The Curious Difference between the Left and Right Ear

The Curious Difference between the Left and Right Ear September 25, 2015

So the Pope spoke to Congress yesterday and the righties of St. Blogs are going mad because, just like Benedict XVI addressing European Parliamentarians, he never mentioned the word abortion.  But, of course, since he’s Francis and not Benedict, we are to conclude that this makes him (I am not making this up) the worst Pope since Alexander VI as well as Che Guevara’s Pope according to the not-at-all-unhinged assessment of the Rightwingosphere.  Moral:  If you say, ““The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development” nobody will understand that the Church still opposes abortion.

And so the Rightwingsophere is awash with outrage today because the Pope, in the ear of the Right “failed to mention abortion”.

Yet strangely, the ears on the Left had no difficulty hearing his mention of abortion and are under no illusion that he has somehow changed the Church’s teaching on the matter.  Indeed, some on the Left are still furious at him for saying that there is any sin to forgive at all.

So why is it that Francis, doing the same thing Benedict did, is The Worst Pope Since Alexander VI?

I would submit it’s because of the other things he spoke about, and the fact that he upsets a treasured Movement Conservative strategy: the use of the unborn as human shields for its *real* policy goals.

The standard strategy for years has been to appeal to abortion and the other five “non-negotiables” as being the putative “core values” of American Movement Conservatism.  But, in fact, they are not and the way you can see this is that Movement Conservatism spends very little time and energy on them while focusing its real energies on militarism, Mammon, fighting the Refugee Menace, gun rights, the death penalty, and the struggle to oppose anything to do with climate change.

Now these things are, as the Right *never* tires of saying “prudential judgements”, it’s true: things we can “agree to disagree about”.  In short, there is room for give and take on them, while there is no room at all for give and take on the taking of innocent human life.

So: if that is true, why is there absolutely no give on the Right to the pope’s remarks on these things?  If abortion is *really* the Pearl of Great Price, why not just go ahead and trust the pope’s prudential judgment on these matters (at least sometimes), get them out of the way, and then use the political leverage gained by that to really put the screws on the Left about abortion.  The pope, with his consistent ethic of life, appears to do exactly this, according to Michael Sean Winters.  And it would appear to be a strategy at least worth trying–if one is actually serious about abortion as a non-negotiable.

This brings us to the next point: The case for the superior prudence of American Movement Conservatism over that of the Magisterium is *severely* impaired.  American Movement Conservative history over the past decade is littered with the wreckage of visible-from-space stupid judgment calls.  Only a fool would trust its judgments when it directly opposes (as it so often does) the clear guidance of the Church.  And the more  shrill and hysterical it gets with cries of “Worst Pope Since Alexander VI!” and “Che Guevara’s Pope” the more certain we can be that trusting such voices is as smart as valorizing Cliven Bundy, backing John Corapi against his bishop, spending a decade cheering for Catholic defenses of torture and a foolish war, spending years obsessing over Obama’s birth certificate, or adoring Donald Trump.

We prolifers seem to me to have increasingly fallen prey to a kind of in-group thinking in which we have forgotten the goal: persuading hearts and minds to change their thinking on abortion.  The reaction to the Pope’s Congressional speech from the right seems to me to be a perfect illustration of this.  The pope did not (and in fact cannot) back down an inch on the bleedin’ obvious teaching of the Church on abortion.  The Left got the message loud and clear.  What he did, in fact, was say “Be *more* prolife” by insisting on protection of all human life and (as a reader astutely put it) appealing to the conscience Congress has rather than the conscience Congress does not yet have.  His appeal was to “the better angels of our nature” and a very typical Catholic pastoral strategy: ask the penitent to do the next thing he can bring himself to do, not to perform seven herculean feats he cannot yet do to prove his sanctity.

But what we on the Right wanted was not really change in Congress.  What we wanted was for the pope to pass a litmus test, make a loyalty oath, and speak the correct shibboleth so that he could prove to our skeptical, judgmental, and way more pure than him selves that he is One of Us.  We reduced the word “abortion” to a password and when he failed to say it, we found him wanting, because the goal was not to present the full-orbed teaching of the Church, but to chew out liberals and expel them from the Fortress of Purity.  And so, when Francis failed to do that, the internet crackled with anger because the pope, in addition to calling for respect for the unborn, also condemned the death penalty (which we should actually be supporting, despite what the Church says) and asked Congress to do something about that.  There was fury over the immigrant issue which, despite being a supposed “prudential judgement”, is actually patient of only one response: go back where you cam from, invader.  His words on the poor and the environment and violence were, likewise, sternly rebuffed, not considered as something people of good will can perhaps bend on for the sake of the *real* core issue of abortion.  In short, it was not that the pope didn’t see abortion as a core issue: it is that the Right sees refusal to compromise on these supposed “prudential judgments” as the real core issue.

At every turn, the approach is never, “How might we compromise so that we can get past this to the *real* core issue of abortion?”  It is always “We will never compromise on these issues, but you have to vote for us or the baby gets it.”  It’s a strategy that has worked for Movement Conservatism for thirty years–and has consistently failed the prolife movement for thirty years.  Yesterday, the pope mapped out a different strategy, and it seems worth trying rather than simply repeating more failure.

