By Father Stephanos Podrano
I am a pro-life Catholic, but a pro-life Catholic has denounced me.
Less than two weeks ago, he sent me a lengthy lecture telling me that my approach to pro-life discussions was wrong in various ways:
—that I should not engage with liberals in pro-life discussions, even liberals who are pro-life, because they will only undermine me;
—that I am wrong to discuss pro-life concerns in the context of social justice (even though it is in its presentation of social justice that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1928-1933, asserts the “transcendent dignity,” the respect, rights, defense, and promotion of the human person);
—that I am wrong to see any connection at all between choosing abortion and living in poverty (even though the U.S. bishops have published evidence from a study showing just such a connection in the majority of abortions);
—that I am wrong to discuss pro-life concerns without making abortion practically the only issue on the table;
—that my approach deserves to be opposed and defeated.
I did not send a response directly to that denunciation.
However, I publicly posted the following.
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From many backgrounds: pro-life, pro-abortion, liberal, conservative, Satanism, agnosticism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam.
In 37 years in the monastery and 27 years in the priesthood, I have played a role in the conversions to Catholicism of persons from those backgrounds and perhaps others.
If my first step were to have been to shut them down, to reject them because we had serious disagreements, to close the door on interacting with them unless they first agreed with me on every point, I believe I would have played no positive role in helping them to convert.
That is not the way of a priest, because the priesthood of Jesus Christ is exercised in mediation. Christ who is both divine and human mediates between God and us. He is the perfect mediator because he is both God who receives and deserves sacrifice, and he is man who offers himself in sacrifice. Christ offers his mediation to both sinner and saint.
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I believe it unlikely that my attacker will ever play a role in converting anyone from “another side.” God in Christ, the Good Shepherd, did not condemn the lost sheep for wandering away into danger; he did not wait for it to convert, turn, come back, and rejoin the “good sheep.” Rather, he left behind the good sheep, and went into danger looking for the lost sheep, to pick it up, carry it back on his own shoulders, and not require it to walk on its own feet.
Is that approach to be opposed and defeated?
[P.S. Yes, this post could deserve to be denounced as “virtue signalling.” So be it. However, what is involved is my public status as a Catholic and a priest. So this needs to be public.]
(image via Pixabay)