Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Sister Joan explains it all for you

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 18, 2005

A disappointing shoddy breathtakingly stupid essay this week from Joan Chittister in the NCR:

Obviously, the whole question of the morality of abortion is a serious and an imperative one, as is birth control for some denominations and alcohol for others, for instance. Just as obvious, however, is the question of whether or not the government of a pluralistic state ought to be legislating for any of those things according to the tenets of any one particular religious tradition. Those are questions of faith, not of politics. That's how we got the Taliban in the first place. Someone somewhere decided that their religion had to be everybody's religion.

Bracket for the nonce Sister's insinuation that opposition to abortion belongs to the same moral category as, say, the Muslim prohibition of alcohol. Obtuseness is the kindest explanation for this frippery.

No one who has read the real arguments -- especially those made by Catholics -- could pretend that the pro-life movement was an attempt to make "my religion everybody's religion." The Catholic Church insists that the truths of morality, even those that have also been revealed to man by God in Scripture, are of themselves "accessible to reason alone" (Catechism #2171). That means the wrongness of abortion (like the wrongness of lying or oath-breaking) can be reliably grasped by the unaided human intellect. It often happens that Sacred Scripture helps Christians see the truth that abortion is murder exercised against a particular class of victims, but the public arguments put forward in defense of this truth are no more "denominational" than the multiplication table.

Where do you hear the opposite claim? Why, from NARAL and Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry itself. These groups have a huge interest in shouting down the pro-life arguments for the obvious reason that, in the arena of argument, they lose. They survive by means of a non-stop torrent of high-decibel mendacity, including the lie that it's theology, not biology, which teaches us that unborn children are human beings. Now that the new ultrasound images are daily corroding the plausibility of that lie, they have cranked up the volume even more.

It's ironic that elsewhere in the NCR, a liberal Catholic academic is quoted as lamenting the "new ugliness" he finds in the in-house culture wars: "We do not even know how to talk to each other -- to have responsible adult conversations -- in areas where there is serious disagreement."

Adult conversations? Well my progressive siblings-in-Christ, if you want dialogue, it's a good idea to start by making a pretense of listening to the other guys when it's their turn to do the talking. If you want to know what pro-lifers think, you have to switch off the television (you won't learn it there), switch off NPR (you won't learn it there), and actually pick up a book. The Chittister trick -- by which you ignore pro-lifers and instead read what Kate Michelman says about pro-lifers -- has served you well for these thirty years. But dialogue it ain't.

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