We can do better.  Be *more* prolife.

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  • Ken

    It seems to me the real reason people wanted him to mention abortion by stating the exact word was so that there would be a screen shot of Biden and/or Pelosi looking uncomfortable. There is an overwhelming sentiment for the Church to be a hammer on people we really don’t like. We don’t actually want to be the hammer we want our Clergy to do so while we sit at a computer terminal and complain.
    On one of the major news outlets they ran the quote and then said on an overdub, “this is in reference to abortion.” At the UN he specifically talked about the “Culture of Death.” and protection of life from conception to natural death.”

    • chezami

      The whole “Let’s count how many times he uses the word “abortion” and “unborn” approach is just so mind-numbingly stupid.

      • Ken

        Just because one thing is evil doesn’t mean other things aren’t as well. Maybe he just wants to focus on different things at different speeches rather than give the same one over and over again.

      • Tom G

        I must admit, Mr. Shea, your posts and comments make me question whether I have correctly understood Matthew 5:22.

        • chezami

          I’m not sure I follow you. What do you mean?

          • Tom G

            I am by no means perfect on this. I’m really not. Since probably around college (graduated 2005) I have taken Matthew 5:22 to be pretty much a commandment; namely, that I can’t say anything akin to “you fool”. … call people names or ridicule their ideas, even? I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading into it too much. I realize and know that there are times when harsh words are necessary. I really do. Jesus showed this in his statements to the Pharisees, as well as his harsh rebuke of Peter when our (ultimately) first pope tried to admonish The Lord for going to Jerusalem knowing He would be crucified.
            I read your blog on a daily basis because the fact of the matter is you have, quite frankly (and through your frankness), convicted me on an occasion or two that I had not been living or opining in accordance with the Gospels, particularly Matthew 25:31-46. Some of your comments and posts, however, just…throw me off (and just give me uncertainty – like the disciple Thomas as-portrayed in the film Jesus of Nazareth). I’m just sometimes conflicted by your approach because, without your harshness once or twice, I am really not sure I would have realized I was in the wrong. At the same time, Matthew 5:22 makes me think the opposite. I’m just…unsure.
            I am not trying to set you up as my spiritual director or anything. If this is too personal or confrontational a comment, please forgive me and delete it, as I truly mean no offense. But perhaps this comment is coming from pride, and I need some humility right now. I will accept the outcome, regardless.
            I hope this clarifies without being insulting. It is sincerely unintentional.

            • chezami

              You seem to me to be a saintly person, a lot more saintly than me. My *aim* is to take apart bad ideas, not persons. I often fail in this aim and you do extremely well not to take me as any kind of spiritual director. What I tried to do in this particular piece was shake loose the often reflexive commitment to Movement Conservative goals that are by no means essential (and often quite obviously both wicked and stupid) from the prolife movement and get people to rethink their priorities. So, for instance, if abortion is really the priority, why waste energy defending the death penalty from the pope? This is dumb and I think it is important to say it is dumb. That’s not an attack on a person, it’s an attack on an idea well deserving of attack.

              But that said I think your leeriness of offending against Matthew 5:22 is a beautiful thing and speaks extremely well of you. Pray for me that I do better on that.

              • Tom G

                I assure you that, in my particular case, you have unquestionably shaken loose some of my own reflexive commitments, and gotten me to rethink my priorities. This very summer, in fact. I can tell you that, as one in a line of work where it matters, I look back with relief on a very recent decision to remain in a state with no death penalty and also decline the not-offered, but follow-up-requested (have I sufficiently lawyered that?) possibility of working in a state with the death penalty. God’s providence is an inexplicable thing.
                Be assured of my prayers, Mark. You do great work. I for one am grateful.

                • chezami

                  God love you sir!

              • Elaine S.

                I have to second what Tom said. I don’t agree with everything
                Mark says by a long shot, but I still read this blog regularly and get a
                lot out of it.

                It does, however, bother me to see a Catholic
                “blog war” of sorts breaking out between a number of forums and
                personalities that I like and respect. I worry that Mark and the
                people/other bloggers who respond to him are getting sucked into a
                back-and-forth dispute that in the end will do neither any good and only
                serve to alienate many people whose ideas don’t fit into the
                conventional conservative/liberal boxes. I hate to use the cliched term
                “Can’t we all just get along?” but I don’t know how else to put it. In any event, let’s all strive (even if imperfectly) to target ideas and not persons. Thanks!

        • Marthe Lépine

          You mean that saying that an approach or an idea is stupid is to tell the person who claims that approach or idea is stupid? Not necessarily, it is possible to honestly hold a stupid opinion without being stupid – maybe just too lazy to check it out or too tribal to disagree with one’s peers.

          • Alma Peregrina

            In my past experience, the stupidest ideas are championed by the most inteligent persons.

      • Elaine S.

        I read the text you posted of the Pope’s speech to Congress and he didn’t use the words “global warming” or “climate change” anywhere in it either… he referred to “the environmental deterioration caused by human activity,” which could refer to lots of other kinds of pollution or environmental degradation (e.g. dumping toxic waste). Sounds to me like he went equally “soft” on that issue as well!

