The Dangers of the Pro-Life Movement
The following was delivered by David Wemhoff at a conference in March, 2010:
THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT AND THE NEW AMERICANISM
St. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:8 "See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ." Today, that empty seductive philosophy that captivates so many Catholic leaders in the USA is watered down Catholicism, or Americanism. Americanism serves America which is oriented to Mammon.
I wish to clarify something. This talk accepts all the Church’s teachings, and does not criticize these teachings. I do not criticize the sincere, trusting and good hearted people who want to end abortion. This talk is directed to the pro-life movement’s leadership and the leaders of the Faithful to the extent they accept or practice Americanism. This criticism flows from evidence that demonstrates many in the Church and the pro-life movement repudiate or ignore the teaching of Pope Leo XIII from Inscrutabili Dei Consilio in which he wrote: "A religious error is the main root of all social and political evils."
What is Americanism?
When I refer to America, I mean the socio-economic and cultural construct that has existed more or less within the political boundaries of the USA for the last 250 years or so. When I say US or USA, I mean the political entity by that name. The word "Jew" refers to those who ascribe to Judaism.
Pope Leo XIII explained and condemned Americanism on January 22, 1899 with Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, which was directed to James Cardinal Gibbons of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The encyclical was prompted by the French reaction to a biography of Fr. Isaac Hecker. Fr. Hecker was the founder of the Paulists, and according to Fr. Boniface Hanley, Hecker was of the belief that the missionary activity of the Catholic Church in the USA would be ineffective unless it adopted methods suited to the country and the age. Hecker’s view was that the Church had to become involved in philanthropic projects, social movements, organization of clubs, and more, all of which utilized the modern means of communication to meet "modern needs". While The Catholic Encyclopedia describes Hecker as "an ardent American, in love with American institutions, but he was likewise absolutely and uncompromisingly Catholic," Abbe Charles Maignen from France writing at the time questioned Hecker’s theology. Abbe Maignen claimed that Hecker 1) believed in the Quakers and their emphasis on the individual guidance of the holy spirit, 2) denied the objective certainty of Catholic truth, 3) stressed activism, love, tolerance, compassion while disdaining the passive virtues of humility and obedience, and 4) as espoused neo-Pelagianism in which mortal will alone is capable of choosing good and evil, and that divine aid is not needed.
At the root of Americanism is pride, a pride that says America is not only unique and special but that it is also the greatest. A pride that corrupts doctrine and says that America knows better than the Church and that the Church should learn from America. A pride that places loyalty to America and the USA before loyalty to the Church and the Holy Father. A pride that places being American before being Roman Catholic. This is what we may draw from Leo’s indication that Americanism is a rejection of the words and spirit of St. Jerome who speaking to Pope St. Damasus said "I acknowledge no other leader than Christ, am bound in fellowship with your Holiness; that is with the chair of Peter. I know that the church was built upon him as its rock, and that whosever gathereth not with you, scattereth." It is the primacy of Christ and his Church, as well of the authority of the Holy Father, that is needed in the hearts of believers to keep unity. For, as Leo XIII continued, the "true church is one, as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government."
Pope Leo identified three major erroneous views that served to dilute Catholicism in America. The first is the belief that "in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions." The Pope rejected the effort "to omit certain point of her teaching" and "to tone down the meaning which the Church ahs always attached to them." The Pope’s encyclical repudiated the position of Archbishop John Ireland of Minnesota, who in June, 1892, while speaking in the Hall of the Society of Geography in Paris "advocated greater co-operation with the spirit of the age, and…praised the growth of the Church in the United States and the harmony which exited between Church and State"
The second error condemned by Pope Leo was "that opinion of the lovers of novelty, according to which they hold such liberty should be allowed in the Church, that…allowance be granted the faithful, each one to follow out more freely the leading of his own mind and the trend of his own proper activity." The pope was condemning the idea of private judgment being the supreme guide as to how one should live, and he was rejecting the idea that the Church should have no say over the consciences of men. The source of this error was the constitutional, enlightenment states that were growing up in the 1800s, and according to American history professor, author and Pulitzer prize winner, Joseph Ellis, the USA is an Enlightenment state. We see the Enlightenment’s imprint on the US in Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote inscribed in the Jefferson Memorial that "I have sworn on the alter of god, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
The Third error condemned was "an unwarranted importance to the natural virtues as though they better responded to the customs and necessities of the times." The late Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, states "In general, active virtues correspond to what is commonly associated with American activism." The great Dominican Thomist, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, explained in his monumental work, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, that Americanism was the revival of the spirit of "practical naturalism" which is "the negation of the spirit of faith in the conduct of life". (Tan Books, 1989, vol 1. P. 275) He teaches that Americanism says that the passions are neither good nor bad, but that they "become so according to the intention of our will. They are forces to be utilized; they must not be mortified, but regulated and modulated." (p. 276) Americanism resists efforts to "combat private judgment, self-will…[because to do so] is to place oneself in a state of servitude which destroys all initiative and makes a person lose contact with the world, which one ought not to scorn, but to ameliorate." (p. 276).
