A Princeton professor has warned in a piece in “First Things” that the scandal of pro-abortion Catholics and the do-nothing attitude of bishops threatens more damage to the Catholic Church than pedophile priests.
I agree with his point that the laxity the Church has shown on the issue of life (with a few notable exceptions) is scandalous but I believe Robert George, a McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, made a ghastly error in comparing it to the clergy sex abuse scandal. The wounds, I believe, are still too fresh and border on making light of the horrible situation which has impeached the Church’s moral credibility for so many.
I, however, do agree that the fight of our generation is the sanctity of life. Where the church stands now it will be judged forever.
Nothing undermines the cause of justice and cultural reform and renewal more than the bad example of prominent Catholics who have made themselves instruments of what Pope John Paul II bluntly described as ‘the culture of death.'”
Rudy Giuliani springs to mind. His peekaboo Catholicism is wearing thin to me. people know that Rudy is Catholic and when nobody hears anything from the church about his scandalous pro-choice position, people assume the Church isn’t all that serious about the issue. They think it’s just a personal choice -you know the whole Spirit of Vatican II thing.
In any event, for those of us who believe that the Church is a reliable teacher of truth, and that her doctrine is fundamentally sound, the last thing we desire is a transformation of the Church’s historical teachings. (If we wanted that, we would become Unitarians or join the United Church of Christ or, at least, cast our lot with the Episcopal Church in the United States.) What is in need of transformation is not the teaching of the Church but the human mind and heart to which these teachings are addressed. Christianity is a religion of transformation. No one is literally born into it; even infants at baptism are converted to it. There is not a Catholic on the planet or in the history of the Church who is not a convert.
George writes that Catholics should know that the Church faces both “danger” and an “opportunity for a special kind of greatness, the greatness that comes only in times of the most profound danger.”
George believes that “Critical (possibly irreversible) decisions will be made in the next year or two”, indicating that the particular decisions to which he is referring will occur in the field of marriage and bioethics. Both issues, he says, “will go one way or the other depending on the posture and actions of Catholics.”
Essentially, George is arguing that it is now make or break time for the Church and for the culture.
“If the Catholic community is engaged on these issues, working closely with evangelical Christians, observant Jews, and people of goodwill and sound moral judgment of other faiths and even of no particular religious faith, grave injustices and the erosion of central moral principles will be, to a significant extent, averted. Indeed, with respect to both marriage and the sanctity of human life, earlier reverses may themselves be reversed. If, on the other hand, the Catholic community compromises itself, abdicates its responsibilities, and sits on the sidelines, the already deeply wounded institution of marriage will collapse and the brave new world of biotechnology will transform procreation into manufacture, and nascent human life into mere disposable ‘research material.'”
I believe too many bishops have avoided this issue to the peril of the culture. For too long many of us have been exhorting bishops to speak out against “pro-choice” Catholics but too many bishops have remained silent. Sometimes this silence is admittedly discretion and things are being worked out behind the scenes. But, I believe, silence indicates cowardice.
George sums it up well:
“The bishops must make clear that being a faithful Catholic means many things; but among the things it means is bearing unambiguous witness to the sanctity of human life. By bearing such witness, Catholics can seize the opportunity now before them to renew and reform the culture.”
I don’t find myself agreeing with Ivy League professors very often but I’m glad to in this case.