        • chezami

          Very perceptive.

  • neoconned

    For anyone who cares to, take a minute to read this:

    Ask yourself what side you would be on today?

  • lifer

    “We will never compromise on these issues, but you have to vote for us or the baby gets it.”

    Yes. I was always surprised by how Catholic pro-lifers – some of the leading lights, not the comment-box commandos – could not understand how they were in bed with unvarnished nihilism. These are the people who understand that contraception paves the way to abortion.

    Abortion in the political process has been a cover for theft from the poorest of the poor, the just fruits of their labor. What the culture wars have accomplished – and you need to look at what was DONE in the last 30 years, not what was TALKED – is a dismantling of the middle class. The famed Roberts court ( all the prolife judges) is most known for …? Sorry to say, it’s for their corporate friendly judgements. Their prolife decisions are a drop in the ocean.

    • Peter Calabrese

      To say that politically abortion has been used to steall from the poor is mostly a rhetorical device what it really did was kill people and divide the Church. If the Catholic Left had remained Pro-LIfe the Democratic Party would have too. The Catholic Left bears the responsibility both for the expansion of abortion as an alleged human right and the Reagan Revolutiion whcih marked the end of the Catholic-Democratic alliance.. It is not the recalcitrance of the catholic Right but the heresy of the Catholic Left which is no longer “personally opposed but ..”, rather avidly in favor of – abortion on demand. names? Biden, Kerry, Kennedy, Pelosi, De Lauro, Andrew Cuomo, Sebelius, Mikulski, etc. Some on the Catholic Left I think act more in good faith or have mixed records: Casey Jr, Stupak, Amb. Kmiec (maybe).

  • Joseph

    I’m reading the Pope’s address to the UN. Found this nugget:
    “In this sense, hard evidence is not lacking of the negative effects of military and political interventions which are not coordinated between members of the international community. For this reason, while regretting to have to do so, I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.”

    Ummm… I coulda sworn he’s just not mentioning the plight of Christians in the Middle East… that’s if I listen to the mainstream media (both Right and Left).

    • margaret1910

      Also this one, Joseph: “The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the
      unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are
      only considered as part of a statistic. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature.”

  • Pete the Greek

    I personally think it’s because ACTUAL conservatism, which actually, you know, seeks to conserve things, has been taken over by Neocons, which are entirely different animals.

    • Stu

      They’re liberals.

    • Tom G

      What’s a Neocon?

      • Pete the Greek

        It’s a political philosophy that uses classic conservative language and imagery, but in action can be summed up as Big Government Socialism LITE(TM), but combined with a very aggressive, bellicose foreign policy.

        George Bush is a classic modern example. Some point to president Wilson as a kind of proto neocon.

        • john savage

          Wrong. Neoconservatives are old liberals opposed to communism and/or those conservatives who used social science to prove their points.

  • Stu

    I would have liked him to be more blunt. But it’s his call.

    I was watching “With All Due Respect” and they had Sister Simone Campbell and Ambassador Jim Nicholson on to talk about the Pope’s message. What I found interesting is that both seemed to not get CST. Nicholson was troubled by the Pope’s criticism of capitalism and Sister Simone continues, in my mind, to ignore the whole issue of abortion.

    • Joseph

      Dude… ever thing that speaking to the US Congress would have been like speaking to a deaf or impotent person?
      Do yourself a favour and read his speech to the UN. It’s got ALL of the goodies you’re looking for. All of them. Christian persecution in the Middle East and Africa *and* abortion! Exploitation for sex and drugs. Disposable people… go ahead… read. At this point there’s probably more ears to hear in the UN assembly than there are in the Capitol Building.

      Now… I wonder if the media is going to cover this speech… hmmmm…

      • Stu

        I’m not upset. Just saying I think he could have been more blunt. For the American people, this was much bigger than the UN address.

        • StumbleBumble

          Was then Pope Benedict blunt when it came to addressing Congress with regards to abortion? I do not recall that he was.

          • Stu


            • StumbleBumble

              And I am wrong! Gasp! He never did address Congress. Wonderful speech though that our Holy Father Francis addressed to the UN though simply wonderful.

          • Rosemarie


            Pope Benedict never did address Congress as Pope Francis did. But he still gave speeches during his visit to the US.

            My memory may be hazy, but the way I remember it is as follows. When BXVI was first elected, we orthodox Catholics rejoiced: Just look at how tough Ratzinger was in the CDF; as pontiff he will surely be kicking butt and taking names! Woohoo! “God’s Rottweiler” is coming to tear all the dissidents to shreds! Grab some popcorn and let’s sit back and watch the bloodbath.

            Yet before long it became clear that he was adopting a more “pastoral” approach as pope than he had as head of the CDF. Though he would speak the truth and make positive, needed changes that many Catholics desired, there would be no bloodletting.

            And in retrospect, I guess that’s how it should be. Like with Elijah, when we expect the Lord to speak through a powerful wind, earthquake or fire, He instead speaks in a still, small voice.