Pope Leo XIII was writing at a time when a controversy was raging in the United States amongst Catholics as to how the different ethnic groups were to be shepherded and whether they should assimilate into American society. That struggle of the 19th century called into question the very nature of America and of the United States.
What Is the USA and America?
Many things show that America has been oriented towards Mammon from the beginning simply because it has never been a Catholic society and the US is not a Catholic country. In American Creation, Joseph J. Ellis writes that "the American victory not only meant independence from the British Empire, it also meant the creation of an American empire in its stead…."American Creation, p. 87 Ellis quotes Washington who in 1783 wrote Americans were "placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole Lords and Proprietors of a vast Tract of Continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, [and]…they are, from this period, to be considered as the Actors on a most conspicuous Theater, which seems to be designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity." (p. 87) The Articles of Confederation were insufficient – indeed opposed to – facilitating Americans to become actors in that most conspicuous theater.
John Hamilton penned Federalist Papers Number XI which is entitled "The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commerce and a Navy". In that essay, he noted that "the adventurous spirit, which distinguishes the commercial character of America has already excited uneasy sensations in several of the maritime powers of Europe…..Under a vigorous national government, the natural strength and resources of the country, directed to a common interest would baffle all the combinations of European jealousy to restrain our growth….An active commerce, an extensive navigation, a flourishing marine would then be the inevitable offspring of moral and physical necessity….It belongs to us to vindicate the honor of the human race, and to teach that assuming brother (Europe) moderation."
The Anti-Federalists called the quest for empire for what it was. In Anti-Federalist Number 3, "A Farmer" wrote: "We are vain, like other nations. We wish to make a noise in the world; and feel hurt that Europeans are not so attentive to America in peace, as they were to America in war. We are also, no doubt, desirous of cutting a figure in history."
The Constitution effected an economic revolution that 1) enshrined material values, 2) protected the American Economic System from the mob, and 3) stripped economic control from the States and localities and gave it to the national government. All of this served to remove barriers to business growth and market development, and so American business and capitalism were given a jump start. The main clauses of the constitution that effected this revolution are found in Article I, Sections 8, 9, and 10. These clauses gave the national government sole power over interstate commerce, commerce with foreign nations and the Indians, the coinage of money and hence the institution of a national currency, and the States were denied the power of "impairing the obligation of Contracts". The Fifth Amendment came along 2 years later and protected private property from government taking – unless just compensation was given.
The practical effect of these provisions was to open up the entire United States as a market where the rules of the marketplace would be monitored, if not set, by a few dozen men far away in the nation’s capital. In accordance with the nature of capitalism which seeks to strike down barriers, as explained by Amintore Fanfani in Catholicism, Capitalism, and Protestantism, the Constitution eliminated serious obstacles to the growth of businesses, and the flow of capital, while shifting economic power away from the communities and states. Any efforts by state governments to protect local industries would come to be viewed as encroachments on the power of the national government, and would be struck down. This meant that the control of the marketplace became so much easier as political pressure by the wealthiest had only to be applied at the national level.
Author and professor of finance at the NYU Stern School, Roy C. Smith, wrote a book entitled Adam Smith and the Origins of American Enterprise: How the Founding Fathers Turned to a Great Economist’s Writings and Crated the American Economy (St. Martin’s Griffin 2004). He notes that of the fifty-five (55) men who attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787, eleven (11) were "merchants, manufacturers, and shippers" while fourteen (14) were large landowners and speculators and twenty-four (24) were "financial people, those who owned or dealt in securities, loans, and other forms of monetary traffic." Not represented were "the common folk – the farmers, laborers, and craftsmen, comprising the majority of the population." (pp. 106-108) Professor Smith concluded that "almost all of them had significant economic interests in the outcome of their work" and that "those who attended the Constitutional Convention and participated….were themselves users of government….." (p. 106)
According to Professor Smith, "the essential teachings of Adam Smith were that the lightest hand of government would create the greatest amount of opulence." (p. 111) The authors of The Federalist Papers – James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton – "bought into Adam Smith’s reasoning" and accepted Smith’s The Wealth of Nations as the model for the economic system that was to be encouraged and protected by the Constitution. (p. 112) The Constitution "defers to market forces to an extraordinary degree, without overtly attempting to do so" and keeps economic power resting in Congress. (p. 113) Such an economy depends on markets and especially on capital. Those with capital can generally more fully exploit the markets and weather the vicissitudes of competition, provided they are unhindered in their decision-making. And that’s where America’s idea of religious liberty comes into play.
The founders were practical men who saw that religious differences could divide society and create turmoil. Turmoil hurts business, and if that turmoil is not controlled by business, then profits suffer. If religion is given a say in public policy – as it must if there is an established or recognized religion -- then business suffers to be restricted for reasons other than practical profiteering. Harvard professor Bernard Bailyn writing in the 1960s described in The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution how the Colonial leadership invoked religious liberty or tolerance to protect social stability so as not to hinder business, and later for unity in the war against the British.
