Skip to content

Irony is Lost on Some People

May 21, 2009

An American Catholic blogger criticizes Fr. James Martin after watching him debate EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on CNN. Discussing the Notre Dame nonsense, Fr. Martin lamented that the life issue was being reduced to abortion, ignoring everything else. Arroyo shot back by distinguishing abortion as an intrinsic evil that could never be justified, and other issues. Of course, this blog post (and the majority of the comments) side with Arroyo and denounce Martin.

Here’s the irony– Arroyo is the one on record defending an instrinsically evil act, torture. Recall his recent conversation with Fr. Sirico. Here is what he said, courtesy of Commonweal:

“ARROYO: Many people will then come in and say, “Wait a minute, but they’re against torture, and they’re for immigration…” These are all prudential judgments, as opposed to this abortion question…”

They go on to claim that the Bush-Cheney techniques are not torture. They make jokes about waterboarding. Finally, Sirico argues that torture might be fine if done by a competent authority, if it is proportionate, and the threat is imminent. In words, he takes something the Church defines as intrinsically evil and creates circumstances when it might be licit. Arroyo’s response? “Mm-hmm. Agreed.”

So there we have it. Arroya criticizes Martin’s argument on the grounds that abortion stands apart because it is intrinsically evil. Martin does not dispute this, and in no way defends abortion. And yet, a few weeks earlier, we have Arroyo himself defending an intrinsically evil act. Irony indeed.

  1. Luke Warm permalink
    May 21, 2009 11:47 am

    Well, there we have it. Good point.

    Arroyo is wrong.

    Is Notre Dame right?

  2. May 21, 2009 11:58 am

    You need to dig deeper into Sirico; his background; his history, his current cushy role as head of the Acton Institute.

    He has no qualifications in terms of educational achievements, etc. to make him a theological expert – in fact, he barely has the minimum education required to be ordained a priest. His shopping around for different orders and dioceses raises many red flags.

    Actually, if you watch Arroyo closely, you will find multiple examples of when he contradicts himself, church positions and issues. His biases do not make him credible.

  3. ron chandonia permalink
    May 21, 2009 11:59 am

    Yes, let’s kill Arroyo. Let’s kill Cheney too. When we’ve driven stakes through their heart, can we find out what you and others on the Obama-leaning Catholic left think we ought to do about the prevalence of the intrinsic evil of abortion in this country?

  4. ron chandonia permalink
    May 21, 2009 12:00 pm

    Oh, yes, let’s kill Sirico too. Stake right through the heart. Now, about that intrinsic evil that your man thinks is a basic human right . . .

  5. digbydolben permalink
    May 21, 2009 12:05 pm

    Well, natch, Ron Chandonia, we know what you’ll call for, don’t we?

    Let’s burn down the abortion clinics, with the abortionists in them, right?.

    Actually, there’s nothing surprising in any of this for me: this is what American Catholicism IS!

  6. David permalink
    May 21, 2009 12:24 pm

    The fact is, the ‘torture’ techniques, for the most part, hardly qualify as torture. I believe that was Arroyo’s point. What is and what isn’t torture is subjective. When it comes to abortion, the killing of an innocent life, there is no subjectiveness. There is the objective evil. Put more bluntly, IS there any case where you think abortion is ok?

  7. May 21, 2009 12:50 pm

    Actually, the techniques DO qualify as torture. The Red Cross thinks so. The US has called these techniqgues torture when other people do them. the Gestaop came up with a very similar list of techniques. And Americans courts have convicted people in the past for doing these things. There is no doubt whatsoever here.

  8. May 21, 2009 1:03 pm

    What is and what isn’t torture is subjective. When it comes to abortion, the killing of an innocent life, there is no subjectiveness. There is the objective evil.

    Torture is NOT “subjective.” If we end up saying “torture is subjective” then ethics simply has no meaning.

  9. May 21, 2009 1:18 pm

    Ron, slow down a bit. Torture isn’t about politics or economics. It’s about the dignity of the human person and the intrinsic solidarity we have with one another.

    You’re an intelligent man. You’ve had an interesting journey. Can’t you find some light radiating out of the cotton fields that can give you a more penetrating insight into the meaning of torture. I’ll bet you can, if you reflect back to your original studies and the reasons you undertook those studies in the first place.

  10. May 21, 2009 1:26 pm

    David I agree with you as to your point

    There are several discussion going on here. First Can torture be used and what is torture.

