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Were the Bishops Used by the Pro-Life Movement?

January 28, 2010

I have been more than a little disappointed with the US bishops during the healthcare debate. I do not doubt their utter sincerity, but I question their political savvy. In fact, this precedes the healthcare debate. Time after time, we have seen the US bishops acting as the cart being pulled by the pro-life horse, and I pro-life I mean the “professional” political pro-life movement that is solidly wedded to the agenda and strategy of the Republican party and the whole cult of individualism that mis-names itself conservative.

Consider the past year. Prompted by the pro-life zealots determined to paint Obama as the “most pro-abortion president in history”, the USCCB got caught up in faux-FOCA panic. FOCA was not an issue, and it was never going to be an issue. But because of some stupid comment of Obama’s from a few years back, it became a central rallying cry for the prolife movement that was opposed to Obama on so many other levels. And the bishops followed. And when the pro-life movement erupted again over Obama’s degree at a midwestern Catholic university, the bishops followed again, with some of them acting as if it were the most important issue facing the country. (In contrast,  there seems very little outcry in Catholics circles to the granting of a “pro-life” award to George W. Bush by the Legatus group.) This pattern appeared even after a record of making very little public comment about the many immoral policies of the previous administration, including the legitimization of torture and the practice of pre-emptive and unjust war.

The professional pro-life movement never showed much interest in life issues beyond abortion. The movement cared little about, and often showed ideological disdain for, the policies that might reduce abortion – this in spite of  the Declaration on Procured Abortion’s clear statement that “one can never approve of abortion, but it is above all necessary to combat its causes…it is necessary…to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children.” The abortion issue has been used time and again as a trojan horse to hide those policies that are less than palatable in Catholic circles. Using the unborn for political gain has become quite a cynical sport.

Look at the record. The movement is satisfied with minor and symbolic victories, victories that do little for the incidence of abortion, but do a lot for their fund-raising efforts. And of course, the great ace-in-the-hole is the ability to nominate the “right” Supreme Court judges. Sure, Bush made two picks that earned him great accolades, but while his judges continue to steer the court further in the direction of big business and corporate interests, nothing was done to tackle the conditions that lead to abortion. Under Bush, median real income declined by 4.3 percent, poverty rose by 26 percent, child poverty shot up by 21 percent, and the number of uninsured also increased by 21 percent.

The pro-life movement seems to care little for changing the very culture that is so supportive of abortion “rights”. Changing the culture is hard, time consuming. Nobody says otherwise. Ask William Wilberforce. But the very political strategy of the pro-life movement itself sets the clock back even further, by aligning the interests of the unborn with big business, with war, with torture, with environmental hooliganism. This hypocrisy disgusts the pro-choice crowd. As well it should.

The healthcare debate really shone a light on the jaded tactics of the pro-life movement. It was very clear very quickly that killing the healthcare bill became the number one propriety of the political right. And the pro-life movement played its part perfectly. Its long courtship with the political right was finally consummated. The nadir was reached with the elation over the election of Scott Brown to the Senate, a man who is proudly pro-abortion and proudly pro-torture, a man who resembles nobody as much as Rudy Giuliani, who not so long ago was demonized by this very same pro-life movement. But times had changed. There was a healthcare bill to kill. And Brown might be able to deliver the fatal blow. Hence, his great victory was to be celebrated – even at the March for Life, of all places.

And yet, the pro-lifers claim steadfastly to oppose healthcare for its abortion provisions. But is this true? When the House passed a bill with the ironclad Stupak protections against abortion, the pro-life movement did not embrace the bill. They continued to oppose. Yet again, they used the unborn for political gain. Their real loyalty was to the American cult of individualism, which objected to forcing people to purchase health insurance, and especially to forcing the healthy to subsidize the sick, either directly through community rating, or indirectly through budgetary subsidies. This was really why they opposed reform, not abortion.

Which brings me back to where I started – to the role of the bishops. I believe the bishops have been poorly served by the pro-life movement during this debate. I believe they were intimidated into supporting a maximalist position that would not have happened even a few years ago, and would seem peculiar in other countries, including Catholic countries. Perhaps they felt trapped in that position as so many Catholics on the left were all too ready to mock and dismiss them on a whole host of teachings, including sexual issues. Perhaps they feared the attacks they would face if they showed any weakness to this group. But they were poorly served, and their latest letter pleading with Congress not to let healthcare fail seems almost tinged with regret. One thing we know for sure – this regret is not shared by the so-called pro-lifers, the Robbie Georges and others, who are relishing the defeat of healthcare and their own role in it.

Just think through some of the issues on abortion and healthcare. Once we start from the position that abortion is covered by private health insurance plans, it becomes very difficult to design a reform that simultaneously increases coverage without including abortion. I believe the Democrats went further than many thought possible to meet these concerns. Personally, I support the Stupak position. I think the Stupak position is better than the Nelson compromise, but not that much better, and certainly not better enough to derail the whole reform. After all, Nelson would allow states to forbid abortion coverage, give people the option of an abortion-free plan, and shine attention on abortion coverage by separating payments (if you can’t see the value in forcing such attention, just ask the RNC).

The problem is, the bishops trapped themselves in a corner by drawing the line with Stupak. We all know that the issue relates to the degree of proximity of taxpayer funding to each and every act of abortion, and that this proximity is not that close, given that the plans are private plans funded by private premia, and the only relationship to the taxpayer is through subsidies to people under a certain income level (and anyway, private premia are equally tainted).

Nobody seems to be noting that the Republican health reform plans would suffer from similar – if not greater – problems. After all, granting tax credits makes it cheaper for people to purchase private plans with abortion, and allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines would gut the Nelson provision allowing states to ban abortion coverage. The bottom line is that if abortion coverage is widespread in private plans, then these issues become unavoidable.

 By all means, the bishops were right to push for as much distance as possible between abortion and healthcare, and I applauded them all the way, but to draw the line in such arbitrary manner makes little sense. However, it makes a lot of sense to the pro-life movement, for entirely different reasons. And therein lies the problem.

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193 Comments
  1. January 28, 2010 10:17 pm

    You can knock Bush but he is still the most pro-life President we ever had. But he ordered war and the deaths of people. Yeah, well he was forced into the move by 9/11 attacks and those killed weren’t overwhelmingly innocents. I take exception with “The professional pro-life movement never showed much interest in life issues beyond abortion,” I disagree 100%. You just don’t hear about their support of other life issues. To be frank, America is the biggest donor country in the world. That translates into ‘after-born’, life issues beyond abortion.

    I think your article is mostly correct and well thought out. Just remember nobody is perfect, even us Catholics which 50% of marriages end in divorce, Catholic abortion almost on the same scale as the rest of the population, Catholics voted overwhelmingly for a pro-abortion president. We are attacked on all sides but we rest secure knowing Matthew 16:18 “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

  2. Frank permalink
    January 28, 2010 10:46 pm

    My head would explode if I were to dwell for long on the shocking level of hypocrisy and corruption to be found in today’s single-issue American Catholic Church. It’s become a mirror image of talk radio and cable TV with endless bickering, name-calling, politicking and cowardice. Such a disgrace. God have mercy.

  3. Mark Gordon permalink
    January 28, 2010 11:17 pm

    This hypocrisy disgusts the pro-choice crowd.

    Yes, and as we know, pro-choicers, unfailingly honest as they are, have very little tolerance for hypocrisy.

  4. Pinky permalink
    January 28, 2010 11:23 pm

    This article is maybe the 30th on Vox Nova that equates HR 3200 (or its variants) with an expansion of affordable health care. I think a neutral, nonpartisan reading of the bill would not reach the same conclusion.

  5. M.Z. permalink
    January 28, 2010 11:34 pm

    The reason the “pro-life” area was separated from social justice was because “pro-lifers” disdained social justice issues. On the basic informational level, the press releases of the USCCB have been this side of awful, putting out understandings of the legislation that were cynical if not just outright wrong. The only solace I have for the bishops is that they were negotiating with themselves, because they couldn’t bring any of the Republican “pro-life” dandies over with them. Outside of Cao, “pro-life” Republicans were worthless in the effort to reform health care. The bishops’ caucus managed to be about a dozen Democrats. Of course Catholic ‘conservatives’ had nothing but complaints for them aside from Stupak, not that they weren’t ready to throw him under the bus at the first instance if we were to comprise in the most minimal fashion to get something passed. We had a bill that offered the best opportunity to circumscribe the availability of abortion, and “pro-lifers” opened their mouths and proved they were just prostituting the unborn.

  6. phosphorious permalink
    January 28, 2010 11:40 pm

    You can knock Bush but he is still the most pro-life President we ever had. But he ordered war and the deaths of people. Yeah, well he was forced into the move by 9/11 attacks. . .

    Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and the fact that Bush supporters. . . catholic Bush supporters included. . . continue to claim that it does rather proves the point that MM is making: if a politician is against abortion, it really doesn’t matter what he’s for.

    At a bare minimum, Catholics need to be reminded that their perfectly laudable position on abortion makes them vulnerable to a certain kind of huckster.

  7. phosphorious permalink
    January 28, 2010 11:44 pm

    Yes, and as we know, pro-choicers, unfailingly honest as they are, have very little tolerance for hypocrisy.

    It is a standard reply these days, whenever a conservative is criticized, to say “well, liberals do it too!”

    A specific instance of pro-life hypocrisy has been cited: support for a war monger and torturer.

    If you don’t mind, could you give a specific instance of pro-chopice hypocrisy, just so we know this is a real argument, and not an exchange of talking points?

  8. Mark Gordon permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:42 am

    phosphorious, what do conservative and liberal have to do with anything? I assure you I am neither. Nor am I a Republican or Democrat.

    You ask for an example of ‘pro-choice’ hypocrisy. We could begin with the use of the term ‘pro-choice.’ Those who identify with that position would deny the right to choose to the unborn, just as some pro-lifers would deny some born persons the right to life. The differnce is that while some pro-lifers are hypocritical on the issue of life, all pro- choicers are hypocritical on the issue of choice.

    While you digest that, we’ll let lie the deep hypocrisy of pro-choice Catholic politicians who nevertheless claim to be faithful members of the Catholic Church.

  9. Mark Gordon permalink
    January 29, 2010 2:27 am

    It is a standard reply these days, whenever a conservative is criticized, to say “well, liberals do it too!”

    Yes, and whenever a liberal is criticized, it is common for many to say, “well, conservatives do it, too!” In fact, that’s what you often say – or mean to say – right here on old Vox Nova. But what is your point, and what do liberal and conservative have to do with anything? I am neither. I’m trying to think with the mind of the Church.

    But you ask for an example of pro-choice hypocrisy. How about this, using your own formulation: oppositon to a warmonger and torturer, but support for abortion?

    How about, expressed concern for the weak and vulnerable, including those threatened by violence, but support for abortion?

    Or, how about the hypocrisy of the term ‘pro-choice’ itself? Someone who adopts that position as their own would deny the right to choose to the unborn. And so although they claim to believe in choice, they don’t really. They can’t, in fact. They may believe in one particular choice – abortion – but not in the freedom to choose as a general principle extended to all persons. In this pro-choicers are just like those pro-lifers who would deny the right to life to some born persons. With this one exception: while only some pro-lifers are hypocrites about the right to life, all pro-choicers are hypocrites about the right to choose.

  10. January 29, 2010 5:09 am

    This may be the most honest post I’ve ever read on abortion as a political gimmick. Kudos, MM.

  11. Austin Ruse permalink
    January 29, 2010 8:18 am

    In defense of the FOCA fight:

    This effort was led by someone and a group you all have likely never heard of, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment and headed by a quiet and unassuming hero Mike Taylor. The NCHLA is an entity, like National Right to Life, founded by the Bishops but now separate. They also interface with each of the diocesan prolife offices. It was the NCHLA which orchestrated 40 million Senate postcards on partial birth abortion.

    Regarding FOCA. That FOCA was never intended has achieved near mythical status by pro-aborts. This is false. It is something they wanted intensely to do. You may say it was never a possibility but when there is such a gargantuan threat, activists have to take it seriously. NCHLA initiated hundreds of thousands of postcards into the Congress. This was a shot across the bow of the new administration there would be an enormous reaction if they moved on FOCA. That they didn’t can be at least partially attributed to the work of NCHLA and the Bishops.

    In defense of partial birth abortion fight:

    This was one of the monumental achievements of the pro-life groups over the past 37 years. Why? Because it fundamentally changed the terms of the debate. Here we were for the first time actaully discussing an abortion procedure in grisly detail. America watched and learned. And this resulted in the VERY FIRST restriction on an abortion procedure. The resulting court cases were even instructive. Judge Casey of New York who eventually ruled in favor of partial birth abortion, asked horrific and detailed questions of abortionists that stand as the first Nuremburg-style transcript of the butchers of abortion.

    To say the Bishops are dupes of the prolife movement or that the bishops only do prolife or whatever this rather rambling post is trying to say is nonsense. The social justice budget at the USCCB far eclipses the budget for the prolife office. The prolife office is only a handful of people and getting smaller. There are many second collections nationally for things that could be considered social justice. There isn’t even one for prolife.

    The bishops and health care. They made it very plain they would support the health care proposals as long as they `1) did not support or fund abortion, and 2) protected the consciences of health care workers. It is shocking that Dems were willing to upend their longtime dream of healthcare for all on the question of a woman’s right to kill her own baby. That is the amazing thing.

  12. January 29, 2010 8:48 am

    No the short answer was the Pro-life movement did not “use” the Bishops. THe Bishops and the pro-life movement heleped get it out. So when they sent out objects as to abortion related issues in the bill the pro-life movement broadcast it

    I really dodn’t understand the constant crtiticism of the pro-life movement on here. Well perhaps I do. It appears they can do no right as long as they are contmaminted by people like me. That is conservative Republicans. Everything is some cynical move it appears. I am afraid that the pro-life movement is very diverse and has it own fractures. Again it is dangerous and folly to give blanket judgement on this many people

    It also hides the fact that yes we have the most Pro-Choice President ever and despite all of Kmiec polemics it does not appear to be getting better. It also hides the fact that President Obama’s most Catholic supporters could not get him to intervene early in this Health Care debate and have that Stupak language asserted. Which is one reason why this stalled and perhaps gave a chance for anti health bill to pounce

  13. Austin Ruse permalink
    January 29, 2010 8:52 am

    Additionally, many FOCA provisions ended up in the health care bill.

    • January 29, 2010 9:10 am

      “Many FOCA provisions.”

      Which ones? This is just a pathetic response without concrete details. It’s like saying, “Austin Ruse agrees with some of the ideology of Planned Parenthood.” I would be correct, since you would agree that a pregnant woman is a pregnant woman, which Planned Parenthood readily proclaims.