This pragmatism continued on with the Constitution which severed relations between church and state and which, according to Ellis, "created the first wholly secular state." James Madison, the author of the Constitution, wrote in his 1785 "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments" that "Because experience witnesseth that eclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." According to Bailyn, John Adams saw "popery – the conjunction of the church of Rome with aggressive civil authority -- to be the greatest threat." (p. 98)
However, as Dr. Vincent Phillip Munoz of the U of ND in God and the Founders writes notes, "Founders such as George Washington thought that religion was indispensable in nurturing the moral qualities necessary for republican citizenship…." (p. 44) In essence, the founders reduced religion – and provided religious liberty -- to no more than a set of values to provide a good business environment.
The Long sad history of Americanism amongst Catholics
American Catholicism began to drift away from Rome and towards Washington, DC with the first American Bishop, John Carroll of Baltimore who came from a wealthy family that helped to finance the American Revolution. Carroll’s brother and cousin became involved in "revolutionary, quasi-Masonic intrigues" as well as signing the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps these bona fides, along with the approval by Benjamin Franklin, himself a Mason, made John Carroll, in the words of Engel, "Politically….most acceptable to the founding Fathers." Carroll held enthusiastic beliefs as to the American Democratic ideals that included separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, universal equality, and sovereignty of the people. The sentiments lived on in those of the hierarchy who came after him.
In 1866, a Pastoral letter from the American bishops reworded the clear and unmistakable doctrine of extra ecclesium nulla salus so as not to offend fellow Americans. At the Third Plenary Council in 1884, Archbishop Ireland proclaimed "no hearts love thee more ardently than Catholic hearts" in reference to the United States. This was echoed by Msgr. Dennis O’Connell, an associate of Gibbons and Ireland, who in August 1897 at the International Scientific Congress at Fribourg that Catholic Americanism "is nothing else than the loyal devotion that Catholics in America bear to the principles on which their government is founded and their conscientious conviction that these principles afford Catholics favorable opportunities for promoting the glory of God, the growth of the Church and the Salvation of Souls in America." Gibbons perhaps even went further when he expressed the belief that "democracy and `enlightened republicanism as the new savior of the world.’" And that "for this great progress we [the church] are indebted…to the civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic. [Whereas] often the church has been hampered and forced to struggle for existence, in the genial atmosphere of American liberty she blossoms like the rose." (Engel, Rite of Sodomy, p. 525.)
Americanism glorifies America and the political system of the USA. It seeks to reduce Catholicism to a social gospel that accommodates other religions. In doing so, Catholicism, and Catholics, are made to serve Mammon.
On March 1, 2010, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver delivered an address in Houston to an assembled group of Baptists. His talk was designed to rally Protestants and Catholics to become politically active, and civicly involved, in opposing abortion. To do that, he downplayed the differences and said that Protestants and Catholics were "brothers and sisters" on a "fundamental level" for sharing a "love of Jesus Christ and a familial bond in baptism and God’s Word" and that with Protestants, Catholics were to "preach Jesus Christ". He paid highest homage to the Constitution when he said "I revere the genius of its [America’s] founding documents and its public institutions." And he seemed to support Washington’s position that religion was needed to keep America running when he said that "America’s Founders encouraged mutual support between religion and government".
The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, conceded the point of how pro-choicers are in power and the "establishment media massively" supports them. He gave a consolation prize to the pro-life movement and especially "the Christian Right [which] has helped revive participatory democracy in America by overcoming citizens’ alienation from politics." In one of the last pieces that he wrote and published, Neuhaus positively crowed about how the "Christian Right has been much more successful than its political rivals at fulfilling New Left hopes for American democracy." He cites to the research contained in The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right written by Jon Shields as authority that the pro-lifers are deeply engaged in politics in America as they challenge the status quo pro-choicers who, he admits, have little to gain by engaging the pro-lifers. Neuhaus did not, and could not, write that Pro-lifers and the Christian Right are ending abortion because there is no indication that we are any closer today to prohibiting abortion than we were 35 years ago.
During the 2008 presidential election, the following "prayer" was circulated by Fr. Frank Pavone, Director of Priests for Life:
"Oh God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.
We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politicallyAnd of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you…."(Emphasis Added)
This prayer, sent to millions in the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, is a political prayer. Its real meaning is understandable on two levels.
The first is loyalty to a political party (Republican). It is a subtle attempt to keep pro-lifers, and Catholics in particular, in line and loyal to the Republican Party. Abortion and same sex marriage have been the top political issues for Catholics, as well as white evangelicals, noted Jeff Diamant of Religion News Service. Bill Berkowitz in a September 23, 2007 article for Media Transparency noted that the GOP had spent years organizing and wooing the Catholic vote and used "allies" like Michael Novak, Deal Hudson, Fr. Richard Neuhaus, and Ralph McInerny to corral the Catholic voters for the Republican party. Secondly, the Pavone prayer is a celebration of America. It unites loving and serving God with loyalty to the State, and involvement in its political processes as a way to end a grave moral evil. The prayer does not critique America but it seems to elevate it, and this is in keeping with the spirit of Americanism.
