Pro-Life Political Argument

This argument presumes that the right to life of the unborn child is the decisive issue for the voter. I will summarize the points covered in three magazine articles, which articulate the No and Yes responses to this question:

Is a Catholic morally obliged to vote for the Republican candidate?

No

William T. Cavenaugh, “Electing Republicans has not Reversed Roe v. Wade. It’s Time to Change our Strategy

unbornI. The history

The Supreme Court has had a majority of Republican-appointed Justices for the past fifty years. Both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which upheld Roe and required that the government impose no ‘undue burden’ inhibiting the supposed right to an abortion) were decided by courts with large Republican-appointed majorities.

The abortion rate has declined steadily, with no significant difference between Republican and Democratic presidential administrations.

II. The Supreme Court is unlikely to overturn Roe, no matter who the justices are.

Republican George W. Bush appointed Catholic John Roberts to the court. Roberts immediately became Chief Justice when the previous chief died while Roberts’ nomination was pending, in 2005. This past June, Roberts endorsed the principle of stare decisis in abortion cases, in Medical Services v. Russo. (Stare decisis means precedent is decisive.)

III. Political power should not be the pro-life movement’s chief goal.

Cavenaugh writes: The one strategy for reducing abortions that has been proven to work runs through love, not power: support for women who may not feel able to carry a pregnancy to term. This requires not blind allegiance to a political party but the promotion of a culture of life. For years, some in the pro-life movement have struggled to change the perception that opposition to abortion is about control over women. Hitching the pro-life cause to a president who has bragged about sexually assaulting women can only turn people away. The taint of Mr. Trump could well do irreversible damage to the pro-life movement and to the church itself, especially among the younger demographic.

Yes

Trent Horn, “Why Pro-Lifers Shouldn’t Give up on the Supreme Court,” and Richard Doerflinger, “Four Reasons a Democratic Administration Would Mean More Abortions.”

us_supreme_courtI. The history argument is not decisive.

Abortion was not a campaign issue for the Republican presidents who appointed the majority in the Roe decision. Opposition to pro-life judges by Democratic Senators has led to the nomination of justices with no paper trail, like Roberts. Republican presidential administrations, with large Republican Senate majorities, will lead to the appointment of genuinely pro-life justices.

II. Stare decisis does indeed control Supreme Court decisions, but not forever.

When the public mind has clearly shifted, the Court overturns previous rulings, as with slavery, segregation, and homosexuality. The Roberts court upheld the partial-birth abortion ban in 2007, restricting access to abortion.

Horn writes: If Roe were overturned, Democrats would do everything in their power to reinstate it (whether by a future court case or a constitutional amendment). Pro-life Republicans would be able to rely on the votes of their pro-life constituents—to prevent a new Roe nationally and to enact legal prohibitions of abortion on the state level—just as Democrats have been able to rely on the continuing support of pro-abortion voters during the Roe era.

III. ‘Incremental’ pro-life laws, bans on public funding for abortion, and pro-life pregnancy centers do work in reducing abortions.

Biden and Harris support a transition from “pro-choice” to abortion as essential healthcare, which would exclude all conscientious objection to abortion. 

A Tale of Two Super-Lame Videos

Thank you, America magazine and usccb, inc. for producing web videos to foster our mission.  I just wish they served the purpose.  Shouldn’t our New-Evangelization-elical videos mention Someone–namely Lord Jesus, our Savior and our God?

Jesus came to save sinners, and He gave us the sacraments so that we sinners can get to heaven.  For Holy Mass, we need bread and wine.  For Confession/Penance/Reconciliation, we need:  a Christian conversation between penitent and priest about morality.

That conversation cannot begin without the penitent asking him/herself:  Have I killed an innocent person, stolen something, lied, committed adultery, or fornicated?  We call those fundamental no-nos.  The Lord forgives when we confess, and blesses us sinners with grace.  So that we can go and sin no more.

Does it make us “mean” when we say this:  1. If you are married to one person, you can’t have sex with anyone else?  or 2. We love you as a gay person, but sodomy offends God?

Mean, maybe.  But honest.  And humble.  Because these are moral principles that we couldn’t change, even if we wanted to.

Everyone is welcome at Mass.  Welcome to commune with God in love and truth.  The truth that sodomy is wrong, or that no one can justly give him or herself an annulment–we can’t change these truths.

