Lost Opportunity

Paul Moses blogs at dotCommonweal about the NYT piece on conservative reticence about Pope Francis. Lost opportunity for the US bishops?

Count me a skeptic on that. This isn’t about the bishops.

It’s time for the Catholic laity to grow up and take responsibility. We don’t need to take marching orders from bishops, put them on pedestals, or wait for local pastoral letters. We sure don’t need to wait for programs. I don’t think we need to be dismayed about our bishops and their concerns about the Holy Father. And our conservative friends who struggle, well, my email is well-known and a more public discussion is always welcome on this site. (Unlike on some of their sites, you won’t get banned here, and a vigorous discussion with dissent is not only tolerated, but longed for.)

I see a former foil, Steve Skojec is cited, and he has written a follow-up today.

Last thing I’ll mention tonight is I think we can discount out of hand prophecies, conspiracy theories, Fatima 3.9 and other such nonsense as too much of a neo-Gnosticism. If you want to understand Pope Francis, read the Gospels. If you are serious, read the Spiritual Exercises, or better yet, do them.

Two passages of significance:

  • Matthew 21:28-32
  • Luke 15:28-32

Opportunity beckons every day. Miss one, the Lord will serve up another soon enough.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Lost Opportunity

  1. John McGrath says:

    Conservative Catholic means one or two or three main things:

    1. The paramount issue religiously and politically is abortion. In fact it is often treated as the only issue.
    2. Adherence to the Republican Party, and most often to the most extreme of Republicans, many of them Catholics: Rick Santorum, Roger Ailes (runs Fox News), Newt Gingrinch, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker.
    3. Ignoring the poor, or worse, agitating to get the government to stop offering any assistance to the poor. And attacking the safety net, including Social Security and Medicare.
    4. Support for extremist, laissez-faire capitalism and opposition to labor unions.

    I think those who want to criminalize abortion as murder need to answer these questions:

    If you get your way, and abortion is recognized as murder and is made illegal, then …

    1. Should women having an abortion be tried for first degree murder, second degree murder, or manslaughter?

    2. Should women having an abortion be executed or serve life in prison or a milder sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison?

    3. What should be done about a woman’s children if she is executed must serve life in prison or a very long prison sentence?

    4. Being “pro” the life of a child, do you think children should not be allowed to go hungry or homeless, is the welfare of children, once born, not important for a pro life stance?

    5. Should men who consent to a woman’s having an abortion, or help her to get an abortion, or pay for an abortion, also be tried and punished as murderers?

    • Liam says:

      Historically, anti-abortion laws in US states were targeted at abortion providers, and expectant mothers were considered victims. There was an effort in the 20th century to extend the reach of the laws to mothers under certain circumstances, but that was not uniform or even majority practice pre-Roe. So, a return to the pre-Roe world does not automatically entail any criminalization of the mother as such in the way your list implies. That doesn’t dispose of the issue, but I think people (pro-life and pro-choice) today are largely unaware of the history of abortion laws in the USA.

      By the same token, many people have a very skewed view of what an overturning of Roe would likely entail. It would very likely entail parental consent laws, perhaps spousal consent laws, and severe restrictions on later-term abortions in more conservative states. But probably not much else, because if referenda of recent years in pro-life redoubts as S Dakota and Mississippi are any gauge, there isn’t sufficient popular appetite to codify more into the criminal law. So, abortions would probably not decline dramatically overall.

      • John McGrath says:

        Steven Pinker, a much published Harvard-MIT professor, an evolutionary biologist-psychologist, is publicly opposed to late term abortions, based on his observation of that practice. All sorts of people across the spectrum are opposed to late term abortion.. The question for most people today is when does human life, as opposed to biological life, begin. Many non-believers and believes see it as beginning with the appearance of brain waves, at about the end of the first trimester. The abortion law in Britain, a largely non-religious country, allowing for abortions up to 26 weeks, is in alignment with this view. But whether the British law really ends late term abortion is another matter. I’m sure they are allowed, with the approval of a physician (but I don’t know). At any rate they would be far fewer proportionally than in the US.

        Pre-Roe laws did not rest on a campaign to loudly, persistently and publicly label abortion murder in all cases. The more recent uncompromising emphasis on murder may change how people want to treat the woman who aborted.

        The anti-abortion forces in conservative states seem to be emphasizing closing down all facilities providing abortions, forcing women to travel a distance, sometimes a great distance, to get an abortion. The effect will probably be abortions by non-medical “back alley” providers for the poor, and access for the well off, including conservatives, especially since most of the conservative states have not extended Medicaid coverage, leaving many poor people with no health insurance for any condition.

        If abortion is murder, and a state allows for it with some kind of conservative but not that conservative rationale, then the state is condoning murder, accruing to its own conservative principles. When it comes to what to do about punishing the aborting woman, clearly conservatives back off from the belief that abortion is murder.

      • Liam says:

        “Pre-Roe laws did not rest on a campaign to loudly, persistently and publicly label abortion murder in all cases. The more recent uncompromising emphasis on murder may change how people want to treat the woman who aborted.”

        A good deal of this is that the preservation of Roe/Casey (really, the current law is Casey) to date has meant people have been able to ignore the historical legal reality on the ground pre-Roe and make abstract arguments untethered to the way American law evolved on this point. Were Roe/Casey overturned, that would I think change rather quickly.

        Abortion may be a species of homicide (strictly speaking, feticide, it would seem), but not necessarily “murder” in the legal sense. Anglo-American law has had many shades to cover degrees of homicide, including justifiable or excusable. This perhaps goes back to whether one reads the Decalogue as saying “thou shalt not kill” versus “though shalt do no murder.”

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