The Bitter Fruits
Error, and seductive philosophies, like Americanism, lead to bad things. St. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:3-5: "Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for argument sand verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain." The pro-life movement poses three major dangers to the Church and Catholicism.
First – The Attack on the Gospel and the Faith
The leaders of the pro-life movement are not seeking to save souls nor preach the Faith nor convert people to the Faith. They say everything is fine with America, we need only remove this one wart – abortion.
With the New York Times endorsement of the so-called "pro-life" advertisement during the Super Bowl featuring the football player Tebow, the extensive coverage by the mainstream media of the dispute between the American Catholic Bishops and Notre Dame over the Obama Commencement invite and award, and with the extensive coverage of abortion funding in the health bill, the message is loud and clear: being pro-life is an authorized position. This acceptance means that the Gospel will probably be distorted – particularly by the press. To the faithful there will be offered an ersatz or false magisterium that proposes only certain rules for an earthly society without considering the purpose of this life and the salvation of souls. In the place of the fundamental truths of the Faith contained in the Apostle’s Creed, and instead of the coherence of the Faith, American Catholics are given a magisterium that consists largely of a number of positions that do not appear to be connected by any coherent principle. An important player in all of this is the pro-life and conservative press. On February 18, 2010, the attorney for the group known as the ND88 who are being prosecuted for trespass at the U of ND for opposing the Obama award and visit, gave an interview to Joe Giganti on the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. The G. Gordon Liddy Radio show is broadcast by Radio America. Radio America produces and syndicates "quality radio programs reflecting a commitment to traditional American values, limited government and the free market." Liddy himself touts the fact that not only is he a former American artillery officer, but that he is an Israeli trained paratrooper who has "jumped with the elite Israeli army". Joe Giganti, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette, "conservative commentator who makes regular appearances on TV and radio outlets nationwide, including the Fox News Channel, CNN, and CNBC. He is the president of Veritas Media Group, a full-service media and political consulting and production firm. Joe has worked with many of the country's leading conservatives, serving as a spokesman and the national media strategist for Ambassador Alan Keyes' 2000 presidential campaign. Prior to that, Joe was the executive producer of Keyes' nationally syndicated TV & radio simulcast. Joe also has served as a producer on the syndicated radio shows of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Michael Reagan, and Ken Hamblin….Joe has successfully launched programs for the Free Congress Foundation, the Center for Security Policy, The Declaration Foundation, and Salem Radio Network. l…" One of the ND 88 is Alan Keyes, a staunch Republican and "one of the most passionate and outspoken supporters of Israel." (Zionist Organization of America Press Release of May 29, 2002.)
During the February 18 interview, the lawyer said that ND had "declared independence from the Magisterium" and that the actions of ND in bringing Obama to speak and giving him an award were "directly contrary to the fundamental teachings of the Church." That is error -- the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church are contained in the Apostle’s Creed, which incidentally makes no mention of the pro-life issue. Indeed, during the Advent season in John 1: 10-11 we are reminded that the world, that life itself – eternal life -- comes through Christ and so Christ, and eternal life clearly should be paramount for Catholics.
Archbishop Dolan of New York was featured in a February 26, 2010 article from LifeSiteNews.com in which he was quoted as saying "In our mind, being opposed to abortion, is a civil rights issue, it's a natural law issue, it's not a Catholic issue….We'd be uncomfortable if anybody that would, say, promote a stand that would be for bigotry, or against civil rights, because that's contrary not only to the teaching of the Church but to what we would call civil rights and the natural law." These quotes are unfortunate because they could be misunderstood by the Faithful to mean that the Church’s teaching is separate and apart from natural law, or is unrelated to civil rights.
LifeSiteNews.com emphasized a quote from Joliet Bishop Peter Sartain obtained after the Vigil for Life Mass in the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in January of this year. The bishop is reported to have said "To be Catholic means to be pro-life." LifeSiteNews.com went on to quote him further as saying "Any Catholic who is going to understand our faith and live by the faith seriously must be pro-life….It’s at the very core of our understanding of living a moral life because all life comes from God."
Judie Brown’s American Life League is a player too in bringing about the ersatz magesterium. Last year it circulated a card sporting a photo of President Obama that was placed in Catholic churches by pro-lifers. On the backside of the card was a prayer asking for Obama’s conversion to the pro-life cause.
