for me. My powers of rationalization don’t extend so far…

              Reply
              1. Barry

                “ it’s usually to insist that the unborn has no moral claim upon us — that it’s not “human life” in any sense we need bow to.”

                Disagree.

                They do, it just doesn’t outweigh the woman giving birth.

                Our goal is the same. I don’t want any woman to choose abortion. But I’ll fight with my whole being to make sure it’s her decision, not yours, mine, politicians or the government.

                Reply
          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            I don’t understand your question. I just explained why. Because you don’t leave such life-and-death decisions to the most interested and invested parties.

            Note that I’m saying that within a context of “if we’re going to have abortion,” not within the context of being against. I AM against, but I’m saying that even if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have the decision made by the person who has the greatest motivation to end that life.

            Note that I also said I’m objecting to “particularly as the law governs it in this country.”

            You mention “binary choice.” Well, that’s what we have in America. Roe converted abortion from a complex legal question to a personal RIGHT. They based it on another newly minted right, privacy (the Griswold decision). That made it something that we would forever and ever have absolutist arguments about.

            Years ago (and I need to take time at some point and remember where I read it, and go read it again), I read a fascinating piece about how abortion is handled in certain other countries (and at the minute I’ve forgetting which countries, which is why I need to go find what I read again) — it’s legal, but whether it occurs depends on decisions made by impartial panels — not upon one person’s binary choice of yes or no.

            It was a more communitarian approach than a libertarian one, which is what we have now.

            We keep fighting a war over two competing rights — the right to life, and the aforementioned right to privacy. It’s not working, and it’s never going to work, and it’s going to keep tearing us apart…

            Reply
            1. Bob Amundson

              My niece wrote why she and her husband are pro-choice:
              “Abortion.
              It’s raw, it’s life or death, it’s the darkest of the dark moments. I hope that you never have to make a decision like this in your life.

              I’ve made it, twice.

              Three years ago, while I was 17 weeks pregnant with my first child, I went to the Doctor and heard the words, you have cancer. Excuse me, what? But I’m on cloud nine, I have my dream life.. husband, baby on the way, dog, house, career. That can’t be correct.

              My doctors told me that I have choices.. let me say that again, I HAVE CHOICES…keep the baby and do nothing until I deliver, keep the baby and go through chemo, or have an abortion, chemo and total hysterectomy.

              They gave me all the facts, statistics, and medical information… laid it all out, even gave me the, “if you were my wife or daughter, I’d do this, scenarios.

              Then, they let my husband and I decide. Let me say that again..
              They let my husband and I decide.

              Now for those who don’t know me, I’ll give the suspense a rest… I kept the baby and went through chemo while I was pregnant, went into remission and I have a beautiful, healthy miracle baby that was a light at the end of the darkness.

              Fast forward a year… I was 12weeks pregnant with my second child. I went in for routine tumor marker testing and it’s elevated (suggestive of a reoccurrence of cancer). Wtf.

              I see a doctor who tells me if it were his wife, he’d have an abortion and hysterectomy immediately.

              I see another doctor who tells me it’s probably falsely elevated due to changes in pregnancy hormones, etc.

              Both of these Doctors gave me a CHOICE.
              They let my husband and I decide what to do. One more time… They let my husband and I decide what to do.

              I had more testing and surgery done and it turns out it was falsely elevated, and the cancer had NOT returned. Whew.

              We kept the baby and I have a gorgeous baby girl because of it.
              I decided after much consideration and information gathering with my Doctors that I’d have a hysterectomy as soon as I was recovered from my c section with my daughter.

              These were MY decisions made by ME after careful consideration with my medical team and family.

              I’m thankful every day that I was not forced into a decision that was not right for me, based on a political or religious agenda.
              My kids are my reason. Thank you for listening. ❤️”

              Needless to say, I am so proud of this wonderful women.

              Reply
                1. Bob Amundson

                  Yes, thank you. She posted this on Facebook, and some of her Pro-Life friends seemed to think that since she chose to have the children, it was a Pro-Life post. Single-minded thinking, blinding too many of our countryman. So many are not stupid; they just act that way.

