Working with Catholics for Choice

The Secular Student Alliance (of which I am a part) is doing something that almost seems like an afterthought, but it’s not seen very often in the freethought community: promoting a religious organization with which we have much else in common.

This is from the SSA’s eMpirical newsletter:

Catholics for Choice is a pro-choice, pro-contraception, pro-sexual rights and pro-separation of church and state nonprofit based in Washington, DC. We at the Secular Student Alliance know that very few readers of the eMpirical are Catholic, and we know that not all readers are pro-choice. We hope you’re all pro-contraception, pro-sexual rights and pro-separation of church and state. We also hope that many of you will be interested in getting a free copy of Conscience magazine (www.catholicsforchoice.org/conscience/).

Yes, it’s just promotion of a magazine, but it’s a start. I’m hoping there will be further interactions with religious groups who are working toward progressive change.

I said you don’t see secular organizations working together with religion groups very often, but I should mention that the Secular Coalition for America is frequently seen alongside progressive religious groups when trying to get certain bills voted for or against.

You have to work with like-minded individuals or groups even when the difference(s) looms so large if it helps you achieve a broader goal.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    How is that possible? I thought you would be excommunicated if you were pro-choice.

  • Siamang

    So Ted Kennedy was excommunicated?

    Naaah.

    Believe it or not, members of the Roman Catholic Church are allowed to have opinions that contradict the Church.

  • Scotty B

    Sorry to be a pedant, but I think you may have meant: “(of which I am a part)”

    Scotty B ;)

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Sorry to be a pedant, but I think you may have meant: “(of which I am a part)”

    Curses! It’s fixed. Thanks :)

  • http://scottishatheist.org.uk Ian

    “You have to work with like-minded individuals or groups even when the difference(s) looms so large if it helps you achieve a broader goal”

    You really don’t, you know.

    In fact, it rarely if ever works out.

    All that happens is hard working motivated atheists will be asked to bite their tongues and sacrifice their principles for the sake of the supposed religious “allies” – who will inevitably be offended by something or other, decry us all as evil and flounce off… without ever having done anything of value!

    been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

    The so called “moderate” or “liberal” religious are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com NYCatheist

    Believe it or not, members of the Roman Catholic Church are allowed to have opinions that contradict the Church.

    But isn’t the Pope supposed to be infallible? I’m just curious how liberal Catholics reconcile that with their non-orthodox views. Do they just think the Pope is mistaken? I guess we don’t have any liberal Catholics around here to chime in…?

  • Siamang

    But isn’t the Pope supposed to be infallible? I’m just curious how liberal Catholics reconcile that with their non-orthodox views. Do they just think the Pope is mistaken? I guess we don’t have any liberal Catholics around here to chime in…?

    Perhaps papal infallibility is another opinion they differ with.

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com NYCatheist

    Perhaps papal infallibility is another opinion they differ with.

    Sure, but at what point do you stop being a Catholic when disagree with a number of Catholic doctrines? Extreme (hypothetical) example: I’m an atheist, but I disagree with the atheist opinion that there are no gods. Unless being Catholic can be a cultural label like my friend who says he’s an atheist Jew. He doesn’t do anything Jewish so the only thing left is the fact that he was born to Jewish parents. I guess the same thing can apply to Catholics?

  • Jonas

    I’m curious- – are there any other pro-life atheists here or am I the only one?

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    A Catholic can be morally opposed to abortion while also believing that a) it’s not the state’s business to legislate this morality on others, or b) that the best way to reduce abortions is actually by keeping it legal but working to alleviate the reasons women seek abortions (e.g. poverty, etc.).

    Also, this is from the Catholics for Choice’s website, their statement on abortion:

    The morality and the legality of abortion is an important personal and political issue throughout the world. Catholic support for legal abortion is grounded in core principles of Catholic theology, which respect the moral agency of all women. It is bolstered by respect for the religious freedom and rights of people of all faiths and no religious faith, by respect for plural and tolerant democratic societies and, most importantly, by adherence to the Catholic principle of standing with the poor and marginalized of the world who are disproportionately women.

    Within this context, Catholic worldwide support the right of all women to follow their conscience when deciding about abortion.

    CFC also believes that rights should be exercised responsibly, which includes personal responsibility for pregnancy prevention and society’s responsibility to provide education, health care and economic security that will enable women to prevent pregnancy and have the children they want in a climate that welcomes all.

    They also link to this .pdf pamphlet about what Canon Law really says about abortion and which clears up many of the misunderstandings about what is and is not permitted by the RC Church.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    BTW, thanks for posting this Hemant. I’m always glad to see examples of atheists and Christians working together to make the world a better place.

  • Fr. Terry Donahue, CC

    Mike,

    While the Catholics for Choice PDF entitled Catholics and Abortion does clear up some common misconceptions about excommunication of pro-choice Catholics, it also omits discussion of several important and applicable canon laws (such as Canon 915 that has resulted in publicly pro-choice Catholics being denied Holy Communion).

    For additional information on the Catholic position on abortion, I would suggest reading John Paul II’s encyclical entitled The Gospel of Life here

    In the above encyclical, the Pope taught that “direct abortion… always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.”

    This teaching is recognized as definitive and infallible according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Vatican body that makes such authoritative judgments about Catholic doctrine).

    That means the Catholic Church can never, and will never reverse its teaching about the morality of abortion. (As opposed to non-infallible teachings and disciplinary regulations, which can change).

    Because of this, I do not see the long-term value of organizations such as Catholics for Choice. It seems that they only prolong the confusion about what the Catholic Church actually teaches, and what a Catholic can believe and support while still remaining in communion with the Catholic Church.

    Hiding (by selective omission, misunderstanding, or denial) the actual teaching of the Catholic Church from Catholics (or anyone else) does not advance respectful dialogue between Pro-choice and Pro-life groups, or between Catholics and non-Catholics.

    Perhaps “Friendly Atheists” might take the above into consideration when deciding whether to support such organizations as Catholics for Choice.

    Fr. Terry Donahue, CC


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