Fr. Pavone has published a number of booklets and devotionals that play off John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae and play into the hands of the secular pro-life movement which seems more and more to be urging a syncretism of sorts. For instance, there is Thirty Days for Life: A Prayer Devotional which consists of 30 days of prayers, meditations and scripture passages "created by members of the National Pro-life Religious Council out of love for Christ and His Church." The members of the NPRC are composed of a hodgepodge of sects and secular organizations. Some are Anglicans for Life, Black Americans for Life, Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, National Clergy Council/Faith and Action, National Right to life Committee, Presbyterians Pro-Life, Priests for Life, United Church for Christ Friends for Life. Priests for Life also published What does the church teach about life issues? According to the advertisement, this book answers the question of "Tired of people using the seamless garden approach to water down the central importance of abortion?"
David Bereit and his 40 days for life campaign, which captivates Catholics and many of their bishops, is another noted proponent of the pro-life gospel as the new and ersatz magisterium. Billed as "this mission of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion", Bereit has organized two campaigns during two strategic times of the year. The first is in the fall or autumn leading up to the Sunday immediately before the November elections. The second commences on Ash Wednesday and continues through Lent. The fall campaign keeps the abortion issue fresh encouraging a Republican vote, and the Lenten campaign – in a reversal of early Christian efforts to turn pagan events into Christian events -- seems to be a way to supplant Christian activities with a secular cause.
Second—The Channeling of Dissent
Secondly, the pro-life leadership safely channels any serious dissent or threat to the socio-economic elites by dividing Catholics, and stifling any questioning of the fundamental principles of America and the USA which lead to abortion. As part of this, Catholics are enlisted in political campaigns to support candidates who end up serving the interests of others.
NJ Congressman Chris Smith is an example of this. While billed to Catholics as a great pro-life champion, Smith has spent a career advancing Jewish interests. Smith told the American Jewish Committee in January, 2008 that he first started helping Jews by assisting their emigration from the USSR in 1982 during his first term in office. Smith recounted how as a "new 27 year old Congressman, it was bewildering and deeply troubling – why do they hate the Jews? Why the anti-Semitic obsession?" It was then that Smith said he resolved to "work to secure the release of Soviety Jews, hoever long it took." In time, Smith became a ranking member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe which is to work for the promotion of democracy, human rights, and stability in Eastern and Central Europe. As a member of the CSCE, Smith joined with Jewish leaders to advise – or tell – Europe how to deal with anti-Semitism. And, in April 2004 Smith’s efforts would bear fruit with the hosting of the first ever international conference on anti-Semitism that had as one of its topics of discussion Mel Gibson’s motion picture, "The Passion of the Christ." Closer to home, Smith helped sponsor the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act that mandated the US Department of State to monitor and report on anti-semitic incidents around the world. In February of 2009, at the London Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, Smith said "Holocaust remembrance and tolerance education must dramatically expanded, and we need to ensure that our respective laws punish those who hate and incite violence against Jews…[I]f we are to protect our children from the evil of anti-Semitism, we must re-educate ourselves and systematically educate our children."
Smith is not the only one to link the abortion issue with fighting anti-semitism, and thereby give control of Catholic activism, and Catholic thinking, over to Jewish manipulation. At ND on May 17, 2009, Fr. Wilson Miscamble linked the two by condemning the University’s invitation to Obama, a pro-abortion president, and in the same sentence he said an invitation of a racist or anti-semitic person to be the Commencement speaker would also be against the Faith. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and the leader of the USCCB’s pro-life secretariat, in the March 27, 2009 issue of Catholic Herald condemned Bishop Williamson’s comments on the Holocaust, as anti-semitic and in the same article condemned the ND invitation of Obama.
Further, as a single issue movement, the pro-life movement serves to bring people to participate in a political system which is stultified by the two monolithic parties. The leadership of single issue movements operate on the principle laid out by Dr. Jones in his work Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control. That principle is this: that the powerful gain control over people by their passions. Wanting to save the babies is a passion that the pro-life leaders with the socio-economic elites have artfully encouraged and manipulated for their own benefits. With the stimulation of one passion alone that has some connection to Catholic teaching, Catholics are divided. Catholics who want to save babies and oppose the queers are called "conservative", and Catholics who seek an end to unjust war and a beginning of economic justice are called "liberal". And the twain shall never meet, because the socio-economic elites ultimately control the discourse in America, and American Catholics, like all conquered peoples, no longer believe their way is the best way.
The flagship organization of the pro-life movement, the NRLC, is in the pocket of the GOP. Opensecrets.org which calls itself the "Center for Responsible Politics" keeps records of contributions by various organizations to different candidates. Its research showed that the money given by the NRLC overwhelmingly supported GOP over Democrat candidates in the 2006 and 2008 elections by margins of up to 2,000 to 1. In the 2008 campagin, according to the September 1, 2008 edition of the Washignton Times, Karl Rove encouraged pro-life GOP donors to give money to the NRLC, and the NRLC "declined to comment." A March 18, 2003 article in Women’s E News detailed the evidence from an affidavit filed in Federal Court by the Executive Director of the NRLC in 2002 and a Congressional report in 1998 which showed the RNC contributing 650,000 dollars to the NRLC. Meanwhile, LifeNews and the Gallup pollsters pump out the studies, the latest being described in the March 8, 2010 edition of LifeNews, that claim that Republicans are overwhelmingly for prohibiting abortions while Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of abortions. The message is clear: if you are pro-life vote Republican!