  14. grega permalink
    January 29, 2010 9:57 am

    Mark I trust you could come up with better arguments than this first attempt – come on man you should know that any argument along the lines of ‘some of us are hypocritical but ALL of you are hypocritical’ does not exactly ring true regardless of the topic at hand.
    If there was a slam dunk argument for an outright ban on abortions – guess what -we would not have abortions.

    As it is we will define and redefine a rather fuzzy line as a society – just like with the oh so simple cut and dry – you shall not kill -as a society we will very much reserve the right to kill under defined circumstances – and yes with an ever growing global population societies and individuals will find plenty of arguments why not every sperm is sacred.

  15. Kurt permalink
    January 29, 2010 10:29 am

    It is shocking that Dems were willing to upend their longtime dream of healthcare for all on the question of a woman’s right to kill her own baby

    it is shocking that when every House Dems save maybe two voted for a pro-life health care bill, while only a single Republican was willing to do so, that you will still try to propogate this falsehood. Not to mention the absolute silence from you and the rest of the Pro-Life movement on the GOP’s plans for the largest expansion of abortion since Roe.

  16. January 29, 2010 10:30 am

    Very sad.

    As soon as the bishops turn against your precious health care bill (the only issue you actually care about and vote on), you turn against them and throw them under the bus as an extension of the GOP. After all this time pushing the USCCB as the guiding light American Catholics should use, when the USCCB challenges YOU rather than the “republicaths,” you immediately dismiss them as partisans. Indeed, you have adopted the tactics of those you frequently & justly rail against, the tactics that were once used to paint the USCCB as an arm of the left & Democrats.

    Instead of heroic fidelity to the bishops and a willingness to criticize Obama, whom you voted for, for amazingly pushing abortion in a bill where it has no place, you have chosen an opposite path. I was hoping for a lot more out of you.

    • January 29, 2010 10:45 am

      Michael Denton

      When the Bishops discuss things which are not in the bills, and go contrary to the bills, as reasons to oppose them, but follow the talking points of GOP strategists calling themselves professional pro-lifers, then the Bishops have been misled. They have been responding to what they have been told by these professionals, though the professionals have made it clear they will not follow the Bishops in support of pro-life health care bills. Perhaps just perhaps the Bishops need to ponder if they are getting the right advice from these activists. Just because they call themselves pro-life doesn’t mean they are (just like Catholics for Choice aren’t Catholic). And when the record is that these pro-lifers will set aside abortion victories in Congress because they don’t like health care, then it is clear, the real issue for these activists is no longer life. Hopefully the Bishops can see this and find some new advisers.

  17. Colin Gormley permalink
    January 29, 2010 10:36 am

    “The reason the “pro-life” area was separated from social justice was because “pro-lifers” disdained social justice issues.”

    No the reason why is because the “social justice” folks have by and large abandoned the unborn (as evidenced by the continued apologizing on this form to “look past the funding of abortion”). You can’t have true social justice without respecting the right to life. This is common sense.

    The authors on this site like to blame everyone but themselves for this disaster. By arguing for this healthcare bill despite the continuous attempts to expand abortion funding they undermine their own cause. In the exact same fashion pro-lifers do when supporting pro-torture.

    Until MM and others realize their own failure to uphold the basic teaching of Catholic social justice (i.e. right to life is non-neogtiable), their dreams of government run healthcare will be DOA.

  18. Colin Gormley permalink
    January 29, 2010 10:40 am

    “We had a bill that offered the best opportunity to circumscribe the availability of abortion, and “pro-lifers” opened their mouths and proved they were just prostituting the unborn.”

    Please. Pelosi herself said abortion funding is in the Senate bill and that the Casey provisions are an accounting scheme. No one is buying that abortion funding isn’t in this bill. Pelosi et. al. have stated as such that they are doing everything to get around Stupak and his group.

    If anyone is prostituting the unborn, it is the supporters of this bill. We are selling their lives to get this bill.

  19. Michael permalink
    January 29, 2010 10:44 am

    I am certain you ask the same question every time the Bishops line up behind whatever expansion of government power the Democratic party is pushing. In your world, unless the bishops fall brainlessly in behind the Democratic National Committee’s agenda they are just dupes for conservatives. It was amazing and heartening to see them actually stand up for the unborn for a change.

  20. Colin Gormley permalink
    January 29, 2010 10:45 am

    “Yet again, they used the unborn for political gain. Their real loyalty was to the American cult of individualism, which objected to forcing people to purchase health insurance, and especially to forcing the healthy to subsidize the sick, either directly through community rating, or indirectly through budgetary subsidies. This was really why they opposed reform, not abortion.”

    Ah yes, the stereotype. Nevermind that some just MIGHT have fears that an amoral government may not be the best place for entrusting cost of care.

    For the record, I’m not defending the pfo-life movement so much as showing that MM is doing little more than venting. His claims to know the minds of those in the pro-life movement are juvenile.

  21. johnmcg permalink
    January 29, 2010 11:13 am

    During the debate about the Stupak and Nelson amendments, where was Vox Nova?

  22. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 11:30 am

    The differnce is that while some pro-lifers are hypocritical on the issue of life, all pro- choicers are hypocritical on the issue of choice.

    No. For one thing, there is legitimate dispute over the human status of the fetus. “The pope says its human” satifies me, but there is no reason why it should count as a legal reason. In particular, I’m not sure it even makes sense to give an unborn child a “choice” about anything.

    Furthermore, Children in this society are subject to their parents, and not allowed to choose. Would you, for example, say that a young child has a right to refuse the medical care that their parents have chosen for him or her? This is true vene where it results in the death of a child; every so often there is a case of Christian scientists refusing medical care for their child, which results in the child’s death. There is usually very little religious objection to this, or calls for Christian Science to be outlawed. In fact, many states have a religious exemption for just these situations.

    No one said choice was pretty.

  23. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 11:39 am

    “I am certain you ask the same question every time the Bishops line up behind whatever expansion of government power the Democratic party is pushing. In your world, unless the bishops fall brainlessly in behind the Democratic National Committee’s agenda they are just dupes for conservatives. It was amazing and heartening to see them actually stand up for the unborn for a change.

    The basic charge is that the pro-life movement has been duped by the GOP, that a genuine and noble religious sentiment has been co-opted by mercenary political hacks. Responses like this persuade me that this is exactly the case.

    You say that “for once” the bishops have stuck up for the unborn. . . as if they’ve been asleep at the wheel.

    But look: I know a LOT of Catholics who are pro-choice. They think that abortion is wrong, but that the state has no right to interfere here. Such Catholics are under no illusions about the church’s position. they no that they are disobeying the Vatican on this, but their conscience compels them.

    Compare this to the majority of catholics who think that torture is often or sometimes justified:

    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/god-and-country/2009/04/30/poll-most-evangelicals-and-catholics-condone-torture-in-some-instances.html

    Here are people who depart from church teaching. . . and have no idea that they are doing so.

    The Church gets the word out on abortion. No sane person has any doubt about where the pope stands on that.

    But there is apparently real doubt about the Church’s position on torture. For some reason, the Church’s teaching is not getting through.

    The fact that you don’t see this as a problem. . . is the problem.

  24. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 11:43 am

    In your world, unless the bishops fall brainlessly in behind the Democratic National Committee’s agenda they are just dupes for conservatives.

    Could you give an example of the Bishops ever “falling brainlessly behind the DNC’s agenda”?

    It is pretty clear that the Vatican softened its teaching on torture and just war, in order to get a pro-life candidate elected to the American presidency. A strong claim, I know. . . but the evidence fits. Polls show that a majority of catholics favor the use of torture to some degree, something that would not be the case if the Vatican were as clear on torture as it is on abortion.

    Give me an example of them favoring democratic policies or candidates in the same way.

  25. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 11:46 am

    You can’t have true social justice without respecting the right to life. This is common sense.

    But ‘respecting the right to life” is compatible in conservative minds, with war and torture and pernicious economic inequality.

    Just not abortion.

  26. Colin Gormley permalink
    January 29, 2010 12:49 pm

    phosphorious,

    I could turn this claim around and say the left is all for universal health care…except for the unborn.

    Or that freedom of conscience is for everyone…except Catholic Doctors.

  27. Pinky permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:06 pm

    “FOCA was not an issue, and it was never going to be an issue. But because of some stupid comment of Obama’s from a few years back, it became a central rallying cry for the prolife movement that was opposed to Obama on so many other levels.”

    A stupid comment, along with his co-sponsorship of the 2007 Freedom of Choice Act.

  28. ctd permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:23 pm

    The idea that the bishops follow the RNC or pro-life groups agenda is ludicrous and nothing in the post really supports that claim. I could refute the charges point by point, but that would take up way too much space and time.

    The post contains two glaring omissions, though. First, the line was not drawn at the Stupak Amendment. The Stupak Amendment was drawn along the lines the bishops set out long before the other pro-life groups took a position — no change in federal policy.

    The second omission is that that position of the bishops reflected moral leadership – one cannot expand an evil to achieve a good.

    Oh, and let us not forget the glaring reality that the bishops’ position is what allowed health care reform to pass the House in the first place. Insistence on the abortion provisions gave a life and chance of survival to health care reform that it would not otherwise have had.

  29. Mark Gordon permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:36 pm

    The pope says its [sic] human” satifies [sic] me …

    phosphorious, your absurd reduction of Church teaching on abortion to “the pope says it’s human” fits neatly with your spaghetti Western conception of good guys versus bad guys in American politics. It’s simple-minded and embarrassing. Try widening your view a little.

  30. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 2:33 pm

    phosphorious, your absurd reduction of Church teaching on abortion to “the pope says it’s human” fits neatly with your spaghetti Western conception of good guys versus bad guys in American politics. It’s simple-minded and embarrassing. Try widening your view a little.

    I was speaking elliptically of the authority of the church. The fact that the pope speaks authoritatively, for catholics, on these matters settles the discussion. . . for catholics.

    I’m not sure whetehr it should do so for Americans.

  31. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 2:40 pm

    The idea that the bishops follow the RNC or pro-life groups agenda is ludicrous and nothing in the post really supports that claim. I could refute the charges point by point, but that would take up way too much space and time.

    Then address a single point: why are so many catholics confused about the church’s stand on torture, while its stand on abortion is unambiguous.

    One answer is that the church emphasizes those teachings that are in line with the GOP’s platform, and downplays those that are in line with the democrats.

    Do you have another explanation?

  32. Kurt permalink
    January 29, 2010 2:51 pm

    one cannot expand an evil to achieve a good

    And this, nine words, is the smoking gun. Not that the principle here is neccesarily wrong.

    To give people vouchers and tax credits so that private market health insurance is expanded to include 30 million more Americans is an expansion of evil.

    Why before now has the RTL Movement and the USCCB never called private market health insurance an evil that must not be expanded? Why the silence?

    WHy have liberal politicans had their right to the Sacraments questioned but never insurance salesmen, corporate executives and those who purchase pro-abortion policies?

    Why do Chaput and Burke denounce pro-choice politicans but take blood money from abortion financing businessmen?

  33. Colin Gormley permalink
    January 29, 2010 3:13 pm

    Kurt,

    1. Private insurace is NOT de facto evil. The hybrid private/public mess we currently have (and the abuses of such) is the problem. Privatized insurance is not in and of itself evil.

    2. Because liberal politicians (really anyone who supports abortion laws) advocate an intrinsic evil. Ban abortion and the coporate support for it dries up.

    3. Links please.

  34. January 29, 2010 3:48 pm

    All good points. Why, indeed?

  35. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 4:05 pm

    1. Private insurace is NOT de facto evil. The hybrid private/public mess we currently have (and the abuses of such) is the problem. Privatized insurance is not in and of itself evil.

    Why not? If it pays for abortion. . . which it does. . . then it’s evil.

    No?

  36. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 4:07 pm

    2. Because liberal politicians (really anyone who supports abortion laws) advocate an intrinsic evil. Ban abortion and the coporate support for it dries up.

    So do conservative politicians who support torture. That’s most of them, last I checked. Was a single catholic conservative threatened with being refused the sacraments because of their stance on torture?

    The point is not that abortion is good, but that the Church is unequal in its treatment of liberlas and conservatives.

  37. Kurt permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:28 pm

    Colin writes: private insurance is NOT a de facto evil

    ctd said it was. that is who your argument is with.

    But I think I understand your disagreement with him. Private Insurance is not a per se evil and therefore the expansion of private insurance to 30 million additional Americans is not an expansion of evil.

    You have an interesting proposition there, Colin. You and ctd could have a good dialogue.

  38. ctd permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:34 pm

    phosphorius:

    There are many other explanations. How about the fact that the Church’s teaching on torture is developing and not as long rooted in our catechesis as abortion? How about the fact that while the Church’s teaching that torture is intrinsically evil it is not so clear what torture actually is, which is not the case with abortion? By that, the Church does not have a definitive method of determining whether a particular method is torture. Catechesis on abortion is pretty simple compared to torture. What about the fact that USCCB did support legislation prohibiting torture, even in though it was opposed by many Republicans? What about the fact that expansion of abortion coverage would lead to many more deaths than torture and that the political priority should, therefore, be on abortion in health care?

    There are many many other explanations.

  39. Colin Gormley permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:37 pm

    Phosphorious,

    1. No. As I stated before, privatized insurance in and of itself is NOT evil. A particular insurance company that funds abortion is doing evil true. But my original point still stands. Also, as I stated before, if abortion is banned, the privatized insurance abortion funding problem goes away. This is why pro-life focuses on the law.

    2. Your argument may be valid on the fact that the Church needs to take a tougher stand on torture. But even liberals who supported torture (they exist) didn’t face censure by the Church either. Therefore you conclustion is invalid. Were liberals who supported torture singled out?

  40. ctd permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:40 pm

    Private insurance is not per se evil, nor is expansion of it. Of course I never wrote that. Under either bill, the new paradigm is a public/private arrangement, not the mere expansion of private insurance.

    The issue at hand is whether the government will expand publicly funded abortion coverage. The House bill would not. The Senate bill would. All sides agree on that.

  41. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 6:21 pm

    2. Your argument may be valid on the fact that the Church needs to take a tougher stand on torture. But even liberals who supported torture (they exist) didn’t face censure by the Church either. Therefore you conclusion is invalid. Were liberals who supported torture singled out?

    While there are liberals who are in favor of torture, you can’t really be denying that it is a signature issue for conservatives.

    The point is that torture is a non issue altogether. . . and that fact helped re-elect a republican president. If torture had been given the weight it deserved, then Bush would never have been re-elected.

    The church speaks loudly on abortion and softly on torture, and that helps republicans.

  42. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 6:24 pm

    There are many other explanations. How about the fact that the Church’s teaching on torture is developing and not as long rooted in our catechesis as abortion?

