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Who's obsessed with abortion? Certainly not the Catholic clergy

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 22, 2014

Introducing a friendly interview with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Boston Herald notes that the cardinal will be attending the March for Life, then continues: “And although he and the Church are pro-life, there’s a little-known, compassionate outreach program the Catholic Church runs for women who have had abortions called Project Rachel.”

What’s the word “although” doing in that sentence?

There’s no contradiction between hating abortion and caring for women scarred by abortion. It’s perfectly consistent—just as it’s consistent to hate cancer and care for cancer victims. And by the way, if Project Rachel is still “little-known,” 30 years after it was founded, maybe that reflects on the journalists who have been covering the political debate all these years, while ignoring the searing aftermath experienced by so many women.

And speaking about a narrow focus on the political debate, later in the interview, when questioned about the Pope’s advice that we should not be “obsessed” with abortion, Cardinal O’Malley replies:

The normal Catholic in the parish might hear a sermon on abortion once a year. They’ll never hear a sermon on homosexuality or gay marriage. They’ll never hear a sermon about contraception. But if you look at the New York Times, in the course of a week, there will be 20 articles on those topics. So who is obsessed?

He’s right, of course, on both counts. But while it’s a mordant observation that the Times is obsessed with abortion, it’s a shocking admission that priests rarely preach on the issue. When he says that lay people hear few sermons about abortion, and none at all about homosexuality or contraception, Cardinal O’Malley is not speaking as a detached observer. He’s the Archbishop of Boston!

I know the observation is accurate; I’ve made it myself. But if I were a bishop, I could not acknowledge this failure without a deep sense of shame. And of fear.

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  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jan. 25, 2014 11:18 PM ET USA

    I hope his Eminence reports the lack of sermons regarding the great evils facing the Church, the family, and human life to His Holiness. I wonder if the Cardinal will "hear" the horror of what he just said? Flummoxing, amazing, maddening . . .

  • Posted by: shrink - Jan. 24, 2014 7:37 PM ET USA

    The Cardinal's statement sounds eerily familiar. Barack Obama often talks as if he is a mere outsider looking into Washington political mess, just hoping that there's something that he might be able to do, but never acknowledging that he has been at the center of the mess all along.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jan. 23, 2014 8:13 AM ET USA

    Yes, in our parish I've lost count of the number of sermons telling us we "are on a journey". We never seem to hear exactly what trail to take, what side-paths to avoid. In fact, if I didn't know more than what I hear on a Sunday, I'd conclude all paths are valid because they're all going to the same place more or less. Elsewhere on this site you print a splendid essay by Ralph Martin. If I were a bishop, I'd send it to all my priests with instructions to borrow from it for homilies..frequently!

  • Posted by: Defender - Jan. 22, 2014 5:00 PM ET USA

    Sounds similar to, "We have met the enemy..." which is, of course, true. One hears of the troubles in the Archdiocese of Boston (there have even been books written about it and the loss of its Catholic culture). If Catholicism isn't being talked about in churches and practiced by the laity (and the clergy), then this happens.

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