Catholics are told that that it is a moral duty, an essential element of being Catholic, to engage in pro-life activism and in the pro-life movement. But such participation requires one to submerge their Catholicism, and mute the Gospel. After I gave a talk (the 6th year straight) at the NRLC in 2008 in which I traced the roots of the culture of death, argued for an American society organized around the Logos of Christ, and called for the conversion of America to the Roman Catholic Faith, I got the boot. Pro-life movement’s leaders ask Catholics to deny the teaching of Christ in Matthew 5:14-15 in which He says "You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand where it gives light to all in the house."
Third – The Hammer
Third, the pro-life cause is being used as a platform from which to attack the Church. One’s Catholicism is defined by fidelity to the pro-life cause, and so it becomes an easy next step to grading the Catholicism of the Church and her leaders by their fidelity to the cause. This grading becomes nothing less than a way to monitor the political correctness of the Church, and also a way to keep the Church in line by supporting the political process which is manipulated by the socio-economic elites. Catholics can be pro-life, but they cannot question the justice or morality of the American political and economic systems. Catholics are good Catholics when they support the secular pro-life movement.
Randall Terry jumps to mind right away as a hammer against the Church. After converting to Catholicism, he seems to be relentless in making the Church profess one greater pro-life policy or position after another. His latest activities include the operation of a website called "Insurrecta Nex" in which he writes: "A few years ago, I began examining the social revolutions of America's past. I studied six social revolutions…. Together, we must recruit, train, and mobilize the next generation of leaders and advocates to obtain TOTAL VICTORY." Next to this is a photo of a serious Terry talking to Pope John Paul II and so the message is clear: the Church has to be more pro-life because being pro-life is the greatest truth.
And, so, that is probably why Terry is leading a delegation to the Vatican from March 17-24 in which the participants will ask Vatican officials: "Do Vatican officials stand by the words of Cardinal Ratzinger to American Bishops in 2004?" (reference is made to the policy instituted to deny the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who consistently campaign and vote for permissive abortion and euthanasia law). Of course, Terry has a letter of recommendation from a Catholic bishop to stand him well on his quest to Rome.
On any given day, nearly 40% of the stories on leading web sites such as LifeSiteNews.com and LifeNews.com are about the Catholic Church, or prelates, or priests and how well they tow – or do not tow – the pro-life mantra. Indeed, whether one is a Catholic or not, or how good a Catholic one is, is determined by someone like Deal Hudson who during the 2008 election kept a running tally, by name, of all the bishops who spoke against abortion, a Republican issue. Or, as in the Obama at Notre Dame controversy in 2009, again someone like Hudson or LifeSiteNews keeps a list of all of those speaking out against abortion and Obama, a Democrat.
Serious issues for the salvation of souls are ignored by emphasizing the pro-life issue. Fr. Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International vigorously defended the retired bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Bishop Joseph Martino. Euteneuer called Martino "one of those courageous shepherds who simply got attacked for doing what he was supposed to do". Bp. Martino was notably vocal against Pennsylvania’s Democrat Senator Bob Casey who he considered not to be sufficiently pro-life, and denied communion to pro-abortion politicians. However, at the same time, the Catholic church in the Scranton diocese was collapsing. The Bishop closed nearly 45% of the parishes in his diocese without offering much of an explanation other than that times were changing and consolidation was a good idea. He shuttered more than 90 parishes without presenting a plan to retake the ground lost by such a catastrophic turn of events when not just 50 years earlier the Scranton diocese was positively thriving. Bp. Martino’s decision to disband the Catholic teachers union in his diocese alienated the Church’s traditional base – unionized and working Catholics -- and cost the support of at least one Catholic legislator, Penn. State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski who stated that "he is being forced to take on his bishop because he must also be loyal to his constituents in this heavily unionized and heavily Catholic region of northeastern Pennsylvania."
But none of this was put in the calculus by Euteneuer who himself reinforced the idea of divisions among Catholics by saying that there are orthodox Catholics, liberal Catholics, and conservative Catholics. And, by doing so, he effectively conformed Catholics into the categories permitted by the dominant culture.
The realization that one’s Catholicism is determined by how pro-life one is was part of the genius, and cynicism, of the decision by John Jenkins, CSC President of the U of ND to announce in mid-September, 2009 his intent to attend the pro-life march for life in January 2010 and to form a committee to study pro-life issues at ND. He understood that with such a negative backlash over the Obama visit, the carefully cultivated image of ND as a Catholic University was threatened. If Jenkins did not move to co-opt the pro-life mantle, then people would start to ask with some credibility, "Is Notre Dame still Catholic?" Were that to happen, a niche market for ND would be lost. More importantly, ND’s control over the Catholic mind in the USA would be threatened thereby releasing Catholics in the USA to turn back to Rome, instead of looking to the Golden Dome.