    I’m not a theologian or a church historian. . . but are you claiming that torture has not been discussed for as long as abortion has? I find that hard to believe.

  43. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 6:28 pm

    How about the fact that while the Church’s teaching that torture is intrinsically evil it is not so clear what torture actually is, which is not the case with abortion?

    Ahhh. . . the old “We don’t torture, because waterboarding isn’t torture” gambit.

    If a technique gets peole who hate us, and who have devoted their lives to destroying us, to talk against their will, then by definition that technique is torture, wouldn’t you say?

    And are you really claiming that while the definition of torture is obscured by billowy clouds of unknowing. . . the humanity of the fetus is a plain fact, obvious to all? Hardly.

    One of the by products of Bush’s torture regime is that perfectly decent people have become stupider than they were. “Torture? No idea what that is!”

  44. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 6:30 pm

    By that, the Church does not have a definitive method of determining whether a particular method is torture. Catechesis on abortion is pretty simple compared to torture.

    My point is that this catechesis is defective. It over simplifies abortion and over complicates torture. The Church does not have a working defintion of torture, and has no way of developing one?

    I didn’t think the Magisterium was that dull-witted.

  45. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 6:32 pm

    What about the fact that USCCB did support legislation prohibiting torture, even in though it was opposed by many Republicans?

    Did their “support” of that legislation include anything like a threat to withdraw support from pro-torture politicians?

  46. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 6:34 pm

    “What about the fact that expansion of abortion coverage would lead to many more deaths than torture and that the political priority should, therefore, be on abortion in health care?

    And there it is: abortion is so bad, that until it is abolished, nothing else matters. This is exactly the problem.

    The road to hell is paved with single minded attachments to noble ideals.

  47. ctd permalink
    January 29, 2010 7:15 pm

    Discussed? Maybe. But definitive teaching that torture is intrinsically wrong is a fairly recent development. Though there are some pronouncements going back centuries, there were also contrary or decrees at variance through the years. Explicit denunciation is very recent.

    This, of course, does not mean that the Church has changed its position. It has only more fully developed its teaching that torture is contrary to the dignity of the human person and Christ’s call for mercy.

    More problematic, though, is that we do not have clear direction as to what is “physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred.”

    The teaching on abortion, however, goes back to the Didache and except in very rare cases, we have no trouble identifying what is an abortion.

    • January 29, 2010 8:02 pm

      Rejecting abortion is indeed something which is found from the beginning. However, the political way one is to engage a pluralistic, post-Christian state that allows abortion has not yet found any answer. That is part of the confusion. There is one thing to agree with abortion should be wrong. It is different, however, when talking about modern politics and voting, and voting for non-ideal candidates. Interestingly enough, I’ve yet to see people who try to say “war isn’t so bad because it can be justified” say the same for “voting isn’t so bad, even if wrong, because voting badly isn’t intrinsically evil.”

  48. Kurt permalink
    January 29, 2010 7:41 pm

    ctd,

    I am very intriged by your theory that a baby is less dead when he is killed by the private sector.

    You wrote one cannot do good by expanding an evil. Now you tell me that that it is not financing abortion itself that is evil, but that the evil depends on who is the funder.

  49. January 29, 2010 9:01 pm

    Let me suggest that there is no pro-life movement in America; there is a rather large anti-abortion movement. Being anti-abortion is the prerequisite for being pro-life, but it is not sufficient. My disucssion of the differences is at http://distributism.blogspot.com/2008/09/pro-life-or-just-anti-abortion.html

    The misnamed pro-life (but really anti-abortion) movement seems to subordinate itself to the needs of the Republican Party. How else to explain their enthusiasm for the pro-abortion Scott Brown? Defeating health care was more important than saving babies. And that’s the way it has been for a long time.

  50. phosphorious permalink
    January 29, 2010 9:55 pm

    More problematic, though, is that we do not have clear direction as to what is “physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred.”

    No clear direction. . . and no desire to find one, apparently.

    Tell you what: have yourself waterboarded, and then re-argue the point.

  51. January 30, 2010 6:16 am

    Kurt: WHy have liberal politicans had their right to the Sacraments questioned but never insurance salesmen, corporate executives and those who purchase pro-abortion policies?

    Do you have a list of Catholic corporate executives and board members who have voted explicitly for policies covering abortion?

  52. Austin Ruse permalink
    January 30, 2010 8:22 am

    Pro-life means protecting the unborn from abortion, protecting embryos from destructive experimentation, protecting the old and infirm from euthanasia. Ithas to do with protecting the innocent from deliberate killing. Anything else is an attempt by others to appropriate what is a darn good and potent word.

    • January 30, 2010 8:30 am

      So, Austin, when Pope John Paul II put many other concerns in his Gospel of Life, he was trying to appropriate the cause for his own diabolical ends? Pro-life should mean, and means in a Catholic context, the whole DIGNITY of ALL LIFE. It is for ALL LIFE, not just some. The fact that you ignore this says enough about your pofessionalism — it isn’t for the Church’s goals, but something else.

  53. Austin Ruse permalink
    January 30, 2010 8:23 am

    Anything else is a wicked, yes wicked, attempt to equate lesser evils, hunger, unemployment, minimum wage etc with monumental evils and therefore to dilute the real life issues.

    • January 30, 2010 8:34 am

      Yes, it’s evil to stop euthanasia of people who have no income to pay for health care! Hunger and its killing innocent people isn’t a pro-life concern! The one who dilutes life issues is the one who ignores the dignity of all life and ignores that as the starting point of the Gospel of Life.

      Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15).

      Today this proclamation is especially pressing because of the extraordinary increase and gravity of threats to the life of individuals and peoples, especially where life is weak and defenceless. In addition to the ancient scourges of poverty, hunger, endemic diseases, violence and war, new threats are emerging on an alarmingly vast scale.

      he Second Vatican Council, in a passage which retains all its relevance today, forcefully condemned a number of crimes and attacks against human life. Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience: “Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator”.5

      That’s the church on being pro-life. We have seen Austin on being pro-life. Anyone spot the difference?

    • January 30, 2010 8:37 am

      More of the Church’s wickedness, according Austin (anyone see the ruse now?)

      With time the threats against life have not grown weaker. They are taking on vast proportions. They are not only threats coming from the outside, from the forces of nature or the ‘Cains’ who kill the ‘Abels'; no, they are scientifically and systematically programmed threats. The twentieth century will have been an era of massive attacks on life, an endless series of wars and a continual taking of innocent human life. False prophets and false teachers have had the greatest success”..

      The wickedness of the Church in saying war is a pro-life issue! They needed professional pro-lifers to tell them!

      And, that liberal Church, how can it say this:

      Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic prospects, depression and anxiety about the future. Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil. But today the problem goes far beyond the necessary recognition of these personal situations. It is a problem which exists at the cultural, social and political level, where it reveals its more sinister and disturbing aspect in the tendency, ever more widely shared, to interpret the above crimes against life as legitimate expressions of individual freedom, to be acknowledged and protected as actual rights.

      (bold mine)

      Or this!

      Thus the deepest element of God’s commandment to protect human life is the requirement to show reverence and love for every person and the life of every person. This is the teaching which the Apostle Paul, echoing the words of Jesus, address- es to the Christians in Rome: “The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet’, and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:9-10).

      Not just to some.

      And how can they say this? Don’t they know, once you have a just cause for defense, anything is permissible?

      In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person”

      And this:

      I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.

      doesn’t limit it to — say, children in the womb, but to all…

      Indeed:

      As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others.

      That’s right, they ARE EQUAL. The killing of the innocent in war crimes is equal to the killing of a child in the womb.

      What is the Church thinking? As we know from the professional pro-lifer, these concerns are wicked!

  54. Kurt permalink
    January 30, 2010 9:03 am

    Going back to the original post, I am going to take a soft line with the Bishops. Yes, the pro-life movement is a subsidiary of the Republican Party. They compromise their anti-abortion principles when it runs up against private enterprise. They support pro-abortion Republicans and withhold support from anti-abortion Democrats in the same race (Brown & Lynch in Mass.). They have weekly or more strategy meetings with outside groups on stopping universal health care.

    The Bishops, to their credit, did not join with the Pro-Life Movement in participating in the strategy sessions to kill health care.

    The Pro-Life Movement was terrified that a health care bill with Stupak would actually pass. There was even the brief but way too obvious J.D. Hayworth strategy of House pro-lifers voting “present” on Stupak so it would not pass, hopefully bringing down the whole bill.

    I think the Bishops along with Democrats for Life do understand what a terrible missed opportunity we have. Take out of the conversation those who wanted health care to fail, and you find that most thought the Stupak language would stay.

    Passing health care with Stupak would have set the formula for success of Democratic initiatives. A dream for Democrats for Life that we could moved ahead with other Democratic initiatives, and quite frankly a nightmare for Right-to-Life, that in having one of their concerns accomodated, the rest of the liberal agenda (particularly the economic agenda) might go flying through.

    And the Bishops and the Church did make the most meaningful contribution to promoting health care reform. Anyone authentically norished by the sacraments and Scripture knows that is wrong to leave 30 million members of our society without health insurance.

    In the end, it was not abortion, but the selfishness and “me-first-ism” of the libertarian tea party movement that whipped up opposition to health care.

    While it will continue to perform its role as a loyal and obedient coalition partner, the Pro-Life movement has now slid to third place in the GOP, behind Big Business and the anti-government the party movement ( though maybe ahead of the disgraced neo-con hawks).

    Lastly, do the bishops even matter anymore? The Catholic Right had a decade of success by using its alliance with the wealthy to form “Catholic” organizations outside of the Church. Progressive Catholics finally got into the act. Catholics United, Catholics for the Common Good, other groups as well as a new progressive lobbying initiative coming this May give us the ability to organize Catholic supporters without having to be depended on the USCCB.

  55. ctd permalink
    January 30, 2010 9:59 am

    I am very intriged by your theory that a baby is less dead when he is killed by the private sector.

    You wrote one cannot do good by expanding an evil. Now you tell me that that it is not financing abortion itself that is evil, but that the evil depends on who is the funder.

    I did not say that. Who is the funder is relevant because we are talking about health care reform, not solely private actors.

    As citizens we have an obligation to ensure that, to the extent possible, our government does not engage in or fund abortion.

    If I was a member of an cooperative-based insurance plan I would have the same obligation to oppose coverage of abortion in that plan. (And yes, I have seen employees and bishops fight against private coverage. And yes, the bishops have fought for prohibition of insurance coverage in all plans, even completely private plans.)

    Government funding does not make it more evil, but it makes us more complicit. Expanding coverage was never the problem. Doing so in a manner that makes the federal government fund abortion is the problem because that would involve embracing an evil to achieve a good.

  56. phosphorious permalink
    January 30, 2010 11:30 am

    Pro-life means protecting the unborn from abortion, protecting embryos from destructive experimentation, protecting the old and infirm from euthanasia. Ithas to do with protecting the innocent from deliberate killing. Anything else is an attempt by others to appropriate what is a darn good and potent word.

    Innocent men were tortured and killed at Guantanamo. Does the “pro-life” movement have an opinion on that?

    Or am I wicked to mention it?

  57. January 30, 2010 11:31 am

    Kurt,

    As always, you offer some of the most insightful analysis. I agree with you – I did not intend this post to simply “bash bishops”. I have nothing but respect for the work of the USCCB. I feel, however, they their good intentions have veen eploited by the bad intentions of the pro-life movement. In short, they have been traken for a ride.

    Yet again, in this thread, I see a shocking double standard – a maximalist approach to distancing federal funds from each and every incidence of abortion, juxtaposed against a minimalist approach to private funds. Here’s some news for you – if you are paying a premium to a private insurance company that is paying for some abortion somewhere (even if your own plan does not), then you are as morally complicit as paying taxes that are used to subsidize people to purchase these very same plans. We should not sink to the level of the pro-life movement and ignore every evil perpetuated by the immaculate private sector.

  58. Kurt permalink
    January 30, 2010 11:39 am

    dtd writes:I did not say that

    You did. Review your posts.

    we are talking about…

    WRONG. My half of “we” IS talking about it. I am not mute about abortions financed by the private enterprise system. YOU (not “we”) are not talking about. Nor is the rest of the Pro-Life Movement which also turns mute when stopping abortion means challenging their allies in Big Business.

  59. January 30, 2010 12:16 pm

    Austin is quite right to point out that the issue of abortion cannot be made secondary to other issues of Catholic Social Teaching; it stands, as it were, on the pinnacle, and the reverence for life-particularly for the most innocent of life. But on the other hand, he is wrong to divorce the two. Being pro-life means being anti-abortion, but it also means being pro-natalist, pro-just wage, pro universal health care (though one may debate the means), etc. It means being materially pro-family, not merely paying it lip-service.

    I contend that there is no organized pro-life movement in America; there is a highly organized anti-abortion movement, but that is not the same thing. If they called themselves anti-abortion, I would have no dispute with them, but since they have appropriated another term, there is room for critique. Further, they have subordinated the abortion issues to a pro-capitalist and corporatist agenda, and are willing to abandon even there core issues if it serves the needs of the Republican Party.

  60. January 30, 2010 12:47 pm

    I would define pro-life in its highest sense as a disposition to respond to each and every encounter with life in ways that respect it, promote it, nourish it, nurture it, and defend it. In short, a virtue.

  61. January 30, 2010 2:13 pm

    I’m very surprised at Austin Ruse’s comments above. Surely he does not *really* mean that adopting John Medaille’s and Pope John II’s proposal that Catholics adopt a radically pro-life ethic is a “wicked” attempt to equate lesser evils with monumental ones.

    To the extent that Ruse thinks the evil of abortion is *graver* than the evil of poverty and (in some cases) war, I think that we can all agree with him. But from this it does not follow that these other areas of concern are not *also* important to building a consistent, Catholic, ethic of life. I can’t believe that he truly believes this, and I hope he responds to Henry.

  62. January 30, 2010 2:18 pm

    Actually, the moderators at Vox-Nova should confirm that Austin Ruse *did* actually write those comments, rather than somebody pretending to be him. (I don’t know if there is a way to confirm this.)

    • January 30, 2010 2:27 pm

      WJ

      Here is what I can confirm: every indication exists that it is him, from being the same IP as the other posts, to a few things which I think are best left unmentioned (as an act of charity).

    • January 30, 2010 2:44 pm

      I’m afraid we’re not able to do that kind of research. Nor is it our responsibility. If someone were to stumble on some evidence that the person is an impostor, we could deal with that. I’m not really all that interested in people like Austin Ruse to put the kind of effort into investigating him.

