An entertaining piece of outrage found in this Catholics for Choice (CFC) magazine article was the discovery that several champions of authentic human rights – female champions, no less – had the audacity to defend the Catholic Church. The article targeted two of Human Life International’s (HLI) excellent leaders: Dr. Ligaya Acosta (HLI Regional Director for Asia and Oceania) and Julia Regina de Cardenal (director of HLI El Salvador) for their opposition to abortion.
What is so strange about the article is that it “exposes” the “fundamentalists” of HLI, along with some other exceptional voices for life and family, for promoting a view that HLI advertises itself as promoting – a view, by the way, that is entirely Catholic. In other words, Catholic women are demonized for promoting Catholic teaching.
Forgive a tautology, but people who call themselves pro-life strongly oppose abortion. They see it as the ultimate form of child abuse, the taking of an innocent human life. People who call themselves pro-choice don’t have a problem with abortion. Some of them promote it as a right, some even as a good, and others as a necessary evil.
If a pro-choice organization were to attack or discredit a pro-life organization with an “exposé” of some kind, why would they base much of what they produce on criticizing the pro-life organization for being prolife? That’s not an exposé; it’s a statement of the obvious.
Pro-lifers draw their conclusions about abortion from scientific findings about the beginning of life. These common sense deductions from these facts about the humanity of the human being in the womb and his value, a sense of justice – that no innocent human being should be intentionally killed, are all confirmed by the normal instinct to protect children. They know that abortion results from a break in some or all of these connections between individuals and their innate, instinctive knowledge of truth.
If they are religious people, then they believe that the knowledge they have about abortion, and in fact all authentic knowledge, reflects the mind of God. Consequently, they may defend their knowledge about abortion also with religious arguments.
Atheists should understand that although they might ridicule religious faith, and even find religion offensive or threatening, they can’t disprove religious revelation. But Catholics for Choice, one suspects, are not atheists; and thus claim a tradition that is unequivocally against that which they say they think is a human right.
The Catholic religion has always taught that abortion is gravely wrong. As an essential and important teaching of the faith, it is non-negotiable. So Catholics can draw from the teachings of their religion as well as from logic and reason when they oppose abortion.
Catholics can also decide to oppose the teachings of their religion and support abortion. They would have to deny a morally binding teaching of their faith, as well natural reason, but in a pluralistic, post-rational society, they are free to do so.
To say someone is Catholic reasonably implies, or at least used to imply, that she is fully Catholic; i.e., that she supports the essential, fundamental teachings of that faith. Indeed, the word ‘Catholic’ isn’t merely an adjective that modifies one’s personal opinions. To be Catholic is to partake in a sacramental reality, with logical claims to authority that flow from the essence of the faith.
Authentic religious identity requires assent to a body of belief. So to say “I’m Catholic” entails not “I’m a perfect Catholic,” but “I’m a real Catholic, completely.” Anything else is not an assent to religion, but a kind of statement of emotion or preference, which when one looks at what the Church is and what she teaches, makes no sense.
Those on both sides of the abortion battle have the right to freedom of belief and expression. But those who claim to be authentically Catholic; that is, Catholic without a modifier such as “ex-,” “lapsed,” or “dissident,” while supporting abortion, are committing a semantic error. Their freedom of speech enables them to make the claim, but the claim is false. It is a contradiction.
So we consider the name “Catholics for Choice,” when “choice” clearly refers to the choice to be able to kill one’s pre-born child. People can name their organizations anything they choose I suppose, but one should not be led to think that the positions held by Catholics for Choice represent the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church, since their raison d’être is entirely un-Catholic. Indeed, the bishops have stated more than once that CFC is not an organization that can truthfully be called “Catholic.”
It is true that dissent does not automatically reverse the sacramental baptism that makes a person Catholic, but it does in an important sense undermine his ability to claim that his particular error comes from the heart and mind of the Church. The only reason this group exists is to drive a wedge into the Church, giving abortion-sympathetic media the ability to claim that the Church is not as clear on the condemnation of abortion as her hierarchy claim that she is.
“Like” Truth and Charity Forum on Facebook!
Are those in “Catholic for Choice” still Catholic? That’s not for me to judge. There are remedies to address the scandal that flows from these nonsensical declarations of faith in service to the murder of innocent human beings, but this cannot be enforced by a layperson like myself. That this group has been denounced by Catholic bishops, and defended by no bishops, is a fact that should be included whenever CFC is quoted in media.
Nevertheless, their “exposé” is a strange exercise in circular reasoning, fraught with outrage that Catholic pro-life women would dare to promote the view that comports with both faith and reason, in harmony with their authentic faith.
Maybe we’re all guilty of that kind of thing from time to time, but the better way to argue is to use logic and science to prove a point. Human life begins at conception. From there we can talk about a society that succeeds in protecting or fails to protect that innocent person.