The pro-life movement is increasingly adopting human rights, and civil rights terminology, all couched in revolutionary rhetoric. Such a position ignores that the problem is not abortion, but revolution itself. Katie Walker is an example of this shift in the movement. According to the article from the January 21, 2010 issue of LifeSite News.com, Walker said that "human rights…is the direction of the pro-life movement." The article reports that "She named William Wilberforce, the heroes of the Civil rights movement and the heroes of the abolitionist movement as the models for the new wave of pro-life activism." Walker said that "it always comes down to the baby in the womb is not a human person….These criteria have been used to justify slavery and all kinds of human rights abuses through the last couple of thousand years." Walker’s approach is not based on the Gospel, which, as stated in Gaudium Et Spes, (para. 41) must animate all activities, for without the Gospel all things will come to extinction.
The Sterile Pro-Life Movement
Perhaps the best testimony against the pro-life leadership is its inability to protect those who should be their own. The deaths of 53 million exceeds the horrors visited on the world by the likes of Stalin and Tamerlane. Of that number, according the World Almanac and Book of Facts, one could deduce that 40 % are Catholic babies. Meanwhile women are simply not having children – they are not getting pregnant – as reports the Center for Disease Control. But this refusal by women to become pregnant, signifying a serious crisis of faith and a loss of hope, is not even mentioned by the pro-life leadership who say they are intent on stopping abortion.
Likewise, euthanasia, which operates on the other end of the life spectrum, is largely ignored or forgotten by the mainline pro life organizations such as NRLC, Priests for Life and ALL. Even the USCCB is not so vocal on euthanasia as it is with abortion as seen in the health care debate – but they should be. The principle justifying euthanasia is already in place: people with limited means, not wanting to be burdened, will pressure their loved ones to forego treatments, or will deny food and water to the comatose. The target of euthanasia are the baby-boomers who are or were largely Catholic.
The stated purpose of many leading pro-life organizations is to restore legal protection to the unborn, but these organizations do not seem to be any closer to that goal than when it began almost 40 years ago. That looks to be due partly to major divisions among pro-life leaders who undoubtedly have the pressures of making a living and keeping the organization alive. In the fall, 2009 issue of Human Life Review, attorney and author Paul Benjamin Linton criticized the efforts by a number of notable pro-life organizations to push for legal initiatives in the states that would extend personhood protection to the unborn. Linton makes the point that proposals advanced by groups like the American Life League and Personhood USA "have been drafted with breathtaking, indeed, stunning, ignorance, or even defiance, of basic state and federal constitutional principles." (p. 61-62).
Politics always seems to win out in the battle for life. According to the National Committee for a Human Life ("NCHLA") Amendment a human life amendment bill has been introduced into every Congress since the 101st Congress. The bills just go to committee to die according to the NCHLA. That is really no surprise considering the American political system is based on compromise, and monied interests have inordinate leverage. It was compromise that resulted in the decision in December, 2009 of "pro-life" US Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to switch his support for the health bill that allowed federal funding of abortion. He obtained "special federal funding for Nebraska to expand Medicaid coverage to low income individuals in addition to other concessions requested." And, on Christmas Eve, LifeNews.com revealed that "Nelson has a background in the insurance industry."
Another recent example of the corrosive effects of compromise is the election of Scott Brown as MASS senator in January. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List said that Brown’s victory was "a win for the majority of American women who demand authentic representation that reflects commonsense pro-life views, like abortion funding restrictions and conscience protections." Steve Mosher, president of Population Research Institute, praised Brown’s victory and said "No one thought that a conservative Republican could possibly win in Massachusetts….It means the end of Obama’s drive for government-run health care, with its public funding of abortion." Both Mosher and Fr. Pavone also weighed in on how the agenda of the Left and of the Democratic party were now in jeopardy.
But Scott Brown is not pro-life. His campaign website stated his position on abortion: "While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America." While Obama’s health care plan with its many troubling components appeared stalled after the Brown election, this incident shows that political involvement by the pro-lifers and their leaders often results in merely supporting a Republican pro-abort over a Democrat pro-abort.
This may well be a critical time for Americanism and America. The pro-life movement has always stressed that the Supreme Court should overturn Roe. With a Catholic majority on the High Court, the pro-lifers could get their wish if the Justices vote the Faith. But will they?
If the Court should overturn Roe, then Mammon is threatened because it will be seen by many that the justices correctly voted their Catholic consciences, and the "popery" that John Adams so feared may indeed be reaching across the ocean. Should Roe be reversed, then the revolution – sexual and economic – will start to be rolled back. If the Court upholds Roe, or just passes on the question, then there is a risk of disillusionment of the American masses who will come to see all the effort put into the pro-life movement as a waste of time and resources. Many may even come to regard the system itself as a sham.