                  Reply
        2. Sally

          Personally, I would not have an abortion, but neither would I stand in the way of a woman having to make that difficult choice. I imagine it would not be as difficult a decision for a woman who’s been raped or has experienced years of incest. For those who espouse rigid theology, how merciful would it be for a young woman to bear and raise a child, who was fathered by her own father? Isn’t that double punishment? So, the sanctity of life trumps all other considerations? Incest could involve pedophilia, but while that kind of sexual assault will result in psychological trauma, it will never result in pregnancy.
          Men will never face an abortion decision, so philosophize and theologically lecture all you want. This blog posting is a perfect example of men doing all the talking but will never have the experience. It’s all academic to them.
          Again, I assert it’s a decision to be made by a woman, her doctor, her minister and her conscience. Any man, particularly the Catholic clergy, need to butt out. Also, there’s many, many more justice issues to resolve. Why all the emphasis placed on abortion?

          Reply
          1. Randle

            Abortion is a such a big issue because it’s about control, not because of morality. The GOP has had control of all three branches at least a couple of times since Roe; they could have taken steps to end it, but they would lose too many voters if they did, as. the majority of the country supports it to varying degrees.
            It’s a very successful wedge issue that has served to keep a certain bloc of voters in the fold, especially for a minority party with a shrinking base. I doubt SCOTUS will overturn Roe for that reason. Rather they will chip away at the edges. Judge Barrett has said as much.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              No, actually abortion is such a big issue because it’s about life and death. Not control, not moral abstractions. Life and death.

              That’s why it doesn’t go away…

              Reply
              1. randle

                Abortion is a big political issue for you and other pro-lifers because it is a matter of life and death. Those who are pro-life feel the government has a moral imperative to prevent the taking of innocent life, correct? Government should control abortions, then.
                The vast majority of your fellow citizens, whether they believe abortion is a matter of life and death or the removal of a collection of cells, feels it’s a personal issue and they do not want the government –state or federal — controlling or involved in any decision of this kind. This is a widespread preference — only one in four in every state favors a ban on abortions and most are not in favor of more restrictions, according to studies I read. Significant percentages of Catholics and Republicans are in this camp. Abortion is not one of the top issues on most voters’ lists, unless rights are threatened. This mobilizes them. So in that sense, the big abortion fight is about who controls it and how.
                Also, the GOP seems to view outlawing abortion as something to campaign on but not something to act on in Congress. None of its members has taken any action to outlaw it, even when the party had control of both houses and the White House. This leads me to conclude that they view abortion less as a moral issue that must be addressed before more too many more lives are lost, and more as a way to keep pro-life voters in their camp. They also recognize that they would lose other critically needed voters if they pushed abortion restrictions. I know there are members of Congress who have moral objections to Roe, but doing what is right politically trumps doing what is right morally. Because staying in power is what it’s all about. So I say the abortion issue is big with the Congress because it delivers a voting bloc and is also a useful wedge issue.
                SCOTUS seems to be making the same calculation, but that could change. Judge Barrett did say before her confirmation that she didn’t think the court would overturn Roe, but was more likely to act to restrict abortion rights.

                Reply
        3. Sally

          Deny the woman a role in the decision? What about in cases of rape or incest?
          Personally, I would not have an abortion, but neither would I stand in the way of a woman having to make that difficult choice. I imagine it would not be as difficult a decision for a woman who’s been raped or has experienced years of incest. For those who espouse rigid theology, how merciful would it be for a young woman to bear and raise a child, who was fathered by her own father? Doesn’t that double the assault? Incest involving pedophilia is also sexual assault but will never result in pregnancy.
          Men will never face an abortion decision, so philosophize and theologically lecture all you want. This blog posting is a perfect example of men doing all the talking but will never have the experience. It’s all academic to them.
          Again, I assert it’s a decision to be made by a woman, her doctor, her minister and her conscience. However, since many more men than women hold positions of authority, this issue will always be considered from a male viewpoint. Example: the Congress and state legislatures.
          There are many, many justice issues to resolve. Why all the emphasis on abortion?
          But Barry is right. One side will not convince the other. So, with men dominating positions of authority, women will continue have little say unless they speak up, or God miraculously changes nature so men have babies.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I didn’t say “Deny the woman a role in the decision.” Or at least, I didn’t mean to.

            I said we shouldn’t deny everyone else on the planet a role in the decision. Which is what Roe does, by making abortion a “right”…

            There are other things I could say in response to other points, but I’ve just GOT to do some paying work today.

            Anyway, we’re getting far afield from the point of the blog post…

            Reply
          2. Barry

            I know a woman who was raped in college. She chose to keep the child, and give it up for adoption. She never regretted the decision. But it was her decision, one she made in consultation with her parents who supported her.