  63. Austin Ruse permalink
    January 30, 2010 10:00 pm

    WJ,

    Yes, it is I. Austin Ruse. I was in transit from Chicago where i was given a standing ovation for my talk, “I Would Rather There be Muslims in My Foxhole.” Nice event. About 500 people including two candidates for Governor (Republicans).

    Anyone who wants to actually talk about the issue you raise, MJ, or to confirm this is abtually me, please feel free to call me at my office, http://www.c-fam.org.

    I stand by what i said. It is wicked to compare the minimum wage of universal health insurance with murder. And no Pope has ever done so. In fact, successive Pope’s have said that abortion is the most important human rights issue of our time. Benedict, for instance, said one may disagree with the Holy Father on war and capital punishment but not about abortion. The Church is properly concerned with many issues of social justice. But to compare these things is wicked. Even Bernardin said abortion was number one. You boys may not like that, but there it is.

  64. phosphorious permalink
    January 30, 2010 10:25 pm

    Actually, the moderators at Vox-Nova should confirm that Austin Ruse *did* actually write those comments, rather than somebody pretending to be him.

    With all due respect to Austin Ruse (whom I don’t know), and while admitting the possibility that this comment is not up to his usual standards. . . why would you think this was an impersonator.

    His response is EXACTLY what I would expect from someone who has made abortion the only issue worth worrying about. Once you have decided that one aspect of the Church’s teaching is more important than the rest, it becomes wicked to do anything else.

  65. Austin Ruse permalink
    January 30, 2010 11:59 pm

    Lawd lawd almight, i believe you boys cannot read. I never said that abortion is the onlly issue worth worrying about. If you know my work, you will know taht i work on a range of social policy issues each one informed by Church teaching. I do believe, with teh Church, however that today the issue of abortion is of paramout importance. Any effort to downgrade this issue or dilute it by saying that the minimum wage, the death penalty, or health care stacks up with murder is wrong, against Church teaching and, according to me, wicked. Egads, he said it again!

    • January 31, 2010 4:06 am

      Austin

      Cannot read? Perhaps you cannot write. YOU said making other issues as being pro-life is wicked. YOU said that. YOU. That was YOUR claim. And that you still have not acknowledged other concerns are LIFE concerns. That you are unwilling to recognize the equality of all innocents being killed is telling. It’s sad when the professionals say “you aren’t worthy” to innocents dying every day.

  66. January 31, 2010 12:23 am

    Austin, I quite agree (as I’ve said before) that you cannot place abortion on the same level as other issues, and you are equally right to point out that no pope or other Church authority has done so. But by the same token you cannot divorce the issues, and no pope or Church authority has done so (okay, maybe a few of the bishops). It is very hard to convince anybody that we are “pro-family” when we are content with wages that do not allow for family life. And since the so-called “pro-life” movement has reduced all of life issues to one issue, they do that one issue a disservice. But, they do the Republican Party a great service. They don’t save any lives, but they do save a few seats for the Republicans. Is that what it’s all about?

    No, I am not surprised that there were two Republican candidates at your talk. Not at all.

  67. Colin Gormley permalink
    January 31, 2010 1:43 am

    It is sad that the authors on this site would rather continue to bash tea partiers, pro-lifers, etc. rather than acknowledge their own failure to uphold the right to life by supporting the Senate bill and attempting to convince people to “look past” the abortion funding.

    It is telling that they continue to do this since up till now the Democrats have enjoyed supermajorities in both Houses and were undone by their own abortion zealotry.

    The right to life is foundational to Catholic social teaching. Any attempt to further social justice that compromises the right to life is eventually corrupted and ultimately fails to accomplish its goals, however noble they may be. Without upholding the right to life, any attempt to further Catholic socail justice is doomed to failure.

    As long as MM, Henry, etc continue blame everyone but the real culprits, the Democrats and their abortion allies, along with the boosters of this bill who compromise on the right to life, they will contiinue to be frustrated in their goals.

    • January 31, 2010 4:03 am

      Colin

      Your dishonest representation of the bills, of what happened, and of the commentary is now noted. Just because you keep restating falsehoods doesn’t turn them true.

  68. January 31, 2010 6:54 am

    Austin,

    I think you’re arguing against a position which no one holds. Karlson and Medaille are not suggesting that the issue of abortion is equivalent to the issue of a living wage. Obviously this would be absurd. What they are saying is that opposing abortion is not by itself enough to make one “pro-life” on a Catholic understanding of that concept. And this should hardly be a contentious point, as Karlson’s citations from the relevant documents indicate.

  69. January 31, 2010 7:43 am

    Put another way: Karlson and Medaille assert that being anti-abortion is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for being “pro-life” on the Church’s understanding of that concept. Even more than this, Medaille is willing to call the right to life the “pinnacle” of the Church’s Social Teaching. So no one is discounting the primary importance of abortion here.

    At issue rather seems to be your insistence that even drawing attention to the Church’s call for a consistent ethic of life, such as that found in Evangelium Vitae or, more recently, in Caritas in Veritate, is a “wicked” distraction from the issue of abortion. But why should this be the case?

    I would understand (and agree with) your position were Karlson and Medaille using appeals to this ethic as a smokescreen tactic intended to support Democratic pro-abortion candidates or legislation. This is a tired ploy of left liberal American Catholicism, but–without claiming to speak either for Karlson or Medaille–it is not one which these authors’ posts could plausibly be taken to support. Nor, obviously, are Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI trying to provide cover for liberal Democrats when they write and speak against war, poverty, and ecological destruction at the same time that they do against abortion. All if them, I take it, are attempting to articulate what amounts to a politics, but it is a politics which conflicts in fundamental ways with the options currently on offer to the American and European voter. Do you disagree? (I will let you have the last word.)

  70. January 31, 2010 7:52 pm

    53 million murdered children in America since 1973

    1 Billion children murdered worldwide since 1973

    Abortion is the human rights issue of our time – the greatest slaughter in human history

  71. January 31, 2010 8:59 pm

    If Austin is correct, Evangelium Vitae and Caritas in Veritatae are evil.

  72. Kurt permalink
    January 31, 2010 10:39 pm

    I would second Henry’s comments to Colin.

    As for Austin, if abortion is paramount, then there is no defense for the Pro-Life movement compromising itself by making positions on campaign finance reform, drugs costs, opposition to health insurance and other issues part and parcel of their “Pro-lIfe” work, along, of course, with promoting pro-abortion Republicans rather than Pro-Life Democrats in Senate races and limiting the pro-life movement so it does not threaten Big Business.

    The simple matter is that the orgy of celebration over the defeat of the pro-life health care bill that occured on January 22nd, calling itself the March for Life, shows that abortion is not paramount for the Pro-Life Movement. Stopping health insurance for 30 million Americans and defeating Democrats is what is paramount.

  73. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 1, 2010 8:37 am

    Neither EV or CV say the minimum wage, death penalty, etc are the same as abortion.

  74. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 1, 2010 8:41 am

    John,

    I guess Ratzinger is not prolife according to this most charitable crowd. He rightly understands that abortion is a more pressing moral issue than others and that good Catholics may in fact disagree with the Pope on things like capital punishment and war! Come on guys.

    “3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    • February 1, 2010 8:50 am

      Austin is confusing issues; saying “it is not the same moral weight” does not say “it is not a pro-life issue.” More importantly, Austine continues with a categorical error. To say “not all war” is “illegitimate” does not mean “therefore, any killing in an unjust war is less important than abortion.” As I pointed out before, and he was unwilling to respond to, many of the pro-choice people suggest the infant is at war with the mother, which is why the death, though sad, is justified. If “war” is an acceptable excuse, then what if the mother is at war with the child? Does it make the killing less a sin? This is the problem with his categorical error. But he will continue to abuse the Pope’s private words, and misapply them, to make it as “if they are not all equal” it means “therefore of no concern.” What a sick position.

      And he continues to ignore the Church’s pro-life teaching which says ALL issues relating to life are pro-life; Austin himself said equating them to the issues of life is wicked. His sophistry is readily apparent.

      And this is exactly the kind of sophistry inherent in the creation of heresies. Some limited truth is proclaimed and used to reject any other concern but their one truth. No matter how central that truth is (Jesus is God), just using that truth alone and rejecting everything else (Jesus is man) ends up in error.

  75. Magdalena permalink
    February 1, 2010 9:09 am

    I think we have descended pretty far when we are making claims that YOU can not read, no, YOU can not write, YOU YOU YOU. This is playground level debate and not something one expects from a grown man or woman.

    There is so much to criticize in the pro-life movement, as well as among those who were pushing health care reform. It reminds me of civil-rights era conflicts. The movement was sometimes criticized by moderates (who shared some of the movement’s goals) for being too radical, too political, lacking an understanding of the bigger picture.

    The pro-life movement is very infected with politics. I agree to that. But the fact that all the posts on Vox Nova (that I have seen, anyway) aim fire in the same direction suggests that their criticism is ultimately just as cynical and “politically motivated.”

    • February 1, 2010 9:25 am

      Magdalena

      I guess you think St Justin Martyr, Origen, St Irenaeus, St Clement of Alexandria, St Augustine, St Jerome, St Epiphanius, St John Chrysostom, St Basil, St Athanasius, and others like them, were just into playground fights with their constant reference to the positions and problems of their opponents? And it was all just politics?

  76. phosphorious permalink
    February 1, 2010 12:05 pm

    Lawd lawd almight, i believe you boys cannot read. I never said that abortion is the onlly issue worth worrying about. . .

    But the upshot of the pro-life movement is that until abortion is absolutely stamped out, nothing else gets done. Nothing else is even seen as worth doing.

    And to use the example that began this whole thread: conservatives are perfectly willing to look the other way on torture and unjust war, as long as there are vague promises to “protect the unborn.”

    • February 1, 2010 12:06 pm

      Phosphorious I even pointed out where he said it was wicked to equate other concerns with the pro-life movement. To quote him:

      Pro-life means protecting the unborn from abortion, protecting embryos from destructive experimentation, protecting the old and infirm from euthanasia. Ithas to do with protecting the innocent from deliberate killing. Anything else is an attempt by others to appropriate what is a darn good and potent word.

      Anything else is a wicked, yes wicked, attempt to equate lesser evils, hunger, unemployment, minimum wage etc with monumental evils and therefore to dilute the real life issues.

      Though of course, as I said, the Catholic Church’s view of the Gospel of Life is far more universal, and is founded upon the dignity of life, and all the concerns of life are shown to be pro-life concerns.

  77. February 1, 2010 12:17 pm

    Austin,

    If you want to make your case, you should appeal to authoritative Church documents, not a private letter from Ratzinger to a brother bishop on the issue of worthiness to receive holy communion.

    • February 1, 2010 12:27 pm

      MM

      What is sad is how they abuse that letter, making it say things it did not say. While it says, individually, not all issues are of equal worth, it does not say that all other issues, save abortion, are not of more significance than abortion. Moreover, it does not say voting for a candidate who happens to be pro-choice, for reasons other than their views on abortion, is the same thing as formal support for abortion. Indeed, that not all issues are of the same value also applies to voting, something which is often ignored. Making a bad vote is not the same moral worth as abortion; it doesn’t say what level of culpability and moral gravity is in such an act: others fill it in and in ways which go against the letter itself. Interesting, no?

  78. johnmcg permalink
    February 1, 2010 1:29 pm


    et again, in this thread, I see a shocking double standard – a maximalist approach to distancing federal funds from each and every incidence of abortion, juxtaposed against a minimalist approach to private funds.

    Not all double standards are unfair. A parent of children who with a large age difference might hold the older child to a higher standard than the younger child. The older child may bristle at the double standard, but it is quite appropriate, and is also paired with additional privileges.

    The higher standard of how public funds are used vs. private funds is also quite appropriate.

    What Aetna does with the money they take in is Aetna’s business.

    What the federal government does with the money they take in they do on behalf of me. And has an impact on the culture.

    It is right and proper that the federal government would be held to a higher standard than private insurance companies.

    And it it isn’t, and we shouldn’t really expect the federal government to be any better than private companies, then why are we doing this anyway?

  79. johnmcg permalink
    February 1, 2010 1:37 pm

    HK,

    Could you please point me to the VN posts imploring the Senate to pass a health care bill with the Stupak language, and calling out the (many of them Catholic) Senators who voted against the Nelson amendment?

    I can point to several VN posts arguing that Catholics should accept a health care bill even without Stupak language (Dulles applies!), and calling those who insist on such language hypocrites.

    Please either provide these posts, or an apology to Colin for calling him a liar, because I think he has VN’s role in the debate pretty well described.

  80. February 1, 2010 1:50 pm

    Mr. Ruse continues to construct straw men with which to argue, while ignoring the arguments really put forth. No one has denied that abortion is paramount; we have denied that it is disconnected. Caritas in Veritate, for example, is founded on the respect for life, but it certainly does not stop there; it is the foundation of a very long and very detailed account of what “pro-life” means, and it means more than abortion. Indeed, it is founded on Humanae Vitae which goes deeper than abortion to the issue of contraception, an issue the pro-life movement will not touch. And I understand that.

    You will get no argument–no matter how much you seek one–when stating that abortion is the paramount issue. But you will get–have gotten–a great argument when you try to limit “pro-life” to this one issue, and then make the whole thing a stalking horse for the Republican Party.

  81. February 1, 2010 3:39 pm

    Johnmcg: “What Aetna does with the money they take in is Aetna’s business.”

    I cannot understand this morally cavalier attitude. Aetna is a very large insurance company that accepts private premia to spread risks over a large amount of people. It is a collective pooling of resources just as a public insurance company represents a collective effort – I don’t understand why a dedicated private premium is different in any moral sense from a dedicated payroll tax that funds a public system.

    I really get the disconnect. For want of a better explanation, I must put it down to the American liberal peculiar position of deriding “big” government while at the same time lauding “big” business. It is a position that cannot be defended with appeal to solidarity, subsidiarity, or any tenet of Catholic social teaching.

    We need to get past the shallow categorization between public and private. We need to realize that in many areas, healthcare being one, the issue at stake is the collective pooling of resources, not the decision to do it by private or public means.

  82. phosphorious permalink
    February 1, 2010 3:47 pm

    What Aetna does with the money they take in is Aetna’s business.

    Even if it commits murder?

  83. Kurt permalink
    February 1, 2010 4:01 pm

    Austin,

    One of your difficulties when you write of the moral issue of abortion being more important that unjust wars or capital punishment is that you confuse the moral issue of abortion (a very important concern regarding a clear teaching of the Church on the morality of the act) with hacking for the election of a pro-abortion Senate candidate because of sleazy compromises the Pro-Life Movement has made with him.

    The Church does not teach that hacking for Scott Brown (or any other Cosmo centerfold) is more important than stopping unjust wars.

