|Hmmmm, pretty much says it all.|
This morning Michael Sean Winters posted another of his prescriptions for the Democratic party in which, again, he prescribes the absolutist abortion perspective as the way the Dems will garner Hispanic support and secure the future of the Democratic Party. Interestingly enough, he gives the opposite prescription on the gay marriage question. In that case he advises the USCCB to drop it's opposition because it's a lost cause. MSW seems befuddled as to what a true Catholic is supposed to support politically because last I checked it didn't matter if some moral issue was a politically lost cause, it was about the unchanging moral teaching of the Church. The abortion issue, at least as far as overturning Roe V Wade, has been a lost cause for thirty or forty years. Unfortunately it's been such a beneficent issue for Republicans, it's still very valuable as the perfect wedge issue. They can keep bringing it up and never have to do anything meaningful about it. They can also use it to cover over a multitude of other divisive issues. Or to put it differently they can use fetal life to carry the cross for their working in opposition to any social justice issues for the already born.
Bill Lyndsy has a masterful post on this penchant of centrists like Michael Sean Winters and what they really accomplish in this country and in the Church. The following are his ending paragraphs:
....The we-vs.-them politics of Catholic values and identity that have become normative for many American Catholics, including "liberals" like Michael Sean Winters, and which the Catholic bishops have actively nurtured for years now, foreshortens the understanding of human solidarity as something that transcends racial, social, and economic boundaries. It does so by making a "talisman" of the unborn human being--even of the just-fertilized zygote, about whose human status there has long been a diversity of understandings even in the Catholic tradition itself--and drawing a line in the sand: if this life is not respected, no life can be respected. (Absolutely on target.)
A far more compelling ethic in defense of the worth of the unborn would work to build a much stronger sense of human solidarity than this, one not rooted in a divisive we-vs.-them politics of religious and ethnic identity. It would demand a much more heightened awareness of--to take one case among many--the maleficent effects of racism in American culture. And a much stronger intent to combat that racism.
Until the "we" of a Catholic pro-life ethic includes everyone, pro-life politics and the ethic on which they are based will not be persuasive to many thoughtful people for whom the notion of human solidarity is far broader than us-believers-and-the-fetus. Nor should it be persuasive. Without a consistent respect for human life across the board--and this includes respect for the lives of women, gay and lesbian persons, racial minorities, the poor--Catholics and other right-wing Christians who have chosen to make a we-vs.-them talisman out of the fetus will continue to fail to convince many people of good will that they are actually and credibly pro-life. (I don't see how the purveyors of the 'fetal talisman' position can extend respect for the lives of women, when the life of their talisman is given the absolute option over the life of it's mother...a situation which men never face and doesn't effect their intrinsic human value.)
As Bill points out, the abortion issue is now the favorite way of separating a self sanctified 'we' from the secular godless 'other'. I'm not quite sure how this happened, but I suspect it's just been the result of forty years of escalating rhetoric and certain political operatives fueling this debate for the greater glory of the Republican spin machine Kathy Hughes has written a comment to Bill's post which outlines the endgame of this strategy:
Excellent thoughts. My concern is that the religious right will see all of us who don't agree with their political or religious agenda as less than human. David Neiwert has documented the rise of what he calls "eliminationism" in political discussion in the last few years, and he wrote a book titled "Eliminationism." Neiwert calls eliminationism the wish that people who disagree with the political right be physically eliminated, and he points to examples from Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.
American Catholicism is also not without it's own voices of eliminationism. Fr C. John McCluskey comes to mind as Frank Cocozzelli has covered in this piece on Open Tabernacle. McCluskey has a stable full of Republican party Catholic converts and undoubtedly has been influential in keeping the abortion issue as useful as possible in what appears to be his fantastical pursuit of a Catholic theocracy brought to us all by by a culture war turned civil war. That's a lot of agenda to hang on the tiny shoulders of the pre born.