            • StumbleBumble

              I stand corrected, Papa Benny did not address Congress. It came to mind after I had posted the above. Thank you!

            • Ken

              I remember the same thing when Pope Benedict came here. On one of the shows the hosts were commenting “He seems so nice.” Popes come to different countries to get the faithful excited and hopefully bring people into the church. There are other times for clarification on faith and morals.

          • Mike Petrik

            Is this an intentional “have you stopped beating your wife” question or just ignorance? I assume the former but am trying to understand the subtext.

        • Joseph

          Not really. The US government has no interest in ending abortion, only perpetuating it… throughout the world even… with your tax dollars. The US government has no interest in saving Christians in the Middle East. Why would they? They are the cause of their strife… and they have a reason for it. Ain’t nuthin’ gonna stop ’em now. The propaganda is heavy even here where RTE and Newstalk are both regurgitating memos from the US State Dept. that say ‘Get rid of Assad and everything will magically disappear’. The US doesn’t care about preserving the family. Not only does family get in the way of labour and profit, but they, once again, use your tax dollars to fund gay marriage campaigns in other countries… like Ireland. Rather than waste his breath talking to the deaf about stuff they don’t want to hear, he tried to meet them at a place where there is actually an authentic political divide.

          He saved the good stuff for the *world* stage where at least there may be some people left who can be reasoned with on matters of faith and morals. It wasn’t an accident that the Pope turned down lunch with those clowns.

      • Ken

        I’m sure this won’t be enough for some people. He wasn’t writing a declaration against all these things while he was talking and only said it in one language. He should have been writing it at the same time and said it in every language and then repeated the speech 5 times. At that point maybe it would be enough.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      “Nicholson was troubled by the Pope’s criticism of capitalism”

      I don’t understand that at all. Capitalism NEEDS criticism in today’s world. A lot of it.

      If my house is on fire, I’m all for putting out the fire. I am less concerned with the color of the drapes.

      Unrestricted, greed-infested capitalism is causing a lot of pain and suffering in the world today. Feudalism? Not so much. Communism? Looks more like capitalism than ever. I’m kind of okay with the Pope not wasting any breath criticizing feudalism or communism.

  • ivan_the_mad

    “How might we compromise so that we can get past this to the *real* core issue of abortion?”

    That’s essentially my conclusion as well. If it is true that not all moral issues are qualitatively equal (and they aren’t), then why spend political capital ensuring the death penalty remains legal (especially when prison reform is necessary regardless) instead of on the qualitatively graver moral issue of abortion? For the Catholic has a moral imperative to proscribe abortion, but no such imperative to prescribe capital punishment.

    • chezami


    • Ken

      I’m sorry that I’m thick but I’m not following you and Mark’s death penalty/abortion logic. I’m sure it’s me and not you but could one of you explain what you mean? It looks like you’re saying bothering about the death penalty is a waste of time but I’m sure you mean the opposite.

      • chezami

        The logic is simple. You only have so much time and energy. You have presented to you two goals. 1. end abortion. 2. Fight against the Church to preserve the death penalty.

        If you choose 1, you demonstrate that it really is your top priority. If you choose 2, you make clear that you are full of crap when you say 1 is your priority. You further make clear that you are, in fact, so committed to this supposed negotiable prudential judgement that you will not only ditch the unborn, but defy the Church in order to cling to the death penalty. In short, where your time and energy is, there will your heart be also. Movement Conservative apportionment of time and energy makes extremely clear that abortion is not the *real* non-negotiable. The unborn are merely human shields for the real non-negotiables.

        • Ken

          Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

        • john savage

          Please let’s be logical. Since the death penalty is the law of the land, wouldn’t the energy be spent trying to end it? If that’s so, then the energy is split between ending abortion or the death penalty.

          • ivan_the_mad

            Here two Catholic gentlemen, one of whom is the current governor of Nebraska, spent $300K to try to make the death penalty legal again.

            My contention, at least, is that Catholics shouldn’t expend resources ensuring the death penalty remains legal, but should rather expend resources proscribing abortion. This is because Catholics understand the practice of abortion to be a qualitatively graver moral matter.

            Regarding expenditure of resources ending the death penalty, that at least has the justification that the bishops and pope exhort such.

            ETA: All of this assumes that the death penalty is practiced justly. If it is not, then it must be opposed as a moral evil.

            • john savage

              Why don’t you tell people who are trying to eliminate the death penalty to focus on abortion?

              • ivan_the_mad

                Reread my last sentence.

                Why don’t you tell people who are trying to preserve the death penalty to focus on abortion?

              • Alma Peregrina

                “Why don’t you tell people who are trying to eliminate the death penalty to focus on abortion?”

                Because many of such people are actually *in favor* of abortion.

                So we don’t want them to focus on abortion.

                Let them focus on trying to eliminate the death penalty. Let us focus on ending abortion.

          • Marthe Lépine

            But abortion is also the law of the land… And is a sort of death penalty, although it is applied before the victim has had the slightest opportunity to even, maybe, some time, show any inclination to the smallest violence.

