THE CATHOLIC CONTRIBUTION
TO THE PRO-LIFE CATASTROPHE
OF NOVEMBER 4, 2008
by Michael Meaney
11 November 2008
For generations, American Catholics followed their poor but hard-working immigrant parents and grandparents in favoring Democrats, the party of the poor, the vulnerable and the defenseless, over the rich and powerful Republicans. When Roe v Wade legalized abortion on demand for everyone at any time, all of us were challenged to respond. Despite its long history of favoring the poor and the vulnerable, the Democratic Party promoted maternal reproductive rights over fetal right to life, finally making that a crucial element of every official Democratic Party Platform since 1980. This, and the election of November 4, 2008, guarantees the ongoing holocaust of countless millions of weak, innocent babies. Rather than fight this unprecedented atrocity or abandon their party, many Catholic Senators and Congressmen became "pro-choice Catholic politicians." Here of course "choice" does not mean freedom in general, but "free either to kill or not kill unborn babies." "Pro-choice Catholic politicians" grew into a huge voting bloc and indispensable ally of the lucrative abortion industry’s efforts to maintain and expand the holocaust of the unborn. They claimed that their support for Roe, (or denial of the innocents’ absolute right to life) was more than balanced by their quality of life stands. They also claimed to be "Catholics in good-standing" and have remained public members of the Catholic Church. In their collective statements, US Bishops generally have never, unlike some individual bishops, condemned "pro-choice Catholic politicians" as a contradiction in terms like the oxymorons "atheistic Catholics," "secularistic Catholics" or "materialistic Catholics." "Pro-choice Catholic politicians and their bishops are why Roe is still law and we face an enormous increase of its holocaust of the innocent.
Cardinal Bernardin became one of the outstanding US Catholic leaders in life issues through his lectures to Catholic university audiences beginning in 1983/4 in which he tried to reduce the abortion problem and re-establish harmony through "A Consistent Ethic of Life," "a Seamless Garment" of consistency, moral moderation, mutual respect and courtesy leading towards the conclusion: "As Catholics, we are not single-issue voters." (1) His proposals were not only taken seriously by the bishops of the committee he headed, but for a quarter of a century have been so loyally and so literally followed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that it has arguably become a kind of untouchable new "orthodoxy" of "the American Catholics" of the "American Catholic Church." (2) Far from being overtly opposed to Christian Tradition or the magnificent wisdom of recent popes, Cardinal Bernardin and the bishops who follow him have simply proposed an alternative "new theory" for American Catholics. Leaving aside personal orthodoxy and episcopal loyalty to the pope, let us concentrate on the fact that the new theory is not untouchable, but in great need of serious analysis.
Following the methodology of St. Thomas and a long scholastic tradition, the following objections could lead to a better understanding of the matter. The "Consistent Ethic of Life" is a non-professional, confidently presented theory that tries to show how logic, consistency and moral moderation lead to "As Catholics, we are not single-issue voters." The following objections contest each of these essential elements.
First of all, the "Consistent Ethic of Life" is proposed as a "new" theory in which logical consistency provides the main guide to understanding moral realities. Yet Aristotle, the founder of logic, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas, Etienne Gilson and many others have all brilliantly pointed out that logic itself is not a general method of understanding realities, but only an introductory pursuit of validity in mental processes or an instrument of correct thought. It is philosophy and the sciences that directly, systematically, consistently and naturally pursue truth, which is often defined as the correspondence of judgment with extra-mental reality. To know realities well requires extensive experience, systematic observation and expertise in the different methods and subject matters of the various sciences and forms of wisdom. Trying to replace all that with "logical consistency" has often been attempted in the history of the sciences, philosophy and theology - with invariably catastrophic results. (3)
The ultimate limitations of consistency are evident in the tragic success of Friedrich Nietzsche. He never really tried to prove any of his theories, but simply stated them with great genius, profound inspiration, beautiful style, spectacular conviction and faith, great prophetic fire and exemplary consistency with his own principles and those of the most powerfully influential thinkers of his century. What more could one possibly hope for than that? One could hope for truth and goodness in harmony with life and love rather than falsity and evil in unprecedentedly bloody conflict with life and love. For genius may be true or false, sane or insane, balanced or unbalanced. Inspiration is as good or as evil, as divine or as diabolical as the spirits from which it comes. Faith and convictions may be true or false, justified or unjustified, human, divine or satanic. Consistency is nothing more than the coherent application of the relevant implications of one’s principles, however true or false they may be: its value entirely depends on the truth or falsity of those principles.