And speaking of Catholic Republicans and extreme positions on abortion, VP designate Ryan has gone so far as to justify his absolutist position to a rape exception by the notion that rape is just another form of conception. He makes no distinction then for Akin's quaint notions of 'legitimate' and 'illegitimate rape'. Conception is conception. Easy for him to say, but then it's always easy for men to say whatever they want about abortion, pregnancy, and contraception. It doesn't effect them in quite at all the same way it does women. Now, that gay marriage thingy, that's a different story. Ain't it MSW?
Good catch on the perspective that men will NEVER be personally in the situation of THEIR life being on the line regarding the decision between the woman or the fetus. And have you ever noticed that Men have spent 1700 years splitting hairs on good and bad killing in war. I haven't seen the hard core Pro-life crowd saying that ALL war is indefensible and people can NEVER defend themselves. Yet male priests think they get to make ALL the decisions about one woman and one pregenacy while outside thousands die from war.ReplyDelete
Sue, there is an occasional commenter who goes under the name of Heil Mary. Her comments can be abrasive as hell, but they really make a point. Men will never know post partum depression and how it screws with a woman's mind. They will never know wearing Depends because sneezing and laughing make you pee. They will never know anything meaningful about birthing, and too many of the religious amongst them seem to think orgasm comes before pregnancy. Well, yes, their orgasm does, but necessarily at all a woman's orgasm.Delete
I think it's beyond time the voice of women was heard, and not the 'mansplain' of men who know nothing at all, at least in any experiential sense, of what women endure for the future of the human race.
I find it rather repulsive: All humans may rightfully act in self-defense EXCEPT a woman whose pregnancy is threatening her life. And only men get to have any input at all on the choice of which theologies to employ in the public patriarchy that has again become religious Catholicism. So women don't count and aren't treated as having human rights.ReplyDelete
You are absolutely right Veronica. Lately I have found myself writing on the NCR and other venues, that the only sanctioned form of abortion is pregnant women killed in war, or who miscarry because of the stress of war. Somehow that's moral, but for a woman to defend her life by aborting a threatening pregnancy is a mortal sin. I wonder sometimes if men in positions of religious leadership even understand why a woman's blood is tested for the Rh factor.Delete
"the only sanctioned form of abortion is pregnant women killed in war"Delete
That is brilliant!
The Church can afford to treat people like so much waste, because there will always be more to fill the empty ranks. The individual members are nothing - the organisation as a whole is everything. This is in effect post-natal abortion. Does the age & location of the person dispensed with matter that much ? The authorities' opposition to abortion is a superstition.ReplyDelete
That may be why abortion is to Catholicism what Biblical inerrancy is to Protestant Evangelical Fundamentalism. Both doctrines have been so over-emphasised that far more central & important things are over-looked. Jesus is not on record on as saying one word about abortion, though some of His words can certainly be applied to the unborn; but one might very easily get the the impression that He spoke about almost nothing else. He had a lot to say about legalism, formalism, hypocrisy, religion for show, substituting human tradition for the Word of God - but one would not know it, even though the CC also suffers from all these evils. The CC used to teach that spiritual pride was the worst of sins, as it is - no longer. It has degenerated :(
A USA which can applaud the bombing of Serbian Christians during Orthodox Holy Week is not acting justly - it is certainly committing an act strictly forbidden by Catholic teaching. Yet Clinton & his abettors were never put on trial. The Catholic bishops in the US, with a single exception, prostituted Catholicism to George Bush II's intention - arrived at in bad faith - to invade Iraq. Where were the "True Catholics" then ? Bishops who prostitute Catholic teaching are unblamed - blame is reserved for those who do *really serious, bad* things, like promoting gay marriage, having boyfriends instead of girlfriends, etc. Invasion, deceit, carpet-bombing of civilians, fraudulently getting other nations to join the whole shameful escapade: that's a mere bagatelle, nothing of any importance. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died because of Bush - but lo, he claims to be a Christian, so his disgraceful & evil behaviour is applauded.
