Happy New Year one and all. I wish you a happy, peaceful and joyous 2010. I also know that's probably not too likely because Catholic swords will clash more than ever in the coming year and the points of contention will be the same as the past year. One should never forget there are elections this coming fall and the culture warriors will be out in full force.
For us who claim any Catholic affiliation, the points of contention will continue to be abortion, gay rights, and the politicization of the hierarchy. This serves a two fold purpose. The first is it keeps the culture wars brewing, distracting us from other issues. The second is it keeps the focus on the teaching authority of the hierarchy rather than the systemic structure in which the hierarchy operates.
This is a very useful strategy to keep the Irish sexual abuse crisis and it's forced resignations of bishops from engulfing the USCCB. Imagine if that solution were used in the States where we know that two thirds of our bishops did exactly what the now resigned bishops in Ireland did. Chaos would reign in the Vatican and the USCCB, but probably not so much in our parishes and dioceses. In fact we might all come to learn we could get along just fine with out Vatican sycophants for bishops.
But in the meantime, Deal Hudson is keeping the abortion issue in front of us. He has taken umbrage with a Huffington Post article written by Byran Cones, the Managing Editor of US Catholic Magazine. Cone's article was in response to a previous article of Deal Hudson's. The very same article I responded too in which Deal tells his readers that the Catholic Hospital Association and the LCWR have no authority to speak for real Catholics. Real Catholics could not support the Senate health reform bill.
It's not so much Deal's latest article that I found of note, but one of the comments posted in response to Deal's article. The gloves are coming off. Real Catholics must support the criminalization of abortion. There is to be no more beating around the bush on this strategy.
The following is an edited version of the comment...
Individuals of the Catholic left claim to be pro-life because they want abortions reduced. But I hold that some of them are actually pro-life, whereas others are just shamming.
We may test which camp a given Catholic leftist is really in, by asking two questions: (1.) Do you want abortions reduced to as close to zero as possible, or just to a lower number than today? and, (2.) Is it morally licit for governments to outlaw murder, rather than just using economic incentives to discourage it? (This question completely ignores the whole debate of when human life begins by assuming the default 'at conception' point of view. Which of course, has never been the traditional church position. It is a very recent position.)
For, you see, if there remain any abortions after all the economic incentives are applied, the Catholic Church will not cease to teach that we are obligated to use the normal means of government to reduce them still more. And of course criminalization is the normal means by which government reduces murder.
The Catholic Church will only stop saying, "Okay, and what next?" when there are zero abortions, or when all of the morally licit means of reducing abortion have been exhausted and only morally illicit means remain.
If you think the morally licit category includes criminalization, why, then, you must assume that the Catholic Church will eventually require it...and then, to be a faithful Catholic, you too must require it. (I don't have to assume this position at all to be still be a faithful Catholic. The Communion of Saints is full of Catholics who did not accept criminalization by the state for certain behaviors the church at one time
taught were criminal.)
So for a Catholic leftist to oppose criminalizing abortion, he must provide a reason why it is not morally licit to outlaw murder generally; or else provide a reason why abortion is different from other murders in this regard; or else admit that he dissents from the Church on this view. (Here's one. How do you tell abortion from miscarriage short of violating all other kinds of privacy laws? Any law which is patently unenforceable and unprovable is unjust.)
Don't Make Me Think! The logic spelled out above leads leftist Catholics to uncomfortable conclusions...uncomfortable, because it requires them to sacrifice their ties with some of their favorite political allies. It obligates them to give up the "moderated, nuanced" policy positions which make their Catholicity palatable at dinner parties. (In your dreams it does.)
For this reason, the most common leftist-Catholic response is not to engage the arguments on a logical level, but to say, "La, la, la, I'm not listening." This technique happens not only in conversation with the faithful, but inside the mind: One gradually develops habits of thinking which carefully step around those uncomfortable conclusions to which an honest thinker would be inevitably drawn. (An honest thinker would not denigrate his debate partner by assuming they can't engage in logic or that they refuse to listen.)
But were they honest with themselves, they'd either support Criminalization of Abortion as an end-goal, or just give up the whole "Catholic" thing. I suspect many of them would opt for the latter. (If I truly believed Jesus meant my Catholicism to be determined by criminalizing abortion rather than what He actually taught, I would give up that Catholicism in a flash.)
I could write a great deal more about the kind of thinking embodied in the above comment and fostered by the Deal Hudson's and Robert P George's of the Catholic right. I'm not going to today because I'm sure I'll be given plenty more opportunity in the future. Besides I'm still trying to get my head around the concept that being Catholic requires state criminalization of abortion.
That's quite a leap in the boundaries of what it means to be Catholic. If being a real Catholic is now to include extending personal faith belief to state enforcement of those beliefs, that's really a leap backward. That's not just pre Vatican II, that's pre Enlightenment.