Monday, August 31, 2009

Dissident theologians and pro-abortion politicians

The Kennedy clan is the most prominent Catholic family in the highly dynastic world of US politics, and it is firmly pro-abortion. How did this come about? The promise of money and allies from the abortion lobby was underpinned by a group of dissident Catholic theologians who actually had a formal meeting in 1964 to coach family members in the sophistical distinctions they could make to rationalise their position. What they advocated appears to have been basically the familiar claim that a politician can be 'personally opposed' to abortion but as a matter of policy various considerations, from the need to maintain public order to the 'distress' of a woman who might be refused abortion, can justify voting to make abortion easier in every possible way - as if the state's duty to defend the lives of the innocent could be set aside so easily.

From Fr Z, with his emphases and comments in red (see his post):
The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book "The Birth of Bioethics" (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion. [Get that? There was a workshop for them to help them get around the teaching of the Church.]

Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that [AGAIN… pay attention…] "distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue." It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians "might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order."

One conclusion to draw from this is that these networks of dissent which this blog has sought to highlight have their importance and can do real damage. Simply by providing 'cover' for dissenting positions they can render inneffective the Church's opposition to some of the greatest evils of the day.


Dorothy said...

Very pleased that you have picked this up. I think yours is the first of the prominent blogs to do so. I too was very struck by Fr Zuhlsdorf's posting. I referred to it in my own blog, but that is a very quiet and obscure little thing; it needed one of the well-known bloggers to publicise it. This was my observation:
"It appears that, even as early as 1964, the dissent in the Church took the form of an alternative magisterium, to which certain politicians appealed as though it exercised a higher authority than the Pope."
It almost makes one feel sorry for them; they are, in a real sense, mis-guided: a combination of their respect for these theologians, and their own wishful thinking, has led them astray.

Ross said...

I guess you objected, to the Church’s providing a Catholic funeral for the Senator. In the strongest terms I disagree with that position.
Read the details of his recent personal correspondence with Pope Benedict XVI. It was very moving to hear the Senator acknowledging his failing to always be a faithful Catholic, and his request for prayers as he faced the end of his life. The Holy Father’s expression of gratitude for the Senator’s pledge of prayer for the Church, his commendation of the Senator and his family to the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and his imparting the Apostolic Blessing, spoke of His Holiness’ role as the Vicar of Christ, the Good Shepherd who leaves none of the flock behind.

If we really are for the precious gift of life, and our task is to build a civilization of love. We must show those who do not share our belief about life that we care about them. We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts. We will not change hearts by turning away from people in their time of need and when they are experiencing grief and loss.

At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.


Hercules said...

Compassion? Confusion? This guy made a political career about of being a pro-abortion Catholic. He needed a kick up the backside.

Semper Eadem said...

It would be very nice if you could link to our blog:

Hercules said...

Delighted, Semper Eadem - if you'll link to us!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Interesting to note that Richard McCormick was one of the ones who invented the idea that an embryo does not "count" as human until 14 days past conception. This was in aid of making embryonic stem cell research A-OK with Catholic legislators. He is the author of the notion of the "pre-embryo", the one that's OK to pull apart for its cells.

what a peach.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen