St John's Q&A

Friday, May 01, 2009

"Abortion is a moral issue"

Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. Please join us!!
Mindy wrote, “There is something I don’t understand. There are several Catholic politicians who say that they don’t want to impose their religious beliefs on others- people like Pelosi, Biden and this new cabinet member, Sebelius, have all directly said that. I think, ‘Ok. Don’t impose your “religious” beliefs, but what about moral ones?’ The constitution upholds moral beliefs, doesn’t it? Life and liberty, freedom from enslavement- aren’t those all moral issues? Why is it then, when speaking of any matter of dignity, any matter of rights, ANY matter of morality for the unborn, it becomes something only ‘religious.’ I don’t understand. I also don’t understand the word ‘rebuke’ when used to describe the actions of a bishop or archbishop towards one of these people. What does it mean when one is rebuked by the Catholic hierarchy?”

First, it’s a keen point that some Catholic politicians confuse the terms “religious” and “moral” when it comes to certain issues. Archbishop Chaput of Denver has said, "These are not sectarian issues. We're not saying Catholic legislators ought to promote belief in the Trinity. Abortion is about killing somebody else. It's about human beings. Do you keep quiet if someone's going to kill someone else, or do you speak up?” Abortion is not a religious issue; it is a moral issue.

It was very interesting on Wednesday night to hear President Obama speak about abortion during his press conference. He, too, said that abortion is a moral issue: I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue”. But, then, he started to define the moral issues involved with abortion. "I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they - if they suggest - and I don't want to create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women's freedom and that there's no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with and families and individual women have to wrestle with," Obama continued.

He might have said this before, but I’ve never heard it. He made the first part of the statement but not the second. He said that abortion is not only about a woman’s right to choose. But, then, he stopped before saying the second point. I presume the second point would have been about aborting a child. He wanted to say, then, that the morality of abortion is not just about a woman’s right to choose but also about whether it’s ethical to abort a child. He stopped himself halfway because he knows that he can’t say the second part. Neither he nor any pro-abortion politician can speak to the real ethics involved with abortion: that is, the killing of a baby in the womb.

Obama is interesting in that, while he doesn’t appear to be conflicted with the abortion issue with all of his consistent, radical pro-abortion legislation and voting records, sometimes when I watch him speak about it, he seems very shaky. In fact, I noticed for the first time the other night, he actually got dry mouth when about to say the words, “pro-life”. I don’t know what to read into it, if anything; it was just interesting. Like the above referenced politicians, though, he does seem to go back and forth on invoking authority on certain moral issues and passing on it on others.

Second, when one is rebuked by Catholic hierarchy, it means that they are being called out publicly for something scandalous. Anthony wrote about this last summer; I’ve included an excerpt of his reflection below. As I understand it, private discussions occur first between the bishop and the person. If the bishop recognizes that the discussion were not fruitful, he might decide to publicly rebuke the person so that the person would change. As is stated below, the bishop might then impose penalties against the person if the private and public rebuke did not “repair the scandal, restore justice, and reform the offender”.

“Thus, a penalty such as excommunication does not cause the excommunication. Rather, it is merely visibly expressing the excommunication that the person has already made public by their sin. But this excommunication is imposed by the Church only in extreme cases. In fact, from Canon Law (# 1341) a bishop ‘is to take care to initiate a judicial or administrative process to impose or declare penalties only after he has ascertained that fraternal correction or rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude cannot sufficiently repair the scandal, restore justice, reform the offender.’ In other words, a bishop is only to impose the penalty of excommunication as a last resort, to prevent scandal, to restore justice, and most importantly, to call the offender to repentance and back to full communion with the Church. This decision is made carefully, but it is always to promote both the common good and the good of the person. This excommunication can apply to all the sacraments (except in cases of death) and to even the holding of any office in the Church.”


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