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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Is Killing Children NOT a Pre-eminent Issue?

It has been said that advocates for removing the emphasis upon the moral evil of abortion as the “pre-eminent” issue for voters in the USCCB document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” are likely even more partisan than those who want to keep the current language.  We should not be fooled.  We may be experiencing a return of the loosely threaded “seamless garment” argument promulgated by the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin and heralded by the disgraced and defrocked Cardinal, Theodore McCarrick. Instead of focusing upon immutable truths, the revisionists would place the gravity on consensus with dissenters.  The cost paid is a watering down of Catholic social teaching.  At the heart of much of the current debate is the definition of a well-formed conscience. A recent article in AMERICA seeks support from Aquinas and Vatican II for the contention that conscience is king. However, I believe there is a misreading in both cases.

While all the bishops would teach that abortion is wrong, there is a presumption on the part of a few that it cannot be made the “make or break” issue. The bishops dictate to priests upon the matter of giving or not giving the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians and to other public dissenters. This places many of the lower clergy into situations of heartrending pain and soul-searching. They take their pledge of obedience seriously and in many cases are being compelled to violate their own rightly formed consciences to placate those with poorly formed consciences. Photographs and videos of their actions are then published with the inference that they are either bad priests or that a pro-abortion position is inconsequential. What might have been an instructional moment is lost.

Is it presumptuous to regard the emphasis upon abortion as errant? Indeed, given confirmation by tradition and the larger Magisterium, must assent be given to this immutable teaching about this great evil? The article presumes that there can be a shift upon such a major element of the Gospel of Life.  This is impossible.  It would nullify the faith and any argument for the Church’s teaching role over faith and morals.

One Response

  1. Question: “Does Catholic Doctrine explicitly state or strongly infer the killing of a child before birth is the same as the killing of that child anytime after birth?” Fr. Joe, you may recall my asking that question some months ago (a bit re-worded) and you kindly responded. I have since sent certified letters to several Archbishops (including Gomez). Only one Bishop has ever returned with an answer. Multiple tries with the USCCB. I have also asked editors at EWTN, CNA,, and CATHOLICSTAND and two national known columnist to intervene. I suspect I now just have to leave it to GOD and hope that somehow the Bishops in their upcoming meeting will be inspired to address this question. I personally believe killing a child at “Sandy Hook” or killing that same child before birth is the same offense; after all it is the same child. So, I continue my multiple daily prayers that the Bishops will be inspired. I trust the unchanging Catechism presents the truths God wants us to understand. Apparently, authors with America Magazine don’t. God Bless, Fr Joe.

    FATHER JOE: There is no need for further response. Going all the way back to the Didache the Church has always equated the killing of an unborn child as equivalent to killing a person after birth. Murder is murder. It has never been open to question.

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