    In fact what people call the “torture Memos” in the eyes of the lawyers I suspect were viewed as the anto torture memos. At least there are glimpses that the staff was concerned about certain practices and wanting to reign them in

    Some of theis techniques are of course no so clear cut. In fact many of these were decalred not torure by a pretty big European Court on Human rights.

    Persoanlly I think people that have concerns over whole shooting match are about to get outplayed. It seesm to me everything comes back to waterboarding.

    Suddenally waterboarding is delcared illegal(and it has not been used in years) and everyone is satifyed for the most part. It seems to me that is what is being set up.

  11. May 21, 2009 1:48 pm


    What are you visualizing when you hear the word torture? What is it in you that brings you to say that sleep deprivation, waterboarding, etc. are not torture?

    I don’t believe Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski was under any illusions that sleep deprivation was not torture. He said all kinds of things that were used for propaganda purposes by the Communist authorities. The simple truth: He was subject to sleep deprivation, he said many things he later regretted, AND the reason he said them was because he was tortured. Do you think he was a TRAITOR?

    Perhaps you are too far removed from IMPACT of these techniques to make an experienced judgment. It seems you have too great a confidence in inexperience.

  12. May 21, 2009 1:55 pm

    In fact many of these were decalred not torure by a pretty big European Court on Human rights.

    In whose interests would a “pretty big European Court” speak and make such decisions? If we immediately assume “the victims,” we might be assuming too much.

    The victims of torture will tell you what torture is.

    Say, I wonder if being crowned with thorns “counts” as torture?

  13. ron chandonia permalink
    May 21, 2009 1:59 pm

    I do not in any way, shape, form or manner support TORTURE or any other policy like it. Nor did I vote for any of these clowns that you guys hate so much. Nor do I ever, at any time, listen to EWTN or Raymond Arroyo or weirdo Father “Metropolitan” Sirico . . . But I think it’s obvious that you beat up on them over and over and over in an effort to convince somebody (yourselves, evidently, or the choir that constantly Amens you) that the wickedness of these allegedly pro-life loonies somehow excuses the pro-abortion policies of your hero, Barack Obama. When you are asked, “Well, how would YOU propose making abortion ‘rare’?” you respond by coming up with some more names of right-wing pro-lifers who favor other crazy and evil policies. Why must you keep beating this dead horse?

  14. May 21, 2009 2:04 pm

    Raymond Arroyo is a jerk. I know several people who are connected to EWTN and admit that conversationally.

    Now, I’ve only heard of this debate in certain blog reactions, but I would argue that they’re both partially right and partially wrong.

    1. Abortion is not the only “intrinsic evil,” and that is obviously a huge oversimplification. As I always argue, contraception is *also* an “intrinsic evil” that Catholics are supposed to oppose legally as well as personally.

    2. Abortion is, for lack of a better word, more “clear cut.” Torture has sadly and unnecesssarily complicated the argument. War and the death penaly cannot be equated to abortion, since the Church gives the State the right to recourse to them both. Certainly, we should fight for their use to be extremely restricted.
    Secondly, in discussing voting, we have to pay attention to the office we’re voting for, and what its job is.

    For example, I don’t really care more about a presidential candidate’s positoin on abortion or war than I do about his position on the death penalty.
    I care more about a district attorney candidate’s position on the death penalty than his position on abortion or war.

  15. Gabriel Austin permalink
    May 21, 2009 2:06 pm

    As usual, the failure to define terms leads to unending discussion. The first term to be defined is “torture”.
    The examples of the Nazis and Communists fail to mention that much of that torture was simple sadism.

    Water-boarding was used by Fr. Torquemada with careful restrictions. The circumstances were similar to those of today – conditions of war. Torture is painful, but unlike abortion is not deadly.

  16. May 21, 2009 2:08 pm

    “Say, I wonder if being crowned with thorns “counts” as torture”

    MIchaei I,

    I suppose the reasoning of a FEW might go something like this:

    “If it is done by a competent and authorized practitioner of the art of “crowning by thorns”, the act is not torture. Nor is it torture to crucify a person convicted of crimes against the state. Whatever else the act may be, it is an act of justice for a capital crime committed.”

    Geeeze, from what place does all this upchuck spew forth?

  17. May 21, 2009 2:12 pm

    Gabriel Austin,

    “The first term to be defined is “torture”.”

