Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

...because I say so

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 10, 2006

Back in May, many faculty members at Jesuit-run Boston College protested the honorary degree awarded to Condoleezza Rice, because the US Secretary of State supports and even symbolizes the war in Iraq. The archdiocesan newspaper, the Pilot, defended the award in a curious editorial, which began chugging along logically enough and then went roaring off the rails.

Good Catholics can and do differ on the morality of the war, the editorial noted, adding that Pilot itself had argued against the US offensive in the past. So far, so good.

Then the Pilot observed that warfare can sometimes be justified, unlike intrinsically evil actions such as abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and euthanasia. "Every war is not inherently immoral," the editorial says, and if you could clean up the syntax a bit, that statement would be perfectly right, too.

Then comes this lulu:

As if to shore up their argument, some who oppose Rice’s appearance are claiming she also holds some pro-abortion views. While that could have weighed into BC’s decision, that too is certainly not an impediment to receiving an honor from the school, since the current position of the U.S. episcopate is that institutions should not honor Catholic politicians who support abortion. Rice, we note, is not a Catholic.

So what's wrong, then, about honoring a Catholic politician who supports abortion? It's not that the politician is complicit in the murder of unborn babies; it's that the politician is disregarding the US bishops, to whom he owes obedience. If he's not a Catholic, then, it's perfectly all right. It's a question of obedience, not of murder-- of the homage due to the hierarchy, not of spilling innocent blood.

Anti-Catholics argue that the Church's condemnation of abortion (and of euthanasia, divorce, contraception, etc.) is nothing more than an exercise of power: an arbitrary rule, established at the bishops' whim. Anyone who read this Pilot editorial would have to conclude that Boston's archdiocesan newspaper shares that understanding.

If it's intrinsically wrong to kill babies-- and the Pilot had that part right, just one paragraph before the rhetorical crack-up-- then it's wrong for everyone. Abortion isn't wrong because the bishops say so; the bishops say so because abortion is wrong.

And sometimes, even when they do "say so," the bishops and their diocesan spokesmen get the natural-law argument wrong, making it that much more difficult for the rest of us.

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