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The USCCB Fall Assembly… What Were The 69 Thinking?

November 25, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By DEACON MIKE MANNO, JD

This week is Thanksgiving and my original intention was to write an uplifting column about those things for which we are all thankful. But, as I prepared, something happened involving an issue that is close to my heart and thus “uplifting” went out the window.
I’m speaking of an issue that came before the bishops at this month’s meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore. It concerned the bishops’ document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizens. At issue was a letter based on the document which stated that abortion, the slaughter of the unborn, remains the “pre-eminent” social justice issue.
Personally, I didn’t see a problem with that. I had been active in the pro-life movement long before I became a deacon. In fact, I was part of a formational group that built a crisis pregnancy center and served on its first board of directors for several years; then was invited to join the board of Iowans for Life.
I’ve seen the effects of abortion, both in right-to-life activities and in my later service as a deacon. For nearly six years, I was chaplain at a drug and alcohol rehab center focusing on clients who had difficulties with the law. I’ve seen what abortion has done to women — some really just girls — who regretted their abortions and were struggling to cope with the memory, the dates, and presumed ages of children they had consigned to an abortionist’s art.
Not easy. The baby was not the only victim.
The ruckus at the USCCB meeting was started when Blase Cardinal Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, wanted to add verbiage to the letter that quoted Pope Francis as saying, in reference to abortion, “Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
Cardinal Cupich was joined by Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego who told the group: “It is not Catholic teaching that abortion is the pre-eminent issue that we face in the world of Catholic social teaching. It is not.” He also said he believes that calling abortion “pre-eminent priority” is a “grave disservice to our people if we’re trying to communicate to them what the Magisterium teaches.”
Obviously that was met with some objections, notably from our contributor at The Wanderer, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of my family hometown, Philadelphia. Put to a vote, the original language, describing abortion as “pre-eminent” was adopted by a vote of 143-69.
Now I don’t know what the 69 were thinking and I don’t wish to suggest anything detrimental about their motives. I am fully aware of the concept of the “seamless garment” which holds that all life issues — including quality of life issues — are of equal value. I understand that many men of goodwill hold that view and see no conflict in placing other issues, such as poverty, immigration, health care, and others, on a plane equal to abortion so they also might be perceived, either individually or collectively, as pre-eminent.
I just wish they knew, or could see the horrors and devastating effects of abortion, for if they did they might see how truly it is the pre-eminent social justice issue of the day.
Once Jesus was asked if it was lawful for a Jew to pay the census tax; He replied by asking for a Roman coin. Noting that the image of Caesar was on the coin, He answered, “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” I take that to mean that there are certain things that belong only to God and that we cannot surrender to Caesar. Primarily among them is life itself, for if we render that to Caesar, what is left that he cannot claim?
The short answer is nothing.
But I think it is equally important to know just what abortion is to see just how pre-eminent this issue is.
I don’t like doing this, so let me warn the weak to stop reading right here.
This is testimony to Congress by Brenda Shafer, RN, who assisted at several abortions before she became pro-life. Try reading it to your pro-abortion friends who still chatter the mantra “it’s only a blob of cells.”
Here she describes a dilation and extraction abortion, also referred to as a D&E:
“Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabbed one of the fetal legs with his forceps. He clamped down hard and with a twisting and tearing motion, ripped the leg from the little body. He brought it out and threw it in the pan beside me. I stood in horror, as I looked at that little leg in the pan with perfectly formed toes! I had never seen such a small human body part. The next time he went in, he tore off an arm with hands and little fingers! I could see the fetus on the ultrasound screen trying to get away from the forceps! Then I no longer saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen. The sound was purposely turned off so the mothers could not hear the heartbeat. He continued until he got to the head then went up and with the forceps and crushed the head and pulled it out.”
And, as we know from recent news stories, those baby parts are considered a marketable commodity. Here is how she described a late-term, or partial-birth, abortion:
“I could see the baby. I could see the heartbeat. And the doctor wanted me to stand right beside him. . . . So I stood there. He went in, guided by ultrasound. He took a pair of forceps and went in and turned the baby because it wasn’t in this position at the time. He found a foot and he pulled the baby’s foot down through the birth canal, bringing it down and grabbed another foot, and literally started pulling the baby out, breech position, feet first. And he kept pulling it down, and I’m seeing this baby come, pulled out of the mommy, his butt, his chest, and then, he delivered both these arms. . . .
“And the baby was kicking his feet, hanging there, moving his little fingers and his little arms. I couldn’t believe [that] he was moving and I kept watching that baby move. . . . He [the abortionist] then took a pair of scissors and jammed them into the back of the baby’s head. And the baby jerked out, like a startle reflex. . . . And then the baby was real rigid. The doctor then opened up the scissors to make a hole. He took a high-powered suction machine with a catheter and stuck it in that hole and suctioned the baby’s brains out. And the baby went completely limp.”
And the baby went completely limp! Sorry if that description offends, but I believe that you cannot read it and fail to agree that this is the pre-eminent issue of our day.
In comparison to life, nothing else matters, for if we are denied it, there is nothing left for which to be thankful. Cede the issue of life to Caesar and there will be nothing he cannot control.
Enjoy your family time, turkey, and football. Enjoy your life; it is your gift from God.
You can reach Mike at: DeaconMike@q.com.

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