    OK man, define torture and how it is not a violation of human dignity. Don’t just go on to say it hurts but doesn’t kill!!!!!

    Where does all this come from?

  18. May 21, 2009 2:23 pm

    Torture is painful, but unlike abortion is not deadly.

    Taking the inviolability of the dignity of human life seriously requires that we see these things on a continuum, not as completely isolated categories of action.

    As John Kavanaugh, SJ, writes in his fantastic and challenging Who Count As Persons?: Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing:

    “The prohibition against killing persons is the limit situation in ethics… If we violate this principle, we violate the moral order and the claims that personal reality make on us. This is not to say that torture, brainwashing, and slavery are less evil. It is to say that such cruelty partakes in the fundamental depersonalization of which intentional killing is the prime, irreversible example. An ethics of radical personalism yields to the exceptionless moral principle that personal life must not be negated — because in doing so, the foundation of moral experience itself is rejected” (p. 120).

    I think it’s obvious that you beat up on them over and over and over in an effort to convince somebody (yourselves, evidently, or the choir that constantly Amens you)…

    Where is this “choir” you speak of?

    Geeeze, from what place does all this upchuck spew forth?

    You know where I think it comes from.

  19. May 21, 2009 2:39 pm


    I don’t know whether you are talking to me or not but I’ll respond.

    If you reviewed my comments, I don’t believe you’ll find me mentioning political leaders except in a context where it makes sense. I don’t believe you’ll find much evidence where I demonize a person. I make reference to movements — prolifers or pro-life movement — but I try not to demonize a specific person.

    We are at a point in this national debate where the language and dynamics are changing. We now have an opportunity to direct attention to women facing a decision that will determine the life of their unborn. For too long, the national focus has been on strategies and abstractions, finger pointing and the crafting of caricatures for political purposes. I know how members of congress and administration officials operate. Be cautious. Don’t get too cozy with them. They are more about appearances than you.

    Just down the road, as more funding streams are unleashed, people like yourself will be able to more fully embrace these women. More resources will be available. But more than that, if a national consensus can be generated that WE should all reach out to these women — as caring people — I believe you will begin to see the emergence of a new national ethos. This ethos will be the foundation for a national prevention strategy that can strike at the heart of abortion.

    Women get abortions for many reasons. But fundamentally they suffer from spiritual alienation and aloneness. They are brought to tears by their predicament. They are overwhelmed by the physical challenges they face. But they become defeated by the spiritual turmoil the swirls about their lives. Remember: the human heart cannot tolerate spiritual alienation.

    If we can lower the tone, and refocus our efforts away from one another to those in need, there is little we cannot accomplish. I think this is a reasonable pathway to the future.

  20. ron chandonia permalink
    May 21, 2009 3:32 pm

    Most regulars here–starting with MM–just love to talk about the specifics of torture (and, of course, the criminality of torturers) but find it next to impossible to say anything at all about abortion except that the people who get upset about it are very bad people (some of them torturers, even), whereas the people that have no problem with it–like their man Obama–have never, ever done anything that would demonstrate their support of it–which makes you wonder why NARAL and Planned Parenthood keep cheering their guys on.

    Gerald, however, has chosen another approach–the compassion-to-women approach, I guess. He sounds as if he is the only man on earth who knows a woman who had an abortion, but he also makes a claim that I do not believe:

    Just down the road, as more funding streams are unleashed, people like yourself will be able to more fully embrace these women. More resources will be available.

    Are these resources going to drop from heaven? They certainly aren’t going to come from Washington, not with the Dems in power. In case you didn’t know, the leading Dem “thinkers” on abortion see crisis pregnancy centers as deceptively ANTI-CHOICE and therefore as targets not for funding but for government-mandated closure.

  21. May 21, 2009 3:38 pm


    Well, I suppose your attacks on me and MM will continue. Bye.

  22. digbydolben permalink
    May 21, 2009 4:08 pm

    You know, speaking for myself and others like me whom I know, we who are “moderates” on the issue of abortion–who fully understand how that issue is, indeed, linked to all of the other concerns we perceive to be a part of “Christian social justice,” but who also do not want to plunge society into civil turmoil by re-criminalizing abortion until a concensus is built to do it, or until the procedure becomes unnecessary or obsolescent, and who are, meanwhile, willing to work with EVERYBODY to reduce the frequency of abortions and lessen any broad perception of the need to have recourse to it–we DON’T see those who feel deeply that abortion is “murder” to be “bad people”–just impatient people who are sometimes violent in their passions and zealotry.