        • Peter Calabrese

          The Democrats had total control of Congress adn the Presidency and did not end the federal death penalty. This administration sought and obtained the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bombing for a very young man. The death penalty is not even an area where the Democrats are asking the right ot compromise. You are correct we should end the death penalty but that is not one the table for either party and should not therfore be used as a discriminator, though I wil admit in general the left is more against it. I would venture to say there are more right wing pro-Lifers willing to give in on the death penalty than leftists wiling to accept even ANY restrictions on abortion. For me it is not a compromise it is an area of which I underwent conversion.

    • donttouchme

      Translation: Stop supporting Church teaching on the death penalty (which is that the death penalty is permissible) because Mark Shea doesn’t personally like it so he wants you to be demoralized and surrender. To that end, if you were good Catholics (but you aren’t; you’re holier-than-thou pharisees who support the death penalty), but IF you were good Catholics (like Mark Shea, who opposes the death penalty) you would surrender on this issue which the Church permits but Mark Shea doesn’t personally support, and focus solely on abortion. The fact that you don’t lie down on the death penalty proves that you ACTUALLY support butchering babies and you’re a fake, a bad Catholic, unlike Mark Shea who opposes the death penalty.

  • TheRealAaron

    The US is, I think, a culture accustomed to bluntness. Francis is speaking diplomatically. He’s not going to directly say “shape up or ship out” to another country’s governing leaders. Notice that in both the address to Congress and the UN, he praised them. But not in a “you’re wonderful, never change” kind of way. Instead he praised their founding ideals, focusing in particular on the ones they are failing to live up to. Now Congress may be too dumb, or UN members to smug, to notice his point. But he’s making it nonetheless, in a way that’s clear to anyone who cares to actually look. Those who don’t care to find out what the pope says, or choose to willfully believe the opposite of what he’s saying weren’t going to be convinced anyway.

    • Beth Rogers

      You are so right. He is saying “You have such a wonderful base, now let’s see what we can build on it, let’s see how you can improve it.” That’s what pastors do, they meet us where we are in life and walk with us, helping us make better choices as we go.

  • johnnysc

    “Now these things are, as the Right *never* tires of saying “prudential judgements”, it’s true: things we can “agree to disagree about”. In short, there is room for give and take on them, while there is no room at all for give and take on the taking of innocent human life.

    So: if that is true, why is there absolutely no give on the Right to the pope’s remarks on these things?

    Your kidding right? We are told that 50% of Catholics voted for the current government that endorses all those things which are prudential judgments…..twice. Eight years. I’d say that was a lot of ‘give’ So what do we have… anti Catholic, pro contraception, pro abortion, redefining marriage, supporter of the Planned Parenthood that you’ve seen in the latest videos government with no sign of ‘give’ from the left on any of them. No change of hearts there.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      If I was going to parade a reading disorder for the public, I wouldn’t identify my state, especially if it were South Carolina.

      • Joseph

        Just a friendly correction, I happen to know a lot of people from South Carolina that are much more intelligent (and less racist) than a lot of people I know in Massachusetts and New York. Just saying, it’s not only old fashioned but false to believe that people in the Southern states are less intelligent than those in the Northern states.

        Otherwise carry on with your critique lest I make the blanket accusation that it’s irrelevant because all Americans are considered sharp as marbles around the world.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Oh…So! There cannot ever be any “give” from the right until the left is ready to concede some “giving” of its own. Why does it remind me of children squabbling in the back yard?

      • Peter Calabrese

        Wel ltaht is what conmpromise is. And remember as bad as the GOP no one is actually talking about removing the social net. Even we we talk about reductions we are usually talking only about reductions in the automatic increases in baseline budgeting, not real reducitons. And since we have had Obama unilaterally spreading abortion and attacking religious freedom I think treating the Left with a trust but verify attitude is correct. after all teh Cahtolic Left has treated teh pro-aborts with more respect than Pro-Life Catholics. PRo-Life Cahtolics are like beatne spouses who keep returning to the abuser hoping they will hchange only to be laughed at and beaten again. Reagan gave amnesty and we were told we would never need to do it again. it would solve the immigration question once and for all and here we are “again”. Bush I raised taxes and teh tax and spend party threw it in his face to get him kicked out of office. Bart Stupak tried to compromise and Ambassador Kmiec told us we could trust Obama then both were thrown under the bus by Obama and Sebelius. On every social issue there are fewer and fewer allowances for conscience why on earth woudl we EVER trust them. What has Obama done regarding ACA ro same sex marriage or pro-life matters that makes oyu think he is a worthy dialogue partner. Look whom he jsut invited to see teh Pope. Andrew Cipomo says pro-lifers are not fit to live in NY State – what makes you think you can trust him. PLeosi thinks abortion is a human right what would it take to change her mind? These leftists are not even personally opposed but they are avid pro-aborts. Biden says it is aborve his paygrade. Wel it is so he ought to listen to teh Pope not err on the side of killing.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “We prolifers seem to me to have increasingly fallen prey to a kind of in-group thinking in which we have forgotten the goal: persuading hearts and minds to change their thinking on abortion.”

    Bravo, sir.

    Change the people and the politicians will follow.