Rat, I have been on something of an angry roll. It's been hard to write.Delete
In this comment you have been a master carpenter hitting many nails square on their heads. I despair that this kind of truthful, impassioned, and heart felt word will ever be heard amongst the din of all the lies from all those who choose the cheap grace of denigrating others to the hard grace of looking in the mirror.
It will be heard, Colleen. It is being heard.Delete
Go back to Bishop Geoffrey Robinson again. It's being said even within the Church, and he is not the only one saying it.
I've said this before, and I will say it again. The hope is here, out in the Internet, with thousands upon thousands of little groups like this talking about all the things that Rome would prefer that we don't talk about. In many ways this is reverting to a very early pattern of Christianity, tiny house churches daring to say and pray what the authorities of the day would far rather they didn't! Rome is having to learn the hard way that you cannot keep God in a box, and that the Holy Spirit moves where She wills, and not where they will. Rome changes slowly and some of us will not live to see the change, but the change comes.
Hugs and keep the faith. You do more than you think possible in keeping your own little house church here with the sanctuary light burning. More people will see that light than you ever thought possible.
FWIW: This is as close as I come to going to church these days. Because I've found a way to have a voice and not be denigrated for ideas that speak to me more fully than what Rome preaches. I know I have intrinsic value as a human being - but that was not learned by way of homilies at Mass or teaching at CCD.Delete
Colleen, thanks. Actually, I was pretty furious :( (I have a horrible temper) What with the fuss about the recent remarks by Ryan, I'm waiting to see whether he and Mitt are going to be pilloried as "pro-aborts". For by the usual logic used by certain people, that is precisely what they both are. Neither of them of them is absolutely opposed in all circumstances to all abortions - therefore, if the logic employed by the critics of Pelosi, Sebelius, Biden & Co. is valid, the critics need to denounce those evil pro-abortionists Ryan & Romney as well. If they fail to do so, they will need to explain why - otherwise, they will risk looking as though they have been using the issue of abortion as a lever to promote the Republicans.Delete
Rat I have been not the least bit surprised that the pro life right has not been up in arms about Ryan's flop on the absolute no abortion position, taking the old stand by that he has to follow his leader. That leader who has flipped flopped on abortion for the last 20 years. I am also actually angry that the pro life right constantly passes over Mitt's involvement with Stericycle. Mitt made money off of abortion, and yet not a peep from the rabid pro life right wing.Delete
It's pretty obvious to me the Republicans have used abortion as attack ad fodder against Catholic Democrats. I too wait for our bishops to denounce Ryan's unconscionable flip. The "I'm personally opposed but....." hasn't worked for Democrats.
I think the whole point of pro-creative sex only for women should be challenged on its obvious criminal purposes: keeping pedophiles supplied with endless victims, punishing husbands for not choosing the priesthood instead, and legally murdering unwanted aging wives.ReplyDelete
Heil, I don't know that I think the Church really believes sex for women could have any other purpose than pro creation. After all, in JPII's Theology of the Body, he doesn't even mention the fact a woman's orgasmic organ has anything to do with sex. Personally, I don't think he ever heard of, or if he did, was capable of understanding the word 'clitoris'. This is similar to Joe Paterno not understanding the real concept of sodomy. It's endemic in their generation, and the fact Catholicism is still being held captive by the generations understanding of sex is abysmal.Delete
Ryan sounds just like Little Ricky Sanctimonious with Sanctimonious's dismissive remark that women pregnant by rape should make lemonade out of lemons. Thanks for the shout out, because I really do think we are heading toward times where it becomes more common to hear calls for the outright elimination of political opposition, and as David Neiwert notes, they are much more common on the right.ReplyDelete
You are welcome Kathy. I have to admit I got chills when I read your comment to Bill.Delete
The signs are all there for anyone who cares to read them. I find them frightening also.Delete
Intolerance, greed, hatred, fundamental ignorance of history to deliberate attempts to bury the truth, prejudice, presumptuousness, arrogance, judgementalism, fear-mongering, finding an easy target to blame, scapegoating, all lead to the spirit of eliminationism.Delete
Hitler's regime thrived long enough to cause so much bloodshed and mayhem from a policy of eliminating any political or religious opposition to evil. Totalitarian, authoritarian, fascist regimes are notorious for applying the social pressures necessary for such an agenda. As long as people accept such an agenda against their neighbors, they will be willing accomplices to eliminating any sort of peaceful resolution. In a real sense, they call for their own physical and spiritual death by their own arrogance of not truly discerning where their words and actions lead.