    It is you, on the other hand, who regularly “demonize” us, just as Obama recently insinuated.

    Somehow you must come to understand that, until this stops, American Catholicism will not make any inroads in trying to transform the secularist, materialist and pagan American culture into one that is a “culture of life,” and which is more hospitable to genuine Christian orthodoxy.

    You don’t think you need us, you’re willing, like Benedict, to have the Church reduced to a remnant, and you think that, with that, you will be able to evangelize the Americans. You’re not reading the polls, which would tell you that you’re sadly mistaken and that you need all the Catholic solidarity you can muster for what you face in that country.

  23. ron chandonia permalink
    May 21, 2009 4:42 pm

    Q. What kind of Catholic has to put the word “murder” in quotes when discussing abortion?

    A. The same kind of Catholic who thinks opinion polls are more relevant to our faith than the teachings of the Holy Father.

    And, I think, the same kind who cannot answer a simple question about his rhetorically florid but not-so-substantive claim that we are about to see an influx of cash to counsel women seeking abortion.

  24. May 21, 2009 4:44 pm

    Ron – who here has claimed that “opinion polls are more relevant to our faith than the teachings of the Holy Father?”

  25. May 21, 2009 5:02 pm

    Bye Ron.

  26. digbydolben permalink
    May 21, 2009 5:12 pm

    Ron, I put “murder” in quotes because the term is, strictly speaking, a legal term; not all killing is “murder,” and, whether you or I like it or not, abortion is not “murder” under the criminal justice system of the United States. When I write about so-called “capital punishment,” I call it “legalized murder,” but I also put it in quotes, in order to give respect to the legal definition that “capital punishment” is not a crime in the United States.

    And I never said opinion polls are more “relevant” to faith than the teachings of the Magisterium. They ARE, however, relevant to an understanding of political and cultural developments in that country where you live.

    Really, is it absolutely necessary to show such contempt for your interlocutors? Anger is not a problem, and neither is honest zeal for one’s cause, but you right-wing Catholics in America really ARE into “demonizing” others, just as Obama suggested, aren’t you?

  27. May 21, 2009 5:12 pm

    “but who also do not want to plunge society into civil turmoil by re-criminalizing abortion until a concensus is built to do it, or until the procedure becomes unnecessary or obsolescent, ”
    John Paul II addressed this question in a talk he gave on the fifth anniversary of _Evangelium Vitae_, calling it a form of despair.

    We are to do what is right, regardless of whether it is popular or whether we thnk it will cause “civil turmoil.” Indeed, the whole point is that legalized abortion inherently creates civil turmoil, because it fundamentally undermines the morals of society as a whole.

  28. May 21, 2009 5:25 pm


    Why didn’t the Polish Church, including the Polish Bishop who became Pope, strike out against the Soviet Union through the late ’40s, the’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s, until the middle ’80s? Why didn’t Pope Pius XII, or Pope John Paul XXIII, or Pope Paul IV, or Pope John Paul II plunge Catholic countries into civil turmoil to defeat the Soviets? Why did they adopt a policy of peaceful coexistence with Soviet tyranny?

    Do you think the reason had something to do with prudential judgment which, of course, lies at the heart of Catholic ethical and political thought?

  29. May 21, 2009 6:15 pm

    “In whose interests would a “pretty big European Court” speak and make such decisions? If we immediately assume “the victims,” we might be assuming too much.

    The victims of torture will tell you what torture is.

    Say, I wonder if being crowned with thorns “counts” as torture?”

    Michael Just making the point this is not so clear cut
    Perhaps you thing a head slap is a intrinsic evil or 48 hours sleep deprivatition is torture. Some of us are still asking those questions

  30. Mike McG... permalink
    May 21, 2009 6:57 pm


    You’ve got your story…prolife people are zealots, devotees of all manner of grotesqueries…and you are sticking to it. Your stereotype doesn’t fit me and many other seamless garment folks. But, hey, you and some others on this blog have obviously been burned and feel entitled to wax eloquent on prolife their depredations. Any chance you might want to take on prochoice hyprocisy as an exercise in balance one of these days? Maybe we can look to you for deconstruction of Catholics for Choice advocacy?


