The Catholic blogosphere, awash in posts on Dr Tiller, tries to make some sense of the senseless. Most bloggers are covering the obvious aspects quite well, and I have no wish to walk the well-trod path, except for one statement:
As a Christian pacifist, I condemn this assassination in the strongest possible way. Ending a human life is never a correct approach to resolving a problem. My prayers are with George Tiller, his family, and his faith community. May all be healed from this heinous act.
Comments after some evening thoughts and a night’s sleep:
It was a frequent meme during the ND/Obama/protest debacle that it was Fr Jenkins’ own fault the ND commencement was spoiled. If only he listened to reason, his bishop, the 400k signatories, and the alumni ready to withdraw their millions from the general fund (but not the football lottery). I see a lot of protest now from the same people who agreed with the GOP schtick that it’s time to ratchet up the banging last November, but who disown assassination as a moral and political tool. They should protest. They were wrong with ND, and they’re right today on Tiller.
For the record, I will say that I believe adults have a responsibility to take the blame for their own bad actions, and avoid them, hopefully, in the first place. I thought it was silly to say the protests at ND were all the presidents’ fault. No. Unpopular things happen in an imperfect world. How we react is up to us. There are no marionette strings leading to politicians, entertainers, or religious leaders. We choose. Just us.
That said, our words and actions communicate a certain intent, even as a culture. I heard this morning where the US Attorney General is stepping up protection at abortion clinics. An employee or a client may walk to the door of her or his clinic and wonder. He or she might worry about safety, and that concern might be reinforced by louder or more frequent protests lately. What’s the slogan about the choice one has? Fight or flight? Fighting is almost always a poor choice. It can be understandable, and even moral establishments like the Church attempt to justify it under certain conditions.
The pro-life culture has succeeded over the past several months to paint itself as a leaner (fewer True Believers) and meaner (let’s get loud, and we won’t compromise!) effort. How people react to this post-Republican reality is their choice and responsibility, of course. A few crazies will engage–every large movement has them. It’s also likely that if protesters are allowed near a clinic, that fewer clients will bother with the receiving end of sidewalk counseling. Fewer will bother with any sort of exchange and dialogue at all. And though the political pro-life effort may disdain dialogue, even calling it a fetish, the truth is that the no-dialogue scenario reduces the movement to two things: prayer and talking to itself. As a believing Christian, I have every confidence in the power of prayer. But as a flesh-and-blood human being, I know I also need the interaction with other human beings to root and make incarnate the prayers I offer.
As it is, one more hurdle has been placed in the path of dialogue. People may (and who can blame them?) make a mental note as they encounter or exchange with a pro-lifer: Is this person a crazy who will harm me or others? It’s the kind of a blip that drains a bit of energy from the grace to be found in such encounters. It means we pro-lifers spend more effort and energy establishing our credibility. It puts everybody on the defensive from the get-go. Just a little more erosion as we slog onward to the Kingdon of God.