            After my aunt’s first son was born, she became pregnant again and had some serious health problems as a result of her pregnancy. She was and is a devout, Christian lady. She made the hardest decision of her life and chose to end her pregnancy because of her health problems. Several years later, she was able to get pregnant again and had a healthy baby girl. She’s now a grandmother of 4 who spends almost every waking minute taking care of her grandchildren.

            I’m glad she had the choice to do what was right for her health and her family.

            I’m also glad those decisions weren’t made by boards, or juries, or some panel somewhere who would not have to live with the results of the decision.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Barry, I don’t know why a couple of your comments were held for moderation. I’ve looked, and don’t see what triggered it.

              That just happens sometimes…

              Reply
    2. Mark Stewart

      I don’t see how euthanasia ties into abortion. Abortion is like the death penalty; complicated and also not equal. Euthanasia is a conscious choice; especially when it is that and not suicide. If anyone has difficulty distinguishing euthanasia from suicide they would, seems to me, have no business bloviating against abortion.

      Reply
      1. bud

        Barry, not entirely true. Brad has been posting about abortion for years, often disguised under a different topic. I was never a die hard pro-choice advocate but I did lean that way. But the more Brad and others try to defend pro-life the more convinced I became that pro-choice is absolutely 100% the correct approach. The clincher is that the “pro-life” position actually INCREASES the number of abortions by making it more difficult to obtain birth control. It’s just batpoop crazy. So while I once had a modicum of respect for the so called “pro-life” position, no longer. It’s nothing more than a forum for nagging and berating pro-choice folks. So count me as a person persuaded by the the “pro-life” arguments.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, it pretty much always works that way with Bud — I just push him farther away…

          I don’t mean to, but it happens. All he sees is the part of the post about abortion, and off he goes. In this case, let me say in his defense, it happened because my good friend and fellow Catholic Sally and I got into disputing the abortion point.

          But of course, it had to come up within the context of this subject (How Catholic Leaders Helped Give Rise to Violence at the U.S. Capitol). Because MY point is that I’m opposed to abortion just like these guys I was writing about (the pro-Trump priests, et al.). The difference is that I don’t think that’s all the Church is about. As I keep saying, it’s important, but a subset of a subset of what we believe. I try to keep the whole picture in view.

          And you don’t support someone who doesn’t support the REST of your belief system — in fact, so often stands and acts in stark opposition to it — just because he’s done a deal with you on something regarding that one point. Oh, and remember, he doesn’t agree with you on that point; he’s just done a deal.

          That’s the point. It’s an extremely important point, in a country in which there are more Catholics than there members of any other religious affiliation. This makes a difference when we have elections.

          And it’s just astounding that these clergymen have talked themselves into this position…

          Reply
          1. James Edward Cross

            I m somewhat puzzled as to why you are astounded. You have the former Pope saying that the Church puts a greater moral weight on abortion and euthanasia than it does on any of the other issues covered by the Consistent Ethic of Life such as capital punishment or war. And while Pope Francis has attempted to bring other issues to the fore both you and I know that the Popes’ s power is not as absolute as most people think. The American Church is focused on abortion. It isn’t that much of a leap for some to fall prey to the temptation to use the Devil to do the Lord’s work, much as many of the evangelicals have done.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I’m astounded by it the same way I’m astounded that millions of people voted for Trump. Only with these clergy, I’m extra invested in pointing out how wrong they are.

              I’ve never had any problem understanding what “pro-life” means. The pope gets it. So do plenty of laypeople, like Jeannie Gaffigan. Why do these guys have so much trouble? They’re PRIESTS…

              Anyway, it all gets back to my headline: The Holy Father needs to have a talk with these guys — or at least with the bishops…

              Reply
              1. James Edward Cross

                I’m sure that many of these priests and at least some of the laity understand what “pro-life” means in the view of the Roman Catholic Church and support it. What they would tell you is that what you fail to understand is that, given the moral weight the Church gives to the issue of abortion, it is THE moral issue which, to pardon the pun, trumps everything else. After all, it is only the support of abortion that can result in the denial of the sacrament of Communion to an individual, not support of capital punishment, war, etc.

                Like you, I am a Roman Catholic. Unlike you, I grew up in the Church as opposed to being a convert. I’ve also done some reading on the history of the Church, both in the world and in the US. None of this astounds me. It saddens me, but does not surprise me.