    I regret the tone Ron adopts on this blog precisely because he represents an important perspective and he gives his tone gives readers ammo do dismiss him. is discounted due to tone. He clearly believes voices hypercritical of the prolife movement have come to be better tolerated at VN than those that stand in solidarity with the prolifers. I think he’s on to something. I anticipate the response that the constant refrain of criticism (most of which I agree with, by the way) isn’t about prolife folks, just the movement. But…I’m certain it doesn’t *feel* that way to people for whom violence against the unborn is the capstone issue. It must *feel* that the contempt is directly squarely at them.

    Catholic writer Melinda Henneberger spoke to the alienation felt by prolifers in a SLATE article that predated the election:

    “Though only about 13 percent of those likely to turn out at the polls are true single-issue pro-life voters, I met a surprising number of women, most of them Catholic, who said that they did not expect the Democratic Party to switch its basic position on Roe v. Wade but nonetheless felt increasingly marginalized and unwelcome in the party as dissenters from party orthodoxy on that one issue.”

    “In the past, I’ve tried to make the case that Democrats could pick up some votes just by being less insulting to people who disagree with them—on abortion and more generally. Mostly, the response has been “screw you, dumb troll, and what do you mean we’re insulting?” (That’s the PG-rated version.)”

  31. May 21, 2009 8:45 pm

    jh – why is it necessary to “still ask questions?”

    You know what torture is: waterboarding, for example. The US has prosecuted and imprisoned both enemy and US soldiers for using that form of torture. You agree that waterboarding is torture?

  32. May 21, 2009 9:18 pm

    Have you considered that Arroyo might simply be misinformed, and, if corrected, would most definitely submit to the teaching authority of the Church?

    Have you also considered that Arroyo can be understood as saying that exactly what constitutes torture is a prudential judgment? Or in other words, that the Church does not define specific actions as torture?

    This post reads to me like a guilty conscience: “look everybody, those guys are bad, too!”

  33. Doug permalink
    May 21, 2009 11:34 pm

    Whether waterboarding is torture depends upon one’s definition of torture, and how the waterboarding is applied.
    Regardless, it clearly falls under the category of physical coersion, which is condemned under the same paragraph in the CCC. It is against the dignity of the human person, and should not be done. Furthermore, it produces unreliable information and leads us down the slippery slope of worse actions.

    Now sleep deprivation, I’m not sure that qualifies as torture. When I was in the Army, we were often sleep deprived. We would spend a week at a time going continuously on field training exercises, with maybe a few short naps each day. Was I tortured? I don’t think so. It does slow one’s ability to think. I think the main advantage to that technique is that it reduces the ability of the subject to lie, because one would need the mental acuity to keep one’s story straight.

  34. Doug permalink
    May 21, 2009 11:36 pm


    Is abortion “legalized murder” also, then?

  35. digbydolben permalink
    May 21, 2009 11:50 pm

    Yes, of course it is, Doug.

    And it’s an abomination, AND it’s an affront to all who believe in the seamlessness of life, etc.

    My problem with some of the zealots here, including the irrepressible Ron, is that I’ve also known many feminists who are just as zealous in defending a “woman’s right to control her body” and her “reproductive system,” etc., and have found them NOT to be “evil,” to be as “idealistic” in their commitment to their rather incoherent and irrational philosophy. And I also know that numerous of them simply will NOT accept a re-criminialization of abortion. They would fight back and fight back ferociously.

    Of course, I like my newly-emigrated Catholic ancestors from Scotland and Wales, would not have fought the American Civil War over slavery, and would have wished, like them, to “let our erring brothers depart in peace,” so you can see that I have no stomach for civil strife.

  36. May 22, 2009 12:24 am


    As too asking questions on waterboarding well they are a ton to ask. First the waterboarding done by us on the these 3 folks is not exactly the same as done in WWII. Further other juridictions have allowed this.

    Again I am not so focused on waterboarding as the other enhanced techniques and thinking about those. THose are questons should be asked that I am refering too

  37. May 22, 2009 1:57 am


    First, since I was citing the “Polish bishop who became Pope,” what do *you* think? If you don’t believe me, go to the Pontifical Academy for Life website. It’s John Paul’s words, not mine.

    _Roe v. Wade_ could have been overturned by now, very easily. That is, as many point out, not the same thing as making abortion illegal, except in states whose laws would go into effect or back into effect when _Roe_ goes. But it would be a huge step. And it only takes one of two things: Norma McCorvey’s attempt to overturn her own verdict (which the Supreme Court arbitrarily refused to hear), or Ron Paul’s various efforts to have Congress exercise its authority to reign in the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.

    It is only cowardice and fear that keeps that from happening.

    Your example of Poland is precisely the one: Karol Woytyle, and later John Paul, strongly encouraged the solidarity movement. He encouraged efforts to directly overthrough the Communists, just as Paul VI had the Holy Office use its vast network to aid the Allies with intelligence and help Jews and POW escape.

    I’m talking voters, and you’ve shifted to talking Popes.

  38. May 22, 2009 1:58 am

    When I wrote Paul VI just now, I meant Pius XII

  39. May 22, 2009 8:30 am


    Could of, would of, should of just doesn’t cut the mustard.

    “It is only cowardice and fear that keeps that from happening.”

    No, it’s not cowardice and fear. People just don’t agree with you. In fact, it appears the question of abortion will not be a big factor in determining the new Supreme Court justice. The times have changed.

    The strategy of the past is not going to happen. Period. If you believe it can, go out and get it done. But you will not find many supporters. It’s that simple.

    A new approach has long been needed. Most people realize that and are willing to help reduce the incidence of abortion. Why resist this opportunity?

  40. Zak permalink
    May 22, 2009 8:47 am

    The Polish Church did strike out extensively at the Communist state long before the mid-80s. It actively supported Solidarnosc at the end of the 70s and early 80s. John Paul’s return to Poland and challenge to the communists was in 1979.

    In 1966, the Church organized the millenium of Poland’s Christianity as an alternative to the state’s secular celebrations. These were (rightly) seen by Poles as opposing the state. And ever since the takeover of the state by Communists after the Nazi withdrawal, there were battles between church and state over issues like education. You are distorting history to imply that the church adopted towards the communists the cowardly sycophony you wish American Catholics would adopt towards Obama.

  41. jeremy permalink
    May 22, 2009 8:50 am

    I dunno, an article over at public discourse makes a strong point about why changing hearts and minds is severely hampered under Roe v. Wade- no public debate is needed or wanted by the pro-abort side.

    [T]he liberal commitment to Roe has been deeply unhealthy—for American democracy, for liberalism, and even for the cause of abortion rights itself. All would benefit if abortion-rights proponents were forced to make their arguments in the policy arena (rather than during Supreme Court nomination hearings).

  42. Joseph permalink
    May 22, 2009 8:56 am


    Speaking for myself and others like me (thereby granting me enough authority to post the following statment), you’re opinion and the opinions of others like you is irrelevant. Signed, sealed, and delivered 5/22/09.

  43. May 22, 2009 9:32 am


    I’m not as unaware of Solidarnosc.

    The point is the Church did not counsel “civic turmoil” which was the point under discussion. Even when it supported Solidarnosc, it was concerned they were acting too bold, which they were. The Polish Army cracked down with martial law. Only later did it regain itself and that was when the Church rejected its detente with the Soviet Union. The U.S. did the same when Reagan gave his “evil empire” speech. It was a repudiation of the strategic doctrine that had governed U.S./Soviet relations since the ’60s.

    I’m not distorting history at all.

  44. May 22, 2009 9:52 am


    The article you referenced attempts to keep the dialogue within the context of a legal strategy. The current debate is not headed in that direction. Thus, I think the article is beside the point. The center of gravity in this debate is now the woman’s choice.

    Even if abortion is legal (which it is) the freedom of choice LOGICALLY entails the possibility that there will be a cessation of ALL abortions. Whatever extent this possibility is realized depends upon the choice women make.

    The new strategy is designed to influence the choice women make. It is NOT an attempt to promote abortion. It is, on the contrary, an attempt to make abortion less likely.

  45. jeremy permalink
    May 22, 2009 10:09 am

    Possibility is not a probability. Realistically, the possibility of a cessation of ALL abortions is nil.

    Your assertion that influencing the choices women make was a new strategy, is false. Ceding the legal ground is a new strategy, and probably not thought of before because it is ridiculous. We can change strategy on the legal front with out giving up.

    Frankly I’m disturbed that someone is actually counseling anti-abortion activist to give up on the legal front. The pro-abortion crowd will rightfully see such action as an admission that abortion should be legal – and act accordingly.