  84. johnmcg permalink
    February 1, 2010 4:52 pm

    What Aetna does, they do not do in my name. I did not elect Aetna’s CEO or board of directors. I do not own stock in Aetna. What Aetna does does not set a cultural precedent for the rest of the country.


    For want of a better explanation, I must put it down to the American liberal peculiar position of deriding “big” government while at the same time lauding “big” business.

    Quite the contrary. I expect businesses to be craven and chase after the next dollar. I expect better than that from my government.

    If I only expected government to act as virtuously as insurance companies, then the rationale for government getting involved in things like health care would collapse, since markets tend to be efficient but soulless.

    As I’ve said before this is something you should embrace!!! Pro-life people (and those with other interests) are limited in terms of how we can influence insurance companies, but not as much in how we can influence the government.

    If we want to stop the funding of abortion, then pro-life health care reform is the shortest path to it.

    • February 1, 2010 4:58 pm

      What Aetna does if you pay for them comes from your paying them; isn’t that how the free market is supposed to work? You don’t agree with or like something, you don’t buy their product? So why don’t people just stop buying health insurance? “But I’m not culpable with what they do.” Even if you know they will use the money to fund abortion? “It’s their job to make money.” So? Does that make it any less your responsibility to reject them if they use evil means to make such money? Why is less expected of them just because they are about making money? Why should that be allowed at all? And why does it get you off scoff free if you pay for their insurance knowing they will fund abortion? I just don’t get it, unless some think the “system of the free market” is so important that even abortion can’t be used to override it. But if that is the case, isn’t that similar to politicians who say “I’m personally against abortion, but the system needs to stay in place, and abortion comes from the system, not me”?

  85. johnmcg permalink
    February 1, 2010 4:57 pm

    HK,

    The first link was more supportive of Stupak than I recall, yet still had a support Stupak : tweak Republicans ration of about 1:1.

    The second is more an accusation of hypothetical hypocrisy against Republicans than serious advocacy.

    The third is a pointer to an interview.

    If I were VN were charged with being a pro-Stupak blog, I’m not sure these three posts would be sufficient evidence to convict.

    • February 1, 2010 5:00 pm

      John

      I gave examples which is what you asked — has Vox Nova been supportive of Stupak? The answer is yes, and even told Obama to support it! “Oh, but it is not good enough when you show me that.” Sophistry. I gave examples, and if you want, you can explore more.

  86. phosphorious permalink
    February 1, 2010 6:40 pm

    What Aetna does, they do not do in my name. I did not elect Aetna’s CEO or board of directors. I do not own stock in Aetna. What Aetna does does not set a cultural precedent for the rest of the country.

    Then I don’t see why abortion should be illegal.

    If a wom,an aborts hers child, what business is that of mine? She doesn’t do it in my name, I do not profit by it. And certainly she isn’t forcing anyone else to abort.

    Again, you come across less anti-abortion than pro-market.

    I’m inclined to think that this is not an accident.

  87. February 1, 2010 11:01 pm

    Let me explain my comments a bit, since I think I may have been a bit more cavalier than was appropriate.

    The death penalty bothers me a lot more than the fact that there are murderers. Because the death penalty is done in my name.

    The torture of detainees bothers me more than private cruelty.

    The Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal bothers me more than individual instances of sexual abuse.

    I don’t like that private individuals and organizations will be subject to sin, but I can live with it. But when groups that I identify with engage in sinful behavior, and institutionalize it, that crosses a threshold. I don’t see why this is so difficult to understand.

    If you want me to hold the government to the same standard as money-grubbing insurance companies that you’ve spent the last few years demonizing, then don’t be surprised that “big government” becomes an effective bogeyman.

    Let’s recap:

    Colin: VN was content to blast Republicans and argue for a non pro-life health care reform rather than fight for pro-life health care reform.

    HK: That’s a dishonest summary.

    Me: Prove it.

    HK: Those 3 links

    Me: You’re 1 for 3.

    HK: Sophistry!

    You were given an opportunity of the entire VN archive to make your case and that was the best you could come up with.

    I think the apology to Colin is still in order.

    • February 2, 2010 3:43 am

      John

      It is sophistry because those links WERE about support for pro-life measures with health care reform. There are others. I just did examples. You have access to the whole of Vox Nova on the net, too. That we have constantly been talking about Stupak here and then you and others act like we are not? We don’t have to prove to you we have been. But I showed you that it’s been in the discussion (did you actually READ THE THREADS and not just the initial post?). The fact that you ignore the discussion in them also says much. What a pathetic attempt to continue misrepresenting Vox Nova. We are NOT democrats. We are not “leftists.” The fact that people just continue with their blinders on (and you did, because you ignore all the discussion and point of some threads) indicates a big problem. There is nothing we can do which is “good enough.” “Oh, well, you did have one thread,” (which you admit, “but hey, that doesn’t say you did it.” WHAT?!?!!? Even when you admit there is one thread (despite all three were) you say “you didn’t do it.” LOGIC please.

      Oh, and here are a couple more EXAMPLES.

      http://vox-nova.com/2009/09/29/follow-up-on-abortion-and-health-cares/

      http://vox-nova.com/2009/09/12/market-idolatry-conservative-catholics-and-undermining-pro-life-efforts-in-health-care-reform/

  88. Ryan Klassen permalink
    February 2, 2010 7:40 am

    Phosphorious hit the nail on the head. If abortion is murder, why is a private company allowed to fund it without opposition? If a private corporation (aka “a person”) is allowed to pay for abortions, why shouldn’t a private citizen (aka “a person”) be able to as well?

    “What Aetna does, they do not do in my name. I did not elect Aetna’s CEO or board of directors. I do not own stock in Aetna. What Aetna does does not set a cultural precedent for the rest of the country.”

    So you don’t care if Aetna commits murder, as long as it’s not in your name? If Aetna isn’t your insurance company, pick the one that is. Do they have policies that cover abortion? If they do, then it seems that the proximate use of your money to cover abortion is much closer than taxes paid to the government to provide subsidies to purchase insurance that may or may not cover abortion. Why not ask your insurance company to guarantee that your premiums will not go into the pool that includes any plans that cover abortion? And if they won’t, why not cancel your policy and go with a company that will provide such assurances? After all, isn’t that the beauty of the free market? And if it costs more, perhaps that is the cost we must bear to oppose abortion.

  89. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 2, 2010 7:49 am

    GEnts,

    I am heading to New York this morning for a few days of professional prolife work. I will try to get back to you. In the meantime, could someone here show me where Pax Christi or Helen Prejean or Sant Egidio work explicitly against abortion, euthanasia, embryo destructive research or any of what we professional prolifers consider to be prolife issues. Also, can you let me see where this blog has attacked them for not working on these issues. What’s sauce for the prolifers ought to be sauce for the social justicers.

    • February 2, 2010 8:07 am

      More self-congratulations and sophistry from Austin Ruse. First of all, social justice Catholics engage abortion as one of the many issues of injustice. Second, he is the one who is suggesting the non-abortion issues are of no concern and it is wicked to think they are pro-life concerns; they, on the other hand, do not say abortion is not a life concern, rather they see it as such, and see other things, like the death penalty, connected to abortion because both see the person as an object to be manipulated, not a subject with dignity.

  90. Kurt permalink
    February 2, 2010 9:55 am

    Austin,

    I have noticed that Pax Christi fails to support the Pro-Life Movement.

    They don’t oppose campaign finance reform, they don’t hack for pro-abortion Republican candidates endorsed by Right to Life, they don’t oppose health care for 30 million uninsured Americans, they don’t insist on high prescription drug costs to protect the profits of Big Pharma, they don’t accept one standard as pro-life when done by the Bush Administration and the same standard as pro-abortion when proposed by Democrats and they don’t declare the murderous actions of Big Business exempt from objection.

    They clearly are outside the Pro=Life Movement ™.

  91. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 2, 2010 11:29 am

    could someone here show me where Pax Christi or Helen Prejean or Sant Egidio work explicitly against abortion, euthanasia, embryo destructive research or any of what we professional prolifers consider to be prolife issues. Also, can you let me see where this blog has attacked them for not working on these issues.

    • February 2, 2010 11:52 am

      Austin continues with his ruse, and continue to ignore what has been said before. But here, for the sake of others, not for the “professional”, here is what Mario Marazziti of San Egidio has said:

      “John Paul II’s clear public position was, ‘Never again the death penalty,’ even if the Catechism’s refusal of capital punishment is more practical than radical. In a conversation I had with Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, France, he said he thinks, like me, that a total refusal of the death penalty would also reinforce the church’s position on abortion and the defense of life. For Sant’Egidio, life can’t be divided. Life must be defended wherever it’s vulnerable, without xceptions. For this reason, I believe that our friends at Amnesty International, and I have said this publicly, have made a serious mistake in using the word ‘right’ with regard to exceptional cases of abortion for women who have suffered violence. According to us, abortion can never be a right.”

      http://www.natcath.com/mainpage/specialdocuments/interview_marazziti.pdf

      Oh, and Pax Christi?

      “In response to the increased debate following the July 3, 1989, Supreme Court ruling on abortion, Pax Christi USA reaffirms its 1981 Seamless Garment position in support of all life. The consistent ethic of life opposes not only abortion, but also the death penalty, war, the nuclear arms race and anything that threatens life. In addition, Pax Christi reaffirms its goal to work for the full and equal participation of women in the church and society. ” http://www.paxchristiusa.org/news_events_more.asp?id=71

      And Helen Prejean?

      “My stance on abortion is a matter of public record. I stand morally opposed to killing: war, executions, killing of the old and demented, the killing of children, unborn and born. As I have stated publicly many times, I stand squarely within the framework of “the seamless garment” ethic of life. I believe that all of life is sacred and must be protected, especially in the vulnerable stages at the beginning of life and its end.”

      http://www.sisterhelen.org/2006/08/the-world-cant-wait/

      So much for the “professional” pro-lifer; the people he wanted to ridicule do better than he — they follow with the Gospel of Life and don’t exclude life issues for politics.

  92. February 2, 2010 12:08 pm

    HK,

    The posts are there for all to see. In general, I tend to think a blog’s post are more indicative of its editorial stance than its comment threads, but perhaps you’re doing something different.

    In any case, what you have to deal with is that more than one reader perceives this blog as more concerned with advancing partisan Democratic interests than in Catholic principles.

    BTW — have you noticed that almost every post you cite to shore up VN’s bona fides concludes with a jab at pro-lifers? I did. In fact, I am more than happy to let the posts you cite stand as evidence that VN’s place in the health care debate was more about mocking Republicans than it was about ensuring pro-life reform.

    As you would say, that’s telling.

    You can do with that information what you wish. You can continue the path you’ve taken above, and dismiss those readers. You can embrace that direction. Or you can correct course.

    It’s up to you. If you’d rather shoot the messenger, I’m not going to hang around to be a target.

    @Ryan,

    Please re-read my previous post. I care about private sin, but I care more about public sin.

    You are probably right that we should do more to pressure private insurers to get out of the business of abortion.

    But that raises the question that if this were an effective way to get these companies to behave in a moral manner, why do we need massive health care reform? Why can’t we use market forces to pressure these companies to not deny treatements, remove pre-existing condition restrictions, etc.

    And it also doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t insist that a government program not repeat these mistakes.

    • February 2, 2010 12:15 pm

      In any case, what you have to deal with is that more than one reader perceives this blog as more concerned with advancing partisan Democratic interests than in Catholic principles.

      And more than one reader thinks the Bible means we should be snake-handlers. This is just another fallacious form of argumentation.

      And you say they are there for people to see. THAT IS EXACTLY THE POINT. They have been there. They have been saying “stop abortion.” We have posts which criticize President Obama, the Democrats, etc. It’s all ignored. It is typical blindness by some people, who purposefully ignore posts to make claims. This is, I would say, willful ignorance. Sad. Pathetic.

      Go hit “abortion” on the tags and find out the over 300 posts which have had some connection to abortion. Read them. Not selectively, but as a whole. Then get back with us.

  93. Ryan Klassen permalink
    February 2, 2010 1:01 pm

    John;

    But if you have insurance with a company that offers abortion coverage (even if you do not have such coverage yourself), then the insurance company is a group that has institutionalized abortion funding in your name with your money. And yes, governments should be pressured into avoiding the mistakes of private corporations, but refusing to be associated with insurance companies that do fund abortion through their any policy they offer (regardless of whether one’s own policy includes abortion coverage) would be a simple and immediately effective way for anyone to put their beliefs into practice.

    It’s good to see that you agree that market forces aren’t enough to force private companies to act in a moral manner, and that government regulation is needed to prevent them from denying treatments, removing pre-existing condition restrictions, etc.

  94. Kurt permalink
    February 2, 2010 1:28 pm

    John,

    You write about taking jabs at the Pro-Life Movement rather than pushing for pro-life health care reform.

    I think those of us who are against abortion and for health care reform did a darn good job. We convinced most Democrats and one Republican to vote yes on passage of the Pelosi-Stupak health care reform bill. In the Senate, we won passage of a slightly more modest health care reform bill that included the same language that was blessed as “pro-life” when it was included in legislation by President George W. Bush.

    It is a pretty good acomplishment, I would say. Too bad about the big January 22nd rally on the Mall celebrating its obstruction.

  95. February 2, 2010 1:51 pm

    For what it’s worth, I agree with JohnMcG. The comparison between his reading of VN and snake handlers’ reading of the Bible just doesn’t work. He’s made arguments in support of his reading, and these haven’t been effectively rebutted.

    I disagree with a lot of what Austin is saying. However, the linked Pax Christi statement doesn’t respond to his question about whether PC “work[s]” against abortion. If one reads the whole statement (by clicking on the link), it’s clear that the thrust of the thing is that despite “oppos[ing] not only abortion, but also” other threats to life – note that for PC, the “seamless garment” approach means that even when responding to a pro-abortion court ruling, one is obliged to say that one doesn’t oppose “only” abortion, but also other evils – PC “work[s]” on the abortion issue by promoting “dialogue” and “common ground” between the two sides of the issue. Whoopee.

    • February 2, 2010 2:19 pm

      JW

      He asked if they worked against abortion; that statement says they do. Now you defining how that work is to be done. Typical.

    • February 2, 2010 2:30 pm

      JW – It would be silly for Mr. Ruse, and whoever else, to expect Pax Christi USA to engage in a lot of anti-abortion work. But they state that they are anti-abortion and consider themselves in solidarity with efforts to end it. This is not the case with most of the Pro-Life Movement. Likewise, it would silly to expect a group like te National Right to Life Committee to engage in anti-war efforts or pro-health care efforts, as their focus is abortion. But the NRLC opposes health care and supports war. They do not see themselves being in solidarity with other movements in favor of pro-life politics, and in fact, they actively oppose other groups and other pro-life issues. This is the key difference that Mr. Ruse cannot see because of his typical abortion tunnel vision.