People work themselves into a frenzy regarding issues and the politicians whose support base provides the meal ticket for the opportunistic politician, will push all the buttons to push things their way. Pilate is the example these politicians follow.
This spirit of elimination is so contrary to the spirit of Jesus' teachings. I have great difficulty in hearing so-called "Christians" take the idea of birth control and women's health care to the level of stupidity & arrogance that it has become. The lack of meaningful understanding and dialogue with women and the underlying prejudices of dumbing down women, to outright misogyny of women has a lot to do with the tone in setting things into an elimination spin.
I'm familiar with what eliminationists do to their own family members who don't agree with narrow-minded political or so-called religious views. They are not capable of having dialogue. They will eliminate you from the family table if you think outside the box, if you even question them. They will quote the scriptures to suit their own agenda. If you quote the scriptures they will not listen and will call you a trouble-maker.
Ryan, VP candidate and Catholic represents the real dumbing down of American Catholicism and Christianity to a new low. On just about every subject he finds a scapegoat to blame and refuses to look in the mirror. In the link above he repeats the phrase "the failed leadership of Obama." Even though Ryan's leadership is failed and cannot last under the scrutiny of the truth, Ryan has failed already before the election. He fails to address the future in a truly Catholic and/or Christian context. He is a failure and a hypocrite.
This is a scary proposition...there are many on the far right who are already armed to the teeth...and some have stated on talk shows that they are spoling for a fight....ReplyDelete
I know Michael. I live up here with too many men who are loaded and getting loaded for a fight. The good thing is, that even they are beginning to see their heroes are idiots when it comes to women and sex. I can't think of one whose wife isn't using birth control.Delete
Please cease this emotionally satisfying but illogical claim that males should not discuss contraception or abortion because they do not involve male bodies. It is like saying that civilians should not discuss nuclear warfare because they will not be the ones to launch the bombs.ReplyDelete
All humans should give thought to all moral issues. All points of view should be raised for discussion as to logic and consistency with previous moral thinking.
The basic issue, unresolved by science, is: When does human tissue become a human being. Once there is a human being, then the command not to kill applies.
Give credit to the right wing nuts for consistency, anyway. They maintain [without being able to prove] that a fertilized ovum is human being. If that is true, then their slogan makes perfectly good sense: Protect life from conception to natural death.
The left wing nuts seem to ignore even the possibility of defining the existence of a human life as beginning at any time before separation from the mother. This is somewhat inconsistent with the tendency of American society to be interested in preserving the life of infants born at earlier and earlier terms of pregnancies.
Neo-natal care has been pushing back the length of gestation needed before survivability outside a womb over the same time span that there have been growing numbers of advocates for maternal free choice without regard to fetal development.
I suspect that the average American would like to see some scientific definition of when a child is identifiably able to be independent of the mother. I suspect that courts would be more confident in making decisions in favor of maternal health for fetuses earlier than that point. It is even possible that the RCC would be willing, if the science is sufficiently rigorous, to accept that point as coinciding with Thomas Aquinas in opining that human life begins at "quickening" which was the teaching of the RCC for several centuries.
I suggest that the logic of the RCC regarding abortion and contraception is strongest where it rests on the idea that so long as one does not know for sure whether a life is human or not then one must err on the side of protecting human life. Until there is some way of proving otherwise, the RCC is looking at the tissue involved and saying that its chromosomes match human chromosomes and there is no definable place where any significant change takes place along the continuum from tissues to personhood. Lacking that definable place, caution urges that all along that spectrum one act as if the tissue is a person.
I do not think that is the best conclusion, but it is a logically defensible one. I do not think the Natural Law argument about all sexual acts being open to conception has any merit given scientific developments since the time of Aquinas.
