“Doug” writes over on the Book of Face:
How and why did Biden end up with about half the Catholic vote? With what we know and believe as Catholics, how did that happen? It’s a question that’s been on my mind for a while. Abby and I have both talked about this before on our pages, but I think it’s time to bring it up again… we have to STOP DILUTING THE PRO-LIFE MESSAGE!!!
Did you know there are abortion supporters out there that say they are more pro-life than pro-lifers BECAUSE they support abortion? That’s absurd, right? But they say it because we have added too much to our plate. Being pro-life is about ending abortion, and making abortion unthinkable as well as illegal. That’s it!!! NOTHING ELSE!!! Being pro-life is not about climate change, immigration reform, kids in cages, human trafficking, capital punishment, police brutality, homelessness, the foster care system, adoption costs, mental health, universal health care, welfare… these are all issues that deserve attention, their own activists, and singular focus not to be fractured and divided out to everyone else. Do they have links to each other? Yes. Do they all have the same solutions? No. Do they sometimes work together, commingle, and help each other out? Yes. Do they all require the same experience and expertise? NOPE!! One group does not have to prop up and be responsible for all the other groups.
Do you get mad at cancer groups for not talking about heart disease or clean water in Africa? No?!? But the pro-lifers better have something to say about it. Planned Parenthood has a singular focus, and nobody gets onto them for not letting every other cause on the planet piggy back onto their platform and giant bank account.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? The enemy couldn’t divide pro-lifers on the issue of abortion, but he was able to divide us and distract us with everything else. We allowed it to happen, but with good reason. Most pro-lifers have a very can-do, challenge accepted, generous attitude. We have a consistent life ethic and we understand that we can’t just be pro-birth. But we have to STOP allowing others to hold our pro-life stance hostage based on other issues. Why? Because that’s how a bunch of Catholics (and other Christians) ended up voting an abortion loving, chaos creating, lying, corrupt, fake Catholic, that will do everything to take away our gifts, blessing, and hard earned money so he can give it all to the abortion industry.
You are 100% dead wrong and this is everything wrong with the “prolife” movement. It would be great if your cult of frauds really did focus on saving the unborn. But that is exactly what you do not do. Instead, you claim focus on the unborn while instead devoting all your time to defending every lie Trump tells, defending kidnapping kids, defending Trump’s sexual assaults, defending keeping people in poverty, defending gun mania, defending the largest prison system on the planet, defending making war on the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and the environment, defending every sadistic policy the GOP wants to inflict on the poor and brown, and defending lie after lie after lie now being told to support the abject falsehood that Trump won. The only thing the unborn mean to your cult is that they are useful human shields for these, your real priorities.
Christian teaching is that life is sacred from conception to natural death. What you propose is pitting the unborn against, not relating them to, all the forms of human life your antichrist Trumpian theopolitical cult wants to rob, abuse, and kill. You aren’t focusing on the unborn. You are weaponizing them to achieve your true goal: raw, nihilist Trumpian power. Repent and return to the gospel.
I discuss precisely this false “prolife” approach in my book, The Church’s Best-Kept Secret:
The argument works, or seems to work, this way: Why should we spend time and energy on things like capital punishment or deportation or the fact that the United States is now a gigantic prison state when 1.5 million babies are dying each year? The same objection is typically advanced for nearly everything listed above. All these things are (goes the objection) “prudential judgments” and not gravely and intrinsically immoral as abortion is; therefore we can pass over them and, as the saying goes, “focus on abortion, which is non-negotiable.”
But the problem with this approach, as the language about “diluting the brand” hints, is that the Church’s teachings about these issues are not really passed over in favor of defending the unborn by those who use such language. On the contrary, the Church’s teachings are actively opposed by those who claim to, but do not, “focus on abortion.”
Here’s the deal: There is plenty of room in the Church’s tradition for specialization and focusing on specific issues, needs, and ills. Dominicans specialize in preaching. The Sisters of Providence specialize in healing and building hospitals. Jesuits found schools, and so forth. As Paul says, different members of the body do different things (see 1 Corinthians 12). So somebody who truly wants to focus on abortion and the protection of human life from conception to birth is perfectly free to do so.
But healthy members of the Body of Christ do not declare that other members “dilute the brand” by focusing on other issues or by caring about multiple issues at once. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Somebody who says “We need to address the sadistic cruelty being meted out to refugee children, snatched from their parents at the border and disappeared into a concentration camp system that cannot even figure out how to unite them with those parents again” is not “diluting the brand” of the Church’s teaching, nor “distracting” from abortion. They are simply being consistent about the Dignity of the Human Person from conception to natural death.
Likewise, the person who is fighting to uphold the Church’s teaching about the necessity of a living wage—a teaching as old as James 5 and the basis of the Church’s tradition that depriving the worker of his wages is a sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance, exactly like murder—is not somehow “distracting” from abortion. Indeed, one crucial point of the Church’s insistence on economic justice is that families cannot happen if people cannot afford to marry and have kids. Poverty, in fact, is the #1 abortifacient. A living wage is crucial to our dignity and to the foundation of families.
Another related issue is capital punishment. Recently, Pope Francis—echoing a call for the abolition of the death penalty also sounded by Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI—formally changed the Catechism to read:
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide. (CCC 2267)
This development definitively places the good of the human person over mere judicial retribution and says, in effect, that if we do not have to kill somebody we should not do it, even if they have it coming—especially since about 4% of our prison population (the largest on Earth) are wrongly convicted. Fighting this development in the Church’s teaching not only means killing people unnecessarily, but killing innocents in order to do it and (no small thing as well), turning ourselves into people who are willing to kill innocents in order to kill the guilty unnecessarily.
“But these are all prudential judgments,” returns the Focus-on-Abortion interlocutor. “Aren’t we free to disagree with the Church on prudential matters?”
Actually, no. We are not free to ignore, or worse, oppose the Church’s guidance without very grave cause. It is vital to remember that “prudential judgment” concerns not whether, but how best to implement the Church’s whole teaching. If your focus is on abortion, fine. Focus on it. But do not pretend to focus on it while actually spending your time and energy fighting against the Magisterium and in favor of capital punishment, fighting against Laudato Si’ and in favor of policies that harm the environment, fighting against a living wage and in favor of laissez faire capitalism (condemned since Rerum Novarum was written in the 1890s), fighting against a century’s worth of magisterial calls for universal health care and denouncing the Church as “socialist” to shout down that call. None of that is “focusing on abortion” and none of it is prudential judgment. It is weaponizing the unborn in order to fight the rest of the Church’s teaching by making the unborn the opposite of and competitor to all the human lives harmed and even killed by sins in these other areas.