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Don’t Negotiate The Terms Of Our Surrender

July 20, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

Count me among those skeptical of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s commitment to ending the tyranny of the abortion culture in this nation.
How much faith should we put in the hand-picked successor to Justice Anthony Kennedy, long the swing vote on reversing the Roe v. Wade decision? Or in his one-time clerk, Justice Neil Gorsuch? Or in Chief Justice John Roberts — who used Kavanaugh’s ruling on Obamacare to rule in favor of the disastrous health-care bill’s constitutionality?
What is perhaps more heart-wrenching is the positioning of some in the professional pro-life movement. Too cowardly to demand an end to abortion, the new reasoning is that Roe should be ended so that abortion can be regulated by the states.
Imagine the argument after Dred Scott that says slavery — rather than being abolished — should be regulated by the states (in fact, this was the actual condition of slavery and the “peace deal” offered by Lincoln in order to avert civil war in early 1861). Or imagine the condition where segregation would be “regulated” rather than abolished in toto after Brown v. Board of Education? Are we to surrender in the last great civil rights battle of our times the call to abolish abortion in America with the caterwauling of regulation?
Are we truly going to make the argument that some life is worthy of life while other lives in other states are not worthy of life? Have we not heard these arguments before in Nazi Germany, where some lives were deemed worthy and others were deemed useless eaters — all determined by an all-powerful and thoroughly un-Christian state?
Time and time again, when we see the injustices of the world, too often do we find the heavy hand of power laid upon the suffering of humanity. Those lacking the courage to throw off such chains finds themselves utterly dependent upon them, like the serfs and subjects of old too timid for freedom and too lazy for virtue.
Juvenal in his satires writes that if one can endure such abuses, then one deserves them. One hates to think of a culture that deserves the wound of abortion, and yet here we are. A pro-life movement too timid to stand up for the defenseless; a political culture willing to cut deals and bargain away at the butcher’s bill; a Planned Parenthood subsidizing the murder of future taxpayers while immigrants scramble across an undefended border to take jobs future generations of Americans might have filled — if only they had lived to do so.
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that there are four orders of laws: the eternal, the divine, the natural, and human custom. In nature, one is hard pressed to find anything in God’s creation that willingly destroys their own offspring. Only sin can do that, which is a remarkable observation when one realizes that animals cannot sin precisely because they do not have a rational soul. Only mankind chooses, which makes abortion a particularly grievous sort of mortal sin.
Yet this spiritual dimension cannot be resolved through political means. Elect a holy and devout Congress, and abortion will not be wiped out tomorrow. Nominate nine good Catholic Supreme Court justices, and abortion’s scourge on this nation will not abate.
There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, because America as a nation has not rejected the culture of death. Much as Paul VI prophesized in Humanae Vitae, we have betrayed our personal responsibilities by putting all faith in technical expedients (cf. 18).
It is perhaps this aptitude for cleverness (techne) rather than prudence (phronesis) that leads the pro-life movement away from wisdom (sapientia). Wisdom would dictate that we don’t trade lives to save lives.
Wisdom might also dictate a far wiser course than devolving Roe v. Wade in order to enshrine its ugly kid sister, Casey v. Planned Parenthood. Rather, one only needs to go to the core of the 1973 Roe decision by Blackmun and pry out the principal argument of when human personhood begins.
For Blackmun, this definition was murky and unclear in the 1970s, with personhood having an as-yet defined beginning based on conception, fertilization, “quickening” (a medieval term denoting that a baby is moving), or the capacity to feel pain. Clear up the scientific questions, Blackmun argues, and the policy answers become much more forthright and clear.
Thanks to scientific progress, we know precisely when human personhood begins — at the very moment of fertilization, defined in the scientific community as one’s “biological beginning” rather than fertilization or conception thanks to fetal research paradigms.
One might be so bold as to suggest that a courageous pro-life movement that operated by conviction rather than cash flow would put the dagger right to the heart of the abortion industry and challenge Roe on the question of human personhood.
Voices of objection will scream “but prudence!” as they see an end to the struggle, but the fact of the matter is that we have seen American opinions swing wildly on other questions of conviction before — abortion during the 1960s, marriage during the 2000s, homosexual rights during the 2010s. Why should it be only the left that has the conviction to change public morality? Where is the courage of the pro-life community to finally do likewise?
Such moral authority can only come from one compass. Neither politicians nor pressure groups have the spirit to do what must be done. Only the Deposit of Faith and Truth can do this, and only the Holy Spirit — a dam whose economy of grace is bursting at the seams over 50 years of butchery — can unleash the drive and the tidal wave necessary to wash clean the scourge of abortion in America.
Only our bishops can lead this fight. Priests, religious, and the faithful can encourage — but only our shepherds can defend the flock, as is their solemn duty and promise to perform. Not half the flock, not 98 percent of the flock, and certainly not to “regulate” its slaughter by the abortion industry.
All of it.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen remarked in his now-famous “The Approach of Midnight” homily that once the ego is supreme, then all things are permitted and abortion most of all. Humanity began defying limits and started focusing on identity. Without limits, without borders, without law or order, one may do as he pleases.
The supreme ego that drives politicians, self-declared pro-life leaders, or even Supreme Court justices still wants to negotiate the price of human beings. For Catholics, there is no dehumanizing the soul on the basis of worth. All life is sacred because it is created in the imago Dei — without which there is no limit, border, law, or order that will constrain our own sin, ego, envy, and death.
Kavanaugh may yet surprise us, but it won’t be on the basis of human reasoning. Rather, when our Catholic bishops are ready to defend human personhood directly, then and only then will the tidal wave of grace America so desperately needs be upon us. In the meantime, let us pray earnestly for wisdom and not mere folly disguised as prudence.
Fifty-six million deaths at the hands of the abortion industry is not prudence; it’s barbarism. Abolish the practice and find those willing to do so; don’t negotiate the terms of our surrender for a temporary win.

+ + +

Mr. B — asks whether or not fellow readers have heard homilists speak out on the two evils of abortion and contraception. Thankfully, I have had the privilege of growing up in the Diocese of Arlington, Va., and so enjoy strong and constructive homilies on both topics.
What is interesting is that many pastors are afraid of the reaction from their flock. What if folks get really upset? The answer is: So be it. True, one may be accused of being condescending or too direct — so was Christ. One might even be accused of being too orthodox. Is such a thing possible?
The world has us for six days a week to tell us why everything we hear on the seventh day is wrong. Take a chance on Christ, I say.

+ + +

Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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Having watched the first session of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops General Meeting, and that fact that the Pope has ordered them not vote on any action items, I have to ask, what is the point of this meeting? What is the point of National Bishops' Conferences?

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