  96. c matt permalink
    February 2, 2010 1:54 pm

    Then address a single point: why are so many catholics confused about the church’s stand on torture, while its stand on abortion is unambiguous.

    You mean clear on the Church’s teaching on abortion like Madam Pelosi?

    They are “confused” because they are stupid or because it is convenient, politically or otherwise.

  97. February 2, 2010 2:13 pm

    I guess Ratzinger is not prolife according to this most charitable crowd. He rightly understands that abortion is a more pressing moral issue than others and that good Catholics may in fact disagree with the Pope on things like capital punishment and war! Come on guys.

    “3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    I have no issue with the text Ruse cites. I think it’s clear and makes good distinctions. Rather than saying that it’s unfortunate that Ruse is relying on this text rather than “more authoritative” ones, let’s just point out that the “professional” Pro-Lifer can’t seem to represent Benedict very well. The text says “For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war….” Ruse reduces this to “war and capital punishment are not as important as abortion.” That’s not the case.

    Abortion is always wrong. Nothing can justify it; not in the concrete and not even theoretically. This places it in a category of acts that we call “intrinsically evil.” According to church teaching, though, in the cases of war and the death penalty we can imagine circumstances when these actions might be necessary, although the church has said for some time now that in both cases those circumstances are rare if practically nonexistent.

    Keep in mind that Benedict is not referring to anything concrete. He’s simply holding out the possibility that good Catholics could disagree with one another about the application of war and the death penalty. What he does not say, but what in fact must be the case, is that there are clearly circumstances in which the evidence that war and the death penalty are so weighty that we virtually must conclude that these actions are being used unjustly. For example, George W. Bush’s reign in Texas during which he presided over the intentional killing of so many people on death row. If the cases of “just” use of the death penalty are really “rare if practically non existent,” then there is no way that Texas’ death penalty practices are anywhere near “justified.” Same with the Iraq War. It should have been SO CLEAR to anyone paying attention that the Iraq War did/does not meet the requirements for a just war; not even the MOST BASIC, PRELIMINARY criterion, that it be a war of self defense. Indeed, John Paul II and Ratzinger constantly pointed this out. There is NO WAY that the Iraq War could meet just war requirements. This is not to say every case is necessarily so obvious. But many, perhaps most, cases ARE quite obvious.

    When the evidence against an act of war or the death penalty being just is so overwhelming, this raises them to the level of abortion in terms of seriousness. When killing is unjustified, it must be condemned. This is WHY the church opposes abortion. Unjust killing is unjust killing, whether the victim is a fetus or an inmate.

    In the abstract, then, OF COURSE abortion is “on another level,” because nothing can justify it. But in the concrete — in the united states, for example, when our foreign policy includes regular use of unjust wars, indiscriminate bombings, and systematic torture and when our domestic policy includes widespread barbaric use of the death penalty as a form of revenge — then YES, those issues ARE just as important as abortion. The evidence that these practices are unjust is too strong and the practices too widespread, indeed systemic. Nothing can justify them. And this view is entirely consistent with the church’s teaching on abortion.

    The ideological use of papal texts in the service of the republican agenda, as Ruse is doing here, is disgusting.

  98. c matt permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:29 pm

    No one has denied that abortion is paramount; we have denied that it is disconnected.

    Exactly. But then why is it that, for the progressive side, abortion seems to be the first thing to get disconnected?

    Health care is a life issue, therefore ignore the abortion funding of it (disconnect)

    This politician is against war, so ignore his pro-choice views. (disconnected again!)

    and on and on.

    And for some reason, you just don’t seem to grasp this disconnect. Why is it always abortion that ends up being disconnected?

  99. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:32 pm

    Please note the verb.
    In the meantime, could someone here show me where Pax Christi or Helen Prejean or Sant Egidio work explicitly against abortion, euthanasia, embryo destructive research or any of what we professional prolifers consider to be prolife issues.

    • February 2, 2010 2:40 pm

      Please note the verb.
      In the meantime, could someone here show me where Pax Christi or Helen Prejean or Sant Egidio work explicitly against abortion, euthanasia, embryo destructive research or any of what we professional prolifers consider to be prolife issues.

      Please note that despite your claims, the “professional prolifers” do not get to define what a “prolife issue” is. Your method of defining those issues is obviously not the method that the Church uses.

      I do not expect you “professional Pro-Life Activists” to be actively engaged in direct anti-war work or direct work for universal health care. But I do expect you not to undermine those efforts by misusing Church teaching to support your republicatholic agenda.

    • February 2, 2010 2:44 pm

      I love this, “or any of what we professional prolifers consider to be prolife issues…” So what they do to protect the dignity of life, is not a pro-life activity. Though Popes have said this is a pro-life activity, and Popes have given great support to San Egidio, the “professional pro-lifers” know better.

      And the idea that their proclamations are not, in themselves, a work against abortion is rather absurd. Giving professional interviews and pointing out the evil of abortion is indeed a work against abortion. And, as can be seen by the statements of San Egidio, they see their work to promote the Gospel of Life and its promotion for (at best) a very very very limited use of the death penalty as an active work against abortion because it brings life and its dignity into the forefront.

      What I think Austin means, though, is “when did they give me an award?”

  100. c matt permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:46 pm

    Can’t say I disagree with much of what Michael says @2:13.

    Which is precisely why I could not bring myself to vote for either of the two major party candidates this past presidential election

  101. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:59 pm

    Can anyone show me what Pax Christi, Helen prejean and San Egidio DO not SAY about the issue of abortion. That was my question. I know what San Egidio can DO when they run a program. They delivered one million signatures to the UN on capital punishment. What do each of them DO?

    • February 2, 2010 3:08 pm

      Now he comes around with this: what do they “not SAY about the issue of abortion.” Well, now we are going into another mode of fallacious argumentation: argumentum ex silentio. Yes, what don’t they “say” indeed. There are billions of things they don’t say. There are billions more Austin doesn’t say.

      What has been shown is what they do say.

      It’s also interesting to see further this argument from silence, for example, about the pictures of Bush in a sitting room and none of Obama. Whether or not that is correct, having pictures up or not up does not say what Austin wants them to say. On the other hand, it is also clear Austin continues (like many) to continue with strawmen (as if we have said Obama is a paragon of virtue on here; we have not; though it is clear that many at the Vatican are more positive about Obama than we at Vox Nova, as can be seen in articles in L’Osservatore Romano and this interview with its editor).

  102. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 2, 2010 3:04 pm

    Michael,

    The reason Ratzinger used the word application is that the Church allows both capital punishment AND war. he is saying that even where the Church has said no to a certain application of either one, one may STILL disagree with the Church. This is a huge difference becasue he says one may never disagree on abortion. And by the way, in the ground floor sitting room at the Papal Nunciature in Washington DC, as of a few weeks ago there were a dozen pictures of that moral monster George Bush. Not a one of that paragon of Catholic social teaching Barack Obama.

    • February 2, 2010 3:18 pm

      The reason Ratzinger used the word application is that the Church allows both capital punishment AND war. he is saying that even where the Church has said no to a certain application of either one, one may STILL disagree with the Church. This is a huge difference becasue he says one may never disagree on abortion.

      That’s not really relevant or you seem to be missing my point. You are speaking in the abstract. If a hypothetical country waged continuous war because it simply felt like it or because it sought world domination or something, this act would be just as grave as abortion. Abortion is a grave act for a reason, not just because it’s “abortion.” So the killing children in the womb is never justified. So what? Other forms of killing are never justified either. When killing is not justified, it is gravely evil. If I pick up my rifle and pick off the neighbor’s kid just for fun, that too is intrinsically evil. Abortion is NOT “more evil” than this latter example. Likewise, a war clearly based on lies is not less evil than abortion because it too involves the unjustified killing of human persons. In this latter example of war, then, many things might be debated in terms of its “application” (i.e. whether or not it was really based on lies), but presuming it WAS based on lies, and we can see clear evidence of it, then the gravity is just as severe as abortion. The question is one of whether the killing is justified or not rather than thinking of “abortion” as if it were in an isolated box of some kind. Seriously, you people end up “sacralizing” abortion in the way you isolate it from everything else.

      • February 2, 2010 3:26 pm

        Michael I.

        Have you noticed how Austin fails to respond to the way many pro-choice (or even pro-abortion) people say that what happens in the womb is a war. If something can be discerned to be a war, it doesn’t suddenly make the evil done in the war less evil; he, however, thinks “once it is a war, the evil is not as important.” Which is why I don’t see him concerned with the abortions which happen because of war — and the pro-choicer agrees.

  103. February 2, 2010 3:05 pm

    Let me add to my comments at 2:13 that Benedict says that there can be disagreement about the application of war and the death penalty. He does not say that one can disagree about the church’s basic teachings on these issues, for example just war teaching. Folks like Ruse do not simply disagree about the application of church teaching in these areas, but rather disregard basic church teaching on these issues altogether.

  104. February 2, 2010 3:24 pm

    Henry and Michael:

    Austin asked if PC works against abortion.

    Nothing in the PC web site item linked and (partially) quoted says that they do.

    On the contrary – PC there says that they stick to promoting dialogue between both sides.

    One would have to make an argument that this equals working against abortion.

    We have not yet been provided with such an argument.

    Again: It’s not a matter of being particular about “how” they work against abortion – it’s a matter of noting that it’s (at best) highly unclear that they even claim to do so at all (let alone, a lot).

    Lots of people say they’re “against abortion.” Few of them “work” against it.

    Finally: Being against a highly particular proposal for health care is hardly the same thing as being against the pro-life position on health care (namely, that it is a matter of justice that people be provided with health care).

    You don’t get to define for the whole pro-life movement how the pro-health-care component of the pro-life vision is to be done.

    (And just as a reminder: Although there are some “pro-lifers” who deny that health care is the sort of right that the Church says it is, not all of them do. Some very prominent pro-lifers oppose proposals like Obama’s on the basis of an argument that they would make it more, not less, difficult to get necessary care. Maybe they’re mistaken about this, maybe they aren’t – but it isn’t the same thing as being at odds with pro-life principles.)

    • February 2, 2010 3:32 pm

      JW

      Making public declarations against abortion is a work against abortion. It is an activity which they did, and it is against abortion. Therefore, it is a work against abortion. And it is not just someone in private saying “yes, I’m against abortion.” It is in a public forum while making claims as to why abortion is wrong. That itself is more work than just saying “I’m against abortion.” It is making an explanation for why one should be against it. They have done that. That their main work is not against abortion in particular is true; but so is the brain surgeon. They aren’t out working to stop abortions; will people somehow see that is something wrong, that they are saving one life instead of working against abortion? Seriously.

      And the idea that promoting dialogue is not itself a work against abortion? What do you expect them to do? Blow up clinics? Getting the message out requires dialogue. Go to the Vatican website and search out what they have to say on the word “dialogue.” Then you will see it is indeed a part of the necessary work and a major part. That you have yourself seen they promote dialogue shows there is WORK being done.

  105. Kurt permalink
    February 2, 2010 3:47 pm

    No one has denied that abortion is paramount;

    c matt responds: Exactly. But then why is it that, for the progressive side, abortion seems to be the first thing to get disconnected?
    Health care is a life issue, therefore ignore the abortion funding of it (disconnect)
    This politician is against war, so ignore his pro-choice views. (disconnected again!)
    and on and on.

    Except we have sufficient examples that it has not been disconnected by pro-life progressives. Anti-abortion progressives worked for passage of the Pelosi-Stupak health care bill in the House; pro-life conservatives held a rally in Washington, DC celebrating its obstruction.

    Anti-abortion progressives have witnessed their pro-life views within the anti-war movement. Pro-life conservatives abandon the unborn when it would create probelms for private enterprise.

    Anti-abortion progressives are patient with people and understand that people of good will and integrity might differ as to what standard defines “public funding.” Pro-life conservatives will hold the same standard pro-life when done by the Bush Administration and pro-abortion when included in the Senate Democratic health care bill.

  106. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 2, 2010 3:47 pm

    So, i get it. If Catholic prolifers said they were against unjust war and poverty and disease and never ever did anything about it, you guys would stop this the criticism of us? Just like that? Please say that’s what you mean!

    • February 2, 2010 4:00 pm

      The issue, which Ruse still fails to neglect, is that there are many different kinds of works which one can do. No one expects one to do everything, but more than that, the Church does not expect us to work on only one thing and use that to denigrate all other work. Which is what Austin has done. He has denied the underlying theme of life and the dignity of all life. They, on the other hand, have not — they affirm abortion is evil and to be stopped, and they think one of the ways to help get it to be stopped is to make sure we all understand the dignity of life. Austin, who seems to ignore this underlying aspect of the Gospel of Life, only provides us an “ought not,” without an “ought,” a negative without a positive. It is not enough to say “no” to abortion. Many warmongers have said no to abortion and yet did such great evil, no Catholic could support them. It is important to promote the fullness of life, the dignity of life, to point out why abortion is wrong, and to work with the consequences of that. And again, they do promote the culture of life which the Church says we are to do; I don’t see people who say other issues are “wicked” doing that. That’s the difference. If I actually saw Austin giving positive nods to the rest of the life issues, explaining why they are interconnected as the Church says, that would be better. If I also saw him, as a “professional pro-lifer” not giving excuses for people like Bush, that would be even better. But people have seen already that his work against abortion ends when the GOP needs his support. Alas.

  107. February 2, 2010 3:58 pm

    I believe that Austin and others are correct to point out that the “progressives,” or at least some of them, fail to divorce abortion from the social issues. But the proper response is not to divorce the social issues from abortion. The proper response is to do what the Church has done: connect them. That is what Benedict did in Caritas in Veritate. He had the courage to founded the whole document in two of Paul’s most unpopular writings, Humanae Vitae (unpopular with the left) and Populorum Progressio (unpopular with the Right). He refused–and the Church refuses–to split the two. But those who are carrying water for the left or the right MUST split them.

    What Vox Nova does (from my admittedly random observations) is to rejoin the two, dropping the ideological baggage that both insist on to get at a truly Catholic position.

    And for that I admire them.

  108. February 2, 2010 4:03 pm

    I should also point out the irony that if Austin’s critique of Prejean et alius is correct, then by the same token Sr. Prejean’s critique of Austin and others is also correct. Me, I agree with both critiques.

    But then, I can only go so far in critiquing Sr. Helen, since she is, after all, a sister of the order of St. Joseph of Médaille.

    Hey, anybody else here have an order of nuns named after them?

  109. February 2, 2010 4:18 pm

    Austin,

    No, I’m afraid you still don’t “get it.”

  110. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 2, 2010 8:55 pm

    On the one hand is is acceptable nay laudable for social justice folks to only speak about abortion and not to do anything about it and that is copacetic for at least some of you folks. But if Catholic prolifers offer to speak about war etc but also not to do anythning about it, we’re still bad guys. As my Mom sometimes said, “Can’t win for losin’.”

    • February 3, 2010 4:11 am

      Austin

      You are now being dishonest. You have yourself rejected various concerns as being life issues, and said people were wicked to associate them with being pro-life. The Church, on the other hand, associates them with being pro-life. That is a big difference.

      • February 3, 2010 5:50 am

        This is what I’ve learned in talks with Austin and others like him:

        1) Rebuking Amnesty International for its stand on abortion, in a very public form and manner: that’s doing nothing.

        2) This is because “just speaking about abortion is nothing.”

        So 3) the people who hold up signs at abortion clinics, because they are just speaking about abortion, they are doing nothing.

        What is it one needs to do? Follow GW Bush. He is the model of what it means to be pro-life, so he gets an award. So what is it he did:

        4) Spoke out against abortion. So far, nothing. Bragged about being the first president to federally fund ESCR. Ok, that’s something. Got us into an unjust war which resulted in the deaths of countless children. That’s something. And said those who survived are free to be tortured to death. So being pro-life, doing something, seems to be making sure more people die.

        Odd.

  111. February 3, 2010 1:52 am

    But if Catholic prolifers offer to speak about war etc but also not to do anythning about it, we’re still bad guys.

    But you are still missing the point. Most Catholic “prolifers,” if they speak about war at all, DEFEND and PROMOTE war.

    Are you, Austin Ruse, against the war in Iraq or aren’t you? If so, have you made these views public? Are you against the death penalty? If so, have you made these views public?

    You are missing, probably intentionally, the entire point of the critique Henry and I and others are making.

  112. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 3, 2010 8:23 am

    First, the Church allows for just war. With the Church, I am against unjust war.

    Second, on this war, the Holy Father has said one may disagree with him. Personally, i am up in the air about it. I was involved with the briefings prior to the invasion and the admin truly believed there were weapons of mass destruction. Elliot Abrams said, “They are there, up to the sky.” Even so, there were humanitarian grounds for invading, as in Kosovo. Too bad, Bush did not make that case. Had it never happened, I think would have been a good thing though it might have just delayed what would have happened. And i will remind you of those dozen pictures of Bush at the nunciature. If he is this moral beast, i suspect they would not be there, especailly now that he is out of office.

    Third, on the death penalty, i hold the Church’s view. Fourth, on the death penalty, the Holy Father has said you may disagree with him about its application. Having said that, I think the Pope has done his job well: i and ohters like me are much less blood thirsty than we used to be. Recall, that this is a practically brand new development of doctrine. Give it time, guys.

    Now for the harsh part of my message. It seems like you guys are setting up a Vox Nova Magisterium that even protestants like George Bush must follow. Whatever happened to all that pluralistic society blather one hears in the abortion debate. How about a little of that on other issues?

    And for the ongoing concessions. Nonetheless, I hereby declare I am against unjust war, the unjust application of the death penalty. I hereby denounce injustice, poverty, disease.

    When i was in business and a guy who was resisting stopped resisting, i would take it as a victory and ease up. Ease up, boys, ease up.

    • February 3, 2010 8:29 am

      Austin was in with the GOP briefings; and, if you look, his backing was with McCain. Everyone look at the “professional” pro-lifer. Even if Iraq had WMDS (which was not true and known not to be true), that DID NOT make for any just war claims. Here we have once again Austin the GOP shill using “pro life” as a mantra purely for the sake of the GOP. Sick.

  113. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 3, 2010 8:25 am

    I have thus far refrained from addressing Karlson directly in any thread since he dumped me from his thread without a word last week, and consider him to be intemperate to the extreme and who should refrain from late night blogging. But, Henry, you either know nohting or are dishonest about embryonic stem cell research and George Bush.

    • February 3, 2010 8:27 am

      “Without word.” No, I told you to answer some things. You never did. That you kept spinning and spinning with dishonesty and did not want to have a conversation but just dominate and ignore everything you didn’t like. Indeed, you kept making falsehood after falsehood and though it was shown you were lying, you were told to respond to an issue or you would not be free to engage the light of deception anymore. You were not willing. Austin, you have shown yourself for what you are on these threads; people have seen what you are doing. They did not see how you take things offline (warning, folks, Austin looks into phone books). That itself says much as well (there are words one could use for that, but I will let people decide which they would use themselves).

      And what I said about Bush and ESCR is not a lie. He himself proclaimed it, which I also showed several times. He even made it clear it included the destruction of embryos that he was talking about. Austin, however, continues with his sophistry and misrepresentation and says Bush didn’t do that. This is your “professional” pro-lifer for you. Someone who shills for the GOP and ignores it when proven to be in the wrong.

      Here, however, is a pro-life profile which says exactly what I do about Bush and ESCR: http://americanrtl.org/news/prolife-profile-george-w-bush . More importantly, at the time when it happened, I remembered the debate and many pro-lifers saying Bush sold them out at the time. And in 2004, as I have referenced in several threads, Bush himself said he was the first president to federally fund ESCR, talking about the destruction of embryos. His own words: “Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of life. I’m the first president ever to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.”

  114. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 3, 2010 8:32 am

    BTW…it was during a discussion of Bush and stem cells that Henry said, something like “I’ve had enough.” Silly me. i did not know what that meant so i kept sending info adn then slowly it dawned on me i had been cast into outer darkness. For what? I don’t know. I tried to taunt him into further dialogue, even sent him my telephone number. Nothing except ongoing attacks on me by name, attacks i was not able to respond to…fair? You tell me.

    • February 3, 2010 8:40 am

      “I tried to taunt him into further dialogue…” including looking into a phone book and calling me personally. But yes, we know. Your strategy is to “taunt.” Thank you for admitting it.

      This is what is wrong with the “professional” pro-lifer. They think taunting is right.

  115. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 3, 2010 3:27 pm

    I am in transit back to DC after a few days of professional prolife work. I can answer more fully when I have a big screen.
    In the meantime, Henry, remind of the thing that I refused to answer and that got me banished from your thread. I promise to answer! Also, please give me specifics of me lying about God knows what.
    Lastly, Henry, I did reach out to you by phone, which should not frighten you. Speaking by phone or better yet face to face conversation are much more profitable than having at it via blogs. You also have my #, 202-393-7002. I find the hatred and anger on this blog to be truly mind-boggling. Come let us reason together.

    • February 3, 2010 3:39 pm

      The combination of someone saying they want to “taunt” and the fact that the “taunter” literally calls someone at their home says enough.

  116. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 3, 2010 6:12 pm

    Henry,

    Let’s do something good here. Put aside whatever divides us and sit down and talk. I come to you with open hand.

  117. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 5, 2010 9:36 am

    Don’t leave me hanging, bro!

  118. Ronald King permalink
    February 6, 2010 8:58 am

    Austin, May I call you?

  119. Kurt permalink
    February 6, 2010 11:21 am

    Austin,

    I understand your point that while the Church, through the Holy Father and by other means, proposes certain responses to war, poverty and capital punishment, she rightfully recognizes that faithful Catholics might have different discernments as to how to address these matters (all while expecting Catholics to oppose unjust wars, unjust poverty and unjust use of capital punishment).

    But it is time Catholic conservatives admit that faithful Catholics opposed to abortion also can use different discernments as hwo to address that issue.

    The failure to admit to this at the same time the Pro-Life Movement has been exposed as engaging in negotiating over abortion and some very political wheeling-dealing is a scandal.

  120. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 8, 2010 7:43 am

    kurt, the church does not simply teach that abortion should be reduced, which is the supposed position of Obama (lie) and the dupes on the Catholic left. The Church teaches that as a matter of justice unborn children must be protected in law from abortion. Certainly, how you work toward legal abolition is a matter of prudential decisions (there are many proposals in the pro-life movements) but to simply say you are pro-life because you want a higher minimum wage or whatever is a dodge and a lie of the left.

    Ronald, and anyone who wants to, you may call me at any time and reach me through my website, http://www.c-fam.org. It takes a little more courage to talk to someone or to gasp! actually meet them than simply to slog on them in a blog.

  121. February 8, 2010 11:22 am

    Austin, you are missing the point. The Church teaches that the unborn deserve protection under the law, and also that “it is above all necessary to combat its causes…it is necessary…to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children.” You cannot separate the two, and by aligning the pro-life movement with a particular party, you are indeed separating the two.

    How do we achieve the first point? I would argue that the current tactics of the pro-life movement put this goal further and further out of reach. Change will only come when the culture changes, and the culture will never change once the pro-life movement is aligned with a pro-war, pro-torture, pro-big business, anti-healthcare reform, anti-immigration, enti-environmental movement. People have a knack for sniffing out hypocrisy.

    I propose that the pro-life movement be born anew. It should base its opposition to abortion on an opposition to violence, given there is no greater violence that violence against the unborn.

  122. Ronald King permalink
    February 8, 2010 12:02 pm

    MM, Perfectly stated.

  123. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 8, 2010 1:05 pm

    MM. These are excuses not to get involved. Tell me one goddamn thing you have personally to stop abortion. Answer? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. That’s the problem with you yackers. You think that’s enough. You remind me of my trad days when we thought sitting around complaining about the bishops was apostolate enough. Finally, it is a silly lie to say the GOP does not care about children, families, the poor etc. Last time I checked, the GOP has supported huge budgets in those areas. The US spends billions on the poor and at the same time protects the killers of chidren. And so do you. Sad.

  124. February 8, 2010 1:47 pm

    It is 100% better to “do nothing about abortion” if that means personally opposing it, not participating in it, encouraging others not to participate in it, assisting women in our communities who need support, and writing about why we should as a society value the lives of the unborn if the alternative is working to implement the death-dealing politics of the republican platform at all costs whether or not abortion is ever made illegal (and of course, it never is, because it’s not what republicans really want). People who oppose abortion are necessarily constrained politically as to how we can work to end it. Your choice — alliance with the real party of death — is not necessary and not consistent. And it will not, ultimately, end abortion because it’s not what the party really wants.

  125. February 8, 2010 1:49 pm

    You can’t have it both ways Austin. You claim to seek civility, to reach out your hand to debate in a charitable manner with those who disgaree with you. I took you at your word, and suddenly it is “goddamn this” and “yackers that”. You nothing about me and what I do or do not do, so please refrain from that nonsense. You might be surprised to find out some things we have in common.

    On your latter point, the GOP’s economic agenda is very much a “preferential option for the rich”, predicated on the notion that uppoer-income tax cuts can work wonders and that social tranfers are merely unearned and undeserved “welfare”. Oh, and the single largest budgetary expendiure is directly tied to killing people – that is, military expenditure.

  126. Kurt permalink
    February 8, 2010 2:25 pm

    Austin,

    The Church does not teach that Catholics have any obligation to be dupes in a political movement that lies that they care about the unborn as they negotiate deals with the GOP and Big Business.

    Your reservations about progressives pro-lifers may have some merit. But doing so doesn’t prove a thing about conservative pro-lifers who are stating to give ten cent ladies of the evening a bad name.

    Maybe they are both full of bunk.

  127. February 8, 2010 4:54 pm

    Austin says Tell me one goddamn thing you have personally to stop abortion. Answer? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. That’s the problem with you yackers.

    Well, I have no way of judging the writers on this list, who by and large I don’t know. But I can judge the efficacy of the organized movement that purports to be pro-life, and Austin’s question can certainly be turned on them. Yea, he’s got a blog, and that’s good. But in 40 years of agitation, they have gotten nowhere. Of course, it’s somebody else’s fault, no doubt. The media, the democrats, somebody. Never mind that the media is largely owned by corporate America (against whom the movement never utters a word); never mind that the Republicans have been in power most of the time and appointed most of the judges. Still, it’s their fault.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, so it is tempting to say that the movement is insane. But I don’t think. I think the movement (as far as its leaders go) is eminently rational, and getting precisely the results it wants: namely, delivering winning margina for Republicans and their corporate allies without ever having to actually save any lives. After all, the abortion rate is now pretty much where it’s been most of the time.

    So now you tell us, Austin, what G-D thing you have you done that has actually worked, other than yacking for the Republican party, its wars, its deficits, its corporate control of American life, its complete and total hostility towards any other issue that is authentically Catholic. You can call me up on Skype if you want to discuss this, john.medaille.

  128. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 8, 2010 5:37 pm

    MM,

    I made no offer of civility. I made an offer of getting together and meeting face to face. What did i hear? Silence. the same kind of silence when i asked you what you have done on abortion. You have done nothing. The folks on this site have done nothing except criticize those who do. I suspect the folks on this site don’t do much of anythning except dither about their dissertations which arent getting done.

    About your GOP comment. Not very bright of orignal talking points.

    I have wondered why Gerry Campbell has not posted here in a while. I suspect but do not know that he is embarrassed by what this blog has become.

    • February 8, 2010 5:59 pm

      I made no offer of civility. I made an offer of getting together and meeting face to face.

      Someone who tells us that his goal is to taunt, and he has no care for civility, wonders why we don’t want to talk to him face to face? Clearly there are good reasons for concern. Abusive tendencies online can become worse in person, especially if someone thinks the world is their plaything and they can harass people and call them at home without their prior consent.

  129. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 8, 2010 9:02 pm

    Henry,

    You are among the most abusive people i have ever encountered online and this is saying a lot since i have 200,000 weekly subscribers, all of whom have my number and are welcome to call…and many do!

    I have repeatedly offered to speak on the phone with you and/or the others on this site. All i get is abuse or silence. I continue to believe that folks might be a little nicer in person that they are when hiding behind a blog. That you have once more twisted my words is just pathetic. I know i cannot force you to be a man, Henry, just suggest it.

    • February 9, 2010 4:43 am

      Austin

      One of the most abusive people? You are the one who says your goal is to taunt, you are the one who harasses people with unwelcome phone calls at their home, et. al. It is quite clear you like to control the situation, and you get upset when you don’t. That’s the real issue and we both know it. And you say you are not about civility and wonder why people don’t want to meet with you. Seriously. I have no use to meet someone who has proved themselves to be uncivil, to tell people he wants to be uncivil, to tell people he wants to taunt, to be abusive, and someone who has shown himself capable of questionable activity. I have and will continue to meet people of good will. Yours — not so good.

  130. February 8, 2010 11:11 pm

    “Be a man, Henry.” – Austin Ruse

  131. February 8, 2010 11:13 pm

    Austin,

    Now you are confusing me. On the one hand, you deny that you seek civility, while on the other hand, you think people might be nicer in person…if you don’t seek civility, then why?…oh never mind!