  46. jeremy permalink
    May 22, 2009 10:12 am

    Over on the ‘Useful Idiots’ thread, Mr. Nickols has pointed out that legal restrictions on abortion prevent USAID money from directly funding abortions. Do you wish to rethink your advocacy of ceding the legal ground?

  47. digbydolben permalink
    May 22, 2009 10:33 am

    …you’re [Sic.] opinion and the opinions of others like you is [Sic.] irrelevant.

    Ah, the illiterat is back! Well, here’s for you, my favourite troll:

    The Ogre does what ogres can,
    Deeds quite impossible for Man,
    But one prize is beyond his reach:
    The Ogre cannot master speech.

    About a subjugated plain,
    Among it’s desperate and slain,
    The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
    While drivel gushes from his lips.

    –W.H. Auden

  48. May 22, 2009 10:39 am


    I never said all abortions would stop. I merely said the notion of such is contained in the logical notion of choice. Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Pro-choice can mean anti-abortion. Or not. Its meaning is contingent on the woman’s decision. Period.

    It is a new strategy. You are speaking of activities in your local community. The national debate has been consumed by name-calling over legal measures for over three decades. That discussion will no longer consume all the oxygen. The approach is new.

    If you want to pursue the legal front go ahead. No one is stopping you. Move to Washington, D.C. where you can have a stronger voice. Be fully committed, if you want. But you’re not going to have as much company as you might hope.

  49. digbydolben permalink
    May 22, 2009 10:39 am

    And, to make it explicit, my dear jerk: “you’re” is a contraction of “you are,” and not the needed possessive determiner for “opinion,” and “opinion” and “opinions” together are PLURAL, and so your verb is wrong. I know the dreadful high school in America you probably graduated from led you to believe that these points of grammar are trivial, but, indeed, they lead to the kinds of confusion that my typo with “illiterate” above doesn’t–they actually CONFUSE, if they get into print, which is why editors won’t accept manuscripts with those kinds of solecisms in them.

  50. May 22, 2009 10:53 am

    Gerald, I can’t get my computer to quote your text, but “what could have happened” does apply if
    a) a Republican-controlled Congress with a Republican president refused to consider Ron Paul’s constitutionalist approach to _Roe_, embodying the very principles Republicans supposedly stand for.
    b) a Republican-appointed Supreme Court refused to even consider “Jane Roe’s” legitimate case to overturn her own verdict.

    You say the “strategy of the past” hasn’t worked.

    But the “strategy of the past” that hasn’t worked is incrementalism: “Let’s change hearts and minds, and outlaw abortion later.” That is what the pro-life movement, except ALL and HLI, has been preaching for 35 lousy years!

    When NRLC was founded, they claimed it would take at least 35 years to overturn _Roe v. Wade_. They said they had a “long-term strategy.” They preached “steps.” So, 20 years later, they tried their “first step,” so-called “partial birth abortion”. They spent 10 years and millions of dollars getting it outlawed. They spent another several years to get a Supreme Court decision that said a) abortion is a woman’s right, but b) this one procedure is “gruesome” and c) there are other ways to kill a late-term baby.

    And the NRLC still has “partial birth abortion” as one of its top issues!

    At this pace, the “incrementalist” strategy will outlaw abortion somewhere around 2865.

    And one of the main reasons that abortion is *not* outlawed is that everyone in power realizes abortion is “necessary” as a back-up to contraception (see _Planned Parenthood v. Casey_; see the Kissinger Report).

    The problem is that Catholics “dropped the ball” on fighting _Griswold v. Connecticut_.

    Now, ever since then, it’s been “sell out” “sell out” “sell out” on everything the Masons send at us: no-fault divorce, abortion, insurance benefits for gays, “National Health Care” (i.e., eugenics repackaged), “assisted suicide,” forced starvation, and now gay marriage.

    No one in the Early Church or the Medieval Church would have stood for such compromise.

    Read the life of St. Martin of Tours. He did a lot more than just cut his cloak in half for a beggar.

  51. May 22, 2009 10:58 am

    You know, we hear _ad nauseum_ about “Why didn’t the Church do more to stop sex abuse by priests?” “Why didn’t the Church do more to stop abuse in Church-run orphanages and schools?”

    Then when we complain, “Why doesn’t the Church do more to stop abortion?” “Why doesn’t the Church do more to stop teaching of heresy at Catholic universities?” “Why doesn’t the Church do more to stop GIA Publications?”
    When we conservatives ask *those* questions, the very people who scream about abuse say, “The Church believes in prudence.”

