Here are the damning words from his own mouth!
You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. (Mt 5:21–22).
If “Franky Bergoglio” (as the Francis hater dismissively refers to the Holy Father) were to have said some equivalent, we would hear screams about morally braindead clerics daring to “equate” insulting speech with abortion. But since Jesus said it, we have to deal with it and all its implications.
And its implications are these: Catholic teaching is, to coin a phrase, a “seamless garment“. In the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si, “Everything is connected” in Catholic thought. So the Catholic mind tends to emphasize the both/and nature of reality. The word “heresy” comes from a Greek word referring to pulling out a thread so that said garment falls apart. Heresy comes from the strong human impulse to take something good in the Catholic tradition and then elevate it to the sole Good and weaponize it to make war on the rest of the Church’s tradition. It scarcely matters what that good is. If it is divorced from and pitted against the whole of the Tradition, you are looking at heresy at work. And over the centuries we have seen many manias elevating relative goods to The Good Itself, as when the deity of Jesus was pitted against his humanity in Docetism, or the glory of the Father was pitted against the glory of the Son in Arianism, or the sovereignty of God was pitted against the freedom and dignity of man in Calvinism. Indeed, the greater the good is, the more easy it is to idolize and weaponize it against the whole Tradition since any criticism of the idolatry is taken as a rejection of the good. We see this, for instance, when the prolife cause, in itself good and noble, is turned against the rest of the Church’s teaching and an either/or choice is forced upon us.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard anti-abortion-but-not-prolife people say, “Are you seriously suggesting that abortion is the moral equivalent of…?” I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that connecting the lives of unborn children to the dignity of all human lives is a “liberal strategy” for diminishing the importance of abortion. Because it’s always either/or. I cannot tell you how many times somebody has angrily demanded, “So you are saying that ‘Priests for Life’ or ’40 Days for Life’ are not really prolife unless they come out for gun control or oppose the death penalty?”
Not at all. I have no problem with anti-abortion organizations only talking about abortion or homeless organizations only talking about the homeless or feed the hungry organizations only talking about feeding the hungry. People can’t be everywhere and do everything.
Rather, what I object to is self-described “prolife” people constantly saying (over the past ten years)
- “Who cares about torture? They should never have published that Senate Report! Why are we worried about a bunch of thugs?” and spending ten years making endless excuses for torture while shouting “We should only talk about abortion!”
- Gun violence? Who cares? We must struggle to maintain our current gun regime and ignore the bishops who have called for sane gun legislation! You can kill people with rocks! We need more guns, not less! What about abortion?
- The Iraq war was great and you create division when you oppose it! JPII and Benedict should have butted out of politics and stuck to talking about the real issue: abortion!
- “Poor” people? Lazy people deserve to be poor! Abortion is what matters!
- Why is this commie pope talking about the environment when the babies are dying? Catholics should not listen to him!
- Forget the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and kill all those criminals on death row who have forfeited their right to life, whatever the liberal magisterium says! Abortion the only thing that matters.
- “Refugees at the border? We need to send those invaders back where they came from and if they get raped or killed, they should have thought of that before they invaded! Amnesty equals abortion! Because abortion is all that matters!
You see? In each one of these rhetorical strategies, all the real energy goes, not to saving any babies, but to making war on Church teaching that is not in line with Movement Conservative Culture War priorities. Babies are, in fact, reduced to human shields–instruments for pursuing the *real* Movement Conservative priorities of Mammon, Mars, and violence, with a heavy dollop or hostility toward the poor and minorities.And when the mask falls off completely, the unborn unborn human shields are thrown away entirely and the real priorities shine out with radiant clarity:
And so the Party of God, Family Values, Life and Support the Troops has gone gaga for a mammon-worshipping mocker of God who supports abortion, is quadruply married, makes creepy public statements about dating his own hot daughter, is entirely fueled by reckless hypocritical racism for his popularity, chews out breastfeeding mothers as “disgusting”, and takes dumps on POWs who were tortured while he partied and got richer off the old man’s dough. The perpetual refrain from that Party is “He’s just saying what we’re all really thinking”.
Yes. That exactly the problem. What the party is *really* thinking about is those things and not the supposed non-negotiable of the unborn Ms. Coulter would gleefully toss in the dumpster if she can just heap some contempt on Latinos.
This is why Catholics have to start thinking with the Church and abandon the partisan mentality or “party spirit” that Paul tells us in Galatians 5:19 is one of the works of the flesh.
Party spirit always seeks to introduce foolish divisions and false unity, while the Spirit teaches us to make sane distinctions while preserving true unity.
It is a foolish division is to constantly pit abortion against the rest of the Church’s moral teaching, as though they are opposites and not related. It only leads to getting used and played by people who use babies as human shields.
That was our Lord’s point when he connected the seemingly trivial sin of cussing somebody out with murder. If you hate with the heart, you have already as good as committed murder. If you have contempt for the weak who have been born you will have contempt for her when she is unborn and vice versa. If you regard a fetus as raw material to be ruthlessly harvested, you will regard nature the same way. As Pope Francis says, we only have one heart and if we cannot love the war victim, homeless, and poor we have seen, we will not in the end love the unborn we have not seen. They shall become less and less real, more and more mere window dressing on our real love, which some combination of money, power, pleasure and honor–the four-headed idol of all worldly politics.
Sherry Weddell links this piece and remarks:
In his ecology encyclical Laudato Si, Francis laments a culture that “sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests” and “treats others as mere objects.” He says that we must resist practices of the “throwaway culture,” practices that include buying and selling of animals for their fur and “eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted.”
The reductive left-right battle positions assumed this week may not survive much longer, at least on these two issues. Millennials — understood as those who came of age in the first decade of the 2000s —lean more in the direction of Pope Francis than Fox News or Salon. One in five young people in Britain (ages 16 to 24) are on vegan or vegetarian diets, and 18- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. are disproportionately skeptical of medical research on animals. At the same time, millennials are more likely to be anti-abortion than their elders. According to National Journal, for instance, 52% of 18- to 29-year-olds support banning abortion beyond 20 weeks while only 44% of those over 50 support such a ban.
The Millennials are, in the Providence of God, on to what Francis expresses profoundly in Laudato Si: everything is connected. It is an insight as old as the Catholic faith–and one we are long past due to recover.