By Jim O'Leary
An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.
July 19, 2004
My opinion on abortion, being Catholic
I don't blame the Catholic bishops for speaking out against abortion.
I am glad, though, they voted, overwhelmingly, not to use the sanction of denying Holy Communion to pro choice politicians or pro choice voters, even as they agonized over the dilemma of supporting or not supporting "pro choice" politicians.
At their meeting in Denver last week, they voted 183 to 6, not to try to force compliance on voting "pro choice."
It's hard to see their point of view, if you don't think abortion is sinful.
Way before Roe vs. Wade, we Catholics were raised to believe that abortion was the worst of all sins, not just that it interfered with nature, (lots of things do that), but that there was human life in the womb, human life which would become a human being.
I myself think that if abortion is not a sin, then there is no such thing as a sin.
What else could be sinful? Going to war? Starving the poor?
Pretty bad, but not as black and white as deliberately killing a baby in the womb, a conscious, deliberate, individual act.
Not to call the fetus a baby is just semantics.
So do I believe, as a Catholic, that the bishops, whom I believe to be the successors to the Apostles and the administrators of my Church, have the right to yell their heads off against it? Of course.
I am also a believer in a woman's "right to choose" (poor choice of words because all of the friends and clients I have known as a social worker and as a human being who had abortions, had little or no choice in the matter.
I never met any woman or girl who wanted to have an abortion. It was chosen for her: by lack of support, by her boy friend, by her parents or by her husband).
Moral theologians allow abortion if the mother's life is threatened, but outside of that, a human life is a human life is a human life.
I am "pro choice" because I live in a country which is pro choice and where it would be impossible to enforce a law banning abortion.
Do you want to criminalize something that would put a 14 year old girl in prison? Or a doctor or a nurse who thought they were doing the right thing by providing an abortion?
Clinton got the Catholic vote, remember.
He lost big to the Baptists and the Evangelical Protestants. (The Episcopal Church used to be called "The Republican Party at Prayer." Now it's the Evangelicals.).
Clinton got the Catholic vote by understanding Catholics. He said abortion should be "rare" (but safe and legal) and he liked and espoused the other social teachings of the church, which are more progressive than the New Deal.
In fact Roosevelt used Catholics to write his social welfare policy, including Monsignor John A. Ryan of St. Paul, who taught at the seminary I attended.
Lots of Catholics think like I do, and abhor abortion but will still vote for "pro choice" politicians. So will some of the bishops. They aren't all in agreement over this, no matter what the press says.
Many Republicans are hypocrites. They wouldn't reverse Roe vs. Wade, none of them.
These guys hate single moms. Look at how they vote. Against day care, against any give at all in the work to welfare programs, against an increase in the minimum wage, or any minimum wage. They are hypocrites.
The bishops aren't hypocrites. They think they are doing the right thing. They're willing to take some heat for their convictions and principles.
They don't have to answer to the fad of the day. They have to answer to the moral teachings of the Church.
Their only real constituency is the Pope. If you are a Catholic, maybe you don't like this system but it's worked pretty well for 2,000 years.
Wherever you mess with it, you end up like England where only 4 percent of the people go to church any more.
About the only reason I like living in America in these days of the Bush administration, is that diversity of opinion, belief and religion is not only allowed, it's enshrined in our Constitution and, until Ashcroft came along, it's enforced.
Of course I believe in separation of Church and state. But I also believe that if somebody says he is Catholic, it should mean something.
For one thing it should mean he thinks abortion is a sin. That's all the bishops are asking, so far as I know.
Thanks for reading my opinion.
For previous issues of the Waverly Star, see the web site at www.herald-journal.com/waverlystar.
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