Thomas Frank authored an opinion piece for the WSJ which was published 6/10/09. He wrote "The culture wars are not meant to be taken seriously. Yes, right-wing invective dabbles in nightmare visions of treason and conspiracy and rampant paganism and homegrown holocaust right here on Main Street, USA. Yes, it ritually denounces liberals as members of a class fundamentally alien to the American way of life. But these are the ingredients of entertainment, not politics. Culture war makes you feel noble and heroic. It sells books, it drives up the ratings of The O’Reilly factor, it brings in millions in direct-mail contributions – but everybody knows you can’t make Hollywood change its ways by walking the streets of Wichita carrying a sign deploring the `culture of death.’" If Roe remains when 5 Catholic justices are on the Supreme Court, Frank will be proven right.
Fr. A. B. Klyber, a Jew who converted to the Roman Catholic Faith and became a Redemptorist priest, recounted the reasons for the conversion to the Faith of Eugenio Zolli, previously Dr. Israel Zolli, Chief Rabbi of Rome. When asked why he did not become a Protestant, Zolli said "Because protesting is not attesting."
Legalized abortion, which is protected by the fundamental law of the land, gives the Church the opportunity to evangelize and work for the conversion of souls by explaining how the legalization of abortion is a natural consequence of false premises that go the founding of American society. The way to end abortion is to know and love the faith, and that starts first with knowing what the Church teaches in important areas. The relationship between Church and State, and the meaning of religious liberty are the two teachings implicated by the abortion debate, and these two teachings challenge as error the Mammon dynamic that was so strong in the formation of America and the US.
As to the relation between Church and State, Pope Leo taught in Longinqua Oceani that "it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. That fact that Catholicity with you is in good condition….is by all means to be attributed to the fecundity with which God has endowed his Church.….she would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority." (para. 6).
As to the concept of religious liberty, Leo taught in (para. 35) Immortale Dei (Christian Constitution of States) that "it is not lawful for the State, any more than for the individual….to hold in equal favour different kinds of religion." Fr. Brian Harrison points out in his excellent work Religious Liberty and Contraception, Leo meant precisely that "civic communities ought to be of that type [paternalist/ethical state]….and they should exercise their truth discerning competence by discerning (and hence, favoring) what is in fact true, namely, Catholicism." (p. 156) In placing this affirmative duty on states, Leo relied upon and referred to Pope Gregory XVI’s encyclical Mirari Vos and number 77 of the condemned propositions contained in Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of 1864 which states as error the view that "it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship."
The Church’s teaching on Church-State relations, and religious liberty, has not changed despite the claims of many theologians. Paragraph 1 of Dignitatis Humanae which issues from Vatican Council 2 restates the traditional teachings of the Church as found in the encyclicals of Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII: "Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ." And, Pope Benedict XVI in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est (para. 28a.) clearly rejects the separation of the State from the Catholic Church: "For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated."
Many scholars have struggled to determine the proper school of thought to be used in understanding, construing or interpreting the Constitution, because the document did not come with an instruction booklet to resolve ambiguous phrases. Again, Pope Leo XIII presents the answer to that problem in the encyclical, Immortale Dei ("On the Christian Constitution of States") (1885) in which he taught: "every body politic must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its Author. Hence, it follows that all public power must proceed from God. For God Alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world. Everything, without exception, must be subject to Him, and must serve Him so that whosoever holds the right to govern holds it from one sole and single source, namely, God, the sovereign Ruler of all." (para. 3.) Leo also cited to Romans 13:1 in which St. Paul wrote "There is no power but from God."
Pope John Paul II’s teaching in Evangelium Vitae (para. 95) is consistent with Leo XIII’s teaching that social ills are solved by conversion to the Faith, which means first preaching the Gospel. He wrote "While the urgent need for such a cultural transformation is linked to the present historical situation, it is also rooted in the Church’s mission of evangelization. The purpose of the Gospel, in fact, is `to transform humanity from within and to make it new.’" In Evangeli Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI (para. 13) wrote "Those who sincerely accept the Good News, through the power of this acceptance and of shared faith therefore gather together in Jesus’ name in order to seek together the kingdom, build it up and live it. They make up a community which is in its turn evangelizing." In Satis Cognitum, Pope Leo XIII wrote that "Hence, it is clear that God absolutely willed that there should be unity in His Church…." (para. 9; 1896) The lesson from these Popes is that Catholics must first be united in the truth in Catholic communities before any change in society can happen, which can only happen by preaching the Gospel.
In the book Cardinal Krol and The Cultural Revolution, Dr. Jones references a letter written from Attorney William Ball to Cardinal Krol concerning Catholic education (p. 500): "I have heard some distressing comment that Catholic education’s future depends on governmental aid….No, Your Eminence, the cure for Catholic education lies in Catholic fervor and Catholic religious certainty."
The Catholic Church must cease being a hostage to false ecumenism. We are not called to be activists but to heed the words of our Lord in Matthew 28:19-20 to "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." We do not need to be Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, pro-lifers or family value groupies. We do not need to be conservative or liberal or progressive or traditional Catholics.
We just need to be Catholics.