    • Peter Calabrese

      First of all we have ALSO been working at minds and hearts. 2) That is not how the Civil Rights Act was passed. It was politicans hwo forced in on the people. Same with the death penalty. Many states and judges ended it when ti was still VERY much in favor.

  • Re_Actor

    So: if that is true, why is there absolutely no give on the Right to the pope’s remarks on these things? If abortion is *really* the Pearl of Great Price, why not just go ahead and trust the pope’s prudential judgment on these matters (at least sometimes), get them out of the way, and then use the political leverage gained by that to really put the screws on the Left about abortion.

    Perhaps they dimly sense that the Pope’s position on these things is the weft in the same seamless garment of which abortion is the warp. Whence their suspicion that the Pope is less than sound on abortion.

  • ivan_the_mad

    It strikes me that asserting capital punishment to be a matter of prudence is too vague and obscures the issue. The just application of capital punishment is a matter of prudence. The unjust application is a moral evil. The larger dispute in this country focuses, I think, on its justice rather than its prudence.

  • David

    “I’m not upset. Just saying I think he could have been more blunt.”

    Stu, unlike some others here, at least you’re seeking understanding. Keep at it.

    I would say that, especially after dealing with a bunch of Leftists, that being “blunt” (that is, using the word “abortion”) does nothing. They eschew reason, and change definitions on a whim as they see fit — so much as to call spades, non-spades (and abortions “procedures”, “reproductive rights”, etc.). Every sane man knows that protecting and defending human life at every stage of development *and* recognizing the sacredness of the unborn mean you *cannot* harm or kill the unborn. Bluntless is meaningless to the sophists — they willingly cast off what bluntless *means* in the first place! You can’t reason with stupid, especially those who decide to be stupid on purpose.

    • grandma jones

      No, no, I’m not being stupid. We live in a country that is what 70% Christian. 6 % other religions and 24% percent no religion. It doesn’t matter to me if you decide abortion is wrong, and you voice your opinion. But when we live in a country and the Supreme Court says it is wrong to deny someone the right to their medical decision, or to their gay marriage, or their right to own a firearm, then it is up to the politicians to stop trying to make laws to restrict abortions. And definitely don’t make any fake videos of fake abortions or lies about baby body parts. This is where people who are Christian need to be more Christlike. Go to the skilled nursing centers and volunteer to help the elderly. Help families with children. Help the poor, the hungry, the mentally ill. You can preach all you want about the sacredness of the unborn, but when people are bitching and whining about the EBT(food stamps) of which 40% of the recipients are children, 10% of the recipients are elderly and 10% of the recipients aredisabled, that doesn’t seem very Christlike to me. Even Hillary Clinton is smart enough to realize changes don’t happen over night when addressing the problems the women in teh middle east face. If you think about how it took around 100 years from the end of the civil war to the civil rights act — it takes a long time to change peoples values. So instead of making laws to restrict abortions, laws that get overturned anyway, why not try to change people’s attitudes. We can’t even agree that all people deserve health care in this country. Too many people talking about getting rid of the affordable care act. Once we start treating people with dignity, we will probably end up with a country that allows abortion, but it is rarely used. But right now we have a country that is intent on treating people badly. LIke Kim Davis not issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples. Do you really think God cares? People are going to do what they are going to do, no matter what words or terminology you use. You can call abortion a procedure or a murder — doesn’t matter. But when we care about the children who arrive to school hungry, or children who end up in foster care with no permanent solution, then and only then we will change attitudes. When in the United States we can’t even adopt all the children in our country, and they are adopted by parents from Canada and other countries, we are not doing a very good job of changing peoples’ attitudes by changing our actions. Words may not matter that much.

      • Sue Korlan

        There are about a million Americans who would like to adopt but can’t because there are no healthy American babies to adopt. So Americans have to go overseas if they want to adopt a baby. If you are an infertile couple you may be able to get one baby, but that is it. There are adoptions in my family, which is how I know about these things. You can still adopt older or handicapped American children.

  • RustbeltRick

    This is the best article ever.

  • Dave G.

    Um, I’m not seeing the outcry from the ‘Left’. So far, most representing a more progressive viewpoint seem more than thrilled with the Pope’s visit, largely because they admit he’s not out to change Church teaching on what they are deeming ‘controversial social issues.’ He’s making it clear that those issues are no big deal. Sure, the Church teaches abortion is wrong. It probably still says gay sex is wrong too. Somewhere, no doubt, the Church still probably says you can’t use crossbows in warfare. But like that third example, does it really matter?

    On MSNBC, one of the guests made an interesting point. One reason that former Popes were so criticized (and without the vitriol aimed at them by some Catholics that I’m seeing against Francis’s critics), is because they so turned a blind eye to the evils of Western traditional ideals, such a Capitalism. A guy could be a corporate raider, wipe out lives by the thousands, and still approach the Eucharist more or less with a clean mind. Despite the fact that Popes *did* speak out against these things. They simply allowed them to be areas with which there was wiggle room.

    Well, no more! Those issues near and dear to the progressive heart may still be “wrong”, or even “sin”, but they are nothing that is a big deal. Support abortion or gay sex? Why, no biggie. We can simply agree to disagree. But those things held by the traditional Western ideals? Those things that mark the more progressive priorities? Why, that’s when the hammer of God is dropped and it’s out to the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Which is why the media is saying this is the first real Pope who will finally fix what no Pope has been able to fix.