    Anyway, I couldn’t put it better than John Medaille. I repeat what I said – I have no idea what good you do in your private life, and you don’t that about us either. To keep up this line of reasoning is a little juvenile, don’t you think? I can say, however, that the political pro-life movement has been an absymal failure. It has allied itself with a movement that is not pro-life in any respects, it has sold out core principles, and it seems more comfortable with a “culture war” than a “culture change”.

    I would suggest that even doing nothing is better than this…

  132. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:02 am

    MM,

    I reached out in comity and received abuse and/or silence. It is clear that this crew is only interested in that. You get what you give, pal. Have you ever wondered why teh comment boxes here are so full of anger and hate? It is becuase of you guys.

    Henry, You are a liar. I never said my “goal is to taunt.” Prove it. Put up or shut up. I called you once when you refused to post to a thread and you refused to say why and i was puzzled. so I called you, and you were too much of a coward to pick up the phone. clearly you new it was me since i never left a message. You call me uncivil? You push and taunt and mock and misrepresent and lie and then you are surprised when you get a reaction? I know it is a fools errand to try and engage you in any kind of real and yes civil dialogue but on this one single lousy point Henry shwo us all where i said my “GOAL IS TO TAUNT.” Liar.

    • February 9, 2010 8:00 am

      http://vox-nova.com/2010/01/28/were-the-bishops-used-by-the-pro-life-movement/#comment-71001

      Notice “I tried to taunt.” Yes, taunting was indeed a goal. Liar? It’s interesting to see the kind of speech you use around here. Very much what one expects from people who like to dominate and control others and gets upset they don’t get their way. “You didn’t pick up the phone. You are a coward!” No. I didn’t pick up the phone because I don’t like cyber-stalking from people who have already showed themselves abusive. If you had been mature, asked me in advance, and was not already demonstrating control-freak qualities I would have had no problem talking to you. I engage people all the time. Dislike of dealing with abusers has nothing to do with being a coward; it has to deal with avoiding the near temptation of sin.

  133. Ronald King permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:57 am

    Austin, I know you are busy, however, I did call yesterday and left my home and work numbers. I do not expect a return call since I am nobody. We are all in the mystical Body of Christ and it sucks that we cannot get together to diagnose treat the illness that is killing us. Face to face sounds like a lot of fun. My work with suffering people is face to face everyday. There is nothing better than face to face.
    Actually, I have attempted to discuss my position face to face in more depth with many catholic radio hosts but it seems I am correct when I say I am nobody. I told them I was willing to meet with them at their convenience with no desire to be on the air but only a desire to tell them the knowledge I have been blessed to learn about interpersonal neurobiology and changing hearts and minds. The catholic environment seems to be one of elitism and since I haven’t achieved that status I have been dismissed for the time being.
    I have no personal desire for any status in any of this. I desire that someone in a position of influence understand that our faith is fragmented because individualism has corrupted the message of God’s Love and the faith is seen by those we want to convert as a faith that projects hate instead of love.
    It is insane to remain on the same course of individualism and expect a radical change of hearts and minds.

  134. Kurt permalink
    February 9, 2010 9:12 am

    Austin evidences the desperation born of his failure in his stated goal. He is experiencing the pain of a quiet defeat.

    Like an executive of a failed corporation, he has his golden parachute, or as a better example as is so often done in the allegedly “efficient” free enterprise system, a corner office and high salary but no real duties. The pro-life professionals have job security as junior players in the conservative coalition now driven by the libertarian tea party movement and by the Wall Street banks. They will gin up their following on the abortion issue, but they don’t really add anything to conservatism as their followers would be conservative with or without the abortion issue as seen by their support for pro-abortion conservative Scott Brown over anti-abortion Democrat Steve Lynch.

    Unborn lives will not be saved but the pro-life professionals will have good jobs, be able to pay the rent and continue to be well-fed.

    The shame is that they had a good thing going for many years. The abortion issue had its political saliency because contrary to its common characterization in the media, it was a cross cutting issue rather than one where people’s opinions followed a general liberal/conservative divide. The existence of so many pro-life progressives allowed a pro-life candidate to draw voters otherwise unavailable to him or her. Pro-lifers were able to make political hay out of this even though the pro-choice side did a much better job of cultivating their opportunities in appealing to pro-choice suburban Republican women.

    Pro-life progressives rarely received the kind treatment that pro-choicers gave to pro-choice Republicans. In fact, it has generally been nothing but insults from the pro-life professionals and accusations that we are second degree baby killers.
    The health care debate could have been a game changer. Ina huge victory for pro-life progressives, the Pelosi-Stupak bill passed the House and the nation was on the verge of enacting a pro-life health care bill. Pro-choice Democrats overwhelmingly voted to set aside their views on abortion to support health care. Having crossed that Rubicon, it may well have been the formula for future Democratic initiatives.

    The horror of the Democrats being able to move ahead with a progressive social agenda by accommodating abortion opponents put the Pro-Life Establishment in full war mode. The abortion issue cannot be lost as a way of obstructing progressive social legislation. Health care must be defeated even if it mean exposing the truth that the Pro-Life movement trades off unborn lives in order to protect Big Business and the GOP.

    Austin has likely won in stopping 30 million Americans from getting health insurance. He has surrendered what had been the pro-life movement’s strong card – the ability to deliver voters opposed to abortion but not conservative Republicans. Progressives opposed to abortion now have no reason to trust or ally themselves with the partisan hacks that make up the Pro-Life Movement.

    Well, it was a nice ride while it lasted.

  135. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 9, 2010 3:43 pm

    Yes, Henry you are a liar.

    Here is what i said at 8:32 above:

    “I tried to taunt him into further dialogue, even sent him my telephone number.”

    Henry’s twist of this becomes:

    “Someone who tells us that his GOAL IS TO TAUNT” (5:59 above). My goal? My goal in life? My professional goal? My personal goal?

    Henry, we know you are not a very good writer, especially late at night, and your “thinking through things” is fairly pretentious and pathetic, but really, how does “I tried to taunt him into further dialogue…” become “My goad is to taunt”?

    And then a single phone call becomes stalking? Henry, you are just not a serious person.

    Perhaps one day, Henry, you will grow up, put down the bottle, get a job, and become a man.

    • February 9, 2010 3:57 pm

      When someone writes “I tried to taunt him,” then deny that taunting is a goal, I find that person is acting rather crazy. The fact that you said you “tried to taunt” means you had the goal of taunting. You don’t try to do something which is not a goal. Very simple.

      What is interesting is that one who accuses me of being a “liar” is also trying to make accusations about me (“put down the bottle”). Project much, Austin?

  136. February 9, 2010 4:21 pm

    This discussion seems interminable, and doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I am more than willing to accept Austin’s explanation that he meant “taunt” in a very benign way, which is the way I took it when I first read it. But to attempt to return the discussion to something more substantive, I ask Austin, as I have before, “Why shouldn’t people regard the so-called pro-life movement as merely as more interested in electing Republicans than in saving lives?” Indeed, most people outside the movement seem to regard it that way, and I have yet to hear an adequate response.

    I am quite aware that abortion and euthanasia are non-negotiable. But they are not disconnected from other issues. And I also understand that a group may choose to address one issue alone, and I have no problem with that. But the pro-life movement doesn’t confine itself to one issue. They were opposed to universal health care, for example, long before abortion became an issue, and would still be opposed to it no matter what it says on abortion.

    Indeed, when the “death panel” twitter came from the chief twit, Sarah Palin, the right-wing Catholic blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree, falling all over themselves to repeat the lie. That seems to be the level of sophistication one gets from this element; they have formed themselves into the stupid wing of the tea party movement, a movement already known for its somewhat low intellectual standards.

    So I would like to hear from Austin some reasonable defense and, insofar as the movement is “Catholic” or influenced by Catholics, a defense that is compatible with the American bishops own statement on these issues, a statement that allows more latitude in voting than does the formal pro-life movement.

    So, what do you say, Austin?

    • February 9, 2010 4:53 pm

      John

      When Austin calls me at home without asking before if he can, that to me indicates quite a bit, and it is not benign. Indeed, his constant use of words such as “thug” “liar” and constantly trying to demean my character with implications of being a drunkard or “not a man” to me say that his actions are anything but benign. I would have had a different view if his words were temperate and charitable. They have not been. I would have had a different view if he didn’t think he had a right to call people and harass them at their home –whether or not they wanted him to call them. There are boundaries, and he crossed many of them. That is why I don’t treat his “taunt” as benign. Since the rest of his actions have not been.

  137. Austin Ruse permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:37 pm

    John,

    i would be delighted to have a conversation with you offline, by phone, in person, but not on this poisonous blog. i have seen too many threads, and not just those of the thug Karlson, turn into what this has turned into. I won’t be joining in any more. Too bad. Certainly not any longer, but i was willing to put Henry and anyone he wanted to bring in front of an audience of national pro-life leadership. Why>? To talk these issues through. Now? Not a chance.

    John, feel free to call me any time…202-393-7002.

    Ronald, Sorry i missed your call. If you left a message i will get it when our office opens back up after the snow which is a bummer since i was supposed to fly to Rome tomorrow for a professional pro-life/social justice confab at the Vatican.

    henry, have you figured it out yet, there is a great big conversation going on out here and you are even close to being a part of it.

    See ya, boys.

  138. February 9, 2010 4:55 pm

    If you left a message i will get it when our office opens back up after the snow which is a bummer since i was supposed to fly to Rome tomorrow for a professional pro-life/social justice confab at the Vatican.

    Missed out on a banquet and open bar, eh? Bummer indeed. No wonder the “professional” Pro-Life Movement is so out of touch with reality.

  139. February 9, 2010 5:03 pm

    Austin, many of us hae tried to engage you in debate, but you prefer name calling. You have not answered a single one of the questions posed about the pro-life movement’s prostituting itself to the Republican party. You have not addressed its unwillingness to support a pro-life House healthcare reform bill, and its glee over the election of a pro-abortion pro-torture senator who happens to oppose healthcare reform. I suspect your increasing anger reflects these questions hitting a little too close to home.

  140. February 9, 2010 5:05 pm

    Henry, words get said in comboxes, a communications device that seem to draw a line around charity. My impression is that Austin did not start out that way, but the conversations get out of hand. IAC, I am more interested in the revival of Catholic politics in America, which from my point of view have been sabotaged by the Austrian ideologues and my its subservience to the Republican party, a party which may occasionally be anti-abortion, but which is rarely pro-life. I’ve left Austin a message, and I hope he returns it.

    • February 9, 2010 5:14 pm

      John

      He said “taunt” after he had already broke the boundaries (such as his calling me at my home without asking if he could). He calls me a coward because I didn’t want to talk to someone who would suddenly call like that. But the fact of the matter is — I don’t like talking on the phone, so why would I talk to someone who is already insulting and showing all kinds of bile towards me? His taunting comment was after that, and after many comments I didn’t let through with much bile in them. His taunting wasn’t benign because his taunting was to call names (“coward” “thugs” “poor pathetic slob”). I didn’t let such comments from him through so I can understand your interpretation of his words were different from mine.

  141. February 9, 2010 6:10 pm

    I must have too much time on my hands. I reviewed all of Austin’s posts (26, I think), and I don’t see the same problem until late in the game. IN the 3rd he uses the term “wicked,” but he is speaking of a position rather than persons, or at least we could read it that way. By the 7th post, he introduces an odd epithet, “social justicers.” I should take umbrage, since I teach a course in Social Justice, and the Title of my first book is “The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace.” For me, SJ is just an alternative spelling of “Catholic”; for others (and Austin seems to be one of them) it is a code word for “Commie,” “pinko,” “Fascist,” and, worst of all, “Democrat.”

    By the 15th post, Henry is intemperate, the 16th is the now notorious “taunting” post, by the 20th we have the “dupes of the Catholic left” (is it a sin to be left?), by the 21st he is swearing, and by the 24th, Henry is a liar.

    I am less concerned with all of that then by the failure to address the issues raised in any but the most superficial responses to the underlying issues. This is very troubling for a person heads a group called “Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.” It leads to the impression that many people have that “Catholic” concern for the family begins at conception and ends at birth, and the family is pretty much on its own in the capitalist wasteland after that. But of course this is a perversion of Catholicism.

    Well, I’ve called. Maybe I’ll hear something back.

    • February 9, 2010 6:12 pm

      John

      As I said, I didn’t let many of his posts through. And remember, not all of them are in this thread. So my response in here and my interpretation of events goes with his posts in my threads which he was already giving such insults but I didn’t let through, and after he had called me on the phone. The last, calling me on the phone, without even asking to do so, says much to me and since he did that before his “taunt” comment, it really affects how I read his taunting.

      But you are right. Those are side points. They are why I don’t have much care to talk to him nor have any trust for him. The major points remain as MM and you point out.

      • February 9, 2010 6:17 pm

        Just thought I would mention: 36 approved, over 15 not approved comments from Austin.

        • February 10, 2010 4:38 am

          Correction, 97 approved comments from Austin; I did a search of his email instead of IP and found more. It’s a long history.

  142. Ronald King permalink
    February 9, 2010 6:36 pm

    If anyone is interested, I am willing to fly from the northwest and meet with Vox Nova folks and Austin and anyone in DC. Now, I am soon to be 63 and I love the freedom I found in our faith. I am an introvert and fought the fear of people all my life because I am extremely aware of how much harm is caused by human relationships in words and actions. I do not fear anymore those who are more verbally aggressive but I do have fear of those who may be physically aggressive.
    Any introverts out there wanting to face the dragon?

    • February 9, 2010 6:55 pm

      Ronald

      I would get together with you, but, after several things, both online and offline, both in comments accepted and comments not accepted, I have no interest in getting together with Austin. I have limits in my ability and I know for the sake of charity and for the sake of not allowing myself fall into temptation, sometimes some things are best not to do.

  143. February 9, 2010 6:48 pm

    I just got back from DC, but if anyone would like to sponsor a job-searching student to such an event, I would accept.

    By the way, I have avoided this discussion because I have a much more up-close experience and relationships with both organizations—as a member of one and a friend of one of their top staffers, who is nothing but a generous and kind person.

    I would recommend that a more structured forum would offer the chance to move past the polemic and begin to tease out the disputes with more rigor and charity.

    If I do go to DC I have lodging already (with said friend) and would even be willing to moderate.

    Blessings to all,

    Sam

  144. Ronald King permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:48 pm

    Henry, Here is my home #509-735-9238 or work 509-946-7012. Please feel free to call to talk.

  145. Kurt permalink
    February 9, 2010 10:17 pm

    I don’t quite understand this need for reconcilation. I am sure Austin is a very kind and wonderful person. For me, wish him every personal good thing but I simply stand in opposition to his political acts and intend to work against its success. Like they said in some movie, it’s nothing personal.

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