God made sex for making babies.  We didn’t create, male and female.  So we can’t say that God made sex for casual recreation, because He manifestly did not do that.

We believe in religious freedom for a reason:  Because the Church of Christ must proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, and everyone has the freedom to embrace the truth.

The spiritual dimension of man, our relationship with truth–a relationship that transcends our physical bodies–that, too, God made.  It can’t be removed.  No surgeon can perform a soul-ectomy.

Do we believe in religious freedom because it’s in our US Constitution?  If that were the case, then non-Americans would miss part of Catholicism.  But they don’t.  When St. Justin Martry died 1600 years before James Madison was born, the saint did not lack anything in his Catholic religion.

Our U.S. Constitution may very well qualify as a political document of unparalleled magnificence.  I don’t consider myself qualified to judge such matters.

But Christ’s Church does not live and die by political documents.  We live and die for the Gospel.  Our holy martyrs have taught us the truth about religious freedom.

Thomas Jefferson and Co. deserve their props, to be sure.  But we owe our first allegiance to Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and Co.

For us, “religious freedom” is not a political issue.  It means that we are willing to suffer and die, if necessary, rather than let go of Christ, His Word, His Church, and His sacraments.

The Russell Files, Episode 2

delpo2Today is the 1,751st anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence the Deacon. Last fall, we highlighted the Holy Father’s visit to St. Lawrence’s tomb

…Delpo managed an over-heated victory yesterday, dealing poor Andy a sweltering defeat…

bertrand russell…We will discuss the court case that led America magazine to call New York Supreme Court Justice John E. McGeehan “an American, a virile and staunch American.” But first, let’s consider one of Bertrand Russell’s reasons for not being a Christian.

Russell regarded the Catholic doctrine of natural law to be irreconcilable with human freedom. He confused natural law with scientific “laws of nature.”

All just law proceeds from the Eternal Law of God for the good of everything that is subject to it. Law liberates its subject to attain fulfillment and goodness.

Creatures that do not possess intelligence are governed by the intelligence of the Creator Himself. Flowers bloom because they follow the law that the Creator inscribed in their flower-ness.

New York Supreme Court
New York Supreme Court

Natural laws of this kind are laws of sublime intelligence, inscribed in unintelligent nature for the good of the governed.

Intelligent creatures, on the other hand, possess the capacity for self-government. This is the natural law for man: that we govern ourselves according to reason.

This does not give us unlimited freedom. We are not, after all, unlimited beings–only God is. Our scope of freedom is determined by our human nature: we are rational animals, destined for the glory of God.

In other words, we possess the degree of freedom which is good for us. We have the freedom to do good and avoid evil. By doing good and avoiding evil, we…

capt ryder1. Obey the natural law.

2. Act freely.

3. Advance toward our ultimate good.

There is no contradiction between the doctrine of natural law and the freedom of man…

…”Then, at the age of 39, I began to be old.” –Captain Charles Ryder, at the beginning of the BBC version of Brideshead Revisited (based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh).

Uh-oh.

Your unworthy servant was born on a hot summer morning in 1970.

Snowfall in August

Snow on Esquiline Hill on August 5, 366
Snow on Esquiline Hill on August 5, 366

Devoted readers know that we have often referred to the Roman basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Mary Major. Some of us visited this beautiful church last fall.

SantaMariaMaggiore_frontThe location for the Roman basilica of Our Lady was determined by a small patch of snowfall which occurred in the heat of Roman summer. Fr. Zuhlsdorf has an excellent description of the Roman heat in his blog post of two years ago

…Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has said that he will vote to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, in spite of ideological differences.

Six decades ago, there was another Carolina Senator Graham–Frank Porter Graham. He had been the President of the University of North Carolina.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
In that capacity, Graham had written to Fiorello LaGuardia, then Mayor of New York, supporting the appointment of philosopher Bertrand Russell to a temporary teaching position at City College of New York. Graham signed the letter along with a number of other University Presidents.

Meanwhile, Fr. Robert Gannon, President of Fordham, America magazine, and many others voiced their vehement opposition.

A clash of cultural presuppositions erupted. Russell was the author of, among other essays, “Why I am not a Christian.”

COMING SOON: Much more on this…