    Whether they are right or not remains to be seen. I keep watching for him to drop the other shoe, but there might be a reason he isn’t, and is ignoring that side of the problems of our time as the media and many on the Left seem to think he is. We’ll have to wait and see I suppose.

    • Andy

      Perhaps he hasn’t dropped the other shoe because he recognizes all the verbiage used to address abortion, gay marriage, and so on has had little impact. It has had little impact because big business is primarily libertarian and doesn’t give a damn about those issues. Maybe by addressing what gets in big businesses face – greed, lack of support for families and so might “rally” the “troops” to begin to address all ills.
      As far as Isis – the Vatican and the pope have spoken harshly about them, and the pope condemned extreme fundamentalism is his UN speech.

      • Dave G.

        That’s what I’m wondering. Perhaps he realizes that if he did, he wouldn’t be getting the “Beatles arrive in America!” treatment that is allowing him to get his message out through the same media that would otherwise try to shut him down. As multiple have said: he hates what liberals hate and what they disagree on? Eh. Hence their rock start coverage.

        Now I hope he does mention something in Philadelphia, because that is what everyone is holding their breath over. According to CNN, he will either become a different Pope than what we’ve seen (that is, emphasize the importance of the Church’s teaching regarding families as well as sexuality), or he will finally affirm that while Catholics can certainly strive for the Church’s opinion of what makes a great family, if they opt not to, there’s room for them as well (teaching regarding such issues becoming more of an opinion than a doctrine). We’ll see.

        • Andy

          I think what many folks are missing with the pope is his belief in conversion through conversation. A conversation is an exchange, and to achieve any d sired end must be respectful and start where the person to covert is. That is not to say “do not deliver” your message, that is to say deliver bas d on commonalities to the greatest extent possible. Part of missing the pope’s idea starts with the assumption that the “left” is monolithic, and that all on the “left” support abortion. Look at how those on the “right” react when that accusation is made about the “right” about torture, war, CST in general. To change hearts and minds you start with the idea that we gave commonalities and go from there.
          CNN, Fox new, MSNBC – any piece of TV dreck does a terrible job on religion. I look to them to show me pictures/live feeds of religious activities and ignore the words. This pope has emphasized Catholic teaching – it starts with the inherent dignity of all – at all stages of life. The fact that this inherent dignity has been subsumed by being against abortion does limit nor reduce its ultimate power. If a person can say I am pro-choice, asking that person how that thought supports an unborn child creates incredible cognitive dissonance – I have done it and watched the change. For me if the pope wants to address abortion directly, speak to when life begins, and how all life deserves the dignity promised by God, as we are all children of God.

  • Re “prudential judgements:” and there is no “give or take” on the topic of LGBT* people either: as a woman of transgender of experience, I am intrinsically and irredeemably evil in many of their eyes. And the fact that I am also married and Christian, practically makes me Satan’s spawn.

    Jesus, whom so many of these people claim as [their] God, would not be behaving like this. Sadly, when I mention this the usual response is to mention when Jesus cleared the temple (of money-changers)**, and that I’m “worshiping a god of my own making.” BUT even a cursory reading of the Gospels reveals a Jesus who is antithetical of so much of what conservatives stand for these days.

    **(Versus the overwhelming number of incidents where Jesus associated with, befriended, loved, forgave and healed people “good” Christians would turn their backs on.)

  • Peter Calabrese

    Mark you are right about the litmus testing of the Pope, its’ disgusting. However the Catholic Left has moved beyond the I am personally opposed but line. They are now avidly supporting a woman’s right to choose. I think many Pro-Life conservative Catholics would be willing to compromise on the “prudential matters” if they felt in their hearts for one second that they would not be betrayed on the flip side by the Pelosis, Bidens, Kerrys, Comos and Sebelius’ of the world. The Left is not offering ANYTHING to make me think they want to be reasonable. At every turn they spike the football when they win and never offer anything to move a common agenda forward. Appeal to the better angels sure what what is there to appeal to, especially when while they may acknowledge Pope Francis is not changing doctrine on these things even THIS Pope telling them abortion is wrong has ZERO effect on their stance. When it comes ot abortion they are like the NRA is with gun control. Body parts to market – no problem. Abortion up to the moment of delivery no problem. Same sex marriage via the Courts and by the way you are a hate mongering bigot if you don;t agree, not even respectful disagreement. IF the Catholic Left would provide a reasonable bridge for dialogue perhaps we could move forward. the problem is the Catholic Left is fully synched up with the far left machine and gives no sign that any give now would result in anything later. It is just as much t eh social justice crowd that needs ot obey the seamless garment. By the way I don;t think you are right every pro-choice President wields abortion as a domestic and foreign policy tool and a a litmus test for appointments. It matters a great deal to ahve a Pro-Life President. IF the “Catholic Left” would have broke with their party leadership on abortion or if they did so now it owuld lchange everything. It is not the Catholic Right that holds the key ot the success of the Pro-Life movement it is the Catholic Left.

