Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Having it both ways . . .

The first reading at last Friday's morning's Mass, commemorating the heroic martyrdom of Thomas Becket, was from the First Letter of John, and it included this: "Whoever says, 'I know him,' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." It is, of course, a judgment that probably falls on us all, as it most certainly falls on me. But the more conspicuous is the discrepancy between one's assertion of fidelity and one's adherence to the moral responsibilities that properly accompany it, and the more prominently on display is this discrepancy, the more others are scandalized by it.

Apropos the earlier 20-20 Hindsight post, here are a few of the critical votes cast by the most prominent Catholic in Washington today:
* Voted YES on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.

* Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions.

* Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime.

* Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life.

* Voted NO on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research.

* Voted NO on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info.

* Voted NO on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes.

* Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortions.

* Voted NO on barring transporting minors to get an abortion.

* Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a perfect pro-abortion voting record.
There are dozens of Catholic politicians in Congress with voting records almost as shamelessly at odds with the central pillar of the Church's moral teaching as is Congresswoman Pelosi's. Most have bishops practiced in the dubious art of looking the other way at the appropriate moment.

Of all the many principles that constitute the Church's social and moral teachings, the sanctity of life and the mandate to protect the most innocent and most vulnerable from being killed in their mother's wombs is paramount. The Church's position on war, political injustice, discrimination, immigration, economic inequality, and so on, are all matters of prudential judgment with which the Church as a moral teacher is quite legitimately concerned, but for which she does not take a stand that is in any way comparable to her stand on the sanctity of life. These other matters are the proper concern of competent authorities in the secular realm. To try to justify the flagrant repudiation of the Church's preeminent moral imperative by pointing to a vote or two on tax policy or immigration or minimum wage is itself symptomatic of the moral incoherence which takes its most shocking form in the campaign to turn the killing of innocents into a victory for someone else's "rights."

"It is only if human life is respected from conception to death that the ethics of peace is also possible and credible," writes Benedict XVI; "it is only then that non-violence can express itself in every direction; only then that we truly welcome creation, and only then that we can arrive at true justice."

The faithful in the pews have been scandalized long enough by politicians who flout the sanctity of life in the most egregious way while enjoying the congeniality extended to them by members of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy and the honors bestowed on them by Catholic colleges and universities.

Here's something apropros from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus:
Without the Catholic Church, there would be no pro-life movement in America, and without the pro-life movement in America, there would be no pro-life movement in the world. This must never be forgotten. Today evangelicals and Catholics together, along with many others, are leading a pro-life cause that is attracting a new generation of young people who find it hard to believe that so many of their parents were so supine in going along with what John Paul II taught the world to recognize as "the culture of death." [First Things, January 2007]
History will almost certainly judge our tolerance of the intolerable (and the moral sleight of hand that justified it) harshly, but history is not the judge that ought most to concern those of us who claim allegiance to the One who was first recognized by the child in Elizabeth's womb.

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