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WHEN are Shepherds NO LONGER Shepherds?

What Would St. Joseph Do?   

I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read an assertion from Bishop Robert McElroy that abortion “pre-eminence” is the language of politics, not of doctrinal teaching. The context for my negative reaction is the spiritual paternity of clergy. The theme of “fatherhood” is acknowledged throughout all the levels of holy orders.  The Pope is the Holy Father.  Each priest is called “Father” as an appreciation of his spiritual fatherhood.  The bishop is a father to his priests and the larger flock.  This fatherly role and intimate love must be like that of good St. Joseph who safeguards Mary the Mother of God and protects the unborn Christ Child. What would St. Joseph do if someone threatened the invisible but real presence of Christ in the womb?  What would he tell us to do in regard to those in the womb who are flesh-and-blood reflections of the Christ Child?  Would he argue that we casually hand him over?  There is an important link involved here. I cannot understand why any churchman does not see the prominent importance of his charge to safeguard before all else the lives of the unborn and the innocent.  We can say we are pro-life but here is one of the many practical applications of that assertion.  Turning the tables somewhat, this is far more critical than politicizing the matter so as to stay on the right side of certain elected officials or to avoid upsetting the most partisan among us.     

Conscience & Right and Wrong

When it comes to right and wrong, the Church has always distinguished the greater from the lesser, as with mortal and venial sins.  The tension between legal and illegal aliens, between work programs for the poor and welfare, between competitive health plans and socialized medicine and— all these are matters of politics and policy to benefit people; however, the tension between healthy infants and dead babies plucked from the womb is explosive in importance— it is about a universal moral law and the commandment against murder.

While we can distinguish between formal cooperation (definitely accountable) and material cooperation (possibly not accountable); in practice such delineation of evil acts is difficult and does little to alleviate one’s conscience or sense of guilt.  We might see this with those involved with gun-making.  While guns can be used for both good and bad purposes, such material cooperation does little to appease regret and sorrow when guns are used against the innocent or in violent crimes.  While the analogy is upsetting or offensive and admittedly strained, one critic suggested that voting for a politician who is on the record as a backer for “abortion rights” is like selling a gun to a self-professed terrorist.  It is not a matter of “if” but “when” he will do the damage he is pledged to do.

The periphery issue of giving Holy Communion to public dissenters and enablers of abortion is whether such an act gives tacit approval to their stance and serves as a commendation of their witness before other believers?

One Response

  1. I agree with the article. One also must also consider the already born. Children and adults are dying for lack of food and medical care. We can take action to save their lives. Changing laws at Federal and State levels may be necessary to save the unborn, which is a long term project. I know of no US political party that has made a significant change is the number of annual abortions.

    We can act now to create a culture of life by providing financial and healthcare for those in need. I think placing homes for single mothers in every community and near every college will make a significant difference. My wife and I have adopted three challenged children. I have advocated for pro-life for forty years and I have not seen many babies saved by politics, However, organizations like 40 Years for Life, Catholic Charities, Mary’s Inn, Birthright, St, Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Covenant House, etc. have saved lives of the unborn by a one on one aid to pregnant women. If we show, by are actions, the sanctity of life, by working to preserve the lives of the already born, we can communicate by our actions, the sanctity of the lives of the unborn.

    This struggle is about what we can do and not about what we have little control over, what others do. Changing laws would be helpful, but changing the culture is more important. Married couples without children is not the culture of life. The US would have a decline in population without immigration.

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