  • Eve Fisher

    Just a reminder: From
    2002-2007, there was a Republican President, Republican Senate and
    Republican House, as well as a conservative Supreme Court. What they passed: tax cuts for the wealthy. What they didn’t tackle: abortion in any way, shape or form. Why get rid of the best emotion-churning vote-getter in the toolbox? (But of course it’s all us liberals’ fault.)

    BTW, a gentle suggestion to some: once in a while have an actual conversation with a regular real-life liberal. Ignore the politicians and pundits on TV, radio, newspapers, computers. Talk to your neighbors. Find out what makes them think the way they do. I am a liberal; I have conservative friends. We discuss all sorts of things, from gardening, weather, politics, religion, and who will/should win the World Series. We argue with and at each other, we laugh with and at each other, we care for each other. Because the truth is, if we continue to demonize each other, the politicians – and Satan – have won.

    • ManyMoreSpices

      I don’t think this diminishes your point in any significant way, but to call the Supreme Court from 2002 through 2007* “conservative” with respect to abortion is not correct. That court had Stevens, Souter, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Kennedy on it, plus O’Connor for most of that period. With that lineup, any abortion restrictions that could be stopped by the Supreme Court would have been.

      *(the years are more accurately 1/03 through 1/07)

      • Eve Fisher

        I suppose I should say that during those years (sorry, I was going by electoral rather than actually sworn in), neither the President nor Congress even tried to bring up a bill, an Amendment, nothing to outlaw abortion. You’d think they’d at least have tried. Except, of course – and I may be being cynical here – then the bill would have had to fail so that it could continue to be a hot-button voting issue, and they wouldn’t have had the usual excuse (the liberals blocked it!) they use as to why they have not yet – despite endless promises – outlawed abortion.

        • ManyMoreSpices

          That’s a strong argument, which is why I said that my correction about the Supreme Court did not diminish your broader point, which I recognized.

          I don’t fault Congress for not voting to outlaw abortion, or for passing any other law that the Supreme Court would feed into a woodchipper. But there were things that could have been done that they didn’t do – defunding Planned Parenthood, for example.

          • Eve Fisher

            Elections. Election politics. Pure and simple. And that’s still the case. Especially when you hear a politician promising something that is at the extreme edge, which s/he knows s/he cannot deliver, but promises it anyway. (I’m thinking of Scott Walker’s proposed 100% ban on abortion, including life of the mother: no one can deliver that, even if abortion really were outlawed, because there really are such things as ectopic pregnancies, fetuses with septicemia, mothers with cancer, etc. Nonviable pregnancies really do happen, and when there are, people really do want their wives/daughters/loved ones to live through one. But then I am a liberal, who worked both in Medical Genetics and in the judicial system, and I believe abortion should be available in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.)

            • Joseph

              You won’t find a Catholic that is opposed to an allowance for abortion when the life of the mother is *physically* threatened. But to abort a child conceived of rape or incest in unacceptable by the simple fact that the unborn child is a human being who is totally innocent. They are not at fault for how they were conceived, why should they be given a death sentence? I was born in the 70s. Like a lot of kids born in the 70s, I was more of an inconvenience to my mother than I was a blessing. My father didn’t even stick around for my birth. Obviously, I wasn’t meant to happen and my father made it clear at one point, according to my mother, that I wasn’t wanted. So, though the circumstances are different, I share something in common with those children conceived in rape/incest. I was *not supposed to happen* and I bore the blame for even being conceived. I was the thing that *had to go*. Nope. It’s totally unfair, even in the circumstance of rape/incest.

              • Eve Fisher

                First I want to apologize for my previous reply, because the more I thought about it, I realized that it was argumentative, and that’s no way to communicate. I completely agree that an “inconvenience” argument is horrific. I disagree that it is the same as arguing for what could be seen as mercy for the victims of rape/incest. But we disagree on that, and will continue to.

                • Mike Petrik

                  No one is opposed to mercy. Many sins are committed with good, even noble, intentions A soldier who intentionally kills his mortally wounded comrade in order to put an end to his suffering has committed murder, but no person with an informed conscience would equate such an act with a murder for hire, for instance. While the intentional killing of an innocent human person created in the image of God can never be morally acceptable, certainly in cases of rape or incest such killing is understandable and quite forgivable. There are serious Catholics who favor a legal exception for rape, not because an abortion in such a case can ever be morally defensible, but because they believe that involving the coercive and punitive power of the government in such cases serves to aggravate the moral disorder rather than relieve it. I disagree with them, but it is a serious and thoughtful position.

                  • chezami

                    Lots and lots and lots of people are opposed to mercy. It is the most difficult aspect of all of Catholic teaching. The older brother is mentioned in the parable of the Prodigal Son for a reason.

                  • Eve Fisher

                    Thank you for such a thoughtful and merciful reply.

              • Mike Petrik

                Catholic teaching allows doctors to save the life of the mother even if it results in the death of the child, but not if the procedure is a direct abortion. That is, Catholic teaching distinguishes between killing the child so that the mother can be saved (not allowed) and treating the mother in a way that will cause the child to die (allowed).