I strongly urge Pro-Choice advocate to get research funded with the goal of defining a scientific point at which the fetus can be identified as a survivable person separate from the mother. Then there will be a place to make a logical legal dividing line which can win wide public acceptance given public attitudes toward saving the lives of all who can be seen to be "babies" rather than "potential humans".
This sort of scientific and logical development is entirely free of gender bias. Males and females can and should both participate in the logic and the science. Just as our government has benefited from women's suffrage and the RCC could benefit from wider participation of women in its governance [pet cause: Make Women Cardinals], so too can male participation help in discussing and deciding the nature and beginnings of human persons.
Feeling entitled much? Because I see no place in this discussion advocating that males are not allowed to discuss or have opinions about matters of human reproduction including contraception and abortion. Asking that women's voices and experiences get taken into direct account in developing teachings is not the equivalent of telling the men to shut up.Delete
The problem is within the official Catholic teachings, WOMEN'S voices in the matter are specifically excluded from having any direct impact. It is only the men who get to define the teachings. And men who simply do not and cannot bear the risk can afford to be rather cavalier in assigning risks to be born by others. When the whole reproduction process puts women at a much higher physical and emotional risk that seems more than just a little unfair.
I would go further and point out that Catholic teachings do not require any person to take heroic measures to protect life - be it an end-of-life medical care option or to lay down one's own life to save that of another. And again, the exception is a woman who is pregnant. If her pregnancy is killing her she is not allowed to act to save her own life. She IS then by definition required to take on the heroic measure of laying down her own life even if the end result is that neither she nor the fetus can survive. In this Catholic patriarchy women are disposable. They don't count. They are not accorded simple human rights. This is simply not a 'left wingnut vs. right wingnut' dispute. These are real women's lives at risk. The fetus may be a human individual as you claim, but why is the mere possibility of trying to balance the risk to the mother against the risk to the fetus so upsetting to the Catholic patriarchy?
It would be just great to have some scientific basis as you suggest for determining the exact beginning of when a separate human life has been created within a woman's body. But there are still a great many people who won't listen to modern theories of evolution demanding Biblical Creationism/Intelligent Design be made the order of the day because it is in closer accord with certain religious beliefs. I can't see this section of the spectrum of people accepting any scientific discovery that goes against their religious beliefs.
Well stated T'pel. Although I like the idea of Tom's concerning finding a scientific starting point for life, I suspect we will find that such a standard would be highy individual. While it's true that neonatal care is pushing back the starting date at which infants can life separate from their mothers, they can't live separate from machines until they mature further. For me that's an issue, and so is the fact girls are apt to survive younger that boys.Delete
And you are quite correct when you write that objecting to the Catholic Church's teachings on women's sexuality and reproductive being exclusively the province of males, this does not mean males should have no input. Even though when it comes to the moral norms for male sexuality that is exactly the status of women. No input.
Colleen, I have no problem with science looking for the starting point of a new human individual. I am simply pessimistic that such a point would have much persuasive impact in the debate on human reproduction with regard to allowing contraception or even abortion.Delete
"Give credit to the right wing nuts for consistency, anyway. They maintain [without being able to prove] that a fertilized ovum is human being. If that is true, then their slogan makes perfectly good sense: Protect life from conception to natural death."ReplyDelete
## Where some Catholics spoil things is in treating human life, & life, as convertible terms. They are not convertible, and it is sloppy to fail to make the distinction. Thought needs clarity, not sloppiness. So while life may begin at conception - I am absolutely not a biologist, BTW - it does not follow that human life does. I dislike the phrase "sanctity of life" as well. I believe the unborn count as our neighbours, and that the CC is in general right to oppose abortion; but the details of how far the opposition is taken are sometimes out of proportion. I think the teaching authorities ought, if they are to be consistent, to teach that Christians cannot take any part in fighting wars or in making weapons available. I don't see that being a popular message, but I think it would be right & true & good. The Church was pacifist, to begin with.