polemics, anyone?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 21, 2005

America magazine wants to build up a culture of life. Nuanced, naturally.

And let's not be "polemical" about it, the America editorial exhorts us. Other people (you know, those unsubtle pro-lifers) might resort to "sloganeering and sound bites," but not Jesuit magazine editors.

To be fair, America does mention abortion-- once, in a quote. embryonic-tissue research, euthanasia, homosexuality, and contraception are not mentioned. Too polemical, probably. But would you care which issue does get front-and-center treatment?


"An ethic of life for today also calls for poetry," the editors tell us. And they have an example: Dead Man Walking, the film about Sister Helen Prejean's campaign against the death penalty.

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  • Posted by: Fr. William - Sep. 22, 2005 9:24 PM ET USA

    Ahh, yes, America doing what it does best: sowing seeds of confusion for its agenda. Well, here's clarity: the Teaching of the Church from the Catechism (#2267): "Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust agressor." Rare? Yes. But we do have a right to defend ourselves.

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Sep. 22, 2005 11:51 AM ET USA

    I also think that it is a grave injustice to murder victims and their family, to lodge a convicted murderer for the rest of his/her life, at state expense, which includes air conditioning, recreation facilities, cable TV and so forth. Finally, I object to the way JPII inserted his personal teaching into Church doctrine.

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Sep. 22, 2005 11:48 AM ET USA

    I consider myself pro-life, but I am in favor of the death penalty. Like verum res, I draw a distinction between the innocence of an infant in the womb and the guilt of a convicted murderer. I disagree that prison necessarily removes the threat posed by that criminal, who, in my view, is still capable of doing great to the staff and other inmates, as well as being an escape threat. And history shows that when they escape, they kill again.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 22, 2005 9:20 AM ET USA

    Thanks, "verum res", for setting the record straight.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 22, 2005 12:24 AM ET USA

    The Society of Jesus: Dead Men Walking.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 21, 2005 7:54 PM ET USA

    Also, while I am not pro-death penalty, I recognize that there is a HUGE difference between murder (the killing of the innocent, as happens in abortion) and self-defense resulting in the death of an aggressor. It is certainly possible, that under certain circumstances, the death penalty could essentially be an act of defense.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 21, 2005 7:47 PM ET USA

    Punch, the reason that we are where we are w/moral issues stems from seeing sex as purely recreational and having nothing necessarily to do w/marriage and babies. Accepting contraception led to accepting extramarital sex, abortion, pornography, homosexual behavior, embryonic tissue research, IVF, etc. Acceptance of homosexual behavior is one of the fruits of accepting contraception: it is the "ultimate" in sex separated from marriage and children.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 21, 2005 5:43 PM ET USA

    Surely if we are pro-life then we are totally prolife: ant-abortion, anti-nuclear, anti-war (although ready to defend) and, yes, anti-death penalty. I'm writing from the other side of the Atlantic and we do watch what you do and say over there you know. And it is noticeable that some of our US cousins manage to be anti-abortion yet pro-capital punishment – surely a paradox? How some bloggers manage to get gay relationships into this argument is beyond me.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 21, 2005 4:18 PM ET USA

    You say tomAYto, I say tomAHto...but things are still too saucy on the pro-life front. How's that for poetry? There will continue to be a river of red as long as the approach to the question is cloudy. Catholic Prolife means just what it says...it doesn't mean Republican prolife or Democratic prolife, it doesn't mean exclusively death penalty, poverty, abortion, nor does it mean all of them at once which dilutes the effort. In fighting among us kills.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 21, 2005 12:48 PM ET USA

    Not surprisingly, Sr. Helen is for contraception and fuzzy on abortion. Not sure about her postion on the other issues but I can guess. From America's POV, that probably makes her the "perfect" spokesman (or spokesperson?) for their non-polemical version of a culture of life.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 21, 2005 12:17 PM ET USA

    Count me as pro-poetry. I also agree with the late great Holy Father about the death penalty. We can afford to do without it. Now, then: Can we also agree to unite on our uncompromising opposition to abortion, euthanasia, embryonic-tissue research, contraception and homosexual "marriage"? I'd trade a legislative end to the death penalty in the U.S. for the overturning of Roe v. Wade in a heartbeat.

  • Posted by: Fr. Walter - Sep. 21, 2005 11:23 AM ET USA

    The bankrupt "seamless garment" approach has neither enlightened nor illuminated, but only damaged the credibility of the US hierarchy and theological establishment that embraced it. The key to this "enlightened" viewpoint is their desire to be consistently evasive on any issue the "progressive/liberal" establishment finds uncomfortable or offensive. Thus they waffle on abortion, but strike a poetically dramatic pose on the issue of capital punishment.