                Reply
      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, and Barry’s completely right: “It’s the issue anyone can always bring up that is guaranteed not to convince anyone of anything.”

        Which is why, contrary to what Bud perceives, I seldom bring it up — and am always unhappy when I do.

        But here’s the thing: When something comes up (like this Trump problem with so many of my fellow Catholics) that inevitably brings up abortion, I’m not going to duck it, or try to pretend I don’t care, or believe something other than what I believe.

        And you do understand, of course, that I have no illusions that any of you pro-choice folk will be converted. But I DO hold out some hope that I can wake up some Catholics by reminding them of the OTHER 99 percent of what we believe. Or are supposed to believe.

        Which is something I’m pretty sure I’ve made VERY clear on both of these long posts I’ve written recently on the subject…

        Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bud, this post is not about abortion. It’s about my great concern about what some members of the Catholic clergy are doing — namely, encouraging people to support someone who should be absolutely unthinkable to a Catholic — Donald Trump.

      As a Catholic and a blogger, I felt obliged to say something in light of the piece in America.

      As it happens, the reason those clergy are DOING that is… abortion. I can’t help that, bud. That’s just the way the world is…

      Reply
  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, changing the subject.

    I mentioned earlier having watched part of “The Social Dilemma.” I’m pretty excited about it. There were flaws in it, which I’ll talk about when I get around to writing about it. But it elaborated more on the thing I’ve written about a couple of times recently — my sudden epiphany that for me, finally explains Trumpism. This is to say, I finally realized why all these people, the supporters of Trump — including, unfortunately, the priests and bishops I wrote about in this post — lost their minds.

    This happened, as I’ve said before, when I was listening to the NYT’s “Rabbit Hole” podcast series. The embarrassing thing about that was that the series didn’t tell me anything I already know. But finally, something clicked about these obvious things.

    Anyway, buried under some other stuff that interests me less, “The Social Dilemma” spells out these same things. In fact, it uses one of the same sources — a guy who used to work for YouTube and helped write the recommendations algorithm, and now feels terribly guilty about it.

    Don’t know if I’ll have time to address that (or anything, more than in a brief comment) today, but I look forward to doing so…

    Reply
  6. Sally

    Sorry, folks, but I think the system posted my most recent comment twice. That’s what happens when you stop to get a Coke, then get back to editing.

    Reply
  7. Bob Amundson

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    The principle of separation of church and state is paraphrased from Thomas Jefferson’s “separation between Church & State” that is generally traced to a January 1, 1802, letter by Thomas Jefferson, addressed to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, and published in a Massachusetts newspaper. Jefferson wrote:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

    Jefferson’s interpretation draws a clear line, which is not so clear today, and religious leaders are taking advantage of the First Amendment’s inherit dilemma.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yep, and as I said:

      If I weren’t Catholic, I would still be opposed to abortion, particularly as the law governs it in this country.

      That’s because I believe very strongly in our legal system. And in our system, you don’t let important judgments — ESPECIALLY life-and-death ones — be made by involved, interested parties.

      One of the first things we do in jury selection is make sure no one in the jury pool is interested in the case, or friends with one of the parties, or in any way invested in the outcome.

      For that reason, if we’re going to have abortion, the absolute last people who should make that life-and-death decision would be “the woman, her doctor, her minister.” And especially not the woman who is seeking the abortion. That’s the one person on the planet most directly invested in the decision, and the first person who needs to, as it were, recuse herself.

      Yes, I know plenty of people disagree. Just as many people believe that whether the death penalty is sought in a murder case should be decided by the family of the victim. I could not disagree more. If we’re going to have capital punishment — which, of course, I don’t believe we should — those should be the last people making the decision.

      I would believe that if I were an Episcopalian, or Jewish, or an atheist. Because I believe in our system of “laws and not of men.”…

      Reply
      1. Bob Amundson

        But you are Catholic, affected by Catholic Theology, so how in heaven’s name can you be sure your opinion won’t change. That it won’t is your opinion.

        Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, it’s been great, hasn’t it? I’ve spent my time since the end of my speech taking my parents (who had widely spaced appointments) to get their COVID vaccine shots at Publix. It went well. So a red-letter day all around! After I do a couple of hours of work this evening, I may post about President Biden’s big day. Until then, you can check Twitter to see what I said earlier…

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.