  52. May 22, 2009 11:18 am


    Without fear, the Ogre has no clothes! So it is imperative to generate fear. Harsh rhetoric serves the Ogre’s strategic need.

    The legal strategy of the pro-life movement failed in large measure because it was predicated on fear. Why was fear necessary? Because American secular society is resistant to the establishment of a moral policy state. A pluralist society needs pluralist solutions on matters where there is no consensus.

    So harsh rhetoric is strategically significant. It is not merely bad manners. Being central, it is difficult to let go. For decades, it has served as a strategic device to generate fear and force decisions that otherwise would not be made in a pluralistic society.

    On occasion, harsh rhetoric can provide limited success. But what happens when fear subsides? Well, what happens is what has happened. The hapless measures enacted under a cloud of fear are rescinded and allowed to pass into history.

    Its tragic. So much wasted energy.

  53. May 22, 2009 11:23 am

    “establishment of a moral policy state”

    This should read:

    “establishment of a moral police state”

  54. May 22, 2009 12:04 pm


    The outcome is not your fault. The decisions for this strategy were centered in Washington. But now there is frustration everywhere.

    What IS working is the effort in local communities to help women in need. I believe this effort needs to be reinforced. This is where things are moving.

    Is it a silver bullet? No. Only the Lone Ranger had a silver bullet. But it is making a difference. In four years, I predict the abortion statistics will look much different.

    There are other hopeful signs. More women are pro-life, even though many remain pro-choice. They won’t adopt the pro-life position, but they look upon the unborn in ways that are consistent with a respect for life. This is positive.

  55. May 22, 2009 3:15 pm

    Yes, frustration with those who have preached compromise and pluralism for 4 decades and condemned the rest of us for “harsh rhetoric.”
    The NRLC has run the political wing of the pro-life movement all along, and their policy is pluralism and incrementalism.

    All those advances you talk about on the grassroots level are done by the very groups who use the “harsh rhetoric” and call for an immediate end to abortion.

    NRLC doesn’t help anyone but the Republicans.

    The people who went to Notre Shame last weekend are the same people who run the crisis pregnancy centers, etc.

    A “pluralistic” society must still obey the Natural Law, and the Catholic Church still has the right to intervene in any government, since Jesus is the King of Kings. These are the clear teachings of Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X, not to mention the entire patrimony of the Church, which were *not* repudiated by Vatican II.

    To say that the Natural Law must take a back seat to “pluralism” is the very heart of the heresy of Americanism.

  56. digbydolben permalink
    May 22, 2009 3:47 pm

    …The Catholic Church still has the right to intervene in any government, since Jesus is the King of Kings.

    Do you know what Elizabeth Tudor did with those who felt that way? And do you think that the recusants and the Gunpowder Plotters prevailed? The Vatican has become far more sophisticated in its diplomacy since Pius V, and I truly do suspect that too many more threats to withhold the Eucharist from members of the Obama Administration will see some bishops being quietly “retired.”

  57. May 22, 2009 7:22 pm

    “A “pluralistic” society must still obey the Natural Law”


    This is simply not true. A pluralistic society has no compulsion to obey the natural law. After all, who is going to command the United States to stop being a pluralistic society? No one.

    The vast majority of people who advance the cause to protect the unborn do not exhibit “harsh rhetoric.” To most, harsh rhetoric is unacceptable. A small but vocal minority use such language. But their purpose is to excite fear.

    Fear cannot for long advance a cause proportionately. Why? Because fear’s inertia will create an impulse to treat the end as a way of justifying the means. Then all hell breaks loose and the strategy becomes self-defeating. This is what has defeated the pro-life movement.

    Reason will prevail and the cause will prevail. But it will not readily move from darkness into the light through a barrage of accusations and counteraccusations. Calm is needed.

    Truth will emerge in radiant splendor too. But first, caricature will have to be found wanting. As caricatures are unmasked as the impediment they are, truth will finally reign.

  58. digbydolben permalink
    May 23, 2009 12:36 am

    Those of you who think that the Vatican fully supports the campaign of the Catholic Right to demonize President Obama should take a look at Rocco Palma’s article today–and particularly his reportage that everything published in L’Osservatore Romano having to with “foreign affairs” is vetted by Vatican officials before publication:

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: