From The Catholic Thing
By Robert Royal
During a recent in-flight discussion with the press returning from Slovakia, Pope Francis said some remarkable things. One particularly deserves notice: his often-repeated claim: “Abortion is more than a problem – abortion is homicide. . . . Whoever has an abortion kills.” He has also – more boldly than any previous pope – compared abortion to “hiring a hitman” – especially noteworthy because, in Italy, he has excommunicated members of the Mafia.
And yet, when he turned to how to handle the global homicide spree of abortion (tens of millions every year), he counseled priests to “Be a pastor, don’t go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated.” Francis is, to put it mildly, often unclear speaking off-the-cuff, and some commentators hoped that he was implying that those who get or cooperate in abortions (like pro-abortion politicians) are excommunicated. Pope Francis would probably try to avoid saying that. He has deflected questions – claiming ignorance of the particulars – about giving Communion to figures like President Biden and Nancy Pelosi. He must know, however, that decades of being “pastoral” have done nothing in stopping the destruction of innocent human life.
Here in America, we now have a strong example of being a pastor. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has called the misnamed “Women’s Health Protection Act” (which the House passed Friday and would provide abortion even to the “trans” and “non-binary”) nothing other than “child sacrifice.” The Senate is unlikely to advance it. But Cordileone was in line with the pope when he said, clearly aiming at Pelosi’s promotion of the bill, that it’s “surely the type of legislation one would expect from a devout Satanist, not a devout Catholic.”
We can’t know what Cordileone may have said to Pelosi as a pastor in private, at least until the day comes when he judges that his pastoral duties to his entire flock demands he not allow prominent Catholics to mislead others into endangering their souls. But even though it can’t take place in the Church, you can’t help wishing that a real public dialogue could take place.
It won’t, because there isn’t a sincere desire for dialogue on one side and we don’t have journalists willing to challenge the political spin and dig into the substance of the question.
So, until that day comes, if ever, here’s a fictional version (with input from real statements by Pelosi) of what such “dialogue” might reveal:
Journalist (henceforth J.): “Mrs. Pelosi, you’ve said you had five children in six years, and were blessed by them. Congrats to you and your husband. You then add – as if that confers some special prerogative – that you don’t have the right to tell others how many children to have, or when. But that’s another question entirely. The issue here is the moral one raised by the pope and your archbishop: “[I]s it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? Scientifically, it is a human life.”
Pelosi (henceforth P.): Women have been given the freedom by God to make up their own minds about their lives. I firmly believe that and so does the Church. The archbishop and I have a disagreement about what that means.
J: Again, with all due respect, ma’am, no one denies that women should be free to choose their own path. But this isn’t about becoming a scientist or ballet dancer. It’s about ending a human life. The government tells people what they can and cannot do many times a day, even on fairly trivial matters. Authorities in your Church say they want to remind you and others of the fetus’s own right-to-life, to “follow the science,” as it were.
P: There’s a debate among scientists about when human life begins. We believe women’s health and status demand they be allowed to make their own choices in the absence of scientific agreement.
J: Well, now we’re getting somewhere. No one denies that women’s health is important – when it’s really a matter of health. You’re saying that some scientists today can be found who, for whatever reason, deny what every textbook of embryology states – that a human life with its own unique DNA comes into existence at conception. And therefore, women can choose what to do with the developing fetus?
P: People who hold tight to their issues, not the liberty guaranteed by our Constitution and whole system, put their little beliefs above democracy.
J: But all kinds of laws require us to protect life. Hunters are not allowed to shoot into the brush without identifying the target. President Reagan remarked decades ago that if you find someone in the gutter you don’t just assume he’s not alive. You try to preserve his life; you don’t just start burying him.
P: Reagan, hmh. We now recognize that’s patriarchal thinking, men deciding what’s good for women in order to maintain their own power.
J: Mrs. Pelosi, I’m honestly confused. Men and women alike should be in perfect agreement that human life is sacred, even when preserving it is inconvenient for us. This whole debate is about respecting human life – at least that’s how it seems to me and the authorities in your Church. If it were just a matter of power, our public morals would be defined by whomever happens to have power at a given moment, not by any rationally defensible moral principles.
P: Our society has finally accepted the empowerment of women; that can only be accomplished by giving them the widest ability to make reproductive choices. And besides, our opponents don’t care about women and children after birth.
J: Again, with respect, you’re deflecting to another question, perhaps one worth pursuing after this one. But human “choices” are often bad. Just look at the first pages of the Bible. Or any book of moral philosophy. The newspapers, or social media. If choice is not guided by something other than the bare power to choose, then it looks like the end of civilized life as we know it.