Perhaps you saw it; Sept. 12, 2016. A slick 4-color full page spread in the Denver Post (and most likely other major dailies around the country) headlined, “Abortion in Good Faith.” The ad featured an attractive business woman, a self-proclaimed Catholic, arguing passionately that public funding for abortion is really a matter of social justice. This pitch was sponsored and paid for by by the aptly misnamed “Catholics for Choice” (CFC), a pro-abortion group which, in fact, wants only to deny conscientious Catholics any real choice in having their tax dollars diverted to pay for other people’s abortions.
Not only is CFC’s strategy nauseatingly deceptive in its sophistical inversion of the term “social justice” to mean its very opposite, but the ad is a deliberate attempt to confuse and scandalize those readers who have little or no knowledge of authentic Catholic moral doctrine. This is little more than a slick propaganda ploy designed to cover over the unmistakable whiff of infernal brimstone.
But such deceptions have reached into far higher levels of political discourse, which is why so many Catholics were deeply troubled this past spring when Notre Dame University awarded its prestigious Laetare Medal to Vice President Joe Biden. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia lamented, “For the nation’s leading Catholic university to honor a Catholic public official who supports abortion rights and then goes on to conduct a same-sex civil marriage ceremony just weeks later, is – to put it kindly – a contradiction of Notre Dame’s identity… The problem, and it’s a serious problem, is one of public witness and the damage it causes both to the faithful and to the uninformed.”
That quotation is taken from Archbishop Chaput’s stunning Tocqueville Lecture on Religious Liberty at the University of Notre Dame, presented just three days after the deceptive ad by CFC appeared in the Denver Post. Rather than engaging in CFC’s sort of smarmy sophist rhetoric, the archbishop eloquently dispatched that brand of political table-turning to put his finger squarely on the real problem, the breakdown of personal responsibility, especially regarding human sexuality.
Chaput correctly points out, “We now live in a country where marriage, family, and traditional religion all seem to be failing. And inevitably – support for democracy itself has dropped.” He contends, quite reasonably, “As families and religious faith break down, the power of the state grows. Government fills in the spaces left behind by mediating institutions,” (i.e. family, church, etc.). This condition proceeds from a denial of the truth about our sexuality, a lie promulgated by countless groups such as CFC which have proliferated in the wake of the sexual revolution.
The archbishop notes the personal and political wreckage from half a century of non-stop sexual deception. “What you get is what we have now: a dysfunctional culture of frustrated and wounded people increasingly incapable of permanent commitments, self-sacrifice and sustained intimacy, and unwilling to face the reality of their own problems.
“This has political consequences. People unwilling to rule their appetites will inevitably be ruled by them, and eventually they’ll be ruled by someone else. People too weak to sustain faithful relationships are also too weak to be free.”
This, of course, leaves wide open government’s push to redefine family, sexual, and even gender identities. It was Justice Anthony Kennedy, another ostensible Catholic, who claimed that, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The archbishop forcefully counters such puerile logic. “This is the perfect manifesto of a liberal democratic fantasy: the sovereign, self-creating self. But it’s a lie. It’s the very opposite of real Christian freedom.”
Kennedy’s fallacious arguments back in 1992 all hinged, not surprisingly, on the question of abortion (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey). But Chaput rebuts the Supreme Court justice’s theoretical suppositions by pointing to the subsequent realities engendered thereby. He advances Notre Dame alumni Rachel O’Grady’s argument that, “Abortion has become the beachhead for an entire ethic that is hostile to life, hostile to marriage, and, as we see from the HHS contraceptive mandate, increasingly hostile to religion, religious Americans, and religious institutions.” The archbishop then adds, “There can never be anything “progressive” in killing an unborn child, or standing aside tolerantly while others do it.”
And yet, those agents of social change such as CFC would have loyal Catholics feeling guilt over their own reluctance to pay for other people’s abortions. In their own twisted logic this becomes a matter of “justice and equality where the dignity of women is acknowledged through policies (i.e. U-pay) that support their moral choices.” Some logic, that!
Perhaps it is that kind of rationally upended political dialogue that Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated when he wrote, “democracy tends toward a kind of soft totalitarianism in which even a person’s most intimate concerns, from his sexual relations to his religious convictions, are swallowed by the political process.” As the archbishop notes, “This didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen by accident. We behaved ourselves into this mess by living a collection of lies.”
I would highly recommend your reading the entire Tocqueville Lecture given by Archbishop Charles Chaput which can be found on-line at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia website. It is a masterpiece of clarity and rational discourse in these troubled times of ours. May God bless you and our entire nation in this hour of peril.
Fran Pierson +a.m.d.g.